Pin It

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Biggest Piece of Chicken for Daddy

What's Cooking for Dinner?

There was an episode of "Everybody Loves Chris" I remember vaguely, where momma had to leave for work before dinnertime and she specifically asked Chris and his brothers to not touch the chicken she saved for daddy's dinner. Chris agreed to guard it, and there was a flash forward cut out to an image of daddy coming home from work and chowing down on this very juicy, yummy and delicious chicken. (I forgot the rest of the episode; I'm assuming something happened to that chicken and Chris learned a hard lesson to make that a funny story).
Image Source

In another comedy piece by Chris Rock, he does a short piece on parenthood. I can quote this if not word for word, "... save the biggest piece of chicken for daddy...  after a long hard day at work, is it  too much to ask for just the biggest piece of chicken?!"

I was not yet a parent when I saw these chicken jokes, and I did not understand the gravity of the situation until it actually happened to me. So last week, all week in fact, I had an enormous craving for deep fried chicken. I ordered Mary Brown's Chicken and Taters twice and even I brought 25 pieces of friend chicken to my brother in law's housewarming party. Anyway it was the time when I only bought the four piece meal that I ran into a situation.

Who eats my food anyway?
My biggest beef with cooking dinner sometimes is that I often feel unappreciated when kids, just being kids, just don't want to eat my food. It feels worse when I slave all day (cooking amazing ribs or pork chops in the slow cooker) and my husband who comes home from work and expects dinner to be served ready and hot, doesn't even see the ribs and ends up cooking his own won ton soup and noodles. As well, my husband has recently decided to cut down on rice and meat, so he's been trying to eat more healthy by having more vegetables and fruits. Therefore on this particular day at Mary Brown's I was only thinking about myself and my kids, like why would he even want to eat fried chicken?

So the kids and I are devouring three pieces of the bestest, crunchiest fried chicken in the world (it's alot different than KFC. I like KFC too but this is way different) when he arrives and joins us for dinner. That's all we're having cuz I just didn't feel like cooking. (This guy is just gonna make his own bowl of noodles anyway like yesterday!) He grabs the last piece!!! O well that's ok, he'll never finish it anyway, so it's still MINE!  Bwahahahahaha. He sets it down half eaten on the plate and I proceed to grab it because he's the kind of guy who leaves half the meat on chicken wings at the pub. I would never "finish" them off for him, ever, in public or not (that's just wrong) but we're at home and this is Mary Brown's!

There is a showdown.... does he take the food from the pregnant lady, or does daddy get the biggest piece of chicken??? What does that really mean? It comes down to two words, love and sacrifice.

We laugh about this whole scenario, and I let go. Hey I can buy more next time which is what he said I should've done, so I have redeemed myself when I buy 25 at the next visit.

True Love and Sacrifice

Well I think that's just want that quote from Chris means; giving daddy what he deserves. It might seem odd because as a mom, you're looking out for your kids, they're number one, you have to feed them first. This is BIOLOGY! However love in a marriage is possibly more than biology, there is priority. It's important to remember to put that guy who made the kids, in first place and think of him too. That was a moment of revelation for me, as small and insignificant as it may seem.

There was another quote from "Everybody Loves Chris" about his father.  In this show the narrator is little Chris himself of course. One time he made a comment about his father, someone ordinary yet someone is he is proud of. He said something like, "That's my dad, he goes to work and he comes home every night. Hey in this neighborhood, that's saying alot. There are lots of kids on this block and their daddy never sticks around..."

Chinese Man Sues Wife for Ugly Baby
A recent trending story that may or may not prove true has been making the rounds on the Internet outside of China.  At first I thought it was really funny and I shared the link of facebook and laughed about it. But a friend commented, what a broken world. I soon realized, how very sad that someone's husband or father doesn't love the family anymore because of looks.  If you read the story, the father is basically upset with his ugly baby with a double chin (but I thought all newborns were squishy and ugly anyway) and demanded a DNA test which indeed proved his fatherhood. However he later discovered that his wife had spent thousands on plastic surgery in Korea before they met, so he somehow felt misled and demanded a divorce.

I'm married but I feel like a single parent, is this normal?

In light of all the things I experienced this week, this topic caught my eye. It's from a mom forum and I responded multiple times with my pearls of wisdom, and more random quotes from Chris Rock!

