Thursday, 24 November 2011

Nobody Lives Here.

Nobody lives here.

No one else.

Just me, and NotMe.

And NotMe is pissing me off.

When I woke up this morning, NotMe had drunk all the apple juice, and left the barest smidgen of it in the bottom of the carton. NotMe does this all the time, and I'm getting tired of it. I don't think it's too much to ask that when I go to get sippy cups of juice for Eva and the dayhome kids in the morning, that NotMe either leave an appreciable amount of juice, or grab a new carton out of the pantry and put it in the fridge. It's not as though we don't stock 400 litres of the stuff. It would just be nice to reach into the fridge and have one available so I don't have to serve warm juice. That's all.

NotMe toasts bagels in the morning and butters them and leaves them on the counter before she goes to school, wasting not only a bagel, but butter, and my last ounce of patience. After a hearty breakfast of warm apple juice, I am not super jazzed by the idea of eating NotMe's cold, rubbery bagel, just so it doesn't have to be tossed in the trash. I usually stick it in a baggie and leave it out so that NotMe can eat it in lieu of dinner, but NotMe typically throws it away and I forget about it anyway. NotMe is costing me a fortune in baked goods. Just saying.

NotMe's favorite prank is to crank the heat up from 19 to 35. No joke. The tab on the thermostat actually gets pushed all the way to the digits 3 & 5. NotMe did this once in the dead of winter when we left the house to go to a friend's for the evening, and when we got back, the condensation from the melting snow had frozen the screen door shut. I didn't see it happen, but apparently, while I was getting Squid out of his car seat, NotMe accidentally shoved his hand through the screen on the door trying to force it open. NotMe is making my paint melt. No biggie.

NotMe eats cereal out of mixing bowls, and leaves an inch of milk in the bottom of them to go rotten over the course of the day so they smell when I go to load them in the dishwasher. Come to think of it, NotMe doesn't pull his own weight with the dishwasher loading, either. NotMe accidentally punched an elbow sized hole in the wall while having an innocent conversation with his sister. That was 2 years after NotMe made her fall of the bed and she needed her nose put back together with surgical glue. NotMe lost her iPod Touch, left the tv on downstairs AGAIN, and used all my black mascara. NotMe just spilled my pop.

Last night, NotMe took it to a whole new level.

We live in a world where cards are king. I use a debit card to grocery shop and buy gas, and I use a Starbuck's card for my coffee. When my best friend's kids sell chocolate for fundraisers, I email them the money. And I pay all my bills online. I hate going to the bank machine 400 times a day. So every week, I figure out how much cash I need, and grab it from the bank. Jason gets $20 in case he has to pay cash for parking, and I set aside whatever I need for the kids.

And every single week, NotMe screws me. NotMe grabs my wallet (which is apparently public property) out of my purse, takes all the cash, and spends it on Slurpees, Tim Horton's, and texas donuts. And when I go in there to grab the $3.50 I need for pizza day at school, it's missing. This invariably happens at midnight... so that I am left driving to 7-11 in my pyjamas... so that I can take $20 out of a bank machine... so that I can then use it to buy gum... so that I can give a child $2.80 in cash for his new science journal.

It happened last night with my last toonie. I needed it for Liz's bus fare so so she could go to the tour of her new high school in the morning. As much as I wanted to make her walk, I knew it wasn't her fault. NotMe was behind it.

I lost it.

I was in amazing form. I started out speaking calmly, until I found out that it wasn't Squid, Liz, Isaiah, or Jason who had taken the cash from my purse, but that irritating little thorn in my side, NotMe.

Come on! Really? Enough already! Is NotMe trying to KILL me??? I do more extra legwork because of NotMe's laziness! I had just gotten back from the store, JASON had just gotten back from the store, and now NotMe had spent my last damn toonie and I had to go OUT again?

