"The Tightrope Walker"

"The Tightrope Walker" by Jean-Louis Forain

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Dogs Will Be Dogs, BUT Owners Will Be...

Dogs will be dogs, BUT owners will be expletive, expletive, expletive and probably a few more expletives.  Our neighbour a few doors down is unfortunately one of these frustrating dog owners.  We live in a townhouse complex which means we share some common outdoor space with all of our neighbours and we also have a small, private backyard.  The neighbour in question lets her dog out the backdoor of her home to run free throughout the townhouse complex.  This has been happening for quite a while, and although it irritates me to find her dog alone in my backyard or to go out my front door to find the dog on  my front stoop I have done my best to keep my patience and ignore the situation.  After all, the dog is just being a dog.

A week or so ago I reached the end of my leash.  After being outside to play in the backyard I discovered very questionable "dirt" on the girls' snowsuits.  YUCK!  I obviously washed everything - coats, snowpants, mittens and hits all in the laundry. And, sure enough dog poop in our backyard!  I'm sure you all know how disgusting the spring melt can be when it includes piles of dog mess, and it is extra frustrating because it isn't even from our pet!

In frustration I decided to contact the property manager who contacted the owner to remind her that pets must be limited to owner's private yards or accompanied by owners and leashed in the common shared areas.  Now weeks later, after more complaints and more phone calls from the property manager the dog is still running loose.  My frustration is becoming anger as I'm imagining the weather improving and not being able to play with the girls in the yard because there are doggy-landmines everywhere!

I will admit I'm not a dog person.  I don't intend on ever having a pet dog, but I don't dislike dogs.  I get that they can be great companions and that many people have a special bond with their dogs.  All that said, why does this dog owner insist on imposing her pet on us?  Please pet owners, explain this to me!  Help me to sympathize with this woman because right not I'm imagining myself scooping all the poop and piling it high at her front door!

Poop aside, the dog seems nice enough but what happens when she lets her dog out and my girls unknowingly do something that unnerves the dog.  Now I have images of teeth-barred, barking, dog bites...  Please dog owners, help me to understand.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Big Girl!

With Molly's second birthday barely two months away I am blown away every day by all the new things she does.  Her little brain is just like a big sponge sucking up every new word and activity.  Tonight, her new words pulled on my heart strings when she told me in her baby accent that she is a "big girl".  There is something so sweet about your toddler being proud of themselves and identifying themselves as a big kid, but it also breaks my heart to think that my baby is RUNNING into childhood and out of babyhood.  I just hope that once she is a truly a 'big kid' that she will want and need my hugs and kisses as much as she does now.  To all the Mommies and Daddies cherish each moment of babyhood because the cliche is true - they just grow up too fast!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Kids Say and Do the Darnedest Things

While visiting a barn we saw a mother pig and her half dozen, suckling piglets.  Molly in a very enthusiastic voice yelled repeatedly, "Booboos, booboos, booboos!"  Followed by, "Pig eating, pig eating, oink, oink!"

Friday, March 25, 2011

Kids Say and Do the Darnedest Things.

My 15 month-old is learning how to kiss and blow-kisses. Unfortunately, she only understands kisses as going to and from lips and as a result refuses to kiss anywhere but the mouth. Yesterday, she whined and cried until I picked her up. Once up she gave me a kiss on the mouth. I told her that she was nice and of course wiped the baby goober from my mouth. Encouraged by my praise she came for another, but this time opened her mouth and licked my face the second she was close enough. Yuck! She thought it was the funniest thing ever and loved my reaction. For the next few minutes we battled it out as she tried over and over to psych me out with a kiss turned puppy licks! Double yuck! In the end she won, managing to get me twice more on the cheek. Triple yuck! :-)

A Real Potty-pooper!

Dearest potty how I love thee!  Let me count the ways:

1)  I love how you cast a magical spell over children that makes them believe they need to be completely naked before resting their tushy on your thrown.  Removing pants, diaper, socks and often a t-shirt while trying to complete twelve other motherly duties is my honour and pleasure.

2)  I adore how you present yourself as a tool for playtime.  Let's read a book, rip toilet paper, flush the toilet and run naked all in order to fully enjoy everything you have to offer potty.

3)  Potty, I revel in your many forms!  Snapping to the toilet seat, small and compact, removable "catcher", or converting to a step stool (yes, a step stool) we have them all.  And, all the better for naked, toilet-paper-ripping, book-reading, toddler business to be done not just in the bathroom, but in the middle of the kitchen if we deem it appropriate.

4)  Did I mention the clean-up?  Such a treat!

