Tricks, for sure.

Our house is going to get egged this Halloween, of that I am certain.

No, we remembered to take down our Christmas lights (eventually). And no, we haven’t forgotten to bring in our garbage bins. To the best of my knowledge no one in our household has started any feud recently.

But for sure we are going to get egged.

It goes back to November 1 of last year. That’s the day my husband went candy shopping for this year. He was pretty pleased with himself and the deals he found. And we have patiently stored his haul for 364 days. He hid it in a shopping bag at the back of our storage closet, which is overkill – no one was scheming to sneak some of that candy.

When I was a kid, stumbling upon the house that gave out full-size chocolate bars was like winning the lottery. The only thing better was the neighbour who handed out cans of pop, but that’s another story for another day. I dreamed of the day that I would be the grown-up making Halloween dreams come true and be the house that everyone flocked to because FULL SIZE BARS, GUYS. Some dreams do not come to fruition.

Don’t get me wrong, I am all for buying post-Halloween candy on the cheap, but let’s be very clear, in no way is it to save for a full year. Nope – that candy is what gets me to Christmas break, plain and simple.

AND THIS IS WHY WE ARE GOING TO GET EGGED AND WE DESERVE IT.

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There is a reason this candy was deeply-discounted. It is the worst. It’s not good the first time around, let alone after a year of sitting in our basement. Actually, I believe all the molasses kisses were made back in 1943 and the company has just been trying to unload them on people like my husband, my mom, and one person on the staff where I work. They are the only people I have ever met who choose molasses kisses over other candy options. Also I suspect they might be robots. Or aliens.

Dubble Bubble gum tastes stale when it’s fresh out of the wrapper. Did you know it can get even staler? It can. It did. I think I’ll keep a few handfuls to launch a counter-attack to the inevitable band of youth who will be pelting our house with eggs.

Rockets. They are just a sadder version of Sweet Tarts. Rockets taste like if Sweet Tarts were bullied: powdery defeat.

My well-intentioned and budget-conscious husband insists that these candies are “fine” and that “free candy is free candy”. To humour him, I offered samples of them to our boys and their friends. Surprisingly, the Dubble Bubble rallied briefly and was chewable. But ultimately it gave up it’s flavour within moments (not a surprise BECAUSE IT’S DUBBLE BUBBLE).

The molasses kisses were met with mixed reviews. The neighbour kid said it tasted find, but ended up spitting it out (see?). And one of my sons described them as “not that bad. Like a better version of a raisin.”

I rest my case.

Please send me your cleaning tips for removing eggs from bricks.

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Behold, portable angst in a seasonal wrapper.

Sunday Funday

I look forward to Sundays. I mean I really look forward to Sundays. We start the day with church and then intentionally take time to relax and recharge for the new week. A typical Sunday includes coffee, time outdoors (weather permitting), reading, family game time, meal-planning, and if I’m really lucky: a nap.

Guess what my Sunday plans do not typically include. Go ahead, guess.

I can tell you this: my plans 100%, absolutely for certain do not include cleaning a poop puddle out of the basement shower. Yet that’s what happened. I have photo evidence thanks to being a mom of boys who enjoy taking photos of things like poop puddles. I have opted not to share those publicly, but trust me, they exist. I also thought that my issues with plumbing were over since the recent earring down the drain incident (if three time’s the charm, I am MOVING).

Our oldest child was hovering near the edges of the kitchen. He peeked around, then left. Skulked in a few steps, left again. Then he quietly told me (just me, even though his father was RIGHT beside me) “It wasn’t me, but the toilet in the basement is backed up and now there’s really gross water in the shower. I DID NOT DO IT.” He didn’t need to be so adamant about his lack of involvement. He has three younger brothers and I have seen the crime-scene level of destruction they have left in other washrooms to know he was not the likely culprit. And I didn’t even care who did it, I just didn’t want it to spread.

