Favourite Mugs

I have tea with breakfast every morning in this one. I got it for my birthday from Sir Monkeypants and the kids, and they bought it because it’s BIG, and I want a BIG cup of tea every morning. You can never have too big a mug for tea, I say.

mug1 (Large)

Gal Smiley is my most loyal companion around here and she has started having a cup of tea in the evenings, mostly out of solidarity with me, I think, as it is intolerable to her unless laden with three spoons of sugar and a half cup of milk. But she’s made it a habit, and she prefers her tea in this cow mug because, she claims, it is “smoother” than the others.

mug2 (Large)

Sometimes Sir Monkeypants joins us for tea, too. He prefers this mug we bought at Universal Studios in Florida back in 2000 when we were young and carefree and childless and able to get up at 7 a.m. on New Year’s Day to go ride the Hulk coaster six times in a row until I nearly threw up. GOOD TIMES.

mug4 (Large)

Every morning for breakfast the Captain has a “hot chocolate,” which is really a protein drink that is a milk-substitute for him. It mixes better if warmed up so he has it in this mug every morning, which was a birthday gift this year. If you can name the TV show that this references, you are my friend for life.

mug3 (Large)

The Little Miss isn’t much into warm drinks but when she is cold she likes a hot chocolate – the real kind, with milk and cocoa – but she doesn’t want a big serving so I always make it for her in this little Belle mug. My mother bought it for her and there’s a matching plate, and we also have a Mickey and Donald set for the other two that see their fair share of use, but it’s the Little Miss that considers this little one her go-to mug.

mug5 (Large)

Join us for a little something sometime, won’t you?

May in Ottawa

May is my killer month. All the year-long activities come to an end with big parties, while soccer and other summer sports are ramping up. May is our month when we have at least two activities on every weeknight, plus a few things on the weekend, and I just run from one thing to the next. I like to say to Sir Monkeypants, in a smart alec-y kind of way, “I’ll see you in June,” but it isn’t far off the mark. He goes one way, I go the other, and in between it’s all baking brownies and cutting up watermelon.

May is pretty lucky, I’ll tell you, that it has such nice weather. It’s kind of like a newborn baby – the adorableness helps mollify the horror. A bit, anyway, until I get out there and attempt to weed the gardens. SHUDDER.

If you’ve seen me out and about with pink and purple hands, that’s because on top of everything else, I’ve been tie dying. Gal Smiley is in the grade 5/6 level of her soccer league and it’s always a small level because it’s a super casual community league, and usually by that age all the kids that are actually interested in soccer have moved on to a higher level. Last year they had four teams in this level but this year they have only two teams. That means the same two teams will play against each other every week, which is fine, but what is NOT FINE, NOT FINE AT ALL is the colour of their shirts: light grey and light blue. TWO TEAMS, people. They couldn’t have ordered shirts in, say, red and yellow? Navy and bright green? Black and white?

Sigh.

At the first game, the kids in Gal Smiley’s side both a) passed the ball to the other team multiple times, and b) stole the ball from their own players, multiple times. Sadly, I am not the kind of person who can let this sort of thing stand, so I collected all the light blue shirts and tie dyed them, with the help of the girls. Now they look like this:

One of these (relatively) faceless children is mine.
One of these (relatively) faceless children is mine.

It was an ugly amount of work but I suppose worth it for how thrilled the kids were with their shirts. Gal Smiley actually asked if she could wear it to school. As far as soccer shirts go, that’s a major elevation from the others that are stuffed in a drawer somewhere. Plus, it gave me that Laura Ingalls Wilder feeling to be standing over a steaming vat of cloth and dye, wiping my brow with one hand while wearing a plastic Crayola painting bib meant for toddlers. It’s a good look for me, I think.

In other Gal Smiley news, she had her last guides meeting ever last night, as she’s now aged out of the program (and, interestingly, has decided to go to Scouts next year instead of Pathfinders, which is the next level of guiding). Little Miss Sunshine had her last brownies meeting ever last week as she’s now moving up to guides, and in both cases the leaders were just SO fantastic. They put so much work into the graduation and into all the stuff they did all year and most of the leaders cried when the girls were leaving. One of Gal Smiley’s leaders wrote each leaving girl a thank-you note, thanking them for making her into the leader she is today, and telling each what great qualities they bring to this world. SO NICE. I really cannot say enough fabulous things about the whole program and the ladies who give so much of their time to make that happen.

And now I must run – the new flowers in the garden need watering, I’m making some buns for dinner, I have one last shirt to tie dye, and I need to cut oranges as we’re on soccer snack tonight. But I’ll probably also squeeze in a popsicle on the porch after picking up the kids. May is madness – but it’s glorious, too.

