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.

Red Red Wine

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What is it with Moms and wine?  I’ve always enjoyed wine.  But since I’ve become a Mom, me and wine are kind of tight.  We used to buy a bottle here and there for when we had dinner parties or a special occasion.  Maybe we’d treat ourselves in a restaurant.  But now, I have a rack in the basement.  Well, actually we have (ahem) two racks.  I keep bottles of sauvignon blanc in the fridge; one open and one ready to open.  We have nice bottles we save for that aforementioned special occasion but now we keep “everyday wine” in the house.  Do we have a problem?  And what is the correlation with the arrival of our kids on the scene?

Lets think about this.  We all know that Moms + Wine is a thing.  Its a running gag.  A joke.  Moms like wine.  Moms need wine to cope.  I don’t think that I need wine more now that I’ve had kids (well, maybe a little more….) but I can say that I like it more.  Did this love affair kick in when my kids were born and I was nursing so I couldn’t very well jump right back into scotch on the rocks territory?  Was that it?  Its like booze light.  You’re practically encouraged to indulge in a glass of wine or two while you’re breastfeeding.

There is always the intimation that Moms need wine to cope with all the sh*t (figuratively AND literally) that their kids throw at them.  I wouldn’t say that I need wine to dull the senses from kid-related trauma as much as it is a nice treat at the end of a long day of wearing so many hats and juggling so many people that need your undivided attention.  Its like going for a pedicure, except for the fact that you enjoy it sitting at your kitchen table and no one will rub your feet.

I’ve grown so accustomed to that lovely glass of wine at the end of a long day that on a recent business trip in NYC very late one night, I was ready for a glass of wine.  The hotel we were at was under receivership or up for sale or some other such nonsense and the hotel bar was closed.  I found myself in a greasy pizza take out joint in the Village and lo and behold in the cooler next to the diet coke were tiny little bottles of the sh*ttiest pinot grigio one could find.  I squealed when I saw it!  I took a little mini-bottle to the cashier along with my contraband full gluten/ all dairy/ full grease NYC cheese pizza 1am dinner only to be completely denied!

“Sorry Ma’am” (ugh, now I’m really in Mom territory), “But I can’t let you take this wine out of here.  You have to drink it now.”

So that was then I had to face the facts.  How much has this wine indulgence of mine actually become a problem?  Did I need my “pedicure” so bad after a long day that I was willing to chug-a-lug a crap mini-bottle of PG in front of 3 dudes in the middle of a greasy Greenwich Village pizza joint?

“Um. No thanks.”  I said as I tromped out with my slice.

I got back to the hotel hoping and praying the bar was miraculously open.  No luck.  Now I’m sure you’re all thinking, “But you’re in NYC.  The City that Never Sleeps?  C’mon R&R Mom hit a bar!”  But I’m a girl.  Alone.  On the road.  Who’s over 40.  And Married.  And a total scaredy cat.  So I went back to my room and double bolted the door.  I opened the minibar.  No dice.  The whole receivership/ sale drama caused the grand full hotel mini-bar clean out earlier that day.  I needed my fix.  It was late.  I had jetlag.  It was a long rough day.  I wanted ONE glass of wine.  Is that so wrong????

Just then I turned to see there on the desk, a pile of room service plates with their nifty silver covers.  Huh.  I wasn’t in all day.  Who ordered these?  Stinky cheese, warm fruit and stale crackers.  But there, right beside it stood the most beautiful bottle of mediocre chianti that I have ever seen.  Well, being the Canadian that I am I immediately picked up the phone and called the reception:

“I’m sorry. (we Canadians ALWAYS say that) But it seems someone has mistakenly delivered some room service to my room.  Some stinky cheese and warm fruit.  But there’s also a full UNOPENED bottle of wine.” I said.

“Was there a note?” said the somewhat irritated front desk worker.

“Uhhh, no.”

“Then I guess its complimentary.”

Huh, well I guess it was the WINE FAIRY!!!!!!  Thank YOU beloved WINE FAIRY!!!!  You heard my plea and took pity on this old bag and her addiction.  I cracked that bottle, poured a solid 4 fingers, drank half and fell fast asleep.

And that my friends is just one more story of Moms and their relationship with wine.

Enjoy the Journey?

I’m on the road a lot lately. Its a busy time so I’m traveling far and wide these days. The trouble is, the more I travel, the less patience I have for the newbie. I try to be sympathetic and always manage to muster some courtesy, but lately its all wearing a little thin when I seem to find myself trapped on an airplane more often than not. So I thought I might try and help you newbie travelers with some sage advice. Remember, I am also quite bossy so this is probably not unexpected.

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1. Don’t be Late
I have never missed a flight. Its probably due to my genetic pre-disposition to arrive at an airport 2 hours early (thanks Dad!). Airline check in times are a hard and fast rule. They’re not making any exceptions for you. We all know that you slept in/ cab didn’t arrive/ forgot to pack – sure that happens – but honestly don’t count on all the other people that set their alarm/ called the cab earlier/ packed the night before to let you budge the line. The same goes for getting to the gate on time. The time of your flight is the time they take off. You need to be there 30 minutes before for boarding. NO ONE appreciates the wait to have your luggage taken off the plane when you’re not there before the doors close.

