Monday, 31 December 2012

Let it Snow

What is more frustrating, two 16 month old toddlers going stir crazy because they can't get out with all of the snow we've been getting or physically dealing with an insane amount of snow when you have no front lawn to pile it on?  There is no correct answer to this question other than that when combined- we are trapped in a house, surrounded by snow and over hyper children who act like caged dogs who just want to get out and run around outside while walls of snow quickly build.*

Miss Molly attempting a climb onto the table/ fall onto the floor.

A few days ago, Boxing Day to be precise, right before the "big snow fall of 2012" we arrived home from our annual post Christmas Marlies hockey game all set to put the rambunctious bundles of joy down for a long winter's nap.** Once the kids were secured in their cages cribs we collapsed onto the couch hoping to marathon out on some TV series we'd acquired over the holidays. Within five minutes of alone time our power went off.  About an hour later, still without power, I called my parents to see if they could find out what was going on.

Apparently some idiot decided to do some afternoon holiday drinking and driving, fortunately he only hit a hydro pole.***  Two hours into the black out I was convinced that the temperature in the house had plummeted drastically to 12 degrees and imagined us being snowed in with two little babies as the first flakes of snow began to fall.  I'm a big 'what if' kinda gal and our cupboards weren't stocked for the several days without power that I imagined.  Chris, however, was realistic and wasn't  going to be defeated by my repeated suggestion of packing up and going to my parents house for an overnight.  All of the family time surrounding Christmas had been nice, but he was looking forward to an evening in just the two of us, enjoying our glut of DVDs and some drinks.  With the power out, I had a compelling argument: the thought of toddlers and candles terrified us both.  Just think of all the, "Oh my God Jack, why are you on fire?" or "Molly, why are you trying to eat candle wax?" moments we'd have to endure.

Thankfully, the power came on after hour three and there was minimal time of trying to prevent our children from burning the house to the ground.  The temperature had actually only dropped by about one degree and I was mocked for my paranoia.  It also turns out that the snow storm didn't impact everyone's mobility.  Someone was able to get out in the cold, get drunk and throw up fluorescent orange into our freshly plowed snow bank before we even woke up the next day.  I wonder if he was on foot because he'd just lost his drivers license?

Jack playing with my house keys while Chris shovels even more snow.

*Except with significantly more barking and biting.
**The hockey game perfectly coincided with nap time, so the last half of the second period and entire third period were a little bit dicey - Miss Molly and I walked a lot of laps around the arena while she screamed and I tried to comfort her by singing Miss Molly Had a Steam Boat and Molly's Lips in a loop.  Jack just fell asleep quietly on his father's shoulder while Chris watched the game.
***  Apparently said driver tried to make a get away on foot - he was apprehended by police almost immediately.

Monday, 24 December 2012

All I Want for Christmas

People spend a lot of time trying to find the prefect holiday gift, but what about the perfect holiday movie?  I have 5 that it just doesn't feel like Christmas without, so if you have some time over the next few days to check out any of the following Christmas Specials I highly encourage the following (in no particular order)  I also welcome any suggestions...

The Grinch Who Stole Christmas - 1966
For those who need a story with a moral in the end....I also think the fact that Molly looks like a brunette Cindy Lou Who makes this story a little more heart warming than usual this year.

Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer - 1964
For traditionalists who like their men and reindeer sexist and their abominable snow men with a heart of gold.  I also revel in the fact that the explorer Yukon Cornelius is drunk the entire movie

Elf - 2003
The new classic...a romantic comedy meets good old fashioned cheesy New York Christmas Story.

Frosty the Snowman - 1954
I've already told you about the drinking game...This is a great classic and only a half hour long.  

National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation - 1989
John Hughes answer to a Christmas Movie (I guess Home Alone also counts), but this one is better.  I fell in love with this movie when I went to see it for Girl Guides for our Holiday Party and never looked back.

As for us and Christmas - I think we're ready...

 We wrapped the minions errr gifts...*
We trimmed the cupcake tree**

And Most Importantly: We chilled the wine!

Happy Holidays to you and your family!

*Please note: wrapping your children in cellophane may be funny, but it probably isn't the best parenting.
**Did I make those myself?  No, but they were hand purchased at Loblaws with love and care.

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Cat's in the Cradle

I've often joked that my oldest kid is Chris, but that's not technically true.  My oldest kid is an 80 year old grey and black tabby cat named Pan.*  Pan is the only roommate who made the cut having lived in every one of my four "grown-up" homes.**

About 14 years ago I fell in love with this little polydactyl kitten who had mittens for front paws.  The day I picked him up from the litter, on a whim, I decided that he should also have a friend.  The owner of the cat pointed at a little grey kitten and told me that he was smart: the first cat to be litter trained so I grabbed him too.  Try as I might my mittened cat, Monsieur Remy Dupompeneau,*** was never really my cat.  He was an independent wild child who bolted for the great outdoors when ever he could, running away four times, until 2006 when he ran away and didn't return.  Pan is not wild, he is smart, loyal and neurotic and has been by my side (literally) since the 1990s.  He generally acts more like a dog than a cat, so we've coined him a cog.

Me and Pan many, many moons ago....I can see by the clock that it's 2:30AM

My Cat During My Pregnancy:
Pan had always been the Panthor to my Skeletor and thought that aliens were invading my body and decided to fight back.  He hated everything to do with me, avoided me at all costs until night time when he would jump on me while I slept and pee all over my legs.  One of the first things that our nurse practitioner told me when I found out I was pregnant was to avoid cleaning the cat litter since cat urine isn't good for pregnant women****, so I started having some panic attacks when he decided that I was a human fire hydrant.  So we locked him out of the bedroom every night after the fifth offence.  Panthor got depressed about his banishment from the bedroom, started tearing out his own hair and spent all of his time sitting atop the fridge (Snake Mountain) glaring at us and tearing out more hair. We took him to the vet, ran a series of tests and got him some medication for his nerves and antibiotics for the giant bald spot/sore he'd created on his side.

The Third Trimester:
As we prepared for the arrival of Molly and Jack we set up the nursery months in advance, giving our sensitive creature a chance to adapt.  We filled the cribs and car seats with balloons and aluminium foil so he never got in the habit of sleeping in the minions cribs or car seats.  Unfortunately he was still spending a significant amount of time glaring at us from the top of the fridge.

Newborns & Pan:
Finally Molly and Jack arrived and it was as if our cat had returned, he was mildly curious about the babies, but generally chose to visit us when they were asleep.  As the minions got older they became more and more obsessed with the cat.  One of Jack's favourite games is to pet Pan or to push him around the house in a giant empty diaper box.  He barely meows when Jack's "Gentle Touch" is more like a round of Ultimate Fighter than acceptable cat affection.  He has never tried to climb into their cribs, bassinets or been aggressive in any way - even when he probably should.  Unfortunately from time to time he'd obsessively pick at one of his back paws, which we mistakenly took for neurosis rather than a purely medical issue.

Pan and Jack

Last month I was unable to treat his paw at home with rubbing alcohol and polysporen as the swelling on his hot spot had gotten out of control.  So we opened up our wallets, let out a big sigh and went to the vet thinking that we'd get some more antibiotics and stress medication.  It turns out this hot spot was not a result of low self esteem, it was a tumour. We completed a series of tests to see if the tumour had spread to lungs, impacted blood or kidney functions (it hadn't) and started saving up money like crazy while we tried steroids and a topical spray to keep the tumour from growing.  Over the next few weeks the spray and steroids appeared to work like tumour fertiliser and the growth doubled, maybe tripled in size.  We jokingly called Pan "Crang" because it looked like there was a giant brain on his foot, but silently worried if we'd be able to afford to get him in on time.

