{FAMILY} Did I Shampoo My Hair?

I wake up at 5am to the smell of dog shit and a toddler tugging on my hair.

It’s the Friday of a long weekend – not exactly the way I had envisioned the start of my “day off”. I guess that’s the beauty of parenting (and housing a 15-year-old dog with wavering control of her bowels thanks to old age) – you never really know how your morning is going to unfold.

I look over resentfully at my snoring husband, and roll out of bed like a log dead-falling over the cliff of a waterfall. Eyes squinted, I navigate my way through the dark room, doing my best to avoid stepping in the piles of poop that plop in a trail towards the bedroom door. As I clean up, my ears ring with squeals of discontent that echo down the hallway. Sibling rivalry thrives most in the wee hours of the morning, it seems.

I throw together a half-assed breakfast and settle my kids in at the table, and then rush to the bathroom for my never-to-be-missed daily shower.

If I’m lucky, I can make it through the 10 minutes of shower serenity without interruption – without a whiny voice pleading for a drink, or a shriek from a disgruntled sibling, or a tiny toddler’s palm streaking down the glass door of my shower like a scene from a horror movie, begging for me to come out and grant “uppies”.

Yes, if I’m lucky, I’m left alone for a whole 10 minutes. And as I squeeze shampoo into my cupped palm, my thoughts run wild.

I mentally scribe my day’s to-do list. I devise drafts of articles that are yet to be written. I dream up epic family getaway ideas, and renovation plans for my house. And then it happens.

Did I shampoo my hair? 

Unsure, I cup my hand, squeeze a blob of scented hair soap into my palm, and let my thoughts wander some more…

Did I just use conditioner or shampoo?

Untrusting of my meagre memory, I squeeze a squirt of shampoo into my hand, lather up, and wash my hair (again?).

Shit. Now I really don’t know. Was that conditioner?

My thoughts have wandered again and I don’t know if I’m done, or if I’ve missed step 2 of my hair-washing routine. I run my fingers through my hair. Does it feel slippery as it does after a post-conditioned rinse?

Somewhat satisfied, I step out of the shower into my towel, and it all comes back to me.

Yep, I’ve just shampoo’d my hair – THREE TIMES.

{FAMILY} Daylight Savings Is All About The Feelings

While daylight savings time may provide us with an added hour of evening sun in the Summer months, it certainly doesn’t save my sanity.

For as long as I can remember, the twice-a-year tradition has sparked the same old controversial conversation: do we get to sleep in, or do we have to wake up earlier once the clocks have changed? And this question has usually led to a long-winded tongue twister about feelings.

“OK, so if we set the clocks forward, then it feels like it’s 6am, but really it’s 7am.”

“No, no, no, it’s feels like we’re getting up earlier, not sleeping in…”

“Wait, ok so the one in October, feels like we’re sleeping in?”

daylight savings

I just want more sleep.

The queries drive my husband nuts, and make my head spin. I just want to know if I’m going to get an extra hour of sleep!

When you’re a parent, earning an extra hour of sleep is more of a win than actually winning the lottery. Sleep is sacred – and seldom.

So when the universe doles us a bad hand, and our calculations conclude that not only are we “losing an hour of sleep”, but our children are going to lose their minds trying to make sense of the extra daylight at bedtime – responding like a wild pack of blood-hungry zombies, of course we’re going to experience all sorts of feelings.

When it comes to the bi-annual tradition of time change, I know I’m not the only mama who changes the clocks with her fingers crossed, hoping that this is the one that will save my sanity and grant me that extra 60 minutes of sleep.

Unfortunately, this is not the blessed time. Because when my kids wake me up bright and early at 6:30am tomorrow morning, it will feel like 5:30am.

I’m off to “Spring forward” to a week’s worth of sleepless nights and my sanity will not be spared.

{FAMILY} Mother’s Day Aftermath

Based on the flood of sunshine-drenched family photos and toothy-grin-flashing mom/kid selfies that graced my social media feeds this weekend, I think it’s safe to assume that Mother’s Day was a success for all. But like the famous proverb proclaims, all good things must come to an end.

