Saturday, February 26, 2011

The F word

No, my young children are luckily still not at the stage where they are bringing home curse words from school. Kindergarten is pretty tame, even in public school. We have another four-letter F word in our house. Hopefully blogger won't sensor me, but the word is FISH. Yes, last summer our attempts to get Toby to try supper (namely Salmon) had disastrous results. Our picky eater (aka Toby) needs, how shall I say it, a little "encouragement" to try new foods. I will not force him to eat (I know that's a no-no), but unless he tries a bite of supper I will not serve him anything else. If hunger outweighs his need to not try what on his plate he'll usually take the teeniest of bites, promptly making a face and claiming "I don't like it" before his tastebuds have had a chance to engage. I do at times feel like a bully using such underhanded tactics, but if we left it up to him he'd eat nothing but Kraft Dinner, Buns and Cheese. So last summer after making some lovely salmon fillets the same deal applied, one bite of salmon in exchange for the fruit of his choice. He wrestled with the decision. He cried that he didn't like it, that 1 gram serving portion of pink fish. And then he relented. Shortly after the theatrics, after the teeny morsel perched atop the fork entered his mouth I looked to my husband and said "his face is all blotchy, do you think he's allergic?". The nurse in me must have known better, but the mom-in-denial-who-has-another-son-who-loves-fish-so-much-that-he-has-tantrums-in-the-store-about-fish in me chose to believe my husband when he said "no, it's just because he's been crying". Fast forward a few weeks, salmon again at the request of Luke. It was basically a replay of that earlier night (and many other nights for that matter) except that this time the blotchiness was so obvious even a mother-in-denial couldn't deny it, and accompanied by complaints of his mouth hurting. CRAP! So one doctor visit later we ended up with an epipen and a referral to see an allergist. We avoided cooking fish, but my hubby and Luke LOVE to go fishing, so fishing still took place when we were camping.
It was fine as long as we didn't catch anything, until Toby touched the catch to see what his skin felt like, and got all blotchy again. Fast forward to fall, allergy testing. They testing every type of fish they had and his arm got big and red in every spot they tested. Oh well, he doesn't like fish anyways right? Well we heard the spiel, no cooking fish (the proteins get in the air), no going to restaurants where they are cooking fish or where there might be contamination, meaning no Red Lobster or Joey's (not great but I can live with that), and no Asian restaurants (WHAT?!?!). CRAP! I took home the pamphlet and read about "no caesar salads" (fine the kid won't eat salads) no barbeque or steak sauces that contain worchestershire (like the kid eats sauces, HA!). No gelatin, no marshmallows, blah, blah, blah. I packed "emergency snacks" for preschool just in case whoever's turn it was to bring snack decided on salmon canapes and life was fine. Until one day I made jello with some fruit juice. The boys had that, followed by some new yogurt they had begged for where you crush the container instead of using a spoon, followed by Toby becoming blotchy and his mouth feeling "funny". CRAP! The little voice in the back of my head said "wasn't there something you forgot about? Didn't you read something about gelatin being off limits?" I remembered reading something maybe about marshmallows and gelatin, because I remember being floored at the thought of our little marshmallow lover having to be cut off from the steady supply when he visits his grandparents and them I remembered filing the pamphlet away and forgetting that part. I blocked it out completely. Bedtime snack contained gelatin in both the jello (duh) and the yogurt. As do gummi candies, starburst, some skittles, and other assorted candies, AND MARSHMALLOWS. We amended the allergy information at preschool and Sunday school, called my parents and in-laws, threatening them to hide all marshmallows, and searched for an alternative to his favorite treats.
I was puzzled when Toby brought home a small paper bag from Sunday school filled with a paper loaf of bread and nothing else. Until I read the accompanying colouring page which talked about how Jesus feed the 5000 with a boy's lunch of bread and fish. Then I almost peed myself laughing because Toby had refused to colour or bring home the paper fish, because he's allergic.
Fast forward to last month. Birthday season in our house. My time of year to pretend like I really am Supermom and can whip up whatever cake is requested. Last year I learned about the pleasures of fondant, my #6 reason for being happy, and my fondant recipe contains marshmallows. CRAP!
Luke's Transformer's Cake
We'd bought some vegan marshmallows, and I must say they were delicious, but in order to make them into fondant for two cakes, we'd have to re-mortgage the house. I looked at the boxes of store-bought fondant in Michael's , reading that they had no gelatin, but knowing that they also had no taste. I searched recipes, but depending on the country that posted the recipe, the word fondant can mean a number of things. I ended up calling Kraft's toll free number and to my pleasure, their marshmallows are made only with pork gelatin, not fish. YAY!

