Monday, October 6, 2014

The Disbanding of the Dynamic Duo? The end of an era.

Jamie and Micah are not exactly Irish twins. You know, babies born a year apart. They are nearly nineteen months apart in age, which is not that unusual. In fact, I know several people who have had babies that close, or even closer together. But Jamie was less than eighteen and a half months old when I hit my due date with Micah, meaning he had no clue what was going on. He has no memory of life before Micah. And Micah certainly has no memories that don’t include Jamie.

Cody and Jamie are close in age too, exactly twenty-one months apart. Cody likely does have memories that don’t include Jamie, because he’s got a ridiculously sharp mind and memory. Cody is close to both of his brothers too, but somehow he wasn’t as much a part of the team of troublemaking. Maybe it’s because he is older, or more responsible, or because he started school and left the others behind when they were only two and three.

Whatever the reason, Jamie and Micah formed what I named The Dynamic Duo. Together, they were unstoppable. Two boys that young: one with extremely creative ideas and one with no inhibitions…well, theirs was a dangerous liaison. When I was pregnant with Lauren, Micah moved into Jamie and Cody’s bedroom. He was a few months shy of three years old when we made that move. Since then, they have been sharing a room, and are still sharing a room, even though Cody moved out over a month ago. They were in the same class at school last year, and the same class at Sunday school too.

This year, there has been a shift. Both of them had school every other day last year, so on their non-kindergarten days, they were home together, with Lauren and I. This year, Jamie is in grade one, and he now attends school full days, every day. This is their first significant separation in a long time. Micah goes every second day, all day, but he is in a different class from his brother. Further, on his days off, Jamie is not here with him. This change has been bittersweet for me. I miss my Jamie, and I confess I worry about him being at school all day, because the adjustment has been hard on him.

But I have also spent the last month reflecting on the difference between three years ago, and now, and I feel like I have breathed out one big sigh of relief. Not because I don’t want Jamie around, but because I have been reflecting on how hard parenting has been ever since number two arrived. Having three boys in the span of three years was crazy difficult. I used to look at other parents and think there was something wrong with me for finding it so hard. But now I realize, it was hard. Very hard. People used to tell me, “This stage won’t last. I know it feels like forever when you’re in it, but it will pass. So enjoy it while you can, because believe it or not, one day you will miss this.” I suppose I knew they were right, but it really didn’t feel like things would ever get easier. But they have! I still can hardly believe it, but it’s true. My days are quiet now, in a way I couldn’t have imagined two years ago. Today, it’s just me and Lauren. Tomorrow, it will be just me and Micah. And it’s not just easier because the boys are at school. They have matured. They are now eight, six and a half, and five, and now they can do stuff, like clearing their dishes, making their beds, putting their laundry away, cleaning up their toys. Okay, that last one needs a lot of work. But they help. They dress Lauren in her jacket and shoes when she needs help. They buckle her in the truck when I can’t reach. None of them run into oncoming traffic if we have to take them to the city. It’s refreshing.


Of course, I still have a two year old, but she doesn’t have a three year old to lead her astray. I’m not saying motherhood is suddenly easy and perfect. It’s still difficult, but not gut-wrenchingly difficult. I don’t feel like begging every parent out there to form a support group for me. I’m not drowning. I miss my boys when they are at school, but do I miss that stage? Not yet. For now, I am finding myself grateful I survived that period of insanity. And they survived it too.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Days Like This

Remember that song, "Mama said there'd be days like this"? If my life were a TV show, that would be the name of today's episode. I got up this morning, after a rough night of sleep, and my first order of business was to wake the boys up to get ready for school. Jamie has been sick this week, and stayed home yesterday and the day before, but he seemed to be doing well so this morning I went ahead and woke him up. As I fed them breakfast, I tried to get their school bags ready and packed. That was problem number one.

Micah's backpack was missing completely. I had his clipboard, but no back pack and no lunch kit. I also had no library book, which he was supposed to return today. Jamie's day planner was missing from his backpack, and they use it every day at school. Fine. I decided I would deal with making their lunches first, and then deal with all the missing stuff. I got out the peanut butter, the jam and the honey. (Yes, all of my boys eat peanut butter sandwiches every single day at school. For now, it is still allowed because none of the kids there are allergic to peanuts.) Next, I looked for the bread. Oh. It was empty. Okay, I checked the fridge freezer. No bread. I knew there was still the deep freeze downstairs, but at that point I was worried. It seemed to me that there was no bread in the downstairs freezer, but we checked anyway. No bread. I should have gone back to bed at that point and sent all three boys to theirs. I decided to send them to school without lunches and I would somehow get food to them before lunch time.

I got everyone on the bus at 7:30 a.m., as usual, and hurried back to the house so I wouldn't lose my entire blood supply to mosquitos. (For the record, it is extremely abnormal for us to have mosquitos at this time of year, but they are flourishing, and ruining our best deck weather!) I decided I could make a loaf of bread just in time to make three sandwiches and drive them to the school. The school's lunch starts early, at 11:30 (or 11:20, I can never remember which), so I knew I was pressed for time. I started making the bread immediately, even though my bed was begging me to crawl back under the covers.

