My Fish is Smart Because He Went to School

This is Kevin.

Kevin was a prize in an “Every Game Wins a Prize” fishing game at a local fair.  It cost $3 – a fact I am still processing.

——-

Do you want to know why I chose this fish? Because when I get my real fish, he will have a friend. Kevin.

Wait a second, we never agreed that you’d be getting a fish. Remember what happened to the can’t-be-killed beta fish that died?

So, anyways, want to know why Kevin will be a good friend to my pet fish?

Go ahead, but I’m not making any promises.

1. Kevin is already really smart.

Kevin must have spent a lot of time in school
Kevin must have spent a lot of time in school

 

2. He can work my Hexbug. He’s a fish, but he knows how.

Kevin must have taken the Robotics elective during his undergrad
Kevin must have taken the Robotics elective during his undergrad

3. Kevin loves baseball and my pet fish will, too.

Careful, that's official Blue Jays memorabilia
Careful, that’s official Blue Jays memorabilia

Caring for a fish stuffy is not that challenging. I’m still not convinced.

Well, if I had a fish, it could keep me company.

Allow me to refer to the can’t-be-killed yet still dead beta fish.

Fish can be very relaxing.

We had to hold a fish funeral. You made me say a eulogy.

You’ve said we can’t have a hamster, dog, or cat because you’re “allergic”. Well, you can’t be allergic to a fish.

I’m allergic to disposing of dead fish.

I’ll take care of it, it won’t get lonely.

Like the dead beta fish that tipped over on the dining room table.

He survived. 

That time.

Please?

Dead. Beta. Fish.

Is that a maybe?

I’ll think about it.

I’ll clear off some shelf space.

DEAD BETA FISH.

Sounds like a maybe to me.

Go play with Kevin.

_______________

Where do you land on the fish-as-pets spectrum? I’m more of a pet rock kind of gal.

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The Greatest Parenting Tip of All Time

Pull up a chair, I am about to impart the best parenting advice I can give you. Even better than “never sit on a toilet seat in the dark”.

Forget “sleep when the baby sleeps” or “enjoy it while they’re young, they grow up so fast.” And don’t even try to tell me “buy the off brand cereal, they’ll never notice.” No, my friend, the best advice I can offer after some twelve years in the parenting trenches is a simple phrase. If committed to memory, these three words will get you out of most, if not all situations requiring answers you do not have.

Sometimes you don’t have wifi, sometimes your device isn’t handy, and sometimes you just don’t want to exert the effort because thinking hurts your brain. There’s no judgement here. The questions might be too complex, or illogical, or ridiculous (please see previous about brains hurting). That’s when this handy phrase is your best friend.

A word of caution: use this in any situation, but pace yourself. If your children hear it in too quick a succession they might retort with “stop saying that and just tell me the answer!” in which case you have to pull out the big guns. Yes, you might need to tell them to “save that question for when you get to heaven.” It is question kryptonite, so use it carefully.

Alright, enough preamble. The most important phrase you should commit to memory is…

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“I know, right?”

Skeptics might doubt me, but years fielding questions from hundreds of young students and my own four offspring provide enough anecdotal evidence (plus my twitter friends agree with me). What more data do you need? None. Just trust me. Below I have listed just a small selection of questions that I have answered with a sympathetic, “I know, right?” ALL QUESTIONS WERE SHUT DOWN.

What if your hand was just made out of the foam fingers and you had to switch every time for different numbers?

Why do you have so many pillows on your bed that you don’t use?

Why do extra boogers fall down into your mouth?

Why are light sabres so hot?”

How do they build buildings that are taller than the builder?

How does the microwave make things hot?

Why is honey sticky?

Why do stores have those restaurants in them? Like you buy lumber and a sandwich?

How can we stand on the earth when it’s round?

If cucumber is a fruit, why isn’t there cucumber pie?

How did they make the very FIRST ruler and make IT straight?

When something new is made it takes up space so the sky should get smaller, but it doesn’t. Why?

Why are tongues wet?

Why is it Saturday?

How do people that don’t have the same eye colour know that they’re really seeing the same colour?

Why do spiders go in the water if they can’t even survive?

Why is our van so dirty (I feel like this one is obvious)

Why do moms like coffee?

Why do moms like wine?

If used effectively this response can get you out of almost any situation. I have even applied it to the trickiest question of all:

Where did all the jujubes go? I was saving them.

