Thursday, October 30, 2008
Posted by A Crafty Mom at 2:14 PM
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
I've been reading these Works-for-me-Wednesday posts for a while now, and decided to throw in one of my own, finally.
Here is a new trick I'd like to share with anyone who has a little one needing a diaper change. Thing 3 is just at the stage (nine months) where she is getting out of control and too squirmy on the change table. It's become nearly impossible to wrangle her dipe onto her squishy little bum without a major wrestling match taking place. And let's just say, mommy isn't always the winner of these matches.
I noticed she was absolutely enamored with the helium-filled balloons we had for Thing 2's birthday . . . so I thought to myself . . .
Keeps her totally entertained for the full 30 seconds it takes me to whisk, wipe, and put on a fresh dipe!!
For more Works-for-me-Wednesday, click here.
Posted by A Crafty Mom at 10:05 PM
Monday, October 27, 2008
we blossomed from a family of three to a family of FOUR and we lovingly welcomed our little Thing 2 into our lives.
It's hard for me to believe you are three years old now - and how cliche is THAT? Doesn't every parent make that statement at some point in their lives? But it's so true. Where does the time go? Weren't you *just* the baby . . . and suddenly you're the middle child . . . far, on most days, from being a baby anymore?
As much as it pains me to admit it, you're truly a big boy. You've been potty-trained for months (and I really do feel like lighting the fireworks for that accomplishment, my boy), you get dressed by yourself, you feed yourself, you drink from a big cup, you use "grown up" cutlery, you show emotions like concern, compassion, and regret. You're a bright little guy and can easily tell us shapes, colours, numbers, and your latest accomplishment is that you can spell your name. You ooze pride as you follow Thing 1 in spelling his name, and explain that yours starts with "D" - and I can see in every corner and surface of your face how utterly important that is to you. You love to tell complete strangers your first, middle, and last name upon meeting them. You are polite and friendly (most of the time) and you often take people by surprise when you wave to them, call their name from across the street, or invite them into the house for tea when you greet them at the front door. Even if they are canvassing our street for money to support a local cause. And we don't know them from Adam.
You're a strong, serious, and sometimes firm individual. You enjoy puzzles and complicated toys, and you own a quiet patience not seen in your older brother, or your mother, for that matter. You will sit and work at something with fervour and concentration . . . until it is complete and you are happy with the way it has been done, exactly the way you want it to be done. If you are not content with how it was done, you will then make a lot of noise, yet start from scratch and do it all again. Until you get it right. Where other kids would have thrown the lego across the room - you will be putting them together all over again.
You are tough. If ten children took the same fall off their bikes and landed on ashphalt - you would be the one not crying, picking his bike up again, dusting off his jeans, and hopping back on. You attempt everything Thing 1 does - and surprisingly enough for your age - you usually keep up with him. You can't wait for your big brother to get off the bus each afternoon after school, and you accompany me to the bus stop each day. When you see the big yellow school bus approaching us, I see that glimmer in your eye and wait patiently for the "PETE'S COMING - IT'S HIS BUS" to spew out of your tiny lips.
Now that Thing 1 is in kindergarten in the afternoons, we are settling into a comfortable and reliable routine where we spend time together while Thing 3 naps peacefully in her crib. You like to inform me after we get home from the bus stop, that it is "time to come to your room now, for books and snuggle time". I worry - like I did with your brother - that I really should be using this time for teaching you all the things you will need to know for school. The alphabet, counting, printing, reading, etc.
But each afternoon escapes us as we read page after page, and book after book, and play pirates under your duvet, and bake muffins and cookies and taste test them when they are still far too hot for our sensitive tongues. Last week we snatched the opportunity on a warm, sunny afternoon to rake leaves and jump in them, and it was then, as I sat back for a moment to watch you run, yell, and frolick in all your innocence that I realized what a phenomenal little person you have become. Already.
Posted by A Crafty Mom at 9:12 PM
And can eat it. If you have little ones who still put playdough in their mouths (like Thing 2 does) . . .
If you're good and keep it in a firm, air tight container, it will last a good month or so before you will need to make more.
