Tell Us Where the Clicker is and No One Gets Hurt

No one is in trouble, we’re not angry, Mommy and Daddy just really need to know where the remote is. Think hard, boys. It’s the tiny, lightweight, easily lost clicker.

Ok, close your eyes and concentrate. You were all sitting on the couch, remember? Then I came in and said it was time to pause the movie. Who got off the couch first and where was the clicker? You think you had it in your hand? Left or right? How certain are you? And then you walked where? And what were the rest of you boys doing exactly? 

So no one can remember for certain that the clicker left the coffee table yet it isn’t there now. Let’s play a fun game I like to call “Everyone Empty Your Pockets.”

Alright, alright, *deep, calming breath* if it’s not anywhere we can see it, it must be in or under something. Everybody up, I’ll check the couch, you boys check the toy bins.

Thus began The Great Clicker Hunt of 2014.

Toy baskets were overturned and the contents sorted. Repeatedly, you know, in case we overlooked something. We found an incredible selection of old elastics, Happy Meal Toy components, and random bits of Lego, but no clicker.

Next we launched Operation Couch Query. After reaching into the cracks and crevices and discovering enough cereal and pretzels to make lunches for the next day for the entire family, no clicker turned up. We decided to be more thorough. Bearded Husband stepped on the springs while I bravely reached even farther into the depths of the chesterfield. This time I came upon eight Hot Wheels cars, more snack food, two allen keys (what?), and a small piece of my sanity. Since we were being thorough and still clicker-less, I took a few moments to vacuum up the shame-filled couch.

Our hopes would rise and fall in rapid succession as our offspring discovered treasure they’d long forgotten resulted in me saying through gritted teeth, “No more saying ‘look what I found!’ unless it’s that clicker. I don’t care how excited you are that you found Gary from the Guess Who game, my heart can’t take it.”

It was there one minute and gone the next. Everyone was perplexed. We reviewed our search grid looking for oversights. The only thing to do was double check. And bribe the children. We offered a $5 reward to the son who had any information leading the safe return of the clicker and ice cream for the whole family to celebrate its return. This infused the search with a new energy and children scattered throughout the house and hunted with gusto.

We had narrowed down the possible locations based on the testimony of our eldest son. He was “pretty sure” he had the clicker in his hand when he stood up to move his army men. But his memory is fuzzy after that. Where else could it be except the couch.

Despite our thorough ferreting around we concluded it must be there, we just needed to look deeper. Brace yourselves, dear reader, this is where things get real.

We turned the couch on its side and shook it. Yes! I hear that rattle, too. Out came the crowbar, screwdriver and flashlight. We took the cover off the bottom and delved into the underbelly of the sofa. Nothing.

I wouldn't lie to you, here's proof.
I wouldn’t lie to you, here’s proof.

I reconsidered the nine-year-old’s testimony and expanded the search grid. No possibility was dismissed. I pawed through the kitchen garbage and touched raw chicken with MY BARE HANDS, but I would not give up! Sure, now we had the tools to assemble a desk from IKEA, but I had shows to watch – THIS WAS TOP PRIORITY. 

“Let’s go over this one more time and remember, no one is in trouble here, we just want to find it. Full immunity to any party involved in this devastating disappearance.”

As I descended the stairs after a fruitless search of the bedrooms, our oldest son gleefully announced “I FOUND IT”. Then that little darling turned his spiteful little face and announced, “it was on the counter under the lunch bag that MOM put there.”

Allegedly.

Full immunity, remember?

We repaired the faulty back rest, you know, since we'd opened it up anyways.
We repaired the faulty springs, you know, since we’d opened it up anyways.

The Sting

A big welcome to guest writer, Andi. You can’t find Andi anywhere on social media, but take my word for it, she’s real. She even buys me American Reese, so you know she’s a solid person. A true friend. And she has some great stories – like this one.

————

I’ve never considered myself an unlucky person but the last few years of my life are tempting me to reconsider. I think that what may have sealed it is what I have started referring to as “the wasp incident”.

I was driving home from a rather discouraging day at work. It was one of the last lovely days of the season so I decided to  pull my day out of the dumpster: tunes turned up and windows rolled down. Five minutes from home and my spirits were lifting when suddenly I went, “Ow!” immediately followed by, “MY BACK IS ON FIRE!!!”

Not a wasp
Not a wasp

Now I may or may not have been moving at a good clip in the passing lane at this point and in the excitement, may have transferred my stress to the accelerator. I reached behind me with one hand to hold my wildly waving shirt (reference wide open window comment above) away from the spot on my shoulder that felt like it was pumping fire into my back. It’s amazing how quickly your brain can fire when you feel that level of pain. After about two seconds I deduced that I had been stung by a bee. I also realized that I needed to get home as quickly as possible to make sure that the stinger was no longer in my back as it felt like bursts of electricity were shooting into my shoulder blade.

A few seconds later I decided I should close the windows to prevent the wind from working against me by blowing my shirt against said ‘ring of fire’. I switched hands to hold my shirt away from my back while trying to roll up the windows and that’s when I realized that this was not a bee sting but a wasp sting. Fun fact: Wasps do not die after stinging their target. I can confirm this as the wasp flew up and stung my finger and then fell down the back of my shirt and stung me under the waistband on my pants. Thankfully, the music was loud to muffle my loud exclamations of surprise.

