Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Off the clock

I am not sure if any of the great GTA area bloggers are heading to LifeFest this weekend, but I am! And, the best part is that we (two friends) and myself have booked ourselves a hotel room and we are making it a little weekend get-a-way. We will trip around LifeFest and fill our bags with all the freebies, attend some of the presentations and workshops, listen to some of the speakers like Jann Arden and Jane Fonda, and generally do whatever we want for 24 hours! This will also include lots of eating (not so much drinking since we are all sadly not that kind of crowd) oh but we can eat. This will be followed by sleeping, maybe 10 or even 12 hours. We plan to go to the spa too. Bring it on.

While I cannot wait I am a little stressed making it all happen, if you know what I mean. We have a school council function Thursday night so I will be out late on my last night at home. Then there are the arrangements for the girl, who is picking up who when and all that. Naturally, Papoosie Girl's asthma has flared up just in case I needed something else to worry about. But, once hubby gets home from work Friday he is on his own for the weekend and it was actually his idea. He wanted me to get away for my birthday, but this seemed like a better idea to combine it with the show.

This is my fourth time going to the show so I am really looking forward to it. It is a lot of fun to wander around and check everything out.

So friends, I will be back next week. I think Rosebud is due for a post. That and the damn music meme sitting in draft. Toodle-loo for now.

Monday, March 26, 2007

So you think you can dance

Yeah if you are Papoosie Girl! Yesterday Papoosie Girl had her dance recital at the lovely Rose Theatre. She started classes in September and practiced every week at class and at home. She danced to a song called Johnny Angel and of course they all looked like little angels.

When she started dance classes at three and a half through our local Parks and Recreation program she was in the non-recital type of "kinderdance" where they did not have a formal recital. They performed for the parents on the last day in the classroom. They showcased their soldier marches and fairy skips and it was oh so adorable. She did this type of program for two years. Last year she decided she wanted to dance on a stage for "real" people. She was finally old enough to try one of the "Try It" classes and she choose Beginner Jazz. She performed at a local theatre (the recital moved to a bigger theatre this year) and thirteen of us clapped until it hurt. She loved it and a star was born. I must say I am most impressed with our local Parks and Rec programs. I have tried just about every preschool class, swimming and now dance classes. When we first looked at private swimming and dance classes they were nearly three times the cost. I would always encourage everyone to try your local classes out, we have been pleasantly surprised.

Papoosie Girl loves music and since we bought her a small boom box for her room (a decision I might regret later) she loves taking my CD's up to her room to dance and prance around with her sister. Despite her love of music and considerable practice the last few years she still seems to lack, um, rhythm. Hubby tries valiantly with songs like, We are Family, to get her to feel the beat and clap in turn. While she has energy and lots of exuberance she lacks the ability to pick up the beat sometimes. Rosebud on the other hand has an incredible sense of rhythm and can clap to the beat quite well. If she would just poop in the potty she could take dance herself! We are hopeful by sign-up in September that little problem is resolved. I myself wouldn't exactly be called a dancer either and I think Papoosie Girl takes after me. Hubby on the other hand has benefited from all the Greek folk-dancing classes he took as a child, he can also read music and has played several instruments. My only memory from my clarinet days in Grade 6 was the teacher asking me (at the end of the test) if I knew what these were - he was pointing at the rests in the music.

So Papoosie Girl may lack the God given talent to keep the beat, who cares. She loves to dance at home and at her class. Many of her pretend games involve her dancing with her sister and I could not be more thrilled. When something as simple as a song and a dance skirt can make her so happy why would I care that she is a little off-step? Next September she wants to try Beginner Acro where they combine jazz with some basic acrobatic steps. Since she has never tried gymnastics I am not sure she will be able to do all the moves, but who am I to say no. Dance class has given her a wonderful sense of accomplishment, a healthy dose of self confidence and gets her moving. Not once did she say she was nervous about the recital.

Is she ever going to appear on So you think you can dance? I doubt it. A show, for the record, I had never heard of until my 25 year brother joked about it at the recital. I don't care if she spends the rest of her days jumping around her bedroom and the rest of the house shaking our walls. She loves music and dancing and her willingness to get out there and do it are inspiring. I have toyed with idea of signing up for the Hawaiian Dance class for adults for years, I think this might be the year.