As I mixed the dough in my KitchenAid, I admit, I was feeling like a bit of a conquering hero. Yes, I allowed us to run completely out of bread. But look at me. I was baking a loaf of fresh bread for my children. I was like a wife from the fifties. (Wait, you mean there are other wives this century who bake fresh bread for their families? Whatever. Okay, I was feeling like one of those modern day wives who bakes bread for her family.)

The bread has eight ingredients. I put the first four in first, then I put the milk, oil and eggs in a measuring cup until I was ready to add them. After that, it was just the flour. Once all the ingredients were being tossed about by my stainless steel dough hook, I was feeling somewhat satisfied that I was going to get it done by my deadline. Until I noticed the texture of the dough starting to look a little...off. Something was wrong. It looked more like batter than dough. I wracked my brain for what I could have done wrong, and then it hit me. One egg. The recipe called for one egg, a fact that I repeated to myself multiple times while preparing the ingredients. And then I proceeded to add two eggs.

It's getting expensive burning my superhero capes on such a regular basis.

I added flour to try to salvage the dough, and I even entertained notions that my two-egg bread would turn into the best recipe anyone had ever tasted. People near and far would ask me the secret to my especially incredible homemade bread, but I would smile and say, "The secret's in the sauce." No I wouldn't. That's just a line from a movie. Points if you can tell me which one.

Bottom line: I knew at this point that even though my bread was going to be a smashing success, I couldn't risk it. I was going to have to go to the store with Lauren. The town is only about seven minutes from here, but I didn't want to drive to town, buy bread, drive home, make three sandwiches, drive back to town, drop off three lunches, and then come home again. Lauren gets grumpy if you keep sticking her in her car seat over and over again. So I had a better idea. I packed a cutting board, three pieces of wax paper, a tupperware container full of peanut butter, a smaller tupperware container of honey, and a smaller tupperware container yet of jam. Then I packed two spreading knives (one as backup in case I dropped the first one), and all three lunch kits, and Lauren and I went to the store.

Buying bread was uneventful. Well, Lauren did run me over multiple times with the tiny shopping cart she was pushing, and I did almost pass out when I saw the price of Wonder Bread. ($3.99 per loaf?? It's a Wonder I stayed conscious!) Then we went back to the truck and I pulled over somewhere I hoped no prying townspeople's eyes would see me, and I made sandwiches from the driver's seat. It was awkward with the steering wheel in my way, but I got it done.

Don't I just remind you of Martha Stewart? 
Me neither.


I even remembered the wax paper, which impressed me. 

We went to the school, and Lauren carried Cody's lunch kit while I carried the other two. We went to the kindergarten room first. Did I mention this was the second time in less than a week that I had to bring Micah's lunch to the school? The first time I forgot it on the counter and found it after he got on the bus. It's possible that was on Tuesday, his only other Kindergarten day this week. But I can't even remember. 

Jamie was next, and things went downhill at that point. Jamie saw me there and began begging me to take him home. He said he was okay, but then he said he wouldn't make it through the whole day. Then he said he was embarrassed every time he coughed. I felt his forehead. It felt warm to me, but I have a history of being completely unreliable for checking foreheads for fevers. In the end, he begged and nearly cried, but like a cruel and heartless person, I told him he had to stay there, and I left him. I did talk to his teacher and she said she'd check on him after lunch. I told her to call me if I needed to pick him up, and I told him the same thing. But I still felt like such a jerk all the way home. I remember grade one. I remember feeling scared and vulnerable, and wishing I could have my mom pick me up and take me home every day. I hate knowing he is feeling that way and forcing him to endure it anyway. But that's life. We can't rescue our kids from every hardship or they will never grow. But I felt terrible anyway. In fact, I still do. But nobody has called me, so I have to assume he is okay. 

Incidentally, my bread was not ready on time to have gotten sandwiches to the school. Also, it is huge. And the texture is still off. I have affectionately named it Spongebread Square-pan, though technically the pan was a rectangle. It would have been perfect for me during my last pregnancy. You can read about that here.

And now I have to try to salvage my day and get at least one productive thing done.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Unsolicited Pets

Unsolicited pets

In this family, we love animals. We have a few pets: two cats, a dog and a horse. We had a rabbit for ten years, and he died back in the spring of 2011. Mike and I have had a few fish in our time too.

Once in a while, the boys try to bring home new pets. Jamie has been known to catch salamanders on occasion, and sometimes snakes too. He is also prone to bringing bugs in the house to show me, and then declare his intention to keep them as pets. Fortunately, I have veto power when it comes to the critters entering this house. Last year, we had a vole for a while, but that was accidental. It was never invited, and it was swiftly uninvited after I saw it run across my bedroom floor.

Uninvited pets are the worst. Usually they are the creepy-crawly variety, or the scurrying type. I’m not one who fears rodents, but I certainly don’t welcome them to run freely in my house. (Incidentally, I’d take a mouse over a large spider any day, and we do currently have a spider infestation.)

Earlier today, I saw a tall glass of water sitting on one of the end tables in the living room. I thought it was strange, because Mike is the only one in the house who drinks out of that type of glass. (Yes, I know that’s weird, but we are all rather particular about our beverage vessels, except for Mike. I drink everything out of a freezie cup, and the boys use Tupperware, and Lauren is still using sippy cups. But this post is not about O.C.D., so I digress.)