Toby's choice: Mr. Tickle cake for the joint family party.
Now don't get me wrong, I'm SO thankful that TOBY is allergic to fish instead of nuts, wheat, milk, eggs, and a number of other things that would make like pretty miserable, but I sure do miss pickerel.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

I swear I'm not one of those sappy mothers who can't stand to be away from my children, but...

We spent the week before Labour Day camping. It was not much different from many of our weekends this summer, or from the week-long trip we had in July.
We had campfires, roasted hotdogs and marshmallows, caught frogs, went canoeing. But it wasn't summer camping anymore. No more sleeping on top of the bags, no more crowded beaches.

We spent 4 nights in Opapiskaw nestled up right next to the lake, with no one else around. It rained every night and part of every day. It was cold. It was wet. Every time the sky cleared slightly we ran out to enjoy, only to rush back under the canopy or inside the trailer when the downpour became too much.
It was still fun. Time at what felt like our own private beach was spent digging in the sand and the boys floating in the dingy pulled by Bruce (who is the only one with a wetsuit).
The morning we woke after our last night it was bright and sunny, and time to pack up and leave. We headed farther East to Falcon Lake which is popular and crowded (especially since it was the Labour Day weekend), but also afforded us electricity and water hook-up. Our 3 nights there were dry and the days were sunny enough to warm the damp chill that had semi-permanently settled into our bones. We enjoyed the sunshine, and on the Sunday we left our trailer and headed farther East to my parent's seasonal spot, where we got windburn from zooming around in the boat much of the day. All four of us did some tubing, although Toby's trip was not surprisingly very brief, despite how slow the boat pulled him with Bruce and Luke. Luke loved every minute on that inflatable monstrosity, (which wasn't surprising after seeing him do every ride Tinkertown had to offer without blinking an eye earlier this summer). After an evening campfire the boys slept while Bruce drove us back to our campsite through the dark winding roads of the Canadian Shield from Ontario to Manitoba. Monday morning we had one last campfire for the trip. I reminded my little firebugs that this would likely be the last campfire until next summer.
Maybe it was the visiting with my parents that started it all with the riding on my dad's boat bringing back memories of when I was young, riding in and being pulled behind my uncle's boat on another inflatable monstrosity...maybe it was that we finished the summer at the same campground we started it in, as we went to Falcon Lake for the May long weekend as well...I really don't know, but that comment somehow made me introspective...and I realized that this was the end of their first year of camping. Yes, there would be next year, but they'd be old pros by then. Luke starts kindergarten this year, and it never bothered me until that moment at the campfire. I looked over at Luke now setting old dead branches he found in the bushes against the picnic table and drop kicking them into pieces small enough to throw on the fire. I expected him to knock the branch off, or somehow not be able to perform such a feat, followed by a tantrum-ish cry of frustration, but again and again the branches would break and he would expertly walk over and toss them on the fire. And I sat there feeling a strange melancholy joy, both proud that he's growing up and can do more things for himself, and mourning that he's growing up and can do more things for himself. This last year was still as circus, but it was a good more organized kind of chaos. I could grab my purse and tell the boys to get their shoes on and off I would go with my two preschoolers in tow. Many days we had places to go and people to see, but there were still many days when I would wake up that morning and decide what we were going to do for the day. And there were more day s than I like to admit where the morning would zoom by and we'd still be in pajamas, quickly dressing before we had lunch. Now those lazy days will be rare instances, and someone else will be spending their mornings with Luke. I won't be the one encouraging him to talk to and play with the other kids. I won't be the one reminding him to say please. I won't be the one praising him. As I sat by the hot fire, a chill ran through me as I realized that I would lose some control over what he does, and now he will have peers that he sees everyday influencing him. I sat there at the campfire and I couldn't stop from crying, while my puzzled husband tried to figure out what he did wrong (I felt so silly crying that I didn't want to discuss why so all I said was "I'm fine", and it really took several reassurances for him to finally get that it had nothing to do with him and even then I'm not totally sure he believed me).  I thought of running errands with only one little body trailing, only one sidekick, and I felt like I'm losing one of my wingmen.
I've now survived the start of Kindergarten without any more tears from either of us. My little boy is growing up, but I think both of us are adjusting well.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Summer Bliss