There really are no words to properly explain the joy Papoosie Girl gets from dancing, her entire body is an instrument. While I have never been a country music listener there is a song by Lee Ann Womack called I Hope You Dance that somehow pops into my head sometimes watching her dance.

I hope you never lose your sense of wonder,
You get your fill to eat but always keep that hunger,
May you never take one single breath for granted,
God forbid love ever leave you empty handed,
I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean,
Whenever one door closes I hope one more opens,
Promise me that you'll give faith a fighting chance,
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance.

I hope you dance....I hope you dance.

I hope that you get a chance to dance too, I hope we all do.

Photo Comment:
Yes, she is wearing make-up in the photo. Part of performing in a theatre recital program is wearing make-up to the recital. If you don't want your child to wear any you need to make some special arrangements. It is so you can see their faces under the bright stage lights, in the professional photos and the video. Last year I was all set to jump on my high-horse and protest "they are children!" and spew all kinds of beauty pageant stuff, but I didn't . She wore a bit of make-up for three hours and we washed it off. This is the professional shot of Papoosie Girl from the class. It is strange to see her with a "done-up" face and Hubby was really put off I must say. In the end it is make-up not pole dancing and she wore it for a few hours at her recital and we washed it away. In the end I was fine with that. Please know she would never, ever do this for any other reason. There are a lot people who would disagree with this and that is fine. Just setting the record straight. I have had to eat a few bowls of crow in the last few years, applying a bit of make-up to my 6 year old was certainly a healthy portion. At the end of the day she had a fantastic experience and loves dancing with or without make-up. I think I have said enough.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Ambushed, do you hear me?

I hate being ambushed, by anything. I don't take well to sudden proclamations of engagement, pregnancy, surprise parties, well; anything really. I like to be in the know, to have a pretty good idea of what is coming down the pipe. My easy access to the Internet has only fueled my need to know. I check store hours, directions, stock, prices, age requirements, height requirements, check-in hours, pool hours, any detail I think I might need before doing whatever it is I need to do. Rarely do I venture out for something without the item already set aside for me or a clear idea of what it is I am going to be doing. I have confessed to the occasional carefree, spur-of-the-moment days I truly do enjoy, but they are not my preferred state of existence.

So this morning when our phone rang several times as Rosebud and I were upstairs, and running into my bedroom and all the way around to the other side of the bed seemed too taxing; we let it ring. Suddenly, my cellphone that I keep in the diaper bag starts to ring too; now I am hightailing it down the stairs.

Papoosie Girl is in the office at school, and is extremely upset and in pain. Her ear is hurting and they want me to come and pick her up right away. After quick changes for myself and Rosebud we are off to pick-up Papoosie Girl who is sitting on the bench in the office clutching her ear. Bugger. She was fine this morning, usual breakfast, TV, off to school. No runny nose, no high fever in the middle of the night (our usual ear infection calling card), just serious ear pain. Our doctor closes at noon on Wednesday's so I make a hasty call (it is 11:50am) and the wonderful receptionist who has known me since before I even had the girls says to come on over, there will be a wait, but just head over. Lucky break as I really hate taking the girls to walk-in clinics. Don't think for a second I don't know how lucky we are to have a family doctor, many of our friends live in communities where they rely exclusively on walk-in clinics.

After an hour of waiting we see the doctor who examines her ear and declares it, "quite red and angry" he gives us a prescription and says to take some Advil for the pain. OK I am not new at this, how can this go undetected? Papoosie Girl had tubes in her ears at the age of two after a year of chronic ear trouble and has always been extremely sensitive to ear pain. Suddenly I feel a bit sick for making her finish her spelling homework sheets last night. Was it hurting then and that is why she was having trouble concentrating? More bugger.

Despite being in the trenches for six years now I felt so horribly unqualified today. What kind of parent misses a "bad" ear infection. Sigh. I need a cup of tea real bad and since Rosebud is finally down for her nap and Papoosie Girl is all medicated and quite cozy reading in my bed (our sick spot in our house) I am going to do just that.

