To Sheetcake or Not to Sheetcake

I woke up the other morning feeling like a complete poop emoji.  I dragged myself out of bed, gulped down a cup of caffeine and forced myself to do some yoga.  I started with a 20 minute session, then upped it to a 30 minute session, then googled the 20 minute session again and did that instead.  When I was done, I got back to my bedroom to make the bed and seriously had to talk myself into NOT getting back in.

What’s wrong with me?  Why do I feel so crappy?  Is this what midlife is all about?  Is it all down hill from here?

Then it hit me.  That morning, the first thing I did when I opened my eyes was grab my phone.  Before I could even focus, there were a pile of news alerts.  It was Vegas.  Mass shooting.  I clicked open and flipped through the news pages and social media.  Of course, The Dinglenuts of the United States had already said like 7 stupid things about it.  It is horrible.  Shocking.  Maddening.  All of it.

And that my dear friends, is why I’m so freaking tired.   I don’t even live in the US, but as a Canadian we are inextricably linked to whatever happens south of the border, so we sit and watch in helpless, abject horror.

What can I do to help?  Give blood – well, I’m thousands of miles away so that won’t do any good.  Call my Congressman to lobby for Gun Control – remember, I’m Canadian.  We already have that here.

Its not just Vegas.  Its everything.  Every day, every week there is something new to worry us.  Something new clogging the news feeds that at any given time would make us shake in fear.  White supremacy?  Deadly Hurricanes?  Massive Earthquakes?  Mass Killings?  THERMONUCLEAR WAR???  See.  You want to go back to bed too.

The blessed news media does a good job of stoking the fire of worry.  The 24 hour news cycle only thrives when there is news to report, people only watch it when its titillating.  Death and destruction.  Political battles.  These are the things that the news media lives for.  Hollywood couldn’t write it better.  Its no longer Walter Cronkite keeping you objectively informed, The Fourth Estate providing the check and balance for those in power.   Its now produced entertainment with studios full of talking heads looking for ratings.

Its all so exhausting.  I just want to follow Tine Fey’s lead and Sheetcake EVERY DAY, ALL THE TIME.  Just dig into that thing like an ostrich burying my head in buttercream goodness.  I feel helpless and sheetcaking feels like the most ideal diversion, unless you want to chip and wine because for the record, I’d be ok with that too.  Otherwise what can I do?  I’m one woman in a small corner of the world with a family and a job.  I can’t drop everything to go protest every monumentally bad development that’s happening in the world right now.  Who will hear my small voice through the din?

But we have to, don’t we?  We have to stand up and say something.  March, yell, fight the bad guys.  If you do it too, then maybe our voices together can be made louder.  We have to for our families, for our kids, for our world.  Generation X hasn’t had much to fight about in our lifetime, but now we do.  Love must conquer hatred.  Peace must win over conflict.  Humanity must defeat greed.  How?  I have no idea.  But we have to try.  I’ll just start now by saying we all deserve a brighter future than the one being so poorly negotiated on our behalf.  We’ve got this.  Lets do it and I love you.

 

I Was Told There Would Be No Math…

Every Mom Blogger on the face of planet Earth has written a post like this.  So I probably shouldn’t, but its my Blog and its my brain so I’m going to do it anyway…

I’ve been a Mom for almost 11 years now.  Every day that I delve deeper into Mom-hood, I realize how little I actually knew about being a Mom beforehand.  I mean, I knew the basics and I felt relatively prepared for the role but there is A LOT of shit that no one tells you.  Moving past the heartfelt homemade papier mache Mother’s Day gifts and those snuggly quiet moments with Les Petites, there are a lot of get your hands dirty times that are sort of glossed over when we look back on our Mothering histories.