My Mother’s Day went down as it usually does – I woke up to a pile of beautifully handcrafted cards and pictures, and creatively curated homemade gifts from my kids. This year, my son made me a candy pot (who doesn’t love a dish whose sole purpose is to hold treats!?), and my daughter made me a lovely candle holder and a book about what she loves about her mommy. And my youngest? She slept through the night for the first time in 4 months. Best. Gift. Ever.

And as always, my mom stole the show with an extravagant bee-themed cake and teapot, because the best moms make sure the day is extra special for their kids, am I right?

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After a delicious pancake breakfast made by the hubby, I cleaned the house, went grocery shopping, and made a bbq dinner for my parents and family. We hung out by the river, soaked up the sun, and enjoyed each other’s company.

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I went to bed with a full heart (and belly) and felt so thankful for the three little monkeys I had created.

And then it was Monday morning. I woke to my baby’s screams at 5am, and paced around the house trying not to drop her flailing body. My son woke in a sweat, screaming ‘mommy’ as if it were a synonym for ‘scary spider’ so I rushed in to calm him. My oldest daughter slept in, and when I woke her to get ready for school, she whined and grimaced, proclaiming that she couldn’t move because he body was achy. After a quick checkover by Dr. Mom (aka yours truly), it was apparent that she had caught her sister’s throat infection. Sick day confirmed.

And now as I sit at my dirty dining room table, scrambling to meet work deadlines while hushing my fussy baby, and pushing back mom guilt over the fact that my other two are on their fourth episode of Full House and it’s not even 10am, I’m realizing that this mom life is real, and that next Mother’s Day, I deserve more than cards and pancakes. I deserve a day off. Can I get an Amen?

{FAMILY} The Truth About How I Broke My Toe

I’d like to preface this post by saying that I get very little sleep. I’d also like to make it known that sleepiness causes accidents. It’s a fact. So when I tell you this story – when I confess the truth about how I really broke my toe, be nice.

Alright, you can laugh out loud at me – I did. Because when something this ridiculous happens, you might as well laugh it off and tell your friends about it, right? So here it goes…

I had been working on a few work-related projects on my computer, when I realized that it was almost time for my mom to come over and watch my kids (a rare parents night out was on the horizon – distraction #1). I quickly plopped my baby into her exersaucer (because, baby #3), and pulled out the beast that is my built-in vacuum cleaner, ready to power-clean like I do when expecting guests in my home.

Baby was screeching like a pterodactyl so I was rushing to get the job done. Barefoot, hungry, and overtired, I glanced sideways at my squawking child while thrusting the vacuum with all of my force.

To and fro, side glance, to and fro.

I forcefully pulled the vacuum back towards me while my eyes were focused on the baby, and as I heard the crunching sound of my toes getting mangled into the suctioning vortex of the vacuum head, my life flashed before my eyes. I immediately fell to the floor like Will Ferrell when he gets hit in the jugular with a tranquilizer gun in the movie Old School, cursing and gagging from the painful impact of what had just happened.

It sounded exactly like I had vacuumed up small pieces of Lego. The mangling, crunching sound of my toes snap crackle pop-ing as I fell. I was sure I had broken each and every toe, and that I would never walk again.

As as I rocked in agony, the first thought that came to my head was – “I am such an IDIOT! Who DOES that!?”

I paused as my eyes welled up, and then I burst out laughing. As tears streamed down my face, I cackled like a wicked witch. After a few minutes of hysteria had passed, I cocked my head to the side to see my judging child, staring blankly at me with disappointment in her eyes.

I survived (physically anyways). But the problem with having a broken toe is that it is an injury that is hard to hide. As I hobbled up to my daughter’s school the next day, a fellow mom called out my name. “Hey Bianca!” she called out from across the school grounds, “What did you do to your foot!?” I waited for her to get closer, flashed an awkward smile, and replied, “The other guy did it.”

She looked at me, puzzled.

As always, I had failed at the delivery of a common saying (I had meant to say, “You should see the other guy!”).

