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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Goodbye diapers...hello environmental guilt.

It is a big day at our house. 9 years and 3 kids later, we have finally used our last diaper! Princess I is soundly sleeping in her rubber sheet covered bed without a pull-up. I feel giddy about this success and would jump for joy if it weren't for the excess weight of my T-Rex sized carbon footprints.

Oh dear environment, how I've done you wrong and I knew it all along. I picture a  pile of diapers at the dump with my name flashing over top of it as David Suzuki looks on with a tear streaming down his cheek.

I have to be perfectly honest when I tell you that cloth diapers were never an option for me. First of all, in 2002, when my first was born, the cloth diaper craze hadn't fully erupted again. They were still mostly being used, as far as I knew, by moms named Willow who carried all 3 of their kids in traditional African slings while gathering eggs from their backyard Kitsilano chicken coops. Also, I girl of convenience (a kinder way of saying I was ignorant and lazy). Cloth diapers just seemed like to much work, too much mess, and they looked so bulky and uncomfortable for the baby. Would you like to spend a few hours with a wet towel stuffed down your pants?

So how do I settle the score? We start by selling our car. I will do all my traveling with the kids by bike and trailer. Next we move. Sell this energy sucking house and move to a tent down by the river. I will hand sew all of our clothes from re-claimed organic hemp that I have bought off of a mom named Willow from Kitsilano. We will eat off of the land...screw the 100 mile diet, we'd be on the 15 foot diet. If I can't grow it, kill it or milk it within 15 feet of our yurt, we don't eat it. We will cook by fire, wash in the river and nature will be our outhouse. We would of course be swearing off of toxic soaps, shampoos and toothpastes, so we will use tree bark as our loofah, sand as our toothpaste and I will make a soap substitute using tree sap and huckleberry juice. Hubby will have to quit his job in order to accommodate his new life as an environmental protester and I will need to keep plenty of time open to bail him out of jail.

So after 3 kids, each with 2+ years in diapers, I figure that oughta do it.

Or...just in case everyone else isn't on board with that plan...we could just say, I can't take back the damage I've already done, but I can offer a promise that I will do better every day from here on in and we already have! We as a family recycle now more than we ever have. We eat a reasonably high percentage of local organic food, and I am setting an example for my children, that hopefully they will not only pass onto their kids, but try to improve on. I know we're not environmental superstars, and I know we never will be, but we did the best we could do today with the promise of doing even better tomorrow.

I'm rambled out...until next time.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Dear Michaels Craft Store...Please forgive me.

