Wednesday, September 30

Bethie The Slow

Bethie marches to the beat of her own drummer. A very slow drummer. Getting her ready in the morning is absolutely painful. She's so slow!

This morning, Bethie was taking her sweet time. I was trying to rush her, but it was pointless. Finally, I said "Bethie! You are driving me crazy!". She asked, "Will you get all scraped when they drop you off at the loony bin?". I replied, "No, the walls are padded".

Tuesday, September 29

Our Baby

When I became pregnant with Sarah, I was very concerned about how the new baby would get along with the twins. This fear was amplified when I discovered I was having a girl. My reasoning was that a boy wouldn't be too interested in his very girly older sisters. However, a girl would yearn to be included.

Much to my relief, the twins have accepted Sarah as one of their own. Or, more accurately, Sarah had demanded that she be included in all activities, and the twins do as they're told! Dan refers to Sarah as the triplet that was 2 1/2 years late.

Since Sarah's birth, Bethie has assumed ownership of Sarah. She acknowledges that I am the primary caregiver, but struggles with the idea that she is not next in line (this became an issue when Sarah started daycare). Bethie keeps an eye out for Sarah, and is mostly sweet, and kind, and loving towards her. It took Katie a little longer to "warm up". She now dotes on Sarah, which Sarah appreciates. Often, Sarah will grab on tightly to Katie in order to give her a hug and a kiss. These "hugs" are painfully long, but Katie endures them. It's very important to Katie that Sarah feels loved.

This is not always true. The twins sometimes torment Sarah. They grab her blankie and take off. They snatch toys out of her hand. They tease her. And this is what happened the other day. I brought the twins' "Reign of Terror and Frustration" to an end. I said that they were behaving like bullies. I told them that we are judged by how we treat the weakest and the littlest among us. I would not tolerate any member of this family being made to feel helpless. Tears were spilt, apologies extracted, and hugs and kisses were liberally passed around.

But I was angry. I was frustrated. I want so much for there to be a natural equality amongst my children. I want them to know that they are individually, and collectively, important. I don't want the whims of the older children to become an obstacle that Sarah must continuously overcome. I want each of my daughters to feel like they belong, and that they are wanted.

That night I was lying in Katie's bed with both Katie and Bethie between me and the wall. We were discussing all the DVDs we do and don't have (don't worry, I don't "get it" either). Sarah was in her room, tucked into bed for the evening. She began to cry. My blood pressure started to soar (that's how I react to my kids crying) and I try to hurry up this endless goodnight ritual. Bethie said to me "Why is our baby crying?".

Our baby. This is how Katie and Bethie view her. As our baby. She belongs to all of us, and we belong to her. I was thrilled! This is evidence that the twins have truly accepted her. My heart swelled, and I thought "My cup runneth over".

Monday, September 28

Fine Dining

The twins were thrilled with dinner tonight. We had "smashed potatoes"!

My Little Pianists

My delicate little princesses have discovered that they can watch the inner workings of the piano if they climb on it and dance.

Note: Grandparents are way more tolerant than parents. Mum would have killed us if she discovered us doing this!

Mano a Procyon Lotor

Just after 11pm on Saturday night, Dan was watching a movie and I was sitting next to him reading a book. We heard a muffled crash. I told Dan that the crash was a big, scary raccoon (I had seen him a couple of hours earlier) raiding our garbage. Dan practically flew to the side door to catch the beast in the act.

The raccoon was relatively unafraid of us. Through an open window, we eyed one another. Dan wanted to go outside and spray the raccoon with water. I refused to allow this. He wanted to get the raccoon off our steps just long enough to haul our garbage bin inside our house. Thank goodness he has me to stop him! We agreed to frighten the raccoon away and then put the garbage in the shed.

We started the car by remote, which caused the raccoon to waddle rapidly to the backyard. When he realised that there was no threat, he waddled back. Perched on our steps, he waited for our next move. My barking didn't phase the raccoon, but it did annoy Dan. Banging the door did nothing. Finally, Dan took the broom handle and banged fiercely on the porch, and the raccoon took off across the street. I raced to the front of the house, and I watched that raccoon. The raccoon watched Dan put the garbage in the shed.