I’m a terrible liar, so I told her the truth – that I had sucked up my toe while vacuuming, and that my pinky toe was blackened and broken.

I watched as she burst with laughter, and then covered her mouth, and then frowned sympathetically, and then returned to laughing again.

“I know,” I replied. “It’s ok to laugh, I did.”

So there you have it. The truth hurts sometimes – but nothing like the sting of a broken toe, or the bruise of my ego whenever I have to explain what really happened to my toe.

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Do You Look Like A Mom?

Let’s face it, when someone says, “she looks like a mom,” it’s not meant to be a compliment. For some reason, the word “mom” often has negative connotations. But why?

If you were to ask someone to describe the ‘look’ of a mom, they would likely describe someone who looks like this:

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The mom from Meet The Goldbergs

 

Feathered hair, a colourfully tacky sweater, and high-waisted pants with a pleated front (also known as “mom jeans”). Maybe this is because many of the moms of my generation actually did look like this. But now that many of us Gex X kids are moms ourselves, I’m left to wonder: do my fashion choices seem “mom-ish” to the younger generation? Will the way that I look and dress embarrass my kids when they’re teenagers (or even now)?

This week I had some professional head shots done, and as I browsed my closet to pick out an outfit to wear, the first thought that came to my mind was: What can I wear that won’t make me look like a MOM? And then I paused and thought to myself: Why wouldn’t I want to look like a mom? I’ve made three beautiful children and should be proud to wear the honourable title of “mom” – regardless of the jiggly bits and fashion choices that I may make. And if someone wants to judge me based on that, so be it!

Looking “like a mom” should be synonymous with fabulous, fashionable, and confident. If we look like Mrs. Goldberg (above), awesome. Let’s own it. If we want to wear sweats and yoga pants all day. Good. Strut that comfy garb mamas. You go on with your bad selves.

We strive to teach our children that it’s the inside that counts. That self confidence, and a smile on your face are the only accessories that make a woman look beautiful. So let’s own our words, hold our heads high, and look “like moms”. Who’s with me?

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My new head shot by fellow mom and fab photographer Jenn Di Spirito

 

 

 

The Evolution of Play Dates

As I move through the weeks of my pregnancy, I’ve been reminiscing about life with a baby and all that it entails. And through my walks down memory lane, I’ve realized something: Gone are the days when play dates were all about the moms.

I remember being a first-time mom with a newborn. The highlight of each week was my Wednesday play dates with my mommy group (also known as “newborns slept in a row in their car seats while we snacked, sipped wine and vented about our husbands and babies”). Back then, “play date” was code for “girl time”, and we made it a priority to keep them regularly – both to keep in touch, and to keep our sanity. Truth be told: they weren’t about the kids at all, they were more like play dates for moms.

Play Date

Umm mommy? Can I play too?

Now that my eldest child is in school, I’ve noticed a huge shift in the meaning of “play date”. It’s not longer about me and valuable time with my mommy friends. Now it’s about the kids, and they actually play together. And  I have to be honest with you, I’m a little jealous.

Today a play date means taking another child home with you after school. It means giving your child and their friend(s) some snacks, and leaving them to play while you sit and watch longingly from the sidelines. The moms no longer come along and hang out, drink wine and vent with you, because nowadays, “play dates” have become code for “time for your kids to hang out with their friends”, or sometimes, “free child care”.

I’m not complaining, I think play dates are great. But I miss that quality mom-on-mom time when play dates were used as an excuse to get together.

I know that the evolution of play dates hasn’t come to an end yet. As my kids grow older, they’ll go out with their friends, and I’ll be left to sit at home, waiting anxiously for their safe return. Eventually, I may not even know the friends, or even the friends’ moms for that matter.

With a new baby on the way, I look forward to returning to the old (and selfish) way of  hosting play dates. The ones that are all about the moms.

I guess one of the benefits to having another child is the delay in realizing that your kids will grow up, move on, and no longer need you in the same way.

 

 

What Not To Do When Your Kids Are Bored

I remember the unbearable feeling of childhood boredom. Feeling as though you had truly exhausted all options, left to lie lifeless on your bed in a total and complete slump.