I know, right?

Christmas Time is Here

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Did I have to dress as a glamour shot from 1986? No. Was I asked to choose a theme? Also no.

Posing for the “silly” staff photo.

Dancing in front of anyone over age five and non-family.

Deciding what time to meet up.

Collecting money.

Being the driver.

Wearing dark lipstick.

These are some of things that stress me out.

Surprising? Perhaps. I have no problem making fun of myself and being weird online. I do it almost daily. Speaking in front of a crowd barely raises my heart rate. But when I hear the photographer say “and how about a fun one!” I pray a wormhole will open up and swallow me. “Why didn’t you practice a good silly pose since last year YOU KNOW THEY DO THIS ANNUALLY.”

Speaking of doing things every year, it’s that time again:

Staff Christmas Sweater Competition

It might be hard to top last year when our family went as the controversial yet festive Starbucks red cups. Or the year before when I made my own because I am super crafty and very talented with a glue gun. I thought about going as the Ghost of Christmas Past, but then realized that wearing a shredded bed sheet could hamper my gift exchange competition level.

What to do? What to do?

As I pondered options for a seasonal outfit, waffling between Cousin Eddie and the mom from A Christmas Story (clearly bathrobes are my in my wheelhouse) I received an email…

Reader, I know this is beginning to sound like a movie plot, but the email was not creepy. IT WAS ACTUALLY HELPFUL. Dropped directly into my inbox was the solution I needed: sweaters I could make myself (successfully) using my glue gun, scissors, stencils, and bows. It was this former kindergarten teacher’s dream project plan.

Anything that is described as “easy” or “simple” is certainly in my range of ability. And if you mention “no sew” then say no more. This page has links that could help me win years of Christmas Sweater contests. The only question remaining is “which one do I try this year?”

Click here to peruse the options and let me know what you think in the comments.

I have my glue gun primed and ready – game on.

 

 

Tree or Bush

Remember that game we used to play? Tree or Bush? You took a blade of grass that had gone to seed, asked your friend “tree or bush?” and then proceeded to do the opposite of their response.

“Ha, ha, ha, NOPE – bush.” “You guessed BUSH? It’s a tree, sucker.”

It was so ridiculous, but so satisfying. Oh the games kids play. And then we move into adulthood and leave childish things behind.

But then there was that time that my husband decided to plant a sapling that had randomly taken root on his mom’s balcony.

“Check it out! It’s a Maple tree! And it just spontaneously took root in an empty cinder block.”

Readers, to be fair and accurate, I was on board with the transplanting of said maple sapling into our newly-purchased back yard. We had just taken ownership of our first home and were anxious to put our own mark on it. Sure, let’s find a spot and get some shade going.

We couldn’t believe how quickly it took root. It was so hardy. So strong. So bendy. Wait, bendy? Are trees supposed to be that flexible? Nevermind, we were new to this whole tree-planting thing.

A few weeks passed and I started to doubt the veracity of the claims that this was a maple. Or a tree. But my husband would not be deterred.

“I don’t know, it grew awfully fast, almost LIKE A WEED.”

Bearded Husband replied, “I’m sure all saplings grow quickly, plus we have a lot of sunlight.”

“Those leaves don’t look very maple-y.”

BH: “It’s just a variation of maple, they all have their own look.”

“Isn’t it supposed to have bark?”

BH: “You might have a point.”

“It’s gone to seed, like a dandelion. A very tall dandelion.”

BH: “I’ll get the shovel.”

We laughed at our gardening misstep as we removed this very tall transplanted weed from our lawn. Weren’t we so naive to think a maple tree just appeared in a block of cement? And then we planted it? Adorable. What a rookie mistake.

Ha, ha, ha. Newbies. Any expereinced gardener/homeowner wouldn’t make that error in herbology.

Nope, definitely not. Especially a second time.

Fast forward eleven years to our second home. We inherited a nicely landscaped yard. All we had to do was weed and tidy until we were ready to put our own stamp on it. So weed and tidy we did.

“I think that one tree at the side of the house isn’t a tree. I think it’s a weed.”

BH: “It’s ten feet tall. It’s a tree.”

“It looks a lot like that so-called tree we planted at the old house.”

BH: “Quiet. It’s fine”

“Is it that you just don’t want to dig it out and dispose of it?”

BH: “SHHHH.”

I conducted a highly scientific survey of my social media contacts and three of them agreed it was a weed, so I hacked that invader down.

