Sunday, April 29, 2012

It's not bad, it just feels that way

Here in Canada, families of young children receive something called the Universal Child Care Benefit

It comes from the federal government and totals $100 per kiddo -- ostensibly it exists to offset child care costs but you show me a daycare that charges $1,200 a year and I'll show you a friendly yellow lab that knows how to operate a can opener.

For the first year, I use the $100 to cover baby-related costs; after that, it goes directly into an RESP.  So it's not like I'm spending it irresponsibly.  And I still get the payment via paper cheque, because I like the purposeful feeling of depositing money at the bank. Knowing that all families get this money, and remembering that I've been paying income tax in some form or another since I first started to work at age 13 makes it pretty much a guilt-free transaction.

Except when I'm late for book club, and I rush into an unfamiliar LCBO to grab a last-minute bottle of wine, and when I reach into my wallet for some cash, I pull out a big ol' Government of Canada cheque. 

It's not bad -- heck, if I needed more help from the government than just the $200 a month it would still not be bad -- but it would have felt a lot better if I'd been buying, for example, diapers, and not, for true example, prosecco.

Edible cutlery

DM wants to feed herself but can't master fork-stabbery.  I've come up with a temporary solution: pre stabbed-in pretzel fork-thingies.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Keep it secret, keep it safe

In a hushed and horrified whisper, my mom once related to me how her mother (my grandmother) used to buy chocolates and hide them from her children so she didn't have to share.  I remember my mom being so indignant at the thought that Nan would keep something so delicious for herself, and at the time, my mind was so focused the incredible injustice of being denied chocolate that I'm sure I just made a disgusted "I can't believe she'd do that" noise and the conversation continued.

Now though,  all these years and two children later, I've come to believe that my mother is a much much better person than I could ever be.  I buy and hide food from my children all the time.  (Let's be fair - I'm hiding it from the daddy too.)  It's become my little ritual at the end of each day to sit down with a tasty snack - some popcorn or Cadbury mini eggs or a cookie, but there's no husbanding of delicious snacky resources once the rest of my family find out about them.  On my own, I can make a bag of chocolate chip cookies last more than a week, but once everyone knows about them, they're gone within hours.  (Sunday is my sleep-in day each week, and I couldn't figure out where the chocolate chip cookies were going until I got out of bed to pee early one Sunday morning and discovered all three of them eating the cookies for breakfast.  And my husband accuses ME of being the permissive one.  Ha.)

At the moment, my reserves are dangerously low.  I have some caramels stashed in my closet, but my husband found the bag of mini eggs hidden above the stove, and they're long gone now.  He left me six.

What about you?  Do you squirrel away bits for yourself, or am I walking in my grandmother's greedy, selfish shoes?

Mine vs. Hers - Breakfast

My Toddler (let's call her Darth Molly) is a willful little dark-sider.  She used to be an easy eater who would try some of whatever food you offered her.  However, in the last couple of months - I suspect as part of Project Little-Brother-Based-Attention-Getty-Madness - she's started rejecting foods, willy-nilly.  Getting weirdly specific about what she'll eat.  It's one more way she's decided to make my life...interesting.

And I don't have time to argue with her, these days.  I don't even have time to shower - I'm going to spend my day in a series of conflicts with the shouty equivalent of an angry drunken oompa loompa?  No.  She still drinks some milk so I've been sneaking toddler formula into her bottle to supplement, and just watching for signs of jaundice or other archaic diseases.  She eats from a selection of less than 10 things, generally.  Her menu is pretty limited.  Every day she eats scrambled eggs and cheese-penguins, for instance.  She is happy with this arrangement, apparently, and frankly the best I can hope for these days is for one or two family members to be happy @ the same time.

Me, I hardly get to eat.  I'm all about maximizing nutrition and eating efficient/easy foods when the babies let me.  Also, to be honest, I eat some foods because I can eat them one-handed while nursing the boy (who we call the Professor) without dropping a *whole* lot of crumbs on his head.  I am friends with Boost, Protein Bars, and random homemade slurries of tuna, vegetables, cheese and mayo.

Anyway, this is just a preface to a photo segment I like to call "My Breakfast vs. Hers."  (and yes, that is a store-brand can of "Freedom Cola.")

Product Review: Red Rose tea

I write this post full in the knowledge that I might get the boot for confessing that I drink Red Rose tea.  I have a feeling the other writers know better, and drink better.

But I like Red Rose tea, and here's why: it's impossible to oversteep a cup of this stuff.