1 cup of flour
1 cup of cold water
2 tsp of cream of tartar
1/3 cup salt
1 T oil
I package of Kool Aid crystals
Place in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir until thick and cooked (until almost impossible to stir). Turn out on counter. Knead until smooth and elastic. Keep in an air tight container!!
I made my batch orange for Halloween - but it looks a bit pink.
Posted by A Crafty Mom at 7:00 AM
Saturday, October 25, 2008
I promised myself when I started this blog that I wouldn't use it to complain, or whine, or as an outlet for any negativity. Most of the time I do a fairly good job of adhering to my self-imposed rules. Often if I've not written for a while, I am either extremely busy or just going through a "rough patch". I like to give myself some space until I can regroup and get back to blogging without a dark cloud over my head.
This week is my exception to the rule. I was truly annoyed by a couple things this week, and I've decided to let it all loose. Yes, a crafty mom gets grumpy.
Tuesday was our first officially cold, rainy day of the season. It was the first occasion of my taking Thing 1 to the school bus stop in actual rain. True - apparently we have been lucky to date. On top of being wet and damp, it was unseasonably cold as well. I expected to see snow, but it never materialized.
On this particular cold, wet day, the big bright, yellow school bus didn't show up to pick up Thing 1 at 12:16. Or 12:17. or 12:18, 12:19, or 12:20. By 12:27 I was beginning to worry (as well as my frozen brain could manage) because I am aware that school starts at 12:25. At 12:30 I gave up, hurried home with Thing 1 and chucked him in the van to drive him to school.
On the way I picked up two of his very favourite buddies and tossed them in as well. As I dropped the three eager kindergartners at school, I was told the bus had broken down today, which is why it had never showed up. Fair enough. Unpleasant for me, but a fair excuse.
It was still enough for me to stop putting off my plan to write a letter to the school board requesting that Thing 1's bus stop be moved to our street, preferably in front of our house. I'd been a good sport for the first two months of school, trucking up to the bus stop past our street and around the corner with three Things, twice a day, and I'd had enough. It was completely interfering with Thing 3's ability to have a decent nap, and Thing 2 is just at this painfully annoying stage of being slow and *difficult* in everything he does. It takes us over ten minutes to walk a distance that an adult can walk in three minutes. And don't get me started on how long it takes Thing 2 to put his coat and shoes on - he MUST do it himself, and if I try to assist him I'm met with Angry David. Angry David is a loud, thrashing, screaming and all around unpleasant little boy. I don't like him.
I should take care to mention that on this particular rainy day that my bus did not appear, I did not even have Things 2 and 3 with me. My fantastic, one-of-a-kind mother-in-law was at the house watching them for me. She is amazing enough to help me several times a week when I need it. And boy do I need it. Because this bus thing is killing me. And I knew there was a reason I loved that she lives so close to us (three streets away) . . . aside from the fact that she almost delivered Thing 3 by herself when I went into labour.
But I digress . . .
I wrote a letter to the school board's transportation department requesting that the bus come into our crescent and pick up Thing 1 at our driveway. I stated that the walk we take puts us at some safety risks, as we cross a busy street on a city bus route. (Thing 2 walks with us while I have Thing 3 in her stroller - one might think that it would be prudent to put Thing 2 in the double stroller with her, but that type of action elicits a visit from Angry David, the young gentleman I mentioned in the previous paragraph.) I also stated that I see the bus turn up the previous two crescents to mine, and figured it would not take more than 60 seconds for the bus to turn into my street and pick up my son at our driveway.
Well, apparently millions and zillions of mothers around the city of Ottawa are making similar requests, because if they "reacted to my request they would then have to react to all the others". And the school board simply has "parameters it must follow" and "while sympathetic to my situation they are unable to accomodate my request to move the stop". The board feels it is reasonable for a kindergarten student to walk up to 500 metres to their designated bus stop, and my house is less than 500 metres from the stop.
How the HECK do they know that??? Next time I walk it, you can bet I'll be bringing my metre stick with me!
I'm discouraged and disheartened. A good friend went through this last year with her son, and suggests I contact my school trustee to fight this further. I'm not sure if I will or not. Because - really - when it comes down to this isn't this all just because I'm kind of lazy? And scared of old man Winter knocking on my door one morning soon . . . terrified of the snaps, zippers, boots, mittens and snowsuits that will soon become a way of life for me? So I'm as of yet undecided. If you have any words of wisdom, I'd love to hear them.
