Monday, August 31

Cheer Up!

For a week, Dan and I had prepared the children for the fact that we were going out for dinner...sans enfants. As one could imagine, this did not play well with the four year old crowd. I told the twins that Big Sarah and Kevin would be babysitting, that they could skip a bath, and that they would have all sorts of fun. My girls insisted that this wouldn't do and that they would miss us too much (assuming that they would survive the damage done to their tiny, wee broken hearts). I told them I would bake them a "Cheer Up Cake". They were happy.

I was super pleased with the results and I had to take a picture. Ta da:

The most exciting bit was that I dyed the cake batter too. Lime green! I am always thrilled with a shot of colour where one least expects it!

The cake was a hit. The girls informed us that we were not missed at all!

Little Treasures

Dan came home from work the other day. He left his boots in front of the chair where he had peeled them off his feet. He took off his great big work belt, attached to it all of his special clips, and left it on the living room table. Then he headed upstairs to change. I told him to remove the belt from the table. He said he would... later. That's his favourite word. He sincerely means "I'll do it later". I've learned that "later" seldom comes. For whatever reason, I was feeling rather pleasant so I did not heave his belongings up the stairs after him as I have been known to do. Nor did I touch the belt at all. I left it there.

That evening as we were cleaning up, Dan asked me where his clips for his belt went. These clips are rather important. First of all, these clips attach the work belt to his regular belt. Secondly, they are used to attach whatever tools he may need throughout the course of his day to his work belt. And Dan had lost them. I had no idea where they went. Also, I seem to have recovered from the "pleasantness" I had experienced earlier (From time to time, "pleasantness" infects me. It has even been known to last 24 hours, although most bouts only last a couple of minutes. However, the older I get, the fewer "relapses" I have). I said to my loving husband "I have no idea where your clips are. I have better things to do with my time than hide your things!". He asked me to set them aside if I came across them. I promised I would but I had no intention of looking for the clips. I already have three children that demand that I hunt down various items daily. Dan needs to learn to fend for himself.

Needless to say, I didn't find the clips. The next morning, Dan left for work and I got the children up and on their way. The girls had been fed, cleaned, dressed, and brushed. I grabbed Sarah and her bag, and instructed the twins to carry their own bags. As we walked to daycare, Bethie said "Is Daddy wearing his suit?" She meant uniform. I told her that he was. Then she asked "Is it falling off?". I became suspicious. I asked her "Why?". She responded "Because I have all of Daddy's clips in my bag!".

Wednesday, August 26

Saint Daniel Strikes Again

Dan bought me a hairbrush about 10 years ago for Christmas. Dan was so pleased with himself when he presented it to me. He felt that he had chosen the perfect brush, and the brush became a symbol of his love for me. This was too bad because it was an awful brush. It pulled my hair and scratched my scalp every time I used it. I used it though, despite the pain (and without complaint), because I knew that he thought it was special. Over the years, he has often mentioned what a great job he did in buying me this perfect brush.

Dan normally keeps his hair short. Very, very short. He doesn't need a brush. However, he was too busy this summer to get his hair cut. As his hair grew, he started using my brush. He complained to me what an awful brush it was and expressed surprise that I had used it for so many years. I confessed my hatred for the brush. And then we talked about things that were far more interesting, like who had to cross the street to pick up the kids from daycare.

Saturday was the twins' birthday party. In the morning, we were going to be super busy. There were 4 adults staying at our house, and all of us required a shower before the party. Also, the three children needed to be bathed. And we needed to pick up the cake. I decided to wake up before the rest of the household and have my shower first.

After my shower, I opened my drawer and reached for that awful brush. Nothing. I searched the other drawers, and came up empty-handed. I was baffled! Where could my brush be? Then everything started coming together in my head.

I marched into our bedroom, made sure Dan was awake, and very calmly said "I'm going to ask you a question and I need you to think long and hard before answering. Where is my brush? Wait! Is it possible that you may have put my brush where I have just put your electric toothbrush?". My loving husband looked up at me from the bed and said with puzzlement "You put my toothbrush in the garbage?".