You can carefully prepare your mug (visual inspection: no stray bits of ramen glued to the sides), insert the teabag, pour in the boiling water, and let it just sit there.  For, like, hours.  While you change diapers three or four times, check Facebook repeatedly (today's favourite hot-button topic: vaccinations), consider whether dinner should be comprised of KD and hot dogs or canned baked beans and hot dogs ... you get the idea.

Two hours later, you remember that you made yourself a cup of tea ... and that not only is it now cold, you've left the tea bag half-floating in it like some kind of angry iceberg in search of Leo DiCaprio vehicle.

But fear not!  You had the foresight to choose Red Rose!

So add your sugar and cream, and drink it up, buttercup.  No need to start all over, no need to bother with that pesky microwave.  You know all subsequent efforts are gonna be cold before you get to them, anyway.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Any port in a storm

Collectively, my family owns at least five hairbrushes. There's the big red one, the pink Dora the Explorer one, a cheap plastic one I bought to go to the gym, the nice wooden one I bought to replace the lost-and-subsequently-found aforementioned gym brush, etc. You get the idea. Not bad for a family where only two of us have hair longer than an inch.

So why is it that this afternoon, as I was racing around trying to change my son's poorly-timed dirty diaper and help my daughter find her other princess rubber boot to wear to school, I couldn't find a single one? We live in 600 square feet - there just shouldn't be that many places that one hairbrush - let alone five - can hide.

So, hairbrushes all missing, this is how I found myself at 12:10 pm this afternoon, gingerly brushing through my daughter's hair with the tiny pink brush that came with her new Dance Moves Barbie. I braided it for her today on the off-chance that the brushes are still missing tomorrow - at least it won't look like small mammals are nesting in it.

I like to think that the hairbrushes have snuck away with the television remote somewhere and are having a lovely time.

Edited to add: Ha! It was as I suspected. The hairbrush and the remote WERE consorting. Perhaps there are tiny brush/remote hybrids in my future.

Edited AGAIN to add:

Later the same day.  My remote is just not discriminating at all.  Naughty.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

And so it begins

I'm a new mom. My daughter was born on March 14th (to borrow from Tina Fey, vaginal birth, epidural, did not poop on the table).

She was born with two minor issues: a deep dimple just above her bum (my husband thought on first seeing it that she had an unusually high bum) which was of a small concern because he has a mild form of spina bifeda, and a skin tag in her vagina.

I was devastated. I'm sure that post-partum hormones played a role, but I wanted to cry because there were things wrong with her. She was 30 seconds old and I had already let her down.

One of the nurses said that her daughter had been born with a vaginal skin tag and had out grown it, but at that moment I was too busy throwing up to take a lot of solace in that.

We subsequently found out that the dimple was nothing to be concerned about, and that this too would be out grown.

In the intervening weeks several people have told us about the small idiosyncrasies that their babies were born with and my question is this: why did no one ever mention anything like this before?

I think if I had known that things like this are common, I wouldn't have felt so awful about it. As it was I felt isolated and horrible.

Even now, I can't easily bring myself to say 'skin tag in her vagina' because I feel like people will recoil in horror and think she is somehow not perfect. Even typing this, I almost prefaced 'skin tag' with 'small' as if to minimize it when it is already no big deal.

My instinct is to not tell anyone because it is somehow embarrassing and I imagine that is why I have never heard anyone else talk about it. But I am hoping that if I tell the people I know who are expecting, that should the same thing happen to them, they won't feel like I did.

Parenting, Pinterest ... conflict of interest?

Full disclosure: I'm on the fence where Pinterest is concerned. 

I'm inclined to think that Pinterest is like power: can be used for (self-congratulatory) good or (competency-comparing) evil.  We've already got so many other things to blame ourselves for, let's not add gee-dee toilet paper wreaths to the list, is what I'm saying.  Unless toilet paper wreaths really make your day, in which case I full encourage you to wave that freaky bum wipe flag.

I do agree with Jaimie's community tagline, though – in my head, it's a manifesto; can we make it a manifesto? – namely, "Parenting rarely looks like a Pinterest board."

Maybe you don't know what Pinterest is … and if that is so, oh MAN, do you ever need Pinterest.  I can almost guarantee that the rock under which you are living could use better lighting, fresh new window/crack treatments, maybe an inviting area rug or two (ferns are scratchy and those spore things on the underside scare the living crap out of me).  I invite you to check out the site, and forewarn that you are likely to lose 100 or so hours of your life to it.  But you owe it to yourself to get a little educated about the hottest social media property since Jesse Eisenberg's pet project.  Before your own mom sends you an invitiation.

To honour this blog's manifestagline – see what I did there? – I thought I'd outline in greater detail some of the ways in which parenting does not look like a Pinterest board.  I'll get you started with five.  Feel free to top up the list via the comment section below.