I picked up the glass because my first thought was, “Somebody’s going to dump this.” But when I picked it up, I noticed there was a whitish, slimy film on the water surface. I said something brilliant, like “Ew, gross! What did you guys do to this water?” because it had particles at the bottom that led me to believe they had filled it with sand. (Hey, it has been done before. Many times, as a matter of fact.) Jamie, who sounded somewhat offended, informed me that those were his snails.

My eyes probably bugged out a bit at that, but I accepted that as a pretty normal answer. I did a double take, and sure enough, there were snails in the glass. Small, but easily identifiable. I moved the glass to the half-wall by the staircase, not wanting Lauren to get her hands on it. My initial fear of the glass getting dumped was immediately trumped by a fear that she might drink out of it. Blech!

Fast-forward several hours. Just now, Jamie was examining the glass and made a comment about Slimy. (Great name, right?) Slimy, as it turned out, was a Houdini wannabe. He was almost at the top of the glass, and seemed to be moving along, albeit at a snail’s pace. I commented that he was trying to escape and Jamie said the other snails were dead. I frowned and examined the glass more carefully. There were several very tiny dark specks at the bottom of the glass, but they were not snails. I told him there were no other snails in there, and it looked more like snail poop or something. (Hm. Remind me to throw out that glass later…)
Then Jamie had an epiphany of sorts. It was something like, “Hey, where are all the other snails?” Then I had an epiphany. It was sort of like, “Hey! Where are all the other snails???” I asked him how many there were. He said six. Now there was one. It turned out Slimy was actually in the bottom of his class, or glass, and was way below average on the Houdini rating. Jamie went into the living room and checked the floor near where the glass had been on the half wall. He found one and declared it dead, because it had lost its slime. Being a non-expert on all things slug, I told him to put it back in the water and see what happens. Then we went over to the end table. Sure enough, two more snails were recovered, also clinically dead.

Wait, that’s Slimy, plus the first dead one…plus two more dead ones…Uh oh. That only makes four. Didn’t he say there were six snails? So now, there are two rogue snails somewhere in my house. Maybe dead. Maybe alive. Possibly still slimy. Definitely unwelcome.

So I just went and checked on them, and one was almost on the rim of the glass, and another one was out of the water, catching up. At first glance, the other two were dead. But as I watched them, they began to stretch out their necks (do slugs have necks? Or are they 100% neck?) and crane their heads around, no doubt feeling a little inferior to their buddies. I took some pictures. 

This first one is one of the ones that Jamie found on the carpet. Judging by where he was, he was out of the water for a much shorter period than his unfortunate buddies. You can see here he has made it to the top of the water. 

Here's the show-off, that was actually left behind in the first place. 

The second snail is catching up. I think I'll name him Turbo.

He's closing in. They are neck in neck. Wait, that's complicated when all they have are necks. 

Here are the unfortunate other two. I wish I could have posted video, but they are definitely alive down there. I just don't know how much longer that will be the case. Poor things.

I have to admit, it was kind of cool watching their tiny antennae moving back and forth in slow motion, checking things out around them. I brought the boys in to observe them. This is how a non-homeschooling mom home schools her kids. (Because we all homeschool our kids, even those who send them to school.) But oh, it turns out, snails stink. That's what I learned today.

UPDATE: This just in. All four snails have scaled the glass. I have placed a loose fitting lid over the top so we will have no more escapees, but all of them are either on the "ceiling" or near it. Also, I have just been informed that their names are as follows: Slimy, Sticky, Slimy-Bottom, and Wormy. Nice.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Please tell me he did not just do that...

Sometimes I seriously wonder how my children are still alive. The things they do completely blow my mind. Today, it is rainy and dreary outside, for the second consecutive day. Rainy weather does not stop the Dynamic Duo. After lunch, I put Lauren to bed for her nap and Jamie and Micah donned their rubber boots (that's progress), and their jackets. I told them not to shout on the deck, seeing it's right outside Lauren's window. They assured me they wouldn't be on the deck.

At that moment, a tiny voice in my head was trying to tell me something. Sure, I wondered what they might be doing down in the very wet yard, but I wanted to do my workout, and having them out of the house was the perfect opportunity to do it without being interrupted and annoyed by them. So I silenced the voice and I enjoyed a 25 minute workout in the comfort (and for once, silence) of my own living room.

Being a mom, I knew I couldn't just ignore them completely for 25 minutes, so as I exercised, I frequently moved to the bay window and scanned the yard for them. Ah! There they were. They have invented a new game. It's similar to tobogganing, but of course, with the snow gone, they needed new equipment. It turns out, the jogging stroller makes a great ride-on toy. They were taking turns riding it down the ridge, which isn't that steep anymore, but it's a big enough slope to make for a fun ride. I shook my head and continued with my workout.

A few minutes later I checked again. They were down the old driveway, which is now beginning to flood again. Now I was concerned. But they were still just pushing each other in the stroller, and they weren't in the water, so it was still okay. At the end of my workout, I looked again. I didn't see the stroller. The boys were making some kind of path IN the deep water (I'm talking deeper than their boots, but not deep enough to swim in) out of metal duct work pieces. Yikes! I ran onto the deck and shouted for them to get out of there. They didn't listen. Micah walked the "path", which sank, of course, and I watched as the water went over top of his boots. Lovely.