My two oldest princesses recently had their birthdays. 7 and 9. Grandma very thoughtfully put together cool little craft kits for each of them containing all sorts of goodies to make friendship bracelets. For any extras they might need, she gave each girl a $25.00 gift card to Michaels to go and top up their kits. A very thoughtful gift for my girls, a ticking time bomb for Michaels. We were on our last day of 3 days off of school, and after having pestered, um I mean, kindly asking me for weeks, I finally decided to bite the bullet and take them on their crafty spending spree. Having had the "pleasure" in the past of shopping with my children on someone else's dime (I never knew it was possible to spend 6 hours in Claire's) , I thought establishing a game plan might help in reducing the amount of time we spend debating which pink shiny beads to buy. "Ok girls, let's sit down and make a plan" I said as I rallied them around as if we were about to march into battle. "What kinds of things would you like to purchase with your gift cards?" I was stupidly confident that they had already planned out their whole shopping trip, like winners of one of those timed shopping sprees. Wrong. "Wellll..." starts Princess B, "I dooo like scrap booking, but I also like beads, but I also like painting, and I like clay, ooh but I kind of like making birdhouses, sooooo, yeah,  I don't really know." Yup, there it was, the moment where I realized just what I was in for, and I hung my head in defeat. "What about you miss?" I hopefully asked the older of the 2..sure she, had given this whole thing some serious thought. "I just kinda want to go there and see what I want." she answered with an excited glint in her eyes. And that's when my "shopaholic" thinking kicked in. Yeah, why pre-plan a good shop? Let's just go and see where the gift card winds takes us. A little retail therapy with my 2 oldest gals...oh right, but there are 3 princesses in this family. Princess I was, at 2.75 years old, NOT shopping compatible. She is my "spirited" child who is not a fan of being strapped down in a stroller, but given the freedom to walk free, is like a loose puppy after a can of Redbull. I also was dealing with a sprained ankle after a breathtakingly graceful fall the day before while out for a walk with my girls, so my mobility was also somewhat restricted, and therefore so was my patience. So with a deep breath and a turn of the key we were off!
We pull up out front of the store, clammer out of the van, put Princess I into her stroller, and short of duct taping her to the damn thing, I make sure those straps are secure and "snug as a bug". We can do this. I can do this. Deep breath....and....through the doors we go.
We start in the scrap book isles. I didn't know there were sooooooo many choices in scrap book stickers. Wow. So far so good, even I was enjoying myself. I wish I scrap booked, but with ADD and the focus of an infant, I know better than to delve into this detail oriented, attention required type of crafting. Frick, I still have an empty photo album waiting to be filled with pics from our trip to Disneyland...3 years ago.
"I want to get out mommy" Princess I started. Uh oh. "No luvvy, mommy needs you to stay in your stroller in this store" I told her quietly. My girls picked out some stickers rather painlessly and now we were on route to the beads. "I waaaaaaant to get OUUUUUUUT!" she asked a little louder this time, and I knew we had just witnessed our TSN turning point. I was dominating the first half of this trip, and now, I was being overtaken by a 2 year old. We were in the bead isle, and good lord, there were a lot of beads. "Ok girls, what kind of beads would you like to look at?" I asked. "All of them" they said in perfect harmony. Just then, I remembered I had pushed the stroller over to the side to go and chat with my oldest gals, and what made me remember that was the sound of an "oh oh" and a rack of beads hitting the floor. Mental note: NEVER park your stroller next to a wall of individually strung beads in every colour of the rainbow. That's when I heard the other sound every mother hates to hear in a store, "ummmmm, can I help you find anything?!?!" the service lady said as she starred at the pile of beads on the floor. Now I'm on all fours gathering beads, and my little "sweetheart" is fake crying at the top of her lungs. Ok, I'll let her out and just try and hold onto her. Once she was out she spotted a plastic alligator that was out of place, yet in the perfect spot for us at that moment. Momentarily she was quiet and occupied pretending the alligator was kissing different boxes of beads. "I have to go peepee and poopooo mommy" she yelled. Crap! Literally. "C'mon girls your sister has to use the potty...let's go." I grabbed them all, and hobbled my way all the way to the back of the store to visit the bathroom. Once we were back, I put the crunch on my girls to decide or leave with nothing. I turn around to see little miss flat on the floor, pretending to swim with her mouth down on the dirty linoleum. "Awwww noooo GET UP! Ack! Dirty! Gross!" I yelped as I started to sweat. I had tried. I gave it a GREAT try...but it was over. I was done and so were they. "Ok girls if you don't have all you want by the time I count to ten, you leave with nothing" I presented the ultimatum unaware that they were standing quietly behind me, baskets full and ready to go. They were so cute, taking their turn going through the check out, putting up their stuff and paying with their little gift cards. Princess I was back in her stroller, still whining and crying, but as I headed towards the door, it didn't seem to matter anymore. We had survived. My oldest girls were tickled with all the fun goodies they had found and climbed into the van to compare purchases. I strapped wee miss into her car seat and gave her a kiss on her pink little cheek, and all was forgiven. I limped around the van, climbed in and buckled up. As I started the van, Princess A says to me from the back of the van "where to now Mom?" and without a second of hesitation I calmly reply "the liquor store".
I'm rambled out...until next time.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Hmmmm...a kids birthday party or an enema? Decisions, decisions.