I think it's important to understand that men and women have different roles in a relationship and in the caring of children. I find that as mom, I end up taking care of the food and clothing needs of the children (that would include shopping for groceries, cooking dinner, buying clothes, laundry, folding etc and the general operations of the household including chores etc).
However this is not truly parenting but "general household operations". I learned to appreciate my husband for being a strong authorative figure and for taking care of the bigger things like managing the issues of buying a house, RESP's, saving for retirement.. mind you we both work and we have similar paying professional jobs so I feel equal in that capacity. But there is a good quote we both laugh about from Chris Rock. "If there's no heat in the house, that's the daddy's problem. If the kids can't read or write good, that's the mommy's problem"

Sorry I did not get a chance to read some of the posts before I so quickly responded to the original tagline post. Things are sometimes very complicated, and a simple reply I might have may not apply to all scenarios. Being a mom of three plus one (due in a week) I feel that I have sometimes completely neglected my husband's love, care and nurturing needs, well except for a dinner that I am already cooking for the kids. That relationship with the husband is so important, it's kinda annoying that it should actually be a priority even when all that stuff is going with the kids and the house chores. Where is the love? I think it's hard to be a good dad or husband when this super hot sexy chic he married/ dated whatever suddenly becomes a very busy, tired, weepy, often impatient screaming tyrant with kids (that's me). I cry alot too probably pg hormones but I try to hide it. I think it's so important to hold on to love, if that's all there is to hold to. Please don't ever let go, if you still love each other. Anyway I was just reading the story about the ugly baby in China; the father divorced the mother and demanded a DNA test to find out he is indeed the father, but it was the mother who spent a million bucks on plastic surgery so he felt duped into marrying the wrong woman. wut?? What about love?

Did anyone ever notice that a little baby boy has a mommy to take care of him all his life. Then he grows up to be a man and marries a really nice wife who ends up taking care of him too... so it's so much easier being a boy/ man in this world. I shocked my husband when I said that I would rather hope that our baby (due next week) is a boy because it's so hard being a girl and growing up to be a mom/ wife. Well everything that anyone is saying on this forum is proving that to be true. Hang in there!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Best Ever Christmas Cookie Exchange Recipes

My Christmas Favorites

Image Source
I’ve made the Magic Cookie Bars every year for the great cookie exchange at work and they’re always a big hit. It’s even better when I get more goodies from the others to make a really awesome mixed cookie platter to bring to a Christmas Party. I’ve made the Truffles once; two batches 10 years ago as a hostess gift and for another party. The hardest part was not eating too many of them myself! And the last recipe for the Candy Cane shortbread has not been tested yet but it’s on my list for this year!


Chocolate Expresso Truffles

From Chatelaine December 1999 pg 178

½ cup Whipping Cream

2 tbsp Butter

1 tbsp Corn syrup

1 tbsp Instant Coffee granules

8 oz (250g) good quality semisweet or bittersweet chocolate
For decorating - cocoa powder, icing sugar, coloured sprinkles, nuts etc

1. In a large microwavable bowl, heat cream, butter, corn syrup and coffee on high until steaming hot (about 2 minutes). Or heat in a large saucepan set over medium-low setting stirring often.

2. Meanwhile, coarsely chop chocolate. Stir into hot cream mixture until very smooth. Hint – if chocolate does not completely melt, gentle heat mixture in microwave on medium power for 45 seconds, then stir until melted.

3. Leave, uncovered at room temperature until it no longer feels warm to the touch, about 5 to 10 minutes.

4. Using an electric mixture, beat chocolate mixture on high speed until colour lightens, about 1 minute.

5. Cover and place in refrigerator and chill until old enough to shape, at least 3 hours or up to several days.

6. Use a melon baller or a teaspoon, shape mixture into hazelnut size balls.

7. Using cocoa or icing sugar dusted hands, shape each scoop of chocolate into a ball. Refrigerate on a wax paper lined tray until firm, about 15 minutes.

8. Then roll in cocoa, finely chopped toasted hazelnuts, colored sprinkles or icing sugar.

9. Store in layers, separated by waxed paper, in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. If truffles look scruffy after storage, roll again before serving. Makes 44 truffles

Image Source

The Original Magic Cookie Bar

By Eagle Brand

Parchment paper

2 cups graham wafer crumbs

¾ cup butter, melted

1 can (300 mL) regular or low fat Eagle Brand sweetened condensed milk

1 1/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 1/3 cup flaked coconut

1 1/3 cup chopped pecans

1. Combine graham crumbs with butter, press evenly into parchment paper lined 13 x 9 inch baking pan.

2. Pour milk evenly over crumbs.

3. Sprinkle with chips, coconut and pecans; press down firmly.

4. Bake in preheated oven at 350 for 25 to 30 minutes or until lightly browned. (For a glass dish, bake at 325)

5. Cool thoroughly and cut into bars.

6. Store loosely covered at room temperature. Makes 24 bars.

Link Up

Candy Cane Shortbread

By Gay Lea Butter

Parchment paper

1 cup GAY LEA butter (unsalted)