They came back to the house after that to change out of their wet clothes, and then came the really disturbing part. No, not Micah's naked dance, though that was up there too. Micah told me Jamie made him drink water out of that puddle, but he spit it out. Maybe some day I will laugh at this, but seriously, he could get really, really sick from that water! I am horrified. Even our well water, which is down underground where it is well filtered by the sand, tested unsafe to drink. I really hope he didn't swallow any, and I hope he will be okay. These are the moments when I feel like I'm losing my mind. I don't even have anything more to say about it. I am just praying that God will protect and preserve these kids, because I can't seem to keep them out of trouble.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Two Ways My Life Changed Last Week

Last time I posted in here, it was supposed to be my very first day with all three boys in school for the whole day, and just Lauren at home with me. That was thwarted thanks to a stomach bug that Micah got in the middle of the night. (He was over it very quickly, by the way.) But on Thursday, we tried again and all three boys got on the bus at 7:30 a.m., leaving me with just Lauren for the whole day. I have to tell you, I had mixed emotions. Micah is my last boy, so he is kind of my baby, still, even though he is four and a half. It was hard to send him off to school for the whole day, even though I knew he would be fine. But at the same time, having only Lauren here made me want to shout long and loud off the deck, "FREEEEEEE-DOMMMMMMMM!"

Okay, that's a little exaggerated, but I honestly felt so liberated. It wasn't necessarily just the absence of Micah that changed things for me, because having just Micah and Lauren is not that difficult. But when Micah was doing half days at school, I had to drive him there at lunch time, which meant an early, rushed lunch, and dragging Lauren in and out of the van. It wasn't horrible, just a little bit of a hassle. And because we live out of town, it meant that any trips to the city were impossible because I didn't have enough time in the morning or in the afternoon on Micah's school days. As for the other days, well, no way was I taking Jamie and Micah together to town with Lauren.

Normally, I don't have a burning desire to drive to the city, but around here our snow is finally starting to melt, and I think some of us Manitobans lose it a little, after being stir-crazy for so long. So, I took Lauren to town. We went shopping in Walmart for rubber boots for the boys and runners for Lauren, and then we went and got a few groceries at Safeway. (Yes, Mom, I said Safeway. But just a few groceries, not the bulk of them.) The sun was shining, the air was fresh, Lauren was perfectly behaved...It was glorious. I realized that my life just got a lot easier, at least every second day. I miss my little Micah when he's gone, but the quiet really does my soul good.

My life changed in another way last week. I finished my book on Saturday. No, not a book I was reading. A book I was writing. I can't tell you how elated that made me. And then I didn't know what to do with myself. In truth, I have been ignoring my family, my chores, this blog, pretty much everything and living in an alternate world. Now that it is finished, I feel a little lost. It's not really finished, because I have to start editing now, but the first draft is done, and that is a first for me. So I am ignoring it completely for a few weeks before I start working on it again, just so I can approach it with a fresh perspective. That means I might just have time to blog again. Haha.

Having said that, I'm off to brainstorm for ideas for my next book!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

History repeats itself.

Today is the first day of school after spring break. Last year at this time, Jamie had just gotten on the bus for his very first full day of Junior Kindergarten and I was worried about how he would handle it. Sure enough, he came home with a migraine and nearly threw up three times. I didn't put him back in full days for a while, though I don't remember how long. 

Last night I was worrying about my little Micah starting full days today. After all, Micah is only four. Jamie and Cody were both five when they started full days. I was nervous, but I prepared to send him. Only just before 2 a.m., Micah threw up in his bed. It seems school holidays are nearly always a disaster for us health-wise. Cody was sick from Wednesday until now, though he was not throwing up. Today was supposed to be my very first ever full day alone with Lauren. I was somewhat sad about it, and also looking forward to it. It was going to be quiet and easy. Now...well, now I have anxiety about stomach issues. Micah slept all night and is still sleeping, since the one incident. I am hoping it will be mild today as well, or that he is even over it after the one time. I am worried that Lauren will get it. 

Anyway, I have decided that spring break is overrated. This actually happens to us every year, or so it seems. Maybe this is premature, but I can't wait for summer break. 

Lauren is crying, so it's time for me to sign off. I hope I will find her healthy in there. 

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Single Mom for 48 hours

I'm on my own again with the kids, as Mike is off on a ski trip with his students. The kids are all sleeping, and I was supposed to have a fabulous evening of working on my book, but I have been completely thwarted, and I'm feeling a little down. I am so close to being done my book, but there are so many tiny details that are preventing me from writing the ending. So instead of having a therapeutic evening of writing, all by myself, I have found myself researching those details and coming up empty, and therefore writing basically nothing. I hope it's not going to take me another year just to finish the first draft.

On a different note, tomorrow is Cody's last day of school before spring break. The other two had theirs today. I know a lot of moms dread spring break, because they get no break from their kids, but I am looking forward to it. A week of not having to drag myself out of bed before 7 a.m. to make lunches, pack school bags and whisper yell at my kid(s) to eat, get dressed, get their ski pants on, get out the door to the bus...etc. A week of no watching anxiously out my window to see whether Mike gets them down the driveway to the bus on time. Best of all, it means I have Mike home for a week with me, so I have back-up. I'm hoping for a nice family time, but we'll see.