Feeling My Age

Last night I stayed up late working on a puzzle, because I am now old and that’s my idea of a rocking good time. It’s a puzzle of china teacups, in case you were wondering – for maximum old lady style.

I’d only been asleep an hour when Gal Smiley got up with a stomachache. Getting up after just one hour of sleep is the WORST. Even when I had a newborn and was totally messed up and almost used to getting up 6 times a night, the one-hour-past-bedtime wake up was the hardest.

So I dragged my butt out of bed and sat up with her for a while, and then went back to bed and sleep for just over another hour before Little Miss Sunshine got up with a stuffy nose. I barely managed to force myself to get up and zombie-walked her through various treatments and then went back to bed for three more hours of sleep before my alarm clock went off and I smashed it into a million bits. (I may have dreamed that last part.)

My point here is that I am way, way too old to be getting up twice in a night. I feel bad, because my kids are still young, and certainly when my oldest was 8, I was still able to pop out of bed and provide comfort in the middle of the night instead of acting like my poor youngest has interrupted the beauty sleep of Helen of Troy, GO BACK TO BED CHILD.

The wife of a friend of mine used to read my blog a few years ago, when I was still mired in sleepless nights and cute baby talk and figuring out how to work naps around kindergarten pickup. Her kids were grown and she was dealing with teen crises and university applications, and she eventually stopped reading my silly stories here. She apologized, explaining that she was just in a different place now, and couldn’t go through it again. Trust me, Bonnie, I am there now. I’m OVER IT. I’m ready to move on to the part when I lie in bed sleepless with worry while the kids are out with the car.

I’ll turn 46 later this year and that has me thinking about two things recently. First, my father passed away at age 47, from cancer. He was young, for sure, but now that I am approaching that age I see that it is no longer so young to be a fluke. I’ve lost a handful of friends to cancer now and although it’s still rare and tragic at my age, it’s no longer unheard of. When my father died I went through years of stress, thinking 47 was my end date as well – I almost didn’t have kids for fear of leaving them motherless at a young age. I’m more hopeful these days, but it’s still out there, like a big finish line. I’ll be crossing it soon, one way or the other.

On the flip side, my grandmother was 47 when her first grandchild was born. Lately I have been watching a lot of cartoon shows with my kids and it’s fascinating to me how “grandparents” are always portrayed as grey-haired, wrinkled, and frail. My own grandmother was anything but – she was active and vibrant and participated heavily in the upbringing of me and my three sisters. By the time I’m a grandmother – if I ever am a grandmother – I’ll be old and grey like the ones on TV. At 47, instead of bouncing babies on my knee and then handing them back for a diaper change, I’ll still be in the thick of things with a 14, 13, and 10 year old. I’m starting to think my grandmother had things figured out.

And now, I believe it’s time for my midmorning nap.

PJ Mommy

I have reached a new low of motherhood, and it’s this: I am now one of those parents who drops off their kids at school in their pajamas.

In my defense: I only drop the kids off in the morning on Mondays, when my son needs to bring his saxophone to school for the week. When he picked the alto sax as his Grade Seven instrument it looked smallish, definitely carryable, but even I find it hard to schlep that thing around for more than a hundred metres or so by the itty bitty handle. So Monday mornings require a car ride.

I work from home and my mornings usually go like this: drag self out of bed, brush teeth, put away clean dishes from last night, make three lunches, make sure everyone has their homework and has, unwillingly, taken gloves with them, then collapse from the morning rush in front of a cup of tea and some toast. Maybe then, maybe, I’ll think about showering and clothes, but often I don’t get around to it until mid afternoon. It’s just as easy to code in my PJs as anything else, and I like to get working as soon as possible in the mornings, while my mind is still fresh and the silence is golden.

In the winter, I had a secret weapon: snowpants. I could slip on my snowpants and long, heavy jacket right over my jammies, pull a toque over my unbrushed hair, boots hiding my slipper-socks, and no one would be wiser. No one had to know what was going on under the outerwear.

It’s a little warmer now, though, but I am still convincing myself that PJs are okay since the dropoff routine goes: exit through garage into van, open garage door, start car while kids buckle themselves in, pull up at little-used back entrance of school, open the van’s sliding door automatically with dashboard button, wave to kids from driver seat, close sliding door and head home. Do not exit van until garage door is closed.

So the uncombed hair and the unwashed face and the jammie pants (funny with black leather shoes) really go unnoticed by everyone. By most, anyway. By the majority, I’m thinking. Right?

Mother’s Day

I love the grocery store on Mother’s Day. If you get there just after it opens, first thing in the morning, you’ll see a stream of men coming out with flowers and a worried look on their face. Godspeed, good men, godspeed.

