Thursday, December 11, 2014

The "Christmas Magic" Fail

My early years as a big sister have taught me some lessons about kids, one of which I am reminded of this Christmas.

My sister is just over 8 years younger than I, and I just loved seeing myself as her mentor, role model, camp counselor, activity planner and all-around mother hen, whether she liked it or not. Though some games we played were admittedly a bit manipulative on my part ("I know! Let's pretend I'm dead and you have to give me some of your Smarties to bring me back to life"), I think I generally took pretty good care of my little sis when she was small.

One Christmas, she was about six years old*, and I was right into helping create the magic of Santa Claus for her. Such fun to see the excitement in her eyes as she wondered where Santa might be at any given time on Christmas Eve.

I even helped her set out milk and cookies for Santa with a little note. How adorable is that. What a great big sister I was! If only someone had a camera.

Off she went to bed, beaming with anticipation. And then, you know, because it had to look like Santa had indeed been there when she got up, I proceeded to down the milk and eat the cookies as soon as she was nestled all snug in her bed... or so I thought...

So. That was the Christmas Eve she went to bed thinking her gluttonous sister tried to ruin Christmas and could barely wait five minutes before scarfing down poor Santa's snack that she'd so lovingly prepared. There I was, chipmunk cheeks full of cookie and unable to tell the truth, so I had to just hang my head and awkwardly agree to replenish the plate.

I meant well. I really did. It was supposed to be magical! And she wasn't supposed to come back downstairs!

Lesson learned. And now, as a parent, I'll know to wait a good long time before disposing of any 'snacks for Santa'. Let's not have some of my kids' earliest memories be of their MOM trying to ruin Christmas.


* This story originally had her and me at 3 and 11 years old, respectively. She tells me, however, that I was probably more like 14 because "I still remember you lounging on the chair in your 'too cool for school' teenage way with your bigger hair when I caught you" (hence the above snazzy 6-inches-of-roots 'Elaine' 'do). Nice try making myself younger in the retelling so it doesn't look as bad, though, she added.


I'm delighted to share that I have been shortlisted for the second year in a row in the Canadian Weblog awards! Cartoon-Coloured Glasses has made the Top 5 in the Humour Category. What an honour to be part of it! Thank you.                  

Thursday, November 13, 2014

The Time We Lost a Shoe at IKEA

I guess I asked for it when I decided to take the kids to IKEA. By myself. On a Saturday afternoon.

It's not the most gripping tale, but the only thing that got me through it with a sense of humour was knowing I could cartoon it later. So, here it is.
The Ottawa IKEA, I think the second-biggest in Canada, is a 400 thousand-square-foot corn maze (with inspirational room vignettes instead of the corn). It takes four separate elevators to get through. Though it's kid-friendly, you don't want to be caught with a tantruming toddler mid-store if you like to make quick exits.
"Alright, mister; we're leaving rrrright now." *Storms Through Bathrooms to Home Organization to shortcut to Home Decoration to Wall Decoration to the warehouse to the cashes and down another elevator*... 

But that's not what this was about. No tantrums on this trip, yet.
So there we were in the Lighting area, near the end, shuffling through like cattle (I can't even remember what I was looking for; I keep having "cushion covers" on the list, but they're at the point of the store where the kids are nearly out of patience, so I have yet to actually stop and look at any). I was picking up the pace as Little Bro's patience tank was nearing empty.

Then this happened.

No. It can't be. You can't tell me that. Not when we're almost at the end. He would've said something if--

She must've seen the colour go from my face. These were his brand new, good-quality shoes that they sell you 2 sizes too big so they'll last for the year. IF THEY STAY ON THE FEET, I realize only now.

Big Bro wasn't any help in narrowing down where the shoe went.

This is like that time when I found out he'd taken my wedding rings off my night table, and he offered a theatrical sweep of the arm to show me where he'd put them. "Riiiight theeeerrrre," he'd said, narrowing it down to "somewhere in the house". I was sure I'd be wearing a twist-tie in their place for the rest of my life.

But I found them, and so, I also had faith I could find this shoe in this labyrinth the size of six football fields. Just retrace your steps, right?

The only problem is, you're not allowed to backtrack in IKEA. Everyone is to flow from third floor to cafeteria, then second floor to cashes, without exception. There are even big arrows, directing the shoppers downstream, to disobey at your peril.

Oh great. I could go out and down the elevator and back up a different elevator and then another elevator and then all through the third floor and down another elevator and through the second floor again. I'd probably find myself ordering meatballs in the middle, and none of us have any patience for that.

So instead I abandon the cart, tuck one kid under each arm like a football, and charge like you'd see in some sort of epic Braveheart-style battle scene through the crowd.