Like breastfeeding.  Everyone tells you how much you HAVE TO DO IT.  Absolutely no one, like ever, tells you how freaking hard it is.  Even if its all going well, the milk is flowing and the little bundle is latching.  The trials and tribulations of the simple act of feeding your child are the stuff of nightmares for every new mother, even when she’s on baby 2, 3, 4, or whatever.  NO ONE tells you that your baby will lose weight after they’re born and that you need to get them eating tons to gain it back.  NO ONE tells you that you will be judged by every nurse, family member – hell STRANGER passing by that you are doing something wrong.  Don’t give formula!  Your baby is too skinny, give formula.  Drink beer.  Don’t drink beer.  Hold the baby like this.  No like this.  She has gas.  He has colic.  And that’s just one aspect of being a new mom.  I’m not even going to talk about poop… for anyone.

As your kids grow older, new fresh surprises creep up on you.  Things like math homework.  Sure, doing homework with your kids is an expected thing.  But seriously, someone even breathes “place value” and I get the sweats.  Think think think… how does place value work?  How the hell do I explain it?  No wonder parents get called out for doing their kids homework all the time.  Teaching cranky and hungry kids new math is another spine chilling nightmare.  Enjoy your newfound power struggle.  Like getting them to bathe and eat vegetables isn’t hard enough?

We all know now that being Mom equates to more dishes, more groceries and piles and piles of laundry.  Some of the latter being so dirty and smelly you need a shower after sorting it.  Much of it is freshly laundered only returned to the hamper by your young one in lieu of actually putting it in the drawer.  Proximity to the laundry that smells like the depths of hell necessitates yet another load to fluff and fold.  Good times.

And all the toilet flushing.  So much toilet flushing.  Why didn’t anyone tell me that as a mother of potty-trained plus kids I should allot several minutes each week to flushing toilets that other people haven’t flushed.  Why?  Add in another time allotment for toilet paper roll replacement.  This is not so bad since you can multi-task this while you visit the loo (you know, those 2-3 minute windows each day when you get a chance to be alone… if you’re lucky).  You know this because you are the only one who changes the roll so you are bound to be the one who has to change it.   You just need to pray that someone has left a spare roll behind for you…

Busy is a Four Letter Word

Yesterday I was driving behind a man wearing an enormous hat.  This hat was so big that if it had been yellow, I would have expected him to be followed by a curious little monkey.  He was stopped at a green light, waiting for the left.  The light turned yellow and he continued to wait.  Then red, still waiting.  Perhaps his monkey was curious about something that required his attention in lieu of actually watching the road!  I sat behind him, silent screaming “Goooooooo!!!” all the while watching the clock clicking ever closer to Nanny departure time. It occurred to me, there are people in this world who are not always in a hurry?  What in the hell does that feel like?  I honestly can’t remember.

I have a faint recollection of those pre-kid Saturday mornings of leisure.  Before we had grass to cut and swimming lessons to attend.  Should we go out for breakfast or eat in?  Should we take a walk or go shopping?  How about an impromptu drive to the mountains for the day?  Choices, options, whimsy!  Oh my!

Now I feel that I’m always on the sprint but someone keeps moving the finishing line.  Geez dude!  Don’t you know you’re not supposed to sprint a whole marathon?

Weekday mornings we used to drink our coffee, read the paper (now that’s called “looking at your phone” for those of you born after 1995) and eventually get ourselves to the office with plenty of time to spare.  With kids added to the equation and there is now seemingly never enough time. 

It’s like the scene where the Wicked Witch of the West turns over the hourglass and I, like Dorothy, only have an hour before those creepy flying monkeys will tear me to shreds for the ruby slippers (for the record, if those are Louboutin ruby slippers the f$&@ing monkeys are going to have to pry them from my dead feet).  We race through the morning chaos with the sceptre of the school bell hanging over us like that green crone with an aversion to water. 

No matter how much sleep everyone gets, we’re always shaking the kids awake.  I find myself saying things like “Wakey wakey, eggs and bakey”.  I mean c’mon, only someone completely unglued says such ridiculous things! It’s amazing.  We can set out clothes and pre-pack lunches the night before but that hour before school is always a quest for lost library books and show and tell treasures. 

I say the words “eat”, “get dressed”, “where are your shoes”, “yes, you have to wear pants” repeatedly until we are finally out the door.  I think it would be most efficient if I just recorded myself repeating these lines over and over again and just playing them on a loop.  Then at least I’d have time to drink more coffee.

