Friday, 28 June 2013

People Are Strange

About six months ago, on New Years Day, while I was nursing a hot cup of tea instead of a hangover (thankfully) I came across a great blog entry by the Bloggess.  In this entry she tracked the strangest search results that led people to her blog.  After this I started keeping a closer eye on the random things that bring people over to Multiple Momstrosity.  I decided that I would keep track and give you a six month round up on what unusual, but fairly regularly entered search terms bring people to my blog and how disappointed I must make a lot of people in their journey to search for Internet pornography.

Here are some of my favourites that I hope you enjoy:

Wonder Woman Defiled - This search term has come up a lot.  Those Comicon loving folks are freaky monkeys...sadly it's simply an entry about what I discovered happened to my Wonder Woman Doll after the minions first birthday party.

Pregnant My Little Pony - I don't know what you people did with your My Little Ponies, but mine were flying and frolicking, not procreating on clouds and rainbows.  This search term gem leads you to a post about Molly and her love for a super ugly cat sweater.

Prince Eric Naked - I really feel like I gave sick Disney loving people what they asked for, an entry that involves fairy tales, my drunken family and Molly's desire to play with a naked Ken Doll.

It really makes me feel like a super star parent when people stumble upon my blog because they Google: How Not to Baby Proof or Baby Falling Down Stairs.  Sadly our ineptitude in parenting and childproofing is one of the most significant ways that people find this blog, sigh.

What, you aren't supposed to let your baby play in the trunk of a car?

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Tuesday, 25 June 2013

The Point of "No" Return

It started off slowly.  About a week ago I asked the girl child if she wanted some more strawberries and she said "No."  So I cut up a few more strawberries for the boy and moved on with my day.  Later when Miss Molly was hitting her brother with a plastic salad spoon and I asked her if she wanted a time out she replied, emphatically, "No!" and stopped hitting her brother with the spoon and I was pleased that she was understanding.  I didn't fully comprehend what this was the beginning of.

I didn't think much about it until it started happening ALL OF THE TIME.  The "N" word...the big bad word to the parents of toddlers everywhere, the indicator of the beginning of the terrible twos.  We've entered initiation into the days where we routinely ask ourselves, "Why did my daughter have to develop free will?" and "Why is she so angry about everything?"

Good Golly Miss Molly!

I know how Andrew Dice Clay's parents must have felt as they witnessed their son's growing penchant for the F word.*

As the week went on Molly's use of the "N" word not only increased it evolved.  Sometimes we get the "N" word with a head shake, sometimes a finger wag, a cry or even a full fledged knock em out tantrum.  Yesterday she started something new, my daughter yelled no at me and held out her hand in front of her.  That's right my 22 month old just told me to talk to her hand.**  What's next?  The finger, chest bumping me until I'm intimidated?  I'm told this is just the beginning of the badness.

This weekend, mid heat wave, we bought two sprinklers for the minions to play in.  Molly yelled no, and then sat in the garden crying, sulking and refusing to participate.

She's a sad tomato...

Thankfully Jack is still 100% pure "YES!" all the time because I'm fairly certain that the neighbours won't believe that I have two screaming surly garden gnomes.

Apparently the lawn flamingo also needed to cool off

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*Horrified, frustrated and a little bit amused.
**You'll be seeing us on Ricky Lake next week.

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Material Girl

Last week I decided to make up a resume for Jack because it's never too soon to get your children working...How else are we going to raise ourselves a family of Culkins?  Here's Molly's:

Molly (AKA Molly Badali, Badali, Moll, Queen Molly, Miss Molly, Thing One)
Home Address: Storybook Themed Nursery, next to the loud guy
Phone Number: Baby Monitor held to ear - radio wave B.
  • Pointing accusingly (like the evil monkey on Family Guy)
  • Tantrum guru
  • Management skills: Have staff of two girl toddlers at daycare to "do" her bidding
  • Can say about 60 words enunciated well most of which involve bossing out orders 
  • Can say "No" with her entire body