Inside, there’s always a bunch of young men, often with toddlers in tow, peering at a list of items and looking around wildly, trying to figure out where they keep the lemon juice. I know not all men are like this – my own husband can easily find the lemon juice – but Mother’s Day is the one day when you see a flock of men who usually do not grocery shop coming out of the woodwork. I saw one man in the produce section showing his list to the stock guy, asking him which lettuce was the “iceberg lettuce.” You can do it, buddy, you can do it.

I find these men both charming and exasperating. But at least it does serve to mark the occasion every year, a tradition on par, for me, with egg hunts and stockings hung by the fire. See you next year, Men of the Superstore.

China

It’s my twentieth wedding anniversary today, and you’d think that would be something awesome like The Emerald Anniversary or The Ruby Anniversary, but it turns out it’s just China, according to the official lists put out by greeting card companies (and if you can’t trust them, who can you?). China seems lame. The last thing we need around this cluttered house is more fancy dishware that won’t fit in the cupboard and only gets used once a year for Christmas dinner.

Although I suppose in days of lore, when women in prairie homes were living with tin plates for two decades, the addition of a nice china teacup or two must have felt pretty fancy. Still: please do not send us any china.

Twenty years sure does sound like a long time, and I have to admit, those people in our wedding photos look like someone else’s children. Were we ever so young? Were we ever so thin? Did we ever have that much hair? Apparently so, as these were the days before Photoshop.

As usual on our anniversary, we aren’t doing much to celebrate. There’s Guides and Brownies tonight, homework and piano practice, and later, for a special treat, a bowl of popcorn to share while watching Survivor. We’ll be working and running errands and somewhere in the middle we’ll have a moment or two to chat about our day, and make plans for the weekend.

Maybe some plans for this summer.

Maybe plans for our 25th anniversary.

Maybe plans for the next 20 years.

In any case, we’ll be planning it together. I’m looking forward to it.

A Short Whiny Post of Sadness

I haven’t posted in forever, so just wanted to check in to say:

* I am still here.

* I have been busy – work stuff, mostly.

* Blog Out Loud was on Sunday and it was so, so great. The readers always amaze me. I couldn’t be more proud of each and every one of them!

* I am sad, and worried, and generally not so fun to be around.

Mostly what is making me sad is Little Miss Sunshine. After several months of constantly itchy skin, disrupted sleep and general crankiness, I am forced to admit that what is happening to her has all the earmarks of a food allergy.

That makes me want to swear a lot, and rail at the heavens. She was our one kid, ONE KID, who we didn’t have to worry about. Who we could send to birthday parties carefree, without having to pack her own food and treat. Who we could take out to any restaurant we wanted when the other two were busy with other activities. Who could eat every single thing I make.

GROWL.

So we’ve been back at the food diary stage, trying to figure out what is bothering her, and actually she is getting worse all the time, with hives and vomiting, and all through it I am just ANGRY, and SAD, and PISSY. And it wouldn’t be so bad if she was allergic to anything the other two are – which is a long, long list of choices – but NO, it looks like it is going to be corn and/or oats, something NEW.

I give up. We shall live on nothing but apple slices and lemonade for eternity.

So yes, I’m not so fun to be around right now, either online or in person. But I’m still here.

License Plate Watch

The other day Captain Jelly Belly, who is in Grade 7, came home with a newly assigned project. He has to do a profile on “someone he admires” and here’s what he had to say about that: “I wasn’t allowed to do Donald Trump, so I picked you.”

Flattery, it’ll get you anywhere, am I right?

Anyway, he’s doing his project on me, and I asked him why he admires me, and was all, “I don’t know, you work hard, I guess?” I guess so, little man, I GUESS SO. Sigh.

So we talked about different jobs I have had and I made him a list of all the things I do in life, including work past and present, running of the household, volunteer work, etc. At the end of this life profile I added what I thought was a fun little section of weird things I like. Things like Dance! Show! and pie and trivia contests and tap dancing in line at the grocery store.

Tops on that list was License Plate Watching, something I have been doing for years and years. I think I really got into it when they changed over from the 111 AAA format in Ontario to AAAA 111, since they had run out of numbers. That would have been, oh, maybe 1997? It was right before our good friends Mark and Shirley (hi, Mark and Shirley!) moved to California and for a long time, the four of us used the new license plates as sort of a tracker to mark the time that they’d been away.

Things in the License Plate Watch world are really heating up these days – at least in Ontario – because we are very, very close to seeing our first “C” license plate. I’m part of a Facebook group that plate watches and we’re up to the “BZ” prefix, meaning that “C” is just around the corner, and trust me, we are all DYING to be the first to get a pic of a C plate to upload. I’m so happy to say that I’ve got the whole family on board with this, too – the kids are always noting license plates when we go out now, and Sir Monkeypants is the absolute king – he even called me this morning to report a sighting of BZDW 381 getting on the Queensway in Kanata – a major coup, as this is the latest anyone has seen so far.

