Don’t eat ice cream in a hot wind

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On vacation last week, in the wee town of Minden, on a hot and muggy day, we (my family of 4) decided to head to the infamous Kawartha Dairy for ice cream.

We waited in line for 20 minutes, during which time I pulled my 5-year old son off the fence, partitions and back into the lineup at least 25 times. But it would be worth the wait, it would.

As we waited, I watched what people ordered ahead of us, gauging the size of the scoops and trying to determine which ones were “baby” cones, “Small” cones and “large”. It had been years since I’d had a Kawartha Dairy ice cream, and although I remembered them as very generous scoops, I assumed the massive 2 scoop cones everyone was ordering were in fact, the “large”.

We ordered 4 “small” cones and I handed the massive ice cream balls one at a time to my husband, who handed them to the kids, in turn. He then took my cone while I waited for his, and paid. Good grief, that’s a lot of ice cream.

I looked around at the clear sky, noticed the warm breeze blowing against my skin and breathed in a relaxed sigh. This was living.

Less than 30 seconds later, Rich came running over to the window in a panic, demanding 2 bowls and 2 spoons and a wad of napkins. He grabbed them and ran off – me following lazily behind unsure what all the commotion was about.

As I approached the picnic bench where my family sat, I was greeted with complete chaos. Reid was as blue as a Smurf, from head to toe, covered in a quickly melting “blue bubblegum” ice cream cone. Rich was frantically jamming it into the bowl and trying to wipe off his arms. I looked at Sydney, whose Moose Tracks was all over her shirt and down her face.
What the hell?

Rich, who was holding my cone, was frantically licking the bottom to keep it from dripping.

“What the? How did it melt so fast?”

As I uttered the words, I felt a cold drizzle down my arm and I looked to find Rich’s cone melting at Mach1 speed. The hot wind was whipping against the cone and splattering it across my top. I stepped aside and started licking frantically, the ice cream now blowing horizontally on the person next to me.

A young mom with two small boys, also with “blue bubblegum” ice cream cones, sat down with their fresh order and looked at us like we were complete derelicts. That is, until her youngest son leaned against her with blue ice cream dripping everywhere.

“Oh my God, don’t touch me!” She screamed.
“What? How? Jesus! Where’s Daddy?” Spotting Daddy who was strolling over completely unsuspecting, screamed “GRAB SOME NAPKINS! GODDAMNIT!”
He turned on his heel, horrified, in his neat, white linen shirt.
“This is STUPID! NEVER AGAIN!” she added, because I’m sure her wailing children weren’t hysterical enough.

We quickly departed the scene – heading for our van, laughing and trying to clean up our own mess. We were covered. Thank goodness I kept a container of baby wipes in the van.

Next time we’ll order “baby” cones and avoid a 30 degree day with 100km/h winds.

I’m just not ready

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I’m not ready for the school year to end. Nope, definitely not. Yes, I am tired of making lunches and yes, I look forward to not corralling my youngest out the door each morning with threats and bribes, and yes, I’m tired of carrying my son’s backpack to school. BUT. I know darn well that the kids will be complaining about their boredom inside of the first week.

This year, I decided to head things off. On the advice of a friend, I created an activity list and I stuck it to the bulletin board so when either of them whine, “I’m bored!” I can point to the bulletin board without even making eye contact.

I looked online for ideas and created a list of things the kids can do, on their own, to amuse themselves every morning until I finish work (I have implemented some crazy part-time work hours for myself just to stay on track: 5am-10am. Ugh!)

I am hoping that by creating this list and getting up early to stay in my work routine, I will somehow convince myself that I do not have two kids at home with me for the next NINE weeks. I love my kids, don’t get me wrong, but I don’t love listening to the bickering, the declarations of boredom or the huffs and sighs when their friends can’t come over to play.

