Monday, 30 April 2012

It Takes Two

Last week Chris and I realized that although we manage to get out and away from the kids once a week, that this time is usually spent with our friends.  We counted it up and we generally make it out together "alone" on a date less than once a month.

We wouldn't change the quality time with our friends for anything, however we are unable to finance a ton of extra romantic evenings away from the kids on top of our "wildly" busy social lives.  There are limits to how often we can call in the grandparents, because I'm pretty sure that they didn't retire so Chris and I could go out to dinner and stare lovingly into each other's eyes.   Also, if we go out on a work night it generally means that Chris has seen the kids for less than an hour that entire day, which I know he hates.

We decided to come up with a few economical solutions to give us a "date" when we feel that we haven't had enough couple time.  As a part of this solution we've found the ideal couple to double date with - our kids.

Drive In Movies
I have a real soft spot for the Drive In that started in the early 80s when my parents would take my sister and I in the hatch back Celica and we'd watch the first movie (or most of the first movie) from our sleeping bags and then fall asleep giving my parents a night at the movies.  As a parent of infants The Drive In appeals to me because the car provides some shelter from disturbing fellow movie goers if there is a melt down*, you have space to comfort and cuddle babies if they need it and Molly and Jack are generally really good in the car.  As the kids get older we'll bring special snacks, play Frisbee outside before the movie starts, and watch them fall asleep during the first feature.  

Backyard Romance
Getting out and organized with enough supplies for infant twins can be a giant hassle and sometimes we're too tired to make the effort.  Now that the nice weather is here, we're trying to celebrate in the evening by bringing a couple of beers or some wine out into the backyard, along with the baby monitor.  During the day we spread out a big blanket in the yard for them to roll around and free range on.  We're even debating getting a heat lamp for our back porch so we can extend these "dates" into the colder months.

Brunch is Best
We go out at the time of day when our children are best behaved (for us right now this is generally late morning/early afternoon).  I am a huge fan of brunch with kids in general because: 1) You can get something a little bit fancier for cheaper 2) The food is served quickly** 3) There are often a lot of other children around even if the establishment isn't a "family" restaurant and people seem to be generally more patient and understanding of kids being around during the day 4) Many places offer special child friendly menu options, colouring books and crayons.  Our kids are usually really well behaved at restaurants, but they aren't silent by any means and make their usual baby noises, including loud squeals of excitement at random intervals.  It's nice not to have to worry about offending other patrons or having to shush your children when they're just being kids while you enjoy a meal out together.

Dinner &  Movie
This is a bi-monthly tradition we started BC (before children) in the colder months to beat the winter blahs. When the minions get older this is something that everyone can enjoy and work on together in teams.  Right now one of us is on childcare/bed time duty while the other person prepares for our late dinner in.  Essentially how it works is that you alternate turns where one person selects a movie and prepares an appropriately themed dinner to go along with it.  Chris is much better at the dinner and movie selection than I am.  Personal favorites: Casablanca with a Moroccan Feast including sweet mint tea, The Godfather with spaghetti, meatballs, garlic bread and red wine, or Cool Hand Luke with Southern fried chicken and a dozen hard boiled eggs.

Hopefully this will allow us, and others to carve out a little together "alone" time and start great traditions!

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*Our car is surprisingly sound proof.  If all 4 doors are shut I am able to carry on a conversation with someone in the driveway where I can pretend I am completely oblivious to the meltdown that is going on inside the vehicle.
**You know, in case you need to wolf down your meal in 3 minutes flat while you bounce someone on your knee. We always order the bill before we actually need it, just in case we need to hit the eject button.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

All the Single Ladies

Chris went to Burnaby, BC for a business trip this week leaving me to fly solo for 63 hours. It was a little weird being alone with the minions for such a long stretch without Chris for backup.  Below is the captain's log of my unsupervised parenting marathon.
Hour 2
While carrying both minions upstairs to the nursery to change their diapers I misjudged my space when entering the nursery and smacked Jack's head into the door.  He started to cry* so, I set Molly down on the play mat so I could comfort Jack.  Instantly they switched temperaments - Jack started giggling and Molly started hysterically crying.  Is this the beginning of pain transference and other Super Twin powers?
Hour 7
Chris called me to let me know that he arrived safely and that he had the good set of car keys with him in BC.  The good car keys are normal car keys.  They require no explanation.  The bad car keys (AKA my car keys this week) have a locking mechanism that is being held together with a piece of duct tape that works maybe 38% of the time.  Last year Chris, knowing very well how uncoordinated I am, threw me the keys from our porch onto the driveway, I missed and the locking mechanism smashed into many pieces....I'm so glad he can access the car readily from across the country while I have to shake the keys like maracas while pressing random buttons to get the car door open.
The weiner dog key chain, which is also a beer bottle opener serves as further evidence that these are in fact Chris's car keys and not mine.