Yesterday Pan had a successful operation to remove his tumour and one of his toes.***** He's recovering well, despite being on a lot of pain medication, is confused as to why a 16 month old little boy keeps on squealing in delight while charging him and that he can't run away quite like he used to.

Thank you to everyone at Renforth Veterinary Clinic for your amazing services and helping keep the oldest member of our family with us.  Long live Pan(thor)!

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*14 year old -
**I don't know if the first two places where I lived from ages 21-25 technically count.  The amount of sugar cereal, popsicles, diet coke and vanilla vodka consumed in those apartments was neither healthy nor adult.
***Because he was Cajun - I told you already I was drinking a lot of vodka.
****To this day Chris still believes this was an excuse I used to get out of chores.
*****What is the opposite of a polydactyl cat? Antidactyl cat?  I think we'll just call him Hobbles.

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

The Night Santa Went Crazy

A few nights ago Molly looked at me and said what I thought was, "Sara".  I asked her to repeat it and was slightly disappointed to learn that she wasn't saying my name, she was saying "Santa".  The next day she said it again.  So I asked her where Santa was.  She toddled across the living room and gave her Elmo chair a giant hug.*

Then at daycare we were presented with Christmas themed "art work" from the minions: a reindeer formed out of painted hand and foot prints.  "30 painted infant hands and feet, all in one room together!" Another mother shuddered in horror when she saw her son's painting.  Chris laughed like Beavis**and said, "So much painted chaos." happily while the other mother looked at Chris like her was as nutty as a fruitcake.***

More art work for the time capsule

On another note, I got so excited while shopping at Walmart **** when I discovered something on sale for Chris for Christmas that I sent him off to find discount baby wipes while I cashed out and bought his present without him noticing after having him toss me the box of wipes while I waited in line.  Unfortunately, I was so busy trying to be stealth that I forgot about the old man style moccasin boots for Jack***** that were hanging from the back of his stroller and successfully shoplifted them from the store.  I was on the escalator to the parking garage when I realized my error and returned to cash despite Chris's comments about Walmart being an evil corporation and his insistence that I was "home free".******   Walmart - your security sucks...I successfully made it out and back into your store with "stolen" shoes and your two security staff didn't even notice and I looked really guilty on my way back in.

Jackie's New Shoes
I've decided that the minions have to be at least 12 before Chris tries to impose his Robinhoodesque ways upon the children and that I should probably be the one to teach them about why stealing is wrong.  Until then I can't afford a lifetime Walmart ban, I need the discount baby wipes!

*At least we know she's not colour blind.   
**From Beavis and Butthead, I know I'm dating myself here.
***This type of cartoonish daydream is exactly, one of the reasons, why only one other set of parents at daycare will talk to us.
****I can't believe I just uttered those words!
*****For some reason it's really hard to find size 3 baby shoes that will stay on Jack's feet, I call them old man slippers because they are almost identical to a pair my dad owns and likes so much that he bought a second pair.
******Another reason why the other parents don't talk to us at daycare.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Unsilent Night

Yesterday we received the winter newsletter from Molly and Jack's daycare.  Rumour has it they've been "practising" their Christmas game by unwrapping toys covered in tissue paper.  When I told Chris about this he simply said, "Awww crap.  Now I have to wrap their gifts too."  My concern is what's going to happen to all of the gifts we've wrapped for other people now that they are skilled experts in ripping, tearing, shredding and stripping anything made of paper.* 

Last year they could barely sit upright in their Bumbos while the stared at the Christmas tree** and this year they will be crawling, sidling, forces of wreckage.  I'm wondering if this is the last year that we'll actually be able to Christmas shop for them, in front of them, or if we can continue to get them toys to "share" as presents for the majority of their gifts.*** 

Molly the red nosed reindeer.

So this begs the following holiday questions about the evolution of Christmas amongst children:

When are they old enough to understand the concept of Santa?  Write letters to Santa?  Not be scared of Santa?

When will they be old enough to watch Christmas Specials with us on TV?  I need company while Chris plays the Frosty the Snow Man drinking game.****

When can I take them out to pick out something amazingly hilarious to give to Chris for Christmas that he'll have to use because they are so excited about it? 

At what age do they get so excited about Christmas that they barely sleep, get over-tired and throw temper tantrums all Christmas day? I still do that sometimes...In my family we rotate who gets to ruin Christmas as an ongoing joke, unfortunately it's not my turn this year.

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*Previously they simply dabbled in this destructive art form.
**Jack stared at the Christmas tree, Molly screamed in a fit of colic - Unsilent Night.
***We have learned that it doesn't matter if you have two of everything, the minions will still fight for twin dominance, even if they have two toy phones, making them fight over one just frees up a hand each for slapping, eye gauging and hair pulling.
****You drink every time Frosty says "Happy Birthday", you see the rabbit, or whenever that mean magician says something three times.  I do not recommend or endorse this drinking game...

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Rockin Around the Christmas Tree

My kids are busy.  Just ask Molly, "Just a sec, I'm busy!" is one of the only things she can say.  Essentially the minions get into and try to destroy everything in their path. This is one of the reasons why we were a little concerned about Christmas Decorations this year.*  We had a few goals with decorations this year and being able to display some of our favourite, breakable ornaments without incident** and not having to worry about a giant tree smooshing our children were two of the biggest.

Molly & Jack helping to sort ornaments
This year is the first year in a decade where we won't have a real tree.  At first this made me sad because our house won't smell like a pine air freshener and we won't get to support the boy scouts, but then I realized at the same time that Chris won't be sick with allergies this year and we won't still be vacuuming up pine needles in April, so I'm over it.***

First we purchased miniature (twin) trees from Walmart, ones that are small enough that they can't crush a small child or cat that a small child is terrorising.  Next we tested to see which ornaments were breakable, swallow able, potentially toxic or potentially hurty - anything with those wire hooks was moved up super high.  Whenever we were unsure, our friend T simply handed the ornament in question to one of the minions and said, "Give this a whirl, see if you can break or choke on this" while we supervised.   Some stores are selling non smashable ornaments this year (or maybe this is just the first time we noticed).  These sound appealing, but don't get too excited.  The ones we saw were pretty ugly.  For your information: Jingle bells = chokable.  Also, the jury is still out on what's toxic, only time will tell.

Our breakable ornaments have been hung from the top of our living room window this year.

 Molly's first attempt at knocking down the tree / choking on ornaments.
*Visions of broken ornaments danced around their heads.
**This means no smashy, smashy of cherished favourites or trips to the emergency room because someone decided to shove a glass icicle up his sister's nose.
***I can go to Bath and Body Works and get a candle that will supply my Christmas smell needs.

Friday, 7 December 2012

My Secret Identity

I suspect I write a great deal more about Molly (aka the girl child) than I write about Jack, mainly because she's such a feisty and independent young woman.*  This week I had a meeting with the lead Early Childhood Education Instructor about the minions' adjustment into daycare and how they've been adapting to their new surroundings over the past three months.