As per our pre-nup, my husband began plunger duty, I was the clean-up crew. I continued planning our meals and grocery needs for the week a safe distance from the sights and smells while getting increasingly frequent updates on the Poo-pocalypse of 2019 from our offspring.

Eventually the toilet was cleared, but there was still the issue of the standing water in the shower. It was like poop on steroids. I have never encountered a smell so terrible before, and please remember I live with five males, four of them being regular participants in games such as “Farting Morse Code Through the Furnace Vents”.  This situation needed handling.

I put on my rain boots, rubber gloves, and old clothes and armed myself with that plunger. Glory, glory, hallelujah it cleared out with minimal effort or splatter.

Next I took care of the sink. What is wrong with my children that they managed to clog THREE different drains? Does no one under the age of 14 understand the word “sluggish” and its possible ramifications on the sewage system? I do not use that washroom, for what I hope are now becoming obvious reasons, so I had no idea it was that bad.

Check and check, all drains were cleared. However, no amount of Lysol, Febreeze, scented candle or diffused oil was going to rid our basement of that foul odour, plus that shower was now a tiny corner of bio-hazard grossness. I had to call in the big guns. Environmentally friendly products, you’re on the bench. Bleach, suit up. It was such a bad scene that my husband didn’t even dispute the need for chlorine. IT WAS THAT BAD. “Get out of the way, boys, your mom has work to do.”

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Not today, White Sails, this is job for Javex.

I have failed to mention that the entire time I was plunging, spraying, inhaling fumes, and trying not to think about what I standing in, my boys alternated between playing ping pong and commentating on my status.

“Look! Mommy’s in the chokey! Just like Matilda!”

“I think she’s stuck, it’s a small shower.”

“Is she still breathing?”

“Are you still alive?”

“Are you sure you got it all?”

“Remember when there was all that poop in the shower?” (it had only been ten minutes earlier, so yes, I did remember).

“Hold still we’re recording this!”

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I have never entered a shower as carefully as I did this very moment.  Please note the protective gear, I’m no fool.
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An old cotton t-shirt is a perfectly fine protective mask. It’s blurry due to photographer heckling.

 

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I even got an unsolicited “thank you” which didn’t make up for this debacle, but kind of did make up for it.

 

The high I felt from a job well-done, or maybe the bleach fumes, did not last long. I decided to wash up and regroup from this Code Brown of Epic Proportions. The boys have been told not to harass me at the washroom door anymore. To their credit they did not. Harass me at the door. Instead I received a steady stream of texts from the living room.

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I need to be more specific and please note – their dad was RIGHT THERE.

No, Really, What’s That Smell?

I live in a house with four sons. It is loud and fun and chaotic. At any time you might find a pair of socks on the counter, paper airplanes in the light fixtures, or Lego pieces on the steps. Mostly I embrace these reminders of the high level of testosterone in our home. I don’t really know any different from my life with five males and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

EXCEPT.

Except the smell. We have tried to teach them manners and overall I think we have done okay. Then we have a run of “toilet humor days” and I feel like I’m failing. The gas is overwhelming and no amount of gentle and not-so-gentle reminders shuts down the flatulence.

This weekend was one of those weekends. We were in line for a live Nativity show and I thought a lamb was loudly bleating only to discover it was a massive belch from one of my offspring. While I was impressed with his sheer volume and pitch, I doubt Mary and Joseph were in awe (or the other patrons).

I was cozied up on the couch trying to recharge when I heard odd noises from the walls. Two brothers were farting to each other through the furnace grates. This time I pretended not to notice and kept on reading.

So when I went upstairs Sunday evening to put laundry away and there was an odour so thick you could see it, I had had enough. “THIS ENTIRE HOUSE STINKS AND I AM NOT IMPRESSED WITH ANY OF YOU” I shouted as I headed to the master bathroom. It was there I discovered the real source of the smell. Our sink drain was being cleared and there was a container of standing water under the pipe. I took decisive action and flushed the contents down the toilet. Done and done. The smell would dissipate. Yup, look at me being proactive and taking charge. Solving all the problems.