Hour 14
Molly spit up all over her shirt, twice, then mine, twice.
Hour 26
Went over to visit a friend for tea.  Apparently Molly has developed daddy issues and spent the entire evening shamelessly flirting with my friend's husband.  She wanted nothing to do with my friend and I, ignoring us while she batted her eyelashes, giggled and jumped up and down on his lap.**
Hour 30
I couldn't sleep, but was too afraid to sit up and read the third book in the Hunger Game series, Mockingjay.  Tween fiction can be really scary and maybe the Capital really is watching.
Hour 38
90 seconds before our sitter L arrived Molly spit up all everywhere and rubbed it on my dress before I could stop her.  I smelled faintly of baby spit up at my meeting downtown. Molly 2, Mommy 0.
Hour 41
Had a Dufflet Mint Devil Cupcake for "lunch" before I headed back home to reality.  I would consider this a highlight.
Hour 42
Returned home to discover that Molly has been saying mamama and dadadada all day to our sitter L.  Felt a little cheated and sent Chris an email about our daughter the flirty traitor.
Hour 45
Was finally graced with  mamamama and dadadada from Molly, after her nap.
Hour 52
Poured myself a healthy sized glass of wine to celebrate finally getting the kids to bed.  Jack was so tired he actually stretched, smiled and sighed when I put him in his crib.
Hour 58
Woke up in the middle of the night to strange scary thumping noise.  Our 14 year old cat Pan followed me while I investigated, he thinks that he's a dog and is going to protect me.  The noise was Molly, kicking the foot board of her crib in her sleep.
Hour 62
Victorious!  Chris arrived home early and managed to crawl into bed with me for a two hour nap before the minions woke up.

I would like to extend a special thanks to my family and friends for helping me, offering extra support and for listening to me complain.  Although my log is not that different than any day parenthood it felt a lot more daunting handling it alone.  All of you single ladies and men raising kids, I don't know how you do it every day, you are truly amazing!

 *Which is unusual.  That Jack's head is made out of concrete or something equally hard.  He's constantly head butting me, his sister, his dad and he's never the one who ends up crying.
**I really want to make some sort of comment here about my daughter being a raging tramp, but feel that I can't because that little voice (Chris) is constantly reminding me that one day the minions will be able to read and they may not appreciate their mom's witty sense of humor.

Sunday, 22 April 2012

We Are The Champions

I was nominated for The Versatile Blogger Award this week!  I feel like I passed some sort of blogging initiation/milestone.  A very special thank you to Yes, I'm going to marry a carrot for nominating me.  Check out her blog for some great vegan recipes, healthy eating inspiration and update photos of her twin baby belly.

The rules for the versatile blogger are:
If you are nominated, you've been awarded The Versatile Blogger Award!

    • Thank the person who gave you this award.  That's common courtesy.
    • Include a link to their blog.  That's also common courtesy.
    • Next, select 15 blogs/bloggers that you've recently discovered or follow regularly and then nominate them for the Versatile Blogger Award.
    • Finally, tell the person who nominated you 7 things about yourself.
I've been blogging for about 7 months and most of the blogs I follow are bigger multi-contributor sites, but I do have a few new and regular indie favorites - in no particular order:

Kate Carraway - Fellow Torontonian, as funny and honest as she is neurotic. 
Music on Vinyl - Music lover who exposes their vinyl collection online and gives music recommendations based on liking a specific band, like they use to do at the video store.
Urban Daddy - Toronto area talks everything from parenthood to hockey to life in the men's washroom.
Funkylindsay - Lindsay's photography of her son is amazing, creative and inspiring.  Check out her Jack Be Nimble and Wizard of Oz.
F#*k Yeah Awesome 90's Stuff and the companion site F#$k Yeah Ugly 90's Stuff for an entertaining blast from the past.
Mommy Wants Vodka is where "Aunt Becky" tells you all about her life.  
Drinking for Two is near to my heart because it's where my good friend, The Granken, recorded my pregnancy/ her drinking - simultaneously.  It was one of the many things that inspired me to create my own blog.  Since Molly & Jack's arrival at has evolved into a blog of all eccentricities Granken.

