Lost in Translation

There’s a lot involved in raising children. We are responsible for teaching them social skills, personal hygiene, ABCs, colours, what not to lick and that you should not vacuum your brother. I thought we were doing a pretty good job getting all the basics covered with our fourth son, but somehow we’ve dropped the ball with communication.

No matter how we explain it, how often we repeat it, how we model its use in correct context, Little does not seem to know what “I’m hungry” means.


Little, please put your cars away.

No, I hungry.

We’re not having gum right now.

Why won't you give me back my marble when clearly I am wasting away here?
Why won’t you give me back my marble when clearly I am wasting away here?

But I hungry.

Please leave your bib on.

I hungry.

You can watch a show later.

Please?! I hungry.

Don’t sit on your brother.

I hungry. Please.

We’re all done drinking pop.

But I hungry. 

Do you need to use the potty?

I hungry.

We can do play doh in a minute.

But I hungry.

You can go get your own water bottle. It’s upstairs.

I huuuungry.

This is Mommy’s coffee. Hot. No touch.

I so hungry.


We’re at the point now where I’m going to give up and just hope for the best. Maybe he’s on to something. This might be a genius tactic for getting out of undesirable things. Actually, I think I might try it.

Mommy, someone peed on the floor.

Sorry, I hungry.

Just fold your hands. Please.

Meal time.

We gather our family around the kitchen table to partake of a carefully prepared meal. The boys have graciously helped to set out the plates and have only asked six or seven times why we cannot have pop to drink.

Once we have settled in, everyone waits patiently for a serving. And no one snaps an irritated  “hold on a second can’t you see I’m helping your brother why don’t you go get the milk yourself?”

No. Our family is happy to spend this quality time together.

“May I please have an extra serving of vegetables, Mother?”

Dear brother, would you mind passing me the butter when you are finished with it?”

“Here, allow me to get an extra spoon, Father – it’s no trouble at all.”

“No dessert for me, I am absolutely stuffed from that delicious rice concoction – adding extra mushrooms was inspired!”

“Mommy, you look tired, tell us about your day while I go put some coffee on.”

As we wrap up this delightful family time of conversation and replenishment, Bearded Husband passes me the family devotion book to read. The boys all listen attentively and ask how the truths presented can be applied in their lives. This is followed by a short prayer.

“Alright, everyone, let’s pray. Quiet, please. Close your eyes, Little. Eyes closed. Shhh. SHHHH. Listen.  How does God want you to act at prayer time? JESUS WOULD NOT PICK HIS TOE JAM AT THE TABLE.”

(Only one of those quotes is true – can you guess which one was actually said? Take a moment, it’s tricky.)

Charmin: Stop it.

When I was young the biggest concern surrounding toilet paper was trying to squeeze it without Mr. Whipple catching you.

And that’s how we liked it.

Charmin, I feel like you need a friend. A real friend who will tell you the hard truths. You have spinach in your teeth. Yes, that outfit does make your bum look big. No, you can’t pull off that perm. Hon, that sweater just needs to go.

That friend.

So I’m telling you: stop it.

People don’t want to talk about toilet paper or what they want from their TP. Did they just talk about “skid marks” in that last commercial?! Yes, yes they did. 

Here’s the most anyone ever wants to say about toilet paper. I made a list for easy reference:

1. We need more toilet paper

Vague references to “softness” and “absorbant” without really getting into the nitty-gritty details of toilet paper and its role in our lives, that’s what the masses want. All we need to know is that your product can help us take care of business at a good price point. If your paper is even just a bit better than the recycled, accordion-folded sandpaper found in our schools growing up, then you’ve got us as loyal customers. Call it a day, Marketing Department and go home.

You couldn’t leave it at that, though. Next you introduced us to the Bear Family. I thought it strange that bears were chosen to sell toilet paper, but carried on, I’m not a marketing expert.

But then you went too far. 

I don’t want to think about random bits of toilet paper left on anyone’s (bear or human) behind. And now we’re discussingt if we like going to the bathroom? THE BEARS ARE TEXTING FROM THE TOILET.

Oh, Charmin, what have you done?

Where is your blue liquid?

What happened to quilted softness?

Who took over for Mr. Whipple?

Are we savages just squeezing toilet paper at will?

How did you get “skid marks” past the censors?

Do you even use a test group before you launch these campaigns?

Do you owe money to bears?

Please, Charmin, I’m begging you. Stop it. Or at the very least, bring back Mr. Whipple.

My 5 Rules for Eyes-Closed Tag

We planned to go skatingtobogganing (American translation: sledding) and play some shinny (street hockey) with the neighbours. But what do you do when it’s too cold outside even for hearty Canadians like ourselves? After multiple races on the Wii, a game of “Apples to Apples” that got a little too physical, and some heated debates about various pronunciation of words, we moved things to the basement. I never know how these games get started, but I was quickly roped into playing another game of “Eyes-Closed Tag”.

To play this extremely safe game, one person is It and closes his/her eyes while attempting to find other people in a sectioned-off area of the basement. If you are tagged, you are then It. Pretty simple, but we needed a few ground rules.