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So clean. So empty of stinky standing water.

Yes, gentle reader, I was pretty proud of myself. Pretty proud, indeed. That is until I released the handle and watched the murky water swirling far, far away with all the miscellaneous sink contents with it. That’s when I panicked.

You see, a few days ago my sweet husband dropped my earring down the sink. I own one pair of not-costume earrings. They aren’t fancy, but they don’t turn my skin green after a few uses. wp-15444065419257388005211613944868.jpg

Not to point fingers, but I often place my earrings in the soap dish. And by often I mean every night. It wouldn’t be a surprise that my earrings are in the soap dish then, right? But on this day one of the not-cheap earrings was stuck on the bar of soap and dropped down the drain. Again, not blaming anyone but that soap did not pick itself up, JUST SAYING.

So for the next few days the sink was closed to prevent further travels of my beloved jewellery into the sewage system until proper attention could be paid to the drain. It was fine. I got used to brushing my teeth over the tub and changing all my other normal routines in order to preserve half of a gift from my mother. My beloved mother. It’s cool. I’m a very patient person. Plus I mostly forgot until I went to brush my teeth.

Plumbing day arrived and that’s where the stories collide.

My precious, one-of-a-kind earrings gifted to me by my mother. I remember that day so well. She leaned over and whispered in my ear, “these are for you, my most favourite child. Your life with all those males will be one of occasional hardship. May these earrings remind you of happy times and help you not to lose your temper.” I’m paraphrasing, but you get the idea.

Now those treasured earrings are gone – with one well-intentioned flush. Swishing and sloshing their way to the big water treatment plant in the sky.

At least the sink drains properly now.

RIP semi-precious earrings. We had a good run.

The moral of this story? Don’t use bar soap.


Update: After digging around in the pipe catcher thingey, my earring was discovered! It’s a stinky miracle!

Cross Cana-don’t

A beautiful summer evening at the community park is the perfect setting for playground games with neighbours. Or so you’d think.

It started out as a casual and active game of Mulch Man (a combination of the classic Tag and Sandman, but on mulch). There was laughter and joking and connections between friends. The squealing when a player just missed being caught could be heard across the field. Glorious. Just glorious.

Until it wasn’t.

Some of the children suggested we move on to a different game, namely Cross Canada. Essentially, all participants line up on one end of the playing area while the Tagger calls out a characteristic. If you have the characteristic, you may cross safely to the other side of “Canada”. After that, everyone just books it. If tagged, you join the Tagger until one player remains.

Just another classic game, right? Some harmless fun.

Nope.

The first round or two were innocuous: “Cross Canada if you are wearing blue” and “Cross Canada if you are older than seven” and “Cross Canada if you have kids.” Innocent enough. Then there was an almost imperceptible shift. The sky darkened (nevermind that it was sunset, that is just a coincidence) and a breeze travelled across the playing area.

“Cross Canada if you’re wearing shoes”. That eliminated myself and three family members because we are clearly lax in our footwear safety.

“Cross Canada if you took a bath this week.” We have a pool, we’re on a hygiene holiday. It’s fine.

“Cross Canada if cheese is your favourite food.” This feels like it’s getting pretty personal now.

That’s when I heard one of my children whisper to the neighbour kid, “You don’t have to be the fastest, you just have to be faster than my mom.” First of all: hurtful. Second: accurate, but please refer to previous point. I do have feelings.

“Cross Canada if you are wearing underwear.” Only two out of the five of us could rightly travel to safety on the other side of the field. This was beyond personal and was going to require answers none of us were ready to provide.

“Alright, everyone! Looks like it’s getting close to bedtime so I think we’ll just wrap this up before any more family secrets are spilled. Thanks for the play!”

Despite me being the one to shut down this session of Cross Canada, make no mistake, reader. I intend to use this new knowledge to my advantage. I volunteer to be Tagger all the time.

“Cross Canada if you loaded your dishes into the dishwasher.”

“Cross Canada if you are the one who broke my earbuds.”

