Thursday, December 24, 2009

And to all a good night...

The spread left for Santa:

Dear Santa

Thank you for giving to children from everywhere gifts and joy no matter if they are Irish* or Chinese or whatever. Since you give some Christmas to everybody we want to give some to you. Merry Christmas and a happy new year!

From Max Harmzie Norah Pepper and Stewie

P.S. Pepper says Hi**

*The last NORAD update I had given them was that he was just in Ireland, she's always got China on the brain since Grandma was teaching there until last spring. Just a theory of mine.

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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Volcano

For as long as I can remember, I've eaten my mashed potatoes by piling them up, carving a little hole in them and filling the hole up with gravy. It just makes sense. This way, you get maximum efficient use of your plate (especially important in buffet situations) with minimum risk of gravy infiltration to other food – just gross (half of you are now sitting there nodding "oh, that's just obvious"; the other three are face-palming "WTF? You are bent lady!" that second half of you can just bite me)

Growing up, my family mostly ignored accepted this. I have received some blank stares and probably some rolled eyes when I wasn't looking. Mostly, just "oh, that Harmzie – has to make her little mashed potato volcano!" They openly mock me (NB: this is just regular, every day, normal family interaction - it's why I have the stomach for the Internet) – albeit quietly – but I'm certain they realize the genius of my arrangement as I see them Easter, Thanksgiving & Christmas dinner after Easter, Thanksgiving & Christmas dinner, their little piles of mashed potatoes sporting increasingly larger divots in their tops. They make sure their gravy runs over so it doesn't look like they did it on purpose, but I'm watching...

My girls noticed this early in their mashed potato consumerism phases. Not having the years of family politics and baggage to impede them, they quickly embraced the brilliance of The Volcano. Mashed potatoes are one of their favourite and most highly anticipated foods in the dinner cycle. Sadly, Stewie will not eat mashed potatoes, even with the entertainment they bring to the table [snort].

Usually, they are content with piling the potatoes, smooshing out the hole and watching the gravy fill the void until it *just* runs over the edge – the smaller the trickle, the better (this whole issue may actually be the reason Pepper did her volcano project last spring). The other night though, things were a little more... interesting.

I had built the perfect volcanoes for each of them. I mean, textbook. One tiny stream of lava running down a craggy mountain face. Pepper took her fork (she used a fork! I'm so proud) and grabbed a tiny blob of potatoes and put it smack in the lava's path.

"Oh no! The lava is heading right for the city!"

Norah quickly followed, noting a city in her lava stream. "Oh... they're toast"

Pepper was madly trying to save her city by redirecting lava flows. I noted her city was right on the edge of her plate. "You know," I commented, "as the chief engineer, if any lava gets on the table, YOU'RE the one responsible – and in big trouble." She looked at me blankly. "You can *direct* your lava flows. Do you see how your sister's city is toward the middle of her plate?" More blank. "Don't get gravy on the table!"

Norah had moved on. "Look Pepper, my volcano has exploded, taken out the city and is now a delicious lava and ash tornado"

Throughout all of this – including the naming of Mount Potato, Mount Chick(en), Mount Bean (we had green beans, too), plus a dozen more including Mount Norah, Mount Pepper, Mount Stewie, as well as each of their friends on our street AND in school... AND several other food varieties we were not having that night... – Stewie was watching intently while gnawing on his drumstick – the only thing from this delicious and entertaining supper to pass his lips. At one point, he stood in his chair and announced that he would have some mashed potatoes too, but that he didn't want to eat them. Before I had a chance to shoot him down in a fiery ball of momtastic you-can't-have-food-JUST-to-play-with-it, BOTH Pepper and Norah chimed in with a matter-of-fact "No, you can`t just play with a volcano, you have to eat it too"

"Oh," he replied, and sat back down, continuing to watch & gnaw on his drumstick.

And I just wrote an entire post about mashed potatoes.

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Saturday, December 12, 2009

Girly Bible

Girly Bible

Rules for Girls

Reprinted (verbatim – as is the title) with permission from the author.

******************************************

  1. Never talk about vilolince
  2. Never think vilolince is funny
  3. Never kiss a boy under the age of 12 (unless they are relitives)
  4. Never tell secrets to those you don't know
  5. Pay no attention when the "boy show" is on
  6. Always eat & talk (not at the same time) for the girls show
  7. Never be rude
  8. When you have a crush on a boy be nobody but yourself
  9. Always be yourself
  10. Be clean
  11. Don't' change the rules in this book (And I mean it!)
  12. Obey the rules
  13. Take care of what you have
  14. Friends don't fight
  15. Friends don't be meen to each other
  16. Friends look out for each other
  17. Play fair
  18. Ignore those who are annoying
  19. Be careful what you say
  20. Be calm
  21. Face your fears
  22. Boys don't live by these rules
  23. Never expect anything in return
  24. Don't make fun of people
  25. Chear on your teammates & friends
  26. Don't play with matches
  27. Stay fit
  28. Dress apropitly for the wether
  29. Don't listen to advratisements
  30. Mute ads
  31. Get your butt of the couch and go outside
  32. Don't do things without asking your parents (unless your 18+)
  33. Be neat
  34. Be careful what you wish
  35. Do what you want to do
  36. Girls are not lazy
  37. Don't cry over spilt milk
  38. What you say is what you are
  39. Nnnnnnnnneeeeeevvvvvvvvveeeeeeeeeeeerrrrrr no matter what obey the boy bible.
  40. Don't talk to strangers
  41. Obey rule #40
  42. Be a good girl all the time.
  43. Ignore boys
  44. Consentrate
  45. Remember all the rules!

Norah – age 9

******************************************

I didn't write this. I didn't even encourage its writing. I didn't even know about it until it was well under way. But it is extremely encouraging to note the influence we have had on its creation. Several of these rules we *regularly* deal with *considerable* flack on. The violence ones are humorous, considering the frequency of sister-clocking which occurs around here. We're still working on implementation of the rules, I suppose.

***Update***

I hit "publish", snap the computer closed and roll over to go to sleep. Max reaches out with big bear arms and pulls me in for a big bear hug. He giggles lasciviously "is THIS in the Girly bible?"

"No," I say "This will be in the new testament, which she doesn't know she has to write yet."

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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

(I Had a Fabulous, Witty Title but I Forgot It)

I hate my bad memory. I try and make up for it with emails to myself & post-its everywhere. My memory is so bad sometimes that I don't recognize my own reminder notes. I noticed an email at home with the subject "BRING BACK CORDS". My first thought: "motherfucker, who the hell is sending me some internet petition to restore corduroy pants to fashion A-lists?" Looking further, it was I, reminding myself to return the recharger cords for my phone & headset to the office. I had brought them home to be able to use them during my holidays.

If recalling something bugs me, it really bugs me until I remember it. I recall phoning my dear husband and screaming "HE'S OUR DENTIST!!" I'm sure he would have said "who IS this?" if not for call display. Even then...

We had seen a very familiar man completely out of context and it tortured me all day. I was quite ashamed as I got to the point of picturing this man in various forms of garb "suit & tie?" No "jeans & T?" No "safety vest & hardhat?" No.

I was starting to question my motivation for this avenue of thought (it's possible that some may consider the gentleman to be hottie hot hot perhaps somewhat attractive) except that I said to myself "it's not like I've imagined him in a Speedo" except – dammit, there it is. Sorry self.

I made it to "scrubs?" (don't ask why, I don't remember) when, wait a minute, there's something there… The "out of context" was at the funeral of the parent of a friend. A friend who used to work for that dentist. Her recommendation was how we had hooked up with him.

Do you have any tips for um... what was I talking about again?

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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Remembrance

His name was Charles Raymond Bradley and he was a Petty Officer with the Royal Canadian Air Force. He was my Grandmother's baby brother and the youngest in the family. I don't know exactly how old he was, because even though I had the presence of mind to pay some attention when my Grandmother spoke, I did NOT have the presence of mind to write these things down. He looks pretty young here.