Overall they're adjusting well and developing their immune systems, sigh.  The most interesting part of the assessment to me was discussion surrounding Jack and his favourite things to do and play with.  My interview with daycare and some things that Jack has been up to since we returned for our trip have pretty much confirmed to Chris and I that Jack is leading a double life.**

Jack Loves Trucks and Cars
Huh?  Maybe we focused too much on gender neutral toys at home.  I guess I know what's going on the list for Santa.

Jack will Clap Along to Music
But not in front of us.  Apparently the music we play at home doesn't inspire Jack to clap along.  I mentioned this to one of our sitter's L in disbelief and she confirmed that he claps along to music in front of her all the time.  Perhaps Little Wayne is the only person who can motivate Jack to get funky, I just don't know.  We both assumed that he didn't know how to clap, but apparently we were wrong.  Because he's a mistaker.*** 

Jack can be kinda a Jerk
Over the past month Jack has developed a new hobby....Actively stealing toys from his sister, watching her freak out and then giggling hysterically.  This started out at daycare and has now leaked over into Jackie's home life.****

Jack can hold a Grudge (Just like his mom)
For some reason Jack has been furious with Chris since we returned from our trip and now he's giving him the cold shoulder.  When Chris picks him up from daycare he slowly crawls over to say hey, but without the same excitement.  He also actively shows our cat Pan the excitement, affection and enthusiasm usually reserved for Chris.  Both Chris and Pan are unthrilled about this development.

So now we're just waiting for the next update meeting - Maybe we'll find out that he's the head of a baby gang, fluent in several languages or can ice skate. 

*This was an exact quote from one of the daycare workers in the infant room about my 16 month old.  I almost asked, "Is this a nice way of saying she's difficult?"
**Dun Dun Dun....
***  When I was growing up my mother forbade us from calling anyone a liar because she thought it was rude. So we had to call each other mistakers.  Example: As a child my mother told me that an ingredient in bubble bath was shark pee because this entertained her.  She was a mistaker, some might even say a pathological mistaker.
****Where are your glasses now Clark Kent?  You can't keep that secret identity forever.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

The Gambler

When Molly first saw us after our trip to Jamaica she was non-stop giggles for about 15 minutes straight.   Then, Chris flung her up in the air and tickled her after which she immediately threw-up all over me, cause nothing says welcome home like baby vomit on your pants. We assumed that this was due to excitement over seeing her parents after a week without them.  I personally throw up whenever I'm really upset, so I thought it was just a little bit of Molly being the Yin to my Yang.  Unfortunately I was wrong.

Yesterday morning when we were getting the minions ready for daycare I noticed that Molly had a rash on her leg.  I thought it was just dry skin or eczema since my mother had mentioned that they both had dry skin last week during the cold spell.  So we got the kids breakfast, dressed and to daycare while we prepared to enjoy our vacation day of laundry, bowling and brunch.

Within two hours we got a call from daycare.  Molly's rash had multiplied and spread all over her legs, feet and hands.  They suspected Hand Foot and Mouth Disease, so I frantically made a doctor's appointment and assured them, after various Internet research that it was unlikely as there was no fever, lethargic behaviour, vomiting*, or lack of appetite and it was probably just an allergic reaction.  When I hung up the phone Chris said, "If I were a gambling man, knowing our luck, I'd say that she has hand, foot and mouth disease."  I insisted that we didn't know for sure yet, "Don't we?  Don't we?"  he asked.  I said something vaguely about optimism.

After a long wait in the doctor's office, Molly grew restless, so we walked over to the pamphlet wall in the waiting room and I let her select a pamphlet to play with, much to Chris's chagrin.**

Fittingly enough Hand, Foot and Mouth disease is caused by babies putting things in their mouths...Maybe Molly is being ironic?

In fairly short order it was determined that she has hand, foot and mouth disease and will be out from daycare for the next 3-10 days depending on when the blisters pop.***  Like most things that infect the minions the only cure is time, baby Advil and money spent on daycare we don't use.  So today I will spend my last vacation day until Christmas taking care of my little girl while trying to cure painful little blisters with my mind.  We will also hope that Jackie stays well and cross our fingers and wait for the other blistered foot to drop, but then again I'm not a a gambling man.

*We honestly just thought she was excited to see us, yes we are that stupid.
**Seriously, this is what she chose out of a wall of health information.  This kid is comic gold, even when she is sick.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012


This week is the first time in over 15 months that we have been without the minions.  We are out of town at a destination wedding.  At first it was relaxing, we slept a lot* and we drank a lot.**  The freedom has been nice but strange and whenever we see other couples on the resort struggling with their toddler we smile and are happy for this gift of a week alone, but at the same time miss our little ones. 

I have become a little obsessive about getting updates from Nana and Grampa on how daycare is going and how the kids are doing. I was once told that the best part of being on vacation is relaxing, exploring and then looking forward to going home.  If you aren't looking forward to going home it's probably time to move.

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*The first afternoon we took a 5 hour nap - literally.
**The 5 hour nap may have had something to do with a rum based drink called the Wu Wu, which also makes Chris think he's a swimming pool ninja.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Toy Soldiers

A few weeks ago, after an incident at daycare, Jack said his first legitimate (non-mama, dada, nana) word: Bite. For a week or so after he lost an epic toddler battle over a coveted toy if you asked him about the bite he would start to cry.  This is similar to him crying when he's too terrified to crawl past the carbon monoxide detector in the upstairs hall because of the shocking noise it makes when you pull it out of the wall - repeatedly.* 

Tomorrow is, "bring your favourite toy to daycare day".  I don't see how we're going to get through this day without having to fill out an incident report because we break up slapping matches between the minions over plastic bowls and cooking pots daily.  Bringing eight other kids into the picture, with a toy that they really like is just stirring the magic cooking pot, literally.

Enjoying the console of doom

Here are my questions about this:

1) If my children get into a fight with, or bite each other do we still have to sign an incident report?  Because we'd be signing it twice, victim (Jack) and perpetrator (Molly) report.
2) If klepto Molly steals another child's toy, do we have to return it? Or is it finders keepers, losers weepers?
3) Would it be unfair to give each of my children toys that go together so that they can begin fighting with each other right away?**
4) Is it unfair to arm our children with toys that they could turn into weapons?***
5) Will they be filming this edition of Baby Fight Club, The Cage Match Edition?  If yes, where can I purchase copies for holiday gifts?

Playing with dad's shoes...a game that never grows old.
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*Apparently Pavlovian training is the way to go with the boy child.  Whenever he tries to play with Chris's record player if you make a high pitched Beep noise, akin to Police Academy's Larvell Jones (Michael Winslows') impression of a carbon monoxide detector causing Jack to pause and then cry.
**For example Jack loves boxes and placing other smaller objects into boxes.  If I give Jack a box to take in and Molly a small toy that would fit into said box it's only a matter of time before Slapvember begins.
***Honestly, any toy can be turned into a weapon. Molly loves to smack herself in the face with a book and giggle while I yell "Book Face!"  Maybe this isn't a well thought out game.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Always Look on the Bright Side of Life

This month, after my second diagnosis with strep throat in under 3 weeks and Jack back in fever town,  it's hard not to recognize that our life lately slightly resembles a never ending Family Circus cartoon, but worse and EVEN I didn't think that was possible.