It's Saturday. It's 10:55am. My basement looks like cupid just threw up all over it. Foil and paper hearts hung from the ceiling, walls and tables. Pink and red from one end of the room to the other. I'm staring at the front door, and I nervously wait. They're coming. 15 six and seven year old girls for Princess B's 7th birthday party.
What the hell have I done. My friends warned me. They said "Oh God, no!", "What have you done?", "What the hell were you thinking?", "Are you effing high?". "Oooooh it's nothing" I would say. "They're little girls, it won't be so bad" I'd foolishly reassure them.  I could do this right? I thought a home party would be special and fun, not to mention a good way to save a bit of money.
It's go time.
And that's all I really remember about that day. Like a trauma victim, I seem to have blacked most of it out. I remember there was running and screaming...I'm not sure if that was me or the children. I faintly recall glue and glitter....oh god, the glitter. I've been told there was presents and cake, but that's all just a blur. After the last girl left, apparently I was found lying in the corner in the fetal position sucking my thumb.
What had I done? What the hell was I thinking? Was I effing high?
Never again.
Somehow in my control freak/I can handle the world brain, I though I could handle 15 little girls all on my own. Princess B had decided she wanted a Queen of Hearts Valentine's themed party, and I thought it was perfect! How timely. The loonie stores were dripping with cheap Valentine's decorations. I knew a fantastic craft company who pre-packaged great Valentine's Day crafts. I found heart shaped cupcake tins to make my own cupcakes in that the girls could decorate themselves at the party. It all seemed to easy and like a real cost saver.
WRONG.... all I can say is that if it weren't for a couple of mom's who instantly realized I was in over my head and decided to stay and help, I would have lost my mind. They saved me big time. And as far as cost, well, I have realized that weather you host a birthday party in your house or pay to go elsewhere, it's never going to be cheap.
We're big birthday people. Well I am a big birthday person. Hubby thinks I overdo it. Maybe I do. OK, I know I do. I just know that I remember almost every birthday party that I had growing up. It's the one day a year that is just yours. You're the star and you get the spotlight all to yourself for once.
But this particular party changed my views on a few things. First, number of guests. No longer will I be so drastically out numbered. We're on a strict BFF's only policy now. Second, support staff. I don't care what I have to pay or bribe them with, I will have at least one helper for parties from now on. I think the secret will be to only ask my friends and family to help when they are drunk and I will somehow record them agreeing to help to present to them when they try to tell me they are "sick" or going "out of town". And third, I will practice the KISS phylosophy...keep it simple stupid. Kids don't care  weather they get to decorate their own cake or not. They just want cake. They don't care that you spent 3 wine infused hours up on a step stool hanging decorations from every corner of your house. They care about goody bags and who gets to have their present opened first.
As far as the birthday boy/girl goes, I believe now that as long as they feel special and like a star on their special day, then they are happy. If there is some friends, a cake, a few presents and a lot of love, they will be pleased....I think. My kids are the victims of my need to "overdo" it. I worry about how difficult it can be at times to tame the monster I have created.
Every year at Christmas and birthdays I say the same thing. Let's go easy this year. They get spoiled, and don't appreciate it. And of course every year it's the same thing. "Well I bought A 5 gifts and so of course B and I have to have 5 gifts as well." Not to mention we, as of right now, have the only grandchildren/great-grandchildren on either side of the family. I swear to god, I could right now, without any preperation, open a fully stocked Toys R Us in my basement. I think I can honestly say that my kids do not come across as the stereotypical "spoiled" children, only because I think that today's parents have changed the definition of the word spoiled. We still view a "spoiled" child as a whiny, un-greatful, selfish kid who grabs and pitches fits when they don't get their way. And don't get me wrong, those kids are still out there. But I believe that although my kids along with the children of many of my friends, are spoiled just the same. We have taught them that Christmas and birthdays, oh hell, most times of year are times when they can get whatever they want. Weather we can always afford it or not. Thank god for credit cards and line of credits! I'd not be surprise if it were found that most families debt is the result of wanting to provide a certain quality of life for our families, a quality that we think they deserve, but often we realistically can't always afford. Maybe it's not always about what they deserve, but an image we also want to put out. We are all constantly fighting to keep up with the Jones'...bu what we don't all realize, and I am slowly discovering, is that the Jones' can't even afford half of what they own.
Money is still an almost taboo subject within friendships. Nobody wants anyone else to know that they struggle from time to time. Like the task of raising a family in one of the most expensive cities in the world is always easy and effortless. $600 for hockey registration, sure here you go. $1000 in groceries a month, sure, no problem. Mortgage. Car. Insurance. Bills. Not to mention the "pleasant" surprises you are thrown, such as the cost of now repairing or replacing my new stove as I dropped an entire bottle of wine through the glass cook top the other day. NO, NO, don't worry. The bottle of wine is fine.
There should be no shame in being able to say, you know what, supporting a family of 5 is frickin' expensive sometimes, and there cannot be any shame in having to say NO from time to time. Maybe we can't go on every little trip we want to go on this year. Maybe we won't be eating out this week, or this month for that matter. Maybe we shouldn't run out and buy a boat, trailer, new car, just because we think we need it. It's not always fun, actually it down right sucks some time, but in those moments, when we're pouting and feeling sorry for ourselves, I'm going to try and remind myself of what I do have. 3 fantastic daughters, one of which is a cancer survivor at the age of 9, a pretty awesome husband who accepts me for who I am, a large and varied group of amazing friends and a warm, safe roof over my head and food to feed my family.
I am not a religious person, and like many of you, I have had some shit handed to me in my life, but still at the end of everyday I know I am truly blessed and that no matter how bad things get, it could always be worse.
I'm rambled out...until next time.