He was a navigator on a bomber, and part of a fairly successful team – at least according to my only (possibly somewhat biased) source. My Grandmother told me frequently how after every successful mission, the crew each got an egg for breakfast. This was a big deal, as eggs were a rare commodity at the front. Reserved for the elite. Once you had twenty-five eggs, your tour was done. He had eaten twenty-one eggs.

When he was shot down over Germany, my Grandmother said that it ripped a hole in my Great-Grandmother's heart. She became embittered and angry at them for taking her baby. I wouldn't be so sure she even knew with whom she was angry.

I can't relate to the horrors of war. My heart lets me dabble at the edge of what it may be like to let your baby go off to an uncertain future, with odds further against them than you care to fathom. For obvious reasons, it doesn't let me more than dabble. More importantly, the only thing of which I am certain is that it would be nothing like one could ever imagine. Never mind the visit.

It's BECAUSE I can't relate that I am so grateful. I have not had to consider the possibility of such a hole ripped into me for the greater good.

I am so deeply indebted to the men and women who have served and continue to serve to protect my privileges as such a comparatively spoiled princess. Is there really any more that I can say than: Thank you?




----------------------

Max and I went yesterday to the Remembrance Day ceremony at the kids' school. The Principal makes a very sincere effort to beat the kids over the head with this. I believe it's pretty much provincial curriculum to not let this solemn day pass by un-noted, but I get the impression our Principal would not have to be asked. I was slightly disappointed at the parent turnout to this (what I think is an) important occasion, but noted that it was not specifically sent out as an invitation. I was extremely impressed at the children who sat silent and mostly (amazingly) still for a very long time. There are glimmers of hope.

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Saturday, November 7, 2009

Sweet and Salty

The girls stayed up way too late last night to watch a movie on TV because "IT'S THE WEEKEND!" and it's what we do on weekends, apparently.

So the crazy late, late movie they watched was actually "Cheaper by the Dozen 2 - we left the movie making machine on!" Stewie actually tried to stay up too, but fell asleep by about 9:30.

When it was over, despite it being ELEVEN o'clock, I still had to grab their scrawny little arms and twist them beyond what is reasonable force to convince them that maybe they should be going to bed, because "it's the weekend" and "OMG! It's Prank Patrol! We HAVE to watch that".

I tucked them in separately, in their separate rooms on separate floors. And separately, as they were settling, they both paused and gave me the saddest look I had ever seen from them and told me of this really sad commercial they had seen. (They're supposed to mute the commercials, but I go hoarse yelling over to the TV area "why am I hearing that?")

And then they started CRYING! Each of them.

I thought: "damn - I forgot that they have a whole different set of commercials on later, even on YTV". I assumed we were going into World Vision territory, but no. The offender was thus:



Of course, my poor dears, I hugged them and comforted them at the same time as I was giggling at them for being so sensitive. Then I watched it myself and suddenly found that there was a bit of something in my eye.

Here's notice, Sidekicks: any chance you had of ever coming into this home are summarily ELIMINATED when you make my girls cry! (disclaimer: it was slim to none prior)(clarification: and it's NOT because there was something in MY eye).

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Thursday, October 29, 2009

"I'm just gonna do this, and if your leg gets in the way, it's your own fault"

My girls were exactly what I thought little boys were like. Then my boy showed up and has been exactly what I thought the cross between a poltergeist (the destructive spectre, not creepy movie version); that hungry weasel that regularly slurps up and down Foghorn Leghorn's drumstick; and a pinball machine on multi-ball would be. It's like he's instantly everywhere with Destructive Intent. He doesn't go anywhere where he's not starting off the conversation swinging.

After teaching each of our two "creative" and "active" daughters for two years each, we brought our son in to Mrs G, the Nursery School / Kindergarten Teacher (that is not a short-form, or an alias, everyone actually calls her Mrs G). We said "Here! CYA" and ran. Cue "ricochet" sound, and maniacal laughter for two as we tore down the hall.

She's got two years to fix him.

Tonight, I observed the following in the kitchen:

#1 engaging in bear-hug-like embrace of #2, such that both were collapsing to the ground, with #3 taking full advantage of by kidney-punching them both all the way down. All were laughing (you know, until they're not)

She's got a bit of a tough nut to crack, but I'm sure that there's no connection to the fact that she's retiring next year.

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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Out of Water

I was born at a very young age in a galaxy far, far away – not a Ford Galaxie, that's probably where I was conceived (did you see what I did there? Ford actually made the Galaxie, and they existed at the time of my conception. That's called "research".) Actually, it wasn't all that long ago, and it was less than a mile from where I sit right now (crap, it's more like 5 km. What is that in dog years? I'm tired of research). I've lived here about 99% of my life (sunovabich, you're going to make me calculate this, aren't you? K: 3/41=7% of my life *not* living here. I'll take this opportunity to say "look waaaay up. What does that banner say?")*

Alright, so you'd think I belong here. But some of the typical conduct of my fellow citizens leaves me flummoxed. Here are but a few of the things that highlight how I may not belong here.

I:

  • Don't vacate the city for the lake every summer. Yes, I need a second whole household to maintain and manage, because clearly I have too much time & money
  • Hate the Guess Who. As in, *hate*. Can't stress this enough. It may or may not be that I've manufactured this entire post in order to be able to state that.
  • Don't hate Toronto. More indifferent. And pity. They *so* want to be a world city. Not going to happen. This is Canada. That would be grandstanding.
  • Didn't swoon over IKEA's announcement to open here (disclosure: already own everything, which makes me a good, cheap Winnipegonian; disclosure #2: I'll be there - with my paycheque in hand – the day they open; disclosure #3: I may have emailed them about it back in the day)
  • Don't hijack any discussion of Neil Young with "he's from Winnipeg, you know". He left. I'm over it.
  • Know where my turn signal lever is and know how to use it. And do. But not for hours at a time.
  • Can use an acceleration lane.
  • Don't make monthly shopping trips to Grand Forks (disclosure: Girls' GFF Weekend. Not my choice destination, but hey, I can spend money. And hey, it's my GFFs!)
  • Don't pine for the Jets and hyperventilate when the league utters the word "expansion". They're gone. Get over it. In fact the only *possible* way to get them back is to let them go, move on and grow as a community until we earn them on our own merit. And for the love of Christmas, don't fucking call them "The Jets" if that miraculously happens. How about: The Wholesalers? Eh? Eh? Nice ring to it.

I've got about 15 or 200 more ways that I don't or haven't fit in to the various groups and communities I am either forced to, or really want to be a part of. What of you?

*And, ok further: a goodly chunk was spent just outside the city – some might call it "the country" – but really, our community was here, as it sure as hell wasn't out there. I have a long history of not fitting in. Also: damn right I double count that time as time toward my God-given right ability to call myself a country-girl. It probably landed me a husband, so I can't let it go now.

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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Very Small Rocks

I had a dream the other night that I was in my parents' garden and they rolled a giant rock out of it and it rolled right at me. I dodged it once, but then it rolled back, right on top of me. Just as I was yelling "HELP!" they looked up and I woke up. I always wake up before the worst part of a dream – even those that don't involve my own demise.

So I woke up and I immediately began thinking "what the hell was THAT?"

I don't usually ponder the meanings of my dreams. I've had relatively few that I could figure out even if I tried. The most vivid was one I had as a child – about four. A large crowd of people – including my mother, my father and me – were running in a field, being chased by a herd of buffalo. The sky was dark with a looming storm. My mother and father were at the front of this crowd and tossing me back and forth between them. My mother was wearing a green vinyl trench coat. Did I mention they were newly separated at the time? I think it was a warning about my aversion to crowds. And buffalo.