7 Things about Me:
1. When I graduated high school I debated between going to University for English and Writing or going to college for Funeral Services.  English won.
2. I started taking drum lessons a few months after the twins were born.
3. I love stout beer and white wine.
4. Almost every guy I have ever dated has independently compared me to a badger - cute, but mean as hell.
5. I love doll houses and can't wait to get one for the minions.
6. I have seen Pearl Jam in concert 8 times.
7. My favorite meal is Sunday breakfast where my husband and I drink tea, eat muffins, waffles or donuts, listen to records and play cards. 

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Eat It

In the infamous Season 2, Chinese Food Restaurant Episode of Seinfeld Elaine says something that I've felt all too often: "Remember when you first went out to eat with your parents? Remember, it was such a treat.  You go out and they serve you this different food that you never saw before.  They put it in front of you and it was such a delicious and exciting adventure and now I just feel like a big sweaty hog for them to fill up the trough."  Aside from the occasional great recipe or food craving inspiration I often feel totally uninspired in the kitchen and feel like I rotate the same 5-10 seasonal recipes in a bizarre food focused version of Groundhog Day.

Enter the addition of solid food or real human food (I am aware that breast milk and formula is also real human food, but I can't stop myself from differentiating between the two because I haven't consumed either in quite some time). All of a sudden food became an exciting adventure again as we think up new things to throw into the Magic Bullet* and blend everything into a baby-ready consistency.

Photo courtesy of Shawn Nolan.

I have implemented a few guidelines for food tastings and won't give Molly & Jack anything that I haven't taste tested myself.  The introduction of new foods has inspired healthier eating and more walks to the fruit market than ever before which benefits everyone.  We have had some major successes: sweet potatoes, avocado, yogurt (which has done wonders for Molly's stomach issues), and oddly enough couscous.  Recent failure: mashed potatoes which apparently are better to throw, rub in your hair and mush into the seat of a high chair than they are to eat.   Aside from patience and the realization that the introduction of solids has not made our lives any easier, here's what else we've learned:

We Aren't the Only Jerks
Whenever we bring up that we've started the minions on solids, it brings out this unparalleled sadistic side in other parents who began goading us into feeding the minions specific items just to enjoy the sheer horror and disgust on their little faces.**  This also explains why I grew up with lima beans, cabbage, cauliflower and brussel sprouts that mysteriously disappeared from my parents shopping list as soon as we moved out.

Babies Eat Like Drunken Frat Boys
They think it's funny to throw food on the floor.  They miss their mouths constantly.  They grab the spoon out of your hands or try to lick any food remains off of their shirts.  They'll eat food off the floor with no regard for the 5 second rule.  They'll lick food off of each other.***

My Kitchen Floor Will Never be the Same 
I have never spent so much time sweeping and mopping my kitchen floor yet it has never been more disgusting.  I'm beginning to understand the feeding babies lemons thing, at least the floor will smell better.

*Notice I didn't say Baby Bullet, I can draw on a cute face on my regular Magic Bullet with a "Magic" marker.  My cute little storage cups are Tupperware and an ice cube tray.
**Apparently feeding your children lemons for the first time is really funny to parents, I don't know why.  We haven't tried it yet.
***Maybe I've been to different fraternity parties than you.  Maybe I'm describing a rave.  Maybe that's what happened at York U in the late 90s/ early 2000's, maybe not.

Friday, 13 April 2012


I didn't think that the simple act of eating a slice of Quiche Florentine before heading up North for a funeral visitation would be my loss at a game of Russian Roulette, but it was.  I only ate it to avoid being hangry* in the car ride, which is the number three cause for any fights that Chris and I have.

I bought the pre-assembled grocery store quiche in question for a Wednesday night dinner for a vegetarian friend, but he couldn't make it over and ended up cancelling, so the quiche remained in the fridge.  On Friday we had friends over for brunch, a nine month pregnant woman, her husband and their two year old daughter, but we filled ourselves on other food and the quiche remained untouched.  So, I decided to eat it on Friday afternoon, before our trip up North - BIG MISTAKE.  Chris declined because he had grazed on grapes, cheese and kielbasa all afternoon and he'll only eat quiche if he's forced to.

