Lesson of the Day: Birthday Parties Are Not For the Weak

Today’s Lesson: Birthday parties are not for the weak or next year they’re going bowling.

We now have two kids in the house who were born in January. This is unfortunate. Why? I’m sorry you thought that, now I’ll have to tell you.

For starters, our children are spoiled. Between us, my parents, Ian’s mother, his father, his Aunt and Uncle, and Aiden’s grandfather, the three of them come out of Christmas looking like bandits with all the presents and cash that they get. This leaves us with the problem of trying to figure out what to get for them immediately after they got everything they wanted and some things they didn’t realize that they wanted (I swear next year they get clothes…but then they’re spoiled and they don’t need clothes either).

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Lesson of the Day: Children and Refrigerators Don’t Mix

Today’s Lesson: Children and refrigerators don’t mix or why breaking your child of the bottle habit is a good idea.

The air balance turned way down

Almost a year ago, Liam got into the habit of opening the fridge just to see what was in there. I learned afterward, that he had also been playing with the temperature control dials. Who the heck places them in an easy to reach place in the first place – I recall many fridges where they were on the side near the back not right up at the front where any almost 3-year-old can touch them. I found it odd that everything in the fridge seemed overly cold so I had been adjusting the fridge temperature up. What I didn’t notice until I went to get something out of the freezer was that he had also increased the freezer temperature up causing all of the ice cream to melt and the frozen vegetables to thaw. I believe there was some meat in there too, which I ended up cooking over the next couple days.

After I fixed the settings for both the fridge and the freezer, I made extra sure to make sure that Liam wasn’t touching anything when he opened the fridge to get something out. I eventually got all of the caramel cleaned out of the freezer but I still haven’t replaced the ice cream…that can wait.

Control instructions

Now, Liam is three and a half. Liam is a huge three who looks like he’s five…but he’s not, he’s still just three. Despite our efforts, he still loves his bottle. We’ve been told for nearly two years now that he should not be using it any longer but we can’t break him of the habit. In fact, in September, when a doctor told us to take it away from him, he stopped drinking altogether and I had to give it back. This bottle is pretty much the bane of my days. Every time I get settled down nursing Callan, Liam wants more milk. I get him tucked into bed and he wants more milk. He refuses to drink milk from a glass because he wants it from his bottle.

Usually, we take his bottle away after he falls asleep (he wasn’t actually drinking from it anyway) and he’s none the wiser. Sometimes, he wakes up and cries because he can’t find it. Then he makes one of us get him a fresh bottle. Last night, I took the bottle away shortly after he fell asleep and put it in the fridge for morning (as opposed to wasting perfectly good milk…heh). I finally got Callan and I settled in bed around two and by that point he hadn’t woken up. This morning, when Ian woke up for work, he found the fridge door open about 6 inches…enough to keep the light on. The bottle was not in the fridge. It was, in fact, on Liam’s bed next to him with the lid still on it.

Our spoiled milk collection

There was a full 4L jug of 2% milk in there, a full 1L carton of 3.25% milk, about half a 2L carton of 1% and another 4L jug of 2% with less than a liter left. How fridge has this strange ability to freeze the items at the back while keeping at the front cool. I figured I’d try that full 4L jug since it had been at the back. If any of the milk was still good, that would be it. Sadly, Aiden informed me that it tasted a little funny (all milk tastes funny to me). So here I am with approximately 7L of sour milk all for the sake of a few ounces.

When he got up this morning, I informed him that he may no longer (not that he was allowed to in the first place) get his bottle out of the fridge during the night. He must get a parent to get it for him.

I hope we’re not in for another round of refrigerator wars. I also hope that Callan won’t cause as many problems with the fridge as Liam has. It’s not even a full day after I declared my intent to make sure that we’re not wasting very much food and now I’ve got to figure out a way to use all that milk so that it doesn’t go to waste.

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Lesson of the Day: Lying Just May Be a Bad Idea

Today’s lesson: Lying just may be a bad idea or if you’re going to lie don’t be obvious.

Our oldest (soon to be 10) has developed a little habit of lying. Last year, he told me that he had eaten almost all of his lunch in about 15 minutes – the same child who (at the time) took over an hour to eat a meal. He had given his sandwich to another child (and after he had been caught lying had tried telling me that he was going to get it back…except it turns out that he’d been giving his sandwiches away for over a week). He also, at one point had told me that peanut butter was no longer allowed in his school instead of telling me he didn’t want peanut butter sandwiches anymore (hence the reason he was giving them away). What he didn’t realize is that the school would have to send a note home with the kids to make a change like that. I had checked with the school in September since at the time, all he wanted was PB&J.