The only other one I can recall offhand was about a former boss, whom I respect deeply. I had an image of him in a bathtub having been electrocuted with a toaster. That one freaked me out. So I asked my mom what death meant in dreams. She assured me that it was all about change, which kind of made sense, since we had just acquired a new toaster at the kitchenette. I failed to mention the bathtub and the nakedness. I don't want to know what that meant. (He's alive and well, by the way. And clothed, I presume.)

Now, I often don't pick up on metaphors and deeper meanings unless they are explained to me in very small words (high-school English was a bitch), but I sort of decided that the big giant rock was something that was overwhelming me.

I discussed this with Max, who, after mocking me soundly about dreaming about giant rocks (that's just how we roll – HAW!), analyzed – probably correctly – that may I have some difficulty in breaking down problems/issues into manageable pieces. It's all or nothing. Give'er pig. Go big or go home. And then, bleh... I'm done. Burned out. But hey! I'm done, so I can just rest. This MO would often work out just fine in my pre-child years, in an apartment, but now it does not serve me well. There is no rest, there's just the next project or task or crisis (did you know I made a whole freaking RAGGEDY ANN doll? Embroidery and everything?) So I'll consider it. Because, hey, I like rest as much as the next guy. Maybe more.

And what the hell is up with the fucking brain anyway? Why can't it just say "HEY! YOUR PARENTS ARE SEPARATING!" or "HEY! YOU'RE MORE WORRIED THAN YOU THINK ABOUT THE CHANGES AT WORK!" or

"HEY!!! STUPID!!! TRY TACKLING YOUR PROBLEMS IN SMALLER PARTS!"

I can't help but note that if I were to break up this "rock" into manageable "pieces" that a pile of gravel that size would still kill me. But maybe I take the metaphor too far.

I also note that Max wasn't in this dream, and have concluded that he must have been holding the rock back, and is actually the reason I was able to wake up at all.

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Thursday, October 15, 2009

Harmzie's Den of Unimaginable Pleasures

Unimaginable, because I couldn't possibly make this shit up...

I found this little (pen is included for scale [See what I did there? I made sure to include the space in "pen is"]) gem whilst tidying up the toys tonight:



That's a Playmobil monkey on a pig. I don't think it's a Playmobil pig, because it's squishy (although the monkey is too, but I know for a fact that it's a Playmobil monkey).
It's not a "Tequila Pigs" pig either, because those were lost/destroyed/banished after the Great Tequila Pigs Incident of 2003 (relax did not involve children this time) (did, however, involve Tequila).
But the scene reminded me of another that I found a while back - and also thought to take a picture of, mostly because the position of the eye was *so* perfect. OK, I'm lying. It's because Poochie and Lisa/Betty/Frances (her name changes regularly) were caught taking the world in a love embrace and firing all of their guns at once.

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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Roughing It

I'm stuck out here in the middle of The Gap with a laptop from Pioneer days (seriously – the mouse doesn't work. Do you know how much you use the mouse on a computer? A lot. A hell of a lot), so I thought I'd share a little about life on the road. With three kids.

Let me tell you those pioneers had it easy simply because, sure they couldn't tie up kids for hours on end with a DVD player that would plug into the horse's butt, but they COULD threaten beatings, or typhoid, or mountain lions. I'm not allowed to do that. All I've got is "finish your kids' meal or I'll eat the Oreo cookie treat myself". Even that, in the wrong context could land me in jail for child depravation these days. And they know it.

So we embarked on a whirlwind road trip to Calgary for Thanksgiving. Roughing it in the worst way. We drove a whole 10 hours and landed in Medicine Hat at a hotel campsite of Max's choosing (and reserving). The plan was to pitch camp and blow off a little kid steam at the waterslide. It was a brutally rough test of endurance, as the hot-tub was not working, so as Max & the kids partook in only two full sized waterslides, I was forced to take on the body-temperature swimming pool. It was excruciating. Then, the place that we camped only had glass French doors between the king-sized bed and the rest of the suite. And they didn't even latch shut. Also, the TV in the bathroom was only 19 inches (never mind that there were only three TVs! Come on! There are five of us!) AND the dual shower heads had to be turned on separately. I swear I would rather have beat my laundry on a rock. Or maybe marble, like the floors and counters in there. Then I had to endure a Japanese Hot-Stone massage that Max had booked for me, when really I just wanted to bake pretzels and tan racoon hides over the campfire with the children. No, really. But endure it I did. It was also excruciating.

After I showered in the spa's shower with only four jets on top of the regular overhead shower, we de-camped and proceeded to Calgary where we weren't allowed to demonstrate our stupendous roughing it skills, and were forced to accept overwhelming hospitality and generosity from our brother and sister-in-law. Seriously. We had to sleep in our own room! With the kids on a whole other floor! And visit and re-connect with other adults! Family adults! I know.

But Thanksgiving dinner made all the roughing it totally worth it. My niece made her very first all-on-her-own Thanksgiving dinner. The only thing I had to endure about that was the painful awe and inspiration watching her pull it all together flawlessly (actually, I only saw the finale. She had it so together that 99% of it was done for extra awe and inspiration). Also, it was delicious. And the company was wonderful. And they had a playroom with a plexi-glass door. That LATCHED! The pioneers had nothing on that.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Note I said "Thanksgiving" and not "Canadian Thanksgiving". You're a big kid and can figure it out.

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Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Magic Star Morello

I'm tootling about my day, emailing here, inspecting there, throw in a meeting or two for good measure, sign some crap. About half way through the day, I realize I've had the theme song to "My Little Pony" crammed in as a running sound track ALL DAY LONG (I guess it's more of a jingle than a theme song, but at this point, it's semantics)

As bad as that is, it is nowhere near as annoying as once you notice it and can't get rid of it. Something had to be done.

I thought for a moment that maybe if I forced a completely different kind of song on myself... Let's see, how about some Rage Against The Machine? Excellent choice!

No matter how hard you try, you can't stop us now
No matter how hard you try, you can't stop us now

Very nice. Working like a charm. Until:

We're the renegades of funk
We're the renegades of … My Little Pony, My Little Pony…

And that, officers, is why I had to bring the flame thrower in to take out the MLP aisle. It just had to stop. You can see my point.

"Yes ma'am. Sorry to keep you, ma'am"

If there is a god, I have now passed this fucking ear worm on to you and I can proceed at peace.

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Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Backfire

We were watching Wimbledon.

I use the term "we" a little loosely. Basically, I was aware it was on. Despite my abhorrence for all things sports, I DO try to make an effort to remain engaged. It is a little bit interesting. Plus, I do have a deep respect for and fascination with the business, physiology and psychology of sports. That someone can bring themselves up to that level, both physically and mentally (it takes both, apparently).

So we were watching Wimbledon, and I looked up from my crossword/sudorku at some point and made some snide comment about Roger Federer being some kind of an asshole or something. Max – who normally jumps right in with the celebrity bashing – indignantly said "actually, I've heard he's quite the gentleman and sportsman". I was unable to argue the statement, as my position was based merely on the usually robust assumption that all celebrities (from all walks) are assholes. I am fully aware that this is a rule which is full of exceptions, and am quick to back down when one is presented, but usually, I just don't give a flying crap either way.

But it did send me off on a train of thought… Wow. He sure seems smitten [I don't know if it's obvious, but the thought process from here on was pretty much entirely internal] with Roger Federer. And it reminded me of a Mad TV skit (which I can't find, so it's possible I made this whole part up) where a man finds his wife in bed with Brian Bosworth and instead of freaking out, he is totally jazzed by the fact that his wife is FUCKING BRIAN BOSWORTH!!! And he wants pictures and autographs – ends up creeping out the Boz*, and pissing off his wife because, hello! Earth to jealous husband! Fight for me!

So jumping another step (naturally), suddenly I'm thinking of the Freebie Five. Nen did (a) Your Freebie Five; (b) the Freebie Five I'd Switch Teams For; (c) most recently, Time Machine Freebie Five. The next logical step is…

[drum roll please]

Freebie Five for my spouse! Brilliant! This is so brilliant that I can't believe it hasn't been done yet. I'm so excited. Yay! I am totally pursuing this.

