Saturday, September 29, 2007

Do the Kids Hate Me?

It’s been a tough week all around. It started when we were heading back from school at the end of last week. Jack and Ethan are in the back, having a conversation. I guess they thought I couldn’t hear them; or more likely, they still don’t realize how their words affect others. They were ranking our immediate family members in “order of best” and I ranked #4. Out of 4. Logically I know not to take this to heart, but come on! Also this week, I made croissants from one of those Pillsbury tubes, and you know how there are 8 triangles in there. It’s a good math lesson, right, to ask your kids to figure out how many each person gets in a family of four? Maybe it’s a great math exercise but when your kids decide that Ethan gets 3, Jack and Daddy get 2 each and Mummy only gets 1, it’s a bruising blow to the ego.

Speaking of bruises, I have slowly recovered from my back injury, to the point where I popped in my new Yoga DVD yesterday afternoon. >The boys had their “yoga pants” on too, and were all set to participate. The DVD turned out to be one of those skanky exercise videos, a la Search for the Pussycat Doll, prompting E. to say doubtfully “Is this yoga Mummy? Because some of the positions (he really said this) don’t seem quite… right?” We turned off the DVD and the kids and I spent about an hour taking turns leading our yoga class and showing off our moves. Ethan especially loved this, using all the proper pose names. “Mummy, plank into crocodile then up into cobra. Don’t forget to curl your toes under to get up into downward dog.” Jack preferred to demo somersaults and some pose that involved hand on the hip, hip thrown out to the side and other arm flung into the air. It was very cute!

They really do make me laugh. We were making envelopes for Grandma’s birthday cards out of this brown craft paper. E. and I were busy taping his when we look up and Jack is furiously trying to lick and stick his together. His cardboard was sopping wet and me and Ethan just started howling. Ethan’s gasping, ”It’s a made envelope Jack, not a sticker one!” And let’s not forget E’s new habit of saying, “Hell-oohh” as in the really sarcastic way of saying um, excuse me? Jack pronounces Lightning (as in Lightning McQueen, hero of Cars) as “white-nine”, which I find absolutely adorable, and I think of excuses to make him say it just so I can hear his cute little voice.

Something else happened this week. Poor little Jack was peeing on the toilet. He prefers to sit down to take care of business, and he was just about to do his “digga digga” which is their code word for shaking it off after everything’s done. Ethan decides he’s gotta go too. Now. He drops his pants, and let’s keep in mind that an almost-5-year-old doesn’t quite have the aim. It all happened so fast! He tried to pee right through Jack’s legs, and, well, you can imagine. I don’t know who was more upset, E or J. I wasn’t actually any help at all because I was peeing my pants laughing. Mike had to do the clean up.

Oh, about my 40 things to do list – thanks for the suggestions and offers for help to accomplish my tasks! I’ll post updates every now and then when something gets done or underway. I did start my children’s story this week, and we’ll knock the “P” country off the list with Portugal next year. Tracy’s going to teach me poker, and Mike took me to the driving range where I think it went ok. You can ask him in private if you want. Also, Book Club surprisingly agreed to read a Religion for Dummies book for one of our selections next year, so there’s another. With any luck, I may get some of these things done!

Our 25 club Chocolate Tasting Party was a great success. We tried 12 different chocolates Р6 dark, 4 milk and 2 white. We were pretty evenly split between dark-lovers and milk-lovers; the best-loved chocolates were Bernard Callebaut 60% dark and for the milk Poulain Lait Volupt̩. Comments on our scorecards were things like smoky, silky, clean, unobtrusive, bitter, heaven. We found all sorts of words to describe chocolate!