Big Bro is all smiles, guessing maybe the shoe was in the bathroom section (where we never went) or maaaaybe with the couches (at the VERY START of the store). Maybe where he was pushing buttons on the microwaves? Or maybe someone thought it was for sale and BOUGHT it, Mama? Ha ha.

I'm all hot and sweaty, navigating the "you're going the wrong way, lady" hairy eyeballs while anticipating a toddler meltdown that wouldn't have happened if we were already out, as we were supposed to be by now. More than anything, though, I'm miffed and confused that he didn't let me know. He can talk the hind legs off a mule chatting about the temperatures of all the planets and what would happen if we ate a planet and how come planets aren't people, but it didn't occur to him to say, "wait! My shoe just came off"?!

I soon realize that this is a futile effort, and anyway, maybe someone found it and turned it in. Surely no one would swipe a lone preschooler sneaker. So we crowd-surf our way back to the exit and seek out the Lost and Found.

Exasperated, I ask a staff member if it was turned in, and she warned me I might have to wait until the night crew cleans up and come back another day if it shows up. Or, I can put a bag on my kid's foot for the rest of 2014, I'm thinking, just as she returns with the lost shoe.

I'm frazzled beyond frazzled, but Big Bro is as happy as a clam. Why worry when you have someone to do it for you? Then the best was when I asked him the silly question:

And then the following week we go to a grocery store, and he lets me know with great panic whenever he drops his precious parking lot rock. THEN he speaks up. Arrgh.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Scary Stuff

So Halloween is coming. A time when people have fun with ghosts and zombies and all things frightening.

Since we're on the topic of things that are frightening, let me tell you a tale.

I love taking pictures of the kids, and am delighted that today's smart phones means I always have a camera with me to capture my kids' precious moments... BUT...

sometimes I'll see a great picture opportunity...

take the phone out...

press the "camera" icon...

and instead of getting the anticipated view of my adorable boys, I get...



The moral of the story is, Don't leave your camera in 'selfie' mode. "EEK! It's Death!... No wait, it's me. I just haven't had much sleep this week."

Now there's something that'll give you nightmares.

Happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Sibling TBT

I'm none too impressed with my one-cartoon-a-month maximum track record of late these days. Trying to get it into my regular routine. No one's allowed to get sick this week so I can work on my next one. ... said a mother of two small kids who frequent indoor play gyms in late October...

In the meantime, may I offer another Throwback Thursday cartoon I drew in grade 8 (depicting when I was about 12). This one is on the subject of the fights my brother and I could get into back in the day. I draw your attention to the large hoop earrings.

My brother and I played together lots and always looked out for each other. We had lots of laughs and he usually went along with my big-sister ideas (except the rad lip synch to David Lee Roth I had in mind for him. Said he "didn't want to" or something irrelevant like that).

But then, there were the tussles. There are three and a half years between my bro and me, and yet our age difference didn't prevent some impressive brawls now and then. Ah yes. I was such a model big sister.

He had the "little brother" characteristics down pat, though. I mean, he was so GOOD at it. He knew when to participate in a heated argument (with or without fisticuffs), and when to just smile a patronizing, smug smile, which made me EVEN MADDER. OOH, IT MADE ME SO MAD. Kind of like the "I'M NOT TOUCHING YOU" thing people do (with finger 3 mm from your eyeball). I would get worked up into such a lather that I'd literally bite my tongue, and then he'd do an impression of my "biting my tongue" face, and then I was REEEEALLY MAD!

I remember this being a real fight we had (with artistic license added). It started off talking about the dialogue in Home Alone and ended up with large objects being hurled.

Note: My conflict resolution skills have greatly improved since 1990.

Thankfully, the brawls were few and far between. We get along great now, too, my dear bro and I, and furniture stays put. He can still rock the smug smile if he wants, though. Grrr...

Siblings. Can't live with 'em, can't bring 'em back to the hospital even when you tell Mom you're done with them. Will the Brobeans get into it like my own brother and I could? Dust cloud with fists and stars and onomatopoeia coming out of it and all? I figure, as long as Little Bro goes along with all of Big Bro's ideas, we'll be fine...

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Gotta Move

Once I came across Big Bro at the table, working on an activity page like this.

I'm sure he started out seated. He was focused on his activity, but it looks like the rest of him was trying to take off (that's my guess, at least).

Big Bro enjoys many sedentary activities such as dot-to-dots, jigsaw puzzles and avoiding getting dressed in the morning. But even then, they're often done hanging over the arm of the couch, upside down or maybe in some sort of yoga pose. That can't be comfortable, I think to myself, even if kids are pretty bendy.