That night, as the house is settling down, I ask (I even cite the Mad TV skit, so it's not TOTALLY out of the blue – I'm THAT prepared): "Who would your Freebie Five for me be?"

"WHAT?!!"

"You know, who would it be a feather in YOUR cap if *I* were to sleep with them?"

He is clearly not playing the game, and in fact, is offended. "What the hell is wrong with you? That list would obviously be zero" (also obviously too flustered to deal with grammar)

Now it is ME who is offended "UGH! You have no imagination. Yes, I'm going to take your 'list' and run around the continent (hey! I've got lots of airmiles!) hunting down these 'catches' because I've got this permission slip from my husband, so it's ok as long as I get pictures and an autograph that says 'yer wife's a tiger in the sack, thanks dude'. It took me six months land a date with YOU"

He rolled his eyes at me and was silent for a very long time as I frittered away on my sudorku "OK fine… How about Stephen Hawking. And maybe Homer Simpson"

"you're an asshole. Homer Simpson wouldn't count because he's all TWO DIMENSIONAL"

*scroll down to "Personal Life" for a local connection. I recall seeing it on the news, so it MUST be true!

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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

You say it’s your birfday…

(This conversation took place in July. I'm a yiddle bit disappointed that it didn't play out the way he planned it. That would have been awesome.)

"I'm going to wap up a pwesant for you, Mommy when it's your birfday"

"Yeah? I like presents from my boy!"

"I'm going to wap up a wine machine for your birfday"

"That sounds like a great present"

"It's a yiddle bit different"

"Oh?

"It's wed. You put wine seeds in it and turn the handle and wine comes out. You have to put fwayver [flavour] in it too. It tastes a yiddle bit weird

"You know what else I'll get you for your birfday? A Hot Wheels screamer machine!"

"A what?"

"You have to put Hot Wheels cars in it and it turns into a green gun! It's a green skrisher gun. It helps to skrish everything.

"How does that sound? (Say 'petakwar')"

"Spectacular!"

"Yeah."

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Monday, September 28, 2009

Paring

Pepper's last soccer game was Wednesday evening. The previous evening was Norah's last game. Both were, for some reason, the continuation of the spring soccer season.

That was it for the programmed activities for our kids for the foreseeable future. At least until the New Year, or until I scream "FUUUUCK YOU NEED TO BE SOMEONE ELSE'S PROBLEM FOR AN HOUR!", whichever comes first.

Last year's activities included:

Norah: Piano (half-hour lesson once a week, plus practice every day), Guitar (half-hour lesson once a week, plus practice every day), Dance (one-hour lesson once a week), Squash (one-hour lesson once a week), Soccer (one-hour practice once a week, plus two one-hour games per week at various locations around the city)

Pepper: Piano (half-hour lesson once a week, plus practice every day), Basketball (one-hour practice once a week, plus a one-hour games each week at various locations around the city), Dance (one-hour lesson once a week), Soccer (two one-hour games a week)

Stewie: Soccer (two one-hour games a week). For some reason (probably him NOT constantly badgering to join things), we didn't have him in much.

It was too much. We were constantly going. We started using Google calendar because between Max and me and one car, we had to strategize and analyze the logistics of every single evening. Including weekends. The kids – separately – said "Mom, we're too busy".

How did we get into this? We're not "those people". We always swore we wouldn't over-program our kids. We mock "those people". But there's just so much that's interesting. So much that we feel they should learn. Dance for flexibility and coordination. Basketball / Soccer for team-building and discipline. Music for brain-wiring and math skillz. And they asked for it all, were enthusiastic (at the beginning) for everything.

But while they liked dancing, they didn't love it. The team sports were fun, but none of them (so far) have the bloodlust I can see in other players the same age (as soccer players, they'll make great cellists). Maybe they will later, but I'm not willing to tear at their little souls to get it now.

Music is even more difficult to ditch, as both the girls have actually been advancing fairly rapidly. Plus, we bought a whole mother-fucking expensive piano. Norah, after (Guitar Hero induced) begging to take guitar lessons all summer last year, got exceedingly belligerent and ornery (I mean more than normal) after only about a month. We forced her to stick out the entire year (until June – acquiring Guitar Hero at Christmas may or may not have bought a little time). She was (and is) actually amazing. Her teacher – a local rock-star himself – commented on her skill and potential (I think he was also secretly a little jazzed to have a nine-year-old girl asking him to teach her Metallica's "One" and AC/DC's "Thunderstruck")

So, we quit. Everything. This fall and winter we are going to do some one-off family stuff. Skating. Movies. Skiing (hey, we may be in the flattest area in the FREAKING WORLD, but we've got a lump or two suitable for kids. And me. And there's always cross-country) And looking forward to some unprogrammed time. There is much to do to regain control (assuming it's "regain" and not just "gain", but either way). I hope to be able to document some of it here, but don't hold your breath. Cleaning up and gaining control of this cluster-fuck we generously call a blog is unfortunately not terribly high up on the list. But since I enjoy whining sharing here, look for continued, random brain-farts!

Paring down is only step one. I hope it works. What do you think?

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Sunday, September 20, 2009

Open letter to Stone Fox about Twitter...

-------------
Or anyone else who hasn't been sucked in by the twmadness, which is how you have to twrite anything to do with twitter, like "tweeple", and "twitterverse" or "I have to twour myself a twup of twoffee and twlace it with a twoverdose of twerioine or maybe just twjam my twpen in my tweye to make it stwop" (and I'm actually kind of surprised that spellcheck still doesn't recognize any of those words).
-------------

Dear Stone Fox [and any and everyone else, as above],

Run. Run screaming if you have to.

But if you're still intrigued you CAN check it out without being "in" (www.twitter.com/harmzie or use the handle of anyone else you'd like to stalk observe). I don't know why the hell you would be. I can't explain why I'm there. Even less why Max (@nickrollout - ask him why he picked that name. I think you'll be dry-heaving pleasantly surprised!) is, since like I said, he can "monitor" my "activities" from afar. I'm just glad he told me he was. Not like I was doing anything crazy or un-marriage-like. But still. It's nice to know you're being watched. For me, Twitter usually kind of feels like no one's watching. Which if you don't feel crazy for being there in the first place, can kind of make you feel crazy.

There's lots of crazy on the internex, isn't there?

Do you think it's re-focusing crazy from elsewhere in the world or just making more crzzzay?

By the way, if it isn't obvious, I love Twitter and would love you to join us ... join us ... join us ...

UPDATE:
-------------
twitter.com/nickrollout
twitter.com/fox_stone

All in one week. My work here is done (see you next week, SciFi Dad).

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Saturday, September 19, 2009

Reflections

Why is it on birthdays we find it necessary to reflect on the past present and future? And then again on New Years? And ultimately at funerals?

Well, with my birthday eggs benedict at the ready (the day was yesterday, the 18th, but with jobs and school, today is the special breakfast, though I got my bling yesterday – that's a given) I'm not here to answer that question – especially the funeral one (though with the dearth of posting of late, there is cause to wonder) – just to do it.

I am now 41. It happens. It will happen to you! It might have already. It's not a bad thing. It beats the alternative. I believe the problem people have with aging is usually a feeling that they didn't appreciate 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, when they had it. To paraphrase the tree-hugger thing: the best time to appreciate your youth was 20 years ago. The second best time is right now.* You are still young compared to when you'll be saying "I'm so old" in 10 years.

Last year on my birthday (a "milestone"), Max asked me, not if I was "happy", but: "if you could go back 20 years and look ahead to where you are now, would you like what you saw?"**

Without hesitating (well, after I quickly sorted through the ** below), I said YES! I would have been ecstatic to see us still married, both healthy and relatively fit (he IS, I might be skinny, but not necessarily what I'd call fit), three beautiful healthy children. We are in a nice house in a wonderful neighbourhood. I am gainfully employed in a job that still provides challenges and opportunities (I think that might even be in a vision statement somewhere). Great friends and extended family – who are all still talking (hey, these days, it has to be counted!).