Comic strip courtesy of Family Circus *

We are trying to move forward, be positive and plan ahead.  This means that Christmas shopping, particularly online, which has been a nice distraction. In the spirit of planning ahead I started to think about New Year's and New Year's resolutions, thought of our lives lately and recognized that in terms of resolutions Chris and I are already in mid-January and ahead of the curve - so take that 2013!  Here's how we've been tackling our resolutions 6 weeks early:

Resolution 1 - Meet New People 
  • Last week we met a weird junky with no prescription who was trying to scam some methadone from our pharmacist, Matthew, while Chris waited for Molly's prescription antibiotics.
  • We now know our pharmacist, Matthew, by name.
Resolution 2 - Read More Often
  • This Sunday story time happened at Shoppers Drug Mart while we awaited my prescription.
  • Borrowed books aren't just at the library anymore, they're by the magazines and the perfume gift sets, and without late fees, but now stacked with tons of germs from me and my family.**
Resolution 3 - Eat Better/ Be Healthy
  • My antibiotics can't be absorbed properly if I eat dairy. There is this weird math equation on the notes that talks about no dairy 4 hours before or 8 hours after I take my medication and something else about antacids and multivitamins. Why eat cheese if you can't have wine anyway?***
  • This medication is making me really thirsty.  Get 8 glasses of water each day, no problem - how about 12, 13?
  • This medication causes diarrhea. I'm living the poor man's juice cleanse, but with significantly more throat pain.
Resolution 4 - Learn New Things
  • This medication may cause vaginitis? Okay, so maybe I'm not ready for resolution #4 yet. I don't know what that is and I refuse to look it up.  Sometimes ignorance is bliss.

*Yeah a mother with 4 children under 6 is wearing a bikini at the beach.  I know, I'm begrudging the body of  a cartoon character, she didn't really get stretch marks.  However, if you're really trying to appeal to moms why not put her in a modest one piece?  Just saying.
**Don't buy your children books from Shoppers - they're likely covered with the plague.
***Someone hired a psychic to come to my sister's wedding shower.  The main thing the psychic told her was that she ate too much cheese.  It's really accurate, but has always struck me as a bizarre thing for a psychic to say.

Friday, 16 November 2012

She Bangs

When I was a child my mother's solution to dealing with my hair was to give me a thick matt of bangs.  She claims it was an easy way to divide my tangle prone hair and framed my face when I wore it in a ponytail.  As a little one, it was pretty adorable.  By the time I hit 11 it was downright ugly.  Think hockey hair mullet hideous meets hipster TRYING to look bad repugnant. 

One summer, the year before grade 8, I decided to Sun-In my hair. I cannot believe that this product actually still exists, you might as well just take some bleach or hydrogen peroxide, put it in a hair spray bottle, cut it with a bit of tap water and apply liberally.*  The bang issue became down right ridiculous when I was too stupid to realize that my bangs kept getting trimmed and ended up with these dark bangs with partially bleached long hair.** Finally the summer before grade 9 I decided to grow my bangs out and despite some questionable hair band choices it was the right decision. 

Fast forward to the Spring of grade 10:  My highly persuasive friend DG and I were bored at her mother's house, she told me that she was really good at cutting hair and suggested that I try a set of really fun Betty Page/Janine Garafalo from Reality Bites inspired bangs.***  I agreed.  What I ended up with was Girl Interrupted disgustor bangs.  I dare you to Google any character in that movie, Winona, Angelina or Brittany: What do they all have in common?   Insanity caused by terrible hair-cuts.  It took me over a year, and a lot of gel and hair clips to deal with The Great Hair Disaster of 1994.  To this day DG admits that this haircut is the reason she stopped cutting hair.  She also gave another mutual friend KJ a haircut comparable to the male lead singer of Canadian TV show sensation CatWalk ****

What I wanted (Image courtesy of Google Images)

What I got, Sigh... (Image courtesy of Google Images)

Daycare picture day is less than two weeks away and Molly's hair is in her face constantly.  It's time to make a decision, which may impact her for years.  This morning I sent the following email to my sister:

Hey E,
Just a quick question...was mom's strict enforcement of terrible bangs the reason why both of your kids don't have bangs?

It's time for us to decide whether or not we give Molly bangs or start tying her hair up.

 Apparently my mom had no influence here.  My niece, A had bangs and decided to grow them out herself a couple of years ago, C has curly hair, so bangs never made sense.  My sister claims that bangs on children are easier to deal with than no bangs.
So, we still have a choice to make here. Do we cut it, or start giving her a top knot? Do I cut it myself, or leave it to a professional?

To this day I see Zoey Deschanel or Lily Allen and debate returning to the bangs yet again.  But then I think back to 1994, take a deep breath and change my mind. 

UPDATE 2014: I finally gave in and got bangs 6 months ago and am officially eating my words.

*Please don't really do that to your hair.  I'm in no way, shape or form anything of a chemist and am unaware the semi-permanent to permanent damage that bleach would do to your hair or eyes.
**Think Candice Cameron the Full House years.  I'm still shuddering.
***You may find yourself asking, "What 15 year old girl is going for a Janine Garafalo look?".  The answer, me, she is cool, sarcastic and fun.
****That was Neve Campbell you spotted.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

The Return to Innocence

Many years ago, Chris and I had the opportunity to attend an art gallery opening for an exhibit on Penguin Books from writer, artist, Canadian Icon and creator of the term Generation X: Douglas Coupland.  We were thrilled to see such a neat exhibit, and the gallery operator even offered to introduce us to Coupland.  We nodded, said hello, shook hands, Chris gushed that he was a big fan and then took off in the opposite direction mumbling something about needing to go check out the exhibit one more time.

When we left the event I asked Chris why he'd hit the eject button so early.  He explained to me that he generally has a very clear picture in his mind about artists (musicians, writers, celebrities), especially ones that he feels he has connected with their work and he doesn't want them to mess with what he has created in his head.  Specifically if they turn out  to be giant jerks or idiots.  I found this a little strange, especially since he is someone who will read the book and see the movie, but I fully understand the romanticised version of art that you've created for yourself and not wanting someone to impact that.*

This week Kevin Clash, the brain and voice behind Sesame Street's infamous Elmo, was accused of having an underage relationship with a young man.  These allegations have been investigated, and dropped.**  As someone who works in PR I can only imagine what the folks on Sesame Street are dealing with this week, shortly after the launch of their newest holiday season toy of choice LOL Elmo, in trying to separate the man from the puppet.  I understand the importance and impact that Elmo has on children, specifically ones with terminal illnesses who often request to meet Elmo because as the documentary Being Elmo aptly pointed out, Elmo is love.  I was born a few years too early to be a part of the Elmo generation, but I get the importance of this character. 

As a former child turned parent I get the need for a hero.  There aren't enough of them, especially when we get constant exposure to the character and celebrity.  I grew up with a love of Super Grover and Mr. Dress Up and only knew them as I was intended to, as an entertaining escape.  The only man behind the puppet I knew was Jim Hensen, the soul of Kermit the Frog, and that spirit lives on even after his death.  I feel lucky that I grew up in a time before instantaneous news and that I was able to ignore the man behind the green curtain for just a little while longer than my children will be able to. 

I am not going to comment on the Clash accusations, but no matter what, in the end Elmo will never be just about love again, and that makes me sad.