Current Employment
Position: Toddler
18 months - Current
Responsibilities Include the following:
  • Showing everyone her belly button
  • Waving at strangers like she's on a red carpet (even if it's mid tantrum)
  • Jumping on the couch
  • Sitting on mom's lap
  • Sucking her thumb
  • Irrational attachment to flannel blankets AKA "gits"
  • Dancing
  • Tidying up by throwing random objects into the garbage
Previous Employment
Position: Infant
0 months - 18 months
Responsibilities Included the following:
  • Colic, oh lord the colic
  • Fear of men with moustaches
  • Screaming (can break baby monitors with a single scream)
  • German - when angry yelled "NEIN!"
  • Eating dirt, grass, sand

Honours & Awards
  •  Hair ripped from anyone's head, held up like a trophy
  • Stealing other people's shoes and trying them on
  • Colouring & Painting
  • Dishwasher door surfing
  • Eating raspberries
  • Pretending she is going to share food with you and then popping it into her mouth at the last second and laughing
  • Poking people in the eye while yelling "EAR!"
  • Drinking mom's cream soda
  • Attempting to drink mom's wine

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Thursday, 20 June 2013

Working Man

Our son is a rough and tumble ball of hugs and wrestling.  If other children don't want to play with him or get a giant bear hug, he simply chases after them and hunts them down - like The Terminator.  He doesn't care whether or not the other children reject him, he just keeps going, if they shove him, he thinks it's funny and part of the game.

A few days ago at daycare he chased a group of children into the toy playhouse, holding up a piece of wooden play rail road track akin to a scene in a movie of where "the monster" chases down frightened villagers.  I commented that Jack could turn anything into a weapon with mad MacGyver skills and has great persistence which gave Chris the following idea,  "Sarabeth, why not you create some mock resumes for the babies."  Which is silly, but so am I, so here's Jack's:   

Jack (AKA Jackie Bear, Thing 2, Jack-Jack, or Jack-Noooooo!)
Home Address: StoryBook Themed Nursery
Phone Number: Thomas the Train Talking Phone that is stuck on 8*
  • Impressions of Nelson on The Simpsons (ha, ha)
  • Can turn anything into a weapon
  • Can lift up to 12 pounds and turn heavy object into blunt weapons
  • Can say about 30 words enunciated poorly most of which involve food
  • Throwing a ball and yelling (wooo) simultaneously

Current Employment                                                                           
Position: Toddler
18 months - Current
Responsibilities Include the following:
  • Making his sister furious
  • Banging objects together
  • Jumping on the couch
  • Chugging a bottle like it's a beer on a hot day
  • Climbing anything
  • Insatiable hunger
  • Irrational attachment to dad's contact lens case and plastic coins
  • Running on tip toes
Previous Employment                                                                        
Position: Infant
0 months - 18 months
Responsibilities Included the following:
  • Insatiable hunger
  • Illogical fear of the carbon monoxide alarm
  • Sleeping
  • Not smiling
  • Refusal to use legs in crawling

Honours & Awards
  •  Paintings on the fridge
  • Stealing and pushing buttons on channel changers
  • Throwing magnets at the fridge
  • Attempting to stick fingers and other objects into electrical outlets
  • Pulling cat's tail
  • Flicking on and off light switches
  • Dishwasher door surfing
  • Eating and smashing cookies
  • Eating and smearing Ice Cream

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*Just dial 8, 8, 8, 8.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Swap Meet

Sometimes getting a babysitter isn't financially in the cards.  That being said, there are other cost saving ways to ensure that you can carve out a little alone time without breaking the bank.  Here are some great ideas to get you thinking outside the box when it comes to child care.
Alternatives beyond fencing in your child or tying them to a stake in the yard so you can have a dinner date.

Neighbour Swap
I'm not talking key parties here, I'm talking kid swap.  I have a friend who has an agreement with a neighbour friend that once a month one parent walks down the street and looks after their children (I think one couple gets the second Friday and the other couple gets the fourth Friday) while the other couple goes out on a date.  Two weeks later they swap out.

Professional Services
I've never tried this, but there are sites designed to help people connect with other parents in order to trade babysitting. The first one I came across in my search was Babysitter Swap

The Play Date
One couple takes double duty hosting a play date at their house while couple A goes out for lunch and a matinee (or whatever), when they return couple B takes over the play date while couple B goes out for dinner and dancing.  Couples can alternate who hosts, or split the shifts at their own houses and also swap out who goes out when.