Are there provisos and "well, if I were to really look into it I'd change (a), (b), and (c)"? No freaking doubt! I constantly feel as though I am one crisis away from spiralling out of control on most fronts. The grand irony is that every aspect of my life is *exactly* where I want it to be, but I sometimes feel as though I have it held together by string and gum.

[The one exception is the marriage. I guess it is proof that when you meticulously and systematically replace string and gum with trust and communication, the result actually can be pretty robust. (The funny part? At EVERY stage of this relationship, we have thought this had been achieved. I fully expect to read this at 60 and mutter "pfft. Amateur.")]

So I/we are in a period of regaining control. Fortunately, there are very small changes to make. Unfortunately there are a lot of them.

What about YOU? Would your 15 or 20 year-old self be pleased with what s/he saw now?

* The tree-hugger thing: "the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is right now"

** Here, I have to put in that the enginerd in me can tend to get hung up on the details: Do I just see a picture? Do I just get to observe interactions, but not be seen (a la Scrooge's ghost tour-guides)? Do I get to ask questions? Do I get to be INSIDE my person, feeling what I feel? I talk myself from the ledge by reminding myself that the answer is the same regardless of the observation made (just some of the details maybe?)

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Saturday, September 12, 2009

Max Power

When I started this (months ago), I had large hopes of it expressing my precise feelings for that entity we call "Max Power" here down at Harmzie's Way. Now, late in the evening on the anniversary of the day that brought Mr Max upon this plane, I can't seem to type a single word without the use of the backspace bar (may or may not be due to the celebrating, OR the presence of my mom and my FAB cousin visiting on their way by from Ontario thru to BC -- i.e. liberal applications of the celebrating factors of La Grotta cheesecake and/or Greenall and/or Peter Lehman), I seem to have to resort to the words of the fabulous and eloquent Christina Agulara. I think she's pretty much captured it, so I'm good with it:


(Do your thang honey)

I could feel it from the start,
Couldn't stand to be apart.
Something about you caught my eye,
Something moved me deep inside!
Don't know what you did boy but
You had it and I've been hooked ever since.

I told my mother, my brother, my sister and my friends
I told the others, my lovers, both past and present tense.
Everytime I see you everything starts making sense.

(Do your thang honey)

Ain't no other man, can stand up next to you
Ain't no other man on the planet does what you do
(what you do).
You're the kinda guy, a girl finds in a blue moon.
You got soul, you got class.
You got style with your bad ass - oh yeah!
Ain't no other man its true - all right -
Ain't no other man but you.

(Do your thang honey)

Never thought I'd be all right.
(No, no, no!)
Till you came and changed my life.
(Yeah, yeah, yeah!)
What was cloudy now is clear!
(Yeah, yeah yeah)!
You're the light that I needed.

You got what I want boy, and I want it!
So keep on givin' it up!
Tell your mother, your brother, your sister, and your friends.
And the others, your lovers, better not be present tense.
Cause I want everyone to know that you are mine and no one else's!
Oooooooo, oh!

Ain't no other man, can stand up next to you
Ain't no other man on the planet does what you do
(what you do).
You're the kinda guy, a girl finds in a blue moon.
You got soul, you got class.
You got style your bad ass - oh yeah!
Ain't no other man it's true - all right -
Ain't no other man but you.

(Break it down now!)
Ain't no other, ain't, ain't no other! (other)
Ain't no other, ain't, ain't no other LOVER!
Ain't no other, I, I, I need no other!
Ain't no other man but you!
Ohhhh!

You are there when I'm a mess
Talk me down from every ledge
Give me strength, boy you're the best
You're the only one who's ever passed every test

Ain't no other man, can stand up next to you
Ain't no other man on the planet does what you do
(what you do).
You're the kinda guy, a girl finds in a blue moon.
(You're the kinda guy, a girl finds oooo yeahh)
You got soul, you got class.
You got style your bad ass - oh yeah!
Ain't no other man it's true - all right -
Ain't no other man but you.

And now I'm tellin' you, so ain't no other man but you.
Ain't no other man, can stand up next to you
Ain't no other man on the planet does what you do
(what you do).
You're the kinda guy, a girl finds in a blue moon.
You got soul, you got class.
You got style your bad ass - oh yeah!
Ain't no other man it's true - all right -
Ain't no other man but you.

I luvs and/or lust you boi.
Happy Birthday, Max.

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Wednesday, September 9, 2009

First Day

It's the first day of school and my kid has no shoes.

Shouldn't someone have sent me a memo or something?

They sent you three. One for each kid. Each one said: "they need a special, separate pair of shoes for the classroom". Each one said: "first day of school is on the 9th. Of September".

Shut up. That doesn't count. They need to send them with an electric shock attached to them. In your face. Rebut that one.

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Sunday, August 30, 2009

Manic

The kids left Thursday evening. It is real. They're gone. For 10 days.

Maybe about a year ago, my dad made an offhand comment about how they were looking forward to when the kids would be old enough to take camping. I said "sounds like a great plan" and put it on the back shelf of my brain to be accessed in about 15 or 30 years. You know, just before they start dating.

Late spring, they called and said "we have to book camp sites, can they come?" Ga?

They are camping. Real full-on camping. Not the kind of camping we did Back In The Day, where you load up as much beer and hard liquor into your car as you can, and fill the leftover space with steak and if there's any space left over after THAT, you put a tent and maybe a sleeping bag in. And the sleeping bag was the cheapest thing they could legally call a sleeping bag available at Canadian Tire that you picked up on your way out of town. And the tent was something your *real* camping parents had handed down to you that had been used possibly in the second world war (not IN the war, because then it would be full of bullet holes, but in the TIME of the war). And you hope that you remembered to locate all the poles after last year, because something way back in the annals of what passes for memory you seem to recall *really* needing a marshmallow roasting stick on your last night and you also happened to be using your parents' station wagon last year (i.e. much more room for the beer). Also, it was the only time you could feel justified eating Alphagetti. Because that shit is gross except when "camping".

That's a very accurate description of the kind of camping they are NOT doing. They ARE taking their gear (Real Gear, see above) and going to a camp ground that only has access by bus. That is, you park, load up your Real Gear and ride the bus to the site in the middle of the mountains.

As their departure date grew closer, and we realized we'd be childless for 10 days, we were both riding a very exciting - and excruciating - roller coaster of emotions. After they left, I have myself masked any emotional response - appropriate or otherwise - through other means:

Off on this adventure is Grandma & Grandpa, three aunties and one "Skunkle" (my kids decided that he would not get full "Uncle" privileges until he made an honest woman of her). Nine of them off in two cars with walkie-talkies between them.

They called this evening - night 3 - they sound wonderful. They're having the time of their lives. They had in their voices, the exactly perfect mix of not missing us, but being really happy to tell us of their days adventures.

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Monday, August 24, 2009

Harmzie's Hierarchy of Needs

Air -- Homeostasis -- Coffee -- Water -- Food -- Shelter -- Emotional Well-Being HooHa -- Some other crap that I probably need, but you know, requires effort...