Does anyone else feel like this sometimes? Things you have covered a million times before are somehow missed in the shuffle of life with small children. I know I am not the only one, but boy did I feel a bit new today. Now I am replaying the last few days in my head fruitlessly looking for clues I might have missed. Was she more cranky than usual, more difficult? She certainly never said her ear was bothering her, but wouldn't a good parent have picked up on it? All will be well and most likely forgotten in a few days, but I am amazed at how these moments present themselves to me as if to say, know matter how much you think you have figured this out - there is a long road ahead of you. I can hardly wait, and I really mean that. Just maybe send me long, detailed memo first?

Monday, March 19, 2007


No not the restaurant, not that the salad with those spicy pecans isn't pretty good. Papoosie Girl lost her first tooth this past week! Actually, lost is not exactly true, I kind of pulled it (gently!) out for her. She has been having a bit of a problem with her bottom two middle teeth (technical name?) as her "big" grown-up teeth are already in behind her baby teeth. The dentist encouraged her to wiggle as much as possible as the grown-up teeth need their space and those baby teeth need to make an exit - fast. If not they will need to be pulled in the next few weeks. So finally, one of them got a little wiggly. Of course after a crazy March Break filled with a fun trip to Niagara Falls for a few days and many errands and outings I was not exactly paying close attention to said teeth.

One night after supper she told me it was loose and being the ever-present-in-the-moment Mom I had a close look, discussed it carefully with her, and gently told her what I was doing and pulled it out ever so softly. Or, if you had a spy-cam in my house you would know it was more like, yeah yeah it is loose, "great honey" while I was busy doing something important like picking up the blankets and pillows from the floor for the sixth time in the past hour. I did manage to peer in right before bath and I could see the tooth (kind of gross but accurate description) could bend all the way over in both directions. I took a facecloth and without really thinking asked to have a closer look and - yikes - pulled it out. I was surprised at how much it bled, but after lots of rinsing with cold water all was well and she was thrilled.

By now you have probably figured out I didn't exactly think this through so well. Now I am in a whole new territory involving that ever stylish tooth chaser, the Tooth Fairy. We have a dilemma, several actually, but I am getting ahead of myself. We girls are flying solo on this night as Daddy is working late. Papoosie Girl is desperate to show Daddy the tooth and is so excited we make a few calls to Daddy and Nana to share our good news. She begins to regale me with stories of classmates who have received $5 and even $10 from the Tooth Fairy, at this point all I can think of is, what is in my wallet, anything?

At this point my girls are clean and we are back downstairs for our milk and snack before bed. Papoosie Girl is extremely upset because she wants to simultaneously leave her tooth for the Tooth Fairy and keep it to show Daddy. Thinking as fast as one can at 7pm after being with two small children all day, I suggest we write a quick note to the Tooth Fairy asking if we can, under these special circumstances, keep the tooth. We have several books that talk about losing teeth and a critical component of this transaction that has not gone unnoticed by Papoosie Girl, is the fact that the tooth is taken away. She is genuinely distressed about this and decides to not even leave the tooth at all, just forfeit any potential loot to keep her tooth. After much convincing we decide to write a note to the Tooth Fairy asking for permission to keep the tooth. So the note goes into the baggie with the tooth.

So now she lies fast asleep, with her tooth and note in a baggie under her pillow and I face yet another dilemma. What will the Tooth Fairy say to Papoosie Girl and how much money, if any at all will she leave? This is when having a hard-working husband who works long hours sucks. I called my best friend who like me thinks anything beyond a loonie or twoonie is ridiculous. Since I have a twoonie and no loonie, a twoonie it is. Now I have the loot, I need to work on the note. As you can see I was not very creative by this time...not to mention I am getting a little scared she is going to notice soon that Santa, the Easter Bunny, and Tooth Fairy have similar penmanship. So the note is removed from the baggie and the card from the Tooth Fairy is left on her desk with her tooth.

Whew. I was exhausted by the end of the evening. This little milestone not only made me so wistful for the day when that little tooth broke through for the first time, it made me so sad to realize these milestones are making way for other accomplishments. Like everyone I poured over the checklists of milestones. Holds head up, smiles, coos, rolls over, sits, first tooth, stands, walks; and always was thrilled when one of the girls hit the milestone. I diligently kept track of the ages of each of these and was always looking forward to the next one. Now Papoosie Girl's milestones are so lofty as reading, writing, adding and subtracting. While these thrill me in so many ways, I pine sometimes for those baby steps in the first few years. My heart aches a little when I see her gap-toothed smile. Where are all those perfect Chicklet baby teeth going? I don't want to see my daughters wee six year old mouth full of those monster grown-up teeth. Is it bad to admit that I love her perfect baby teeth?