1/3 cup granulated sugar

¼ tsp peppermint extract (optional)

1 ¾ cup all purpose flour

¼ cup rice flour or cornstarch

¾ cup chopped candy canes

1) Using electric mixer, beat butter with sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in peppermint extract

2) Using a wooden spoon, gradually stir in flour and rice flour

3) Transfer dough to floured work surface

4) Dusting dough lightly flour to prevent sticking, roll out dough to ¼ inch (5 mm) thickness. Cut out 2 inch wide snowflakes or other designs, re rolling scraps once

5) Transfer to parchment lined cookie sheets. Sprinkle surface of each cookie with chopped candy canes. Refrigerate for 15 minutes

6) Bake in center of oven at 350 about 15 minutes (check early) or until firm to the touch and the candy cane has melted

7) Cool in pan on rack for 5 minutes. Transfer to racks to cool completely. Makes about 24 cookies

Only use real butter for Christmas baking, especially for cookies. Hey it’s Christmas, it’s supposed to be fattening. For cakes, a common healthy substitute is apple sauce or even margarine, but this definitely wouldn’t work for butter shortbread right?

Choose a high quality grade candy cane. I just bought a box of rainbow candy canes from the dollar store, but now I am worried about the quality or purity of the sugar and if it would melt or bake the same way. We’ll see!
Here's a Bonus Recipe for a Jello Strawberry Pie...
Image Source

Light and Fruity Pie

Clipping from Chinese tabloid magazine
Prep time: 15 min
Chilling time: 3 hours
Makes 8 servings
1 1/3 Christie Honey Maid Baking Crumbs
1/3 cup butter melted
1 pkg (85g) Strawberry JELLO powder
2/3 cup boiling water
2 cups ice cubes
3 cups COOL WHIP whipped topping thawed
½ cup Strawberries sliced
½ cup canned lychees, drained and sliced
1. Mix together baking crumbs with melted butter and press into 9 inch pie plate. Place in freezer for 15min
2. Dissolve jelly powder in boiling water, stir well until dissolved about 2 minutes. Add ice cubes and stir until jelly thickens 3 to 5 minutes. Remove unmelted ice
3. Fold jelly into whipped topping, blend until smooth. Fold in fruit
4. Spoon into pie crust, refrigerate for 3 hours. Garnish with remaining whipped topping and sliced fruit.

Gingerbread House DIY

Looking for the Best Ever Gingerbread Cookie Recipe?

The best ever gingerbread cookie recipe was the one I found in the back of the story book Gingerbread Friends by Jan Brett.  The dough rolls sturdy yet thin, the cookies come out slightly chewy or crunchy but never hard.  The recipe can be used for assembling a gingerbread house as well. I have the gingerbread cottage set of cookie templates I purchased from AVON.

2 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp cinnamon

1 egg

3 cups flour

¾ cups sweet butter

½ cup molasses

¾ cup brown sugar

1 tsp baking soda

¼ tsp nutmeg

¼ tp cloves

Stir the batter, blend the mix.

Roll out the dough.

Cut out the shapes.

Bake in the oven at 350F for 8 minutes

Don’t Peek!

Decorating Tips
The Gingerbread House kits come with unmarked random candy but I prefer to use true brand gum drops, smarties and even fruit loops.  This is a great way to use up the leftover Halloween candy.  I managed to convince the kids not to eat up the candy by telling them that the peppermint swirls were spicy (true) and if we ate the other candies there wouldn't be enough to finish the house (also true). However I provided salty treats like pretzels and swiss cheese crackers on the side that they could snack on and that seemed to work.

Pretzel sticks are useful for lining windows or filling up a door too.  The regular pretzels can be used to make a fence.

Completed Gingerbread House Kit
Can I eat the whole house now?

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Christmas Traditions

Santa Photos
We usually do this at the mall or the company Christmas party each year. I couldn't find the first Santa photo with Maggie, and Lincoln missed last years party. Looking forward to the photo op this year with four kiddies...

Waah! He's not the real Santa! 2008

Unimpressed 2010

Elf on the Shelf
I'm gonna hold off on setting up the Elf on the Shelf until Dec 1. It will mean less work finding new hiding places. We had a lot of fun with this last year and it was such a big deal driving across town to buy the last one in the city at Chapters Cole Indigo. Elf report from last year....