I raged. I cried. I yelled and I screamed. And NotMe (brave bugger that he is) stood there and took all the blame. I threatened to cancel Liz's sailing trip, and NotMe didn't waver. I promised Isaiah would never see the (street) light of day again, but NotMe held true in her steadfastness, and refused to let the other kids take the blame. I resorted to guilt tripping and bemoaning my fate, and NotMe stood there, firm in his resolve, and would not go down without a fight.

I gave in.

I pulled apart my couch and the ashtray in my van, and managed to find enough assorted nickles, dimes, and pennies for Liz to put together the required bus fare. I grabbed a Smirnoff Ice out of the fridge (huh- NotMe's been drinking them again), and sat down on the couch. I flipped on the TV, started watching a PVR of Judge Judy (I have to watch them quickly or NotMe deletes them in to make room for 723,654 recordings of 'The Office'), and quietly gave myself up to fate.

NotMe had me. There was nothing I could do to change her. Maybe the best thing was simply to roll over and surrender to the chaos. But someday, it was going to get to me. Eventually, NotMe was going to drive me out of the last shredded remains of my sanity. And when that happened, and the nice doctors sent mommy to a quiet place where she could rest and relax and get in some serious crayon time, who would run the house and take care of the kids and buy the groceries and rake up the pinecones and sort the toys and remember to take out the recycling?

That's right.

Not me.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Squid Is Six

Squid is 6.

My BABY is 6.

My very first 'got pregnant on purpose within the sanctity of holy matrimony' baby is 6.

It happened last week, and I don't know of a single way to reverse the process (if you have an idea, let me know). My angelic baby with ringlets all over his head and the sweet smile and slightly demonic laugh has now turned into this BOY who goes to school, can shower (mostly) without help, and has some wicked dance moves.

I hate it.

He still cuddles, which is good, because my OTHER youngest baby hates people in general, and being held usually makes her scream, so at least I have that going for me. Till he turns 10 and realizes I'm gross. Then he'll drift away from me; find some girl who will NEVER be good enough, and settle down far, far away from his parents, never to be heard from again.

I'll be fine. I'll adopt cats. Don't worry about me.

All right- got it out of my system, and I promise to be good. Anyway- after a weekend filled with a bowling party with all his friends, cake, pop, sugar, candy, a birthday party with the family and MORE sugar (including a WICKED gorgeous cupcake display, courtesy of Nanny), I finally have time to sit down and write his story.

Every year on their birthdays, I tell the kids their birthday stories. I only tell them once a year, and that way I hope that it will remain a special conversation for them (as it does for me when my mom tells me my adoption story). Squid isn't quite old enough yet to appreciate the sentiment, and usually ends his by suggesting I change a few things here and there (his version has Optimus Prime in it). Having my own blog gives me the freedom to tell the story uninterrupted, so please- enjoy.

I felt great the night Squid was born. So great, in fact, that I felt comfortable enough to PROMISE Liz the whole family would be at her soccer game. As any mother knows, that action virtually guaranteed the onset of labor. That evening, after getting her into her uniform, and getting all the snacks (it WOULD have to be our turn) and water bottles ready to go, we sat down to watch tv for a few minutes before we left, and sure enough, my water broke. Once I realized what was going on, Jason and I informed Liz that we would be dropping her and her brother off at Nanny's house and that there wasn't a soccer game in her future.

Just to clarify, Liz hadn't been overly receptive up to that point about the whole 'baby' idea in general. When we started thinking we wanted another baby (the premise being it would be fun to do it on PURPOSE for a change), we talked to Isaiah about how he felt about it. He was 10, after all, and old enough to participate in a mature discussion. We refrained from talking to Liz, because we were worried that she would say no, and then feel we ignored her wishes if we decided to go the other way. We really didn't want the opinion of a child who had been the baby for the last 8 years. We were pretty sure we knew what her thoughts would be on the subject.

Rather than give her the false hope that her opinion would matter, we held off on telling her till I was actually pregnant.