The kids had busy weeks at school. Jack had his very first Party Day at preschool. He could not stop smiling. He was adorable with his little songs and poems. Ethan had his Terry Fox run and a Meet the Teacher BBQ for all of us (in the pouring rain). I also attended a Parent Advisory Council meeting – I would have called it the PAC except Mike said I have to clarify and say it’s like the PTA. For the record, they’re called PACs now. Ethan had a white t-shirt that he had to get people to sign when he told them about Terry Fox and his fight against cancer. He was a little reluctant to talk about it to people, so I tried to prompt him. I asked did he have one leg or two? So E replies, “Well there’s one and a half real legs and half a fake leg so actually he had two”. I’m trying to draw out basic facts from him and he’s arguing the finer points of amputation??? The run itself was hilarious – they only made the kindergartners run around the school once instead of doing the whole 5k, but still they were very serious. They warmed up first, then Ethan took his place in line and they all took off. Parents are running alongside, trying to take pictures (myself included) and it quickly dissolved into chaos. Jack bailed, a lady dropped her purse and I started giggling and couldn’t stop. Jack and I cut through the school (reminded me of the time people jumped in a cab in the middle of the Marathon) and met them on the other side.

We’ve just gotten home from a multi-celebration day at Mummy and Daddy’s. It was Mummy’s birthday on Thursday, so Briana and I took her to High Tea at the Secret Garden in Kerrisdale. It was very nice; delicious food and unique teas and best of all a chance to escape. It had been a while since the three of us were alone with no men and no kids, so it was a welcome escape. We also celebrated Ethan’s 5th birthday a week early, and had a champagne toast to Ben and Renee to celebrate their engagement. The thirteen of us in their house today (the four of us, M&D, Briana, Rob, Liam and Kieran, Ben and Renee, and Carl) are the thirteen who will be heading to Portugal mid-May for M&D’s 40th wedding anniversary. M&D have booked an amazing villa on the Algarve coast. Can’t wait!

This week has been packed! Looking for a little R&R this week before E’s party next weekend at Science World. Right now I feel like slippers and a big comforter to escape the rain and wind outside. I don’t think I can drink any more tea today, though…

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Jack Attack on my Back

Oh, my aching back. We were at the YMCA nearly two weeks ago now, and I was busy trying to keep track of both boys in the pool. Not easy; they're slippery as eels and they move faster than you would believe. Jack was playing his favourite game - jumping in from the side into my arms - when I got momentarily distracted looking for Ethan. E was doing his bobs, which always alarm me as I think he stays under too long. Jack apparently didn't need to wait for the catcher (me) to be aware of his presence hurtling in from the side, and jumped down onto my head. He's not even 30 pounds, but straight onto the head and shoulder and it doesn't tickle. I didn't notice it SO much until the next morning when I could barely lift my head off the pillow, let alone breathe or move. It is classic whiplash, courtesy of my youngest son.
I was steadily improving - I even got to the gym on Tuesday, one week after The Jump. Then Thursday morning, I woke up around 5 am and made the mistake of stretching AND yawning at the same time. Silly me, because apparently I turned 80 in the middle of the night or something! I was incapacitated once more. Karla, a mom at Kindergarten, said I obviously shouldn't try to multi-task like that at 5 am. She also offered to meet me at Zellers for the seniors breakfast special the next morning (there's room to park walkers). How helpful! But then her husband Don got Jack into his carseat for me, so I can be friends with her still ;-)

We had Paige and Gavin with us on Friday. The kids all play so well together; it's always a blast! We had them two weeks ago too for the day. Ironically, with four kids in the house I got more done than with two here. I put my feet up with a cup of tea, got some stuff done for work, and folded three loads of laundry. We also went to the park, had lunch and made balloon crafts. They are beautiful children and they really click with our kids. This past Friday was more stressful, only because Ethan and Paige are both in Kindergarten (different schools) and their start and end times are identical. So I dropped Ethan 5 minutes early with some of the other moms waiting for Madame, and drove as fast as I could to Paige's school. We parked in the wrong place (Paige was no help there as she usually walks to school) and ran to the classroom only to find a sign on the door that they were at music. In another building. Paige dropped off her bag and hat in her cubby and we hightailed it to the office, where I got reamed out by the principal and obtained a Late Pass. I then got directions for the music room, and by the time we got there she was 15 minutes late. Gulp. Gavin and Jack were angels and enjoyed the trucks and trains for a couple of hours. Then it came time to pick up the older kids and I went for Ethan first. If Paige's principal was already pissed at me, why piss off another principal? E seemed to be the last one dismissed, then he finally came out, I grabbed his hand and we booked it. Remember my lovely back? Felt "great" in a sprint, let me tell you...! We were 15 minutes late for Paige, even still. We came back and had a nice lunch, and we were actually kind of sad that Sandy got off early - the kids were having so much fun!