We had another thunderstorm this morning. It has gotten to the point that people don't even complain about the weather any more. And we're Canadian. It's an obligation in our Constitution (except for Quebec, they don't have to complain about the weather because they haven't adopted the constitution because the meaning got lost in translation and they thought it meant that they had to give *control* of the weather over to the Belgians and they traditionally hate the Belgians, so there was some trust issues and we had a rally and stormed Montreal with a giant Canadian flag and I'm not sure how the Belgians factored in, except that they make good waffles, but I've heard Quebeckers hate waffles, so maybe THAT was the problem)

So we had another thunderstorm this morning, and as I was in the shower, the lights flickered and I thought "crap, I haven't made coffee yet". If the power goes off, I can't make it. AT ALL. I comforted myself with the fact that I could get coffee at work. Crappy coffee, but beggars can't be choosers. Unless the power is out everywhere. Well, what about Tim Horton's? IF THE POWER'S OUT EVERYWHERE I CAN'T GET COFFEE ANYWHERE!!! Mofo. I'm hyperventilating in the shower (good for the breathing channels, not so good for the BRAIN)

And then I wished I had put the kettle on (we make one cup at a time, with boiled water from the kettle) *before* getting in to the shower, but I have an irrational fear of house fires, and I can't purposely turn on an appliance that could burst into flames and then get into the shower where I can't hear or smell anything and ignore it for 45 10 minutes. Then I thought that I should have anyway, since the two kids who sleep upstairs were at grandma & grandpa's house for the night, Max had gone to the gym early, and I could easily grab the third kid whose is on the main floor and get out in time. Since I *could* save my kid, I *should* have taken the risk that I would have to run outside naked to make my coffee, I thought. Especially since there's a robe in here. Continue hyperventilating.

So then I started thinking about how they made coffee in the OLDEN DAYS. But then realized that the microwave needed power too... KIDDING! I know that they didn't have microwaves in the olden days. They would have had to have rubbed two cows together. Not having two cows, I started grasping at ideas. Something. Anything. A pot [check]. And a fire. Fire. Candle? Lighter? That would take a long time. So then I figured I could use the propane torch from the garage and boil a pot of water. Having thusly saved the morning (should the power have failed), I was able to calmly complete my shower with a normal rate of breathing, get out and - very quickly - turn on the kettle. I even stopped long enough to put the robe on. [You're welcome, neighbours]

In mostly unrelated news, when I got to work I discovered that everyone was in a panic because there was no coffee. The operation of the entire department was halted as all resources were directed at rectifying the situation. KIDDING AGAIN! Everyone was fine. They just did their work really, really lethargically until the caffeine epi-pens were brought in.

Except me, who had already had my coffee. Swish.

[note to self (and Max if you catch this): We're out of cream. Do not want to repeat tomorrow]

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Thursday, August 20, 2009

For all the good this does...

I was thinking about medical research today.

Not in the usual way that people think about medical research - as in "I sure hope they cure Cancer and Diabetes and Multiple Sclerosis soon" (I do think about that, but not this time). I was thinking about the medical leaps of faith, the paradigm shifts (I know, I hate that overused office politicos term, but it fits).

Picture it - in a lab, way back when:

"Hey, Dr Carter, you know, I was just sitting there staring into my coffee and started thinking."

"Oh? About what?"

"Well, we know that the very sensitive tissues within the nose and mouth and eyes - the 'mucous membranes' absorb things at a much faster rate than the tougher dermal layers in other areas of the body?"

"uh huhhhh. What about it"

"Wouldn't it stand to reason that ALL mucous membranes act in this way?"

"Sure, I suppose"

"So, what if we take a medication we need to administer and apply it rectally."

"Um... what?"

"Physically place the medication within the patient's rectum for quick dissolution"

"Are you saying we should shove pills up his ass?"

"Well, that's pretty crude, but yes, I suppose"

"---

"--- ga!"

"No, really. Don't you think that we'd be able to get quick absorption of pain relief medication or .."

"Well maybe, but STOP! Eww! Just eww! Come on, dude. What is wrong with you?"

"Well, can't we at least do a clinical trial?"

"Awww, come on... You're not going to make me put this before the medical ethics board, are you?"

"Yes. Here, I've already drawn up the proposal."

"Awww, duuuude."

"Just find out what they think"

Two weeks later

"So? What did they say?"

"Well, I presented it to them and most of them started out with a revulsion (although two of them had kind of a creepy grin). They listened intently and then dismissed me to discuss amongst themselves..."

"And what was their conclusion?"

"They said we could go ahead with the trial on one condition..."

"Which is?"

"The one who came up with the idea must NOT be involved in the study in any way."

[in case you were wondering WHY my mind went there - don't. But if you still are, I overheard someone alluding to the joke that ends "for all the good this does, I may as well be shoving them up my ass" That's my story and I'm sticking to it.]

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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Raggedy Ann

So, I check out of rehab, all refreshed, ready to start anew, and I run across an old friend: "Hey! I love your blog! But I haven't heard much from you recently! What's up?"

"Uh... blog?" I look into it. Apparently that was some bender.

Inappropriate, insensitive comments about rehab and blog-writing benders aside, I've been busy. Not insanely busy, but a combination of just too busy to stay up that extra mrffmrff minutes to pull something out of my ass craft anything worth sharing, crossed with extreme mild dissatisfaction with several previous posts, plus intimidation at others' brilliance. That's my story and I'm sticking to it [I think I just discovered my new tagline].

Country Girl to the rescue! When Miss Rougeneck beckons, you listen*.

I've been instructed as follows:

  • Open your first photo folder.

  • Scroll down to the 10th photo**.

  • Post that photo and story on your blog.

  • Tag five others (or more) friends to do the same.
*Also, this is just as good a place to jump back in with my mindless drivel as anywhere.

When I was a child I had a Raggedy Ann doll, made for me by my Dad's aunt. I don't remember many of my childhood toys, but I remember this one because of a bizarre incident indicative of another time.

When I was four, my family (extended, I think there were five or six adults plus me) had travelled to Guatemala (drove, in a van, through the US and Mexico). I think for several weeks. We stayed at an A-frame cottage of sorts. This cottage was a short walk (I'll guess about five to ten minutes?) on a single path to a beach with spectacular sunsets. Nearly every night that we stayed there, some combination of people would walk out to the beach for the view. One particular night, I (remember, four) had decided NOT to join the beach contingent and stayed with folks at the cottage. Then I changed my mind and headed out for the beach. By myself(here's where the whole "different time" thing comes in, I'll assume).

While touring around Guatemala, I had noticed (or had pointed out to me) that the women often carried their babies on backs in a sling. So I had fashioned (or had fashioned for me) a little sling in which to carry my Raggedy Ann, and set out to the beach with my baby. On the way, a small group of kids saw me (little white blond girl - I was blond then, for real, too - all alone on her way to the beach. Stands out I guess) and started making fun of my contraption, to the point of picking at it such that my baby came out of it. I remember making it to the beach and being very upset about the whole situation. I think the adults tried to console me by telling me they were just jealous of my awesome get-up. I was four, but not stupid. I was far more sure they were offended that I was mocking their culture. True. That's what I thought.

That incident was probably the only reason I remembered that I had a Raggedy Ann doll (or that there was a beach within walking distance of the cabin), but fast forward to the birth of my first child and I decided that my new baby daughter should have a hand-made Raggedy Ann doll. Since the aunt in question had long since passed on, I decided to do it myself.

I diligently went out and shopped (new baby in my fancy new baby-bucket-seat and stroller) for the right pattern, and *exactly* perfect material for clothing and body parts. I cut it out and began by carefully embroidering the eyes, nose and mouth, as well as the "I LOVE YOU" on the heart. It was pain-staking, especially when she stayed bald for a good six months, as *every* *single* *hair* had to be stitched and tied. But finally, I was done. And I presented it to small Miss Norah. And she loved it.

The pattern said its size right on it. But 36" just sounds like a number until you put it up to a small child and realize that 36" is actually three feet tall.

No matter. She loved it. She liked to wrestle with it. It turned out to be not so much the cuddly, cart-your-baby-around type baby, more of a giant-ass, big sister with freaky eyes. And nose. And mouth. And eyebrows (under your eyes? seriously?)

I hesitated to post this one [I could have lied and posted the one of me finishing my first half marathon while four weeks pregnant, but there, I just told the story], as it has our ratty old couches in it, but it reminded me of that story too.