5)  Perhaps most awe-inspiring is your ability to seduce a toddler into insisting that NOW is the time at the most inconvenient time, simply to produce NO result.  (Did I mention this is even more thrilling when the toddler INSISTS on being undressed?)

Of dear potty, I can see our future now!  It is a dreamy future filled with accidents, emergencies and mad-dash-rushes to the closest restroom, but best of all it is a bum-cream, wet-wipe and diaper free future with a smaller grocery bill to boot!  Potty, now it is your turn to show me some love.  Please be kind to me and encourage Molly to get it done!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

In Our Hearts.

Watching news reports and seeing the images coming out of Japan is heartbreaking.  As is always the case the devastation in Japan is being covered less each day by media outlets, but the need is still great and clearly will be for a long time to come.  This is also true for Haiti and many nations devastated by the Asian tsunami in 2004.  In order to remind myself and others of the on-going need I'm posting links to some organizations that will help all of these communities. 

The Art of Selling.

Oh blog, how I've missed you?  Our beloved Mac died a slow and painful death last week, and as a result we spent a painful 5 days without a computer, the Internet or my blog.  Yuck!

All that aside, the process of purchasing a new computer turned out to be very painful.  We set out to a popular Canadian retailer, that I will refer to as Fu Shop, to price out our options.  When we visited our local location the Sales Associate offered all kinds of discounts and actually was very helpful.  We decided to talk it over before making a snap decision.

The next day we ended up in an Fu Shop in another city.  The Sales Associate at this location again was able to offer us some discounts, but told us that the Associate at the other location had given us some incorrect information and he couldn't offer all the same discounts.  However, he was able to put together a reasonably priced Mac at a lower price than the other guy.  Of course the whole thing hinged on us buying the Fu Shop extended warranty which we didn't want.  Our preference was to buy Apple Care, but again the sales guy told us that we couldn't buy Apple Care with an Educational Discount for teachers because the discount wasn't offered by Apple on their warranties as we had been told by the other Sales Associate.  So since we wouldn't be saving any money by purchasing Apple Care (even though it was our first choice) we opted for the in-house warranty and discounted computer.  What a mistake!

When we got home I looked up Apple Care and it WAS offered with an Educational Discount.  I did a little more research on Fu Shop's website and discovered we were given other false pricing info by the second Sales Associate.  So, JD trouped out to our local store to get things sorted out and was given a song and dance about the price of the computer going up if we returned the Fu Shop warranty.  I went back again to our local store and received some more garbled information, but also discovered that the Customer Service Rep that JD spoke to the day before is in a relationship with the guy who sold us the computer in the other store.  At this point I was convinced that we were being misled in both locations and so today I went back to the store we purchased from with the intent of returning everything just because I was ticked about all the misinformation we were given.

The Customer Service Rep at the store was VERY helpful.  Finally, having met an honest Fu Shop employee I was able to return the more expensive warranty that we didn't want and keep the discount on the computer.  All of this not because she was sympathetic to my annoyance, but because she was honest.  She unwittingly confirmed a number of the lies that the Sales Associate told us.  Thank you!

I like to think that I'm not naive when making large purchases.  I worked in retail for over ten years and had a career in professional sales.  I've worked for commission and been required to use both soft and hard sell techniques.  I know that the goal is to up-sell as much as is possible at the lowest cost to the company as is possible.  All that said, I was never trained or instructed to mislead a customer or provide false information, especially information they could research on their own!  I don't know what Fu Shop expects of their employees or how they train them on the selling process, but I do know that whether this employee acted on training or of his own accord is irrelevant.  I will never step foot in an Fu Shop again and I'll be sure to warn my friends and family.  Dealing directly with Apple is the only way to go!  I'm giving Fu Shop two fingers up, and they aren't my thumbs!

The good news we love our new MacBook as much as our old Mac!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Beep, Beep!

Molly, rather endearingly, recently started saying, "Beep, beep!" instead of "Excuse me" in order to pass by.  Mostly she says it at home when trying to navigate her dolly's stroller around the living room.  Sophie stretched out on the floor and blocking her path would elicit a "Beep, beep!"  Blocks dumped in a heaping pile on the floor would elicit a "Beep, beep!"  Standing in the middle of  the hall when she wants past would elicit a "Beep, beep!"  We thought it was pretty cute and haven't discouraged her because we were pleased that she is finding her own way to communicate.