Ethan had Picture Day on Wednesday. Mike dropped him off in the morning after having picked a pose and a background for him on the photographer's sheet. When he picked him up from school, he asked Ethan how it went and Ethan told him that he didn't like the pose Mike had picked, so he chose another one. We'll see how they turn out!

On a sad note, our good friend Chris lost his mom this week. Rest in Peace, Rosie.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Jack Becomes a Preschooler

We celebrated Ethan’s Kindergarten debut on September 4th, and Jack went to preschool for the first time on Tuesday, September 11th. Our baby is in school! Although he is willful and disobedient at home with us (I considered getting his hearing checked until I realized that my voice is the only one on the planet that he “can’t” hear), Teachers Carole and Colleen assure me he is an angel at school. For now. He was so cute with his little Thomas the Tank Engine snack bag, posing for his pictures. He actually didn’t really see what the fuss was about, because he thinks he’s already been going to school for two years now, with Ethan. He’s done all the field trips, been there for party days, and knows the teachers and some of the kids. When I was hovering over, trying to give him a goodbye kiss, he was swatting me off like an annoying fly. So I left, but as I did I noticed a fair number of the first-time preschool moms staring at me in disbelief – “She’s just LEAVING her child here?” I think they may intend to stay in class for the whole month of September, to make their child’s (their own?) transition “easier”. Both Ethan and Jack have been really ready to start school, so I’ve been lucky and avoided any separation anxiety from them.

And as for me, although I was ready with a box of Kleenex for the first time they were both in school at the same time (Thursday they overlapped for 45 min), my emotions could best be described as… Glee? Joy? Liberty? I was so excited for them both, and so proud, and also so relieved to have a little time to myself. I am working on another blog post to describe a day in the life of me and the boys. When that is published, perhaps you will see how precious 45 minutes can be!

Ethan is settling in so nicely at his school. He really likes it, and there are some great moms in his class, too, which is good for me. During his first parent-teacher interview, he passed the writing assessment and the cutting with scissors test with flying colours! Madame said, “Oh, he’s a smart one!” and he’s been trying to live up to that, practicing his francais. He even has Jack saying “Comment ca va?” although neither one of them knows quite how to respond next.

Mike got back from Tokyo on Friday, full of stories about Japan, cultural differences, crazy subway maps, amazing food and the welcoming Japanese people. He was gone a week, and although he is jet lagged, I think it was a successful trip. He brought the boys some pretty cool little cars (after Ethan told him on the phone that he did NOT want another shirt, please) and he brought me a very pretty Montblanc necklace and some tasty little green tea and chocolate cakes. His birthday was weird this year – he left for Japan at 6 am on the morning of his birthday so it doesn’t feel like we’ve celebrated properly yet. Maybe once he wakes up, we’ll plan a night out. Anyone want to join us?

My brother Ben and his girlfriend Renee are engaged! They were in Paris, at the top of the Eiffel Tower, when Ben surprised Renee with a proposal. We’re very excited for them! They arrive home today so we plan on surprising them at the airport with Congratulations signs and a little hoopla. No date set yet, as far as I know, but I’ll keep you posted!

In other news, my girlfriends’ club (the 25 Club) is in the midst of planning our activities for the next year. We meet once a month on the 25th, and each month we do something different. These are my dear friends I have had forever – Carrie, Chantal, Ivana, Kim, and Marzia. The most recent addition to our group came in 1993 I think – that was Ivana, so even she has been with us for 14 years. Shanty, Mar and I have been together since Grade 6, and Carrie and Kim came into our group through spouses and friends, also in the early 90s. This month I am so excited, I am hosting a chocolate tasting party for us. I can’t think of a more perfect evening! I’ll report back later this month to tell you our favourite chocolates.

I also have another group of friends who I get together with semi-regularly – Jen, Jas, Sonia, Shannon, Breanne, Debbie, Tracy. We call ourselves the Experience Club, and we’ve done Pole Dancing, weekends away, Bhangra dancing for Diwali, snow shoeing and lots of lunches and Starbucks coffee evenings. Next on our agenda is a mini-boot camp session. We always have a ton of laughs and lots of food. Brie anyone?