We’re also on a strict budget this summer so we will not be traipsing off to Marineland or Wonderland or Legoland every other day. We’ll be having a good old-fashioned staycation right here in our tiny, postage stamp backyard. So what’s a 5-year-old and 9-year-old to do?  Here are some ideas, if you are in an equally challenging situation:

  • Find boxes in the recycling bin and paint them to make a village
  • Make a bird feeder out of popsicle sticks (and grab some bird seed at the bulk barn)
  • Collect and press flowers to make cards or pictures (but leave my roses in the front garden alone!)
  • Make a tent in the backyard (ideal for tiny, postage stamp backyards)
  • Write and illustrate a book (and then all go together after work to Staples to have it laminated – my personal favourite idea!)
  • Turn sidewalk chalk art into paintings by simply applying a paint brush with water

If all else fails, and they whine anyway, pull out those summer workbooks. My kids LOVE those. Oh, and don’t forget to keep your flask full and nearby.

May the force be with you!

 

I don’t check pockets

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On the weekend, I was knee-deep in 5 loads of laundry when my son yelled down to the basement looking for his rubber worm Trashie character.

“Where is it, Mom?”

“No idea, where did you leave it?”

“In my pocket.”

“Which pocket?”

“My shorts pocket.”

“Which shorts?”

“The BROWN ones!” insert audible sigh here.

The shorts he was referring to were the very shorts that were now flipping around in a hot dryer. I found the shorts and sure enough, there it was, just where he left it. It was still intact, and much to my joy, finally clean.

I’ve been doing my family’s laundry for 12 years and I never check pockets. It’s not on purpose. Not some sort of lesson that they shouldn’t leave things in them – I just don’t do it. Once I’ve spent forever sorting the clothes into lights, darks, colours, towels, sheets and super-dirty, I just start tossing them in the machine.

It’s enough of a job just getting the clothes into the wash. Spend more time combing through everyone’s pockets? I’d rather have my fingernails pulled out.

Over the years I’ve washed rocks, gum, Lego figures, Bobby pins, shopping lists, loose change and dirt – Yep, sometimes the kids put dirt in their pockets. At least when I’m done with it, it’s clean dirt.

Gang, if you don’t want your precious items going through the wash, empty your pockets. ‘Nuf said.

The lunch conundrum

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At this point in the school year, I have made lunches for  8 months. Week after week. For two kids, that’s an average of 40 lunches a month, 400 lunches in a school year. That’s a lot of lunches. And the kids are sick of noodles, cheese sandwiches and wraps, and I’m sick of making them.

At the beginning of the school year, the kids and I make a list of 5 lunches they each like, as well as a list of healthy snacks. We write them down, pin the lists to the bulletin board and I rotate the items. The deal is, if they get tired of one lunch item, they need to come up with a new one. It works great until about October.

I don’t even know where that list is now. Probably behind the fridge or stuck beneath a pile of letters and permission forms. And when I ask them what they want, they reply, “I dunno, whatever.” Well folks, I’m fresh out of whatever. It’s like my brain has been sucked into a vortex and I can no longer think outside the box. And this coming from the parent who writes monthly columns for the school newsletter with new recipes to inspire other parents with healthy and exciting new lunch  options. I’m telling you folks, I’m done.

If the Lunch Lady provided a 5-day lunch plan, I would sign up. I would. I would re-mortgage the house and sign up, just so I wouldn’t have to hurt my brain every morning trying to think up some new and exciting and healthy option for their lunches.  Or listen to, “Not a cheese sandwich AGAIN!”

It’s not that I’m not creative, or don’t have an understanding of nutrition. I do. Check and check. It’s just that after 8 months of making kid-friendly lunches 5 days a week, I’ve hit the wall. I’ve hit it and slid down. It might be chicken nuggets for the next 7 weeks. I’m just sayin‘.

 

 

 

 

 

Irregardless is NOT a word

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Ok folks, at the risk of sounding like a big PIA, preachy, obnoxious grammar snob, I have to tell you once and for all; irregardless is not a word.

Now, in all fairness, according to American dictionaries, it is a word, but just because the Americans say it’s a word, doesn’t make it so. If you look in the Canadian Oxford Dictionary, you won’t find it at all, because, well, our English is better than theirs. There, I said it.

