Tag Archives: holiday?

August: Better than A Stuffed Banana

In August, we went to Kelowna for a few days. It was pretty fun; we swam in both pools at the motel and in the lake, we ate junk food and stayed up too late (MAINLY THE CHILDREN DID THIS), and we visited a kangaroo farm.

Yes, there is a kangaroo farm half an hour north of Kelowna. It is called Kangaroo Creek Farm and it is exactly as billed. Maybe a little less crazy than the website implies. A habitat for kangaroos and capybara and goats and some exotic birds. And emu. And ostriches.

This is a capybara, basically a giant guinea pig.

This is a capybara, basically a giant guinea pig.

Kangaroos are weird, it bears mentioning. They look like the progeny of a normal-animal orgy. Part rabbit, part deer, part giant squirrel, part fuzzy wuzzy fuzz bucket.

I liked this one, though.

I liked this one.

Anyway at the farm you can feed them and pet them and hold baby ones. Admission is by donation. Wear sensible shoes; the trail and path from the upper parking area to the farm is quite steep.

Arlo feeds a kangaroo

Arlo feeds a kangaroo

After we returned from Kelowna we made our annual trip to the Pacific National Exhibition (PNE). Like so many things-with-children, the PNE-with-children gets better every year. This year, Arlo used the heck out of his ride pass and Eli went on a legitimate number of rides as well. We ate some food and no one got sick.

Oh hello I am on a carousel.

Oh hello I am on a carousel.

Then came time for the midway game.

I have a conflicted relationship with the midway games. You pay $5 for a chance to win something that costs $0.50 at the dollar store. Like a tiny stuffed banana. Or a tiny stuffed smiley face. Or one of those confounded parachuting dudes whose strings always get tangled immediately.

As a counter-point, the kids always love the crappy little stuffed whatevers that they win on the midway game; they even love them for months and years afterwards, treasuring them and calling them “the stuffed banana I won on that game at the PNE, wow, I love this toy!” but it is a struggle every year for me to shell out the money for them to basically throw in the garbage.

Yes, you’re right, I could not do it, but once you’ve paid X to get in and XX on food and XXX for the rides what’s another five bucks. I didn’t say it made sense. I said I was CONFLICTED.

This year, Arlo was riding the Wave Swinger and climbing the climbing wall while Eli and I strolled the midway looking for a game he wanted to play. He stopped and stared at various games while the yelling people yelled at us to TRY IT all the KIDS GET A PRIZE come on I ONLY NEED ONE MORE PLAYER GIVE IT A TRY. He ignored them all. I tried to as well. We went and fetched Arlo because Eli didn’t want to play a game until Arlo was going to play a game.

They both stopped at the “get a ring on a bottle, any bottle, one ring on any bottle wins YOUR CHOICE” booth. This booth had only gigantic stuffed prizes. Obviously this booth did not award anyone any prizes, ever, because you could have TWELVE rings to toss for only $2; an entire bucket of rings for $5. The kids said, “WOW that is a great deal. We want to play this one.”

I was, of course, torn because a) hey that gets my money spent quickly and then we can go home but b) they are going to lose and not even get a consolation stuffed banana because this game is winner-takes-all not loser-gets-something-anyway. Because we are super parents, we decided to let consequences rule the day and spent the $5 on a bucket of rings.

Toss, bounce, toss, bounce, toss. The rings were made of rubber and the bottles were made of rubber repellent. Toss, bounce, toss, bounce, toss, bounce.

Then: toss. No bounce! Ring stayed on the bottle neck. Eli tossed a ring right onto the bottle and it stayed there. Six year old ringed the bottle.

The booth workers had no idea what to do. They had to dig around to find the scissors to cut down the prize.

“I want that bear,” Eli said, pointing above our heads at a giant, fluorescent green stuffed bear. “Do you want to look around at the other choices?” Saint Aardvark asked. Eli did. He came back to the bear.


The bear — later named Fluffy — that we* then had to carry around the PNE for another half hour while Arlo rode more rides to assuage his disappointment at not being the one who ringed the bottle. The bear that we then had to haul up the hill to my parents’ house where we always park our car when we go to the PNE. The bear that barely fit in the trunk of our Honda Civic.