Photo of Mr. Dress Up courtesy of MrsJaen

*Think Sheldon Cooper vs. Will Wheaton on the Big Bang Theory, sometimes the less you know about someone the better.  I have a friend who still has a serious issues with Super Man because he saw Christopher Reeves treat a fan poorly.
**Here's a recent release on the Kevin Clash Story

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

No Milk Today

As we enter week three of the petulant plight that our lives have been lately, we have started to let some things slide around the house and personally.*  The smell of baby vomit could not be destinkified from our Ralph Lauren sheets, the high thread count ones we got for a steal at Winners last year, and it turns out that no amount of laundry detergent and oxyclean can get out the foul beast that is Molly expectorant.  We finally tapped out and threw them in the garbage. 

At the end of each night we scurry around like deranged elves attempting to wash laundry and copious amounts of dishes before collapsing onto the couch into a television coma for an hour before bed.  Molly is now sick, again,  and unable to attend daycare, again.  I love my job and we need the money, but I am beginning to understand why a lot of parents take some time off from the work force to be with their children.

There is nothing more saddening than having to explain to your sick child that you want to nurture them, but cannot do so during business hours, so they're going to have to wait for 10.5 hours for Mommy time.  It's absolutely heart breaking.  End rant here.

I mentioned earlier that things on the home front have slid a little.  Tonight while I'm doing tandem pick up from daycare (Jack) and my parents (Molly), Chris is going to the doctor's office for a precautionary throat swab because odds are strep bacteria are breeding in his throat as I type this sentence.**  Last night was the first time in a week that I was able to wash my hair with regular shampoo, because Chris picked me some up at lunch (Dove soap and baby shampoo had been used for over a week).

In the madness we've been particularly undiligant about bottles.  Normally when a minion drains most of a bottle, we remove it from munchkin reach and put it in the sink for the next round of dishes claiming it as a, Dead Soldier.***  In the past two weeks we've found ourselves prying old bottles that have been laying around for hours out of hungry little hands yelling, "No, don't eat that!" and running to the kitchen to fetch a fresh bottle while said child screams in hunger .  This lack of forethought has gotten me really thinking, how long is milk good for at room temperature anyway, so I researched it and thought I'd share:

Breast Milk - the Room Temperature Champion

Breast milk can be stored at room temperature for 6-7 hours before it needs to be thrown out...

It can also be stored:
  • For two weeks in your refrigerator’s freezer but not in the door of the freezer.
  • For two to three months in an upright freezer.
  • For up to six months in a chest style freezer (at a temperature below -20°C).
Cow's Whole Milk

I've heard ranges of only 30 minutes from once it reaches room temperature from some sources which in our house would lead to a lot of tossed out milk and is pretty unmanageable.  The most common stance is that after 4 hours above 4 degrees C (or 40 degrees Fahrenheit) you risk bacteria growth and should probably throw it out.  Which is good, because that bottle that you accidentally left out before their nap is probably still okay for them to snack on.  Note these guidelines are for pasteurised milk.
Jack enjoying a bottle of pumped milk - 1 month old


Most packages of formula are good for an hour or so post mixing, unrefrigerated - for up to 24 hours in the fridge.  When the minions were still on formula we ended up wasting a lot more than I would have liked, even though they often finished each other's bottles.  The only good thing is, that unlike milk it is really easy to tell when your old formula has gone bad.  It essentially turns into horrifying toxic waste, akin to our once beautiful sheets from Winners - sigh!
*I am aware that our lives  have started to sound a like kidnappees manifesto.
**Gross, right?
***Dead Soldier originally meant a dead marine, but evolved into meaning empty liquor or beer bottle.

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Boy In The Box

Every now and again I'll refer back to What to Expect - The Toddler Years* the only problem is that once I'm in there I can't stop - specifically the section at the beginning of each month that marks their imminent developmental milestones - it's like judgement crack where you try to determine where your kid should be and whether or not you began saving for post graduate education a little too soon.  Since I hadn't been there for a while I ended up catching up on what they should be doing at months 13, 14 and 15.  One of the items that stuck out for me was placing items inside other items - something that children begin to "master" between 13-14 months.

Jack has had the objects into objects task down since he turned a year and our friends C&C purchased Potsy the learning pot.  For months now Jack has been obsessed with the sassy little pot and squeals with delight when he announces things like, "I like it lean, I like it green, I'm a broccoli machine."  He never gets bored of this thing and I must admit because it has two volume settings Potsy isn't constantly screaming about how, "it's spicy", it's usually more of a loud whisper and a lot more tolerable.**

LeapFrog Cook and Play Potsy
This is Potsy and he wants to stir up some magic in the kitchen!

So because of the help from Potsy, I thought that Jack had adequately schooled himself on the task of placing items into a vessel.  I was wrong.  This week his hobby consumed him, a normally patient child, ill with Strep Throat, was furious at boxes that wouldn't stack properly into other boxes and has damaged some of them by forcing them into each other.  He immersed himself into the art of packing, mastering a play cash register and then began stuffing copious amounts of Cheerios into my purse, tea cup, mouth and then finally down the front of my shirt.  This evening he fell over when he was unable to shove his head into a yogurt container.***  During his evening snack tonight he created my personal favourite storage creation.  Bread in shoes.

Guess who helped pack dad's lunch tonight!  Bon Appetite! 

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*Today it was to find out what do to about dehydration due to vomiting in a toddler - Sickaggedon - You'll Never Have Clean Sheets Again Part 2 (a love story)
**This really is a great toy for any toddler you know, especially one you don't have to live with:
***I never said that he was a spacial genius.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

You Live, You Learn

Blight and plague has settled upon our household for November.  In dealing with illness, particularly my own and Jack's, and trying to maintain some semblance of normality for Molly and Chris I have learned the following things this past week:

  1. Strep throat feels and smells like two hobos are fighting each other, on a humid day, using broken glass shanks from malt liquor bottles that they have drank and then urinated in - IN THE BACK OF YOUR THROAT!
  2. The only thing worse than getting a throat swab when you have Strep Throat is having to fight your 15 month old into submission, while you have Strep Throat, so your nurse practitioner can get a throat swab from him.*
  3. When you get liquid strawberry penicillin for your infant and the pharmacist says, "I made up some extra so you may have to throw it out when you've finished the ten days." what he really means is, "Your child is going to spit this in your face with a venom that parallels puritanical treatment of those who were accused of witch craft and you'll probably need some extra."  
  4. Strep Throat if untreated can turn into Scarlet Fever and needs to be treated seriously, especially in one of our sitters L aptly put it when I was panicking, "Don't worry Sara, It's not like in Little Women, Jack is not Beth.  There are antibiotics he can take."
Beyond illness I have also learned the following:
  1. Our children have become dumber...When I was a child I had idiot mittens to prevent me from loosing them, essentially a string that connected my mittens through my jacket arms.  We are not permitted to provide these types of mittens - in case our children manage to hang themselves on the idiot mitten strings...we need to provide clips instead.  My daughter now has Supreme Idiot Mittens.**  I also need to get them both weird Dickie's (mock turtlenecks to use instead of scarves) or some alternative to avoid their imminent hangings***.  A few years ago my father-in-law hurt his neck and upon recovery decided that his brace was a warm alternative to a scarf and kept wearing it because it was "cosy" - maybe we could borrow the neck brace now that he's wintering in Florida.
  2. The highlight of my week was going grocery shopping last night while we waited for Jack's prescription.  The joy I experienced at the ability to have both children sitting in the same cart with two independent seat belts is infinite...Thank you Fresh Co.