At 8:45am we’re off, if we’re lucky.  I personally think that my speed walking skills since the kids started school are practically Olympic level.  The trouble is that I can only get about half a block when I have to stop and wait for them to catch up.  “Look Mom, a snail.”  IMG_1171

Once the littles are carefully and tenderly deposited at each of their classrooms, I start my day.  Now I really get to train as THE 2020 Speed Walking gold medallist.  If that race is 4 blocks, I will KILL it!  Multi-tasking like any other self-respecting Mom, I email, text and phone call my way back home.  All the while following the walking version of the Man in the Big Hat from the traffic light.  Oh look, he found a snail too.  Seriously dude, you need to move it!

I know you know.  We’re all doing it, except for hat guy of course and all those childless millennials who are binge-watching Netflix.  I binge watch too – between 9-9:30pm every night.  So there.

A Glimpse at The List

We’ve been talking lately about how this time of year can make us Moms nuts.  We all have the internal to do list that is running as a soundtrack to our lives, but at Christmas the list is longer, louder and mega stressful.  Moms by nature suffer from a little ADHD otherwise we’d never be able to juggle it all.  My soundtrack sounds like this today….

  • I need to finish Christmas shopping
  • Don’t forget the teacher gifts for the last day of school tomorrow
  • Don’t forget the co-worker gifts for the last day of school tomorrow
  • Doctor’s appointment for the Shorty at 11.  Pick-up bagels on the way and a gift basket for the awesome staff at the Doctor’s office that we’ve seen a little too much of lately.
  • Wrap the gift for the nanny.
  • I need to sit and check emails.
  • What should I make for supper?
  • What should I make for the pot-luck on Saturday?
  • Ack, will it be snowing when we need to drive up the mountain roads to Squamish on Saturday to catch the Polar Express? (oh yes, this is a thing!)
  • Do I have everything for our post Christmas trip?
  • Order a turkey for Christmas.
  • Plant the tree in the front yard so the city doesn’t fine us for forgetting to do this in the first place.
  • I hope we don’t have too much frost that will kill the tree.
  • I hope it snows on Christmas Eve for the kids.
  • I hope it snows on Christmas Day… again, for the kids.
  • I hope it melts on Boxing Day.
  • I hope it doesn’t kill the new tree.
  • I better schedule that conference call with the record company.
  • What should I make for supper?
  • Did I get the kids the right gifts?
  • Will the kids hate their gifts?
  • Will Christmas be ruined?
  • Don’t forget those last gifts.
  • Did I forget to send my aunts a Christmas card?
  • I need to answer that email about the DVD we’re making.

  • I better call the school to let them know we won’t be back from holiday for the first day after the break.
  • Crap, I forgot to call the school to tell them that Shorty is sick.
  • Oh geez, I hope the rest of us don’t get sick.
  • I need to get groceries.
  • Should I start buying for Christmas dinner, is it too soon?
  • Oh man, is the tree starting to lean?  Is it going to fall over in the middle of the night?
  • When was the last time I watered the tree?  Will it set the house on fire?
  • Check email.
  • What should I make for Boxing Day brunch?
  • What should I make for dinner?
  • Is Shorty #1 ok?  She seemed a little sad yesterday.
  • I should try to connect the charity I’m working with to that foundation I read about online.
  • I better plan a play date for the Shorties for next week.
  • I need to wrap presents.
  • When can I wrap presents?
  • How can I get the Shorties out of the house so I can wrap presents?
  • Maybe we should go out for dinner.
  • Where should we go for dinner?
  • If we go out for dinner with Shorty spread the croup all over the restaurant?
  • I need to do groceries.
  • Oh crap!  It’s snowing…

You get the idea…  And to all a good night.

 

 

Its Beginning to Look A Lot Like…

…a Meltdown.

Happy Holidays!  Are you still with me?  Are you coping ok with all the festive, joyous chaos on your calendar.  I think I am, for now.