Then on Sunday we went to a clothing store to get some items for JD.  In a moment of laziness we decided not to put Molly in the stroller thinking we were going to be quick and she would enjoy being able to walk around like a big girl.  We quickly realized the mistake we had made as we entered the unusually busy store and Molly bee-lined through the racks of clothing yelling, "Beep, beep!" as she encountered each and every customer.  Of course most people smiled and stepped back as I hastily uttered "Excuse us.  Sorry!" as politely as I could while in hot pursuit of a 21-month-old on the loose.  I'm sure we looked exactly like the chaotic family train that we all shake our heads over while thinking to ourselves does that parent have no control - Molly buzzing with great speed through the racks and around corners, me in pursuit mumbling "Sorry, excuse us, sorry," and Sophie skipping behind me delighted at the fun of ripping through the store without a care in the world.  (JD at this point is oblivious as he is deeply, engaged in making his choice of new socks and underwear.  Or perhaps, he is just pretending to be completely engrossed in the washing instructions so that no one thinks he belongs with us.  And yes, if the tables were turned I would do exactly the same thing!  Don't deny that you would and have done it too!)

Of course my efforts to restrain Molly and maintain some semblance of control and order repeatedly ended in hollers of "No Mom-meeee!" (Molly's other current favourite phrase.)  Increasing my annoyance was Sophie's look of glee at knowing that her sister who was lying on her back, wiggling like a worm and yelling at me was undoubtedly in a world of trouble.   My brain was on overload as the urgent need to exit the store mounted:  Quick, fast, speed is of the essence!  JD get what you need and let's go!  No time to debate, pick the new socks and let's get out of here.  NOW!  Who cares if they boxers or briefs, just get something that fits and RUN!

It isn't that we haven't learned this lesson before - strollers are a must or better yet kids and one parent must stay home - but we always hold out hope that this shopping trip will be the one.  The one when are children stop acting like children and act like reasonable adults!  Give your head a shake.....they ARE children!

Okay, so no going back.  No altering the shopping trip or making the better choice of using the stroller, but at the very least maybe I could teach Molly to say, "Excuse me!"  After all manners are more important than being cute.  The next opportunity I had I said to Molly, "Can you say excuse me?  Say, excuse me to Sophie."  Nope, no excuse me.  That's okay because I will just keep trying and eventually she will give it a try.  Fast forward 24 hours and not only is Molly still in love with "Beep, beep!" but I've realized we ALL say it now.  "Beep, beep Molly! Mommy needs to open the pantry,"  or "Beep, beep Molly!  Let Sophie get in the the bathtub first,"  or even worse, "Molly say beep, beep instead of kicking Sophie!"  That's right, we were actually encouraging her and teaching her to say those two, innocent little words.  At this point I've decided it is easier to teach all of  you this new courtesy than it is to re-teach Molly.  So please repeat after me, "Beep, beep!"  Please use this polite phrase in any instance that you would usually say, "Excuse me!" and if you are still unsure of its proper use just remember the actual translation is, "Get the heck out of my way!  NOW....please!"

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Kids Say and Do the Darnedest Things.

The girls were watching Barney build a birdhouse on TV while I prepped dinner tonight when this bizarre dialogue took place:

Sophie, "What happens to fish eyes?"

Me, "Pardon?"

Sophie in a louder voice, "What happens to fish eyes?"

Me, "I heard you, but I don't understand what you are asking!"

Sophie, "You know, when we catch them?"

Me, "I don't know...."  Feeling very confused now.

Sophie, "Well, we eat the fish but what happens to its eyes?  Do we eat them too?"

Me, "Uhhhh....well....we don't, but maybe other people do.  Why?"

Sophie, "I just wanted to know."  Back to watching innocent Barney and friends making a birdhouse.

Me in my head, WHAT the heck just happened?  Fish eyes????  I'm either having a strange dream or someone slipped something in my tea earlier.  No, not likely...so she really did just ask me that.   All I can do is shake my head and wonder at her wondering.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Social Scene.

Just like everyone else I know I am connected socially over the internet with lots of friends and family.  I have a social networking account, multiple email accounts and of course this blog.  Lately I've been thinking a lot about how much time we all spend connecting online compared to how much time we spend actually in a room with each other - and of course the balance between the two is a little out of whack.  So for a while now I've been considering shutting down some of my online life.  Of course giving up this blog was out of the question because it has become strangely therapeutic, email is a must for work, and all that leaves is social networking. 

Every time I started to consider "deactivating" my account I talked myself out of it because I might lose contact with this friend or that, I wouldn't get to see pictures of some of my friend's kids, my family is spread far and wide, and on and on the excuses go.  Then, over the last week or so I received a couple of questionable "Friend Requests" on the social networking site that I suspect may be related to supply teaching.