Operation Christmas Child
You might have heard of this huge operation created by Franklin Graham where all the Canadian kids in schools, churches, and community groups fill small decorated shoeboxes with toys and small gifts. These are collected at collection centers in major cities and sent to the main headquarters and distribution center in Calgary, Alberta where the boxes eventually make their way to schools, hospitals, and orphanages etc in all parts of the world including Europe, Africa, South America and Asia.  I've been doing this since it started when I was in high school. I collect shoe boxes and peruse the dollar store and Zellers etc for  random toys and small trinkets all year. The kids are old enough to do this with me, but I just haven't had the time to do this with them this year (because of the big move). I only made a mail in donation. Their school is still taking collections for another week so I'll see what I can come up with in the next few days.

Hand Crafted Christmas Cards
Stampin Up! Spotlight JOY
It's time to get cracking on the mass production of Christmas cards. I would've started weeks ago but we just had the big move. My stuff is all unpacked so I have no excuse for not getting started, other than having too much housework and napping too much. I suppose my focus has shifted this time around because of the new baby coming soon (two more weeks to go!) C'est la vie. People might be receiving cards that I made in previous years or from card swaps.

Lighted Christmas Tree
This is the original Christmas Tree my husband's family had used since their early days in Canada.  We've decorated the tree with the homemade ornaments he and his brother created, plus a few new ones that the kids and I have made as well.  If you look carefully you'll see the Seven Dwarfs. Anywayz the tree is sometimes hard to balance because the stand is a little bit hard to assemble. We can't quite part with it, but this year because of the big move, the tree was shipped ahead of time to his brother's place so maybe this will be their tree this year and we'll use the super cool pre-lighted Fiber Optic tree I bought for my mother in law a years ago. (It folds up like an umbrella)

My siblings and I always set up stockings each year. We knew that Santa (or rather my mom for sure) would fill up the stockings on Christmas Eve. On Christmas morning we would wake up super early of course and sneak out to peek into the stockings. We continued to believe that Santa would bring us little gifts, well until we all just grew up and moved away. Now the stockings are way to full and heavy to be placed on the fireplace mantle. In fact at my mother in law's condo and our new house here, there is no fire place. (That is weird, I did not previously notice before I bought this house that it didnt' have a fireplace. Must be a small town thing) Anywayz we'll just lay them out by the tree I suppose. In fact the stockings labelled one for each person in the household including my brother in law and his wife, were among the first items we unpacked in the new house, so the kids actually have the stockings already set up in their rooms!

Mega Christmas Party
We usually make the trek to Toronto to spend Christmas with my mother in law.  We also attend the giant Christmas Potluck Party with her bible study group, which ends up being over 13 families with two grown children each and their gf/ bf/ spouse and little kids (in our case). There is enough food to feed an army, a White Elephant style gift exchange and decadent desserts at midnight. I'm going to post the wide angle lens group photo from 2011 soon.  An amazing feat by the photographer to catch everyone with their eyes open.

NORAD Tracks Santa's Sleigh
I secretly login each Christmas Eve after the Night Before Christmas is read and the kiddies are all asleep, because I am curious about how fast Santa's sleigh must be travelling to drop off all the presents to the little children everywhere. I also secretly believe that NORAD has the ability to totally track Santa's sleigh by ground-based radar, satellite imagery, and fighter aircraft and google earth. Hey if NORAD is tracking Santa, he's gotta be so real! As well Santa lives in North Pole, Canada H0H 0H0

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Daddy Daycare

Would you let your husband be the "Stay at Home Dad" ?

A couple of times, this topic has come up and I do appreciate my hubby for even thinking about making that sacrifice for our family. (Unless he's doing some kinda reverse logic game on me) I've always gone back to work after taking the entire year of mat leave but with four kids, he must be hinting at how important it is for one parent to be at home to manage things, drive the kids to soccer and piano etc.
Image Source

First off, I should backtrack on how the initial conversation started. Myself and the three kids basically packed up our entire lives and made the big move from the big city to this small little town two weeks ago.  We all missed daddy too much, and with the fourth kid on the way, and as great and awesome it was to have a nanny with us all the years, I did come to realize that parents have to do the parenting together and not only on the weekends.

But here are the top five reasons I probably would not accept his offer

1. This is a woman’s job
Although I am an Engineer and I work in a male dominated field, I still have certain perceptions about traditional family roles, that dad wears a suit and goes to work. Mom can wear a suit or dress to go to work, but after work she's still mom and there are many chores and kids to take care of around the house. If it's about finding childcare, the best deals on kids clothing, what to cook for dinner or how to cook the dinner, the best deal on groceries and coupons, and the best toilet cleaner to use, that's the mom's job. If it's about basement renovations, car appointments, lawncare, taking out the garbage; that can be dad's job. I just can't see how these roles can be reversed. Maybe he thinks he can train the kids in sports or run a boot camp for his Daddy Daycare, but seriously I can't see how a man can be happy to do this for more than a week.