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Two kids.  Two concerts.  Potlucks, Secret Santas, Hampers, International Shipping, Shopping, Buying, Wrapping, RSVP’ing, Dressing, Planning, Ordering, Running, Drinking, Eating, Drinking, Eating.  Its the most magical time in the year.  I BELIEVE!

When you’re the Chief Event Planner, Chief in Charge of Acquisitions and Head of Hospitality in your house, Christmas delivers the trifecta of a f*$%load to do.  I’m doing my best to ignore my inner GOOP, my Martha-esque tendencies for the perfect tree and the ultimate gift.  I’m TRYING.  Not totally succeeding but doing my best.

Its the final sprint at the end of the year.  All leading to that moment on December 24 when the dinner is served, the gifts are wrapped, the kids are in bed and the chips will fall where they may.  Over a Bailey’s on the rocks we’ll breath a sigh of relief and settle in for a long winter’s nap (only to be awoken by gift-hungry kids at sunrise).

Until then my recurring nightmare will rear its ugly head.  It’s Christmas Eve and I’ve forgotten to do EVERYTHING!  Every shop is closed except the local gas station.  Good thing the kids like scratch and win tickets windshield washer fluid, right?

I know I’m not alone.  You hang in there people.  We’re almost there and we’re in this thing together.  Smile when you open that gift from a colleague knowing how much thought and more importantly EFFORT went into that box of chocolates. Have patience with your friends when they double book themselves and miss your party.  Love your family for caring enough to work so hard to make Christmas a magical day for you.  Yes, hang in there friends, we are indeed almost there.

XOXO
The R&R Mom

 

What’s Your Threshold?

As I move into middle age (the middle ages?) I know myself.  More and more over time, I have come to learn about my level of tolerance.  I could tell you that I have a fairly low tolerance for things like gin, gluten and perhaps even sugar.  Alternatively, I have a fairly high level of tolerance for pain, tequila and a person’s right to marry who they love.  There are some things in life where my tolerance has improved – say with wine or long haul air travel (arguably, the latter probably due to the proliferation of frequent flyer upgrade certificates).  But its clear overtime, that my threshold for stupidity, arrogance and poor service is at an all time low.

We’re mid-renovation… can you tell?

Honestly.  What is so hard about taking on a job and finishing it… correctly… and on time… and leaving the place in the same (or better) condition as when you found it?  Seems like the basic tenets of home renovation work, doesn’t it?  Except that my friends, is a rarity. Imagine hiring a contractor who delivered the job on time, on budget and as promised without a thousand things to be corrected/ fixed/ repaired.  Sounds like heaven right?  Well its about as common as a Snowman in the Sahara.

vectorstock_506605You don’t need the gory details.  Trust me, its as boring for me as it would be for you, so I’ll save you that tsouris.  Its just that I’m done, the kids are done, J is done.  Its been 5 weeks and its going to be 5 more at some undetermined date in the future and its nothing but heartache (and back ache from all the packing and unpacking and cleaning and scrubbing).  We want our house back and we want to get back to normal, whatever that is.  It might be fun if we were getting a spanking new whatever at the end – but we’re fixing something that was broken so the big pay off will be to have it look exactly as it did when they started.  The drag is that in the meantime, the house is taking a beating and so is everything and everyone in it…

So that’s my new understanding about myself.  I have a very low threshold for contractors and missed deadlines and shoddy workmanship.  Maybe my tolerance for gin will increase after this?

Order in the Court

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I need order.  I crave it.  I go crazy when I don’t have it.  I am a professional organizer.  I put order to chaos every day for a living.  I love it.  Its probably a bit of a control thing – the need to prepare myself (or anyone around me) for any potentiality is my religion.  I pray to the god of listmaking.  I thrive on tools to further organize my world.  I’m 43 years old and I know this about myself.  I’m a planner, a preparer, an organizer.  Want to make me crazy?  Then put me in a place where I can’t organize my way out of it.