The flood of emotions caught me off guard. I had never given much thought to losing teeth since Papoosie Girl's have been so firmly intact. It is a visible sign every time she smiles that she is growing up, a real punch in the gut. How can you want so badly to see and meet this person your child is becoming and at the same time miss the baby they were so much you feel sick?

Milestones are like that. As much as you eagerly await them, they bring you one step further away from where you started.

Technical Edit Note:
I fought long and hard with iPhoto to edit the top photo to remove the TV and to rotate that image and by gosh it did edit and rotate every time, it just never sorry to those more capable than I who are cringing right about now.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

How much is enough?

A couple of things of late have led me to this topic. I have just read Peter Walsh's new book, It's all too Much - An Easy Plan for Living a Richer Life with Less Stuff. I thought this book would be a nuts and bolts plan for decluttering your life and it does cover that. The real purpose though is to figure out why you are keeping so much stuff and why you keep buying more stuff. Walsh blames our constant need for more on a lot of this, that and the fact that we cannot seem to part with anything. We are lured by the words 2 for 1 or buy 1 get 2 free and this supplies our homes with a steady supply of stuff; this coupled with our inability to get rid of anything means we are drowning within our own walls.

This premise, that what we covet and so actively seek out for our own happiness, is actually what is making us so unhappy and unhealthy is what interested me. Your stuff starts to own you and this what Walsh tries to uncover. He makes reference to the fact that while the average house size (in the US) has gone up by half the self-storage facility industry has grown by 75%. Apparently, people are more than willing to store it rather than sort it. I find that so unbelievable.

"We are at the center of an orgy of consumption, and many are now seeing that this need to own so much comes with a heavy price: Kids so overstimulated by the sheer volume of stuff in their home that they lose the ability to concentrate and focus."

This book is great and goes beyond the idea of buying a few totes and stashing things away. He has focused plans for each room and walks you through the steps. In the end, most people realize that all the stuff that they "could not live without" is easily given up and not missed a bit. Walsh talks about imagining the life you want. Is your home your refuge from the world, your place to connect as a family? His plans help you achieve that. While I don't have a horrible clutter problem now, I used to. I have come to realize that keeping a few choice precious mementos is more meaningful than boxes of stuff. If your use of space doesn't match your priorities Walsh can help. Sorting the memories or perceived value of an item, from the actual item is key and this is Walsh's specialty.

Since Alpha Dogma tagged me for a long forgotten meme I am going to use this book since I was planning on talking a bit about it anyway. Here are the instructions:

Find the nearest book. Name the Author & title. Turn to page 123. Post sentences 6-8. Tag three more people. (Tagging not likely since this made the rounds a while ago.)

Page 123-This is the second page of Chapter 3 Family and Living Rooms. Here are the sentences (as best as I can there a few bullets in the area):

Gary and Marie have three young children. They live in an 1,800-square foot home. When I first saw their living room it was a catch-all for anything you can imagine - clothing, books, mail, the kids' toys, crafting materials, even two large stacks of romance novels that Marie had recently collected from her grandmother's home.


Bub & Pie's recent post about narcissism and the subsequent thought-provoking comments also got me thinking about how much is enough these days. This applies to so many things (see above), how many toys, books, time with you, time without you, time as a couple, activities, lessons, the list is endless. We talk a lot in the blogging world about balance, how to achieve it and if it is even possible.

Christmas 2005 we decided that each girl was going to get five gifts. I picked five as a random number and it just stuck. We don't give the girls any gifts from us just from Santa. So five gifts from Santa and their stockings. Leading up the holidays I found myself struggling to come up the one gift, you know the one, the one they gasp over and won't put down for days. Since I had "given away" many of the gifts I knew they really wanted to grandparents, aunts, uncles, godparents and friends; my list was a little dry. Feeling stupid for not saving at least one for us to give the girls I came up with idea of sticking to five gifts and that could include pajamas, books and toys.