My second bone of contention with life in general occurred this morning. I geared up at 10:45 a.m. to head to the Canadian Toy Testing Council's annual Toy Sale. It is the sale in which they sell off all the toys that were tested by testing families (we are one of them) at huge discounts. The money raised goes back to the council to keep it running, as they are a non-profit organization. I'd heard about the sale from numerous people and was dying to check it out. I pictured myself needing a flatbed to assist me out of there with my four foot high pile of Christmas gifts. I was particularly keen to seek out the Playmobil toys - and I knew there were lots of them.
As I arrived early and found my place in rain - soaking wet because I got caught in a torrential downpour - I noticed a small sign at the beginning of the line that said "Public Sale". As they eventually opened the doors and let us in - ten minutes late on a day when I simply couldn't tolerate one more thing working against me - I asked someone working the sale if this was the sale for Toy Testing members.
"No, miss, they held that sale from 9:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m."
My jaw dropped. As I scooped it up, I asked myself how I had managed to screw this up? I recalled getting an e-mail from them stating it was at 11:00. One of the organizers there explained that in the body of the e-mail there had been a message saying that members were to attend the exclusive closed-doors sale before-hand. As I later confirmed when I returned home and checked my e-mail - I DID NOT GET THAT MESSAGE. I was only informed of the public sale. Regardless of their mistake, it didn't matter now anyway.
It was a total bust. Everything had been picked over, I only purchased one item for Thing 1, and nothing for Thing 2 for his birthday, for which I had really been hoping.
Did I mention I had a rough week?
On very rare and seldom occasions, when the need arises, I dig deep into my recipe book for an old, tried-and-true, smudged and splattered recipe that my sister and I found when we were in high school on the back of a Skippy peanut butter jar. We used to make together when we really needed a pick-me-up. It is not remotely healthy, and I did not substitute one single ingredient for anything good for me and did not do my typical sprinkling of ground flaxseed on top.
Nope, this week called for the real thing. And it totally worked. Three of these hot out of the oven with a big glass of milk totally. Made. My. Day.
Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip cookies
1 cup butter
3/4 cup white sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 - 1 cup chocolate chips
Cream the peanut butter and butter in a large bowl. Gradually beat in sugar, brown sugar, and eggs. Combine all purpose flour, whole wheat flour and baking soda. Stir into creamed mixture. Stir in chocolate chips. Drop by spoonfuls onto cookie sheet. Bake at 350 for about 10 minutes or until golden brown.
Posted by A Crafty Mom at 8:04 PM
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
I'm very fortunate to have a number of good friends who have children the same age as mine. Some live near me, others live far away - even in other countries. I chat online and in real life with other mommies and it keeps me sane, and helps me keep some sort of perspective on this whole parenting gig.
Recent observation of my peers has left me feeling like I am perhaps a bit of a "slacker" mom lately. I'm aware that many/most/all parents have their children enrolled in some type of organized classes or sports activities.
You know. Like swimming, soccer, baseball, hockey, skating, art lessons, gymnastics, music classes, etc. If you're a parent you're thoroughly aware that there is a plethora of classes now being marketed to babies. Sign language, music, swimming, "baby art", and so on. You can basically sign a 3-month-old up for anything these days. Ready to learn Japanese? I'm confident you can find a class for the diaper-clad, toothless crowd.
After hearing moms speak of children going to the rinks for hockey practice before the sun has even risen, kids being recruited by swim clubs to train for swim meets, and the hectic pace of their lives driving their kids to activities seven days a week, it dawned on me that I have not signed the Things up for any classes in quite a long time.
Let's see . . . I did enroll them in gymnastics for a couple months last winter out of baby guilt for all the time I had to spend with Thing 3 after she was born last January. They didn't love it at all and Thing 2 never did what the rest of his class was doing. Ever. The teacher said he was "lacking attention skills" (at age TWO??) but I preferred to label him as "free spirited". Thing 1 did a swimming class at six months. We had fun, but no Michael Phelps is he. Thing 1 also did skating lessons a couple years ago . . . because I secretly had dreams of him following in his mama's blades and becoming a figure skater. And his daddy secretly has dreams of him being recruited by the NHL. Potato, Potato?