And that my dear friends is precisely where I am right now.  Mid-renovation on an insurance claim.  I’m beholden to the schedule of several contractors (and we all know how reliable they can be) and an insurance company (enough said, right?).  My house is upside down with boxes all over the place, dust in every crevice and appliances spread willy-nilly throughout my living room.  The past month has been a series of plans, then amendments, then cancellations, then new plans, then someone dropping the ball, then disappointment, then freaking out, then yet another new set of plans and so on and so on.  It has been a constant re-calibration and its making me crazy.

So much right now is so far out of my control.  Add to that the madness that is back to school and the usual September shenanigans as we all clamber back into the swing of non-vacation life.  And all I want to do is cry.  It probably started with the white chalk debacle of 2015, moved swiftly into summer travel busy-ness and then this piece of sh*t reno situation.  The real drag is that we’re not even getting something new and exciting.  We’re repairing something that went wrong and its in the whole house, so we’re upside down in every single room.

And here I am, trying to wrestle back some semblance of order and control over what feels like a runaway situation.  I can’t seem to get a schedule from anyone or a clear answer on what still has to be done.  So all I can do is try and re-establish some organization.  If that means scrubbing the toilets to do it, then that’s where I’m at.  Cleaning.  Scouring away any hint of a manicure while I curse the misogynistic world of construction and quietly try to rinse away any of the bad vibes these dudes have left in my home.  As I climbed the counter top to wash the walls and ceilings, wondering what these jokers have in store for us next I realized how smart it would have been to invest in a good pair of rubber gloves.

The cathartic nature of a good solid cleaning session, coupled with a mantra to accept what comes my way is where I’m trying to be.  But in the meantime I’ll make sure I have the name of a good lawyer in my back pocket just in case… and a manicure booked for good measure.  Wish me luck.

Gradual Entry Smradual Shmentry

Its back to school week.  Time to get those little brains back in gear and for us parent types to get back to work.  But school’s proving to be a bit of a tease.  Shorty #1 for instance, was engaged for a solid 30 minutes for her first day at school today.  30-freaking-minutes.  It was barely worth picking out a great outfit for that.  Why did we rush back from holidays?  Really!   I remember getting homework on the first day when I was a kid!

Tomorrow, Shorty #2 is embarking on the first days of her educational career in this little game that the schools like to call “Gradual Entry”.  It helps them acclimate to their new surroundings, a new routine and ease them through separation anxiety I suppose.  But for parents it completely SUCKS.  For the next three weeks, we get to tell our employers how we’ll be late for work while we follow our little ones into a new childcare scenario.  Preschools, daycares, kindergartens – in this town, every last one insists on a program of gradual entry.  So that means for the last 8 years of our parenting careers, through various caregiving and new educational ventures avec les petites, we’ve had to scramble around for the first few weeks until we can get into a regular routine over and over again.

I’m sure for some kids, this is a necessary step.  But for mine, they’re kissing us goodbye before we can even shed a tear.  “Don’t let the door hit you on the ass on the way out Mom, I wanna go check out carpet time sans parents if you know what I mean.”  Its like playtime-interruptus when we come back a mere 60 minutes later to collect them.  You can see the look in their eyes and all they want to say is; “Really?  That’s it.  I didn’t even get a friggin’ snack.”  They just want to roll.  Full time, lets go!  But no, we follow along with the rules and wait patiently (with toes tapping and phones on silent) while the Shorty learns the ropes.

Don’t get me wrong.  I like spending time with my kids.  I want to see them in their new school environment, watch them flourish, be part of their education career.  That’s all good.  Its just tough when you also have a full time job in an office with people counting on you to be there for that conference call or 10am meeting.  But tomorrow, I will rise with the sun and put a smile on my face while I sit in an extraordinarily small chair for one hour watching my kid make new friends and figure out where the tiny little toilet is.  I’ll smile and cheer her on as she ventures into the next stage of her life… gradually.

White Chalk????

Its the end of August and its mayhem.

