Monthly Archives: October 2011

Lesson of the Week: Don’t Leave Your Bike Out…

This week’s lesson: Don’t leave your bike out or it may get stolen.

In a way, this lesson has been in the making since last year. We were still in the rented house over the summer and it had steps leading down to the garage. These steps, combined with Mr. Forgetful’s innate ability to never be responsible for anything led to him not putting his bike away for the majority of summer last year. Ian would frequently remind him to put it away, and yet he would leave it out for weeks at a time (apparently being in the fenced-in back yard protected it). We moved. There are no steps leading to the garage – though there are a few once you get IN the garage…unless you go in from the back alley, in which case there are none.

In the spring, he passed a bike safety test so we told him he’d get to ride to specific places in the neighbourhood this summer. He didn’t. To be fair, the first part of the summer saw the boys banned from playing in the yard due to a massive ant population that Ian was trying to deal with (ask me about the ant wars sometime). I’m convinced that since the survivors merely migrated to the back corner of the lot that they actually won, but that has nothing to do with Aiden and his bike. Later in the summer, he would occasionally go to the park by our old place to play with the kids he played with last year. I recall one incident where his chain came off and he left his bike on the side of the road to continue home to get a toy!

Finally, September rolled around and we sent him off to school..on his bike…with a bike lock. Pretty much the whole household was sick at the beginning of September (I blame Ian). One morning, Aiden left his agenda on the table when he left. I (while still sick) took it up to the school for him and took that chance to check out his bike. He was actually using his bike lock! And then he would come home and leave his bike in the backyard. Of course, he learned last year that a fence would protect it!

Nearly two months went by with Aiden leaving his bike in the yard instead of the garage and Ian reminding him, to no avail, to put it away. Then a few things happened: first, Aiden broke the lock on the gate (I swear it sounded like he was trying to kick the door in). Second, he brought friends over (one of whom  had never met before but that’s a story for another day) through the backyard where his bike supposedly still was. Third, when he left to go to school on Monday, his bike was missing. Not only was his bike missing, but Mr. Forgetful forgot what he had done with it. He grabbed my key to check the garage, then checked his backpack to see if he had his bike lock in case he left his bike behind at school on Friday(!) and then he started thinking that he had left it across the street on the weekend even though he hadn’t touched his helmet since he got home from school on Friday. I believe reality set in a little when he had to walk to school Monday morning…especially since he had been wasting time before getting ready to leave and didn’t have time to go across the street to look for his bike.

Ian replaced the lock on Sunday and I didn’t hear anyone trying to get in the gate after that, so chances are that it was gone before then. It may not have been one of the kids that Aiden brought over on Saturday, but the timing strikes me as odd since he’d left the bike out for months and it only disappeared after a couple of shorter kids realized that it was really easy to open our gate when the lock was broken.

This is by far the biggest ticket item that he has lost over the past year (the others being 3 water bottles and a pair of snow pants). Unsurprisingly, he’s not too concerned about replacing his bike now that he knows he’ll be paying a portion of the cost of a new one. In fact, when I informed him that he’d be shelling out some of his own money for a new bike, he resorted to his standard passive-aggressive behaviour for when things don’t get handed to him for nothing and told me that he didn’t want a new bike anyway. The sad news there is that he doesn’t have much of a choice. If he wants some freedom, he’s going to want a bike and he’ll have to take care of it, too.

Really, this boils down to two lessons: 1) don’t leave things out or they may get stolen and 2) listen to your father when he tells you to do something.

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Liam’s Book Club: If You’re a Monster and You Know It

If You’re a Monster and You Know It by Rebecca Emberley and Ed Emberley

Since we’re creeping up on Halloween, I figured we should do a seasonal book. This little gem jumped out of the pages of last year’s Scholastic flyer and roared, “Order me!” I could help but comply. If the title seems oddly familiar to you, you’re probably thinking of, “If You’re Happy and You Know It,” which, I’m sure you learned as a child. You’d be right to make the connection. That’s exactly what this is…except for monsters! There’s even a downloadable song that you can get for it.

The illustrations are colourful and crazy with tons of wild monsters to snort, growl, stomp and roar their way into your child’s imagination and heart. In fact, Liam loved it so much that I swear we ended up reading it half a dozen times the day that Aiden brought it home from school. I saw its awesomeness in action again last week when we took it to Liam’s preschool group. Most of the kids there had never seen the book before and they were singing – and stomping – along like pros. I just hope I can get Liam to agree to take it with us to our Halloween party tomorrow.

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Lesson of the Day: Bathtubs Are Scary?

Today’s lesson: Bathtubs are scary or remember the past because it will help with the present.

As I found myself sitting in a little shy of two inches of (cooling) water nursing a no-longer-screaming baby, I wondered just how I had gotten there. Up until that point (with the exception of the previous bath), I’d had a wonderfully compliant baby who loved to splash and kick in the tub and would let me wash his hair and clean him thoroughly with no problems. I’d have to say that it started with the previous bath: he was sitting there, cutely splashing away as I washed his hair. Then, I tried to get him to lean back on his sling – something we’ve used for months – so I could rinse his hair and, out of nowhere, he started screaming bloody murder and trying to escape. I had to get Ian to come hold him for me so I could finish up his bath.