I mean, you read all the time about how kids need to move. Run, jump, climb trees and all that. You can see that need in them. Even mellow kids like mine. It seems like, once the wiggles kick in, they can't be avoided.
(Reminds me of my old Kindergartners; once they started pulling their pants up and looking at their knees, you know someone was going to be inchworm-crawling across the floor in a minute, so the assembly better wrap up).

One day, Big Bro excitedly set a goal of reading twenty books in a row with me. Brought in the big pile with great anticipation about how awesome this would be. He was determined to reach that goal, even if things were going awry after about four books:

During Skype calls, my parents could be cardboard cut-outs compared to the scene on our end; one of squirmy boys climbing on the couch and off the couch and on the couch and off the couch and a flip over my shoulder and a few laps with the wagon and then a backward somersault off the couch again. Not hyper, but always on the go, even if they're not going anywhere. I can't believe how little they stay in one spot. 

It's some sort of life irony that the ones with the least responsibility have the most energy. Kids are just not meant to sit very long, even if they plan on it. They just gotta move... so even when they're colouring, it might have to be in a downward dog pose.  

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Throwback Thursday: Teaching Days

I thought I'd do a "Throwback Thursday" post for my blog this week. Seeing as how it's Back to School season, today I'm sharing a cartoon from my early teaching days; specifically, how hard it was at times to be serious when it was time to be serious, now that I was 'the adult'.

Funny stuff happens. Kids are funny, and often, I still feel like I have the sense of humour of one. But sometimes, as teachers (or now, as parents), it's our job to take the high ground and emphasize the impropriety of whatever hilarious event is unfolding. I got myself in trouble a few times over the years trying to keep a straight face.

Picture it: Halifax, 2001, supply teaching in Grade 5 Science:

Me: Name the parts of the urinary system. (I think the teacher left these lessons for me on purpose)
Student: The urethra, the urea, and... the URANUS!
(Laughter ensues)
Another student: No, that's the DIGESTIVE system, Kyle. Ugh. *rolls eyes*

After a minute with my face turned toward the wall, shoulders shaking, I regain my composure and turn around to clarify with calm maturity that it's actually the solar system, but 2 out of 3 was pretty good.

I'm still like that now. I've had to fake a coughing fit so as not to lose face during one of Big Bro's antics.

But, you know, whether teaching or parenting, you have to have a sense of humour. And, when kids are involved, it's impossible not to. Most of the time.

And it's great for the kids to see you laugh, too-- except for situations such as the one below drawn from my student teaching days, when I was being observed and evaluated for my classroom management skills. It was not the time to be giggling with the six-year-olds.

It wasn't funny that the kids were wasting food or making work for the custodian . But it was a riot how solemn the teacher was informing the kids that egg rolls are not for toilets.

(Hmm, that sounds like a name for a children's book.)

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Netflix Date Night Hangover

Sorry I haven't been posting as often lately. I'd say it's because I'm so busy with the kids (which is true), but truth be told, it's more because we finally got ... dun dun dun... Netflix.

I'd be there at the computer after the tykes were in bed, about to get my cartoon on, only to have Hubs show up in the doorway with a telltale raised eyebrow that can only mean one thing: House of Cards.

Aww yeah. Twist my rubber arm. I decide that I'll cartoon tomorrow.

I read a Today's Parent article lately saying that the modern-day "date night" for parents of young kids is binge-watching series on Netflix. Man, that sounds horrribly lame, and so very accurate. Many weekends, anyway. What! Don't judge! They can't all be sushi-and-babysitter Saturday nights!

It's getting us in trouble, though. Before Netflix, we'd watch our one measly episode of Big Bang Theory and turn in at a sensible hour. Now, this is what happens:

Thanks to that genius countdown-to-the-next-episode approach they have, you don't even have to press a button to keep watching. You just have to not act fast enough, or at all, which is easy when you sit down for the first time all day and get fused to the couch. That, plus the intriguing synopsis of the next episode, makes it near impossible to have any sort of discipline.

So then, before we know it, it's after midnight. Again. Dammit.

What were we thinking? We love sleep! We know what it's like to go without it, and kids have more energy than us on a good day! And the first one will be up in five hours! At least one of us will suffer!

So there we are the next day; kids full of beans, parents full of regret.

Gone are the days when all it took was an Egg McMuffin and a coffee to recover after a big night. And also, gone are the days when 'big night' meant a bit more of a wild time than 4 episodes of Orange is the New Black with chips and guacamole.

Oh man, that sounds awesome. Is it Friday yet?