“Cross Canada if you recently spilled pop on the basement carpet.”

“Cross Canada if you just put your clothes back in the dirty laundry because you didn’t want to refold them.”

Cross Canada. Cross Canada, indeed.

 

 

 

It’s All About Consistency

Raising kids is not easy, as any parent will exhaustedly tell you. There are universal challenges like temper tantrums and picky eaters, and more unique issues such as my sons’ habit of putting trash just behind the kitchen garbage pail where it gets shoved to back of the cupboard. All the time. Which means I strain my shoulder reaching back there to retrieve the wrappers and that has nothing to do with my less-than-ideal exercise regime. No, YOU need to stretch more often.

ANYWAYS. If I have learned anything over the past thirteen years or so of this motherhood gig, it is the importance of consistency. Children thrive on knowing limits and it’s our job as the adults to care enough to put those boundaries in place. So consistency is super important. Consistency and the ability to hide the good snacks to eat when the kids aren’t around. There is no point in wasting the fancy chips on the same kids who like door handles. But consistency, yes, that is very important.

It’s also a good idea to have a cover story for when your kids happen upon you while you are shoving peanut butter cups into your mouth.  I find something like “it’s spicy, you won’t like it” or “it’s just a sugar-free protein bar – tastes like sadness” usually does the trick. Being prepared is also important.

Consistency, hiding snacks, and lying being prepared – all key to successful parenting.

Claiming the essential role of consistency is easy, but executing it is a whole different scenario. For instance, you declare that screen time is over, but then fall asleep for thirty sweet, sweet minutes. Tough to nail your kids for playing longer than allowed when you benefited from their disobedience. And so you enter into a silent agreement not to tell Daddy that Mommy is lax in the enforcement of the screen rules. Or (hypothetically) you allow your offspring “just two cookies because we need to be healthy” but then find yourself jonesing for a third so you proclaim it “Three Cookie Day” and again agree to keep it amongst yourselves*.

Consistency, hiding snacks, preparedness, and discretion. The four tenets of solid parenting.

Once you get into the habit of saying what you mean and meaning what you say, it becomes easier. For instance, years ago I high-fived one of the boys for a stellar belch and now they consistently look to me for an atta-boy whenever they rip one off.  See? They know what to expect. Consistency.

There are critics out there (i.e. spouses) who might call your consistency into question. Why just the other day my husband pointed out an infraction of our agreement to avoid potty talk or the inappropriate use of the names of body parts. And I must admit that he had a point. We have routinely told our boys that discussing private parts or bodily functions is not the criteria for intelligent or polite conversation. However, the four brothers were sitting together giggling as they reassigned the nickname on the iPad to “Penis”. Hearing Siri say that in casual conversation is hilarious and if you can avoid laughing about it then you are a robot. It will never not be hilarious and I will laugh every time. Consistently.

See? It’s easy.

You’re welcome.

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Whoopie Cushions will never not be funny. Fact.

The Game is Afoot

For twelve years the house has been the battle ground for a war no one saw coming and no one wanted.

Good versus evil, dark versus light, brother pitted against brother. Wait, no, mother versus all the boys.

The invasion was slow and insideous at first. A few dinky cars here, a rogue block there. Then another son was born, and the arsenol grew. Legos entered the fray, more dinky cars. Soon action figures could be found strewn across the steps. It was no longer safe to traverse the basement, a talking toy could be triggered at the slightest movement.

This home was no longer the mother’s domain, the children had taken over.

As the offsprings’ numbers and independence grew, so did the snacks. The crumbs, sweet Moses, the crumbs! Entire muffins were decimated and left as a warning to future carbs. Beware, no bread product is safe from these kids. RUN WHILE YOU CAN.

Silly Putty in the furnace ducts, abandoned socks on coffee tables, Nerf bullets in the toilets, Star Wars figures in the nativity sets. The horror.

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Not staged. Actual event.

