Tuesday, November 30, 2010

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday - Guess I better get used to these...

I'd heard about this phenomenon from other friends out there in the blogosphere, (hi, Mayor of Crazy Town), but so far it has managed to elude me, that is up until today.

An unassuming little girl placed it in my hands as I dropped my son off at school. I thanked her, thinking, "How lovely, an early Christmas card from Ciaran's classmate." I slid it into my purse and off I went without giving it a second thought. How naive of me.

Stopped at a red light while singing along to the 24/7 Christmas music station (yes, I shall tire of it mid-way through December), I grabbed and opened the envelope and - OhDearGod!!

I shuddered and stifled a scream. The driver next to me looked over curiously. With shaking hands I held "it" up for him to see. He shook his head sadly and shrugged his shoulders in a "Happens to the best of us" gesture.

What, you ask was in the envelope? *This:

*Not actual invitation, but you get the idea
But then something else dawned on me as I read the details of the child's party. There were drop off and pick up times noted. That means I don't have to stay, right? So, I'd actually get a couple of hours to myself on a Saturday afternoon? Hmm, maybe these kid birthday parties aren't such a bad deal after all!

Friday, November 26, 2010

I know where Santa hangs out & it's not in the 'burbs...

Despite feeling slightly on the Grinchy side lately, a little Christmas spirit has started seeping it's way into this overwhelmed and on-the-verge-of-exploding-yet-again head of mine. It all started last Sunday when we bundled up and headed into the city for the annual Toronto Santa Claus Parade.

Unlike my husband, I love the city - especially during the Christmas season. I love the white lights, shiny bows and ribbons decorating the shops. Add a light dusting of snow and some mini Christmas trees and I'm in heaven. My dream is to spend one Christmas in New York City. I imagine it's every bit as lovely and charming as Montreal, one of my other favorite winter cities, only way bigger, and without all the French people.

Isn't Montreal pretty this time of year? Le sigh.

In reality, I'll use almost any excuse to head to Toronto (or any city, really), but Tony's been on this We are no longer city dwellers; we live in the suburbs and this is where we will rot kick. He's tired of fighting through traffic to hang out downtown, when there are not nearly as good perfectly good resources in our neighborhood. (I obviously disagree, but am too exhausted from my dreadful daily commute to argue).

However, since we missed our local Santa Claus parade this year, I was able to convince hubby dearest to make our way into civilization and hit up one of the biggest Santa Claus parades in North America.

And it actually wasn't all that hard to persuade him. Why? Because Tony is somehow convinced that this will be the last year Ciaran believes in Santa Claus. I refuse to accept this. I believed until I was like, 12. Yes, I was a very gullible child, and highly sheltered, but come on - 5 year-olds just don't stop believing in Santa, do they? It's not like he has older brothers or sisters to dispel the elaborate lie Christmas magic.

Now, Tony is on a mission to make this the most amazing, magical Christmas ever, seeing how our son is doomed to become some jaded 5 1/2 year-old come next year. So, we dragged the kid to the city to stand in the freezing cold with a million other Torontonians eagerly awaiting a glimpse of the man with the white beard.

But he took way too long. Ciaran wanted to go home. It was too cold and he was tired of waiting. So back to the suburbs we trekked. Some of our neighbors had put up their Christmas lights and it was snowing light, soft flakes. And it was kind of nice. Not in a city-nice way, but I guess I can live with it.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

41 Going on 14?

Last Saturday evening my husband of 12 years looked me straight in the eye and said: "I think you need to sit down and have a drink because you're hysterical."

Let me backtrack and explain. I suddenly felt like I'd been sucked into a time warp. Either that, or I had finally lost my mind. And since I'd like to grasp onto whatever thread of sanity I have left, I prefer to believe the former.

Earlier in the day, I'd been radio channel surfing and settled on a station I don't usually listen to playing an old R&B song I hadn't heard in a while. This is cool, I thought and sang along as I continued with my domestic duties, surprised by my ability to remember every single word of the song despite not having heard it in 20 plus years.

But when the song ended things started getting freaky. A gentle voice from a long-time-ago place said "Coming in at number 38, that was Rufus and Chaka Khan, with the song, Ain't Nobody." Huh? That's strange, I thought. Could it be a new re-release of the original song?

"The hit's from coast to co-oast," rang out, conjuring up more ancient, forgotten memories. Oh My God - Casey Kasem! He's back? I couldn't even remember the last time I heard his radio show - we're talking years and years ago. But surely, they would have updated the jingle by now?

As I listened on, enjoying great old songs from my early teens, like Michael Jackson's PYT, Stevie Nicks and others, it was clear that I'd somehow been transported back to 1983. Just like Hot Tub Time Machine, only without the hot tub... or the time machine.

I grooved to the sounds of "35-year old David Bowie" (ha!) singing Modern Love, and belted out "Islands in the Stream" by Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton. I grabbed Ciaran and spun him around to Prince's "Delerious" - which apparently I was. I even re-lived my head-banging days with a little Quiet Riot. Whoever said 80's music sucks was dead wrong - well besides Quiet Riot, that is. But, in one little Top 40 countdown there was something for everyone; a little funk, some pop, new wave, dance, metal and even country!

And in between all this multi-genre music awesomeness, was another forgotten feature of the program: The long-distance dedications. One in particular had me rolling on the floor in laughter - not the soldier based in Lebanon with a "lovely German wife at home in the U.S.A." but the song he dedicated to his pregnant wife. Are you ready for it? "Having my Baby." Yep. Pretty cheesy, but in defense of the 80's, I'll have you know that song came out in 1974.