My Five Rules for Eyes-Closed Tag

1. Protective gear is not mandatory, but do move slowly to avoid serious injury (this applies primarily to the one who is It).

Give yourself wide-bearth.
Give yourself wide-bearth.

2. You can’t hide directly behind someone. Ok, you can, but not behind me. I refuse to be a human shield.

3.  Throwing small toys to create a diversion is acceptable and at times encouraged, but try to avoid hitting fellow players.

Nylon pants are noisy - choose your clothing wisely
Nylon pants are noisy – choose your clothing wisely

4. No peeking.

5. No, really – no peeking.

A few extra bits of advice….

According to BH, if you don’t cheat and really keep your eyes closed then “your other senses will be even stronger” (I think he has watched “Daredevil” too many times). The truth is, we all know when you don’t – subtlety is not your strong suit. Plus, only peekers completely avoid bumping into things for the entire game – you are not that skilled.

It’s okay if you prefer to watch, but if you’re going to give hints to your brother keep in mind that “he’s right there. Right there. RIGHT. THERE.” while frantically pointing, really tells nothing (please see Rule #5). Also, consider learning your Left and Right.


Your turn – what questionable games did you devise as a kid? Was a helmet required?

My Five Rules: Ice Storm

When you are trapped enjoying a day at home due to an ice storm, there are a few simple rules to keep everyone happy.

1. You may only play the “Snoopy vs. The Red Baron” 100 times on the record player if:

a) you let it finish

b) turn the volume down


d) stop changing the speed.

2. Attendance at the family meeting is mandatory. Agenda as follows:

I. Bickering: What’s your role?

II. It’s an Ice Day, not the end of the world. Snacks will be served at their usual time. Stop asking.

III. Where can you play “Chase?

3. If Mommy’s eyes are closed, leave her alone. (NOTE: This rule applies to most days.)

In the event that the power goes out:

4. Do not open the fridge unless it is life or death.

5. When reading in the makeshift camp, no methane emissions of any kind.

We're in this together, no Dutch Ovens.
We’re in this together, no Dutch Ovens.

I Made it Myself

Our staff decided to celebrate the last day of school with an Ugly Christmas Sweater Contest. As unbelievable as it might sound, I do not own one. When I asked around, my friend suggested an idea from Pinterest. I’m not very handy with sewing or stitching, but I can hold my own with a glue gun. So I eagerly gathered up my supplies, popped in a movie for the boys and got started on what was sure to be the winning sweater.

photo 1

Things were going relatively well, but I considered other options. The glue gunning was replaced with my stapler – made sense.

I soon discovered that I couldn’t accomplish this on my own. The clear choice was to use the four-year-old as my stand in. It would have worked better if he had stood still.

Staples, a glue gun, and a four year old. There was no way this sweater would be anything less than spectacular.

The big day was approaching when disaster struck in the form of the stomach flu. At the time of publishing, four out of six family members had been hit. This meant I could not participate in the contest! Or did it?

Turns out, you can wear an Ugly Christmas Sweater anywhere, any time. It’s true. IT IS.

I now present to you: The Ugly Christmas Sweater Pinterest Fail – Home Edition.

This is what it was supposed to look like:

Easy, right?
Easy, right?

I was quite pleased with my version and it’s versatility.

I'll be pinning this later, don't worry.
I’ll be pinning this later, don’t worry.
Pouring coffee in my Ugly Christmas Sweater
Pouring coffee in my Ugly Christmas Sweater
You can drink in it, too! Cheers!
You can drink in it, too! Cheers!
Might not know what to make for lunch, but I know what I'll be wearing.
Might not know what to make for lunch, but I know what I’ll be wearing.
Laundry can be Holly Jolly - see?
Laundry can be Holly Jolly – see?
Cleaning up vomit can be merry, if you dress for it.
Cleaning up vomit can be merry, if you dress for it.
Oh what fun it is to read in my Ugly Christmas Sweater.
Oh what fun it is to read in my Ugly Christmas Sweater.
The jingle bells fell off so it was easy to be sneaky.
The jingle bells fell off so it was easy to be sneaky.
I shared the Christmas cheer all over the house.
I shared the Christmas cheer all over the house.
Look at me - colouring in my Ugly Christmas Sweater.
Look at me – colouring in my Ugly Christmas Sweater
Pro Tip: change out of sweater before trying to eat PB trees in secret.
Pro Tip: change out of sweater before trying to eat PB trees in secret.

What’s the best thing you ever made? 

My Five Rules: Playtime

I never thought I’d have to lay down these ground rules for playtime.

1. Yes, it counts as playing “Perfection” even if they don’t set the timer. Because the littles are two and four, that’s why.


2. You can only make a Brother Sandwich if all parties agree. Beforehand.

Three layers - a new record!
Three layers – a new record!

3. We might live in Canada, but you can’t toboggan in the summer. No, really. Otherwise someone will get hurt – wait, he just did.

This should work, pull harder.
This should work, pull harder.