I obviously declined these unknown friendship requests.  I realize I will never know for sure if my suspicion is right, but if these students found me others can and that is the last thing I want.  So, at least for now, I've deactivated my account.

The great thing is that I kind of feel good about being disconnected.  I'm not trying to avoid my friends or family by any means, but I'm looking forward to being more proactive about seeking these important people out rather than passively, staring at the computer screen to find out what's new.  This all may be very short lived (since I'm very much addicted), but at least for today I've closed the "Book".  Hope to SEE everyone soon!

Friday, March 4, 2011

The Measure of a Marriage: Revisited

When I wrote The Measure of a Marriage I was writing from a place of truthfulness and self-examination.  JD read the post before I put it up and gave me the go-ahead to post.  Between us it is always very clear that we will battle through thick and thin to always be together.  It might not always feel like we are on the same team, but we are always at least in the same game!  I don't know if we struggle more, less or about the same as other couples because I'm not in those relationships.  What I do know is that we are together and we are doing the best we can with what we've got.  Having now taken a step-back and re-read the marriage post I feel like I want to go back; not to re-write it because that would mean there was some dishonesty to it and that isn't the case, but to add.

Before I wrote, "Perhaps our best kept secret (or at least I think we hide it well) is the volatility of our marriage."  I described our marriage as volatile because I think we often swing from emotional highs to emotional lows very quickly.  In some sense when I say "we" I probably really mean "me".  I'm very slowly coming to realize that the emotional state of our marriage often mirrors my own feelings and temperament.  I think this is because I tend to be more dominant in our marriage and more quick to feel.  This isn't because I overpower JD or that he doesn't having feelings, but simply because he is more level-headed, easy-going and patient than I am.  So when I'm feeling happy, sad, mad or whatever the feeling-du-jour is I'm quick to express it in the biggest, boldest way I can.  JD usually has a minimal response that me and my big, bold feelings don't understand.  So my method of expression gets bigger and bolder until JD has a reaction that I deem appropriate.  A reaction that I believe shows love.  Screwed up, I know! 

I think somewhere along the way I learned/decided that no or little response means not caring, not loving.  My train of thought was, and I suppose still is, the more you care the more you react to anything and everything.  (I can make some guesses as to where this comes from, but that is a whole other can of worms!)  Pushing feelings to the max like this is what makes our marriage feel volatile, but oddly displays our success as well!  Jesse has become more expressive over time, I am coming to understand my own muddled views of self-worth and through it all we talk.  We can call each other out on our "stuff" and although our discussions aren't always positive they always move us forward and help us to feel connected.  It might be a roller-coaster, but we've put on our safety harnesses and we are holding hands for dear-life!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

What Goes Thump in the Night?

Toddlers do, of course!  We have (tentatively) passed another milestone at house by converting Molly's crib to a day bed.  I can't at all remember how old Sophie was when we started the process of moving her to a 'big girl bed', but I'm certain she wasn't under the age of two.  I don't even really think Molly is ready for this yet!  That said, Molly's thunder-wonderous thighs decided otherwise.

Molly is the most wiggly, flippy, thump-in-the-night, turn-in-my-sleep toddler I have ever met.  The consequences of being such a physically active sleeper are two-fold:  her own banging and thumping was waking her up in the night and (more frustrating) she was waking up with her legs pushed through the crib rails up to her thighs, and of course stuck.  And I'm talking stuck!  Stuck so that she cried when she woke to find her leg with restricted blood-flow, stuck so she cried when I tried to extract her leg and stuck so that I was pretty sure I was going to have to cut the rails to free her!  After a few mornings (and nights) of finding her in this predicament (and feeling a few moments of panic as her shrieks became more intense) we decided that maybe it was time to test the day bed with the intention of moving her to a real bed.

Feeling brave one day last week, off the side rail came and down for a nap Molly went.  Success!  She slept peacefully, stayed in bed, did NOT get any limbs stuck and called me when she woke.  The night thumping seems to have stopped and thankfully she hasn't fallen out of bed either.  We are now almost at the end of a week of day bed sleeping and everything is great.  We've put a gate across her bedroom door so Molly can NOT travel the hallway/stairwell/bathroom.  When she wakes she does one of two things - gets a book and goes back to bed (my kind of girl) or comes to the gate in her doorway and calls for us. 

Easy, right?  Can we be this lucky?  Can we have a big milestone like this pass with out a battle, tears, temper tantrums or screaming (and I'm talking about me here)?  Yes, we can!  I know it is early in the transition, but I'm having a bit of a proud and successful parenting moment.  I am also going to gloat and wallow in this moment for weeks, maybe even months, since I know our next milestone is potty training.  Yikes!