I've mentioned before that this year we bought a trailer. So far we've had several weekend trips and one whole week stay in the great outdoors of Manitoba. Growing up, I loved camping. And even though last year's "camping" experience with the kids was as much stress as fun, both me and the kids have grown a little older, wiser and calmer, making for a much more relaxing vacation. It's nice to be able to get away from the busy "city" life, not worrying about compulsively checking email or hearing the sometimes daily calls from work begging for me to come in.
There's something so freeing about washing your hair in the river, feeling like something out of a shampoo commercial...
..something so magical about the squeals of little boys when a frog they just caught jumps out of those little hands...something so endearing about smiling faces sticky with marshmallow residue...
...something so hilarious about the giggles of those same little boys when a distraught duck poops on his rock perch at the sight of the canoe coming closer...and how those snickers continue as the campfire dwindles and the boys who should have been asleep long before are tucked in bed still whispering about duck poop...

...something so fulfilling about the thought that years from now there will be two young men who smile at the memories of these moments...

I do love nature (except the mosquitoes of course). But now as the mom, I also find I really enjoy keeping the trailer clean. Those who actually know me, and have seen my house (or my bedroom growing up) are probably still trying to make sense of that last sentence. It's true. I find such satisfaction in my role as "housewife" looking around at the clean trailer. While at home, I look around and only see the messes and feel like I've gotten a big fat F in my wife & mother course. When we're out camping, with mud caked to our shoes and sand falling out of our bathing suits, our habitat is actually cleaner and tidier than our everyday home.  At home there is evidence of previous meals that have boiled over hidden beneath the burners, while the dishwasher sits full of clean dishes waiting to be put away, while the dirty ones wait patiently in the sink "soaking". Camping without a dishwasher, I wash dishes after every meal and wipe every surface (even under the stovetop) until it's shiny. At home, There is a layer of dog hair beneath the end tables and forgotten McDonald's toys beneath the couch, and the bottoms of my socks are perpetually blackened while the boys take after their father wandering through the house with their outside shoes on and the dog runs in through the dog door after digging in the garden. The trailer can be swept clean in 2 minutes flat and every toy is put away in the appropriate home before moving on.
I've always said that I'm not much of a housekeeper, but I've learned that maybe, just maybe, I'm simply overwhelmed by 1200+ square feet. Now a 17 foot trailer, that I can handle.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Little Encouragements