So the three Things are currently doing nothing. Nada. We drive them nowhere for lessons on any weekday, nor on the weekend. I felt a lot of guilt about this for a few months. I felt as if I ought to be fostering their skills and preparing them for the world by enrolling them in some sort of organized activity. Other people do it, so I should too. I didn't like the guilt, so I decided to confront it.
Where did that get me? Well, I've decided that it's okay for my Things to be doing nothing for right now. To just let them be, and play, and hang out with their parents and friends and go to the park and go to the pool for public swims and skate on the community-built skating rink this winter and run and jump in gigantic piles of leaves in our backyard. With so little stress and no time constraints of needing to be anywhere on time and no worries like "will they like it?" or "will they be good at it?" or "this better not be a waste of money" because deep down inside I know this cannot last forever and I truly - truly - should enjoy this while I can.
And so I am.
Posted by A Crafty Mom at 9:50 PM
Sunday, October 19, 2008
Some of the brightest, most touching parts of my day are the conversations I overhear between Thing 1 and Thing 2. Totally oblivious to the fact that I was crooking my neck around the door frame so I could hear them even better, I overheard one particular such conversation between my two Things yesterday.
"I'm glad Rita is my sister," whispered Thing 2.
(He's been calling Thing 3 Rita since she was born in January. He's had a hard time with the L pronunciation and it usually comes out with the "R" sound. He's much better with L's now, although "Rita" instead of "Leah" seems to have stuck.)
I can see Thing 1 gasp as his entire face fills with an exasperation not uncommon for someone reaching into the freezer to find the ice cream container has been put back inside . . . completely empty. He is seething with frustration.
"David, listen to me. Her name is not RITA. It's not pronounced REE-TA. It is Leah. She is LEE-AH, LEE-AH, and that is her name and that is how you say it," Thing 1 retorts. As I listen, I can't believe he has never brought this up or made it an issue before.
Thing 2 ponders this for a moment.
"Yee-haw?" he puts forth his best effort.
"That's better. It's LEE-AH. That's how she likes you to say it," Thing 1 explains to his younger brother, in a more comforting voice.
Of course I now wonder if I am she or if, in fact, Leah is she.
So for now, Thing 2 will call his baby sister Yee-ah. Admittedly, a significant improvement from Rita.
Posted by A Crafty Mom at 9:03 PM
Friday, October 17, 2008
I'm a teacher.
I'm a few credits short of my Masters degree in Education. I believe in education, and I love it.
What I am quickly learning is how much I despise education-related fund-raising.
Seriously, folks. This is ridiculous. I am spinning in a fund-raising tornado and I can't stop long enough to put my feet on the ground. I am the owner of "packets" galore and could at this very moment in time sell you just about anything from holiday cards, tacky gifts, a subscription to just about any magazine of your choosing, pre-made and frozen cookie and muffin dough, pies, cakes, and pizzas, to any type of gift you might ever fathom buying for . . . anyone.
I understand that education is under-funded. I watch the news and I see what is happening with the economy. Times are tough. We, too, in our little family of Things are trying to budget and do what is best for the family in the big picture.
But this is becoming ridiculous.
Thing 1 is only FOUR. He just started his first year of junior kindergarten in a public school system. I am aware via my tax bill just how much of my annual earnings go to support the Ottawa-Carleton Catholic School Board. And I am still inundated with piles of packets of stuff I am supposed to sell to earn money for the school which my son attends. And living in modern times like we do, a request was sent home to make sure it is known that the school does not support door-to-door solicitation.
Oh. Even better. I get to hassle my close personal friends and family members in person or on the phone and guilt them into buying things they don't need.
In Thing 2's case, he attends a preschool for which we pay a monthly fee. It is a cooperative preschool, which means I volunteer one day a month in the classroom and also serve on the school's board of directors as the vice president. Again, times are tough. Enrollment is down. Funds are low . . . which means the school needs to raise more money.
Which leads us to more fund-raising. So I am getting up before dawn tomorrow morning to head to a garage-sale type event where we have rented a table to sell baby and children's items to earn money for the school. I'm also required to sell a certain dollar amount worth of frozen food from a catalog that was sent home with each student. And next month we're having a pizza party, and then a silent auction.