The minions doing some grocery shopping!

*While we were pinning Jack down someone from the front of the medical building called, likely to ask, "Why are you trying to kill that baby?"
**Patent pending.
***If anyone has any suggestions where to get these for cheap please let me know.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

The Ballad of Peter Pumpkin Head

Once Upon A Time, In a land far away (2 days ago in The Junction, Toronto) there was a terrible storm (the outer edges of Hurricane Sandy).  The storm whistled through the night, but in the morning everything seemed okay.  So, the King and the Queen took the Prince and the Princess to the castle on the hill and went about their courtly business (We dropped the minions off at daycare and subwayed into work).  In the late morning all of the candles blew out at the castle on the hill and they could not get them re-lit so it got very cold.  So the Duke and the Duchess had to fetch the Prince and the Princess. (The power went out for several hours at daycare, hydro couldn't get it back on and it started to get really cold, we weren't sure whether or not we had power at our house so Nana and Grampa picked up the kids and took them home that afternoon).

Unfortunately when the Duke and the Duchess arrived at the castle on the hill they found that the prince had been bit by a terrible zombie (Jack and another child at daycare got into a fight over a toy.  The other child bit Jack on the wrist.  Jack cried while he uttered his first non-mama/dada/nana/baba word to my mom when she asked what was wrong, his response, "BITE" followed by a lot of crying).

That evening everything seemed well again while everyone prepared for the Pagan Festival (Pumpkin Carving at our house).

 Tiki Pumpkin
 Nirvana Smile Pumpkin
Ghoul Pumpkin

Later that night a plague hit the castle and the King and Queen fell ill (disgusting stomach virus).  The King was so weak the next morning that he was unable to lift his mighty crown.  So the Queen journeyed alone to drop off the Prince and the Princess at the castle on the hill so that they would stay well. (Chris couldn't even lift the children so I had to do the daycare drop off solo - despite my fever).

A few hours later a message came from the castle on the hill declaring that the zombie bite/plague (child version of the stomach virus - cold with mighty fever) had infected the young Prince.  The Queen rushed to the castle on the hill to pick up the Prince and Princess.

Unfortunately while the Queen tried to get both the Prince and the Princess home safely a terrible Sorcerer (police officer) was casting a spell on the royal carriage (giving a parking ticket to our car, The Sexfire).  The Queen had an epic battle with the sorcerer (yelled at the cop and cried tears of anger and utter frustration) until finally the Sorcerer removed her spell (I wouldn't stop going on and on about how ridiculous this was in an emergency situation, less than 10 minutes before I was allowed to park in front of the daycare, all while a poor daycare employee stood, trying to help me get both kids into the car as I screamed.  Fortunately the daycare employee had my back and insisted that there really was no where else to park and that this was an emergency).  Then finally the Sorcerer left (after saying calm down ma'am about 15 times she finally gave up on the idea of giving me a parking ticket) and the Queen journeyed home with her children (cried while she drove the kids home) which the Prince found hilarious.*

That evening with some help, the kingdom was able to celebrate a toned down version of the Pagan festival (with the help of Aunt Susan giving out candy while everyone but Molly felt terrible).

Zombified Jack on Halloween.  No make up required.

Today the King, Queen and Prince slowly recover while the young Princess plays at the castle on the hill.  Hopefully the Winter Solstice Festival (Christmas) casts better tidings on the castle.  

Molly as Pebbles Flintstone

*My son thinks that it's super funny when people cry.  I don't know why and hope that this isn't the beginning of troubling tendencies. 

Monday, 29 October 2012

Kicked in the Teeth

When the minions hit 6 months our nurse practitioner suggested that I get into the habit of taking a wash cloth with water and rub it along their gums daily during their bath, especially since they were about to begin eating solid food.  Fast forward over 8 months later and it's still the only thing I've done for their dental care - aside from having them avoid sugary juices and food, especially right before bed time and I don't give them soothers dipped in chocolate or honey.   

Last weekend, another mom, with a 6 month baby boy who had just started solid foods, asked me what I did about dental care for the minions.  I shrugged, told her about the cloth on the teeth and may as well have said, "Nuthin, be a bad mom".  As someone with problem teeth herself, I don`t know why I haven`t been more vigilant.  I have a tooth brush that is often used as a toy for the bathtub that Molly loves to rub on her gums*.  Babies get 20 first teeth, often called milk teeth, but habits begin early, so I guess it`s time to get started.  I feel a little better knowing that children under 3 have a very low risk for tooth decay.

toothbrush by mmfenno
Image courtesy of mmfeno on Creative Commons.

What do the experts recommend surrounding baby/ toddler teeth cleaning:
  • Use a cloth or clean gauze to clean their gums....recommended 2 times a day
  • Health Canada recommends just using water until your children are 3, if your doctor/dentist thinks your child is at high risk for decay use a small amount of toothpaste, the size of a grain of rice
  • Brush with small circular movements with a small headed toothbrush

Why don't you let children swallow toothpaste?
Because too much fluoride can cause vomiting or diarrhea.**

How do I get them to stay still?
All of the on line recommendations I found mentioned cradling their heads, or laying them down and wrapping your arm around their head.  Basically no one will admit it, but it sounds like if they won't sit still you should put them in a headlock and go to town on their teeth - don't worry odds are they'll be screaming so their mouths will be open.  Others suggested turning it into a game.  Bath time seems to be a prime spot to do this because they're trapped.  Another suggestion is pretending to brush toys teeth first and then insisting that it`s your child`s turn, or brushing your own teeth and then theirs.  Theme tooth brushes may work or pretending to tickle their teeth, while chanting, "I'm going to get you!" 

When Should I take them to the dentist?
The Canadian Dentist Association recommends taking them at around a year or 6 months after they first get teeth.  I think most of this is to avoid the dreaded fear of the dentist, ensuring that their first experiences are not for fillings.  When my brother was 6 or 7, maybe older, he had a complete meltdown at the dentist. It ended in biting and kicking. He later had to go to the "baby dentist", where he was held down by two assistants like a serial killer, and my parents had to pay exorbitant non-insurable premiums while he watched Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on the ceiling and sat in a waiting room with children half his age. It was not one of his finer moments.  My mother was furious every time she had to take my brother to the "baby dentist". My children have been to the dentist with me once already, but just to hang out and visit while I got my teeth cleaned.  They loved it there.  I`d recommend talking to your dentist about their policies and recommendations surrounding your children, especially since they know your family teeth health history and will keep that in mind. 

When can they start brushing their own teeth?
On line I found recommendations that you brush your children's teeth for them until they are at least 7.  Here is an interesting link about success rates on brushing based on age:  Like anything it depends on the kid.***  How old will they be when you teach them to lie to their hygienist about whether or not they floss?

*And smack her brother with, sometimes simultaneously.
**The next time I feel nauseous or have an upset stomach I'm going to tell people it was because I ate a tube of toothpaste.
***So Jack will be 35.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Stepping Stone

I have added a new cuss word to my vocabulary.  It's called Sleep Transgression and it is a dirty #$%*, albeit a necessary evil in child development.  One of the worst things about the "blessing" of twins is that they wake each other up and often teeth and sleep transgress in tandem rather than at the same time.