The mother’s cries of “THIS IS NOT A PRESCHOOL” and “WHY ARE THERE MARBLES IN THE FRYING PAN?” were met with silence or half-hearted attempts to tidy. She raised the stakes and threatened “if it’s on the floor it’s out the door” but everyone knew she wouldn’t follow through.

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Also real

“I just want one clear space for my coffee cup,” the mother whisper-cried as she tossed “art” into the recycling bin. “Everything has a home! Let’s keep our things in their home and please stop using my scarves to build forts” she sing-songed manically while gathering up granola bar wrappers from the underneath the couch.

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Why?

And then it happened.

Was it just a happy little accident, that years of stepping over Lego minefields seemed to solve itself? Perhaps.

Her weapon? Bobby pins.

Did she leave them in her pockets on purpose? Was it her plan all along that the pins would end up going through the wash? Did she know that this oversight would result in bobby pins ending up in bedsheets, hoodie pockets, and bath towels for the family to disover with great annoyance? Was her subconcious exacting retribution? And now that the family has discovered how frustrating it was to have a house overrun with tiny and pokey objects left haphazardly in her wake, would she be more careful?

Answer? No, no, no, maybe, and nope.

_________

Daily Prompt – Dominant

 

 

2017: A Snack-filled Year in Review

Top Ten Movies of the Year

The Most Influential People of 2017

Master Reading List of the Year

Toy Trends of 2017

Top Five Pencils of 2017 

(joking, there is only one pencil worth mentioning and it’s the Staedtler HB #2, everyone knows that)

As a kid, I loved perusing Life: The Year in Pictures. I didn’t know who most of the people and events were, but there was something satisfying about seeing a full year neatly wrapped up in a glossy-page package. Lists are fun and few can resist them. As I bid farewell to this past year, it caused me to reminisce about the highs and lows of the last 365 days.

I contemplated a twitter thread because isn’t that what all the youth are doing these days? Then I thought, no, be yourself. Be authentic. Stay true to your brand. And so, I give to you, dear reader…

2017 in Review: Snacks I Ate After the Kids Went to Bed

1. Sour cream and onion chips

2. Goldfish

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They DO melt in your hoodie pocket if you don’t eat them quickly enough

3. Discounted Easter candy

4. M&Ms

5. Sweet Chili Heat Doritos

 

6. Leftover icing

7. Cookie dough I told the kids would make them sick

8. Mini M&Ms

9. Goldfish and olives (I was feeling fancy)

10. Girl guide cookies I was saving for Christmas

11. Brownie batter

12. The remaining Sweet Chili Heat Doritos (hid them so well I forgot for a few days that they were still in the house)

13.  Ketchup Pringles (I left a few in the can for plausible deniability)

14. Reese’s peanut butter cups that mysteriously appeared in my coat pocket

15. Chunk of cheddar (store brand – barely worth it)

16. American Oreo I received in the mail

17. Caramilk Easter egg I found in my nightstand drawer

18. Jujubes

19. Sour jujubes

20. Fruit juice jujubes

21. Peanut butter off the spoon (did NOT double dip)

22. Crackers and blue cheese (the good kind, did not share)

23. Chocolate covered acai berries I did not know we were saving for the holidays but I would have eaten even you’d told me

24. Saturday cereal (it’s fine because I’m the grown up)

25. King-size Three Muskateers

26. Frozen butter tart – totally worth the sore tooth

27. Cinnamon hearts

28. More cinnamon hearts even though my tongue hurt from the first round

29. Lime sherbet directly from the container (definitely double-dipped)

30. Post-workout chocolate chip cookies, but I pretended they were power bars so it was totally fine

31. Ketchup Doritos (limited edition, but not limited taste)

32. Mini Kit Kats we bought for the trick-or-treaters

33. Sweet Tarts (purely medicinal)

34. Goldfish and grape tomatoes

35. Hunk of baguette dipped in hummus because I’m classy like that.

I’m not saying you need a decorative box to store your secret snacks, but I highly recommended it.
**Yes, all of the above are 100% accurate and true. Your turn – what’s your favourite evening snack?