Rounding out my social calendar is my Book Club – me and three other ladies who have been getting together on the first Wednesday of each month for about three years. I met Kristy through a class we took together at the YMCA – Baby Music for Jack and her son Magnus. Through Kristy, I met Christy and Brenda. It’s fun to read the books, but we also talk about our families a lot (we have six children and many nieces and nephews between us) and have a movie night here and there, too.

These first few weeks of school have been very busy, with lots of driving back and forth. The kids also started another round of swim lessons at the YMCA, and began daycare at Milli’s on Wednesdays, the day I work. It will take us some time to adjust to a morning schedule, leaving the house by 8:20, but I love having school done by 11:30 – I’m so happy we got the morning classes!
Until next week!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Before I turn (gasp!) 40...

Since my 34th birthday in July, I have been compiling a list of things I'd like to do before I turn 40. I am publishing them here in the hopes that more people will hold me accountable and help me attain these goals in the next six years!!! Here we go...

1. Learn sign language
2. Religion 101 – or Religion for Dummies? – I just need to educate myself on the world’s religions
3. Walk in one of the 3 day walks for breast cancer
4. Become debt-free (other than mortgage)
5. Volunteer time with the children or without - Animal Shelter, Hospice, Soup kitchen, or some other worthwhile cause
6. Perform one random act of kindness every month, anonymously and without recognition
7. Begin genealogy research and update family tree
8. Visit 6 of the 7 continents. I veto Antarctica and I still need Asia and South America to get to 6.
9. Swim with dolphins
10. Learn to scuba dive
11. “Compete” in an Olympic distance triathlon
12. See the northern lights and/or experience the 24 hr sunshine or 24 hr darkness of the far north
13. Visit Russia
14. Sample more cuisines of the world – try something new each month
15. Buy something from a TV infomercial
16. Surf
17. Go one week without watching TV
18. Check into a very nice hotel by myself for a weekend and order room service as often as I want and order pay per view movies (but not dirty ones) like they're going out of style
19. Do an all-day movie marathon in a movie theatre
20. Learn to play poker
21. Spend an afternoon (or maybe just an hour; whatever it takes to get through a bucket of golfballs) at the driving range, and try not to be a spaz
22. Watch all the movies (that I have not yet seen) on the IMDb Top 100 List
23. Start and continue an exercise regime for three months, even if it kills me
24. Learn to accept my body and all its imperfections
25. Read 3 classic novels I should have already read
26. Spend a summer in Europe with my family
27. Finish writing a children’s book (should probably start it too)
28. Go through all our photographs and select some to mat and frame like they’re real art
29. Get rid of all the things in my house that are just clutter and would benefit someone else
30. Buy a plant and keep it alive, instead of treating plants as if they are meant to be disposable
31. Organize a box for each child to hold their special childhood crap memorabilia, limit size of said box so that they can never say they don’t have room for it in their own house
32. Shower under a waterfall in an amazing tropical setting
33. Track down and help some of the AIDS orphans that I met in South Africa in 2001
34. Go to the Olympics
35. Stay connected with my girlfriends
36. Throw a dart at the map of the world and travel wherever it lands
37. Visit a country for every letter of the alphabet (except O, Q, XYZ – you try to find a country to go to in that list! I’m not going to Oman or Qatar.) – have 9 letters left to visit (D,G,H,J,K,L,P,R&T)
38. Strut on a Catwalk unselfconsciously
39. Try archery
40. Do something so completely unexpected that everyone will say “WHAT? Tamsin did that?”

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Le premier jour d'ecole!

Ethan started Kindergarten today! It was very exciting for all of us, also honestly a little bit emotional for me, and he thoroughly enjoyed his first day. When Mme Toniolo called out his name during roll call, he said in a clear strong voice, "Ici!". He also understood, even though she spoke only French during the instructions, that he was to colour the picture in crayons and print his name with a pencil on the page. I think he's actually going to learn French! Bravo!
Next week it will be Jack's turn to start preschool, and the day that both their schedules finally coincide and I drop them both off, expect a few more waterworks. Maybe I should make a Costco run to pick up some Kleenex...

A bientot!