When we went to bed Friday night I commented to Chris that I "Didn't feel so good."  By Saturday morning I was throwing up and passing out for hours at a time.  We had to cancel the Easter dinner we were hosting, and then the plans on Sunday for my niece's fourth birthday.  Then on Monday Chris had to work from home so he could make sure that I didn't neglect our children while I prayed to the porcelain gods facing North and South.  Monday night we thought I was getting better, only for me to relapse, likely due to severe dehydration, meaning Chris had to stay home with us again on Tuesday.  Did I mention that both kids are teething and crawling backwards and log rolling everywhere?  I finally called my doctor and Chris made a trip to the drug store to talk to the pharmacist, who suggested that I had Salmonella poisoning - especially since no one else was ill.  Apparently such poisoning can last 4-7 days, which explains why I am still primarily living off of soup broth and toast.

My first trip out of the house in almost a week was to go and see the movie Hunger Games on Wednesday night after my first day home alone with the kids.**  Earlier that day I had taken some Immodium to ensure that I'd be safe for the movie, but have found that like Jurassic Park, "Nature finds a way" and I ended up violently vomiting red Powerade in our kitchen sink while Molly and Jack freeranged on the livingroom floor.  I called Chris mid pantrum*** and announced that I wouldn't make it to the movies while he tried to talk me down, I imagine with the phone about six inches away from his ear to avoid my loud sobs and hysterical crying jags.  I managed to make the movie and even had enough energy to enjoy two hearty servings of ginger ale after the show.

When I logged onto Facebook earlier this week I felt jealous of all of the photos of friends and family and their children in cute new Spring clothes and pretty pastel Easter dresses.  My only pastel was pepto coloured pink or Gatorade green.  My first Easter with the kids was not how I imagined it - at all. I have to say a big thank you to Chris for taking care of everything and everyone this weekend, and rarely complaining.  He was practically perfect, except for Saturday when he decided it was a good idea to eat coleslaw and hard boiled eggs right beside me.  That was really gross.

*Hangry is a term first aptly coined by my friend GE.  Hangry is when you are so hungry it makes you angry, with an uncontrollable, irrational rage that can not be satiated until you are satisfied, like Joe Pesci in that Snickers commercial.
**The irony is not lost on me, or as a friend kindly emailed me: "The ironing is delicious - maniacal laugh, maniacal laugh, maniacal laugh."
***Panicked Tantrum, I had a lot of these when I was really ill and pregnant.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

A Hunting We Will Go

The amount of "smack talk" that happens before an Easter Egg hunt between a 5 year old and a grown woman is a little odd to watch.  There is that mix of innocent childhood energy and excitement combined with an adult suppressing usual pre-game fodder to something child friendly in the spirit of good-sportsmanship.  Before the egg hunt my 5 year old nephew announced that The Granken was in for some real competition because he was REALLY FAST.  She grumbled about the fight being fixed for children as we strapped my son to her, while the "Easter Bunny" hid eggs.

After careful thought The Granken determined that Jack, although considerably more sizable, was a better partner for her due to his easy going nature and her ability to calm him down using "snack hands".*  Jack was asleep by the time the hunt was over.

 Getting Her Game Face On.  The Granken & Jack - Ready to Take on the Competition! - Photo Courtesy of Michael Case.

The result - My nephew won the entire competition by 6 eggs.  The Granken was impressed by her competitor and declared, "Wow, he really is fast!" After the race was over (Team Granken/Jack came in second) our nephew suggested an alliance for next year so they could really dominate.**  Perhaps next year it should be those two who are bound together, like in a forced employee retreat race.  Suggestions on next year's competition is encouraged.***  I am happy to report that no children were injured in the production of Easter Egg Hunt 2012.

Enjoying the Spoils of Victory - Photo from Easter 2009 - After the "Counting Incident" where my nephew poured the contents of The Granken's egg collection into his own basket and declared himself champion.
 The Easter Bunny takes a break to feed Miss Molly - Photo courtesy of Michael Case.

*Snack hands is like Jazz hands but without white gloves and is directed towards the excitement over eating tasty snacks, like say fries with cheese sauce at a hockey game.  Often when The Granken is around and Jack gets hungry, she can distract him with Snack Hands while we get him food.
**And stick it to the 4 year olds and two twenty month old toddlers they'll be competing against?
***And no, I don't think my sister-in-law or anyone else wants to see a 6 year old bjorned to The Granken.

