Christmas Days

DSC_0127

Today I held two sparkly, handmade tree ornaments in my hand thinking that one day, many years from now, I’ll be unwrapping them from a box to place back on the tree, like I do every year, and a teenage Oliver may be sitting on the couch reading a book, not wanting anything to do with decorating the tree.

Teenage Chloe might help me but she’ll be as tall as me and will gaze at her own handmade ornament and wonder when it was that she made this. I’ll remember. I’ll look back to little 6 year old Chloe, up to my waist with lovely bobbed hair, brimming smile and eager creativity wanting to decorate the tree. I’ll close my eyes after I stare at my grown girl and remember the smell of her hair, the smallness of her hands and her constantly wrinkled, wet thumb that she use to suck. I’ll tell her the date when she made the ornament and she’ll just shrug and say, “Oh. Cool.” then put it up on the tree. She won’t close her eyes and see or smell back into those memories and years. She won’t remember how sweet and small she was or see how anxious and giddy she use to get around Christmas time. She’ll just see the tree in front of her and some old ornament that I told her she made and she’ll hang it on the tree.

But I will watch her hang it and stare at her lovely, growing face, her carmel colored hair and I’ll watch her young lady hands put the ornament on the tree and I’ll wonder, “Where did all the days go?”.

Daddy play dates

When you think of play dates do you think of moms getting together with their wee ones, sitting around the table knitting and eating scones, talking about life and what have you? Do you envision kids running around with food and drink crusted around their mouths and foul-smelling nappies in their nether regions as 18 month olds stretch and pull the toys away from one another screaming, MINE! while mommys sip green tea and talk about the economy?

When you think of play dates do you think of knitted beer hats and strong coffee while little girls play with dolls and the dads talk about bikes and wearing said knitted beer hat to festivals in order to get free beer? I know that’s what I think of. Matt has had a few stay at home dads who like to bike over to let our kids play together. I showed up yesterday and felt immediately like this was a play date of its own kind. How right I was….

Ye old Rainer Beer. Notice the fig newton next to the hat. Must have snacks

Matt. Maker of said hats. Hand knitted, yo!

Check out more of his awesome hats here:

The Can Hattery

When the kids get bored….throw them outside!

When my kids start to climb the walls inside the house, these days I have to tell them to get their shoes on and go outside before I tear my heart out. Obviously they have to get some wiggles out and they also really start to bug me when they jump on furniture and run around the house, clomping on our hardwood floors like a couple of Clydesdales.

They winge and moan being told to leave the house but I always know throwing them outside will produce something of beauty once they just engage with being out there. You have to make extra effort to get outside when you live in an urban setting, even in the lush beauty of the Pacific Northwest. So out they go….then this is usually the sort of thing that I find them making:

It's a pirate ship! Complete with oars and a flag

Apparently it's a Swiss Pirate Ship

The things that matter to kids

Yep. He's planking

A week back Oliver won an award at school. You know those bumper stickers that say, “My Kid Is A Terrific Kid”? Well, he won one of those. They honoured some of the kids at a school assembly so Matt and I showed up and took our parent’s share of photos. He stood up there and tried his hardest not to smile. He does that when he’s in front of people and I’m not sure why. It was a lot of fun to see him receive an award.

They also announced other awards for different kids in areas of Math, great attendance….other stuff that I can’t remember. His best friend in the class won a Math award and it’s not surprising because that kid is pretty academically inclined. His teacher says Q is “the smartest kid in my class” to which I always want to chime in, “You know, there are different types of intelligences” but she’s a school teacher so I don’t get into that with her. Nonetheless, Q is a very bright kid and I think he’s going to do very well through his school years.

It’s funny how adults gage things that kids do. There is so much pressure in school to get kids up on Math and Science because we seem to be failing from the rest of the world, there’s a huge push to get the Math scores up. Also, if your kid is good at Math, well, you just know life’s doors will be opened up for them. When Oliver got the Terrific Kid award I thought it was awesome but I do know other kids will get it this year too because they want to honour all the children at some point. When Q got the Math award I knew it was because he was good at Math. Oliver is good at Math and even likes it but he’d rather draw than do homework. I don’t blame him. But I secretly hoped that some day he would get a Math award because “that proves that my kid is smart”, right?

The funny thing is, I had Q over to play with Oliver the day they won the awards and Q said, while they were making robots out of cardboard, “Oliver won the Terrific Kid award. I just won a stupid Math award”. Then later he told his dad, “The day goes slowly when Oliver isn’t at school. He’s a Terrific Kid, you know?”