Now, thanks to a couple instances where he had lied about pushing his little brother, we’ve run into a little problem. The middle boy (months away from 4 years old) has taken to calling wolf by accusing his brother of hitting him, kicking him, or pushing him. Alas, if we didn’t witness it, we can never be too sure who to believe: the child who would deny it whether he did it or not or the child who would just as soon blame his brother as his own clumsiness. I do not at all encourage lying, but this is an excellent example of when to lie. When it comes down to he-said-she-said (or in our house he-said-he-said) you can’t prove anything either way and either everyone gets punished or everyone’s off the hook  (unless it’s a criminal case…then it’s different…don’t break the law).

This weekend, though, the oldest managed to give us a couple examples of when and how not to lie in the same day. The boys generally get up before me because, thanks to the baby, I don’t really get much sleep until the world starts to wake up (I swear I get my  best sleep between 8AM & 10AM). As a result, I require them to have a small breakfast as soon as they get up to tide them over until one of us is up and ready to make a big breakfast (bacon & eggs, pancakes, french toast…). Saturday was a miss, but Sunday, at least one of them actually ate something. I ask every morning on the weekend so I know how long quickly I have to get food on the table.

In response to my query as to what he ate, I was told, “Toast…a banana and toast.” The kitchen didn’t look any different from when I went to bed, so I asked him what he did with his plate. After a lot of pausing and false starts, he told me that he put the plate in the dishwasher…the same dishwasher that I had run Saturday night and not emptied. Oops. So I checked the dishwasher for the dirty plate (and noticed that there was indeed a banana missing). There was no dirty plate. The dishwasher had exactly the same dishes in it as when I ran it and there were no used knives or plates anywhere in the kitchen, dining room, or living room. Then it hit me…the toast is a lie. So I confronted him, presented him with the evidence and reminded him that a piece of fruit was an acceptable small breakfast for the weekend and he hadn’t needed the toast anyway and he admitted the lie. At which point, I informed him that it would be in his father’s hands after breakfast.

The second case came within an hour of the first. Sunday was Ian’s day to deal with the kids in the morning, so when the middle one came to me for assistance with getting his controller started to join his older brother’s game, I sent him to his father (horrible, yes, but I was half asleep and Ian had agreed to be the go-to parent for the morning). When I got up and saw them both frantically mashing buttons, I thought nothing of it. I figured that he had gotten his father (which he didn’t do) or that his brother had helped him. We had added a second controller the previous day so both of the boys and I knew it could be done, and the older one knew how. He also knew that in a single player game, you could switch the character you were using – which you had to do to get through all of the levels. In the two player game, you each control one of the characters and have to cooperate to get through the levels.

At one point, around the time their father came upstairs, they asked for help with something. I took the middle boy’s controller and tried to do something with it. It was at that point that I noticed that it wasn’t connected to the game. No one had helped him connect it after all! I immediately felt horrible, but it turned out that he hadn’t known the difference. His brother had though, and hadn’t done a thing about it. It made the game easier for him if his little brother wasn’t ‘helping’ and since the second character is controlled by the game in single player mode. Sadly, he hasn’t learned the concept of plausible deniability and therefore tried denying knowing that his brother wasn’t actually playing. There is no way his father would believe that he didn’t know that it wasn’t a two player game (he even admitted to switching characters which can’t be done in a two player game).

I went back to frying bacon (mmm…bacon) and left Ian to deal with the boys…which he did…after breakfast.

Now that he’s proven that he can and will lie rather easily, I find it difficult to trust him when it matters. I know that this will pass, it may not be a phase that he’ll grow out of but we will break him of lying. At least, if he ever wants to be allowed to stay home alone, he’s going to have to build that trust back up. At the same time, though, I have to laugh at how obvious his lies were and how he’s lying over small things that he wouldn’t get in trouble for. I mean, if I were going to lie about something, I’d at least make sure that it was worth it if I got caught.

So what glaringly obvious lies have your children told?

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New (Calendar) Year’s Resolutions

The new (school) year’s resolutions didn’t hold for very long so I figured I’d take another stab at making a few changes now and do it again at the beginning of May so that maybe I’ll get three good months in a year. If I keep it up, I just might make some of these changes stick for good. So here I go again with another list of changes for the good of all…who am I kidding? They’re for my sanity.