And I really don't mind doing things like the garage sale. I'm up early anyway, and I'm not trying to complain about it. I love to support my Things' schools and their activities in any way I can. I think the preschool is amazing - that is why I choose to send my son there two mornings a week even though I am not working and it is tight for us to fit it in our budget - and I'll do anything I can to ensure it's success.
But I really, really, really cannot stand soliciting people I care about to support my children when most of them have children of their own needing to be supported for one cause or another. It completely and utterly stresses me out . . . although probably not as much as sending the forms back to school with all the columns bare and empty.
Back to school ain't what it used to be.
Posted by A Crafty Mom at 10:12 PM
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Monday, October 13, 2008
The 3 Things had a busy, fun, amazing weekend enjoying themselves with family and friends. We had perfect weather, terrific food and wonderful company. We went on nature walks, played in the park, cooked and ate and drank, experienced the christening of Thing3 and her cousin, and filled our days with only good things.
The following is just a slight glimpse into all that I am thankful for this Thanksgiving . . .
Posted by A Crafty Mom at 8:30 PM
Wednesday, October 08, 2008
Tuesday, October 07, 2008
Today something happened that made me realize my little boy had grown up, just a little bit.
The four of us - Things 3, 2, 1, and myself - trudged home from the bus stop after picking Thing 1 up after school. Thing 1 and Thing 2 bounced across our still-green front lawn with excitement and anticipation, because they know what happens after we come home from the bus stop.
They scurried in the house so that I could take care of business. I needed to feed Thing 3, and I needed to get them a healthy snack. We grabbed a couple of bananas and they sat and gobbled them up. I fed Thing 3, changed her wet diaper, and headed to the front door. The other two Things were already there, waiting for me, with their shoes on.
"Hurry, mommy, hurry, let's go, let's go!" was all I could hear as I scrambled to grab Leah a warm sweater that coordinated with what she was wearing.
And off we headed, to walk the 50 or so yards it takes us to get to the park across the street from our house. We were in luck and all the neighbourhood children were already there. It was a mild and sunny day, so parents and day care providers alike were making the most of the best autumn day we'd had this week. I could see from a quick glance that all the boys' little friends were there, and I knew they'd be thrilled.
As we approached the spot where I would park our red wagon and make our "home base", I noticed the boys that Thing 1 likes to play with were off a bit in the distance, in an area covered with trees. They often like to play Star Wars or some other game and chase each other around.
I looked at Pete and said, "would you like me to walk you over to the other boys?".
I said this because this is something I did most days. For the first couple weeks after school started, I helped ease him into this situation each afternoon, and had even on several occasions gone over and mentioned to the other boys that Pete wanted to play with them.
Today my heart sank a little bit as my four-and-a-half year old little boy looked back at me with his big blue-as-the-ocean eyes and answered,
"No, it's ok, mommy, I'll go over there all by myself."
And he did, go over there all by himself. His confidence was glowing as he joined in the game already in progress and started running around with boys who were easily two to four years older than him. They included him, like they do every day, and everyone seemed to have a perfect afternoon.
One of the other moms there today witnessed what had happened and said to me, "it's hard when they don't need you anymore, isn't it?".
She hit the nail right on the head.
So often my life is so rushed and busy, I'm often moving at an alarming rate and never really *get* when older people tell me to "slow down and enjoy THEM, because they grow up so fast".
Today at the park it truly became a reality for me. They really do grow up so fast. And there is my big boy off playing with the big kids, all by himself.
Posted by A Crafty Mom at 9:43 PM
Monday, October 06, 2008
I have reverted back into "busy bee" mode after a couple almost normal weeks. My sister-in-law is coming to Ottawa on Wednesday, and her son (the Things' cousin) and Thing 3 will be baptized together next Sunday at our church. Other family arrives on Friday, and I'm hosting dinner on Friday night. The kiddies will be baptized on Sunday and then we will all have Thanksgiving dinner after that.
If you're a neat freak like me, you know what all this means . . . it means the next three days are jam packed with organizing, cleaning, and planning. Sadly (and I really do admit this with all kidding aside) I find all of this refreshing and mildly "fun". It is totally worth it for me when it means a smoothly-running weekend of family fun and entertaining.