Fast forward to this bath: everything was fine…until I put him in the water. The screaming and struggling to get out started instantly. I had Ian come in to help me, but there was little he could do to help since Callan kept trying to climb out of the tub and into my arms. I figured that since he wanted me, the least I could do to make him stay in the tub so I could wash him is get in the tub with him. I have to note here that since seeing the episode of House with the woman and baby in the tub where something happened to the woman and the baby almost drowned (a few years ago, when Liam was still little), I’ve been quite adamant that I’d never get into the tub with my baby for fear of something bad happening. So I climbed into the tub with him and the first thing he thought of was snack time… Consequently, there I was in about two inches of water, nursing a baby while I tried to rinse the soap off him and wash his hair.

After I wondered out loud where this sudden fear of the bathtub came from, Ian reminded me that Liam did the same thing. In fact, now that I think about it, I remember months of trading off having showers with Liam because we couldn’t get him in the tub at all – at least not without a fuss and no one likes a fuss. Perhaps, if I had remembered this sooner, Callan’s sudden switch to bath-fearing my not have come as such a surprise. Now that I’ve remembered, I suppose there will me more baby-holding showers in my future. At least Liam has gone back to loving bath time again; I don’t think I could take having showers with two squiggly kids.

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Liam’s Book Club: Guess how Much I Love You

Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney Illustrated by Anita Jeram

I can’t quite recall how this one came to us. I have a suspicion that my cousin gave it to us, though maybe it was my parents. I really should take a page out of my mother’s book and write the whos and whens on the inside front cover when we get a new book as a gift. Regardless, this is a very sweet book about a discussion between a baby rabbit and his father about how much they love each other.

I’m quite sure that I first encountered this book when I was babysitting a couple of girls as a teenager. They had a few library books that I spent most of a day reading to them, and I’m sure this was one of them…the memory is drowned out by the memory of reading a Three Billy Goats Gruff story to them (the troll voice did a number on my vocal chords). Of course, by the time we received it as a gift, I had long forgotten that day of reading to the girls.

Although printed in 1996 with the text and illustrations copywritten in 1994, it comes across as a much older classic than it really is. Part of this is probably due to the illustrations that (for me at least) bring to mind Beatrix Potter without the clothes. It could be the use of watercolor that does it. The wonderfully calm illustrations mix with the text quite well and makes for a great addition to the bedtime roster. Now, if only we could get Liam to settle down nearly as well as Little Nutbrown Hare does…

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Liam’s Book Club: My Little Animal Book

My Little Animal Book from Priddy Books*

Grandma (a.k.a. Ian’s mother) picked this one up during her summer visit in 2010 and it instantly became a point of contention between the two boys. Both Aiden and Liam were fascinated with the photographs and decided that the book wasn’t meant to be shared. As they pulled the book back and forth across our kitchen table while yelling at each other over who it belonged to, I cursed my mother-in-law under my breath for introducing the cause of the disagreement to the household. The truth was, though, that I liked it as much as they did even if it was for it’s educational uses.

The pictures are organized by where you would find the animals or what type they are – Liam particularly loved the In the Sea page – and each has the name of the animal below it to help younger identify them. This is also great for younger readers because they can see the spelling of the animal names that they already know which can help them identify the words in other books.

Aside from the constant bickering, the worst part of this book is the orangy-red and white plaid on the cover. Because it spent an awful lot of time in the kitchen, I would frequently mistake it for a Better Homes and Gardens cookbook that my mother owned. For months, I thought she had given it to me whenever I saw this book only to realize that it wasn’t what I thought it was. Regardless, it’s an awesome little (big) picture book and I would recommend it (or the big one) to anyone who loves animals or wants her/his kids to.

*If you’re looking for this one online, the author is cited as Roger Priddy, but on the inside cover, credit goes to Jo Rigg. It is also sold out through Indigo but you can get My Big Animal Book which is an inch or so bigger in width and height and doesn’t have the deceptive plaid on the cover.

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Lesson of the Day: What Goes Around Comes Around

Today’s lesson: What goes around comes around OR Now you know how your brother felt when you kept taking his toys.

This afternoon marked one of the first in a sure to be long line of complaints from Liam about Callan touching his toys. Earlier, Liam had dragged out the Mega Blocks My Pirate Ship so he could play with it in the living room. There he was standing in front of the couch with the pirate ship sitting on the cushions as he played with all the bits and pieces when I heard, “Mummy, get Callan.” This is Liam’s cue that he doesn’t like where Callan is. Sure enough, Callan was standing at the opposite end of the couch from me, inching his way towards that really interesting toy that his big brother was playing with.

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Lesson of the Day: Read Twice…

Today’s lesson: Read twice and measure once.

Everyone knows the saying measure twice and cut once. It’s used in both the building and sewing worlds and rightly so (or sew if you want a pun). I can say I’ve had a few experiences where I made my cut too small and had to go back to get more fabric (and wash it) before I could continue my project. Well today, I propose a new rule of measurement specifically for the kitchen: read twice and measure once.

Just what did I do to give me this idea? Well, it all started back in August when I was grocery shopping. For some reason I was in the baking goods aisle which reminded me that I hadn’t made my fruitcake yet. As we all know, fruitcake tastes better after it’s aged a little…no, not the thirty years that you’ve been playing “pass the fruitcake” with your family, but certainly longer than the couple weeks it would get if you made it in December. Now, last year, I promised myself that I’d make my cakes earlier this year than last year hence why I thought of it and picked up my fruit in August. Now it’s early October and I finally got around to it.

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