Let me make a quick confession in here. I have always loved birthdays, but I am really bad at them. I am bad at getting cards in the mail on time to friends and family. And I am bad at planning birthday parties for my own kids. Cody's birthday is in five days, and I have nothing planned. He wants a huge party, but I just don't want every kid in his class and on his hockey team here. He wanted a skating party at the rink, but I think it is shut down now, so that's out. We tried to convince him to have a small party, with only three or four friends, but he can't decide who he would invite. So we are left with either just our little (big?) family, or all his cousins. He doesn't really seem pumped about either option. He wants his school friends, but again, he doesn't even know who to invite. I find the whole thing stressful, and I am heaped with guilt. Jamie has never had a party, and he told all his classmates (all five of them) that he would invite them all to his party. We are always barfing on his birthday, so he doesn't get parties. Poor kid. He thinks next year he will. We'll see. Micah doesn't care yet, and of course, Lauren doesn't either, but I really feel bad about Cody. I don't know what we will do yet, but I guess we'll see. I have tried to get Mike to help me figure out a plan, but I am not getting much assistance there.

Anyway, I'm getting stressed out now, and it's getting late. Just thought I'd check in, seeing I'm on my own here. (With a sick cat on antibiotics. Did I mention that?) I'm off to bed.

Monday, March 24, 2014

March Madness

March has been an interesting month for us. The tournament I posted about in my last post was a four day affair, and for us, ended with a bang. It was extremely cold outside, and the van wouldn't start on the Sunday morning of the boys' last game, so Mike took all three in his Subaru and left me with Lauren to wait for the battery to charge so we could go too. Half an hour later, we did get it going, so we were all at the last game, but with two separate vehicles. On the way home, I took Lauren and Micah, and Mike took Cody and Jamie in his Subaru. We traveled together for most of the trip home, but then Mike took a short cut on gravel. Earlier, he had advised me not to take that route, because the road was not in good condition (i.e.: ice, snow drifts...etc.), and he knew I was not as confident with winter driving as him. So I stuck to the longer, safer route. When I got home, he was not there. I checked my phone, thinking maybe he had stopped somewhere with the boys, but what I saw were two text messages from him, telling me he had flipped the car, and that they were all okay but the vehicle was upside down in the ditch.

It's hard to describe the feelings that come over you when you get that kind of news. I felt sick, and shaky. I was already home, so we went inside and Lauren napped as usual, but I just wanted my family home so I could hug them. Mike's dad drove out there and stayed with them so they could sit in a warm vehicle while they waited for a tow truck to arrive. It was a long time before they got home, but they did get home, and none of them hurt at all. I was, and am, so thankful. I could have lost half my family that day.

So March really did come in like a lion for us. Yes, March 1st was -50 outside, and March 3rd we wrote off our second vehicle. Financially, it was not good timing for us, but having our kids (and Mike) safe minimized the financial blow.

Since then, things have been back to normal here, but I have been too busy for this blog. I'm working feverishly on my book, and I'm at the very end, which is the hardest part, it turns out. So whenever I have a moment to myself, it's my book I'm working on, and not this blog. Don't worry, Mike is getting ignored too, it's not just my readers...if I have any left. Hopefully it will all be worth it, if I can finish the book and by some miracle, get published some day.

Here we are in the last week of March, and we still have a ton of snow, and it's still -21 with the windchill. But this is the last week of school before spring break, and that means good things are coming. Actually, Cody's birthday is in just over a week, and we have done no planning for it whatsoever. Yikes. Next week is also fair week, which is one of my favourite weeks of the year. It has definitely surpassed Christmas. (But that's not much of a leap for me anymore.)

This is not an exciting post, but it's my catch-up one. Hopefully I will be able to get back into the regular swing of things soon.

Friday, February 28, 2014

T.G.I.F.?

Today is Friday, the last day of the week. It's also the last day of February. Those are both good things. Really, what could be better? Normally, this would leave me feeling energized, excited, even. Not today. This February has been a particularly desperate month, as per tradition, really. January and February are always hellish parenting months when you live in a place that has harsh winters like ours. This year has been the worst winter of my entire life, weather-wise, and I'm not exaggerating. The normal temperatures for this time of year are supposed to be a high of -5 C. Right now we are sitting at -20, but with the windchill, it feels like -38. Tomorrow, we are expecting a windchill of -50. Seriously. On the first day of March.

Us Manitobans are no wimps when it comes to weather, so we will grit our teeth and hold on until things warm up a little, but the weather is only a part of my exhaustion today. Our boys are involved in a major hockey tournament this weekend. Well, as major as it can get for "squirts", the youngest teams in minor hockey. I'm not a good hockey mom. I know this because I am the only one who didn't want to participate in this tournament. I was concerned about the well-being of my boys. It started last night, a Thursday night, after they both had a full day of school. They had a game at 6:30 p.m. in a town that was an hour and fifteen minutes away from us. On top of that, the game was way late starting, so they didn't even make it home until 10 p.m. That alone was completely unacceptable to me. (This is a bit of a rant...sorry.)