The Barter
I find that my little brother will do just about anything for a Subway Sandwich and access to a "free laundry facility" to do a few loads while the minions sleep.  When negotiating with someone who doesn't have kids you can pay them for their gas, a flat rate or offer a trade of services...You'll wash their car, dog sit, be their personal shopper, chauffeur their drunk butt home from an upcoming wedding, defrag their computer, organize their records or help them move.  Get creative and know your audience. 

Sitter Sharing
Go out on a lot of double dates?  Why not pay your sitter an extra dollar or two an hour while you and your friends go out to save some cash.  You can alternate who's house it's at and don't really need to be going on a double date, just coordinate the timing and enjoy your time at around 60% of the cost.

How have you managed to save some money on babysitting?

To read a post about finding your ideal sitter or Mary Poppins click here

To read a post about where to find a babysitter click here

To read a post about interviewing a new sitter click here

To read a post about preparing your sitter to deal with your little hellions click here

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Monday, 17 June 2013

Bird Dog

We realized a number of months ago that the minions weren't quite ready for a trip to the zoo.  The Toronto Zoo is huge and expensive and their attention span, patience and enjoyment wouldn't equal the frustration, crying, cost and effort.  This combined with the fact that Molly thinks all animals are: cats, dogs, fish, bears or my favourite dogbears means that we have been finding other ways to expose the children to the elusive dogbear.
This weekend we went to High Park Zoo with the minions and their grandparents as a part of a Father's Day outing.  It's the ideal size for our 22 month olds to run around, interact with other animals and the cost is a donation if you feel so inclined (we go fairly often and empty the change out of our pockets to help support the zoo).  There are other ways you can support the zoo by purchasing colouring books, Peacock feathers or even lemonade.
Molly was a little nervous of the Llamas and didn't want to get too close.

In an effort to get close to a Bunny, Chris entered the small animal pen with Molly.  A volunteer dropped a chicken on his lap.  He was unimpressed as the chicken pecked at his wedding ring.  Molly just yelled, "Dog Bird" as Chris wished for a case of Purell.*

Jack trying to get close the the baby Walaby.
We even got to feed the Capybaras...
But had to stop when Jack tried to jump into the pen with them.
I recommend giving the High Park Zoo a visit with your little ones, unless you're chicken.**  If they still need to blow off some steam and run around after, you're less than a five minute walk away from The Jamie Bell Adventure Playground which was recently re-built by Canadian Home Improvement Celebrity Mike Holmes.
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*Chris has added having a chicken dropped into his lap into an epic description of his own personal hell.
**I'm sorry Chris, I couldn't help myself!

Friday, 14 June 2013

Father & Son

Parenthood has ups and downs.  There are great days and there are really, really bad days.  This is the second part of my Father's Day series celebrating the good, the bad and the ugly about parenthood.  I hope you enjoy what these fathers had to say as much as I did.

What's the worst part of being a dad?

 "The crying. Completely stresses me out. Crying in the car. Crying when they are legitimately hurt is even worse. Not being able to take their pain away is horrible."  - Mike, Father to two toddler daughters

"Knowing they will grow up." -Jake, father to two child daughters
"I miss having the chance to be alone."  - Ben, father to infant son

"The ‘hurts’ to your kids and, by extension, to their families. You feel the hurt with them but, in most instances now that they are grown, you can only be supportive while he or she deals with a hurt on their own.  Fortunately, there haven’t been a lot of hurts." - My Dad - Father to three grown children, four grandchildren

Sarabeth says: I guess Clark Griswold had something right, nothing seems to beat quality time with your kids.
Fondest Memory 
"Family time/outings/vacations together. Especially enjoyed being involved with Scouts & Venturers – had both kids in Venturers together. Tons of fun for 'Jungle Jim'" - - My father-in-law - Father to two grown children, five grandchildren

Dad and Miss Molly
SaraBeth says: When my first long term relationship ended at 20 my ex-boyfriend had a significantly more emotional goodbye with my father than with me.  I've run into him a few times over the past decade and a half and each time I see him  the second words out of his mouth (after hello Sara) are "How's your dad?"  Awkward!

Who is your fatherhood role model?