In the end I did come up with some great and well used and loved gifts. My girls were completely happy and satisfied Christmas morning and it was not at all hours of endless gift opening and tossing. What I wasn't prepared for though were some of the comments from some of our friends. Many clearly felt five gifts was pretty chintzy and I was shocked. How many gifts does a one year old or three year old need? I mean they get gifts from at least six other sources, as it was I felt they were getting too much. I am no Scrooge I promise you, but when I am struggling to come up with gifts they would truly love and play with - the key word being struggle - you know they are not wanting for anything. They can always use more books and passes to places like the zoo or Science Centre are always appreciated, but really more crap - no thanks.

We are still sticking by our rule three years later and I think it is great. I know exactly how many to buy for each girl and it forces me to think a little harder. One family we know bought each child over twenty gifts to open and several were the big ticket items. I just don't see the point of that. They also let one of their children spend all of their birthday money in Toys R Us a month before Christmas. While I am not at all a wooden toys and cloth dolls only Mom - Nickelodeon characters are my friends - I sure value the quality gifts much more than another plastic piece of junk that will be broken or forgotten in a few days.

This theory also applied to our "big trip" last summer to Disney World. Hubby felt strongly at first that this was just too much to give them at such an early age. Would they start expecting such grand holidays all the time? We used all our Air Miles and loyalty points so the flights, hotel and car rental were covered - what I am getting at it is it isn't likely another trip of this scale will be happening for quite some time. Turns out we all had an amazing time, the reconnection as a family without any distractions was just what we needed. They talk about our trip all the time, but show no signs of being spoiled about it all. They were more than thrilled with our three day trip to Collingwood over the Christmas holidays.

I think we are just used to getting and giving too much. With dollar stores in every plaza and toys chests in every restaurant kids (and us too) are used to walking away with something in our hands. Don't get me wrong I love to shop, it is recreational for me sometimes, but I have seen the hazards of tripping over hundreds of dollar store toys. What is the point? Why do you need a hundred of something when a handful will suffice. In terms of giving, when did we create so many new holidays and occasions? We have the requisite Mother's and Father's Day, Easter and Valentine's Day, and now there are St. Patrick's Day gifts and cards in stores. Even engagements and baptisms have become a reason to have a fancy party. More and more frequently we are being invited to these type of parties, and by this I mean, 50+ people, sit-down dinner, often dancing, and oh yeah a gift or envelope. I mean I am happy for them and all and I would encourage them to have a lovely dinner with both sets of parents, but I have been to these engagement parties where if the priest had been willing we could have been done with it on the spot. Add to this the shower and wedding gifts and it really does seem overboard.

I worry that I am becoming a big old curmudgeon. I would never want my kids to want for anything, but more and more I am realizing more is not necessarily better; in fact it IS worse. A blog I wish I had more time to visit My Dog Harriet posted recently about an article in New York Magazine and the hazards of over praising, which ties in so nicely with Bub & Pie's post. This is something I have long thought and have commented on before on other blogs. Following around little Timmy all day with a steady stream of, "good job and you are the best" cannot be good for a child. How do they know when they really are doing a good job? What about when they know they are not trying hard and are getting the same recognition as when they do? Go read the article you will be amazed at the connections they make between self-esteem and over praising; feeding right in to the narcissism debate. You will be surprised when you realize that we all absently do this, especially when our little prodigies are holding up something for us to see and we are busy doing something else.

Where is this all going? We are constantly surrounded by too much stuff. It might be physical stuff like toys, books or clothes. It might be media that floods into your life on every possible channel. It might be giving too much praise (or the wrong kind) to your children. I think it is important that however you define balance for your family, that you actively try to achieve it. Personally, when I let things slide is usually when I feel my most scattered and helpless. When I make an effort to stay present and in control of our stuff we have more time for the things we love doing, whether it is a Scrabble game before bed or a trip to the park.