For the record, I did consider pulling onto the side of the road to get rid of the wasp and try to address the fiery inferno on my back, but quickly decided that was a poor choice. I was only two minutes from home and to address the stings, I needed to remove my shirt. Although I live in Ontario where it is legal for women to go topless, I’m not comfortable personally applying this legislation to the side of the road two minutes from where my kids go to school.

Also not a wasp
Also not a wasp

When I got home I quickly (and likely a bit distractedly!) dismissed the babysitter and then dragged my eleven-year-old daughter into my bedroom to take a photo of my back since no other adults were around. The photo showed an angry red rash the size of a dessert plate so I did the logical thing and rushed to Dr. Google for advice. This was when it was confirmed; the first webpage I clicked on read, “Bees and wasps inject their venom into unlucky people.” Clearly, had I been a lucky individual I would have been wasp-proof.

Easily one of my most exciting rides home ever and clearly, I will not be wasting my money on lottery tickets any time in the near future. As well, no more open windows. Ever.

Evil in winged form
Evil in winged form

Don’t Be Creepy

“Yes! You’re right, there’s your leader from day camp last week. Would you like to say ‘hi?”

Superhero socks are the perfect conversation-starter
Socks are the perfect conversation-starter

Off we went so that my outgoing five-year-old could see his leader from the previous week whom he adored.

He got about four feet away and clammed up, barely making eye contact.

“Why don’t you show her your new socks, buddy?” I suggested as a way to break the ice.

He quietly lifted up his leg so she could see his Ironman socks. She feigned the exact right level of enthusiasm, but my little guy was still acting shy. We headed back to our group of friends to continue our conversation.

As we left he piped up, “her voice sounds different.”

“Maybe she has a cold or something.”

A few moments later he was making eyes at her again from behind my legs.

“Would you like to go back over?” I asked.

He nodded.

“Alright, but this time you need to say something to Hollie otherwise it’s just creepy.”

So off we went again and he belted out a hearty “HELLO” and scurried away, giggling nervously (not creepy at all, nicely done).

It was as I trailing behind him that another friend quietly whispered in my ear, “um, that’s not Hollie, it’s Nicole.”

Of course it was, I knew it all along.

No, not creepy at all.

———

No names have been changed as the only identity needing protection is mine.

Lunchtime Made Easy

Making lunches is a lot of work.

Well, making lunches, breakfast, and dinner is a lot of work.

Breakfast, lunch, dinner, morning snack, afternoon snack – so much time preparing food. And then there’s the clean up. My knees are developing arthritis from the amount of time I’m spending at the kitchen counter. I might invest in orthotic indoor shoes.

Let’s not even start in about the grocery budget.

So where does every parent go when they are looking for meal ideas for their family? Pinterest, of course. But what I found there was not time-saving lunch ideas. Nooooo. Instead I discovered a cornucopia of pins dedicated to sandwiches cut into fun shapes, fruit kabobs, and smiley faced vegetables. Um, I was looking to do less preparation. Who are these people?

As a public service, I decided to share my own great tips for Easy Lunches On A Budget. Here’s my first instalment.

Easy Mac and Cheese Your Kids Will Love.

1. Get two boxes, you don’t want to run short. Your kids are counting on you.

Two boxes lets them know you really care
Two boxes lets them know you really care

2. Prepare as directed. But why not go with 5% cream? It adds just that hint of decadence your family craves.photo 1

3. Serve. But not in those plastic bowls from IKEA. The real dishes, mom. Because nothing says “your worth it” like breakable dishware.

photo 4

4. Here’s a secret I debated about posting. But it’s too good not to share. Fresh-ground paper for a gourmet twist.

Just like grandpa used to make when he was left in charge.
Just like Grandpa used to make when he was left in charge.

Future Posts Coming Soon: Frozen Pizza – Not Just for Dinner, Bologna and You, and Sometimes Leftovers Are Your Friend.

36 Reasons I’m Late for Everything

Once upon a time I was a punctual person. Actually, I mostly still am. Okay, sometimes. Alright, alright, occasionally I arrive on time or even a smidge early. But it’s not my fault. No, really, it’s not.

I have thirty-six reasons to prove my innocence.