Yes,  I'm all about reliving my childhood lately. Maybe it's a sign of senility, or simply getting older, but I had a blast hearing those old songs, and so did Ciaran. Especially as we boogied on down to the #1 song in the nation for the week ending November 12, 1983: Lionel Richie's "All Night Long".

Afterwards, I checked the radio station's schedule online (obviously it wasn't really 1983, or I wouldn't have been able to do that), and guess what? Casey Kasem's American Top 40 is a regular feature every Saturday afternoon! So you know where I'll be come Saturday at 1:00 p.m. Hanging out in front of the radio with my mop & bucket and thinking about those glory days...hmm, I wonder if Bruce Springsteen will make the countdown this week!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Say it Ain't Joe!

A few weeks ago, I described how Ciaran and I literally laughed one of our neighbors out of the house, which wasn't one of my proudest moments, but somehow oddly appropriate at the time.

Well, it seems we're Ciaran is hellbent on alienating more neighbor folk - this time making no secret of his utter dislike for Joe, who lives across the street.

Now, if Joe was a cantankerous old man who yelled or called the cops on kids playing outside his house, I could understand my son's anxiety, but Joe is, in reality, one of the most friendly, jovial people in the neighborhood.

That being said, he does have quite a loud, boisterous voice. And Ciaran is obviously threatened by it. Also, the boy seemingly has an aversion to the name "Joe".

My husband has a cousin also named Joe and he could be "neighbor Joe's" twin. They both wear baseball caps on a regular basis, sport mustaches and bellow speak in a very outgoing manner.

One day a few weeks back, as Ciaran played in the front yard with Tony, he caught sight of neighbor Joe outside his house and ran to hide behind the car, all the while yelling at the top of his lungs, "Oh no, it's Joe! I don't like Joe!"

Tony tried to tell him to keep it down or Joe's feelings would be hurt, but Ciaran shouted even louder, "Joe's not a good name! Joe's not a good name!!"

On Halloween night, while we made our rounds around the hood, Ciaran squeezed my hand hard when we approached Joe's awesomely-decorated house. "Not Joe's house, Mom," he stage-whispered. Well, at least he didn't scream it at the top of his lungs. We moved on to the next house.

But Joe was not to be avoided. As we went about our trick-or-treating business, we bumped into him and his little boy at every turn. Which did not make Ciaran a happy camper. And it certainly didn't help matters when Joe took to howling like a werewolf each time he saw us.

When we returned home, Ciaran helped Tony give out candy, and who was the first trick-or-treater to show up at the door? Joe with his son, of course.

On the plus side, The Man now has a name! I no longer have to use the empty threat of having the call The Man, or even Santa Claus when Ciaran acts up. Nope. All I have to do is utter the "J-word" to make him listen, get his PJ's on, or clean up his toys.

So much for thinking I'd never use fear to get my kid to do stuff. Sometimes it just gets to that point. And it works, for now, anyway.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Wordless Wednesday - Updates, including the rapid deterioration of furniture

After our Halloween crisis this year, this is what Ciaran finally decided on. Some kind of winged hellcat; one that apparently likes to tear apart the living room furniture.

And this is why we're not buying new sofas for a looong time, or at least until he outgrows his latest obsessive compulsion:

Friday, November 5, 2010

Homework woes

 Lately I've been feeling like a bad mom. Ok, that's nothing new - I admit I often feel like a bad mom. There's this thing called guilt - you may be familiar with it? I know I sure am.

It isn't that I don't give Ciaran tons of love and encouragement - I definitely do. I don't have a lot of time to play with him during the week - by the time I get home, get dinner made yada, yada, yada, it's almost bedtime. I do read to him every single night and then we cuddle and talk about his day at school or make up silly songs. Up until recently our little routine was working just fine and dandy.

But then, something started nagging at me, making me doubt my capacity as a mother and keeping me awake at night (well, not really, it's just one of the many things that prevent me from sleeping at night). I began to worry about Ciaran falling behind his peers and not being able to read or write whenever it is that kids are supposed to know how to do such things.

Normally, I wouldn't have thought twice about it - I always believed he'd learn when he's ready, not to mention - um, aren't they supposed to learn that stuff in school? But there's been a fairly large amount of assignments sent home for us to work on since Ciaran started Junior Kindergarten this past September.

I was not prepared for this. Worksheets are piling up like crazy and I can't keep up with them. Homework! In Junior Kindergarten. Is this normal? There are printing his name worksheets, counting and numbers worksheets and worksheets for each letter of the alphabet.

At first, I kind of ignored them, I just figured they were guidelines, not really to be taken all that seriously. Like, if we had a few spare minutes on a lazy Sunday afternoon, we could practice writing a few letters. But then the JK teacher started sending semi-snarky notes home about how all the kids need to learn to print their names by the end of the month.

I don't know about all the other JK kids, but mine can barely hold a pencil properly. He'd much rather build towers and houses made out of sofa cushions. And he has zero interest in writing anything, other than scribbles and the odd circle. Which brings me to the question: Am I a bad mother for not forcing my kid to do homework that he's clearly not ready for? But then, when is a good age?

If only we could win the lottery, then I'd stay home & home-school. 'Cause then it would be just fine if he didn't learn to write until he's like, 18. No one else would have to know. Also? We'd have the most kick-ass pillow house evah!
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