Part of the reason I'm so uptight about getting my kids to bed on time is because I worry about them getting run down and getting sick. I hoped Jamie would be all right because he didn't have school the next day (today), but guess what? He started barfing at 6:30 this morning.

Cody went to school, but I confess, I'm worried about him now too. He had no symptoms this morning, but he is exhausted. I ran around trying to pack his lunch and his bag, while running back to the bathroom to help my sick kid. I also realized last night I had forgotten about Jump Rope For Heart, which was this afternoon for Cody, and we hadn't gotten any donations yet. Another mommy fail.

Now, I'm trying to contain a bored Micah, and Jamie, who feels better enough to also be bored, while trying to deal with the fact that Lauren is on some kind of sleep strike and spends her nap yelling, "MOMMY!" I just sat down for a break, but soon I will need to start making supper, and I haven't had a single quiet moment yet today, thanks to Lauren's lack of nap. She's still in bed, though, because I just washed the kitchen floor and I don't want her running around on it while it's still wet. Jamie and Micah are whispering, and that means they are doing something they shouldn't be. They don't whisper for my sake or for Lauren's.

This is a typical day around here in some ways. I go from one thing to the next, never quite accomplishing enough, and I wish desperately for a little time of silence. Cody will be here in about 25 minutes, and then things are bound to get ugly. He is running on very little sleep, and there isn't much chance he will be amiable when he arrives. I just hope he's not sick. I'd rather deal with a bear than another barfing kid.

Tomorrow, in the -50 weather, we are supposed to be traveling to the tournament again for a game at 10 a.m. and another game sometime to be announced later in the day. Then, from what I understand, there will be a final game on Sunday. I guess February is going out with a bang, and March is certainly coming in like a lion. In our corner of the world, we long for spring. The sun is beautiful and warm, and the house is bright, but outside is nearly unbearable and this little family is done.

So I am hanging on for warmer days. My posts in here have been infrequent due partly to sheer busyness, but also due to my reluctance to simply dump in here. Looks like I did it anyway. Sorry about that. On the upside, my house is getting cleaner and cleaner these days, and that is enough to boost my mood exponentially. (Yes, this is my mood when it's boosted.) Hopefully I will have funner posts in March. For now, I have to sign off and fold some laundry. Stay warm, everybody.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Update on Single Motherhood

Well, the update is not good, so I'll make this short. Yesterday, while playing hockey in the basement (strictly forbidden, other than mini-hockey), in the TV room (a room completely off limits to the kids), one of the boys smashed our 52 inch plasma TV. At least I think it's 52 inches, but that's pretty much beside the point. I can't even begin to describe the emotions I have been feeling since then, and perhaps it's best if I don't. Suffice it to say, I am way past the end of my rope. I am falling, and I can only hope there is something soft to land on. This is not really about a TV. It's about the complete and utter inability (or is it refusal?) to follow simple rules. Was it an accident? Yes. Could it have happened to anybody? Anybody breaking two rules at the same time, yes. Everybody is alive. Nobody is hurt. But I feel crushed. I am obviously not cut out for this. I can't teach them. I've tried. I've tried so very hard, but they just don't get it. Or they don't care. Or both, I don't know. All I know is, I am invisible. I am inaudible. I am inconsequential. What other explanation is there? And that is all I can say in here. I am simply too upset to continue, so I will go dump on my main character and make her life as miserable as I can, while I work on the final chapters in my book. Happy Valentine's Day, everyone.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Another round of single motherhood.

Yep, I'm on my own with all four kids, and I wish I could say it's going well. Mike is out of town, and even though he didn't technically leave until after work today, I was still the only parent here all day, so this round will be a full three days on my own. Today, I got the van stuck in a snow bank. I couldn't believe it. Thankfully, that happened before Mike had finished work for the day, so he dropped in here briefly and pulled the van out with the tractor before grabbing his overnight bag and leaving.

I don't like it when Mike leaves. I've always been kind of a wimp that way. The truth is, I don't mind alone time. In fact, I'm kind of excited about my evenings, because I am right at the end of the book I'm writing and I really want to get it done. But I struggle with fear when Mike is travelling, particularly in the winter. Today, we are getting hit with a winter storm. The timing is bad, and not just because Mike had to travel through some of it. Now I'm here on my own and I don't know how to run the tractor, so if we get a ton of snow (we have a snowfall warning in effect right now), I can't clear the driveway. I don't want to get stuck again. Part of me would love to just say, "Oh well. I'll just stay home and not bother taking Micah to school on Friday." (The other two take the bus, so that's not an issue.) But Friday evening, Cody and Jamie have a hockey game. I have to take all four kids to the rink and get two of them in their hockey equipment on time for the start of the game. Then I have to work at the door. I was supposed to work that whole time, but because Mike will not be there to dress them, someone is covering for me for the first part.

So I'm a little stressed about my time alone. Today, not only did I get the van stuck, but one of the kids also plugged the toilet, and I'm not very good with a plunger. Now, I'm enjoying the quiet in the house, as everyone is sleeping (even the pets) except for me. But outside the wind is howling, and not long ago I had to run out and get the garbage cans, which were blowing all over the deck, sounding like thunder.