The Things are incredibly excited to see their cousins (one of them will be staying at our house, "sleepover" style) and their Nana and Grandad. Leah has perfected crawling just in time to make sure she is all over the place by next weekend. I turned my back on the weekend - and have since learned my lesson - only to find she had made it to the kitchen and was splashing in the dog's water.
The boys, too, love their sister and get a kick out of making her laugh. It's inspiring to watch them play together and try to include her in what they're doing. Photos of the three of them are easier and easier to come by these days.
Posted by A Crafty Mom at 6:44 AM
Thursday, October 02, 2008
Sometimes good things happen to those who blog.
My wonderful, kind, and thoughtful friend C informed me she was "so bored" last night that she was reading my blog :-)
She read about my misadventures on the road to clearer vision. I know all too well that her hubby has spent a portion of his own life with coke-bottle thick glasses just like me. Therefore I am listening in earnest when she calls me this morning to tell me "something about contacts".
It was really meant to be. She called at 8:55 a.m. . . . a time I should not even be home answering my phone. I should have been in my warm, cozy van carting the 3 Things over to Thing 2's preschool to drop him off. But the stars were not aligned - yet - and due to the fact that we had all had little sleep the past night, we all woke up fairly late.
C had been holding the holy grail of contact lens ordering info from me, and I hadn't even known it (nor had she known how desperately I had been in the market for new lenses).
Check out Coastal Contacts.
You can order contacts ONLINE - with no hassle, no problems, NO PRESCRIPTION and NO FREAKING COST FOR SHIPPING. And they are a CANADIAN company!!! (But they do ship to the US, my American friends.)
Even my brand new, shiny, sexy black boots can not get me that excited. Not even double super fudge brownies, hot from the oven and oozing chocolate sauce . . . WELL, let's not start blowing things out of proportion here.
Come home to mama.
(In 3-5 business days, that is).
Posted by A Crafty Mom at 9:28 PM
Wednesday, October 01, 2008
As far as organization skills go, I'd say I'm mediocre. We stay afloat around here, but some days it's just barely. And I can really only use the "but I just had a baby" excuse for so long. I've decided it's time to get this ship we call home in tip-top shape. I think there are a number of ways I can organize things more efficiently around here so that the end result is things run smoother for all of us.
We live in a small house. For now, that is just the way it is. With the economy the way it is and with me not back at work yet, we will not be buying a larger home in the very near future. With three Things, two parents, and one dog, we simply can't allow the house to become over run with *stuff* and clutter. If things are not organized, chaos ensues. If chaos ensues, mommy starts to lose her mind.
On my path to being more organized, I have a number of things I'd like to tackle. But the first will be something called a Command Centre - which I found on one of my new very favourite blogs, "I'm an Organizing Junkie". It's really a fabulous idea and addresses exactly a number of the specific issues with which I am concerned. It's a place to organize stuff like papers, mail, school letters and notes, pamphlets and other such paraphanalia that clutters up my kitchen counters.
Did I mention I have a very small house? Right. Kitchen counter space is hard to come by, the last thing I ever need on them is paper. Here is an example that Laura, from OrgJunkie.com, gives:
Would you LOOK at that? I'm just drooling at the neatness and crispness of the whole thing. Something like this is exactly what we need now that we have two Things in school part of the time - there is stuff going in and out of backpacks several times a day. I'm tired of wondering where stuff is and looking for a spot to put it.
It also addresses some major issues we have with our front entryway - limited space, a narrow hall, a small front closet, no where to sit down or place a purse, wallet or bag when you first walk in. And of course, Laura has more help on how to organize an entryway. This is another example she gives . . . and I think something small like this might just fit in our wee little smurf home.
So, I'm on a mission and hope to work on getting us more organized in the coming months. What better way to start than the first place you see when you walk into our home? Stay tuned, I promise to deliver superb before and after pictures. I will not disappoint.
*** To be fair, I know some of you are rubbing the back of your heads after falling off your chairs when you read that I think I am a "mediocre" organizer. I guess I can admit to being a little anal-retentive and I do like a little order in my life/home . . . but a girl can always aspire for something better, right??
Posted by A Crafty Mom at 9:19 PM