More and more I am working on making our home and our lives less filled with stuff. When this happens my life opens up to all the other things I want to fill it with and that makes me feel good inside. I will never shun shopping or toys for my kids, but I will try very hard to limit the flow coming into our house. I love a good Coach bag as much as the next gal, but I don't need twenty purses, one or two will do. Now the new Aerosole sandals I saw...that is another story.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

How quickly things change

I went to Papoosie Girl's school today to register Rosebud for Junior Kindergarten in the fall. It seems like yesterday we were registering Papoosie Girl. I remember so clearly heading over to the school so nervous and nauseous over the fact that my baby was going to be in school soon. Rosebud was an infant in her car seat and slept through the entire thing. I remember carefully gathering all the forms and required information before we went. Birth certificate - check - Baptismal certificate - check - Yellow immunization thing - check, check, check. Hubby came home early, it certainly was an occasion.

I remember walking into the school feeling very excited and scared and wondering how on earth is my little baby girl going to manage in this big bad school. It did not help that registration was two months after her third birthday and she was still in pull-ups at the time. I remember the reverence of the occasion and the fact that hubby left work early so we could be there right at 7pm. I remember the irrational, unavoidable things running circles in my head, would they like us, would they like her, would they see the unique, special, gifted girl that we so clearly did?

Once the forms were completed (there were many!) we looked around a bit and met the principal and vice-principal (both women) and felt a bit better about handing over our precious, delicate, no one knows her better than us firstborn; in a few short months. The school is relatively small, around 450 kids at the time and the atmosphere was very friendly. Despite my trepidations I did feel that Papoosie Girl would be in good hands. We left our registration experience relieved and thankful we had several months before September and this started for real.

After our meet the teacher night in early September and our staggered visits to the school throughout early September, it was finally time for her first real day of school with half of the class. I was so much more overwhelmed than I thought I would be. We got her dressed oh so cute in her skirt and top and Dora shoes and strapped on her Dora backpack that was as big as she was. I had a lump in my throat and tried to put on a brave face for everyone, especially Papoosie Girl. Once she was in the little yard, we waited for the bell and watched her walk inside. As you can see from the photo, letting go is so hard sometimes. Parents are not allowed inside at all in her school and what the photos don't show are some parents trying to pry off screaming children from around their necks. How was Papoosie Girl you ask? Fine of course, no tears, no drama, a smile and a wave and she was gone.

Once she was inside I told hubby to head to work, Rosebud and I were going for a walk. After walking and crying for a while I headed to our local grocery store that has a little cafe area. I grabbed a coffee and sat down. Hubby walks in about a minute later, he tried to go to work but decided he needed to see me again, to make sure I wasn't as unraveled as he felt. I remember thinking I have children and they are old enough to go to school, how did that happen? When did she get so big? I say this every day practically, with almost no recollection of the hundreds of times I have said it before. These kids, they get big so fast and each time you realize it - it is like realizing it for the first time again and again.

So back to today. Certainly, this was not an occasion on the same scale as it was for Papoosie Girl. I am a member of the School Council, I am familiar with the school, the principal, secretary and many teachers. I frequently visit the school and certainly do not feel nervous or sick upon entering these halls. I popped into the office, got the forms, filled them out and that was it. Rosebud wanted to visit the fish in the library before we left, so we did. And that was it, done. She is officially registered for JK in the fall. No drama, no anxiety other than I feel really old today. Me, school-age kids, what?

I am sure I will be nervous on Rosebud's first day of school, anxious even at the thought of her starting school. It really is a huge step when school enters a child's life. It is a lifelong relationship they are starting with school and learning. A relationship I enjoyed so much as a child and want to pass along in my girls - badly. I want them to love school, want to learn, be curious, make friends, grow up and save the world - a parent can dream. Actually, my dreams and goals for them are not so important. I want them to realize their own, whatever they might be. I know that a good foundation in learning will take them wherever their hearts desire. If I am measured by nothing else but this, I will have done a remarkable thing in my lifetime.

Today was the first step for Rosebud. Even if the day was not a colossal event of time's past, it was important and I am glad I have recorded it. The relaxed visit to the school today might have been a big change, but that is fine by me. Sometimes change is good.

Friday, March 02, 2007


I know most of my friends in Southern Ontario enjoyed a lovely snowstorm yesterday. I think some of you may still be enjoying it today.

We had fun last night and while I should be finishing my post, these photos are much cuter than my boring old words.

Hope everyone is safe and sound while they dig out.