2. Who could do this job better than me

No further clarification required. Can you put a baby down to sleep without milk in a bottle? Do you know where to find a playgroup and would you actually sing to them their nursery songs? Do you know how to sign up kids for swimming, soccer, ballet and summer camp on time?

I’m going to be mad at you because dinner was not prepared the way I want it. I'm going to be upset because the clothes were folded differently than the way I do it, or you put the clothes or dishes in the wrong cubby or drawer. You'll forget to sweep an vacuum and you wont even know what groceries to buy.

3. It is not a vacation
So many times my male colleagues, who are dads themselves mind you, have asked me, "What are you gonna do for a whole year on mat leave". Yah I want to punch them in the face or give a better answer like, "I'm gonna go to the spa and get massages and play golf all day!" That's what I should say! Duh, feed a baby? Sweep the floor and take care of kids and the house?

It is not a relaxing job, you are not allowed to watch TV and play Super Mario 3 with the kids all day. You are not allowed to fall asleep with a kid on your chest for three hours each afternoon.
4. You don’t know what you are asking for

Could a man really be happy not driving in to work each morning? Could you really give up that awesome career you worked so hard to get to, everything you believe in and all the important projects and timelines you put your heart into, you could just drop it? All the people who look up to you and call you their boss, you could just say to them, actually I really miss my kids and I want to drive them to the library for the 1000h storytime. So why do you have to be a super two-thumb texting ninja on the work Black Berry when you just walk in the door and the kids are running to hug you?  Seriously,  airplanes will fall out of the sky if you miss that phone call.

Well I guess I have also seen this to work out well. We have a family friend where the dad is indeed the Stay at Home Dad. Mom has been highly promoted into a very senior level Manager of the Human Resources division in a certain big company. Dad studied English Lit or something artsy and a really awesome career in journalism just didn't pan out. Instead they have 3 very beautiful teenage daughters well on their way to University and having a great future in front of them. Dad took care of many things for them, including packing lunches, driving them to piano lessons, exams and competitions, and just every thing that a dedicated parent would do. C'est possible.

5. You're not allowed to look like a Movember everyday of the year.

My biggest fear is that he would slowly turn fat or unsexy or slobby from not having time to shower or shave. His hair would grow out of style and his clothes would be unstylish, just being too comfy in sweatpants and sweatshirts all day. Uh-oh I wonder if this is what is happening to me right now as the stay at home mom, but I just don't know it...

The Inside Scoop

We've been in this new house for two weeks. My mat leave officially starts in December but I am home with kids although the older two have school full day an we have Lincoln in full mornings daycare three times a week to phase him in. I've been doing a fabulous job (pat on the back for myself ok) unpacking and organizing the house in record time, keeping up with dishes and laundry, sorting toys, clothes, tools, sports equipment into the right bins, packing lunches and even making dinner (who actually wants to eat the dinner is a different story), dragging everyone on time and/or late to the bus stop. It's funny that it is actually faster to drive to school than it is to walk to the bus stop and wait, but I have to teach them that life is not easy.

The morning rush, the evening rush. It seems that he's trying to convince me that it is so much easier for one parent to be home, and maybe he wanted to be it. He pointed out that we don’t focus enough on the kids and their homework and there’s not enough time with them each day that maybe he could consider staying home with them like a few years from when he could possibly retire. I was shocked because this is the workaholic dad who doesn’t even bring the kids to doctors appointments or dental appointments, or cancels any meetings to be with sick kids because that’s mom’s job. Or get this… he even went back to work on the day his firstborn was born. So how dare he even propose to be a stay at home dad???

Anywayz, my scenario will happen about two years from now. There are many unknowns and changing factors between now and then. For now I will just enjoy the ride and see where this takes us. Kids grow up very fast, I don't think any parent ever regretted spending more time with their own kids.

Monday, November 12, 2012

I see Zombie

Halloween this year on this tiny street was a big event for the little kiddies and the neighbors who took the time to create haunted houses and rent giant inflatable monsters.  It was our second week in the neighborhood so we were glad to be part of it and meet some neighbors along the way.

AJ chose to dress up as a "Banana" for the school parade but he did not get into full costume for Trick or Treating. Maggie was a Snow Crystal Fairy, most appropriately wearing a snow suit jacket (to keep warm) and little Lincoln was a fat skeleton.

We didn't quite make it all the way around the block as tiny as it was, but the kids got to watch a movie and eat some treats at their uncle and aunt's house, take a bath and get in PJ's to sleep before 9pm! That is an amazing feat to say the least, if you believe in the sugar crash.