We recently decided with some fellow parent-friends that someone needs to invent a parental control that automatically kicks us parents off at a certain time and sends us to bed for our own good, to avoid the binge-watching hangover. A Netflix Nanny, if you will, for grown-ups.

OK, I think I've made my 20-year-old self die of embarrassment enough for now. Time to catch up on our programs.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Budding Comedians

3-year-olds can be quite the cut-ups. Their sense of humour starts to emerge around this age, and they know it. Humour is a form of intelligence, and it's pretty fascinating to watch it develop and share laughs with one's budding comedian.

(Well, the first few hundred times...)

Do you have a little funny man or lady in your house? There are 3 key elements to master if you're to be proficient in 3-year-old comedy, at least from the research I've conducted:

1. Huge numbers. Ridiculously big or long or numerous things are automatically hilarious; and the bigger, the better.

ROFL... a billion carrots was funny, but a googol-- now that's comedy! Imagine that many carrots!

I heard a few kids in the strawberry fields recently competing over how many strawberries each would pick. Thousands of strawberries. No! Hold on. HUNDREDS. (Yeah, sometimes the numbers don't actually get bigger, but you just have to go with it).

I'm told that, when I was 3, I used to tell the "How many men does it take to change a light bulb" joke in a similar fashion.

"I don't know. How many?" my humouring parents would say.
"THREE!" (Pause for laughter) "No, wait... FOUR!"

The numbers didn't even have to be big in my case. They just had to be numbers, apparently.

2. Nonsense words, in our case largely resulting from activities like singing songs with all the lyrics starting with the same letter.


The possibilities are endless...
You could brush your teeth, or you could MUSH your MEETH!
You could rinse your hands, or you could PINSE your PANDS! (Hmm. That kind of does sound funny)

One day he called me Bamba instead of Mama, and he was quite pleased with his sharp wit. I was worried that would be my forever name. Thankfully, the novelty wore off.

I often initiate, or at least participate, in such silliness. Once all the way home we made up variations of "Okey Dokey Artichokie", and many sides were split.

(Good Lord. Give me an adult to talk with! Now!)

3. Toilet humour. It's not quite there yet, but it's starting. The other day, there was a conversation that went as follows:


And it starts. And this is going to last until... wait, how old am I? OK, never mind.

Comedic timing needs a bit of work, I admit. Sometimes you can hear the wheels turning as he summons up the most hilarious statement he can conjure, as the audience waits with bated breath.

He knows when he's being funny, too. He points out the funny things he says. Just like his dad.

And now we're about to head East for a visit with the grandparents, and you know grandparents often have a different threshold for what's funny than parents do when it comes to the kids. He's going to have an audience, and the family going to find it all hilarious, just like they do during our Skype calls.

Yes. Just what a budding preschooler comedian needs... encouragement!

P.S.: I showed Big Bro all these cartoons as I drew them, and he busted a gut. He knows good jokes when he sees them. Especially since they're largely his.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Diggers and Dump Trucks and Cranes, Oh My!

Vehicles and heavy machinery... they continue to delight and amaze. 

We have new-home construction going on behind our house, and I tell you, it's hours of free entertainment. I can put the kids in front of the window and go out for a pint get ready in the mornings. I'll even find myself pulling up a seat to watch the backhoe dig enormous holes or the crane lift huge sections of roof onto the houses. 

Thursday mornings are exciting times in our house, too. Forget the ice cream truck; here comes the garbage truck! I wonder how many little boys they see on their routes, standing in the driveways in their jammies?

There's just something about vehicles, even if I already admitted I don't always get the fascination. At a recent playdate, the Cozy Coupe had to be put away 'for a break' due to 3 boys constantly trying to mash into it like clowns in a Volkswagen (OK, that fascination I get. I'd try to get in, too, if I could fit, and propel myself Fred Flintstone-style around the house. Brrmmm!).

Little Bro, cuddly as he is, never took to one stuffed buddy like his Big Bro did (who amassed a small town of buddies). He does, however, love to always be holding a vehicle, one in each hand. Usually, one of them is his favourite school bus, and the other he likes to mix up between a digger, car or some sort of truck, depending on what the occasion dictates. Looks like Edward Scissorhands, but with cars. 

One day we went out for the afternoon, and he held onto those cars with a death grip the whole time. I could see the deliberation at the playground, where he wanted to climb, but his hands were full. The tough life of a toddler.

With that, I give you my  rigmarole ritual for dressing such a toddler. You have to be quick, though, or suffer the wrath.

P.S.: Don't try to stuff the whole vehicle-and-fist combo through the sleeve. It'll be just as big a panic when it only fits halfway.