4. Cigarette butts you find at the ball diamond are not acceptable cargo for your trucks and diggers. No.

Load 'em up, brother!
Load ’em up, brother!

5. Brothers who choose to fight and bicker despite several redirections and reminders will spend some quality time together on the “Get-Along Chair”. You’ve been warned.

How do you like them apples?
How do you like them apples?

Rules for playtime – got some? Want to share?

Space, Schmace

Having four boys means I have no real personal space. I’ve accepted that (mostly). We recently installed locks on our bedroom and bathroom doors which has given me the illusion of privacy. But no.

I’ve tried to claim the master bath as my territory only to have one of the boys politely ask me, “Could you please wash your hair over the sink because you leave so much in the tub that I have to rinse it out before I can take a bath.”  “OK, deal – when you guys stop leaving poo deposits in there. That was not a Milk Dud I found on the ledge.”

This means YOU.
This means YOU.

The boys will be playing happily together upstairs which is my cue to leave them alone. I busy myself with checking Twitter cleaning the kitchen until the noise level reaches maximum volume. When they start coming down wearing my clothes, playtime is over. “Look, I’m a mom”, says the son wearing my bra overtop my favourite sweater as he clomps around the kitchen in my snazzy pair of flats. “Hey, I’ve been looking for those sunglasses!”

I have learned over the past years of the Boy Invasion to hide my Peanut Butter cups in a rotating locations so they never get suspicious. I’ve also learned how to eat M&Ms and convince them I’m snacking on some raisins. Those are mommy treats and I’m not sharing.

Even my purse is subject to their prying eyes and hands. “You’ve got gum? Can I have some?” “Hey where did you get this candy?”

I would like to use the laptop without little eyes peering over my shoulder. “Why are you laughing? Can I see? CanIcanIcanIcanI?”

This lack of boundaries became abundantly clear not long ago as I was gathering up materials and resources before I went to work to prepare for the new school year.

“Hey! Cheese strings! Cheese Strings?! Guys! Mommy has cheese strings. Mommy, why do you keep cheese strings in this pocket?”

Those are not cheese strings. Stop going through my backpack. SOME STUFF IS JUST FOR ME.”

See? No boundaries.

Editor’s note: They were not cheese strings and I was not prepared to launch into the “talk” just then.

Alone time – how do you make it happen?

No, YOU Go Fish

Two year olds do not know how to play Go Fish.

That will not stop a two year old from wanting to play Go Fish or insisting on playing Go Fish.

You will agree to it because a) he’s cute and b) you’re a good parent.

To play Go Fish with a two year old you will need the following:

– cards

– ibuprophen

– wine

– a whistle

– tissues

– bandaids

Once you’ve gathered up your supplies, it’s time to deal the cards. Five, seven, four, it doesn’t matter how many because you are playing against a toddler. The other opponent might care, so do make an effort to pretend to count them out.

Let the game begin!

Little, ask Big if has an eight. No? Ok, then go fish. Pick up a card. Yes, you. Just one card. One. ONE. The top one. Now hold it with your cards. In your hand. You don’t need to pile them, keep them in your hand. Hold them, hold them. HOLD THEM.

I might have an Ace. Let me check.
I might have an Ace. Let me check.

Mommy’s turn.

Little, do you have a four? Yes, you do. It’s right there. I can see it. You need to give it to Mommy. Yes. Yes. Yessss. It’s okay, you’ll get another card. No, not yet, your next turn. Just wait. Wait. Big gets to go now.

Big’s turn.

Mommy, do you have a three? Thanks.

Round Two.

Little, you have a pair. They match. Put them together. Yes, together on the floor. You make a pile. Oh, look! See? They are the same. Yes, they are. No, you don’t hold them now, they go there. Right there. Right. There.

Okay, Big does have them same card, but that’s his match. They stay in his pile. Yes, they do. No, not Little’s. You have your own, see? Those are Big’s. He keeps them.

Keep the bandaids within arm's reach.
Keep the bandaids within arm’s reach.

Round Three.

There is no round three.


Ever try to play games with young, ego-centric children? How did that go? Was it a glass or a whole bottle of wine experience?

Katherine’s Five Rules

Katherine and I met recently through twitter and discovered that in addition to both having four children, we’re kindred spirits on many levels. This is her first post on my blog (hopefully not the last) and also the first in a new regular feature: My 5 Rules.  This is a lady who loves to laugh and share the crazy in her day – be sure to follow her and her crew on twitter @grass_stains .

Five Rules I Never Knew I Needed To Establish

1. Don’t climb the walls. And if you do, stop climbing after you make the first hole.

It's just a small hole, Mom.
It’s just a small hole, Mom.

2. Close doors after you open them. Yes, that one. Yes, that one too. AND THAT ONE.


3. Piggyback rides are limited to one rider.

Hold on tight!
Hold on tight!

4. Do not drop your 2-year-old sister from a height of four feet.

5. DO NOT teach your 2-year-old sister to trust-fall. BUT IF YOU DO, do it on a bed.


Go forth and check out Katherine and all her internet wonderfulness.