Yup, the garbage! My husband thought to himself "I hate this hairbrush. She hates it, too. I shall throw it out! She will be soooo happy!". He did not replace the hairbrush first, he did not tell me that he had thrown it out. He simply tossed it and walked away... right before we were throwing a party! I was less than thrilled, and this surprised him.

As for his toothbrush, I should have thrown it away. I should have tossed it and not have given it a second thought. But I didn't. Why? Because it occurred to me that this is an item one uses daily, often several times a day. One does not wish for someone else to throw these items out without prior knowledge or consent. The loss of these types of personal grooming items cause great inconvenience, and a wee bit of self-consciousness when one has to do without.

Birthday Snaps

Katie (left) and Bethie eating cake

Bethie and Katie opening presents

Dan and Bethie reading a new book

Katie singing for the crowd

Bethie opening another gift

Katie and Big Sarah reading together

Monday, August 24


Dan and Lisa are great friends for me to have. They both have the ability to calm me down. When I get a fantastic idea, they talk me through it. Between the two of them, reality and normalcy are introduced. I take a deep breath, and carry on as a sane person.

Big Sarah is trouble. Instead of demanding moderation of me, she takes my ideas to amazing and new unthinkable heights. We feed off one another. We work ourselves up into creative frenzies. And then we are off! Poor Dan is left in the dust wondering what everyone else is going to think!

Friday started off innocently enough. Big Sarah and I had a few errands to run. They were important errands, like going to the grocery store because I didn't have enough food in the house to serve dinner to my husband, my children, and my overnight guests. We also wanted to take 30 minutes to see if there were any cute princess decorations for the twins' birthday party on Saturday. Since I had already told Dan that I wasn't going to buy any more decorations, we thought we should get the decorations first so we could focus on the important items on our "To Do" list.

As it turns out, Party Mart is a wonderland of decorations. Big Sarah and I went a little bit crazy. We left with $53 of decorations and so many helium balloons that it was difficult to drive the car. And that was only our first stop on our new quest to turn my house into a Princess Palace.

Our next stop was to buy 4 foot tall Jasmine decorations. Much to my horror, the store did not have in stock a 4 foot tall Belle decoration. Did that stop us? Nope! We called every party store in Ottawa. Finally, we hit the jackpot!

Here are two examples of what we managed to procure (I didn't take pictures of everything):

Unfortunately, we had spent the entire day getting bigger and better decorations, that we did nothing on our "To Do" list. Including the groceries (Before anyone woke up, I had to run out to Tim Horton's Saturday morning and buy breakfast for my children!).

After we put the children to bed, Big Sarah and I had some wine and started to decorate. By the end of the night, Big Sarah and I were pretty tired and pretty drunk. But the result was worth the effort. Ta da:

We were pretty pleased and impressed with ourselves. This had been a lot of work and a lot of money, but we just knew the twins would love it! They would especially love that we had turned the kitchen into their very own ballroom.

When morning came, the twins raced down the stairs. And they were surprised to see the decorations (especially Bethie who, at first, didn't notice that we had put up a 8'x12' princess palace on the wall). Both girls looked at all the decorations, thanked us, and then delighted in the breakfast from Tim Horton's.

Big Sarah and I told each other "The kids expect magic, especially from us! The decorations are sure to wow the adults!". We eagerly awaited the party so we could show off our efforts to all the adults. Mum was impressed. No one else was. Big Sarah and I were stunned. Really?! Is this considered "normal" decorating? Are we losing our ability to shock and amaze?

Then we presented the cake:

That got the reaction we wanted!

Monday, August 17

The Car

I love my car. It's green and it has 4 doors. I looked everywhere and it was the cheapest car that I could find. But I absolutely love it. It's mine and it makes me feel young again. However, it is not the best car on the road. Dad has even told me that it shouldn't be on the road at all.

I don't lend my car out very often. It makes me nervous every time someone has to drive my car. Not because it's such a wonderful car and I am worried that any other driver wouldn't treat it properly. I am mostly concerned that other people will kill themselves while driving my little green car.