You dragged your feet as you shuffled to the room in which your mom was busying herself with making dinner or folding laundry. Slowly lifting your glum face so that your desperate eyes met hers, you would utter those three words of complete surrender: “Mom I’m BORED.” Ready for her to present a magical solution, you would wait with bated breath to see what she had to say.

And each and every time, the answer would be unsatisfactory. “You can help me fold laundry” she would say. Or, “why don’t you get a head start on your homework?” she would suggest. Your shoulders would rise simultaneously as your eyebrows fell into a deep frown, and a big HUFFF would blast out of your lips. You’d swivel, stomp your feet, slam your bedroom door and bury your face in your pillow as if your life had truly ended.

At least that’s what I did.

Now that I’m a mom to a six-year-old girl, I’m faced with the same challenging three words on an increasingly regular basis. And until today, my responses were equally as unsatisfying – “why don’t you play with your brother?” or “you could always tidy up your room?”. She of course loathes these answers, but always comes back for more when boredom strikes.

I had recently come across (what I thought to be) a great solution for boredom through Pinterest and friends’ Facebook posts, so tonight when my girl came to me with the dreaded three words, I asked her to bring me her white board and a dry erase pen.

I proudly wrote out the words that I had seen, convinced that I had solved the great boredom plague that continually struck my little girl. I flipped the board around and presented it to her with a proud grin on my face.

….And this was her reaction….

Kids Bored

After I snapped this photo, she dropped the board on the floor, and ran bawling to her room. Sobs of sorrow bellowed through her door, and in between fits of despair, she uttered “My mommy’s the WORST, waaaa”.

While this erratic behaviour would normally set me off into a fit of full-on mom rage, I threw my head back and laughed quietly to myself, truly amused by the humour of it all.

I had become that mom. And I didn’t mind one bit.

Things I Do (With Gritted Teeth) for the Love of My Kids

As parents we make a lot of sacrifices for our kids. We give up hobbies, change careers, and succumb to the fact that we may never sleep again. But as they grow older, the sacrifices change and we take on new tasks that we despise. But we do them willingly (with gritted teeth) for the love of our children. Here’s my list of 10 things I do just for them:

1) Rainbow Loom

This one wins the award for “wish it was my idea/wish I didn’t buy one” toy of the year. When I had first heard of it, I thought it was brilliant. Finally, a toy that taught dexterity, creativity, and encouraged quiet play! Little did I know, that little loom would result in my spending hours of my life (which I will never get back), weaving elastics and attaching c-clips to a never-ending sea of rubber jewellery.

2) Music

Gone are the days when I could listen to my own playlist. Now my stereo consists of Katy Perry’s “Roar”, Taylor Swift’s “Trouble” and “Let It Go” from the Frozen soundtrack, on repeat upon repeat upon frickin’ repeat.

3) Transformers

I actually loved Transformers when I was a kid. But now that I’m a parent, I despise the little robots. Is it just me or are they impossible to “transform”? Lawd help me…

4) Lego

Another childhood favourite that has come back to haunt me. What happened to the pile of colourful pieces that could be combined in limitless ways? Nowadays they come with a short novel of assembly instructions. They say 5+, but should really indicate the 30+ age requirement for patience and assembly.

5) Reruns

I hope you like your child’s favourite show or movie, because if you’re not at the stage yet, be prepared to watch that show/movie again, and again, and again, and again, and again…and again….

6) Meals

As the sole chef in my household, I’ve had the pleasure of cooking whatever my taste buds desire….until recently. Now I have to make the choice between making food I love, or making food my kids will eat. There is no middle ground on this one.

7) Uppies

I’m a big fan of snuggles and hugs from my littles, but I think at a certain point, it’s time to stop the pick-up requests. While they love to be picked up and coddled every once in awhile, my back doesn’t love the uppies. If only I could implement a “must be less than 30 pounds to ride this mom” rule.

8) Singsong

It starts as an occasional tune hummed to your baby in the rocking chair, and before you know it, you have developed a full-blown syndrome. The Mommy Singsong Syndrome, that is. I can’t say that I totally hate it, but it is definitely embarrassing when you catch yourself doing it in public.