All we have left from this photo are the china cabinet, the Raggedy Ann doll (now! with more shredded eyes!), the black & white blanket and of course, the baby (now nine, so I guess we don't even have that any more [sigh])

My Tagees:

Stone Fox - pretty sure we were separated at birth, though mom must have had a pretty rough nine years of continued gestation. Unless we were both lied to. Which clearly we were if we were separated at birth. So it's totally possible. I'll take the high road and say I'm younger than my birth certificate says, ignoring the fact that it makes me a brilliant over-achieving child who would have had to have been in grade 3 at age uh... 18 months or something. We had nasty lying parents. It was a conspiracy I tells you.

Um... so where was I... oh yeah. Tagees!

Kyla Roma - because she rites real good-like about things and stuffs. I'd love to hear her craft a story about a random photo.

Juli Ryan - for that international flavour.

Planning Queen - Everybody needs a Planning Queen in their corner. Also international.

Wyliekat - bringing it back home. Wylie is the sane version of me.

Off minions! Report back with thine brilliance.

**seriously? Just pick a photo & tell a story. Like I'm going to audit your hard-drive or photo-server.

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Saturday, August 8, 2009

Denial. Not just a river in Egypt anymore

"...and that's why they have to work very hard to make sure people can't copy money."

"Mom, can we go out after breakfast and buy me a WebKinz?"

"---?"

"It's been over a month since I got a new one. I really need a new one."

[pause & blank stare] "You have plenty of WebKinz" (like 50 or 200. I've lost count and just keep stepping on them wherever I go) "eat your breakfast."

[Breakfast is cleared, I'm doing (ahem) research on the computer]

"Mom? I'm going to go get dressed so that we can go shopping for my new WebKinz!"

"What? We're not--"

[flying up the stairs] "YAAAY! Going to get dressed now!"

"But... no"

"We're going!!! Yay! Hey, Stewie needs a new one too!"

"What? Hey! Stop it! We're not going anywhere"

[a little later]

"So are you going to get dressed so we can go?"

"I'm not going anywhere. No one said anything about going anywhere for WebKinz but you."

"Stewie said so too"

"Does Stewie have a drivers' license? Does he have a bank account?"

"No." [barely skipping a beat] "Dad? Are you ready to go?"

We're NOT going. I think.

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Monday, August 3, 2009

Where the World Came From - by Pepper

It all started with a little asteroid.

One day it stopped and then it got bigger and bigger and bigger.

Then there were eggs [what kind of eggs?] Animal eggs. The animals came out of the eggs. Then once the animals grew big enough, they made the people (PS: somehow).

Then the people that got made by the animals became builders. The builders built lots of buildings. Then the girls had babies, and so on and so on until it was a WORLD!

---------------------
She asked me to send this out there (the Internets) to check it out. It sounds as good an explanation as I can provide. Does it check out?

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Dreams

I am at a schwanky party at a stone castle on the Riviera. I've stepped out onto the terrace for some air (the inside air was getting a little weighty with pretension).

"You've never looked more beautiful" the voice behind me says (a fleeting thought doesn't disagree, as my dress cuts a perfect silhouette in the moonlight). I turn and gaze into his eyes and his arm gently slips around my waist and pulls me closer. I find myself fully lost in those eyes.

"MOOOOOMMMMM!!!" The shrill voice rips through the brisk night air. I ignore it. Probably someone else's mom.

"MOOOOOMMMMMMMYYY!!!" As the veil that was my happy place gets shredded into little wet bits, I catch a fleeting glimpse of my Danny heading off to catch the next most beautiful perfect silhouette. Likely one without a muffin-top too, fickle bastard. And I get up to tend to the offender.

I've done a lot of reading and observing, considering and ignoring, trial and error, laughing and no doubt shuddering on various parenting techniques, tricks, strategies philosophies and tips. Dealing with nightmares is the one thing that I have to say I've not really read much about, but actually reached my own conclusion, based a lot on things not specifically related to parenting. So it's probably wrong. But I've never claimed to be good at any of this. Read, consider, and let me know what you think of my approach.

Part I – The [ahem] "Science"

I took a "Leadership" course through work several years ago. Sounds very "Dilbert", but it was an excellent course on responsibility, delegation and a bunch of other corporate stuff. It was a brief, shining moment when I had some faith that my organization was heading in the right direction with something [ahem]. Throughout this course, the instructor spouted off several bits of wisdom that just made plain sense.

(1) We retain [The actual number is less relevant than the scale between them - I'm going to say -] 10% of what we hear, 50% of what we write down, and 80% of what we explain (either back or to someone else). Your brain puts information into different compartments depending upon what it's doing with it. Writing and explaining require more processing.

(2) Something bothering you? Talk it out! This was the "traditional" format for trauma counselling (talking dangerously close to out of my ass now). He stated that there has been growing evidence that making someone talk about a traumatic even can serve to only freeze the event in their memory, when their own coping mechanism may just be to suppress it. In such situations, “they” have found, the individual should actually dictate how they need to cope. Some people need to talk about stuff, others need not to. Or they do, but a little later (again, several years ago, this may be mainstream now. Or entirely shot down. I mention it because in my context, the basic notion still makes perfect sense to me)

Of course he provided references, but I didn't write them down... or recite them to someone else.

[if anyone locally ever has the chance to take anything with Linton Sellen, I recommend jumping at it]

Part II – The Personal Experience

Whenever I am awakened by a bad dream - it seems my conscience would prefer I waken and play-out the worst semi-consciously - I cannot go back to sleep until I fully waken myself and flush the images. Fully reconcile the logistics of yes-that-frightens-you-but-the-likelihood-of-the-earth-opening-up-and-swallowing-your-car-is-low-enough-that-you-do-not-have-to-have-an-escape-plan

On the flip-side, ever have an awesome/funny/interesting/bizarre dream and want to tell about it at breakfast or work later? Or when some seemingly random image reminds you of it?And all you can get out is: "it was really weird... there was.. something about... I was dating Tintin, and uh, Bea Arthur* was vacuuming my curtains, but it, uh made total sense in context and actually was, uh, I think a subconscious commentary on social justice in a world dominated by um... velociraptors... No, really. Don't walk away!"
..
The Actual Advice (disclaimer: don't take this advice without engaging your own brain. You do have one. I know because you've read this far!)

Based on the above (they relate! Shut up, they do!), I never, EVER prompt the offender child to recite what has caused the distress no matter how much I want to punish them for ruining my evening with Daniel Craig

-- Gently wake the child (not all the way). A hug and "Mom/Dad's here" to test the waters

-- Preferably get them to sit up to apply the hugs

-- Acceptable statements: "It's mom/dad/Aunt Fanny"; "You're safe, in your house"; "Mom & Dad are right here in our room" (maybe leave out any explanations for the noises that probably woke them up - now's probably not a good time for that)

-- If they want to talk about it, BY ALL MEANS! but reassure with every statement "you're here now"; "everything's alright" and such and such.
..
This has seems to work for my kids so far, but I haven't been faced with night terrors or any other really complex middle of the night issues. Tell me what you think of this approach.

My next bit of psychological parenting advice has to do with monsters. Stay tuned for more talking out of my ass!
..
*I really wanted to put the whole picture in here, but it's a very big image, so it's just linked

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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Watch This Space

We'll call this one "BEFORE".






And it's the source of all my whining this week (other than the cold, of course) as well as the project of my "staycation".

Also? Anyone who mentions The Basement or inquires on the progress on The Basement will be banned for life. You've been duly warned.

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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Illness-Induced Delirium

For something that just popped into my head and made me giggle, this sure took a long time.

I've been burning the candle at both ends to be able to take two weeks off of work without having to do "just one more thing" or call in and help out with this or that. Sure enough, as soon as I relax, that virus says "you're mine, you fargging bastage*!"

I thought that had happened as we went to our friends Margo & Brian's cottage on (as in, RIGHT on) the lake. I abused used it constantly ("no, I don't want to go swimming sweetie, I'm sick, you know" and more often "could you get me another drink? I'm too sick to get up.")

But as I arrived home, and the ton of bricks hit me, I realized that my body had been attempting to further stall the inevitable. Which I appreciated, since, as lousy as I felt, I (and we all) still had a great weekend.