5. Pinterest is rife with projects requiring something called Mod Podge.  Best I can tell – and I used it on this project – Mod Podge is a fancy name for white glue.  Here are three things you can do with fancy white glue: make a custom doormat, funkify a suitcase, create the unholy union of margarita and candleholderHere is one thing, a staple feature of parenting, that you cannot (should not?) do with fancy white glue.

4. Pinterest is also a repository of some amazing vintage finds.  I love, love, love 50s-era styling, but that era was not flattering to children (seriously, does that baby not look like it would promise to never, ever poop again if you would just please, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD TAKE OFF THIS BERET?!).  And if you think Pinterest can win with more modern kids' clothing?  You would be wrong, friend. 

Okay, I think Jaimie's beef with Pinterest relates mostly to the kid-focused pins.  Here are two parenting-incompatible issues I take with the site:

3. Pinterest assumes that your children like having crap all over their hands.  That ear-splitting shriek you assumed was your neighbour being stabbed?  That was my toddler when I had the audacity to think he might want to play with shaving foam.  He did NOT want to play with shaving foam.  He didn't much care for the mess-free version, either.

2. Pinterest assumes your children understand the difference between edible and inedible play objects.  I'm lucky in that neither of my kids developed a taste for rainbow rice, but I'll admit that I watch them pretty closely while they play with it, lest my 10-month-old end up riding in the back of an ambulance like some kind of gluttonous post-nuptial pigeon

That brings me to the #1 way in which parenting does not look like a Pinterest board:

1. Pinterest is pretty.  It is not sleep-deprived, it is not moody and hormonal.  Pinterest is infinitely patient; it does not snap at toddlers who preface every statement with "I don't like …"  Pinterest wouldn't know post-partum depression from link rot.  Pinterest does not have cracked nipples.  Parenting involves all manner of disgusting bodily fluids – Pinterest does not (unless there is some kind of hard core kink board I haven't stumbled across yet). 

But they do have this in common, and I would be remiss if I didn't at least acknowledge it in passing: Pinterest and parenting can both inspire you, and as much as they can drain you, they can, in the blink of an eye, fill you up again. 

Parenting rarely looks like a Pinterest board … but sometimes it does … and that's magic.

Any Given Wednesday

This is what my living room looks like on any regular weekday afternoon, except normally the TV would be on, and there would be two tiny zombies drooling in its general direction from on or about the couch.

Because I've inherited my mom's particular brand of "can't show anyone a messy house" crazy, I spend hours and hours cleaning and tidying and decluttering before each and every playdate, but somehow, it always devolves back into this, despite all of my efforts to the contrary.

It could be worse though. It could look like my bedroom.

Opening up

I have never met a group of people so inclined to judge as mothers. Breastfeeding, co-sleeping, how creative your crafts are, what your child(ren) wear, what you feed them - all these things are grist for the mommy judgement mill, and the pressure to keep up appearances just seems overwhelming. Enter Bad Mommy, No Cookie.

I'm pretty good at being a mom - my kids are bright, healthy, relatively well-adjusted, and most of the time, have their pants on the right way around. And you know what? I let my kids watch TV. I feed them Kraft Dinner. I sometimes put them in the bath and forget that they're in there until I hear them gleefully pouring cupsful of water onto the bathroom floor. This blog is real life, not the pretty "aren't I crafty" view of parenting seen through the lens of Pinterest and facebook albums.

It is my hope that Bad Mommy, No Cookie will become a sprawling community project, but let's start with some baby steps.

Friday, April 13, 2012

"I ate my healthy thing first!"

At our house, we usually have two desserts after supper. The first is "healthy dessert" and is usually a piece of fruit or a yogurt tube. The second is "unhealthy dessert" and is almost always chocolate in some form.

Tonight, we've just finished having tacos for supper (and jello for dessert - we pretty much just skipped healthy dessert tonight) when my 4-year-old daughter wanders into the kitchen and picks up an extra taco shell.

"Mom, I'd like my unhealthy dessert now, but first I'm going to eat this!".

So I wash some of the dishes while they finish up eating, and I come out of the kitchen with the Kinder Eggs that are both unhealthy dessert tonight, and a bribe from last night that got the 2-y-o and the 4-y-o sleeping in their own bunk beds again. I hand the egg to my son and then lean over to hand my daughter hers, but she still has taco shell in her hand. I can see the grease glistening on her fingers where they hold the probably gmo-corn chip. She finishes the shell, picks up her egg, and proudly exclaims, "I ate my healthy thing first!".

At some point, we'll talk about why taco shells aren't actually healthy, but that night won't be tonight.