 

36 Reasons I’m Late for Everything

  1. Toddler needs help putting his coat on
  2. His sleeves are bunchy
  3. Decides he doesn’t need his coat
  4. He does need help taking it off
  5. Actually, a coat sounds like a good idea
  6. They’re bunchy again
  7. Zipper won’t go up
  8. Zipper is too high
  9. Too low
  10. Too high
  11. I didn’t let him do it himself
  12. He can’t do it himself
  13. Too low
  14. His socks feel “scrunchy”
  15. His shoes are too loose
  16. Too tight
  17. One is too loose, the other is still too tight
  18. I didn’t let him open the front door
  19. He needs to close it and open it again
  20. Twice
  21. Forgot his water bottle
  22. He doesn’t want to wait outside
  23. He can open the door himself, remember?
  24. He can’t open the door himself
  25. He’s doing the Potty Dance
  26. He denies needing to pee
  27. Still denying…
  28. Under threat of no gum again ever, agrees to use the potty
  29. I didn’t let him “see it” before flushing
  30. Needs to get the soap himself
  31. I didn’t let him open the door. Again.
  32. He can’t do it himself
  33. Actually, he doesn’t need a coat
  34. Forget that, he does
  35. WHAT IS WITH THE SLEEVES AND ALL THE BUNCHING?
  36. I’m the worst

    Accessories are preschooler kryptonite
    Accessories are preschooler kryptonite

Refrigerated Evil

I was multi-tasking like a pro. Serving lunch, putting away groceries, folding laundry, chopping up veggies for dinner – wait, what happened in the veggie drawer? The slime! The smell!

No problem, for this gal. I rolled up my sleeves, slid another grilled cheese sandwich to the hungry 3-year-old and deftly removed the produce drawers from the fridge.

“Mommy will be right back!” I sang as I carted the oozy vessels of soggy cucumbers and dried out broccoli to the compost bin.

I went to get the little guy a drink and noticed just how grimy the shelves at the bottom of the fridge were. NO PROBLEM! I carefully lifted them out and left them to soak in the laundry tub. Now to tackle the frames. This was turning into a much bigger project than I had anticipated, but I would not be deterred. By now it was nap time so I could really focus on removing all debris and questionable items from the fridge.

I was merciless. An almost empty bottle of ranch dressing – gone! You, too shrimp sauce from 2009. Don’t look at me that way, yeast in a jar, we both know I won’t be baking any bread from scratch.

I’m almost done and then I can watch Veronica Mars while I eat some Oreos start organizing photo books.

This gross, but weirdly satisfying job was wrapping up nicely – all that was left was to replace the various components.

And then, in a flash, my productivity slammed to a halt.

As I pulled open the door to return the bins to their sparkling clean home, the entire fridge door came off in my hand.

It’s the closest thing I’ve ever had to an out-of-body experience. I stood there, gaping at this big, white door that had acquired magical abilities. Or it was demon-possessed.

It’s okay, it’s okay. Let’s just prop it up to keep the cool air in. Then figure out the next step. 

Have you ever tried to lift a fridge door that is full of jars? Trust me, it’s heavy. I leaned it against one leg and carefully took out all the 179 condiments from its shelves (Pilates, guys, it works). Next, I had to rig something up to keep the cool side cool and the hot side hot. I was very motivated since cheese was on sale and it’s possible I had bought approximately eight bars.

Fridge triage
Fridge triage

Things were looking up. Now it was time to figure out what was going on, so I turned to my good friend, Mr. Google. “Why did my fridge door fall off in my hand?” generates a surprising number of helpful answers. I concluded that none of the necessary procedures could be accomplished by one person, so once the boys were in bed that night, Bearded Husband and I fixed the fridge. It took a couple of attempts, possessed refrigerators doors are very temperamental when it comes to things like “alignment”, but we did it.

Stay tuned next week for “The Time 1/3 cup of Butter Exploded in the Microwave” and “Once I Dropped a Pork Roast on the Oven Door.”

The Van of Enlightenment

It’s taken me just under ten years but I have figured it out.

Cracked the code.

Uncovered the secret.

Distilled the formula.

Want to know what your son is thinking? Interested in his school life? Curious about his peer dynamics? Or just wondering what he really thinks about that girl Paige in his class? (she’s the worst, by the way).

Here’s the answer. And it’s foolproof.

Drive the van.

That’s it.

Load up the van with him and a bunch of his friends and drive them somewhere. The destination doesn’t matter, but try for something fifteen minutes away, minimum.

And drive. Just drive. Don’t pepper them with questions, don’t insert yourself into the conversation and do not make eye contact. Pretend you are on a safari observing animals in their natural habitat (but don’t take notes, because they will see that and wonder why you pulled over. Same goes for whispering recordings into your phone).

The information you will gather by listening in (it’s not eavesdropping if they forget you can hear them) is astounding. Here’s a recent sampling, in case you doubt my methods:

Josh thinks he’s so great at soccer, but really, he isn’t.

Someone needs to tell Julia to settle down – everyone knows she’s loud just to get attention.

Adam claims he got to level K in math drills, but he totally didn’t. Liar.

Ryan is so mean that they’d like to take a power washer to him and wouldn’t even feel bad about it.

There are also some epiphanies which give you a peek into alternative parenting choices. For instance, one boy piped up with incredulity, “Wait, you can ride your bike on the street? Such freedom.”

You might be tempted to jump in and ask some follow up questions, but play it cool. Stay in the shadows. That time will come later.

It can be challenging to listen and not reply, but it’s worth it. You might want to chime in that maybe Julia feels insecure and is looking for a safe circle to be herself. Squash the urge to point out that maybe life is hard for Ryan and that’s why he acts out. Perhaps Josh doesn’t feel good about himself so he shows off the skill he is most proud of.

There will be opportunities for those conversations, but for now, just listen.

Drive the van.