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Story Time

I am a firm believer in reading with kids, pretty much as soon as their eyes can focus on a book.

I loved being read to as a kid. Richard Scarry's Nursery Rhymes was an old favourite-- including the Two Cats of Kilkenny, who fought and fit and scratched and bit until instead of two cats, there weren't any. The giant who intends to grind the Englishman's bones to make his bread. The fellow who went to Taffy the Welshman's house and beat him on the head with a marrow bone. I remember them all fondly to this day (no nightmares or anything).

And now I love reading to my kids, and they love to be read to. Mostly.

Big Bro can't get enough of story time and hearing his favourites. He loves being read to so much that he insists on finishing any book we start, even if it's one of those ones you realize halfway through is a dud (at least for a 3-year-old, or at least this 3-year-old). Take, for instance, One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish. I'm spouting endless lines about Wumps and Zanses and yellow gox box socks or whatever the heck and thinking, Good Lord, this doesn't even make sense to an adult, he can't be liking this. He won't let me off the hook, though. He's hanging on for all 50 pages (or however long it is. Feels like 50).

It wasn't always that way, though. Story time with Little Bro, now 1.5 years old, brings back memories of trying to read a book while he repeatedly flips back to the page with the car, turns the page before you find out what's in the Great Green Room, or just plain packs it in two steps into the Barnyard Dance. If you haven't piqued his interest, that book's outta here.

I Love You Through and Through is just such a book that he often declares is at "The End" before it's over. Come on, it's cute! What's the matter, sentimentality not your thing? Fine, I say, YOU pick what we'll read, then.

"Beebee!" He says, waving around Where is Baby's Belly Button. Again.

Well, spoiler, kid, her feet are still behind the cat. Never ceases to get the rapt attention, though. Again! Again!... Sigh.

So, I guess there are some choices in our selection that can enchant a toddler. You just have to pick the right ones.

I remember wanting to draw the above cartoon when Big Bro was that age, so I'm guessing that's just what a blossoming love of books looks like when you're one and a half.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Say "Cheese"

I'm not teaching Little Bro to say "cheese" when I take his picture. I've learned my lesson.

My older son is a gorgeous fella (if I do say so myself) with beautiful brown eyes and the longest eyelashes you've ever seen, but ever since he's been told to say "cheese" for the camera, all my pictures of him turn out like this:

Great. Instead of his handsome smile, I get Threatened Chimp. I won't have a souvenir of what his smile was like, but I will have a record of what all 20 of his teeth looked like.

I'll try, "Show me a happy face," but that just results in an enthusiastic, jaw-wagging "Cheeee-yay-yay-yay-yayse", which results in a big ol' wide open mouth, so I get teeth AND tonsils.

Never mind. The candid ones are better anyway.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

"The Little Things"

 "Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things." 
-Robert Brault

Every Mother's Day in recent years, I've drawn my mom a cartoon card depicting a good childhood memory. Usually it involves my usual humour and self-deprication, but also with a little bit of sentimentality, because I've always been a big sap about these things. I appreciate all the more what my mom has done for me and my siblings now that I have kids, and I figure I'll tell her that now, since kids don't always say it at the time.

My best memories of growing up were always those "little things" that are actually BIG things upon reflection, which I think is true for most people. 

One of my very favourites is on those snow days (back when they existed-- remember snow days?) Mom would be just as excited that we didn't have to go to school as we were. She couldn't wait to tell us and spend the day with us. On such mornings, we'd all pile into my parents' bed with her to chat and joke around in our jammies for a good long time before getting up.

She remembers this too, but other times I'll remind Mom of these kinds of things, and she won't even recall that she'd done them. Just goes to show how certain things stand out to kids that you may not realize at the time.

I hope my kids will grow up and have good "little things" memories with me, too. Curious as to what they'll be. Maybe they'll share with me one day what stood out to them, if they're at all big saps like their mom.

Me, my sister and brother enjoying a "Snow Day" with Mom

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Can't Take Us Anywhere

Sometimes it feels, for us parents of young kids, that you can dress us up but you can't take us anywhere.

As I mentioned in my last post, I was set to present at the 2014 Blog Out Loud event last week, and realized I had food colouring-stained hands from doing science experiments on the front sidewalk with the kids. Great! Way to make a first impression (as this was to be my first--but hopefully not last--  kick at the can). I mean, I'm blogging about being a parent, but let's not look TOO much the part. Why don't I just show up in yoga pants while I'm at it.

Luckily, I got most of the colour off in time and only had to worry about a regular old bad hair day from the rainy weather.