Please don't go!
AJ was quite afraid of the scary witch decorations, and the flashy pumpkin lights with red eyes. He was extremely terrified of the two large monsters guarding the entrance to the haunted house the neighbor built in his garage.  He didn't even want Maggie to walk to the front door to get some candy, screaming "No, Maggie don't go!!!" She was a little bit embarrassed but decided to stay close to her brother who was grabbing frantically to me, so the kind neighbor who unmasked himself, walked over and dropped off big portions of candies anyway.  Fortunately AJ managed to say Thank you. Wow, I never realized how real the scary could be for the little guyz.

It's a Zombie!
We had been incorrectly naming the display skeletons crawling out of the front yard graves and skulls hanging from trees as zombies. By day, my kids walk by and point and laugh. However on this night, they do look a bit scary.

We were at Zellers earlier that week and I was looking at baby things with Lincoln. He kept pointing at the pile of toy sheep and saying "I see Zombie" and I had no idea what he was talking about. Eventually I walked over and then I saw  a really cute musical Dracula plush doll holding a Skull that sings the "Monster Mash". Regular price $29.95 on sale for $6.94 with 15% off so I bought it. It was the catch of the day!

So this is AJ looking a little bit dizzy or constipated, but he is just dancing to the song while eating unlimited chips and watching Madagascar 3.  I meant to have the song played out for the trick or treaters, but it was much too annoying for my husband who was handing out the candy with little Lincoln. Instead I carried the singing doll with Maggie and AJ as we did trick or treating. Imagine that, carolling trick or treaters.

Choose your Own Pumpkin
The best part of living out in the country (almost) is the natural and organic farmers markets, and being a 2 minute drive from a real pumpkin patch! Maggie and I picked these up at Crew's Market, 3 for $10. I've never seen a deal like that before especially for pumpkins big enough for Cinderella's Carriage. The kits were $4.95 from Walmart and I even tried to keep them for next year. All three pumpkins created by AJ.

Je me souviens avec Spaghetti

My daughter's homework assignment this weekend was to take her turn with the Class travelling bunny, Spaghetti. Similar to the traveling Gnome, the bunny Spaghetti tags along with every mundane or interesting family activity. Some kids have Spaghetti chowing down a large plate of Spaghetti and meatballs, but Maggie didn't want to copy someone so we have our own adventures this weekend.

Alas, I have printed the photos for the class album and wrote up a blurb in French for the class journal. I can write accents but I haven't figured out how to include these in printed text, so please bear with me. I had trouble with writing the last sentence about designing the hairstyle and makeup of an animated character for a computer game, but I am quite pleased with the simple translation that Maggie came up with herself! (you'll see).

Les aventures de Margaret et Spaghetti ce weekend

Je suis allee au parade de souvenir a Belleville avec Papa. Il y avait le parade de veterans et il faisait beau soleil.

Samedi soir, on a visite la maison de mon oncle et aunt. Spaghetti a mange beaucoup de legumes et des biscuits.

Alors nous avons travaille a l'informatique et j'ai cree la fille.

It was a wonderful experience for Maggie to attend a Remembrance Day Ceremony with her dad dressed in military blues.  We're in a small town now, so it wasn't the big nationally televised event they have in the nations capital with the F-18 fly past though I suppose this is the air base they depart from so maybe there was a fly-past just four minutes earlier.  I stayed at home with AJ and Lincoln cuz we all got hit with coughs and colds.   Unfortunately I did not get a chance to turn on the TV and spend a quiet moment at the 11th hour to remember.  (I think I was frantically cooking lunch, managing potty training on Lincoln, and setting up a game online for AJ)  So Maggie got to wear her first poppy, and see daddy salute the flag as veterans marched by.  I wonder what she thinks of war and peace.  The only "conflict" we've talked about is Afghanistan because daddy was there briefly and we have a special photo of three afghan girls smiling and possibly going to school. We call it the photo of "a girl worth fighting for" ( a song from the Disney movie Mulan).

I know that Remembrance Day is about remembering the WWI and WWII fallen soldiers, and the lasting peace and also the recent conflicts that Canada has been involved. I've been to Ypres, Vimy Ridge, Dieppe, and the beaches of Normandy, and visited many Canadian military cemeteries in France.  But recently on Saturday a new civic monument was unveiled for the repatriation of the fallen in Afghanistan, a civilian gesture on behalf of the people of this city.  That's why this November 11 and also previously whenever there a Canadian soldier died, I look up the song "Highway of Heroes" by the Trews.

The song title refers to the stretch of Highway 401 in Ontario, between CFB Trenton and downtown Toronto, where people gather on bridges and overpasses to watch as the the bodies of the fallen soldiers killed in Afghanistan are transported from Trenton to the coroner's office in downtown Toronto.   I did not know that they wrote this song originally inspired by their fallen classmate Capt Nichola Goddard.  The lyrics are deep, and kinda brings a tear to me eye.