The Merriam-Webster’s Concise Dictionary of English Usage (which is American) explains that although it is commonly used in modern-day English, it is a double-negative and, therefore, not grammatically correct. AHA! Let me explain(I’ll be brief, I promise)

Ir” is negative; “re” is negative and, therefore, “Irre” is a double-negative, so it’s almost like saying “in regards to not regarding” which doesn’t even make sense. And is probably the opposite of what you’re trying to say. What you most likely mean is, regardless. Or, irrespective. These are two separate words that seem to have, over time, been blended together. They basically mean the same thing and are both correct, so please stop blending them. Every time you do, a puppy dies.

Save the puppies; stop saying irregardless. Please.

 

 

 

Taking out the garbage

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If there’s one “small thing” that makes me see red more than any other, it’s the garbage overflowing under the sink. It seems like such a small thing and one that could easily be resolved – just empty it.

But it’s no longer just the garbage can under there – it’s a blue box for recycling and a green bin. When all three are overflowing, I can go from calm and carefree to a raging lunatic in under 5 seconds. Why has no one taken this out? Better yet, why is everyone still cramming stuff in when they’re overflowing?

So the job goes from emptying one garbage bin to emptying three, and cleaning up the mess under the sink. Coffee grounds, wrappers and boxes that have gotten jammed right at the back behind the pipes. It’s gross – and now that small thing has turned into a big, time-consuming mess.

I decided this required some retraining in my family.

I’m not going to make my 5-year-old tie up the food garbage when he’s got that whole gagging thing going on, which is very convenient by the way. And if I force my daughter to do it, it isn’t worth my ears bleeding listening to all the reasons why that is too gross for her to tackle. If I ask my husband, he’ll do it of course, but then I always feel like I’m nagging.

So, I started tying up the bags and leaving them by the front door and asked whoever was going outside next to please take them to the garage. Simple, right? Occasionally they get taken out, but more often they just get moved over. That’s right, MOVED OVER, away from the door and out of their path. So, they’re still sitting there, looking gross and stinking in the front hall.

Clearly this plan wasn’t working. Lucky for me, I’ve gotten very busy with work lately (and volunteering, and life in general which always happens all at once – but I’ll save that discussion for another post) so my husband suggested I delegate some of the household chores so they can all pitch in more.

I created a list of one new chore per person to do in the evenings, wrote them on an enormous Post-it note and stuck the note to the kitchen cupboard. Guess which chore I delegated first?

By the way honey, if you’re reading this, don’t forget to take out the garbage, recycling and green bin tonight! 🙂

 

 

The grocery budget is a sham

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I have yet to solve the mystery of successful grocery budgeting.
When the New Year started, I decided to not only set a weekly grocery budget, but to actually try to stick to it. My strategy was to create a spreadsheet and track how much I spent each week, working toward a monthly total. I clipped coupons, watched flyers and planned meals.

During the first month, I had a brilliant idea to go to Costco and stock up on items I could cook to make large quantities of soups, pasta sauce and chicken dishes, then freeze various meals to enjoy throughout the month. I love to cook, so this made total sense to me.
The problem was that I spent so much on that “big shop” that I used up half my monthly budget. It left me with about $50 a week for groceries. Now that might sound doable if you have a freezer full of meals and all you need is milk, bread and fresh produce.
But I couldn’t do it.

For one thing, every time I went to the store, there were a bunch of sale items that I just had to buy. They weren’t on my shopping list, but they were on sale and if I didn’t stock up on those items right then and there, I might have to pay full price next time.
Never mind that I didn’t actually need them. I would probably need them eventually, so I’d better get them now while they’re on sale, in case they never, ever go on sale again.

Cheese is a good example. It might be $4.88 at Metro but everywhere else, it’s 10 bucks, and will stay 10 bucks for the next 3 months. So you know darn well that if you don’t buy at least 4 blocks of cheese NOW, you will probably run out before it’s on sale again, and then, God forbid, be forced to buy it at full price.

I’m starting to think that grocery stores do this on purpose. I dunno, it’s a stretch, but it is possible.
Until I find a way to go to the store with blinders on, I have accepted that I will probably never successfully stick to a grocery budget. And I’m not sure what happened to all my coupons – they have either expired or are crunched into an unidentifiable mess at the bottom of my purse.