This is a very disjointed post, but I'm going to get back to my other writing now. Perhaps I will update tomorrow. Here's hoping the next two days are smooth sailing. Goodnight.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Cold Weather Crisis!

I am not a superstitious person. Even though people say things happen in threes, I don't buy into that or any other superstition. Having said that, this will be my third consecutive post about the trouble winter has brought on for us, each one worse than the last. First we had our "snow day"; a school cancellation due to the ridiculously cold and intense weather we were having. That was on Monday last week. Then on Wednesday, Mike got his vehicle stuck in the deep snow and had to take mine, so I was without wheels for the day, causing Micah to miss a second day of school.

Here is the truth of the matter. Those two scenarios? Fun, followed by inconvenient. Yes, snow days are fun. Well, unless you're having one of those desperate days where you need your kids to be in school for the day. But we were not, and Mike got the snow day too, so that was an extra bonus for all of us. And then to have no vehicle for all of Wednesday? Technically that is inconvenient, but let me confess something to you. That day was nearly as cold as the Monday that school was cancelled, so I was secretly quite relieved to not have to drag myself, Micah and Lauren out. We enjoyed a stress-free day at home.

I wish I could say that our third predicament was as inconsequential as the first two. It was not. It still isn't. It happened on Thursday afternoon. When Mike got home from work, he asked me how long the septic pump had been running. I didn't know, though I thought maybe it had been a while. I don't generally consider it in my housewife duties to notice the mechanical functions in the house, so I don't really pay much attention to the pumps. Other than in a crisis, where I have been instructed to do so. Turns out it was a crisis. Our septic tank was not getting pumped out, though the pump was running. This set in motion an evening of frenzied activity, accompanied by the inability to let any water go down the drain. No baths for the boys or for Lauren. No dishes could be washed. No laundry could be done. Dare I mention flushing toilets? Excess water down the drain would cause the whole system to back up into our basement floor. Goody.

Because Mike is still somewhat incapacitated with his knee, I was the one who got to trek out in the snow to the ejector. (That's exactly what it sounds like.) The snow was over my knees, and I was falling all over the place. It was also dark, and I had to go quite far. It was not fun. My complete incompetence in all things plumbing did not help matters. I accomplished nothing other than filling Mike's winter boots with snow (I had to wear his because they are much taller than mine, and even still the snow was well above them), and getting a little exercise.

What happened that evening is a very long story. Let me sum it up like this. Mike's brother came over and was here until 1 a.m. trying to fix our system with Mike. They were not successful. We may have to dig up our entire system, a process that would likely cost thousands of dollars. They rigged a temporary fix, which will hopefully get us through the winter. Then we will have to implement some kind of permanent solution in the spring. The house smelled like sewage, though we did not get much backup in the basement, thankfully. All day Friday I still couldn't do laundry or dishes, not to mention shower. Everything is running now, though not in the best way. I won't describe the details in here. On the surface, everything seems the same, so life is back to normal, for now. We suspect our system froze under the ground, though that should never happen. With the extreme deep freeze this year, it is possible the frost level went deeper than normal under the ground. Who knows?

Anyway, I have two boys here, one of whom is beginning to act bored, and the other who I strongly suspect is into trouble in the basement. In addition to that, I have a girl who has boycotted her nap, yet again. So it's time for me to run. Here's hoping things really do happen in threes and I don't have another winter crisis to report in here.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Another Cold Weather Predicament

Our deep freeze rages on, and this morning winter brought on a new problem for our family. In all fairness, the weather is not the only factor at play in our current situation. It all started when Mike had his surgery. You see, he was unable to drive our tractor at that time, and as such, when snow came down, we had to rely on other people to bail us out, so to speak. I am happy to report that Mike is now capable of operating the tractor. The problem is, apparently it is broken, so his first (and only) time driving the tractor, he drove it straight to the farm, and there it has remained awaiting parts which are on order. He drove it there last Friday, I think. Whatever day it was, it was the day we were expecting a terrible winter storm. Indeed, the weather got ugly, and we got quite a bit of snow, which left us unplowed, with no tractor. 

Mike's dad and brother both offered to clear our driveway for us, but Mike didn't think we would need it. He figured we'd make it out okay until we got the tractor back, as long as it didn't snow. I was nervous about this, because I have been stuck with the van more than once, but Mike drove it in and out of here a few times with no problems. But the Subaru is parked at the bottom of our ridge, and as far as I can tell, the snow is worse down there. Mike made it out no problem yesterday, to drive the kids to the bus and then go to work. I asked him about it later and he said it was "no problem" and that the Subaru could "make it through anything". It has all wheel drive, you know. I didn't say anything, but I knew no all-wheel-drive vehicle could make it through everything

This morning, Mike went outside with Jamie and Cody to drive them to the bus. They left five minutes before the bus would get here, so I was more relaxed than I normally am when I'm watching out my bedroom window to make sure the boys don't miss the bus. I watched anyway, and minutes passed with no sign of Mike or the Subaru. So I ran to the living room window and looked out. Sure enough, the Subaru was stuck in the snow, quite badly. I was wearing my pyjamas, which was quite unfortunate, seeing the bottoms are capri-length, and I had no time to change. I threw on my ugly clunky winter boots, my jacket, my mitts and a toque, (no time for a scarf), and ran onto the deck and down the stairs, prepared to push them out of the snow bank. But when I got to the bottom, Mike told me to go start the van instead. We were down to less than two minutes to get to the bus. 