"My fatherhood role model is my mom. She raised me and taught me everything I know. Particularly how to respect women."  - Mike, Father to two toddler daughters

"My Dad of course…didn’t miss a single hockey or soccer game or practice in 11 years I played...that is caring." -Jake, father to two child daughters

"My father... he taught me everything. And if everything goes wrong, I'm going to blame him!"
Chris, Father of infant daughter

SaraBeth says: I love (and it drives me insane) that my dad is always trying to "help".  Who else is going to remind me to put steering fluid in my car, get an oil change or leave me messages about gas prices going up?  Who else would have his daughter put her boyfriend to shame because she knew how to change a tire and he didn't?*

What is your favourite memory with your own father?

"From a young age, my Dad was always great about taking my brother and I on camping trips. And we're not talking about "pull your car up and plug in a cooler" sort of trips, but full on, week long backwoods trips. I learned more from these trips, both about inter-personal relationships (think Lord of The Flies) and nature, than I ever did in school. I appreciate how hard it must have been to wrangle us, especially when we were younger, but I want him to know it was totally worth it."  - Ben, father to infant son

"Time at the hockey rink." Darcy, father to infant daughter

"Growing up, whenever my dad and I went to baseball games we were equals.  In my early thirties we started going to regular baseball games together again.  There's something to be said about cheering for something together to help reconnect, even if the only talking is screaming 'Kill the Ump!'"  -Chris (my husband), Father to infant toddlers Molly & Jack

Sarabeth says: It seems like being the "ideal" dad isn't about being perfect it's about trying hard, even if you look silly or fail in the process.

Who is the best TV dad? 

"Ozzie Nelson." - My father-in-law - Father to two grown children, five grandchildren

"On TV, fathers are too cardboard for me to choose who were best and worst. Even Archie Bunker and Al Bundy had their “best” moments."  - My Dad - Father to three grown children, four grandchildren

"Steve Martin in Father of the Bride.  That movie makes me cry." Chris, Father of infant daughter

"Phil Dunphy from Modern Family."  Darcy, father to infant daughter

Who is worst TV dad?

"Peter Griffin Family Guy."  - Mike, Father to two toddler daughters

"Any single father from the TV series Mad Men.  Apparently fatherhood in the 1960's was about drunken debauchery, womanising and ignoring your children.  Thank goodness we were raised in the 1970's!"  -Chris (my husband), Father to infant toddlers Molly & Jack

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*I swear my relationship with my dad goes beyond car maintenance.  I make him sound like a good mechanic here rather than my dad.

Thursday, 13 June 2013

My Father's Eyes

In celebration of Father's Day and all things "Dad" I went out to a number of fathers: rookie to veteran to ask them some questions and words of wisdom on fatherhood.  Below are some thoughts on becoming a dad and early days of parenthood, including thoughts from my husband Chris and my own father.  Enjoy and check in later this week for the next set of quotes in the series.

When I found out I was pregnant it felt surreal, we had just started trying and after I was two days late something felt "different". I somehow knew I was pregnant, so I took a test and my intuition was confirmed. Here's the dad perpective:

Initial Reaction to Finding Out You Were a Parent

"Ecstatic. We had been trying for a while and out of the blue it was happening." - Mike, Father to two toddler daughters

"I don't believe you!" Then went to the store and purchased three more pregnancy tests. -Chris (my husband), Father to infant toddlers Molly & Jack

"A potent cocktail of fear, joy, excitement and disbelief. If it could be synthesised in drug form it would be a great recreational drug." - Ben, father to infant son

Chris and Molly, 4 weeks old.  Back when she looked like the worm from The Labyrinth.

SaraBeth says: I was plagued with a double dose of pregnancy hormones almost instantly. As I trudged through winter throwing up in every snow bank in the city it felt VERY real.*

When Being A Father Felt Real

 "The second he was born it felt real. Not a second before that, however. All points leading up the birth were completely abstract for me." - Ben, father to infant son

"When we got home for the first time, we both looked at our baby and said…um, now what?"  -Jake, father to two child daughters 

"It felt real with each of you the first time I got to hold you – and confirmed the first time I changed your diaper." - My Dad - Father to three grown children, four grandchildren

"Once we got home from the hospital. I knew afterwards that i couldn't return her, or get a full refund." - Chris, Father to infant daughter

SaraBeth says: The unsolicited advice was the most rampant in the first six months. I think I've perfected my "Don't even talk to me about how insanely ridiculous my children are" face since then.  The woman at our local convenience store felt it was her obligation to criticise the way I dressed the minions for the weather.