2. Don’t Forget to Empty Your Pockets
Its security and yes we all know that its a massive drag. But unless you are TSA Pre and if you want it to go smoothly and quickly for YOU (and everyone behind you in line) there’s a few things to ALWAYS remember.
(a) Take off your shoes, belt, watch, bracelet. Its easier to take them off and put them back on again than to have a full pat down.
(b) Always take your laptop out of your bag and put it in a bin on its own. Trust. This is a necessity.
(c) Take off your coat, sweater, scarf – wear the least amount of clothes when passing through the metal detector.
(d) Always empty your pockets. NO ONE likes the dude who left $4 in change in his pocket and has to return for another pass once he’s fished out every last useless penny.

3. Don’t Try to Carry-On Full Size Liquids and Gels
This is not new. Full sized liquids and gels are not allowed in your carry on. And no, the security guard doesn’t care that the full bottle of shampoo you’re trying to smuggle cost $35. Get the travel size, put it in a ziploc and stop holding up the security line. Oh and PS – they won’t let you take your water either, so stop acting surprised!  Check out this link so you know the deal for next time.

4. Don’t Carry-On More than is Allowed
I’m very emphatic on this point. People that climb on board expecting to stuff their full sized rollerboard along with a suit bag, a duffle bag, a back pack and various shopping bags in the overhead compartment are just plain old selfish. I get it, we don’t like to pay checked bag fees, but the people that follow the rules and only bring 2 pieces max are the ones that end up having to gate check their laptop.

5. Don’t Try to Stash Your Stuff Just Anywhere
Under the seat in front of you, in the overhead or in the seat pocket are the only places where you can put your stuff. Your things do not, I repeat DO NOT go under your seat. That space is for the person behind you. And so on and so on. Think about it.

6. Don’t Spread Your Germs Around the Plane
Don’t fly if you’re sick. But if you absolutely have to, then do your best to keep it to yourself. Tissues, hand sanitizer, a mask. Whatever, just think about it before you start hacking and sneezing all over the healthy guy sitting millimetres beside you.

7. Don’t Steal the Armrests
I had the distinct pleasure (read: HORROR) of being stuck in a middle seat on a 9 hour Transatlantic flight the other day. I was between 2 men, both complete strangers and BOTH were armrest hogs. The amount that that sucked was a lot.

8. Don’t Be Mean to the Flight Attendants
Imagine if your workplace was a confined space, 34,000 feet in the air and full of cranky, tired, stressed out people that you had to cater too (and potentially save their lives if necessary). Cut them some slack. Its a tough job and a sense of humour can only get you so far!

9. Don’t Recline Your Seat Right After Take Off/ During the Meal or At All on a Flight Under Two Hours
Seriously, this is just common sense. If you’re reclining your seat you are being selfish. As airlines continue to reduce personal space on airplanes, the guy behind you does not enjoy the back of your seat in his face. Believe me. Your douchey need for a marginal increase in comfort (seriously, is it really any more comfortable to recline the seat the 5 extra degrees?) effects everyone behind you.

10. Don’t Be Rude When DePlaning
This is very simple. Unless you are about to miss a connecting flight, you wait politely until the row ahead of you has entered the aisle to deplane. Pushing ahead, forcing your way only slows everything down. We know you’re excited to be at your destination and we totally get that you want the hell off that bucket of bolts that just safely delivered you to the place you want to be, but come on. A little common courtesy here will make the whole thing easier to take.

Yes, this was a bitchy post. But a little common sense and awareness goes a long way in making your trip easier for you and your fellow travelers.

Midnight Writer

At 4am I wrote the most awesome blog post ever.  Seriously.  It was brilliant.  The topic was timely, the funny was hilarious and the writing was spectacular.  I wrote it all in my head.  Can I remember a word of it?  Ummm, no.  Can I remember the subject matter?  Nope, not a chance.

Why didn’t I get up and put pen to paper?   Why?????

It was 4am and I was all nestled in my bed so the chances of me getting up to record the most amazing creative streak was slim to none anyways.  I guess that’s why I’m a blogger and not a world famous writer.  I appear to be lacking in the commitment, right?  Right.

So here I am.  Wracking my brains trying to remember what it was about and I’m turning up blanks.  Just like that brilliant concept for a TV show that I had and the great melody that rang through my sleepy brain, gone.  All of it complete genius, lost forever to the land of nod.

It is possible I suppose that just like things seem worse in the middle of the night, perhaps my genius seems more clever than it actually is.  Perhaps the sleep goggles are magnifying my creative streak of brilliance.  Objects in the mirror are closer than they appear, creative thoughts in the night are less smart than you believed.  This could be true.  But until I can remember we’ll never really know, will we?  For now, lets just say that I am a wealth of creative energy between 3- 4am each night and for now I’m just keeping it all to myself.  So there.