To give her credit, she had gone from being REALLY angry and plugging her ears and yelling when she was told that she was being replaced to silent eye rolls and blistering glares 9 months later. We figured this was a major improvement, and were willing to accept baby steps.

So telling her that we were blowing off her soccer game for a new baby she didn’t even want in the house went over like a rice cake with a fat kid. She sobbed all the way to Nanny’s house. Heartbroken, I joined her, as I had now realized that we had ruined her life by forcing this new sibling on her, and the only alternative was to leave the baby in a bread bag on our best friend’s front step, ring the doorbell, and run. And having just delivered said baby, I would consequently run much more slowly than normal. This would never work.

I can only imagine what it was like to be Jason, driving down Glenmore, past the brand new construction zone (more on THAT later), listening to his wife and child sob hysterically (and alternately moan in pain). I’m sure if we had been pulled over just then, he would have punched the cop in the throat just so he could be taken away from us and deposited safely in prison. I would have.

We dropped the big kids off at Nanny’s, called my best friend Lana, and proceeded to the hospital, where Jason informed me that in his rush to get the kids over to his mom’s, he had forgotten the bag I had packed for the hospital. He had to go back. Normally, the drive from our place to the hospital was about 6 minutes, but the new construction on Glenmore had turned the ride into a 45 minute idle. Not knowing this, he left, expecting to be back there with me within 15 minutes.

An hour and a half later, when Lana showed up, I was in the hallway (apparently EVERYONE has their baby in November, and no one really believes that a woman whose water just broke 120 minutes ago is REALLY in labor, and therefore unlikely to need a room, a bed or a shower), again sobbing hysterically, this time because it was obvious that Jason was so disgusted by his family that he had run away, and was never coming back. (Oh, how he must wish now he had taken that particular Get Out Of Jail Free card!!!!). Lana (somewhat unsure herself at this point, having seen what a delight I was), assured me he loved me, and would return as soon as possible. Jason came back in the middle of this little scene, armed with hospital bag (and freshly showered too, the ass!), and immediately took charge by going a little pale, and somewhat whispery. Jason hates childbirth. That’s why Lana was there.

My loved ones realized that we probably weren’t going to have a leisurely few days in the hospital here (my labor with Isaiah had taken 3 hours, from the first pain to the first cry, and my labor with Liz was only slightly longer), picked me up off the hallway floor (I had slid down the wall during the last contraction) and dragged me up to the assessment desk, to politely suggest that perhaps a nurse should take a look at me. We were informed that tonight was a busy night, and although they meant to get to me as soon as possible, emergencies kept coming in, and there were a lot of women who had been here longer than an hour and a half, and I would have to wait.


If you were playing baseball, and someone smacked a line drive at your temple, would you tell the ball to hang on a sec? Same concept here. They could leave me out in the hallway as long as they wanted, but my giant baby was going to show up whether they wanted to give me a room or not. Luckily, the nurse we were speaking to took a look at my face, and realized we weren’t joking around. She became very helpful very quickly, and took me into an assessment room, where I was (ahem) assessed, and informed that I had just jumped to the head of the lineup and would be moved to my room in just a moment.

I didn’t care. All I wanted to know was if there was enough time for an epidural. I had had one with Liz, and I knew I liked them. I also knew that there was a very narrow window, and it was rapidly closing. As they wheeled me though the hallway, I kept repeating to anyone who would listen that I wanted an epidural right away. It didn’t even need to be an anesthesiologist. A cattle farmer with a basic knowledge of anatomy, somewhat clean hands, and a supply of tranquilizers would do. I wasn’t picky.

We just made it. About half an hour after I got into the room, a guy with a giant needle (again- didn’t care who he was) walked in and made the pain go away. He needn’t have bothered. Turns out I was already past the awful part, and all I got was a quick nap, and the end was nigh. A few (painless) pushes later, and our new baby boy had arrived.