The things that matter to kids aren’t being amazing at Math while in first grade. The things that matter are people recognising that they are great children and that they are really loved; that people celebrate them. The things that matter to adults are, “You think my kid is smarter than yours, right?” I have to say that listening to the boy’s comments while playing really put things into perspective for me. I’ve always believed that kids learn differently and have different strengths that need to be fostered but now that he’s in school the things that are important to his teacher (Math and Reading) have to be important to me because I have to do the work with him. We work on these subjects together but I don’t ever want to lose perspective as I help him in his academics. I mean, he is in first grade for the love of God! I have to remember that it matters to him that I think he’s terrific! He doesn’t care that I’m impressed with his reading level. It matters to him that I think he’s a great little boy who impresses me just because he’s a part of our family and because he exists.

Now I see why people put the bumper stickers on their minivans. Still, I think we’ll hang ours in our room.

Halloween with children

I’ve loved this season so much more since having kids. There was a time that I sort of opted out of Halloween just because it didn’t seem to apply to me anymore. I wasn’t too into dressing up, although I often dressed as Princess Leia when I had my long hair (that was pretty rock!), and I wasn’t going to be one of the ‘big kids’ that you see going around trick or treating with a pillow case full of candy.

After having kids I never knew I would find Halloween to be so much fun! Trick or treating with a little person who is dressed as some sort of fuzzy creature is the best. When Oliver was two we took him out dressed as a fuzzy, green monster and he kept running into people’s homes when they opened the door. He didn’t really understand the concept. It was awesome! Now that the three of them are dressing up and actually understand that they receive free candy for knocking on a door, they are beyond stoked to head out into the cold air.

I know that there are a lot of people who believe Halloween has some sort of evil attached to it due to it’s history and, although I do respect them for it, I totally don’t understand their fears or what they feel they might be exposing their kids to with allowing them to participate in Halloween. Don’t we give meaning and power to inanimate things? A holiday, in itself, is no more evil than money is as an inanimate object. I’d be more concerned with the message we send them in dropping 50clams down on a Halloween costume for them every year. These days we’re more of a consumer culture than a pagan culture (we don’t seem to worship trees and fairies as much).

Every year there seems to be less and less kids out as parent’s growing fears of poisoned candy and razor encrusted apples seem to take over. “Let’s make it a safe holiday and all go Trick or Trunking!!!” Yes, it’s true. You can pull up in a parking lot while car’s trunks open up and the adults give all of the children candy out of their car. I thought we were teaching them not to take candy from adults in cars! If you don’t live in a neighborhood and this is your only option, I get it. But for safety reasons? I keep hearing that, statistically, Halloween is one of the safest times of the year for kids; they travel in groups and most of the neighborhood is already opening their door every few minutes to pass out blessed candy.

I took the kids out Monday and talked to our neighbors, saw children running around that go to Oliver’s school, watched parents out with their kids in their homemade costumes and was amazed with how many grown adults stayed home all night, sat out on their porches and talked to all the kids that came up for free candy. People got really into different ways to make it entertaining for all the kids. It felt so rad to be a part of a neighborhood with neighbors that we know or are still getting to know. It’s like the one time of the year where it’s ok to go door to door and have a two minute conversation with your neighbors while your child steals their candy. I loved it! I took our kids out with the intention of hitting only our street but we were having so much fun I kept going block after block. Then I waited until they slept to take out all of the Snickers and Almond Joys. Mommy tax!

There are even a lot of people in our own neighborhood who go to the nice, posh North End to gather candy, maybe thinking it’s somehow safer over there because the houses are nicer. Well, it’s all candy, folks! There just happen to be a lot more kids and families in our part of town so I saw TONS of people out all night long. It was a blast and I already have plans for taking them out next year. Here’s to enjoying a favorite of every child’s memory! Happy Halloween!

She’s five

We took her for a donut and the local LeDonut, then out to a special toy store to pick out her toy. When her and Matt went out for a donut I decorated the house with balloons and pink crepe paper so when she walked in and saw the house, she gasped. Not hard to please and surprise this one! Next we picked blackberries from the bush outside to make the frosting for her cake. Her Tinkerbell candle for the cake was played with so much that her head fell off. I tried to solder it back on with hot wax but Tink ended up looking like a Mattel burn victim in the end. Yet that Disney character WILL sit at the top of a lemon blackberry cake by birthday time!

 

All day long Chloe kept saying, “You know, it’s my birthday today?” like we were forgetting or something. When our family came to sing, eat and play she opened the door and directed her guests to the designated present placing spot, which was picked out early that day. “Mama, the gifts will all go here.” and she would point to spot on the floor where she would collect and stack the loot.