Weirdest Parenting Advice You've Received

"Put a head band on your babies ears so their ears don't stick out." - Mike, Father to two toddler daughters

"I never really got any, everyone saved it up for you." - Chris (my husband), Father to infant toddlers Molly & Jack

Advice for New Dads

"It's a big commitment. A lot of late nights and no free time for all the things you used to do. It's all worth it but just don't be surprised when your not doing all the things you used to so frequently." Mike, Father to two toddler daughters

"Tell your kids you love them and are proud of them every chance you get."
Jake, father to two child daughters

"Be Patient."
Chris, Father of infant daughter

SaraBeth says: The best advice I ever received was from a fellow twin mom. It read, "Having twins gives you the permission to be the parent you want to be, not the one you think you should be."

Best Advice You've Received

"You're going to get a lot of advice as a new parent. Nod and say 'uh huh' and be nice when you're getting it, then pretty much ignore it and do whatever feels right."
 Ben, father to infant son

"If mama isn't happy, no one is happy."
Chris (my husband), Father to infant toddlers Molly & Jack

The Best Parts of Being a Dad (so far)

"Enjoying all of the little moments. When we were potty training my oldest she insisted on standing up when she went because she was peeing like daddy. Those little moments make every bad moment forgettable."
Mike, Father to two toddler daughters

 "One of my jobs is bath time. I love it when she holds my hand during her bath."
 Darcy, father to infant daughter

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*Little did I know that all of the pregnancy vomit was nature's way of preparing me for pukey toddlers with a penchant to upchuck on mom.

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Closer to Fine

So, you hired that new babysitter and you scheduled your first night out.  How do you prepare them for dealing with your hellions and your routines without coming off as a crazy helicopter parents?  Here are my tips to ripping off that band aid and getting out there sans baby, or for those of you veteran parents here are some ways to acquaint a new sitter when your old one goes off to university, skips town or tells you that (s)he can't take it any more.

Low Stress Trial Run
I highly recommend having the first sitting session for a three hour (paid) period where you spend the first half hour or so going over routines and where things are and then using the opportunity to run errands or doing outdoor chores, or things you wouldn't normally do.  This keeps you highly accessible for the first time the sitter is dealing with your kids.*

Lists are awesome, to a point.  Keep them high level and brief.  Where you can be contacted, poison control (this should be programmed in your phone anyway), insane allergies, bedtimes and a highlight of general routines, but nothing too crazy or detailed.** 

Let Your Kids Know Who's Boss
Set the ground rules for your kids when it comes to television time, where they eat snacks and make sure your sitter (and children if they're old enough) know these rules.  Let the sitter know your policy on punishment (i.e. time out vs. corporal punishment)  For older kids, having a special treat available just for time with a sitter (i.e. popcorn as a snack, a new movie to watch or new craft activity) will make everyone's lives easier.

Don't Be Old Mother Hubbard
You are entrusting this person with your "precious" or "preciouses" so be considerate and kind.  I try to make sure that we have non-alcoholic beverages and snacks available for our sitters.  If you have a special box of cashews that you're saving for the anniversary of your Great Aunt Mary's first communion, put them somewhere else or clearly label them off limits.

Keep Calm & Carry On
Don't be a spaz and have realistic expectations.  Just because a sitter doesn't do everything exactly the way you do it, doesn't mean they are a bad sitter.  If they've had a rough shift the house may not be exactly as you left it, however if you want diapers disposed of somewhere else or dishes in the dishwasher, just remind them the next time they watch your kids.

Give them the Tools Required
Let the sitter know where the medical kit is, thermometer and whether or not you're comfortable with them giving your child advil if they are teething or whether or not you want them to connect with you first.

Let them do Their Job
I usually check in via text once during an outing to see how things are going or to let our sitter know when we're on our way home.  If they aren't answering right away, don't sweat it, they're probably just looking after your kids.  Don't linger when it's time to go out, the longer you stay, the tougher the adjustment will be for both you and your kids, trust me.***

Be Respectful of their Time
If you're going to be late, let your sitter know.  I usually give ranges of when we're expecting to be home and try to stick to them.