Sleep regression is changes in a child's pattern of sleep to accommodate changes as they grow (physically) and reach important cognitive and developmental milestones. In theory this is great. In reality it means that we're in for some rough nights, especially when you add in teething, ACBBM (awakening caused by bowel movement) or the wild card of daycare related illness.*  Other side effects for sleep transgression include poor napping and general crankiness and clinginess.

The other day as I left for a baby shower, thankfully during the hours when the minions nap - so I didn't have to bring them with me, Chris called out, "I won't blame you if you never come back!"  It's hard to be a cheerleader for parenting when your team is getting their butts handed to them.**

The night time crying has gotten so bad that my super mom spider senses are failing me  and I'm sleeping through baby crying, only awakening to Chris's nudge and instructions of "It's your turn", every other time someone is screaming.

Generally this type of issue goes away on its own within a few weeks, however we're about to hit daylight savings time in just over 2 weeks and this seems like the recipe for the perfect storm.

When I hit the Googles I found that sleep transgression can happen any time, but most commonly, month 1, 3, 6, 12, 18 and basically it comes in threes.***  Which doesn't explain the 14 month transgression, but I'm holding onto it tight hoping to get to witness some toddler power-walking or Shakespearean sonnets spoken any day now.

What me cause trouble?  I'm just hanging with my homeys." Miss Molly

The key difference between sleep transgression and bad baby habits is timing.  Sleep transgression lasts from 1-3 weeks and can be caused by: teething, growth spurts, development and illness.

Here are some other suggestions:

Go and pour yourself some whiskey or red wine. Drink it.****  Give your screaming munchkin some baby pain reliever and a teething ring from the freezer.  Insert ear plugs.

Growth Spurts
Stuff your baby senseless in the evening with heavy items such as meats, Greek yogurt and copious amounts of apple sauce.  Be prepared for them to awaken you in the middle of the night with a load full.  Change them, turn on sound machine.

Unfortunately the only real solutions I found on line were time, patience, and a little love and tenderness, so unless you have a time machine, you may be in for some rough evenings.  Cheers!

*Molly still has this terrible old man cough, residual from her "slapped cheek" disease that I like to refer to as her kennel cough. 
**Insert name of Toronto based sports team here.
***Like curses and wishes on that monkey paw you bought at that yard sale.
****I bet you thought I was going to tell you to rub it on their gums.  Why are you going share your booze with them?  They're the jerks who are keeping you up at night.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

If you want to destroy my sweater...pull this thread as I walk away

My childhood friend KM has always had a really unique sense of style.  As a young child (5 or 6 years old), when she first began dressing herself in the morning to go to school she would come up with all of these wacky clothing combinations that she would insist on wearing, much to her mother's chagrin.  Her mother thought that she had come up with the ultimate solution to her daughter's strange combinations and purchased her a wardrobe of only red, white and blue clothing - figuring that no matter what it would sort of go together.  Unfortunately KM's new wardrobe often looked like a failed tribute to American patriotism or like New Pepsi had acquired a young girl as their new mascot.

This unique sense of style has continued through out KM's life.  She is a self proclaimed nerd with a penchant for reading* who has the letters spelling out, "BOOK WORM" tattooed across her knuckles, a look that rivals a prison librarian, yet she still loves over-sized knit sweaters and parkas.  KM is no hipster, she's been this way since we were 6.  She is a boho chic tattoo artist and many would argue that she was born that way.  A male friend of ours, who had a bit of a crush on KM, once tried to explain to her that he thought she dressed like the world's hottest grandmother.  Sadly this line didn't win KM's affection.

A few months ago a friend of ours told me how every day she needs to give her 2 year old daughter at least 2 clothing choices or there will be a massive freak out.  I didn't think that toddler girls cared about clothing, beyond the love of pretty twirly dresses.  I was wrong.

Last week Chris and I went out shopping at Once Upon a Child for trousers and long sleeved shirts for the minions.**  While we perused the 12 month old girl section we would hold up items we were particularly interested in or things we wanted to mock.  Chris held up a particularly offensive piece: a ridiculously bright fuchsia sweater with a tacky kitty cat on the front of it.  When Chris went to return it to the rack he found that it was stuck.  Two little hands reached up from her stroller and wouldn't let go of the awful sweater.  When Chris finally gave in and let go, Molly hugged the sweater tightly against her chest while we walked around the store, admiring it often.  Four dollars later we were the proud owners of the first piece of clothing our daughter ever fell in love with.   She giggles when you ask her if she wants to wear it.  The My Little Pony tattoos will have to wait until she's at least 7.

Note that the shoulders are sewn so the sleeves puff out.

*Including an obscene amount of Archie Comics.
**There is a black hole of hand me down clothing for 12-18 months and I don't know why...I think this is because this is prime crawling age and the children destroy, wear through or get dirt on everything.

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Witchy Woman

A little while ago I found out about significant trickery surrounding my childhood Halloweens.  Each and every year my mother would feed us a good, hot stick to your bones meal (think beef stew or chili) to make sure we'd  have a solid meal before our journey into Candy Land.*  We would go off, get a crap load of candy, eat a ton of candy on Halloween night and then surrender our goods to the giant bowls of candy that would sit in the centre of our family dining room table.  As we ran lower on candy, bowls would shrink until we were out of treats. 

What I didn't know, until very recently, was that my mother was secretly, gradually throwing a significant portion of our candy into the garbage to make sure that we weren't indulging too much for too long.  Generally all Halloween goods were gone well before Christmas season.  As a trusting** and obedient child I never suspected a thing.  When we got older my mother began to throw out candy in front of my brother insisting that it had "gone bad".

This isn't an issue that we have to deal with this year, as my children will be visiting a total of 5 houses (2 sets of grandparents and 3 neighbours mainly to show off their costumes), but it's something to consider for the future.   When I complained to Chris about my mother's confection deception he shrugged and told me that growing up he ate a lot of candy that he didn't even like after Halloween simply because it was there.

 Jack - as Batman - Halloween 2011

The Original Minion - Molly as "Minion" from Despicable Me - Halloween 2011
So what can you do to limit the amount of candy your child*** consumes following Halloween?  Here are some solutions I found/worked out which will lead to a healthier November for kids and mom and dad beyond my mom's tough love method to healthy eating.

The Halloween Witch
I received a press release a couple of weeks ago about this and here's the pitch direct from the mouth of  Founder & President Jennifer Carlson Broe, Baby Gourmet: The Halloween Witch is a household tradition for Jen's children Eamon and Findlay. Trick-or-treating is an experience that children love and Jen knew it would be very difficult (and disappointing for the kids!) to convince them not to participate - yet she was concerned about them eating big bags of candy. So...she told them about the Halloween Witch.

Eamon and Findlay have fun picking out their 10-15 favourite treats to keep and then they leave the rest of their candy next to the fireplace. The Halloween Witch visits their home each year and takes away the candy in exchange for a new present. Jen's children enjoy the whole of experience of Halloween without the lingering damage to their nutritional plan.

The Cons:
  • You're lying to your kid.
  • Your kid is ridiculed for talking about a mythical creature that no one else has ever heard of. Other kids throw their excess of candy corns at them and they are shunned from their social circle.
  • You need to go out and purchase replacement treats and create yet another hallmark holiday.