This may not sound like a big deal, but I am absolutely terrified of the vast majority of creatures that are on this planet. Big on my list are raccoons, skunks, mice, squirrels, and cats. I like to pretend that none of these animals exist. Now that I have absolute proof that we have a raccoon (I had convinced myself that crows were getting our garbage), I have to get rid of it. I googled "how to deter raccoons". A website advised me to get a big cord and tie up my garbage can. Not bloody likely. I will have to find another solution. Otherwise, I will let Dan go out and tango with that raccoon!

Thursday, September 24

Some Snaps

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My 90 Seconds

I have a rule. Once a child of mine is a year old, they must learn to fend for themselves for the 90 seconds it takes me to go to the bathroom...alone. With the door to the washroom locked. Don't get me wrong. I wait until all the children are occupied, are happy, and are getting along. Then I get my 90 seconds.

There is something about a door locking that makes my children want to bash that door down. It doesn't matter how quietly I lock that door. They hear the click, and come running. From their side of the door, they start screaming at me to open the door and demanding to know what on Earth I am doing in there. Then they start with the tear down. It starts off as a knock or two. Then anger takes over, and they bash, and bang, and try to rip the door off. All in 90 seconds. My 90 seconds.

I have had serious discussions with the children about respecting the privacy of other people. I have explained that I deserve to go to the washroom without all Hell breaking loose. It makes me tense. I have tried sneaking away to go to the washroom, I have tried announcing my departure. Nothing works. As soon as the door locks, panic kicks in.

The other night after dinner, the children and Dan were eating their dessert. Everybody was happy, everybody was cool. I announced that I was going to the washroom. I said "The first person to knock on the door goes straight to bed. This person does not get a bath. This person does not get a story or a cuddle. They only get to be alone in their bedroom in the dark to think about how naughty they are. Do you understand?" My three little girls nodded earnestly. They didn't want to go to bed.

Off I went to the washroom. I locked the door. Guess what happened? KNOCK, KNOCK. Really?! What is wrong with these children? Why can they not follow basic instructions? Why can't their father run "interference" and help the children? Why do they need me right now?!

I lost it, I was super angry. I yelled in my angriest, sternest voice possible "WHO. IS. KNOCKING. ON. THE. DOOR?!". The reply was "It's me. Guess I have to go to bed and skip doing the bath, reading the stories, and putting the kids to bed". I married a comedian.

Wednesday, September 23

My Clever Little Chicken

Sarah's vocabulary leaves lots to be desired...or so we thought. Dan and I could pick out two words that she would say: "Mama" and "oui". That was it. The strange thing is that Sarah does "talk" to us. She looks at us in the eye and proceeds to spout jibberish. However, she does have the flow of the English language, just not the language itself.

Yesterday, Emilie and Sam came over after daycare. Emilie and I were chatting on the deck. I was having some Crystal Light. Sarah gestured frantically that she would like some of my drink. I said "Do you want some juice?". She babbled something to me. Emilie said "Jus ca" (I cannot make the proper "c" as I don't have a French keyboard). That was what Sarah had "babbled" to me when asking for my drink! It was then that I had realised that Sarah had indeed asked for what she wanted. However, she asked me in French!

Speaking French will definately help Sarah in the "real" world. However, it doesn't do her much good in our house as neither Dan nor I speak French. Katie says "oui" instead of "yes", and Bethie says "pas" meaning "not" ("pas chicken for dinner", "pas bath"). Other than that, we've got nothing.

This is how I see it: although Sarah understands both English and French, she only speaks French. Sigh. Who would have thought that Dan and I would be raising a francophone?

Sunday, September 20

Suffer The Little Children

Bethie loves church. She absolutely adores every moment of it. She loves the music, the people, the attention, and the ... dancing. Dancing is not required, nor even requested, of the congregation. My girls provide this little "extra" free of charge. They stand just in front of the alter (we sit in the first pew) and put on a performance. Members of the congregation have come up to me and said that they barely pay attention to the Reverend because they are so focused on my children. Yeah, we upstage everyone.