The poor van was not plugged in, as I was not supposed to need it until lunch time. I ran up the snowy hill in my boots, with my bare legs showing at the bottom of my capri pants, and fired up the van. It was NOT happy about starting. But it started. The boys ran over and climbed inside, fighting all the way. (Have I mentioned how pleasant mornings are around here?) The van barely chugged down the driveway but we made it to the bus just after it pulled up to wait for the boys. 

I drove it back home, expecting to push Mike out of the snow, but he said it was too badly stuck so he took the van to work. As a result, I have no vehicle today, and Micah had to stay home from school this afternoon. How ridiculous. The irony is, we don't even have a tractor to pull the Subaru out. Mike said we will get it out later, but I don't know what his plan is. I would like to try pushing it to see whether we can get it out without calling somebody for help. It takes a long time to drive a tractor over here and it is freezing cold out, so I don't want to ask anyone to do that. Right now, our windchill is sitting at -38 C, which is warm compared to earlier this week, but still dangerously cold. Ick. 

The amazing news is that tomorrow we will break free of these ridiculously cold temperatures and usher in at least a few days of mild weather, up in the single digits. I can't wait. But for today, I have an extra kid at home this afternoon. Happily, he is very sweet and is playing nicely by himself as Lauren naps. Today I have been enjoying the sweetest moments of motherhood, and I am thankful. 

Monday, January 6, 2014

Snow Day!

Today is the first day back at school for not only the kids, but also for Mike. At least, it was supposed to be. But here in Manitoba, we are in the middle of a deep freeze such as we have not seen for a long time, if ever before. Don't get me wrong; winters here are cold. We know that. We expect that. But usually the really unbearably cold part of the winter is starting right about now, and goes through to the middle or end of February. This year, we have been in a deep freeze for weeks already, and even November was much colder than usual for that time of year.

As such, we have had multiple days where the temperature with the wind chill has been well below -40, going as low as -51 at times. Yesterday was one of those days, with the wind chill somewhere around -49, and today we are there again. As a result, the boys' school division shut down for the day, seeing most of the kids are bussed in and the buses either won't run, or it is just too dangerous to travel in this kind of cold. As it happens, Mike is part of the same school division, so he is also home with us for the day. A bonus holiday. Some moms might be less than thrilled, having prepared to be childless for the day, but not me. Not today. I am relieved. My boys have a long walk home from the bus and I was concerned about these temperatures. Besides, this now means I don't have to drive Micah to Kindergarten at lunch time, so I don't have to go out there either. Phew!

My plan for the day? Well, I have some cleaning to do, which is super boring. I also plan to read; something I have been doing a lot of this holiday since I got sick. Yes, I did get the stomach bug, albeit three days later than the rest of my family, and it lasted five days for me. So I did lots of reading, and though I hate being sick, I must say it has been too long since I have read so much fiction and I am rather addicted once again. But that's beside the point. My adventure for the day will be a baking project.

Baking and cooking, particularly when it is a new recipe, are always an adventure for me. I am not really gifted in the kitchen. I have improved a lot since I got married 13 years ago, so I guess I can't in all fairness say that I can't cook, anymore. But I am not what you would call a natural when it comes to all things culinary. That's why today's project has me a little nervous. I'm making bagels. I made bagels once before, a long time ago, and it was okay. But these are New York style bagels...whatever that means. I got the recipe online, and I'm not going to lie to you: I am really excited about the final product. That is never a good thing. I keep picturing these perfectly shaped, perfectly smooth and golden bagels. I can almost smell them. I am picturing them piping hot out of the oven, and imagining my kids and husband beside themselves with pure joy at the taste of my culinary masterpiece.

This is where I always go wrong. Maybe if I didn't have such high hopes for how they would turn out... Well, I don't want to be disappointed. I have kind of made a big deal to the kids too about this secret treat I am making for them. As much as I hate cooking, I have to admit there is a small part of me that gets a real buzz out of making something delicious for my family to enjoy. Maybe that's why I hate cooking. More often than not, after I cook up something I think will be a hit, all I hear are complaints from the boys. I know that's normal, but there is absolutely no reward in that. I guess I like rewards.

My project has already started and the dough is rising in a slightly warm oven. In 40 minutes, I get to do the next step, which is forming the shape of the bagels. Crucial, I think. I'm nervous about it. After that, I have to boil them. A curious process, but thankfully, I have done it once before, and witnessed it once before that, so I know how to do it. I will finish this post later, once the bagels are complete. Maybe I will even post pictures. Maybe.

And the update? The bagels turned out quite nicely. They got a little darker than I hoped, and they were not perfectly shaped. But they were delicious. A bit of a crunchy exterior, and soft and chewy on the inside. They were a hit.


I kind of wish the recipe made more than eight, but then a bag of them at the store contains only six, so I guess this option is better. They took me a good two hours to make though. Perfect for a snow day. 

Anyway, it is supper time now, so time to sign off. If anyone wants to try the recipe, this is the one I followed:  http://www.sophisticatedgourmet.com/2009/10/new-york-style-bagel-recipe/