The Switch Witch
This is an on line version I found that is a bit different then the one above.  The Switch-Witch is coined as an eco fairy who comes once a year, on November 1st and takes away the most-offensive candy**** and replaces them with healthier surprises.

The Cons:
  • You're still lying to your kid.
  • Your kid continues to get ridiculed for talking about a mythical creature that no one else has ever heard of that has brought them things that they can't trade at lunch time.  Other kids (in greater numbers) throw their excess of candy corns at them and they are shunned from their social circle.
  • You need to go out and purchase replacement treats.

Candy Creations
Encourage your children to play with their food!  Let them do experiments to turn their candy into experiments, art work or jewellery.  Here are two great sites: (there is also a book you can say, purchase on November 1st) or

The Cons:
  • Some candy will get consumed in the making of the crafts.
  • It encourages wasting and playing with food.
  • Your kids could burn down your house creating a candy experiment or try to eat a varnish covered candy off of their bracelet.

Sharing is Caring
Why not encourage your kids to select some treats for mom and dad to bring into work and share with coworkers, give a goodie bag to the bus driver, postal worker, hair dresser, barber and the grandparents.  Check and see if your local food bank will accept donations of wrapped candies.

The Cons:
  • You have to negotiate with a child caught midst a CANDY CANDY CANDY state of mind with no pay off but kindness.  Think negotiating with Cookie Monster at the Christie factory outlet. 
I'm open for other suggestions and comments and will probably entertain a combination of a few of the above methods.  At least I have another few years to prepare for Candygeddon.

*There is truly nothing more scary than 3 flatulent children running around the streets, thanks mom.
**See stupid and unobservant.
***And ultimately the parents - cause come on - I know how much candy I eat on Halloween night when I give out treats and can only imagine the candicopia headed our way.
****So like those stupid caramels wrapped in Halloween paper, raisins and toothbrushes?

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

And We'll Have Halloween On Christmas

Halloween has always been a huge deal for us.  Recently when we were re-organising the ocean of baby supplies/clothes in our garage (incoming and outgoing) we realized that we have a significantly more Halloween decorations than we do for Christmas and Easter combined.*

As we started to go through the supplies and plan our Halloween display we realized that some things that we've always done in the past won't pass the toddler-proof test.  Wine rack full of skulls (most weighted over 5lbs) might be a little unsafe around Jack and his game, "Jackie Smash!!!"  The pumpkin headed scarecrow that Chris has created for 8 years is going on sabbatical until after the minions decide that they don't need scale every vertical surface in their daily tribute to King Kong.**

So what are toddler friendly Halloween decorations?  Essentially anything they can't destroy, can't hurt them and that won't scare the bejesus out of them.***  Since many of our decorations don't meet the above criteria, we now have a fairly modest supply of Halloween decorations that we can use, so I decided to get creative and crafty. This is highly unusual because I am to crafting what Martha Stewart is to ethical investing, what Andy Dick is to funny, what Ashton Kutcher is to likable**** and what Charlie Sheen is to sanity/ moderation - you get the picture.  Here's what I've come up with so far and on a budget thanks to some on line searching (Pinterest, on line parenting magazines, my fellow Halloween enthusiast AS) and browsing at Halloween stores for some inspiration for crafts for the uncrafty.

Halloween Tree - Because they can't destroy what they cannot reach.
Bristol board 50 cents dollar store, ornaments $1.25 dollar cost  $1.97 (including tax).

The Wicked Witch of the East
Created using old socks from an Alice in Wonderland costume, newspaper stuffing and red shoes.  Cost to me $0 - cost to build this using thrift store shoes and discount store socks ($10) 

Witch themed signs
Stencil $2.49, silver paint pens, $3.98, frames - I already had these from IKEA - but you can get some at the dollar store or IKEA for about $1 each. Total cost: $9.57 including frames.*****

*5 boxes of Halloween supplies is normal, right?  And even if that doesn't include the dress-up boxes of costumes and random Halloween supplies that are general decor around our place 365 days a year.
**Shows exclusively held when a parent is outnumbered by babies, trying to change the other twin's diaper or cook dinner.
***In the continuation of Molly's extreme fear/hatred of moustaches she has begun to aggressively point and glare at passerbys with moustaches from the seat of her stroller.   Movember is going to be hell on earth for that child. 
****I strongly dislike Ashton Kutcher and not just because of the movie Valentine's Day.
****This actually cost me an additional $5.98 if you include the silver paint pen that I broke and threw a fit about one evening while Chris tried to watch baseball in peace.

Monday, 15 October 2012

We are the Lucky Ones

In my first trimester of pregnancy I never lied to anyone about being pregnant.  If asked by anyone close to me I answered honestly, not that many people asked, but when I suddenly stopped drinking and was sporting sea sickness bands people were a little bit suspicious.  The rule that I made in my head was that I would tell anyone (who asked) who I would be okay with talking to about a miscarriage.

Today is Infant Loss Remembrance Day. (  I am very blessed that I have never had to experience miscarriage or lost a baby I can only imagine the sense of loss felt, especially now that I know what having children is like.

Chris and I found out that I was expecting a few days before Christmas in 2010.  We had barely begun trying, but I was a few days late and all of a sudden was unable to stomach my weekly Friday lunch treat of spicy tuna sushi.  Being the control freak that I am, I immediately threw out my half eaten lunch and marched down to the drug store in the underground below my office, purchased a home pregnancy test and took it in the washroom of my office building.*  I called Chris from the lobby of my building announcing my big news, that I was 1-2 weeks pregnant.  My husband didn't believe me and came home that night with 3 other pregnancy tests for me to take.  We sat together in the bathroom, me on the toilet, him on the edge of the bathtub in one of those stereotypical 1980's movie scenes as we examined the urine covered sticks of plastic.

We were thrilled and secretly spent the holidays with me drinking "vodka" and cranberry**, offering to be designated driver and smiling constantly about our secret.  On New Year's Eve I started to spot a little bit.  Two days later it hadn't stopped.  I called my nurse practitioner.  There was nothing we could do but have me rest and wait.  I was put on modified bed rest and told to be patient.  The spotting continued.  I was terrified.

One evening after days of waiting I sat on the edge of the bed crying.  I looked down at my belly and talked to my baby for the first time.  I told my baby, "You need to make up your mind little one.  You need to stay or go, I can't take the waiting any more."

A few days later the bleeding stopped.  We were still nervous as we waited for our first ultrasound, where we found out that I was having twins.  It turns out that some of the symptoms of having fraternal twins (the implantation of the second egg) can mimic early stages of a miscarriage.     

Jack and Molly 1 month old at a Spirit of the West show for the Dragon Boat Festival 2011

Every once in a while I think back to my conversation, the one that I had with the wrong baby, when  I thought I was talking to little Molly, unaware of the existence of Jack - my bonus baby and how lucky we are.  I thought I was going to lose everything and ended up with twice as much.  We also thought we were going to have an only child and ended up with the double coupon deal.

Today I am going to hug my babies and my husband extra hard.  In the constant chaos of life with 14 month old toddlers it's too easy to forget how lucky we really are.       

*On another floor than my office.  I didn't want to run into anyone I knew.  Although purchasing the test directly below my office building wasn't exactly my most stealth move. 
**In name only, skillfully mixed by Chris...soda and cranberry juice.