Since we typically have the undivided attention of the congregation, Bethie has taken to giving them helpful "updates". Last Sunday, the Reverend spoke to me before the service. Nothing special, just wanted to say hi. Then he left in order to come back in with the choir and officially start the service. He was gone for a couple of minutes. Bethie asked me where he was. This is where I made my mistake. I was too lazy to explain the whole thing to Bethie. Instead, I said that he had to go to the washroom. This was meant to:
  1. explain the Reverend's brief absence, and
  2. to get Bethie to wait quietly without asking me a hundred questions
It did not have the desired effect. Bethie stood up on the pew, faced the congregation, and informed everyone that "Rev B. had to go to the WASHROOM!". Oops! I was shocked, but I got her to sit down very quickly. I did not make eye contact with anyone in the congregation. I hoped against hope that if I pretended that Bethie hadn't said anything, they would pretend along with me.

Today, it was just me and Bethie at church. She didn't want to go to Sunday school. She has boycotted the class since they had the nerve to discuss Easter with the children. Apparently, the church's official version of Easter does not include chocolate and little bunnies. At the time, I discussed the matter with the Reverend, but he insisted on keeping the story of the crucifixion in the Easter celebration. We skipped the Easter season altogether, and Bethie now stays in the church for the sermon.

At one point in today's sermon, the Reverend was speaking about how the disciples had an argument about who the best person would be to take over the "reigns" when Jesus would, as predicted, be killed. Bethie leaped to her feet. Her (very heavy) hymn book catapulted from her lap, through the air, and came crashing (yeah, crashing) down near the base of the alter. She turned to face me, which put her directly in front of the congregation. She threw her arms up in the air in a mixture of shock and disbelief, and said "They killed Jesus?!". She had no idea that Jesus was dead. This may be my fault. At home, we focus more on the Christmas story. Bethie went through a phase where she was just a wee bit obsessed with Jesus and wanted to meet him and it was driving me crazy! So I told her that the little boy down the street was Jesus. She was pacified and it amused me when I would ask her where Jesus lived and she would point to his house. But then the Reverend blew it by saying that Jesus was killed! Do you understand Bethie's shock?!

I scooped up Bethie and placed her back on the pew. I swore up and down that Dan would buy her an ice cream sundae if she would just stop talking! I was mortified! Especially because I know the Reverend (and half of the congregation) heard the entire outburst. He was probably thinking to himself "She's already asked me to "gloss over" Easter. Next, she'll probably ask me not to mention Jesus at all!".

Wednesday, September 16

We're Here To Help!

A week or so ago, Mum was asked to babysit Sean's kids for the evening. Although Mum is quite capable of handling the three boys on her own, it's always nice to have some company and some help. Dan and I said that we would pitch in. I told the twins that we would be going to Uncle Sean's house for dinner and we would help put the boys to bed. Katie was thrilled. She loves going to Uncle Sean's house, and especially now that she was "needed".

During dinner, Katie announced to Cameron (who is Sean's eldest son and who will be turning 7 this December) that she was going to put him to bed. Cameron freaked. The thought of his four yeay old cousin putting him to bed was (understandably) too much for him. I calmed Cameron down. I said that Katie was just little and that Cameron knows better. Cameron is a very good-natured boy, and he just let it go.

After dinner, Dan took Sarah home and put her to bed. I put Baby Cory to bed. Katie, Bethie, Cameron, and Tyler settled down to watch "The Cat In The Hat". Everybody was happy, but Katie had her eye on the clock. At one point she said "When do I get to put Cameron and Tyler to bed?". Poor Cameron could only take so much! I had to make it absolutley clear that after the movie I was going to take the twins home and Granny would put the boys to bed. Cameron was pleased. Katie was a bit disappointed. She enjoyed the authority that she thought she had (and which, according to her, was rightfully hers!). But the problem was solved.

When we were packing up to go, the twins were thanking the boys for the lovely evening (warms my heart when they do this!). After hugs and kisses and good-byes were exchanged, Katie said "Well. We are going to go now. You boys need to go straight to bed. Don't. Be. Naughty!". And they weren't. Turns out that it was a good thing that we had brought Katie after all!