Before handing over my keys (they're very fancy keys. Colourful. Oompah Loompah keys, one might say), I give a warning:

The trunk doesn't open. It used to. I know this because there is something in the trunk that bangs about. This banging should not be confused with the other "normal" sounds of the car. Just ignore it, or if you want you can play "Guess What's In The Trunk". My typical guess is paint thinner, because I know that I bought some, but I can't find it anywhere.

When you get into the car, you will notice that the inside panelling is separating from the doors. That's just cosmetic, it doesn't effect how the car actually drives. Don't worry about it.

The instrument panel doesn't work. At all. This includes the speedometer, the RPM gage, and the "how hot your car is" thingy. You're going to have to "wing it". Just go with the flow of the traffic and you should be fine. The gas gage seems to work, but I measure gas by the trip odometer. Don't go more than 400km. That's my guess. The lights on the radio/CD controls work... periodically. I always feel a little bit blessed when they do work. It's kinds like it's a sign that I am going to have a good day.

The engine warning light, for the longest time, was constantly on. It was like a little reminder from the car saying "In case you forget, your vehicle sucks". I chose to confront the problem head on. I would shout back at the warning light, saying "Car, heal thyself!". One day it did! The light simply turned off! I was sooooo pleased. I called Dan right away to share my glorious news. He said, "The fuse for the light probably burnt out". Ugh. Dan was most likely right, but I still hold out hope that my little green car is trying to please me. So, if the engine light comes on, don't panic, but do tell me. I want to prove to Dan that the car heeded my advice about self-improvement.

The side mirrors leave lots to be desired. When driving, at any speed, they wobble and shake. At first you feel a bit dizzy, or like you're drunk, but then you get used to it. If they happen to fall off, don't worry. It happens all the time. Just shove them back on again.

Steering is a bit tricky. First of all, the steering wheel isn't at all straight. When you are driving straight, the wheel appears to be making a sharp right turn. It does pull to the right a bit, but that is easily corrected when driving. Try to avoid turning though. When you do have to turn, the steering wheel kind of fights you, and the car makes a rapid "gung, gung, gung" sound as if in protest. Just drive through it... but not quickly.

That brings me to the brakes. The car does have working brakes, but they don't work exactly when you want them to work. The brakes seem to be activated not by the pedal, but by the feeling of your heart dropping into the pit of your stomach. The brakes eventually "kick in", but not without a BANG!, BANG!, BANG! noise. This occurs at about 15km/hr or more. A little "fish tailing" when braking is normal and can be expected. Keep this in mind when you have other cars and/or people directly beside my braking car. Whatever you do, don't brake hard! Even if that's the only thing you remember about this warning. DO NOT BRAKE HARD. Dan did once. Now he refuses to drive the car.

The car is pretty banged up. Thank you, Dan. It no longer bothers me. I have gotten used to phone calls from Dan telling me that he has been in an accident. He says, "Do you want the good news or the bad news?". I opt for the good because I know where this is heading. I'm just hoping against hope that the bad news won't be what it always is. He says "I'm fine". At this point, I know what he's going to say next. A knot forms in my stomach. I start to sweat. I ask about the bad news. He says "The car is a little banged up but it's still drivable". DAMN IT! If I've told him once, I have told him a hundred times! For the love of God, just total the damn car!

At this point during my warning, most people express an interest in borrowing my van instead of my car. My van, as luck would have it, comes with a warning, too! It is as follows:
This vehicle comes with three children.

See why I prefer my car! It may be falling to pieces, but it doesn't have enough room for three car seats!

Thursday, August 13

Comments From The Peanut Gallery

It is absolutely gorgeous out today. I worked in the garden for a while, I watered my baskets, and I did all sorts of wee jobs around the yard that I never make time to do. I felt relaxed and happy and pleased with myself.

After an hour or so, I made another cup of coffee and sat on my front step. I would normally sit out back because it is more private, but I had done so much work out front that I wanted to enjoy the fruits of my labour before the weeds overtook my garden again. I called Big Sarah so we could swap gossip and have a laugh. Everything was perfect!