"Carry me home down The Highway of Heroes. People above with their flags flying low. Carry me softly, down The Highway of Heroes. True Patriot Love, There was never more."

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Are you Yummy Mummy Enough?

I've seen the term Yummy Mummy tossed around a bit, some to more deserving mommies than others. I've also seen the opposite effect that motherhood has on previously glamourous ladies; the toll of baby fat that never got lost or the stress of just handling all the kiddies with absolutely no me time to get a proper haircut or self-manicure. I call her the Frumpy Mummy.
Image Source

I sympathize because on some days (more like most days) that could be me.  The matted hair that didn't get defrazzeled or hot-rollered, the 5 minute makeup-application with smudged mascara, the really icky chipped nail polish from last week, and the really really bad fashion ensemble: a perfect model for the What Not to Wear episode. If I'm wearing my glasses, I am the super geek I would call ``instant birth control``.  If I am wearing contacts I guess I have to say all the factors I listed above seem to melt away somewhat (minus the bad clothes). I don`t have baby fat because I never gained more than 13 pounds for each birth, but I do not work out and I have a gut.  The gut is invisible to me but supposedly quite obvious to my husband, however I am pregnant right now so the gut is actually a baby for now.

My inspiration for this post about the Frumpy Mummy is inspired by my someone I've actually seen in real life, her real name will not be used but I know her peripherally as the mom of my daughter's classmate. I met her last year and I really liked her long blond hair with amazing highlights, her hot pink sweatshirt and casual jeans and her dazzling smile. We chatted at the park about the girls in school and piano lessons and she was super nice! And she had really cool designer sunglasses and she was wearing her contacts (I presume). I saw her again at the Meet the Teacher night the other night.  She recognized my daughter and said hi, so I politely said hi too but I did not have a flash of recognition. She had her glasses on looked exactly like the "Instant Birth Control" woman (see photo below, but 10 years younger) Later she said hi to me again and said that too bad Maggie was not in the same class as her daughter, so I just asked her if her name was Rae Lynn (not her real name but close).  She beamed yes so we chatted some more and I was glad that I remembered her name!
Momma at Walmart

The Frumpy Mommy
Please, please, please take care of your hair and makeup and your clothes. Please even if you are walking around aimlessly at Value Village looking for the best deal on used kids clothes and yard sale quality toys (like I am) or shopping for groceries at Price Chopper, Food Basics or Walmart please do not wear pyjamas or ugly fat looking jogging suits and ski jackets from the eighties.  You are the mother of one, two, three or eight beautiful children and your husband still loves you very much so you should love yourself and still try to look hot and sexy, even a little bit.

J Lo and Twins Source

The Foxy Yummy Mommy
She drives a mean sports car or luxury SUV, in apple bottom jeans and boots with the fur... everyone's looking at her. She's got Gucci hand bags and the Versace sunglasses and some really, really sexy looking hair and perfect makeup and nails. The goddess you probably see on the cover of magazines and the perfect stay at home mom.  I guess it would be pretty awesome to be her too,  but this may be someone I don't see too often at the places where I shop. 

I have a friend at work who is not yet a mommy, but she owns a closet with a 1,000 pairs of shoes and a diamond studded cell phone protector. She's a really nice and generous person and fun to chat with when we go out with the girls. She knows alot about kids because of all her extended Italian family and all the crazy stories we share about kids, so I figure that when is going to be a mom, she will still look and dress and drive the same way.  Think J Lo.

Image Source

The Working Professional Mommy
I believe there is something different about a mommy working professionally outside the home and a stay at home mommy.  She may be on mat leave or just home on a one day break from the office out with her kids, but there is something very different with the neat sleek look vs the frumpy look.  It could be less time spent outside in the beating sun with kids at the park and having the more responsible choice of an expensive Shiseido or Christian Dior brand of UV 45 protected daily moisturizer and night time routine that makes the skin that much clearer and more polished.  Perhaps the daily grind at the office working with other professional men and women is less stressful than the fast pace of life with kids at home (in my opinion).  Anyway I am a more calm and level headed person at work, and I am nicer to my kids and husband after I come home from work instead of the times when I was at home with three kids on mat leave. I seem to age faster and have more wrinkles and grey hair with each year that I am home on mat leave.

What about you?