Know Your Deal Breakers
Some times things don't work out.  If your child isn't adjusting well to a sitter and screams the entire time you're gone after three or four sessions, maybe it's time to move on.  If your child tells you things aren't going well, talk to them, and get them involved in making things better or finding a new sitter.  If they dig into your liquor cabinet or take the front door off the hinges fire them.****

This is the fourth entry in a babysitter series:

To read a post about finding your ideal sitter or Mary Poppins click here

To read a post about where to find a babysitter click here

To read a post about interviewing a new sitter click here

Want Multiple Momstrosity updates on Facebook click here?

*i.e. you aren't leaving them marooned on baby island without a paddle.
**No one needs to be reading an encyclopedia when they should be watching your children.
***The last time we left the minions with our sitter A they freaked out and Molly started screaming.  While we waited for the bus I received a comforting text about Miss Molly's crocodile tears, "the crying stopped the moment you shut that front door".  Your kids will play you, it's kinda their job.
****Apparently a sitter once put us to bed at 6:30pm and then took my parents hall way door off its hinges, they still don't know why, but never asked her back.

Monday, 10 June 2013

The Whole World is Our Playground: Vermont Square Playground Review

Once the nice weather hit the city we began to explore local playgrounds with the minions.  It didn't take us long this spring to visit almost every park within walking distance of us.  While local parks are great on a regular basis, Chris and I wanted to mix it up a bit and get some new destinations and neighbourhoods to explore for our weekend play time with the kids.  As I started my research of some great parks in and around the city I realized how hard it is to find out what's out there and how appropriate it is for your kids (beyond the biggies like High Park and Toronto Island).  

Over the next several months I'll be providing reviews of parks in the GTA on a fairly regular basis based on some of the criteria we have.  If you don't live in the area I hope you enjoy the pics and can use some of the ideas to explore in your own area.  If you have any recommendations for great playgrounds (or new criteria I haven't thought of) please post a comment on this post or email me.

Park Name: 
Vermont Square Playground, Toronto Ontario 

Palmerston Avenue, just south of Dupont between Christie Avenue and Bathurst Street

Some Street Parking for free

Theme of Park:
It seems to be Ship themed, Ahoy!

Ground Coverage:
Sand within the actual playground, grass in the outer area.*

Variety of Equipment for different ages:
The park had great equipment for older and younger kids that was separated nicely so those who are less steady on their feet can play without being bowled over by older kids.  Play areas are still close enough together that a parent could easily supervise children of different ages in both sections of the playground.  There were both big kid and baby swings available.  In the summer months there is a splash pad.  Most of the children here while we played ranged from age two to eight.

 The Equipment for the older kids

 The toddler area

Apparently there are washrooms, but I can't vouch for their cleanliness or availability.**

Special Features:
The play area had a tap in the sand box area to aid children in their pursuit of mud pies, sand castles and anything messy.  A few veteran parents had already equipped their offspring with rain boots and a change of clothes. 

This blue over sized top was a great way to spin Molly and Jack around.  They loved it, but toppled over if we went too fast.  A few other random kids jumped in to enjoy the free ride.
With it being a city parkette we had to be more aware of the litter on the ground (i.e. broken bottles etc.) and Jack found a wine cork that he kept on trying to eat.

Best Sighting While There:

It appears this abandoned toy was vandalised, but Jack didn't mind cause he's punk rock like that.

Overall Rating:

To view a review of Vine Avenue Playground click here

To read my review of Jamie Bell Adventure Playground click here

To read my review of Dufferin Grove Playground click here

To read my review of Neshama Playground click here

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*You may be asking yourself, why is that important?  Molly does not like walking on sand much.  It makes her suspicious and slow on her feet.  While entertaining for us, sand coverage probably makes any playground about 20% less fun for her.  While she enjoyed this playground, she spent a lot of time on the grass around it.
**One of the only benefits of your children still being in diapers is the ability to avoid the stench of public washrooms.

Friday, 7 June 2013

Release Me

When I was a little kid I spent a lot of time at local playgrounds climbing, playing and exploring.  By the time I was 11 or 12 that stopped being cool, so I spent time "hanging out" at the playground with my friends while we giggled and pretended to watch our middle school crushes play baseball.*  By high school it became somewhere to loiter before curfew when there was nothing else to do at 10pm at night in Etobicoke.**

Somewhere around the time that I entered the world of university (i.e. was legal to drink) playgrounds disappeared from my world.  Fast forward 10 years to when Chris and I were house hunting.  We were immediately charmed by the little parkette on the street where we eventually bought our house.  Maybe it was my 30 year old womb whispering to me, but something about this quaint little park filled with a sand box and toys made me feel like this would be a great home for starting a family.