9) Polly Pockets

At first sight, I thought they were cute little dolls. And then we brought some  home, and I was introduced to quite possibly the worst time and patience sucker known to parents of girls. Try dressing a pile of 30 Polly Pockets as fast as possible, and tell me you don’t want to drink a bottle of wine when you’re done.

10) Fix it?

This applies especially to toys with batteries. That loud, obnoxious toy that someone gifted your little one has finally quieted to a whisper, and eventually stopped moving. And you thank your lucky stars that the beast is dead. And then you hear in that sweet little voice that you just can’t resist, “mommy, can you please fix it?”

Rainbow Loom

Carpal Tunnel anyone?

What do you do for your kids with gritted teeth, just because you love them?

5 Things Our Tooth Fairy Will NOT Be Doing

I have a feeling I’m going to despise the Tooth Fairy when my six year-old’s first tooth wiggles free from its roots. I’ve been dreading the day, and have already suffered the wrath of the over-achieving parents whose children brag of their wads of cash and delicately-sewn tooth pillows, and coloured water changed by the visit from rainbow-coloured dental nymphs.

You know what will happen next? Those Elf on the Shelf creators will come up with a Tooth Fairy version of the money-sucking (patience-sucking) phenomenon. Suddenly everyone will have untouchable fairies perched on their mantles, watching their Kindergarteners, year-round! Or has this already been invented?

I’ve been fortunate so far. My girl is the very last six-year-old in her world who hasn’t lost a tooth. While she wiggles her pearly whites daily, and begs to eat whole apples in hopes of them advancing the natural tooth loss process, I wince at the thought of one of those suckers breaking loose, opening up a new can of who’s-the-best-and-most-creative-mom-in-the-world worms. An unspoken competition that, frankly, I don’t care to participate in.

Whatever happened to: tooth falls out. Tooth goes under pillow (naked, unwashed). Child wakes to find a quarter under pillow. The end.

In honour of my disdain for the Tooth Fairy and all that she represents for busy, non cash-carrying, non-DIY moms like myself, here are five things our Tooth Fairy will NOT be doing in our house:

1) Look at this adorable Tooth Fairy package – including hand-folded dollar bills, sparkles, coins, and a nice long mini letter from the fairy herself. The post even includes a link to a Youtube video where you can learn to fold bills into cute little baskets as shown below!

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Sweet! But here’s why this won’t be happening in my house: 1) Bills? No. My children will be getting coins. (Note: here in Canada, we don’t have bills smaller than $5). 2) Folding that requires a Youtube lesson. I don’t do DIYs, I’m out. 3) Hand-written note. I do like to think of myself as a bit of a wordsmith, but what could the Tooth Fairy possibly have to say? Did you see how long the letter in the post was? What more is there to say than “Got your tooth, here’s some cash.”

2) A Tooth Fairy Mouse. How adorable. Except a) it costs over $20, and b) what does a mouse have to do with a fairy or a tooth? Not seeing the connect peeps.

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3) Please, for the love of mom, tell me you don’t actually go to the extent of dressing up as the Tooth Fairy. Just. Don’t.

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4) Hey, look guys! An easy DIY – Tooth Fairy money. Um, what?

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I actually think this is kind of cute to be honest. But think about it, you have to spray the (again, bills!?), let them dry, tuck them under the pillow (hello unnecessary load of laundry – and have you ever tried to wash glitter out of fabric?). Then if the cash somehow landed in my husband’s wallet and he pulled out a glittery bill? Well let’s just say he’d be less than impressed.

5) And this one is definitely a will-never-do in my house. If you’ve been following my blog for awhile, you know about my hate-on for lunch making. Check out these adorable little Tooth Fairy bento lunches:

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Do these moms realize that kids have approximately 20 teeth to lose? That’s a whole lotta folded bill baskets, mousy pouches, costume wears, sparkly bills, and bento lunches, don’t you think?

What does your Tooth Fairy do, and how much does she pay?