But it got me thinking of how this was not the first time one of the adults in our house has tried to be professional out in the world, but ended up inadvertently wearing evidence of kids nonetheless.

click to enlarge

Ha ha. Those stickers seem to stick to anything! Except, of course, the original surface they were stuck to, which was usually the kids' faces. They fall off and lie in wait around the house, hitching a ride on unsuspecting adults' clothing like Disney-themed burrs.

Has anyone else inadvertently worn the "I have small kids" neon sign on their forehead (or the back of their pants, or wherever) when out and about? If so, when I see you at the store, should I tell you if you have paint on your ear or post-hug kid handprints on your behind?

I just know I'll be at a big, important interview or something one day, realizing too late that my short-sleeved dress shirt reveals the sleeve of stamp tattoos I let Big Bro give me the day before.
"Can I take your coat, Janet?"
"Ah, no, no. I'm a bit chilly. I think I'll keep it on, thanks."

I tell ya. Can't take us anywhere.


If you missed Blog Out Loud last week, here are the selections that were read. Really great variety of topics and perspectives! I was thrilled to be a part of the event. Check it out.

There's also a great review on the International Writers' Festival site here which mentions Cartoon-Coloured Glasses. "A pithy post of prose and pictures", it says (pithy is a good thing; I checked). Delighted!
It also likens the audience's experience of Blog Out Loud to being at Costco on a Saturday... which I assume means there were a lot of samples of great things to be had-- not that it was full of aggressive jerkfaces and you couldn't wait to get out of there (That's 'Costco on a Saturday' to me).

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Blog Out Loud Tonight!

Hi all! Just a quick post to remind you all that Blog Out Loud is tonight. This is a first for me. I'm so excited to be a part of this event and reading alongside some great Ottawa-area bloggers.

Check out the fantastic write-up on Cartoon-Coloured Glasses. Sheer comedy gold, it says! I'm so flattered. Can I put that on a resume?

If you're looking to say hello, I'll be the one with the blue-stained hands. Probably shouldn't have done an activity with food colouring yesterday.

Hope to see you there!

Friday, April 18, 2014

The Art Process

I have a sneaking suspicion that my older son may not currently be the biggest fan of doing art.

click to enlarge

In addition to these (surprisingly tactful, for a three-year-old) responses, I was once invited to finish a project for him. "You can do the rest, Mama." Can I? Great. I was hoping you'd get out of the way and let me have at that googly-eyed toilet paper roll bunny.

I learned long ago that he doesn't like "messy" stuff like apparently all toddlers do. No problem; I don't want our kitchen to smell like shaving cream anyways. But it seems these days that art in general isn't his thing.

It's fine. He doesn't have to like art. He's a smart, curious kid, but just not about that right now.

I would, however, like to stop making a lot of work for myself for no reason. (I touched on this in my Pintimidating post last year).

See what I mean in this visual of the art process, in terms of time and effort:

It's all those fabulous preschooler blogs I subscribe to! I get all inspired to channel my teacher self and let my kids create and develop skills through exploring new materials (and maybe try them out myself).

I used to teach Kindergarten. Shouldn't I be good at this?

I know!... it's the peer pressure. A kid will do an activity if others are also doing the same thing. Kind of like why your toddler will merrily eat peppers at daycare.

I could showcase an album of my "Pinterest Preschooler Art Activity Fails", only they'd mostly look like unused materials and white paper with a crayon line on it. And maybe a kid in the background dancing around pretending the two halves of a plastic Easter egg are his eyes.

So a friend and I came up with the idea of alternating hosting playdates with her three-year-old and preparing an art or sensory activity. Her hit-and-miss experiences are similar to mine, so we figure we can make half the effort and hopefully at least one of the boys will enjoy the activity, so it won't be a total loss.

This week I prepared templates for an activity I found online; Wet Chalk Tape Resist Easter Eggs. Looks great for a preschooler, and what nice results they got!

Aaaaand it bombed, and royally. Both of our kids had a sing-songy "Alll done!" after about two chalk lines.
It's probably for the best because the tape I used (the only kind I had) tore the paper, even though it came off fine on my test egg. I might've felt bad if they'd spent more than 15 seconds on the activity.

(I never claimed to be good at art. Drawing, yes, art, no. Even my art teacher in high school said my style was all the same and too "cartoony").

So anyway, I think we've concluded our kids are more into science-based activities these days. Good. Next nice day, Mentos and Diet Coke geysers out in the driveway. No prep!


P.S.: If you're in the Ottawa area, come see me and some fantastic fellow bloggers read at the Blog Out Loud event, which is part of the Ottawa International Writers' Festival. Blog Out Loud is being held at 6:30pm on April 29 at 120 Lisgar St. It's free and promises to be a great time. (I might even wear "no pants " for the occasion!) Hope to see you there.