Now that the minions are full fledged toddlers we spend a lot of time exploring local playgrounds and since my sabbatical from climbers I've noticed a major change*** in playgrounds.  Some time over the past 15 years or so, at least in the city of Toronto, playgrounds have become old toy recycling depots/ dumping grounds.

Most play areas we go to feature climbing structures as well as well weathered and pre-loved dump trucks, buckets, cars and other abandoned treats.  Sometimes it's as if we've stumbled into the island of lost toys.  So far, for the most part this provides extra activities to occupy toddler hands while momma sips on her latte, however there are also some issues:

  • Because there is a glut of abandoned goods my children think that any toys on the playground are fair game and will steal toys from children who have genuinely brought their own personal property to the park.****
  • Some of these toys are getting pretty gross and rotten from the rain.  I often wonder if there is some sort of rule about responsible parents throwing out rotting plastic toys at the park.  I have now decided that I will actively pursue and throw out sharp spikey weapons created by shards of plastic from deserted toys.
  • Goodwill called, they want to know where all of their toy donations went.

Any other thoughts on the evolution of playground into toy graveyard, junkyard?

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*Grade 7's answer to Zack Morris, I'm talking about you.
**Where else are you going to make out with your grade 10 boyfriend if both of you don't have your driver's licenses yet?
***Beyond the rubberized anti-Darwinism floors to protect soft children skulls.
****They're also toddlers, so this "mine" game might happen anyway.

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Who's Crying Now?

I highly recommend a face-to-face interview with a babysitter before you hire them, even if they are a referral from family or a friend.  This gives you a chance to get to know the sitter a little bit better and determine whether or not you think they'd be a good fit for your family.  It's also a job and involves the safety of your children, so should be taken seriously.*

I am a big advocate of having your children around during the interview.  This way you can see how they interact with and react to your child. Don't fret if your child misbehaves, they're also interviewing you and trying to determine whether or not your child is the spawn of Satan.**

Below are a list of some of the interview questions that we used, and some ones that I since thought up or researched that I think would be really helpful.  If the interview goes well I'd also use this opportunity to give the potential candidate a quick tour of your house and a 3-5 minute overview of your routines.

Can you handle these two?
Babysitter Interview Questions: Important things to talk about during a babysitter/nanny interview in no particular order:

Get their full name, phone number and email address.

Find out their availability.

Talk to them about pay rates, what they generally get paid, expectations and what you are comfortable with paying.  I recently came across this great Pay Rate Map for Sitters at Rookie Moms for your reference.

Tell me about your previous experience babysitting?  (Number of kids, ages and in my case experience with multiples).

What is your experience surrounding general routines with your kids (i.e. bed time, feeding, bathing, going for walks and any activities you would want them to undertake).

What training, experience or schooling have you had that you feel will help you in child-care? (Answers I'd be looking for would be CPR, babysitting courses, on the job sitting experience, education in ECE, nursing or even taking care of a sibling, etc.)

Why do you like babysitting/nannying?

Have you ever dealt with an emergency while babysitting?  What did you do?  If not, what would you do?

How have you disciplined children, the age of your child(ren), when they misbehave?  How would you handle a temper tantrum?

What are your favourite activities to do with X aged children when sitting for them?

What personal traits do you have that you feel make you a good caregiver?

Can you cook?  Are you comfortable preparing simple meals for the children?

Do you have any questions for us?

Question for Teenage Sitters:

Are your parents supportive of your babysitting? Will they be home/available when you sit? (It's always nice to know that another adult is close by, especially if they are a neighbour.)

I hope this information helps you!  Be sure to collect 2-3 references and call them before hiring anyone.  If they are a student and this is their first job ask for a reference from one of their teachers. Burnout Bob isn't going to get a glowing reference from their math teacher for babysitting. 

Remember, go with your gut and your children's opinion if they are old enough to give it!  Long before my children could say anything I knew they adored all of their sitters by how excited they were to see them and how they interact with them.  Happy Hunting!

If you liked this post about babysitting interviews check out my post on figuring out who the ideal sitter might be for your family or where to find a sitter.