Lately there have been little ways where God has been encouraging me, reminding me that He is there with me all the time and He will provide all  my needs (not wants, as much as I wish it sometimes were, otherwise I would not have fruitlessly wandered around in the rain  an hour ago at various places I had been yesterday looking for my lost hubcap when it was nowhere to be found, but alas I am well provided for, but do not live a "charmed" life). Many of these encouraging words have come from a new devotional book that I bought from Amazon, written by this lady. It has been hard to stop at just one encouraging story each day, but I do have to pace myself.  Other times the encouragement comes in other ways.The biggest compliment I've received in a long time came from the mouth of a 5 year old. Luke had something he found in his room, I can't remember what, but it was something like an old sunday school craft. He was getting rid of old stuff (a habit obviously not learned from me) and he offered it to me because as he explained "you like that Jesus stuff". It seems like a simple, offhanded comment, but as a parent trying to teach my children in the way they should go, it was high praise!
Some of these little "words" of encouragement may seem silly, but I guess I'm a little silly, so God has to speak my language. Like the balloon that Toby got in sunday school on Easter, just a simple latex balloon (I requested his favorite orange colour on his behalf as they were passing them out). On the balloon was a cross and beneath it "He Lives". That balloon floated right up to the ceiling for nearly 2 full weeks and at the 3 week mark, it no longer floated up, but still stood upright, making it easy to read. It may not be much, but every morning when I woke up and saw those words, I smiled and it was just the reminder I needed.
Yesterday, while the boys were in preschool I went grocery shopping, and I decided to go to Superstore to do it. Now although most things are cheaper there, the shopping carts are not, and I have more than once gotten to the parking lot and discovered that I do not have a loonie in my bag. Yesterday was much the same, except that other than a few pennies and a nickel, I had no money...don't judge, but I spent my last twoonie on a slurpee, which I SO did NOT need, just an hour earlier in total ignorance of the fact that I would need a grocery cart very soon.
So although I was no longer thirsty, my "to buy" list was long and even 2 handbaskets would not suffice. I needed a cart. I searched the glove box, the console and every other nook and crannie of that van thinking that there must be the much needed coin somewhere.Nil, nada, zip zilch. There was nowhere nearby that I could think of to get a loonie, and I was running out of time. So in desperation I threw my reusable bags into my bag and strolled confidently to the cart return area, thinking "surely there will be a cart sitting loose"...okay I don't have that much faith, more like "please, please, please let there be a cart sitting loose, even a renegade Walmart cart that has wandered far from home would suffice". Nil, nada, zip zilch. So as I'm walking into the store (fruitlessly scanning the parking lot for strays, and debating on shoving a woman into the just loaded trunk of her car so I can abscond with her cart...I may be a Christian, but I still get tempted), there's a cart resting up against an old pick-up in the handicap parking. In the truck is a man who asks me if I need a cart.
Now this may not be as amazing or incredible as some of the stories I've heard where a Christian needs something really expensive and gets cash left in her mailbox for the exact amount, or where someone needs something specific that may not be super common to give away and that exact item is left on their doorstep. A shopping cart in a parking lot doesn't have nearly as much pizzaz, but this blog entry is about encouragements, not full out miracles. I'm not in need of some huge miracle, just a little encouragement...and a new hubcap.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

RV owners

My childhood vacations were spent camping. I don't remember ever tenting it until the annual College and Career Group camping weekend with my church friends as a young adult. We had a tent trailer. I still remember the momentus day that our family bought that first tent trailer. We were driving home to Pinawa from a trip into Winnipeg, and by the side of the road, in all it's green glory, was a teeny little trailer with a for sale sign. It must have been cheap, because my parents bought it on the spot. I don't remember if we ever went on any vacations prior to that day, but I sure remember the ones after. A few years later we were over at family friends' place (enjoying a hot summer day, swimming in their pool) and in the driveway was a tent trailer. It was bigger (although just about anything was bigger than our little green one) and it had a stove and a sink that swung outside and back in so you could cook or wash dishes wherever you pleased (that was my favorite feature). My brother and I were starting to get to that age where sharing a bunk was rife with arguing an elbowing, so upgrading to a bigger model where the table converted into another bed was really just a matter of survival on their part. The couple who owned it had grown children and wanted to downsize. They had set the trailer up to start getting it ready to sell. My parents made arrangements to buy it on the spot.
We had many good trips in both those tent trailers.And I've always thought that one day, we'd buy a tent trailer of our own.That day was yesterday. My husband has been casually scanning kijiji and other sites looking at what's out there as far as trailers go. Most were sold before we even had a chance. Then one came up for a 17ft hybrid that is small enough for our minivan to tow (once we actually get a towing package installed that is). Bruce contacted the owners and I contacted my dad, who studied up on the model and scoured the internet for other options. He called back saying "it sounds like a GOOD deal". We took our trailer inspector (aka Dad) with us out to Carman yesterday evening to look things over. Bruce got the nod from the inspector and started wheeling an dealing. Luckily, I was able to keep busy with the kids. Not only am I not good at haggling, but I'm downright uncomfortable with it. I'm the type of person who's most likely to blurt out something along the lines of "we'll pay you double your asking price" not because I'm rich, but because I feel like I'm cheating people to ask to pay less.I'm the type who hates being the only person in a store or at a garage sale, because I feel like I'm insulting the salesperson by walking out empty-handed. Needless to say I hid behind the car door pretending to help Toby with his snack (while feeling guilty that Bruce was trying to not completely empty our bank account and possibly insulting this elderly couple in the process) until I saw the handshake. But in the end we bought it. And I can't wait to get it home and then out somewhere with trees and firepits.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