1) Turn the TV off and the music on – Last time, this one both worked and didn’t work. I certainly watched less of my own TV shows, but the TV didn’t seem to be off any longer than before – at least not after the first few days. I also didn’t manage to fit in much music since Liam kept telling me to turn it off. I know I’m the boss of him and not the other way around but the little, nagging voice that won’t go away makes it difficult to enjoy the music anyway. This time, though, I’ve got a couple tricks up my sleeve: Liam goes to preschool twice a week which gives me a guaranteed four hours a week without that voice, and I got an HP Notebook for Christmas so I can now play my music all over the house and not be forced to listen to a billion commercials for things I don’t care about.

2) Kick the kids out to play more often – Alas, I did not make it to the park all that often (if ever) over the last few months and since it’s gotten colder out, I’ve hardly sent them out to play in the backyard either. This is unacceptable. Aiden seems to think that the outdoors is boring; I’m of the opinion that he’s just not using his imagination enough. It’s my hope that being forced to go play will lead to creating games or something. I remember having hours of free play time outside as a child and I always had something to do. Kicking them out will also get them away from the TV.

3) Clear my desk off and keep it clean – I gave myself a new desk for Christmas and insisted that no one put anything on it but me. I am not the only one to put things on my desk. Just yesterday, Ian put a couple cables on it “for now” and left them there. Now it’s covered in pictures, cords, movies, batteries, controllers, bills, wrapping paper, and a sticker book. I may love organized chaos it its place but that place is not on my desk.

4) Be more efficient with food – I managed to plan some meals in advance over the past few months (I just turned the TV off!) but I realized that I ordered out weekly and wound up throwing out more leftovers than we ate. No more! Not only am I going to plan in advance, but I’m also going to work leftovers into the plan so that a) the kids realize that they have to be eaten and b) I don’t have to throw them out. I read in Canadian Living recently that we throw out approximately 38% of the food we buy. That’s almost 2/5 of what we buy. To put that into perspective, consider that we spend about $600 a month on groceries. If we truly are throwing out 2/5 of that food, that’s about $240 worth of food a month that we don’t eat. That may be a bit high, I’m more inclined to say that I throw out no more that 1/4 of our food but that’s still $150…whatever that wasted food amount is, it has got to stop.

5) Bake more – I know how to bake. I like baking. I don’t do it nearly often enough and then I find myself picking stuff up at the grocery store for Aiden’s lunches that I normally wouldn’t touch with a 10-foot pole. Why? I’m not willing to admit that answer just yet. It comes down to economy. It’s cheaper to make my own cookies than to buy them. I can make bread that Liam will actually eat which will therefore not waste the bread he won’t eat. I can bake a tasty, nutritious dessert that will keep us from eating other, less healthy, more expensive foods. I have the power and I should use it.

6) Sew more – I managed to get Liam’s quilt finished before Christmas (my mother can tell you the story of me kicking everyone out of the house on Christmas Eve so I could finish it in peace) but hardly did any other sewing. Sewing used to be a creative outlet for me (along with knitting and writing) and I’ve realized recently how great it is to know that you made something. I miss the joy of creating something. I need an outlet.

7) Do crafts with the kids – I bought white glue sometime between September and now that I intended to use with that construction paper. I haven’t used either yet, but I still intend to. Not only do I need a creative outlet, but Liam does as well. I should get Aiden crafting, too, so he can stop saying that he’s bad at art. They don’t have to be difficult crafts, just little projects that let the boys cut, glue, and colour or draw. I really should get on that.

8) Exercise more – Apparently, dancing around the living room with the baby is not enough exercise. I got an XL (PINK!) pajama set for Christmas this year. As a rule – when I’m not nursing – my tops are size S-M and my pants are M-L. I am not an XL. I refuse to be an XL. But apparently, I looked enough like one to someone that it seemed acceptable to buy me clothes in that size. Here’s the thing: I’d rather look healthy than skinny and I would rather feel healthy than be larger. I have nothing against people of most sizes with the exceptions of those who take up two seats and those who don’t eat (though I also take issue with parents of larger children when I see them eating fast food). I just prefer to be somewhere in the healthy range than in either at risk range.

9) Convince Ian that we need a clothesline – More on this in another post at another time,  but I think we need one and Ian doesn’t. I’m right…he just doesn’t realize he’ll have to cave in yet.

So these are my good intentions for the next few months. I’d like to say that I’m posting and then going off to do something about any of them, but chances are that will have to wait for a little while since I’ve got a table to clean and a bed to make.