I saw the mailman coming down the street. I didn't pay much attention to him. He was doing his thing, I was doing mine. Until he got to my house. By this point, Sarah had hung up and I went to the bottom of our driveway to save him the few extra steps. I gave him a winning smile because I was in such a good mood, and said "Hello!". And he replied "It must be nice to sit outside in the sunshine and talk on the phone all day!". Then he turned and walked away.

And do you know what I shouted to him as he heaved his heavy bag back onto his shoulder and progressed to the 700th house of the day? "You forgot the best part! I'm getting paid quite a lot of money to be sitting outside in the sunshine, drinking my lovely Irish Cream flavoured coffee, and talking on the phone to my friend who is doing exactly the same thing!". Then I stuck out my tongue and flipped him the bird.

Naw, I didn't really, but I wanted to. Instead I said "It's a good life, I must admit" and went inside and fumed. Now I am wondering, does every mailman critique the lifestyles of those they deliver mail to, or am I the only one who is blessed with yet another man telling me I should get a job?

Wednesday, August 12

The Wonderful Saint Daniel

The other day, Big Sarah asked me what movie star do I wish I could be with. She had obviously given this some thought, weighed the pros and cons of numerous celebrities, and settled on the perfect man. Who was he? I can't remember. I was too focused on the fact that I had no idea who most of these stars that Sarah was talking about were. I couldn't come up with a name. How boring of me!

I was driving to the grocery store today trying to think about who I would pick to be my movie star husband. I like Harry Connick Jr in "Hope Floats", but he's too rural for me. I like how smart the character "Josh" is in the "West Wing", but he's always at work. I like Hugh Grant (I had to google his name) in "About A Boy" , but I wouldn't actually want to spend any time with him. Then I started to think about characters in books. No one was "perfect". So, being me, I created my own character. These are his most important traits:
  1. He has to be funny.
  2. He has to lack almost all ambition. I don't want to be with someone who would rather be "climbing the ladder" or was always wanting more. But do have a job!
  3. He has to be super good to my kids.
  4. He has to be smarter than I am. I really like to be around smart people.
  5. He has to cook (if he wants to eat). Let's face it, I'm hardly a "domestic goddess".

I compared Dan to my wish list. He was almost a complete match (okay, I admit it, I think I'm smarter than Dan. However, I think I'm smarter than almost everyone, so that's not really an insult. I know for a fact that Dan thinks he smarter than I am. Yeah, I don't see why either). I was so pleased that Dan did so well on my list! I didn't need a movie star husband. I have perfection at home!

On the way home from the grocery store, I added one more necessary trait to my list.

6. After he uses my debit card, PUT IT BACK IN MY WALLET!

Monday, August 10

The Setting Sun

Summers were different when I was a kid. They lasted forever. They seemed warmer. It seemed to rain less. The days seemed endless. My brothers have crystal clear memories. They seem to remember what everyone did or said at any given point in their childhood. I have snapshots. I remember waking up and Dad would be sitting on the deck reading the paper in the sun. I remember skinny dipping with Sean, the two of us running around the pool naked while Duncan was cuddled up with Mum tracking us with a flashlight. I remember Duncan and I playing together at the cottage. We were happy just being with each other.

As I grew older, summers lost their glow. By the time I was 16, I had a part-time job during both the winter and the summer. After I had completed school, I was lucky to get even just two weeks off during the year. I would only catch glimpses of summer.

Tonight was different. Tonight I was outside with my twins. The sky turned red as the sun started to set ("Sailors delight"!), but it didn't seem to get any cooler out.The girls were laughing and playing and spraying each other with the hose. They were playing hop scotch and dancing in the puddles. They talked to every person that walked past our driveway. They talked to these people as though we were the best of friends, instead of strangers sharing the same subdivision. The girls told the strangers how lucky they were because their Mummy had made them an Oompah Loompah cake for dessert. They belly laughed as they told the neighbours that they were watering the gardens...and each other! These people who were simply passing by stopped to tell me how delightful my children were and how lucky I was. Although it was nice to hear, I already knew.