20 Little Reasons to be Happy

19 days ago, Joyce's blog started 30 days of Happy. She challenged other to share their happiness. I've been busy marking papers and completing student evaluations for my "part-time" job as a nursing instructor. Believe me, finishing those is reason enough to shout from the mountaintops (until 5 weeks from now when I'll be doing them again). Now it's time to catch up and give some of my reasons for being happy lately...
1. Snowmen and the fact that I see this one every time I look out my kitchen window.
2. Helpers with the baking (okay this doesn't always make me so happy).

3. That my in-laws are pretty darn great.

4. And so are my parents.

5. Bubble baths.

6. Being able to bake birthday cakes rather than having to buy them.

7. That Luke's teachers are ecstatic that he is finally coming out of his shell.

8. That despite the teacher saying that they could, Luke did not want the germ-infested stuffed bear, that every snotty preschooler in his class takes a turn bringing home, sleeping in HIS bed. (and that my parents were gracious enough to keep enough of my old junk that we could get suitable accommodations for dear Brownie Bear).

9. That once in a while I can make myself feel good by giving my kids something that I always wanted but never got, as rare as those things are.

10. Whipping cream

11. A dog who doesn't mind being used as a prop.

12. A not-so-productive morning that produced a couple big smiles and a straw house that would make the three little pigs jealous. (and as much as I hate to admit it, those matching pajamas also make me happy).

13. Happy meals and subs (no cooking, yet everyone actually eats).

14. The miracle that after buying one of those little plastic brick-makers on clearance last spring, I actually remembered where I put it this winter.

15. That they don't ALWAYS fight.

16. Laughter.


18. Tonight's date with my smallest boyfriend. Snuggling up on the couch to watch a new Thomas video from the library while I allow both of us to stuff our faces with Cheesies, M&Ms, jujubes and Shirley temples, (while everyone else is at the Moose game).

19.This face.

20. This face.

Monday, December 28, 2009

My first Christmas without her

I did pretty well this Christmas. No crying in the service when we attended my grandparent's church for the Christmas Eve candlelight service that she loved so much. I held back the tears when my mother opened the "Tree of memory" glass ornament I gave her. I wanted so much to give her what she really had wanted, but what can you do when you ask your mom what she wants for Christmas and all she can tell you in a quiet, shaky voice is "I want my mom back"? I held myself together at the big family gathering where her absence was as obvious as a big gaping wound despite everyone's eforts to press on with the festivities. Luckily I was alone in the car every time I heard this song on the radio, because I lose it every single time.

And it was just November past
She said goodbye, and breathed her last
And the great grandchildren miss her so
But if she could she would let them know …
This is my first Christmas
First time to hear the angels sing
Glory, hallelujah to the risen king
And a holy night is what this is
‘Cause this is my first Christmas
This is my first Christmas.
-excerpt from "My First Christmas" by Carolyn Arends.