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Morning Has Broken - Hard Boiled Edition

What says holiday tradition more than a good old fashioned fight or awkward situation?  The recent newsworthy cancellation of an Easter Egg Hunt due to highly competitive parents reminded me of Easter at our house.*

For as long as I've known Chris we've had two pre-Easter traditions.  The first one is Easter Egg painting, which is is normally civil, except for the fight clubesque rule, fiercely enforced by our friend, The Granken, where if you break an egg while painting it you must eat the egg immediately.  About six years ago Chris's sister broke two eggs in a row.  She was chastised and had to endure uncreative chants about eating eggs until she finally did, reluctantly.  At the time we were unaware that she was two months pregnant with our nephew and really nauseous.  We thought she was being overly dramatic when she announced she may throw up egg all over our glitter pen and other decorating supplies.  Thankfully no one had to clean up Easter vomit that day. Either way, she's learned to be more careful.

Note the glass of wine while decorating eggs (circa 2009)....cause we're classy like that.

 After the egg painting "The Easter Bunny" (Chris) shows up** and announces that he's going to hide Easter eggs in select rooms of our house.  When the bunny returns he lets everyone know how many eggs have been hidden and the competition begins.  Everyone runs around to see who can collect the most eggs.  For years our friend, The Granken, was the undisputed champion - until children started participating.  We banned her from searching below a certain height level to give children a fair chance at winning.  One year it was a close race between The Granken and our nephew***.  They both presented their baskets and "The Easter Bunny" began to count our nephew's eggs first.  He cleverly picked up The Granken's basket, dumped the contents into his own and declared himself champion.  The Granken is still bitter about being outwitted by a 3 year old.

This year, now that we have children, we made a proposition to The Granken.  I suggested that she would no longer be restricted in where she can search for eggs with one caveat....either Molly or Jack must be strapped (or bjorned) to her while she hunts.  She has agreed to this challenge and is aware that said child must remain safe during the hunt.****  She still hasn't decided who she wants to accompany her.  Molly is much lighter, but also more volatile.  Oh - and if the selected child breaks any eggs while we're decorating, guess who's going to be dining on hard boiled eggs?  Let the games begin!

**This is not a high end production of The Easter Bunny, one year his ears were made out of the cardboard from a case of beer attached to a black toque, sometimes he has a nose and whiskers drawn on with eye liner.
***Who was 3 at this time.
****If someone calls children's services, I'll only lose one of my babies, right?  Right?

Monday, 2 April 2012

Kiss With A Fist

I have an idea for the next big new buddy movie, and it's never been done before.  Picture it: A feisty young brunette, who knows what she wants and isn't afraid to go for it.  She's got a killer set of lungs, a fiery temper and an adorable pixie cut.  Her plans are thwarted when a blonde, good-natured slacker with a heart of gold comes into her life and shows her how to have a good time.  After a tumultuous start they finally begin to get along, until there is a misunderstanding that may jeopardize their relationship forever.  Will they make it?  Nobody knows.

Okay everybody knows that everything will turn out in the end and they have known since The Odd Couple. It's the mainstay for every buddy movie and almost every romantic comedy ever made.  There is nothing romantic about this couple. Despite recent creepy depictions of twins in the show Game of Thrones and the record, 10 time Razzie award winning "comedy" Jack and Jill, twins are capable of not horrifying people.*

About a month ago Molly and Jack REALLY discovered each other and began to interact with each other beyond screaming that the other child is getting a bottle/more attention.  They've slowly begun to play with each other, coo to one another and teach each other how to do things.  That being said their relationship still has a long way to go.  They are still more comparable to Sid & Nancy** then they are to Raggedy Ann & Andy.

Source:  via: smoorenburg on

On Thursday they both lay on the floor of the nursery simultaneously giggling at each other for almost 20 minutes.  I have no idea what was so funny, but I suspect that Jack was the instigator.  Chris and I were thrilled, so the next night we lay them both on our bed together to play while we folded and hung up laundry around them.

Round 1:
Molly immediately begin to kick Jack in the stomach, which he found hysterical, until she lined one up just right and karate kicked him in the face.  Tears ensued.

Round 2:
Jack crawled close to Molly and shoved both fingers in her eyes.  Tears, again.

Round 3:
We calmed them, moved them apart until they log rolled into each other smashing their giant baby melon heads together.  More tears.

Five minutes later they were happily sucking each other's thumbs.  Mildly creepy? But not in a way that warrants a movie with Katie Holmes in it.

*What happened to you Adam Sandler?  You used to be good.
**Minus the access to heroin and knives.