I was struck by how innocent they are. They trusted that they were safe and that nothing bad could happen because I was there watching over them. They seemed so sweet, and considerate, and kind. As they danced around and delighted in one another, I realised that they were the perfect little girls that only Enid Blyton could create (of course, she would put us on the seashore in England instead of my driveway). My grandmother would have adored this hour with them!

I watched my babes dance and laugh and sing in the setting sun. I was reminded of the last line in one of the Little House on The Prairie books that I had read (at least) twenty years ago. Laura Ingalls Wilder said "Now is now; it will never be a long time ago". But we know better, don't we? This perfect hour with my first born babies, just before their 4th birthday, is already over. They will grow older. They will become more busy. And they will forget this enchanted evening of ours. But I won't. It belongs to me. It can never be a long time ago.

My Technological Pet-Peeves

I like technology. I like having a microwave to nuke three hot dogs in 25 seconds. I like having a washing machine to do the two loads of laundry I need to get done every day. I like having baby monitors so I can eavesdrop on my children discussing in great detail everything that is wrong with me (Really! They actually do this!). I even have a cell phone.

I don't have text messaging. I used to, but I got rid of it. I can't stand receiving frequent messages with no regard given to spelling or grammar. Not that I am perfect, but I make an effort. I would get messages from my employees that read "im gonna B L8". It's like playing some twisted version of Mad Gab, except that it is very important that I decipher the code. Or, while Mum was babysitting for me, I would send Mum a text messages inquiring how the children were doing. The response back would be "Happy Birthday" or something equally ridiculous. Apparently, there are standard replies that one can just click on, which she would in her attempt to answer the text message. So, I got rid of text messaging.

Facebook baffles me. What's the point, really? Lisa D. signed up for Facebook and wanted me to check out what she had done. So, I logged on as Dan and made her one of Dan's "friends". I made all sorts of hilarious/snarky comments on her "wall" (?). She called me right away and told me that everything I wrote would be sent to Dan's friends and family! OOPS! In order to still be able to comment to Lisa without all my thoughts having to be censored, I created my own Facebook account with one friend: Lisa. I thought this would be the perfect solution. Wrong. All of a sudden, I get requests from old friends, from practical strangers, from people that don't even particularly like me, to be "friends". My mother even invited me to be her "friend"! I decline all invitations even Mum's. I don't even check out Lisa's Facebook anymore. If she wants me to see a picture of her kids, she emails it to me. If I want to communicate a message, I call her. The old-fashioned way.

Twitter, I have decided, is for the incredibly vain. What on Earth makes you think that I would like to hear every thought you have, the moment you have them? I don't care if someone I know (or worse, don't know) is having lunch, is going out, or is bored. Unless it effects me directly, keep it to yourself. I have yet to read one Twitter or Tweet or whatever it's called that I thought had some merit. I have recently found out that Dad has a Twitter account! That cracks me up! I would actually read his "tweets". I could link him up to my blog and name it "Profound Thoughts and Wisdom From William R.". So, go on Dad, get tweeting!

Wednesday, August 5

Quote Worthy

Big Sarah and I were in Merrickville a couple of weeks ago. We went into a shop that seemed to specialize in famous or touching quotes. These quotes were painted or embroidered on any available surface. This is my idea of Heaven. I absolutely love quotes. Whenever I see a good one, I write it on a Post-It note and stick it somewhere on my walls. This is not a habit that Dan enjoys. He doesn't feel that neon yellow Post-It notes are appropriate "artwork" for our home. Nor do they match the decor. This doesn't stop me. I simply love a good quote.

So, Big Sarah and I were in this store. I don't know what she was doing, but I was reading every quote I could come across. A couple I even wrote down so I could transfer them to Post-It notes when I got home. There was one quote in particular that seemed to be the summation of my adult life. It captured my "essence". It conveyed the deepest emotions of my soul. In one sentence, my "truth" was articulated. It read:

"I understand the importance of cooking and cleaning, just not how it relates to me".