Girls Day

Sunday evening, I said "Thank God it's Monday tomorrow!". I was worn out. Dan had taken Friday off to help me paint the kitchen. Although I really appreciated the help, and he did a great job, it seriously cut into my "me time". If I don't get 40 hours/week, I am down-right grouchy. Also, in the late afternoon on Friday, Sarah got some sort of stomach bug and started vomiting. So I spent a lot of time with the twins during the weekend away from home. Thankfully, they didn't get sick. Regardless, by Sunday night I needed a rest.

Emilie flipped her car a couple of times on Sunday. As a result, daycare was closed Monday. The kids and I had a "Girls Day" and dragged Big Sarah along for the ride. We had fun. We went to the beach in the morning and we went to look at model homes in the afternoon. Everyone had a blast. However, the children also had a lot of "treats" (which I think we should refer to as "staples" instead!). Between the three of them, they consumed twenty-eight Tim Bits.

We were driving home from the model homes, but first we had to stop at the grocery store. The twins were being super rowdy (probably due to the sugar). I just wanted some peace and quiet so I could talk to Big Sarah, and so Baby Sarah could have a little rest. I didn't get it. I cracked. I told them if they could be quiet until we got to the grocery store, I would let them each have a cookie (yup, I bribe my children. I am not Super Mum...she lives down the street!). Despite desperately wanting a cookie, the twins could not contain themselves. I yelled at them, Big Sarah yelled at them. They continued to act like crazed beasts.

Katie freaked out because her hands were dirty. She wanted me to clean them. I explained to her that I was driving the car! Instead, I gave Bethie a package of wipes and had her give them to Katie in the back of the van. Big Sarah and I figured the problem was solved and tried to continue our conversation. Bethie got noisy again. Big Sarah looked back and saw Bethie cleaning Baby Sarah's face with a wipe. Big Sarah sternly instructed Bethie to stop touching the baby and to BE QUIET.

A few more minutes passed and Baby Sarah started to fret. Big Sarah looked back and calmly said to me "Oh. You are going to be really angry. I'm trying not to laugh because I know you are going to kill the twins. But it's funny!". Apparently, Katie (who sits in the very back of the van) had taken a wipe out of the container, given it to Bethie (who sits in the middle row next to the baby), and Bethie  proceeded to wipe Baby Sarah's face.This was repeated five thousand times! Every "dirty" wipe had been tossed on the floor, as well as the wipes that Katie couldn't quite get to Bethie. My van looked like a snow globe, with wipes instead of snow!

Big Sarah was right. I was angry. I shouted "What is WRONG with you two? Why would you throw wipes everywhere? Wipes are expensive and they are not to be wasted! Granny bought me those wipes! I just can't BELIEVE it! Who's going to clean up this mess? Are you expecting ME to clean it up? I bought you 28 Tim Bits today. What have you done? You have run around the model homes screaming and yelling and slamming doors and carrying on! Then you throw a FULL PACKAGE of wipes throughout my car. And now you expect ME to take YOU to the grocery store so you can have a COOKIE? No! This is crazy! You are going home to your FATHER!". Bethie felt horrible for behaving badly and for letting me down. She immediately apologized. Katie refused to apologize until I apologized I to her for yelling at her! That got me started on a completely new rant!

Anyway, the kids got dropped off, Big Sarah and I went to the grocery store, and we came home to make dinner. It was a yummy dinner. However, the twins refused to eat it. I cannot fully articulate how frustrated I was with them at that point in the day. I produced peanut butter sandwiches just to pacify them. I failed, however, to make the sandwiches to Katie's exact specifications and she deemed it to be inedible. AHHHH! I screamed "Just eat it! Or eat your dinner! I am sick and tired of having to produce fifteen entrees for every dinner. EAT!". That didn't work. I bribed them with cake.

As I presented the cake, Dan said "Is this the only kind of cake you have? Do you have chocolate cake instead?". I glared at my fourth child husband, took a deep breath, and said "Don't you start, too!".