As they got him cleaned up and weighed (Remember my earlier blog about the bad pictures we have taken? This was the moment where Jason took a picture of our son on the scale and I sent it to my coworkers without checking the periphery of the photo first…), I realized what I had done. I had just had a 9 pound, 4 ounce baby, and had only had an epidural for the last 45 or so minutes of it.

I ALMOST became the super mom who had a giant baby with no drugs! I could have been the woman everyone is slightly in awe of! I could have milked it for YEARS! What a missed opportunity! (This is why we had to have another baby after Squid….)

The following morning, after we had adored our new baby boy (whose name was chosen by his older brother) by ourselves for a while, Jason’s mom brought the big kids in to meet him. Liz was entirely uninterested in meeting her new brother. We laugh about this today, because she is Squid’s biggest fan. They do everything together. She is also the only person allowed to do his hair. She adores him.

Isaiah felt more comfortable, and hopped right up on the bed to hold the baby, and, in what is now the best part of the whole experience for me, looked down and sniffed the brand new life snuggled into his arms and said,

“I don’t get it- I’m so happy and I love him so much, but I can’t stop crying. Cool.”

Just to make sure Isaiah didn’t feel alone, I gave him a giant hug, and let my tears mingle with his a bit. I understood just what he meant. I had been so worried that I wouldn’t have enough love for all three of them, and as soon as Squid was born I remembered how it worked.

What happened then?
Well, in Whoville they say
that the Grinch's small heart
grew three sizes that day.

And I love him still. Happy birthday, Squidling!

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Camping With A Teenage Girl

Do you have a teenage daughter? Have you ever taken her camping? Are you going to be ok? Do you have the number of a support group I can contact? Some sort of program to get me through the worst of the pain, till the twitching stops???

Liz is an amazing kid, but we are just beginning her teenage years, and it turns out there are a whole lot of things I don't remember about teenagegirldom. And this becomes blatantly obvious on vacation.

Liz and I get along like a house on fire when we're out camping, because she is my daughter and I have ruined her. She is scared of the same things I am, and we are usually each other's first line of defense. We walk together to outhouses, and NEVER make spooky noises while the other one is peeing. We run from the same things in the dark. I can throw myself through the door of the tent trailer onto the floor and kick it shut behind me because I imagined I was being chased by skunks with knives (It can happen!), and she won't laugh at me, like OTHER people in our family do. We have a song we made up years ago for when we have to walk through a dim forest/empty field/past an abandoned building of any kind/in the dark/to an outhouse/isolated garbage bin. It has one line, repeated over and over, as we stomp along in time with the song (because marching makes you less likely to break into a run). It goes: "We are so brave. We are so brave. We are so brave. We are so brave. We are so brave," to a simple 3 note tune (that way it's easier to remember when your voice starts to quake).

She's always been one of those kids who makes her own way in life and doesn't really give a shit what other people think. It's one of the things I admire most about her, and one of the things that makes her so popular. She marches to the beat of her own drummer (usually a more interesting one than the one we used for our camping song), and her quirks are the best part of her.

When she was littler, she grew her hair really, really long, and shaved it off to raise money for the Canadian Cancer Association. I guess she had heard of someone doing it, and wanted to do it for a while, but figured there was no point unless you were going to REALLY sacrifice something. We cut 12 inches of hair off her 9 year old skull, and she raised $3298 doing it. I still can't believe how cool she looked with her bald noggin, and how proud we were of her.

Her first real 'boyfriend' was someone she dated for eleven and a half hours in Grade 7, until he wanted to go to a dance and she didn't, and he pouted, and she told him no man was going to tell her what to do and broke up with him (please, please, God, let this particular personality quirk last until her 50's!).

She has so many neat things about her that it's very rare for any of them to REALLY annoy me, but this year, camping with her was more challenging than ever before.