P.P.S.: You can now follow CCG on Twitter!

Saturday, April 05, 2014

A Few Minutes to Myself?

It must be that the boys aren't used to seeing their mother lying down.

Somehow, though, the sight of me trying to relax is interpreted as an invitation to bombard me with kid attention.

Maybe I look all lonely with my magazine and look like I could use some company in the form of having my eye poked or a head-cracking cuddle. Maybe I look bored, like I'm wishing someone would come along and arrange an extensive collection of blocks on me. Maybe I look too serene, like I need an energy boost via being rolled on and bounced on like a horsey.

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What I don't get is how Hubs sitting at the table, drinking coffee and reading hockey blogs on the laptop counts as "busy" but what I'm doing isn't. I think he got to them somehow. Sitting there, looking all contented and smug...

My mom tells me all that attention is due to the fact that they love their mom so much. That must be it. I'll keep that in mind the next time my attempt at a ten-minute stretch on the couch is interrupted by a loving toddler butt in the face.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Technology Buffs

Don't let your kid play with your technology, even if you know they aren't old enough to know how it really works.

While Skyping with my parents, Little Bro managed to bat-bat-scratch the laptop keys and flip the screen orientation sideways. It took my computer scientist husband a while to figure out how to fix it (it's Ctrl+Alt+up arrow). I'm glad we solved it, because I was beginning to wonder if I'd have to lie down to use the computer. Kind of frustrating when you feel you're pretty good with computers and yet you've been had by a 1-year-old.

Then last summer, we were headed on a mini-road trip to a neighbouring town. I prepared to set the GPS, and this happened:

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We discovered that Big Bro had set our preferences to "shortest route" instead of "fastest route", so we were on a course down the most remote gravel roads ever. It felt like some kind of horror movie. (The scariest part would've been hungry kids and our not having packed anything to eat for what was supposed to be a half-hour drive. Desperate parent caught pilfering from cornfield in middle of nowhere...)

How did he make all those changes? Some of them, I wasn't even aware one could do. Big Bro's fiddling managed to set it so the GPS moos every time you pass a beauty salon. It's like it's giving me a hint or something.

They can mess up your stuff, but they do it with flair. It's amazing what one can accomplish from just some random button-poking. I've seen friends' toddlers post to Facebook-- or so I assume, unless my friend felt like sharing a capital D with all of us that one time.

I also know there are toddlers who are already proficient with iPads and the like. Big Bro at least knows how to find and play the "Car Game" on my phone. In my day, it was a Fisher-Price record player. (Do I sound like an old lady? Well, it feels that way sometimes...)

Our family has never been one of those "have the latest gadget" people, so I'm not always up on what there is out there. But I know that, soon enough, the kids will be able to manage our technology and do these things, and more-- on purpose this time-- so I guess I'd better try to keep up. At least for now I can try to get the GPS to stop mooing at me.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Just Like His (Little) Brother

When people see our two little boys together, they often remark, "Oh, Little Bro is going to look up to his big brother. He's going to want to do everything his big brother does!"

Indeed. I imagine at some point that will be the case. Such a sweet image.

For now, however, it seems to be the other way around.

When you're pushing three years old, anything your little brother touches turns to gold, as far as you're concerned. If Little Bro climbs into a bucket, well then, that's the exact bucket Big Bro NEEDS to climb into RIGHT NOW. If Little Bro is humming into a kazoo, well then, sorry dude, Big Bro was about to start kazooing. And play with that whisk *grab* and those nesting cups *grab* and that shape sorter *yoink!*

Fear not, little siblings everywhere. If you are burdened with a treat or a toy or an opportunity, you can count on your big sibling to swoop in and relieve you of it. They will finish your cheese and lift all the peek-a-boo flaps on your books. You're welcome.

Seriously, if you want your kid to eat something, give it to his or her little sibling.

Hopefully, though, you will have a sweet big sibling like Little Bro does, who kindly offers you a replacement; "Here, Baby," says the affectionate voice, "you can play with this [bulb-less turkey baster]" (while I pilfer the ride-on Lightning McQueen).

This at least goes on until the little sibling doesn't show interest anymore. Then the toy gets biffed. Little Bro has decided to go see Mama for a hug instead, but what a coincidence, Big Bro just finished playing this minute and was about to go for a hug too!

Then there's the baby equipment that's oh-so-appealing all over again to an older sibling. I'm just glad we've disassembled a lot of it; otherwise, I figure we'd need to call the fire department to remove a kid from the exersaucer. This includes other kids who come over to play. I guess there's something irresistible about doing things like dangling from a Jolly Jumper by the armpits, even if you sag to the floor.