Thursday, September 10

Language Skills

The twins had a fairly large vocabulary by their first birthday. It pleased me to no end that one of their first words was "thank you". I delighted in the cleverness of my twins for being able to communicate at such a young age. They weren't particularly good at walking (they didn't walk until they were 19 months!), but I overlooked their lack of motor skills because I deemed them to be so clever. Sarah doesn't talk. She can say "Mama!". She uses this word to give a "heads up" to the closest adult that she would like something. She can also say "no" and "oui" (she goes to a French daycare). Her "monkey skills", as Sean calls them, are outstanding. She is an expert climber and jumper. Nothing can stop my baby!

I admit that I am concerned. For the past couple of days, I have tried to recall what I did differently with the twins. I'm coming up empty. I know that one time Katie spilt some juice. I said "Crap, crap, crap!" as I reached for a paper towel. The juice made it's way to the edge of the table. More rapid fire "craps" came out of my mouth. Then the babies began playing in the mess. Again, "craps" were my preferred method of dealing with the problem. In the 90 seconds that it took me to clean up the mess, about 180 "craps" were emitted. Mum said to me "Are you trying to teach them to say crap?!". But the word I wanted to say was far more inappropriate.

The twins never did say "crap". However, one time when Bethie dropped a glass candle holder, she did say "Shit-shoot!". Oops! That was probably my fault. Thankfully, their father wasn't around to hear that and she never said it again.

Yesterday, Bethie was in a foul mood. She was screaming and crying and running all over the backyard. Sarah, in an attempt to comfort Bethie, found Bethie's bears and took them over to her. Katie followed closely behind with a flower she picked to cheer Bethie up. Bethie, despite wanting her bears desperately, refused to take them. Sarah became upset and offended. I was fed up! She had been behaving badly for about 30 minutes. She wouldn't let me comfort her, and she wouldn't stop screaming. By refusing her own bears, she made Sarah scream and yell. I was at the end of my tether. I said "Bethie! Take the damn bears!". Katie said "And the damn flower!". Oops. I did it again!

Wednesday, September 9

Their Wrath

Loyalty is very important to me. I am loyal to a fault. No matter what happens, my children and my husband can count on my unfailing, and often loud, support. Any slight, regardless of how small or how innocent, will incur my wrath!

I have always dreamed of someone being as loyal to me as I am to them. I have, however, surrounded myself with people who insist on looking at the "big picture" or on taking into consideration the feelings and opinions of everyone else. I want someone who will blindly support me and will stand up to whatever obstacle they encounter in order to show their support. I have recently realised that this would never, ever happen. I am destined to have to fight everyone of my own battles, and all the battles of my nearest and dearest. No worries, I am awfully good at fighting battles!

Then the twins surprised me. I have lovely Explorer roses. Japanese beetles practically ate all the leaves of the roses in the front of my house before turning their attention to those in the back. Everyday, the twins and I would go on a "beetle hunt". I would drown the beetles in soapy water hoping that would be the last of them. Everyday, they would reappear.

One day, Bethie snapped. She could no longer stand the fact that "those naughty Japanese beetles" were eating her Mummy's roses. She marched right up to the roses and started shouting "Go away, Japanese beetles! Those are my Mummy's roses! Don't eat them!". Katie got excited. She loves a good fight. She ran beside Bethie and started to shout at the beetles as well. This cracked me up!

Bethie yelling at the beetles

Katie yelling and wagging her finger

At last I have the loyalty that I have always craved. There are 3 lessons they must master before their loyalty is completely effective:

  1. Knowing Your Enemy
  2. Picking Your Battles
  3. Screaming Doesn't Equal Righteousness

Tuesday, September 8

Dr. Mum

I don't have a medical degree. The degree that I do have isn't even in science. However, I am an expert in all things (non-illegal) drug related. I keep my own "pharmacy" well stocked. Percocet, Tylenol 3, and all sorts of cold remedies are a must! At any given time, I can treat most problems presented to me by each member of my family.