The Voice of Reason

Ever what could make an ordinary morning routine into a fiery explosion of chaos, angry tears, and a screaming maniacal toddler (and the mother of three)?  It could be waking up on the wrong side of the bed, the wind blowing the wrong way, the wrong shirt, the wrong toothbrush or toothpaste, or how about a cupcake cut the wrong way? Woah, worse things have happened to people on this planet, cry me a river. Well today, somebody did.
Recipe Image Source

The Initial Spark

This morning, little AJ woke up quite late because I let him sleep in peacefully. Well why not, a quiet morning for Maggie and I since Lincoln was already off to daycare with Dad.  My kids usually like treats from the Chinese bakery - ham and egg bun, sausage rollups, coconut cream bun, and egg custard tarts. Today, there was only ONE egg custard tart left, actually that's all I got from grandma.  How about I give it to the one kid who hasn't started breakfast yet to get the morning going a wee bit faster? However Maggie wanted some too. No biggie, let's just cut it in half. Big mistake, AJ freaked out that I cut it.  Maggie bit into her half first and then decided she didn't want it any more. And that's what started the temper tantrum about the egg tart, that didn't stop for nearly 3 minutes of eternity while I tried to calm him.

The Fireworks come out

I slowly start to feel myself boil over. First I calmly said, "Stop crying, I cut it because there was only one and I wanted you guyz to share." Then I pause to concede, "I know you don't like it cut but I already did it I'm sorry". Then after a few more moments I get very irritated. "HEY this is a TREAAAAT!  I thought I would be nice and offer you a treat for breakfast. Now the morning is RUUUINNED! Why are you mad about cutting in half, just eat it OK or I'm throwing it outside for the wild turkeys!"  It took all my mortal strength to  not hurl the plate at the closed patio door. In that moment where I lost it, I guess I was sane enough to consider that I would rather not clean up shattered glass in a million pieces. It might seem funny now but at the moment, it wasn't.  I managed to open the patio door and set the plate gently on the kids picnic table outside, just on the wee chance someone might actually want to eat that, just before slamming the door so fast I nearly caught my pinkie. Then I change my mind suddenly  and run outside myself to calm down. Now Maggie gets hysterical too (don't blame her).

I run back inside to scream, "Why did you make me cut it if you don't even want to EEAAT IT?!!!!!!"  I run to my closet and continue freaking out about the same thing, about just trying to be nice and it's supposed to be a treat and it's not supposed to make everyone mad. The situation is way out of control. AJ is still screaming and crying in the kitchen but Maggie runs to me and offers me a hug.  But I continue to sob and shout uncontrollably.  She says, "Adults are not supposed to cry. Who's going to take care of us now? I want daddy."  The voice of reason speaks.

I continue to cry but I decide to direct my anger at the stupid egg custard tart. "Why?!!!" I shout to the heavens.  Eventually, Maggie's words start sinking in, I realize I am the adult in charge.  How can I be the mom they want me to be if I am freaking out.  Maggie had also said, "When you cry and shout it hurts my ears"   She runs back to the kitchen to comfort AJ. Glad to have a daughter like Maggie, wise beyond her years.

The Train Moves On

Anyways there is magic in the air, and AJ ends up eating the half of the egg tart.  Eventually they brush their teeth and change into morning clothes.  We have breached the timeline so we are even too late to drive to the bus stop.  Well after that first crisis of the day, there was no reason to be mad about being late.  Then AJ suddenly realizes that Daddy was gone for work before he woke up and got to give him a hug and kiss goodbye.  He cries and I am afraid of the next temper tantrum about to begin. All I can really do is give him a hug and just say, "He said bye to you before you woke up ok?"  and I had no choice but to ignore his tears and put on his socks, shoes and jacket.  I'm not really sure how he managed to calm down. I suppose he suddenly had to run to the bathroom  for nature's call and completely forgot what he was crying about.  Anyway, soon we are out the door. Mission Accomplished!

Pause for Self Reflection

Have you ever lost you cool?  How did you calm down? How do you calm down a child in a midst of a temper tantrum?

  1. Disaster Avoidance - just try to avoid situations that would cause a high risk of disturbance like the fight for one treat or treasure.
  2. Disaster Mitigation - try to calm the child at the first sign of the temper tantrum forming by hugging, rocking, or taking him physically away from the situation and offer a distraction (I noticed that Daddy does this quite effectively).
  3. All out war - Sometimes there is no choice but to let the disaster run it's course. There is no sense trying to talk logic and reasoning at this point. I might have lacked compassion and understanding or had other underlying baggage to deal with.

The most important thing is to maintain a clear head and not get too emotionally involved.  I often believe that tragic things sometimes happen in the news when a parent is reacting or punishing a child for something he has no control over be it a temper tantrum or wetting the pants.  Children's hearts and feelings are are very fragile, be very gentle with them.

Who is your voice of reason?   Your own willpower and conscience and clarity of thought, or perhaps another mature adult in the home. Was I even too angry to ask God to give me patience and compassion?  In my case it was my little 5 year angel daughter.