One time is a rookie error, two times is lack of memory, but three times isn’t possible.

Right?

Last month I was trimming near the side of the house and discovered a green, leafy creature resembling those dancing air things you see on car lots. 

“We have one of those aggressively tall weeds again.”

BH: “Our neighbour has planted a lot this spring, I think it’s hers.”

“ONLY IF SHE PLANTED MAGIC BEANS.”

BH: “SHE HAS A REALLY GREEN THUMB.”

The weed-tree and I are presently at a stand-off, mostly because I’m afraid it has become self-aware. It knows too much. It’s Little Shop of Horrors, but the plant knows where I keep my secret stash of M&Ms and that I’m the one who finished the Doritos. 

Summer on a Budget

Summer time! FREEDOM!

But let’s be real a minute, parents. Summer can be costly. Summer camps, road trips, stops for slushies (sometimes you might even buy one for your kids). Cha-ching! Long-time followers know I like to share my budget-saving ways so I’ve compiled the various activities and programs we have implemented to have an amazing summer, but not break the bank.

Games are always a fun and easy way to spend quality time together. The $1.50 to buy a fresh pack of cards is money well-spent. But you know what’s even better? FREE. Here are some games that are free or almost free and guaranteed to please at least some members of your family.

Stop Being Ridiculous

It’s Okay Not to Fight About Dumb Stuff

You Don’t Own Air

I Was Watching From the Corner of My Eye

He’s Allowed to Look Out Your Window

Games aren’t really your thing? Looking for a more structured program? Why not run your own summer day camp? Here are some that are consistently popular with our crew.

Camp Fend-for-Yourself. Young campers have the opportunity to learn skills such as sandwich making, cereal pouring, and juice distribution. Merit badges can be earned for Counter Wiping, Fridge Closing, and Eating Over Your Plate. Gold Star award presented to the camper who achieves “Leave No Trace Behind” status. Broom sweeping skills are recommended, but not required.

Camp Quityerbitchin. A popular one with parents, this camp teaches children that life involves chores, particularly if you want to live in harmony and for free. Ample opportunities are given to practice tucking shoes away, hanging up hats, and putting away the clean clothes that were washed, folded, sorted, and stacked for them in advance. Merit badges for Timeliness, Lack of Eyerolling, and Least Amount of Sighing.

A great one to pair with Quityerbitchin, is Camp Clean Your Room where the motto “If it’s on the floor, it’s out the door” comes to life. Merit badges include Under the Bed, Only Furniture on the Floor, and Bring Your Dishes to the Kitchen.

Finally, friends, nothing beats Camp Call on Your Friend to provide hours of fun and entertainment. A classic, this camp cannot be matched for simplicity. Unless they congregate at your house and keep asking for snacks. Then might I recommend a remedial session of Camp Fend-for-Yourself? Merit badges for this family favourite include Ring the Doorbell Once, Least Amount of Snacks Eaten, and Bicker-free Afternoon.

 

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Coming to my non-existent Etsy shop soon!

Break-out sessions are a great addition, if you have the resources. Some suggested titles include “Sunblock is Not Optional”, “Yes! You CAN Change the Toilet Paper”, and “Why Popsicles are Not a Meal”.

 

 

Curb Couch

We took you for granted, I see that now. All those years you sat by, quietly supporting us. You welcomed our friends and family with no questions asked.

Stoic.

Solid.

Slightly greasy in some spots.

Oh, Curb Couch, you’ve come to mean so much to us. And it wasn’t until now, as we set you outside for pick-up that I recognize your true value.

You, our faux-sueded wonder.

Majestic two-person sofa.

As with all things, your season has come to an end. You can no longer take a jump like you used to. Despite my many Pinterest-inspired cleaning attempts, that black Sharpie isn’t going to come off. Nor will the half-eaten red lollipop I recently discovered behind your cushions. So to the curb you must go, old friend.

Not many pieces of furniture receive a custom-made photo essay farewell tribute. But not all are worthy enough to be called the Curb Couch.

Gone, But Not Forgotten: a Tribute in Photos Taken on My Phone

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Passive aggression is tiring. Thank goodness for Curb Couch.
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Curb Couch has the best lighting for a selfie with a reluctant participant (please see above).