My only reliable friend has been Advil Cold & Sinus. I describe our relationship as follows:

CLICK TO SEE DETAIL

I had sketched this up on paper and showed Max when he walked in to rescue me from any real effort for dinner with some boxes of KD (have I mentioned that Norah can pretty much make us a meal in the form of KD? She is quickly surpassing me in the kitchen). He looked at it and laughed "You're making graphs about being sick? You're clearly delirious." So I added in the fifth point on the bottom.
--------------------
* [anyone who can tell me where that line comes from will get a virtual shiny gold star (well not so much virtual, as imaginary). It's a pretty obscure one, I think, but comes from one of Max's sentimental favourite movies. That's not really an unfair hint for anyone who knows him, either]

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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Back to Nature (there's dirt there, I swear)

Time for an update on the outside world. Stewie saw me going outside with the camera, so he took over first:



[take special note here Wylie, that red stuff in the background is the bergamot we were discussing early in the season]







And then I wrestled the camera from his hands and got him to sit still (you can't see it here, but I put velcro on his butt):



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Monday, July 20, 2009

Not Me my kid Monday

Welcome to Not Me! Monday! This blog carnival was created by MckMama. You can head over to her blog to read what she and everyone else have not been doing this week. I usually just run over and read the denials of Stone Fox leaving my own snide additions there, but today it switched to the kids, so it was like a sign from the bloggoddessessess from above, so here we go:

My beautiful nine-year-old girl did NOT come up to my room and sit on my bed last night at the EXACT. WORST. POSSIBLE. TIME. And proceed to tell us in great detail how she was worried about when the sun would explode.

That is all.

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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Chartreuse? Pear? Pistachio?

We're pretty green, but pretty much everything we do is for another reason.

* We use a "reel" mower because Max doesn't want to deal with gasoline (I threatened that if he dies, the first thing I'm doing - assuming it's summer - is buying an electric mower)

* We drive one car because it's too expensive for 2 for our needs.

* We compost - again, Max liked the challenge and now it's a habit

* We don't use weed killer because I've found they just don't work on dandelions like pulling them out. Or any other weeds for that matter

* We don't drink bottled water because it's just too expensive considering it's basically tap water that someone else bottled (this was hard, since it's sooooo convenient - and actually got me drinking water regularly) Cost of bottled water (cheapest I've found): appx $0.1275/L; cost of tap water: $0.003111222/L. I could get 41 bottles of tap water for one bottle of the cheapest.

* We use reusable grocery bags... sometimes. We've got about a dozen of them, but if they make it to the car *I* usually forget them there & don't think about it until I'm at the checkout. My weaselly solution is that I give the plastic ones to my sister to reuse as dog-poo-bags (sorting out the ones with holes in them is up to her!)

* We've got a front-load machine, but only because less water saves $$
[have been planning to replace the toilet for years. Let's see: 7L - current 13L toilet - 6L "green" one - x 15 flushes/day x 365 x about 4 years we've been "meaning to" X $0.003111222/L = $477 wasted since we figured it would be a good idea. Can't recall the exact time; have never counted number of flushes; didn't account for leap year! Also didn't account for many times using the 3L flush which would make our 7L difference 10]

* I, um... drink wine from the box. Because there's um... much less... um... packaging.

* I bring stacks of (printed one side) paper home from work for the kids to draw on. THEN (depending on the artwork) it goes into the recycling. This is a cheap thing... Do you know how much art these kids produce?

On the other hand:

* I don't give a crap about watering my lawn & garden (i.e. I'll do it) - don't bother selecting low-water plants.

* I will usually drive if I can.

* I will usually turn up the heat if I can get away with it. Put on a sweater you say? Yes, I'll do that. And then I'll turn up the heat anyway.

* I live in urban sprawl. Yes, it is an "older" (beautiful) neighbourhood and the anti-sprawl crowd for some reason looks favourably on my 'hood. But the lot sizes are the same - and sometimes smaller - in what "they" generally consider to be the blight on our urban environment [the evil suburbia]. Also, because I have a back lane AND a sidewalk AND a front street (and grid is not the most efficient layout of pavement to reach every property), I consume more infrastructure than I'm generally given credit for. If we're talking density, I'm not in a particularly dense area. Screw 'em all. I like my neighbours, but not in my lap. Subject for another post? If I get around to it [ha!]

Anyone else a lazy shade of green?

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Friday, July 10, 2009

10/07/02 12:45 - 7#7 - XX

Happy Birthday Pepper!
Forever ensuring the middle child is NOT lost in the shuffle!

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Wednesday, July 8, 2009

The one where a bicycle factory exploded on our street

And all the kids ran off because
"HEY! THERE'S SOMETHING SHINY DOWN AT JAKE'S PLACE!!!"

(there's never anything said on the street that is in anything less than a screaming voice.)

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Saturday, July 4, 2009

Why America is Great

Because they invented the Muppets; dumbed down YouTube enough for me to embed this and also, keep the world safe from weirdos. Among other reasons.

Happy America Day to my southern friends!

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Friday, July 3, 2009

Helen Keller

It was windy Sunday, so Max had planned to take the kids kite flying - the girls both got big fancy kites for Christmas, and we had yet to try them out. Yes, I am aware of the month.

I broke into song:

"Let's go fly a kite!
"Up to the highest heights!...

"What movie is that from?"

Max pondered a moment. "The Sound of Music?"

I huffed - because yes, I'm totally the musical theater aficionado (I know it's a movie. It's also a book).

[I detest musical theater. So much so that I have yet to see a dear friend - the one whom Nen calls Sly - who is tres accomplished locally in the field of MT, AND a delicious singer (I have heard her sing) - perform. I was just about to suck it up and go when she went off and had a family. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.]

"NO!"

"Diary of Anne Frank?"

"WHAT THE HELL? Yes, because she was all out there flying kites: 'yoo hoo! Look at me! Out here in the open! Flying a kite!'"

"Oh yeah. I guess she would have had trouble, being blind and all"

"---"

"She was deaf?"

"--- [sigh]

"You're thinking of Helen Keller. Did you even LIVE in North America in the late 20th century?"

"That's the one. There's that song: 'Do it like Helen Keller'. How does that go? 'Shake your hips...'*"

(The Boy runs in and jumps on the bed)

"Stop right there. I have NO idea what you're talking about, but I'm almost certain HE shouldn't hear it. Besides, it doesn't sound like it's about kite flying."

"Um...No... You know, I've actually even read 'Diary of Anne Frank'"

"Interesting. I haven't, and yet I seem to have picked up more from it than you did."

And then he left before taking another futile, yet thoroughly entertaining stab at the answer to the original question.

Any other thoroughly entertaining stabs anyone else would like to take? The only prize is public humiliation. Fortunately for you, the public is fairly limited, as the summer blog traffic lull seems to have hit Harmzie's Way a little early.

*Turns out that this IS an actual song and it's current and on the radio. It's very, very awful. Even ignoring all the intrinsically awful things about the song and the words and the message, it's just an annoying and bad song.

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The Spinner

I have a "spinner":

1/ pull covers [unconsciously, of course] to chin [mmm coziness]

2/ feet get exposed

3/ pull covers with feet to cover said feet [exposes wife's feet? maybe]

4/ yell at wife for being "fussy" about having to have the blankets "just so" whilst he's sleeping.

[sigh] Amongst other splendiferous attributes, he cooks.

But if I were to start in on the splendiferous, it could start to drift away from entertaining and waver dangerously toward "ewww". So I'll just continue toying with the comfortable thought that he'll never start his own blog and start in on me.

Also? 16 years of legal, publicly acknowledged lust pawing "practicing" correction affection as of today. If you ever drag your sorry ass here and dare to take a peek at what I write about you, Happy Anniversary Max Power! The big wet smooches will be administered whether you drag your sorry ass here and dare to take a peek at what I write about you or not.

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