The government has made things difficult for me. They have banned all cough and cold medicine for children under two years old. However, they forgot to ban children under the age of two from getting coughs and colds. I astutely noticed this loop-hole. Before the ban came into effect, I stocked up because I was pregnant with Sarah. Although the medicine had now since "expired" (I treat expiration dates as "Try to take this medicine before the set day, but go ahead and use it if it's expired. You'll live.), it still worked like a charm. This week, my stock had dwindled down to nothing and all three children were sick.

I did what every mother (who has a natural repulsion for authority) would do: I calculated how much of each drug was present in the infant cough and cold medicine. Then I calculated how much of the children's cough and cold medicine I could use to get the same dose. This worked like a charm... until Katie popped open the "Child-Proof" medicine cap and started handing out drugs to Sarah as well! Don't worry. I sought medical advice, Dan told Katie that too much medicine becomes "poison", and we hid all the medicine in my pharmacy. The next day, Sarah felt much better!

Yesterday, I was told that the government is banning all cough and cold medicine for children under the age of six! Come on! Of course, I immediately went to Walmart to purchase some magical elixir to cure cough and colds in preschoolers. I was too slow! They have already been removed from the shelf. No fears. My calculator and I have already gotten to work. I have figured out the correct doses of the medicine meant for 6-11 year olds that I can give to my toddler and preschoolers. At least, I hope it's the correct dose. My degree isn't in mathematics either.

Monday, September 7

Busy! Busy! Busy!

Dan and I had so much to do this weekend. We had to clean. Not simply pick up toys and do laundry, but sanitize our filthy house type of cleaning. We had to prepare the kitchen walls to be painted next Friday (we have already prepared the children!). We had to do lots of work in the garden. In fact, I had a huge list of things I wanted done. And on top of all that, we had to take care of the children.

One would think that Dan and I were too busy to bake. Not so. The mood struck us and we did nothing else but bake! Here are the results:

The most challenging thing was preventing the children from "helping" us. In the end, we pacified them so much sugar that Dan was concerned they would go into diabetic shock. At one point, Bethie came in and watched Dan and I agonize over the cake (it really didn't turn out as planned). After a moment or so, she said "Do you know what we're doing?". It seemed quite obvious to us what we were doing. We were curious as to what she thought we were doing. When asked, she enlightened us, "We're wasting the day away". She was almost right. We were wasting the long weekend away.

Thursday, September 3

For The Love Of Pizza

My children love pizza. All of them. In fact, a pizza crust was Sarah's first "solid" food. I know, you're shocked! When the twins were babies, we read all the books about what the first solid food should be. The expert consensus was that one should begin with the most awful tasting vegetables so that the child would develop a taste for them before moving on to the yummier foods that they will certainly love. And we did that... with the twins. However, Sarah is our third child. One day, we simply handed her a pizza crust and said "Gnaw on that. You'll love it!". And she did.

We don't have pizza as often as the children would like. I swear that Bethie would love to eat pizza for every meal. Although she requests pizza frequently, she is often disappointed. The other day, as we were coming home from doing a grocery shop, Bethie asked if we could have pizza for dinner. I explained that I had just spent all of my money on groceries and I could make her a lovely dinner instead. She stated that she preferred pizza. I asked her if she had any money. Bethie pondered that question, and then replied "I have princess money!". Her delight was quickly squashed when I explained that the pizza man prefers real money.

A few days later, Bethie asked Dan if he had gone to work that day. He had. She said "Did you make any money while you were at work?". Dan told her that the only reason he goes to work is to make money. She then said "Real money?". Neither Dan nor I saw where this was leading. Dan said that he had, in fact, made real money. Bethie said "Can we have pizza for dinner tonight and you can pay for it with the real money you made today?". Although we were very proud of her for being so clever as to trick us into admitting that we had money that could (technically) be spent on pizza, we declined her request.

Yesterday after daycare, the children wanted to play in the van. That was fine with us because Dan and I could stand next to the van watching the children while having a chat. Everybody would be happy. All of a sudden, Bethie let of a terrific cry of delight. She came to the door, held up a penny, and asked "Is this real money?". I told her it was. She said "We can have pizza tonight because I have real money to pay the pizza man!". We did have pizza, but I had to chip in approximately $23.99!