Was I worried that we would look less than classy with living room furniture sitting by our driveway? I don’t think Curb Couch is going to change our neighbours’ opinions of us me that much. They’ve seen me strolling to the park in my pajamas or shuffling slowly by looking for a signal when our wifi is out. There’s little I can do to surprise them at this point.

 

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We’d left good old scuff-armed sofa out for 24-hours and it was still there. As was I.
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Say what you like, our house has become quite the hot spot. Curb Couch is an ideal perch for heckling with friends.
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No shoes on the couch, boys. We are Canadian after all.
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Curb Couch at Sunset

But wait! Our time is not over. We have been gifted with another two weeks of our mystery-stained, but surprisingly comfortable, chesterfield. How? Our youngest child informed the garbage collectors that “nope, it’s staying” when they stopped to collect it. Never trust a five-year-old sitting on a curb couch. THEY ARE NOT RELIABLE.

And now, sweet Curb Couch is being held in furniture purgatory in our garage.

 

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Will we be moving it back outside to bask in the sunshine reflecting off the worn armrests? Only time (and lack of calls by our neighbours to by-law complaint) will tell.

Come on by.

Sit a bit.

I’ve got mediocre snacks and a great view.

We’re the house with couch sitting by the curb. Intermittently.

 

 

I Can’t Feel My Face

It’s wise to take some quiet time and reflect. Some people pray, meditate, or contemplate life’s bigger issues in solitude. In the past I used the long drive to work to centre myself. Others do yoga, walk, or wake up early to catch the pre-morning peace (they are robots, just FYI).

I tend to take my quiet whenever and wherever I find it. Some days it’s at the kitchen sink as I wash dishes, other times it’s when I’m angry-cleaning the basement bathroom. Most recently, it was the dentist’s chair.

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Having have your face frozen is not the same as Botox, I know that now.

Due to some lacklustre flossing coupled with the presence of three baby teeth, I needed to get some cavities checked (if my dentist reads this, I floss daily and must have a genetic predisposition to cavities, I’m sure that’s a thing). It’s fine, I can handle needles and if we’ve ever met in person, you know I am quiet capable of distracting myself. What follows is the rabbit trail of thoughts I contemplated during that hour of blissful mostly-quiet time. Fun Fact: it’s amazing how the definition of “quiet time” changes as you age.

I know pretty much every song playing on this station. I wonder who chooses the music? Probably the dentist, or do they vote on it as a staff? Do they change it to a different station when the boss isn’t here?

Premium Plus is a weird name for crackers. Premium plus WHAT? If it’s already a premium product, what could they have added? Also, they aren’t really all that premium.

I’m hungry.

I should have peed before I got in the chair. 

If I opted not to get the topical anesthetic, would that cut some of the time? I just want to get out and hit the dollar store. I can take the pain. 

Kimmy Schmidt says you can do anything for ten seconds. I can live with this plastic wedge in my cheek. I can do it. When will season three of Kimmy Schmid be out? I miss John Hamm.

Is Rod Stewart still alive*?

That cup of coffee at the end of the school day was a mistake. I see that now.

I used to want to grow my hair as long as Crystal Gale’s. But how would you wash it? Wouldn’t your neck hurt? Was she Loretta Lynn’s sister? Loretta. Lor-et-ta. Loretta.

If the zombie apocalypse started right now, I’d be in big trouble. Would the staff stay to help me get this rubber dam out of mouth? I think that would be a serious disadvantage. I’d be fine for the first few hours, but once this freezing ran out, I’d be toast. Death by gaping hole in my tooth. WHY DIDN’T I FLOSS MORE I AM SO SORRY FOR MY PAST DENTAL HYGIENE TRANSGRESSIONS.

I really need to pee. It’s worse every time they rinse my mouth.

I could practice some kegels, I guess. Just sitting here anyways.

Roche Voisin’s singing sounds an awful lot like Anne Murray. You know, that lady can really pull off a short hair cut. Not everyone can. Is she still alive*? I’ll google her later.

I miss the Muppet Show. 

If I owned this dental office I would offer facial waxing/dental work package. Cavities filled and moustaches removed, all in one trip. 

What happens if the freezing reaches my nose? Will I stop breathing? How will I signal that problem? Lift left hand for suction, right hand for suffocation?

I think I might actually pee my pants soon. I wonder if that has ever happened? Are there protocols for patients peeing their pants because they drank too much coffee before their appointment? 

My thumb nails are really ridgey.

____________________

*Yes, still alive.