Stay tuned later this month for my tips for babysitter orientation and coping with saying goodbye to your munchkins.  Trust me you need a break!

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*There are few things I take seriously, this is one of them along with book, beer, wine, restaurant, TV series or movie recommendations.
**Not that I'm implying that you are Satan, it's more that I know that interviewing sitters during the Molly's foray into the world of colic was a real trial by fire way to see how they'd react to Molly's "Siren Scream".

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Peanut Butter Jelly Time

So, I am pretty sure that we need to find a new grocery store.  At least for the next few months while we lay low, until the heat dies down.

Friday night, Molly fell ill.  She threw up eight times in a period of three hours, four times on me.  We stumbled through three sets of sheets, four blankets (or gits as Molly likes to call them) four outfits, two baths, one shower and two sponge baths that night.  She also showered our couch with puke not once, but twice.*  Her sympathetic brother laughed hysterically every time she threw up.**

The next morning everything seemed to be back to normal and Molly was so hungry it was as if she'd participated in a Freaky Friday body switch with Jack.  We went for a walk to a street sale, hit a local playground and then decided to stop at the grocery store before nap time. Molly's hollow leg continued as I had to ply her with two Nutrigrain bars just to keep her from having a hangry related meltdown while we shopped for food.

Grocery Store Babies - Gotta love those double seat-belt carts!

As we were standing in line for the check-out, out of nowhere, a mountainous eruption of vomit expelled out of Molly's mouth.  It was like a fire hose and it wouldn't stop.  I pulled her out of the grocery cart, grabbed a bunch of wipes and whisked her out of the store, yelling "Get out of the way, sick baby!"***  We showered the floors of the checkout and the front of the store while we abandoned Jack, who was now half covered in vomit, with his father.  I found a quiet spot at the back of the parking lot  where I stripped her down to just a diaper and her shoes, trying my best to destinkify Molly and me with the limited number of wipes and clean surfaces of clothing available at our disposal.  I stuffed our gross selves into the car and we awaited Jack and Chris with our slightly damaged groceries.

Our attempt at a swift getaway was thwarted when Chris realized that we had parked so far away from the store that the wheels on the shopping cart locked because we were "out of range".  I pulled the car closer so Chris could unload the vomit laden goods and we could go home.

"Just abandon the effin quarter!****  They need to hose down that cart anyway!" I screamed at Chris as he debated returning the cart to get his quarter back.  He shrugged and hopped in the car.

"Well that was horrible." I said.

"You weren't in the store for the worst part." Chris said.

"What happened?" I asked as I sped out of the parking lot home towards destination hot shower.

"Well, after you two left I flagged down that stock person who was mopping the floor to show him where he needed to clean and put up his wet floor sign.  He nodded and then disappeared to the back of the store, but I don't know why because his mop, bucket and wet floor sign were right there at the front of the store beside us.  The poor check out girl had to gingerly use paper towels to manoeuvre the puke covered food through the checkout.  Jack started picking at the pieces of vomit affixed to him, while I tried to brush his hands away.  The check-out girl asked if my son was okay and gave me a suspicious look.   I tried to assure her that it was in fact his evil twin who had caused this debacle and that he was quite well, despite the fact that he was now trying to eat his sister's vomit.  Apparently the stock person took too long to clean up Molly's mess because as I finished checking out an old lady slipped and fell on Molly's throw-up."

"Was she okay?" I asked.

"She fell pretty hard.  And she wasn't walking very fast after, but I'm not sure if that's because she fell or if it's because she's eighty years old.  Her husband was the old man blocking you at the door when you were trying to get Molly out of the store, so I don't know how she missed the whole scene."

So, does anyone know of any good places to shop for groceries on line?*****

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*To get puke smell out of a couch, clean off puke, wash down with warm water and then pour a ton of baking soda on it, let it sit over-night (or at least 2-3 hours) and then vacuum up the powder.  Repeat as necessary and then Lysol the s&*t out of it to get rid of the germs.
**For anyone wondering, 22 months is when little boys begin to think that throwing up is the funniest thing ever. Will report back when farts jokes make the list.
***Unfortunately to a few people that meant stand directly in my way and move at a snails place all while staring at me and my puke covered child, mouth agape.
****I didn't really say effin.
*****It looks like someone answered my prayers already, go Steam Whistle: