Tag Archives: mom

Tension and Turntables

It was a typical Saturday in that the boys were oscillating between playing nicely and pushing each others’ buttons. In an attempt to keep the peace and remove a certain younger brother from the mix, I retrieved our old record player from the basement.

Sometimes I think I need a life coach, or at the very least a Jiminy Cricket-type friend who will caution me when I’m about to make a huge parenting mistake. Someone who will whisper, “Really, do you not remember the last time you got that out and how many times they played ‘Snoopy Versus the Red Baron’?”

But I digress.

Old favourites from my childhood were dusted off and played. If you haven’t heard “Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikini” on high speed (but just the chorus) you haven’t lived.

i-dont-like-who-i-become-when-my-kids-use-the-record-player

In general I would be described as a laid-back mom. I don’t tend to micro-manage and the general chaos that is our family life does not phase me (except for tapping, that’s the worst). However, I seem to have strong feelings about playing records. I was unaware of this side of me. What follows is a sample of phrases I uttered while my old LPs were spinning, unedited.

Gentle.

Please pick a speed.

Stop flipping between the speeds.

How about we let the whole song play right to the end?

Gentle.

Leave the volume at one setting.

No jumping, it’ll scratch the record.

Put the record back in the sleeve.

The sleeve, the box-thing it came in.

GENTLE.

Just let the song play the whole way.

That record made it through my entire childhood, it better make it through this afternoon.

GEN.TLE.

Stop jumping.

Hey! I have an idea – just let the song play through.

Pick a speed and commit.

We can’t repair it if it breaks, stop fiddling with the switches.

JUST. PICK. A. SPEED.

We don’t put Lego figures on the turntable, I don’t care if it looks cool.

LETTHESONGFINISHBEGENTLESTOPJUMPING

Here’s the part where I say something profound about how I changed my perspective and savoured the sweet moments of them having fun together. How Psalty the singing songbook isn’t creepy in hindsight and the boys delighted in my ability to recount all the lyrics to Muppet Movie soundtrack.

Nope.

They had fun, the record player still works, and no albums were damaged.

Okay, okay, it did bring back good memories for me. It conjured up images of the old blue velour couch from my childhood home where just yesterday I was curled up listening to The Three Little Pigs on my portable player. Or cozy winter nights spent indoors while another album dropped onto the turntable (our hi-fi was quite fancy and held up to five records in the queue). Rifling through the large selection of LPs in our family collection – Burrell Ives, Bobby Vinton, Rick Springfield, Tom Jones, and of course Kids Praise.

Sunday afternoons spent playing games, napping, or reading. The house buzzing with the sound of friends and family visiting. The smell of coffee brewing.

You can’t hang on to everything, but we should hang on to some things. Today I’m grateful for vinyl, varying speeds and all. It’s okay, Jiminy, I’ve got this.

 

 


Affection Journey

When I was a kid, my dad would intermittently pop little notes in my lunch bag. “Daaaad. That’s so embarrassing” I would moan after finding one of his I love you, Princess! post-its. (He also liked to torment me by cutting my sandwiches into 8 or more pieces, but that’s a story for another day).

Confession: I acted like it bothered me to discover these written displays of affection, but I secretly liked it. You’re never too old to be surprised at lunch time. Who doesn’t appreciate an unexpected note of encouragement?

Recently I realized that although I occasionally send similar notes to my boys, I could improve my performance in this area. Pinterest will tell you that you should use hand-crafted paper, calligraphy, and flowery rhymes to create odes of love to your offspring, but I’m here to tell you that any gesture is valued. I’ve recommitted to speak love into the lives of my children on a more frequent basis. Won’t you join me?

Here are a few samples, to inspire you on your Affection Journey.

photo 1-24

photo 2-21

photo 3-14

I like to have a theme, but it’s not essential. You be you.

photo 4-5

photo 2-22

The direct approach is always in style.

photo 3-15

Above all, be specific.

photo 1-25

Are you with me? Let’s do this.

Have an inspired note you’ve sent with your little angel? Share it over on my Facebook page and help inspire other like-minded parents. Alright, alright, commiserate, we can commiserate together.


Happy Anniversary TB – a working title

Today marks two years of blogging. That’s kind of a milestone, right?

Thank you everyone who takes time out of their lives to read Tough Bananas, comment, and share. I never thought that blogging would introduce me to so many great people and new friends, but here we are. And aside from teaching, marriage, and parenting, I think this is longest I’ve stuck with anything. And coffee. And chocolate. You get the idea.

You can find me over at MomBabble where some of us moms share how we knew we were pregnant. Even though I did that four times, I only have one exciting backstory. Enjoy.

Pretty big for a single serving, but you can do anything if you believe.

Pretty big for a single serving, but you can do anything if you believe.

And thanks. Seriously.


No, YOU Must be Busy

Picture it. My living room, mid-winter, a playdate with a few girl friends and their preschoolers. I was on a maternity leave with our fourth baby and needed to vent.

“Four boys. Are they all yours?

Wow. FOUR boys – you must be busy.

You know, I’m getting a little tired of being asked that. What? Since I have all boys they must be holy terrors that run me ragged? I don’t think I like the implication that having male offspring automatically means I live in a zoo. Humph, I bet if I had a mix of boys and girls I wouldn’t get asked that. I bet if I had ALL GIRLS no one would say that to me. Sure, I have temporarily misplaced a son in grocery store. And there was that time that I couldn’t find one of them in the library, but that’s because they are little, not because I have too many or that they are boys.

Ok,  they are MOSTLY good boys.

Ok, they are MOSTLY good boys.

When strangers gawk in disbelief that I can smile while carting my four young sons around, I feel defensive. THESE ARE GOOD CHILDREN. They don’t run out into traffic, they haven’t broken any bones (yet. There was that gash to the head during a game of Naked Run, but come on, every kid does that).

I’m not some freak show that people can just come up to me and comment on my procreation. I WON’T BE YOUR DANCING MONKEY.”

My friend slowly sipped her coffee, placed her mug down and calmly asked, “well are you?”

“Am I what?”

“Are you busy?”

I pondered this question for a few seconds, lowered my eyes and quietly answered, “Yes.”

“So, maybe they are just honouring that fact and in a round-about way giving you a pat on the back.”

“Yeah, well… MAYBE YOU ARE RIGHT.”

——-

This is why we need friends, people. To talk you down from the ledge, to tell you that your sweater is looking a little frumpy, that your eyebrows need attending, that your house is “clean enough”, and that maybe, sometimes you need to just settle down, Crazy.


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.

HURRY UP!

HURRY UP!

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?


Pesto? No.

I can’t seem to convince our family to enjoy curry (aside from our second born), but we do have a varied and mildly adventurous menu. Our boys enjoy shrimp and seafood, olives, and I do not shy away from adding a little extra heat to the main dish. We regularly try new recipes, and some have become favourites. Gnocchi with pesto is always popular with our crew.

A few years ago our toddler was quietly finishing his lunch, content in his highchair. He was always a jolly little guy, so when I heard a small voice say, “Uh, oh” I turned quickly  to see what was wrong. He held up a chubby little hand and repeated, “Uh, oh.”

Poor little guy. He got pesto on his hand.

I grabbed a cloth and wiped his hands and fingers. Then I carried on with folding laundry and he continued his lunch. Or so I thought.

A moment later, “Uh, oh,” and the chubby pesto-covered hand. I wiped it off again.

Sheesh, he’s really make a mess of it today.

Laundry-folding and lunch-eating ensued again.

Two seconds later he held up his hand and beckoned for help.

Where is all this pesto coming from? Poor little guy keeps getting in on himse–wait a minute. I didn’t serve him pesto today. Where is all this pesto coming from? It’s not pesto. IT IS NOT PESTO.

——

When was burning a wash cloth your only real option?


Uncomfortable Truths

There is a woman in the US who is my American counterpart. It is eery how parallel our lives are and also our fondness for laughing at ourselves. Katherine puts the extra “u” in “humour”.

You can find me over there today, pinch hitting my Five Uncomfortable Truths. While you’re there, be sure to check out her posts (might I suggest other UCT to begin). And you can find her on twitter @grass_stains

Uncomfortable Truths at Grass Stains.