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The 12 to 25 Days of Christmas – Day Twelve

I finally made it to day 12! Now I won’t have to worry that I lied when I titled this series. I’ll also add my apologies for neglecting to post this before Christmas…the closer it got, the less time I had. I also took a little break. Now that Aiden is back in school and things are back to normal, I’ll have a little more time.

This was the tree decorating day. I got smart and pulled out all of my Christmas stuff the night before (and one box that didn’t have Christmas stuff  but that I should have looked in way back in July). This way I wouldn’t use not having the boxes out as an excuse to not do it like I had the day before. Of course, that morning, I instantly got distracted. First I had to get a couple boxes out of reach of both of the little boys. Then, when I opened the big box, I found the garland I’d been holding on to and never using for years. So I used it.

We’ve got a railing along the top edge of the stairs. I used gold ribbon to tie it on in several places and then went to work decorating. One of the boxes I had brought up the previous night had a bunch of birds on sticks with cones and greenery on them. I stuck a bunch of those in the garland, added red ribbon and then made  bows out of the gold ribbon and stuck them in as well. I’m rather pleased with the result.

This method of procrastination complete, I went looking for others ways of putting off decorating with a couple of kids on my hands. I used up the obvious ones like feeding the kid and nursing and was once again left with nothing to do except decorate the tree. So I did. I wound up dropping Callan into his play pen and had to send Liam (and eventually Aiden) away so I could get ornaments on the tree without tripping over someone at every turn. When the kids are big enough that I don’t have to put the tree in a corner for fear of them knocking it down, I’ll let them help.

Aiden had originally wanted a star for the top, but it turns out I don’t have one. Liam and I compromised with the intention of making a large gold bow…which I didn’t make. In the end, I put up the angel that I’ve used for years (made by my mother).

I did have a few other days worth of things to post but, since I’m a couple weeks late, I’ll just have to do it all again next year. This time I swear that I’ll get started on December 1st and be quicker in getting the house decorated, presents bought and wrapped, and pictures takes…not to mention the baking.

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The 12 to 25 Days of Christmas – Day Eleven

Day eleven was one of the more productive days. I finally got Ian to help me move the TV which gave me the corner to put the tree in. Consequently, I could put the tree up. It may not be decorated, but it’s most definitely up. So why was moving the TV (and all the other furniture in the living room) so important? Well, last year, we put the tree along the wall that divides the kitchen and the living room. That gave the tree a whole 180 degrees of tipablilty. That’s fine when the youngest is 2.5 years old and you can tell him to move. It’s not so cool when the youngest is 11 months old and delights in doing exactly what you tell him not to. As a result, I opted for a corner which would only give 90 degrees of tipability. The TV was in the best one…and I had to rearrange the entire room to make the new TV placement work.

I also managed to get Callan to sit in his highchair long enough for me to finish off the last four bows to go on the internal doors. They look much better than the original two (even if I say so myself…and I do). It’s amazing the difference that a silent/eating baby can make.

On one of my passes through the basement, I grabbed Dancing Santa – the bane of my Christmas last year. He’s about a foot tall and dances to Jingle Bell Rock. There’s really nothing wrong with that since I like Jingle Bell Rock, but the volume and frequency of playtime was enough to make me want to through him out the window and then secure the premises so he couldn’t get back in. Alas, this year he is on my desk. At least I get to control when he gets turned on and off this year (and how loud he is).

Finally, I dug out a sheet of window decals that my mother sent me a few years ago. It had about 15 snowflakes on it in blue, silver, and white. Liam helped me place them on the living room window…or maybe I helped him, it’s hard to say. Either way, we got them all up and then threw on our coats and boots to go outside and look at them. By this time, I needed a break. Then end result is that decorating the tree got put off until Sunday.

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Lesson of the Day: If You Put Things Where They Don’t Belong…

Today’s Lesson: If you put things where they don’t belong, then you’ll find them when you least expect it.

Back in July, when Callan was nearing his big 0.5, I dragged out the highchair – or what I could find of it. I spent a few days searching for the liner and straps. I swear I dug through every box that could possibly have it inside and a whole bunch that couldn’t. I looked under the stairs, in every closet, all through the basement storage room. In the end, I gave up. I didn’t even wind up going to the fabric store and picking up new webbing for straps. By the time I reconciled myself to the fact that I wouldn’t find the original straps anytime soon, I had discovered that Callan could stay in the seat perfectly well with the hip straps and the tray holding him in place.

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