The last week of my life has been a little hectic, to the say the least.  In addition to a busy time in the office its also back to school prep time.  Which means its also appointment booking time.  And its massive acquisition time.  We’re also about to fly across the country for 10 days for a cottage stay AND a family wedding (read: packing for 4 people for a trans-continental trip with the two main activities on the exact opposite end of the wardrobe spectrum).  Add to that my entrepreneurial husband’s move into a new office space and the fact that the floors in our 18 month year old house are about to be replaced.  ALL OF THEM.  Yeah, so if I told you that I enjoy a large-ish glass of wine after work today I am sure you wouldn’t judge.  Right?

To say I could snap at any moment would be an understatement.  Am I holding it together ok?  The answer is a resounding “for now”.  My biggest worry is the proverbial straw that will break this Mother’s back.  At the moment, the straw just might be white chalk.  What now?  Yep, you heard me right – WHITE CHALK.

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WTF.  White Chalk.  The bain of existence!

Shorty #2 is kicking off her preschool career this September and as part of her care package to contribute to the classroom (in addition to a pack of pencil crayons, some glue and an earthquake kit) the school has requested a box of plain white chalk.  Seems easy enough right?  Well, I’ve been to 3 stores already and NO WHITE CHALK.  Multi-coloured chalk a plenty – but no white chalk to be found.

Keep in mind that I have a full time job, 2 kids and a husband and have been running around the city for the past week dealing with all the shit on my plate and getting myself into 3 separate stores, all of which do indeed carry chalk but none of it white is just the sort of thing that could push me over the edge.  Like really?  What would happen if I drop the Shorty off for her 3 week gradual entry program (oh, THAT my friends is a whole other blog post) with a pack of multi-coloured chalk.  Would the teachers forgive and forget?  Or would I be forever branded as a problem parent.  Imagine, the scenario.  The one teacher says to the other “We’re missing one field trip payment.  Who could it be that hasn’t submitted?”  And she replies “I know.  Its that Mom who brought the multicoloured chalk.  Can’t follow instructions.”

These are the things running through my head when I wake at 4am. White chalk where are you????

Back to School is BS!

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I am the first to admit that I am a shopper.  I am Chief Acquisitions Officer in our house.  What’s that you say?  You’re running low on underwear?  NEVER FEAR, I know the way to the nearest Winners.  The spatula broke making eggs this morning, do NOT panic, I’ll have it replaced by dinner time.  Broken glasses?  Its going to be OK, a new pair will be en route via courier within 24 hours.

I know where to go, I know when to go and most of all, I know how to get a deal.

I think that’s why the whole “Back to School” shopping season makes me want to punch a poor defenseless, adorable critter of some kind.  It makes me nuts – the flyers and advertisements, TV spots and radio ads.  All trying to wind me up and stress me out that school starts in a matter of days and my kid will be a horrible, miserable failure if she’s not properly outfitted with a brand new backpack, lunch bag, water bottle, various items of stationary (which we buy from the school anyways) and a brand new fall wardrobe perfectly styled with the latest in pre-teen fashion.  If I don’t get my sh*t together soon then we may as well consider Grade 3 a write-off.

Preparing the Shorties for school is to be sure, a necessary summertime chore.  Don’t panic.  I am on the case.  However, I do take umbrage with retail turning my last HALF of summer break into a shopping season second only to Christmas?  We’ve only kissed the Shorties goodbye for their first day at Summer Camp to only be bombarded by retail with You-Need-This and For-The-Love-of-God-Do-Not-Forget-That.

And do we need a new backpack EVERY fall?  Really?  If the one from last year is still hanging by a thread, is it not ok to rock it until it falls apart around mid-November?  Would it be a crime against nature to buy the new backpack then when its actually needed?  Will Shorty become a social outcast, a pariah, if she doesn’t have a new bookbag on September 1?

It is also true that the Shorties do need winter clothes.  Sure they’ve grown 5 centimetres (or more) since spring sprung, so we do need to load up on jeans and sweaters before the fall rains arrive.  But how many times has that post Labor Day week been one of the hottest on record so we can probably give the winter woolies a beat.  We’ll MAKE it if we wait til October to start stocking up, right?

So lets save the shopping panics, drama and worst of all CROWDS for Christmas and give us moms a break.