 

When her guests arrived we all looked at old photos of her from the past four years. I told her a few stories about what she was like as a baby (which is always hard for a kid to understand; they were a baby once). Once her gifts were opened Oliver said, “Is that all she gets?” (hush, boy!) and then she spent the last half of the evening playing in her own imagination in the living room while the adults did boring stuff like sit at the table and talk.

 

She’s just dreamy, if I do say so. What a delightful little girl with a delightful little voice; charming, playful, sometimes shy and very imaginative. She can still entertain herself for hours by playing with small toys. Happy birthday, darling. I think the world of you and I love you heaps!

How did I spend his first day back at school?

It was eventful, that’s for certain. After we dropped the boy off at school, his first day back since the strike began, Matt took the girl out for a date at Dorky’s. It’s an old-school, video arcade and it’s quite possibly Oliver’s favorite place on earth; he doesn’t remember Hawaii. He’s only been to Dorky’s twice but it’s like a dream come true for him. Today Chloe’s dream came true…sort of. We think she just wanted to go because Matt has taken Oliver there and she wants to do what they do. Fair enough. Off to Dorky’s they went.

While they were rockin’ Ms. Pac-Man and whatnot, Sylvie and I were home. Around 12:45pm I heard her take a nasty tumble down our old, wood stairs and I came to find her at the bottom crying. She’s taken a spill here and there but this seemed a bit harder. I noticed she wasn’t really moving her arm normally but she wasn’t crying anymore or acting like she was in pain. Matt and I agreed that I should take her and her limp arm to the ER, just to be sure.

Ok, let’s just start with the ER and their policies. I’ve gone through a doctor’s office faster than the ER, actually I think every doctor visit combined, for my entire life, is shorter on total than I have spent waiting in the ER. This baffles me considering people are there for….wait for it….emergencies!!! When we took Oliver in for what we thought was an appendicitis we waited around six hours to get the final results (ultrasound, MRI-seriously?- bloodwork, blood pressure and temps taken). By that time he was fine. No appendicitis! Just a whole lotta poop jam-packed in the lower intestine. And then we finally left for home, but not before ringing in the new year at the local children’s hospital. I was grateful that he was ok but man, we had to wait long stretches between people seeing us.

Once again I found myself sitting in the ER, waiting for a doctor to see us and every time they come for a quick visit, they leave again for like an hour. Someone comes to take some info from me. They leave for about 20 minutes then someone else comes to check vitals. Exit again for another 30 minutes. The doctor comes to pinch the baby, move her arm around, poke at her, smile at the “darling cherub” and then say, “Maybe we’ll do an x-ray. I’ll be right back”. Riiiiiight! 30 minutes later you’re getting prepped for the x-ray, that only takes about 11 minutes, then you wait again for the results. You hear said results; in our case she has a wee fracture but, because she’s a baby and her bones are made of Rubbermaid, she’ll be on the mend in a matter of days. “Now, wait right here while I type that up” whoosh….he’s gone like a vapor; gone for another 20 minutes. “Hey, who wants a popsicle?” Well, I can’t say no to that, especially with Chloe in the room, so we wait another 15 minutes.

After this I thought we were in the clear but no, we had to wait for discharge papers and it was then that I started to feel a bit like we were incarcerated or something. I knew we COULDN’T leave until they told us we could. You even have to go in the back of the ER where the only way to get a door opened is with an orderly that has a handy card to swipe, one which you do not have, and if you wish to leave or enter, they must say it’s ok first. I felt stuck and watched and unable to ask for what we needed which was to be out of there in time to pick my son up from school. I kept asking when they thought we might be finished because I am the only one available to get my child from school and they kept saying, “Geez, I sure hope we’re done by then”. It was a bit bizarre and if it came down to it I would have left with Sylvie in her baby, hospital gown and come back later with all of them. I just can’t bear the thought of leaving a child at school with no one there to get him/her. Also, you can’t tell me I can’t leave to go get him. I-ont-thinkso!

I’m super grateful for the care we received and, to their credit, everyone there was very nice. I know they were just following protocol but I am still baffled that you end up spending so much stinkin’ time in the ER, waiting for your emergency to be dealt with, while I could go to my doctor’s office tomorrow, needing to be seen for darts stuck in my retina and I would STILL get in and out of there quicker. Why is their protocol to make us wait for hours on end, unable to leave because we’re now checked in?

Do you have a bizarre ER experience?