We were visiting my mom a couple of weeks ago and happened to see a BYYY (which was still pretty new at the time, although a couple of BZA’s had been seen by then) and I commented on it, and she had no idea what I was talking about. I explained about how we were getting close to “C” and she was surprised to hear it. Plate noticing is so common now for the five of us, I was surprised myself to discover that not everyone is driving around with baited breath, distractedly holding up a camera just in case they catch a C. (Here, I must admit I have an ongoing fantasy of mounting a camera on the dash that takes a picture from a remote mounted on my steering wheel and OH MY GOD, I am the biggest GEEK EVER.)

Anyway, long story short (too late!), I thought I’d mention this in case anyone else wants to get on the license plate watching bandwagon (you know you do). Mark and Shirley – you should totally come back for this, don’t you think? It’s an OCCASION.

The Evolution of Language, and Greeting Cards

The other day Captain Jelly Belly came home and said his homework was to figure out what the word “ironic” means for English class, so he asked me to explain it to him. I did so as best I could, although I have to admit that ever since that Alanis song came out years ago I am shaky on the whole subject. One time I used that word in a public setting and everyone looked at me weird and said no, Lynn, that was NOT ironic and now I’m nervous.

But I do actually like the song, even though I know (now) that almost all the examples in it are not, in fact ironic. It’s still catchy, though. And the video is so cute and happy. And Alanis is from Ottawa, so I forgive her.

In other weird language news, I have noticed a disturbing trend among the youth of today, and that is the use of the phrase “so meta” to mean “so fabulous and excellent.” NO.

This has come to my attention via Clash of Clans videos – my husband and son are both big into Clash of Clans, an online networked video game, and they can sometimes be found watching YouTube videos of dudes in their parents’ basements building new villages (and, probably, making six figures per year doing just that). I actually decided around Christmastime that I’d join too, just so I could understand what they were talking about and I actually really like it – it’s kind of like the Sims in that you have to build a little village and then take care of your villagers and I know my husband died a little inside just reading that, sorry honey!

So just a couple of weeks ago they made some tweaks to the game and made this one girl in it, the Valkrye, super amazing awesome, not to mention adorable in her little red bobbed haircut. And in a few videos, online players have used this term, “so meta,” to refer to the fact that the Valkrye is O.P. (over powering, in the slang of about four months ago). And again I say: NO. Clearly they have heard the term and not understood it at all and just figured that the “so” in front meant that “meta” means “good thing” and CIVILIZATION IS DYING.

Sigh.

And in other-other news, I was out today buying Mother’s Day cards at the Hallmark store, and they had a Mother’s Day card for, seriously EVERY possible female person in your life. In addition to the usual For Mom and For My Wife and For Grandma, they also had For Sister, For Aunt, For Godmother, For (choose your own grandmother name) – where you picked a sticker from the inside to say things like Mom-Mom and Nanny-poo, From the Dog for Mother, For ex-Daughter-in-Law, and For ex-Mother-in-Law. Those last two, in particular, were so circumspect I almost took a photo, but the lady in the shop was already looking at me weird. But seriously, if Sir Monkeypants and I ever break up, as much as I love his mother I really doubt we are going to be lovingly exchanging cards on Mother’s Day, of all holidays. At best, birthday cards. MAYBE.

Still, I guess it’s good to be prepared, Hallmark. Let me know if those become top sellers.

I Wish

Here are some of the things the judge said in his verdict at the Jian Ghomeshi sexual assault case:

“We must fight against the stereotype that all sexual assault complaints are truthful.”

That he had “no hesitation” in reaching his verdict.

That the testimony of the witnesses was “unreliable.”

Here are some of the things I wish he had said instead:

“Although the evidence of emails, texts, and letters sent to the defendant after the events in question was compelling in this case, the fact that you saved such correspondence for, in some cases, decades after apparently casual liasons does raise questions about your own awareness that consent was in question.”

“I understand that small details of traumatic events may not be recalled perfectly years after the fact. Credibility is hard to judge and I have done my best to look at the heart of the testimony and also corroborating facts in evidence, which unfortunately, after all this time, do not meet the legal burden of proof.”

“It is unfortunate that emails of support between the witnesses in this case could be construed, legally, as collusion. It is a sad truth of the legal system that in cases of sexual assault above all all others, the claimants require ongoing and early legal advice, perhaps more so than the defendant.”

“Although the burden of proof was not met in this case, there can be little doubt that the witnesses feel pain. I hope they find resolution, and I hope that this case causes both personal citizens and the legal system to reflect on the issue of consent and consider what changes can be made, to our behaviour and the law, to ensure that we move towards a future when these situations can be either prevented or prosecuted with clarity.”