Finally, it must look way cool to be a little 1-year-old, because they get to do stuff like run banana through their hair, chuck their bowl onto the floor and dump out buckets willy-nilly. Yahoo, good times, let's all join in! 

... Oh, no you don't; that's not what's supposed to happen-- it's supposed to be the other way around! The little brother is supposed to aspire to be a "big boy" like his brother!

But then, if the "little boys" seem to be having all the fun, who'd want to be a big boy?

Click to Enlarge


Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The Endless Snot-Filled Winter


I can tell it's been a rough winter. If I didn't know it myself, Facebook would've tipped me off. My newsfeed generally consists of:

a) screenshots of the weather network to show how "nope, nope, nope" cold it is out there
b) updates about friends' kids' illnesses. Antibiotics! Another trip to the ER! More puking!

With all the rashes and ear infections and flus flying around, I think I was able to keep all of two social engagements with the kids the whole month of January. In our case, I'm not sure if it was many colds, or one big long one, but there were runny noses and crabbiness aplenty.  Poor little tykes.

Of course, one would think we could take advantage of these cold, sick days indoors by wrapping up in a blanket together on the couch all cozy-like and reading our favourite books. And we do, for about 15 minutes. Then the rest of the day looks more like this:

(Big Bro likes to wear his sledding helmet around the house. May as well, since at this rate we won't get out to do any sledding)

Of course, I got sick too. Quelle surprise, considering I've got kids barking and sneezing directly on my eyeballs. No amount of handwashing's going to help with that. Thankfully, I have a very considerate son who saw my suffering and attempted to make me feel better. He came to me with the Neti Pot and offered me some tea. Ew. No thanks. Appreciate the sentiment though.

Anyway. I don't have much else to say on the subject. I just needed  to have a bit of a rant, because it's only January and it's already been the longest, coldest, shackwackiest winter of all time.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Getting Back into Kid Mode

Not long ago, someone posted a meme on Facebook with a picture of an awesome couch cushion fort, with the caption "Building Forts: Admit it-you miss doing it". It made me think of how, when you have kids, you can get back into doing all these cool kid things, all while maintaining some sort of dignity, because you're doing it for them, after all.

Christmas recently passed, and it was the first Christmas in which Big Bro "got" it; the whole Santa, presents, countdown to Christmas morning thing. I just may have been more excited than him, but the whole season had a renewed energy to it, and it reminded me of how cool it is to have kids in your life. You can get back to "kid mode", in case you lost it along the way.

For instance, how fun is it to go to the local heritage village museum where they have miniature ride-on steam trains, and be able to walk right up and ask for a ride? I might've lined up for a ride if I was kidless (as I'm sure many do already), but I unfortunately learned to be embarrassed doing goofy stuff in public once I hit Junior High, so I know I'd be laughing nervously and playing it up so that everyone knew I was being IRONIC by being excited about riding a little train.

Now, though, I have a young son-- HE loves trains! Well! Must put my needs aside and take the little lad for a train ride. But of course I'll need to accompany him. Yes, I know, how noble of me. And, while we're at it, let's treat the dear to a second lap around the track so Dad can have a turn he can really soak in the experience.

We were in Kingston over the summer at a hotel with a water slide. Big Bro is still too small for them just yet, so I felt a little embarrassed going alone while he stayed and watched in the little pool. A little embarrassed, I said; not enough to not go several times. But I'll feel so much less like I need to avoid eye contact with the teenage lifeguard once I'm accompanying the kids.

Then there's the local enormous play gym we frequent. 3 storeys of padded climbing and sliding mayhem. It's not for everyone, I admit (even me, I avoid it like the plague on ped. days). In one area, though, there's a slide so long, you can't see the bottom from the top. Accompanying Big Bro on his sliding adventures, I ended up crashing into him as he waited for me at the bottom. Good thing it was just him. I can see the headlines now: "WOMAN IN MID-THIRTIES PLOWS INTO INNOCENT CHILDREN WHILE SLIDING"... but wait! I'm a parent! I was just accompanying my kid! The "weeeee" was for his benefit!

Go-karts. Reading in a circus tent in the living room with a flashlight. Tobogganing. Couch cushion forts! And then there are the kids' cool new Christmas presents that we got to try out. I've caught Hubs a few times enthusiastically in the zone making a block tower with Big Bro... only Big Bro was long gone.

Not all kid stuff is fun to us adults, of course-- but the stuff that is, we can now do it with heads held high, because we're doing it for the kids. Or at least that's what it looks like, which is good enough for me.