Tuesday, August 4


When I was pregnant with the twins, lots of people told me lots of things about what to expect from parenting. They said that children were expensive. Okay. They said that I wouldn't sleep again until the children were 12. Perfect. They said that children are nothing but grief and heartache. Got it.

What wasn't mentioned was that I would be humiliated over and over and over again. No one mentioned that people lined up behind me at the bank would stare at me with puzzled expressions on their faces. No one told me that other drivers who were stopped next to me at red lights would laugh at the sight of me interacting with my children. No one told me that I would become the center of attention wherever I went, be it the park or the mall. I was left to discover this on my own (much to the amusement of my trusty sidekick, Dan).

The last time I went grocery shopping, Katie gave me her "order". She wanted Oreo cookies. I said that I would definitely get these for her. Anything for my baby. And then I forgot. Katie was heartbroken. I had broken my promise to her, and this was an obvious sign of my lack of love and affection for her. That night, after dinner, Dan and I packed up the children and headed to the grocery store so we could buy Katie some cookies.

We put the children in one cart to make it easier to get in and out of the store as quickly as possible. As soon as the Oreos were spotted, all three children were climbing over each other trying to gain access to the delightful treats. I was prepared to give each child an Oreo right then and there, but this always upsets Dan. He prefers that we pay for the food before consuming it (don't get me started on Dan and his "rules"!). To prevent an argument with Dan, I told the girls that they could have the cookies after we had paid for them. Everyone was pacified and we headed for the self-checkout.

Dan pushed the children in the cart while I paid. I handed the bag to Dan, and the children started whining for cookies. Dan, who was annoyed by the shameless begging of our children, handed the Oreo bag back to me and instructed me to "open it!". And I did. I stood at the self-checkout, waiting for my receipt to print, opening the bag of Oreos as fast as I possibly could. I even ripped the bag a little in my haste. I got the bag opened, reached in and pulled out three cookies. I turned around to hand the cookies to my little girls and realised that I was all by myself! Dan, being thoroughly frustrated with the whole situation, had started pushing the cart full of kids to the car without my knowledge! It must of appeared to the other shoppers that I was soooooo desperate for these Oreo cookies that I had to eat them the moment I purchased them. I couldn't even wait until I was in the car! I was humiliated... but not as humiliated as I was the day before.

We had taken the children to a lovely little island nearby to feed the "ducks" (they were mostly geese, but the children didn't know any better). The twins would feed the ducks a little bit of bread, and then feed themselves some. Whatever, everybody was happy.

When all the bread was gone, we started heading back to the car. In front of us were a family setting up for a picnic. Actually, only two members of the family were left to set up the picnic, both male and both about 25 years old. The girls saw this and announced that they were hungry. Lucky break for them, we were only about 5 minutes from home and I would give them a snack the moment we arrived (bear in mind that they had snacks before we left and had eaten lots of bread that was intended for the ducks). This, apparently, would not be fast enough. As we were passing the soon to be picnic site, the warnings of imminent starvation coming from the twins increased to almost panic levels.

One of the men was leaving the picnic site to join the rest of his family at the water. He overheard the desperate cries for food. Very kindly, he said to me "Go and grab a piece of watermelon for your daughters". The twins overheard this and were now Hell-bent on having some watermelon. I thanked the man and went to get some of the watermelon for the children. I approached the table where the last man was remaining. I smiled and said "I'm soooo sorry!" as I reached for some slices. He looked up at me, we made eye contact, and it was at that moment that I realised that he hadn't heard the first man offer me some watermelon! To him, I appeared to be some random woman swiping his family's picnic. I tried to explain and motioned to the first man who was now GONE! The only person behind me was Dan who was absolutely horrified by my behaviour because he, too, hadn't heard the first man make the offer. He was just as shocked as the watermelon guy!

It was at this point that the watermelon guy asked me if my oldest daughters were twins. I was too wrapped up in my own humiliation to even hear him talking to me. I just took the watermelon and left. It wasn't until later that Dan told me that not only had I swiped his food, but I ignored his pleasantries!