Although she is normally a very neat child, with a place for everything, and everything in its place, out camping there are fewer spaces for places and those that exist usually need to be shared by everyone. This meant that the 378,645 cubic inches of mascara, bronzer brush, lip stain, eyeliner, lip gloss, blush, bronzer, tweezers, eyebrow brush, face cleanser, makeup remover, eyeshadow brushes, lipstick, eye shadow, blush brush, and cotton balls she brought with her for the 10 days we were about to spend in the thriving metropolis of 'just outside Pincher Creek' were CONSTANTLY encroaching on everyone else's space.

Every time I tried to get the big pot out of the bottom cupboard to make dinner, I was pelted with a hail of Q-Tips. A simple search for my toothbrush resulted in near blindness caused by accidentally triggering a spray of HoneyDo perfumed body mist. (People should carry this stuff in Banff instead of Bear Spray- it completely incapacitated me. Even now, the smell of overripe fruit causes my eyes to tear up and sinuses to involuntarily drain.) Trying to find a diaper in an 8 x 12 tent trailer involved lifting my body weight (no mean feat) in cosmetics just to access the diaper bag, which had been emptied of its supply of baby wipes, as she prefers these to the harsher cleansers in the makeup remover she also brought along (apparently just to fill some weight requirement).

Her hair, which she used to care so little about that she allowed her father to shave it off, now requires the electrical output of a small village in Tanzania simply to keep it in an acceptable state for a week spent swimming in a muddy river. Her phone charger and IPod were plugged into the outlets that we had (incorrectly) assumed would be used to run the lights and power in the trailer, and the sound of her blow dryer drowned out singing birds for miles around. She had appropriated the longest extension cord we had because nothing else could reach the tent, where she was straightening her hair, and she was seriously annoyed that she we didn't have a power bar so she could heat her spiral curler at the same time. At one point, she actually UNPLUGGED LANA AND ERIK'S ENTIRE TRAILER to charge her Nintendo DS. (It was accidental, and she felt really bad, but we'll never let that one go. It's just too funny.)

She and the other girls were able to do near-professional manicures and pedicures on themselves, using the array of polishes, files, and buffers that they had brought with them for the trip (in comparison, Isaiah was excited simply to find a $5 pair of sneakers without holes in them to wear after his 6 weeks volunteering at a wilderness bible camp). She sacrificed a $20 beach towel to clean clay (CLAY!) off her body when the kids found a deposit in the river and spent 3 hours sculpting, and used my entire supply of laundry loonies to wash and rewash her white bathing suit to remove the streaks of mud. She used up a brand new bottle of body wash in 6 days (one intended to last the family a whole week), because camping makes her sweaty and she has to shower twice a day.

At one point, I started to sob quietly simply at the thought of having to go into the cooler after her (she doesn't like to screw lids onto jars, and more than once I have had to clean crystallized, half-frozen pickle juice off the steaks before thawing them). I gave up on arguing with her about her helmet when she rode her bike (it ruins her hair), because somehow, the 35 feet to the playground didn't seem worth the battle. I learned to leave her alone for the 2 hours in the afternoon where she disappears with her video games and music because I KNOW she needs a rest or she will be moody for the rest of the day. I began to adapt.

And here is what makes this all bearable. At one point, the tent that all the girls were sleeping in developed a leak, and I went looking for our roll of bright yellow duct tape. After several fruitless minutes, I asked her what had become of it, and she informed me that she had used it to make shoes. Yep. Shoes. She had gotten instructions for making duct tape shoes, and because yellow is a cool color, had used up the roll we keep in the camping fixit box. Come on. Tell me this isn't cool. My wonderful daughter had used up something I desperately needed, but she did it in such an awesome, creative way that I was too busy being impressed by her to give a hoot about the tape (besides- I didn't need to sleep in a puddle- that was her problem). And, despite the fact that making duct tape shoes sounds like it should be required learning for the homeless, she wore them all over the place this past summer, and inspired home repair fashion in countless other teenagers.

So I will keep being proud of my funny, independent daughter, and I will keep learning to camp with a teenage girl. Because the thing that scares me most of all is that someday, that teenage girl will stop wanting to camp with me.