*actually Saint Aardvark carried it, mostly. It sat so peacefully on his shoulders, its head resting on his head. See:


Great conversation starter, a giant green bear. The world is divided into two types of people: the ones who congratulate you on your giant green bear and the ones who scoff because they assume you spent your life savings winning the giant green bear (those people are also jealous and often in their early 20s). Just an observation.

Arlo's turn to carry the bear.

Arlo’s turn to carry the bear.

But the six year old won the bear all by himself. Seriously. We spent five bucks, just like we always do.

August ended and September hasn’t really started yet, in my heart, because there is still no school in BC. Our teachers are still striking and our government is still waiting for them to give up. Every day is still sunny, but the days are noticeably shorter and darker around the edges. We are holding, waiting, no longer on vacation, but nowhere near a new routine.

Sometimes on my way up or downstairs I pass the kids’ room, where Fluffy waits patiently for the children to retire for the evening, and wonder why the room seems to be filled with alien-green light. A pause and a smile and I remember it’s the light of his fur: a reminder of the glowing last days of August.

This Summer Vacation Has Headlines AND Details

Summer Vacation, Two Weeks Early

We were all holding out hope that the teachers and government would come to an agreement over the weekend, but then we heard nothing all weekend and well, the Monday news was: No deal, strike NOT averted, it’s the other guy’s fault, Summer Vacation HAS BEGUN. START YOUR ENGINES.

I’m not going to comment further on the labour dispute because I feel like it’s hopeless and I’m sick of listening to bafflegabbing spokespeople say empty, political things and nothing changing ever. Let’s go to the beach.

No, wait, it’s kind of showery, so instead I went to the dentist and the kids played at my parents’ house and then we came home and Eli had a friend over and everyone scootered for ages and then we had burgers for dinner.

Here’s a Recipe

I made my own burger buns because I didn’t want to interrupt the scootering to go to the grocery store. Pace yourself, stay-at-home-mom! Don’t do it all in one day! Groceries will wait until tomorrow.

I used this recipe . If you make these buns, know that my child with the sweet tooth declared them “too sweet” and just ate the burger. Cut the sugar accordingly. Otherwise, they were delicious and ever so easy and way more fun than going to Safeway at 4:45 pm with two children of any age or designation.

Co-operative Play Without Injury!

Here is what children can demonstrate if you deny them cool toys and fun adventures:

This morning, Arlo found some swim googles and put them on his eyes backwards, so they were pressing into the eyeball. Then he instructed Eli to lead him around the house in a strange sort of trust game that I thought was going to go terribly wrong at any moment, but it did not! Then, Arlo removed the goggles and blinked his weird, squished-up eyes and said, “Everything is animated!” Then of course Eli wanted to do it too so they reversed the roles. They played this game for a good twenty minutes. And no one got pushed down the stairs! There is hope for all humanity.

Inspirational Claptrap

Tonight I met my good friend at the coffee shop and we were talking about library summer reading club, where you read 50 books over the summer, take your little passbook thing to the library and get a sticker, and at the end of summer you get a medal? With Oprah (a poster of Oprah, technically) regarding us with the benevolence of a thousand angels, we decided we would form summer writing club, where the rules are:

Write 15 minutes a day
For 50 days
Get yourself a medal, or just steal your kid’s old Summer Reading Club medal.

You can join if you want. Fifty days. Fifteen minutes a day. Summer Writing Club.

Making Children Cry Since 2006

There isn’t much more frustrating than trying to help someone who’s too far gone to be helped.

“Stop chewing at your neck bandage,” one says to a cat. “Then the bleeding will heal and you will no longer need a neck bandage.” Gnaw, gnaw, gnaw, says the cat. It’s itchy, says the cat.

“Eat this sandwich,” one says to a child. “You will be less likely to kick me in the shins like a wildebeest* if you have food in your stomach.”
“I’m NOT HUNGRY AND I RESENT THE IMPLICATION!” replies the child as he winds up to kick you in the shins.

*I don’t think wildebeest actually kick.

This evening, after a full week of school that included:

– a playdate on Monday (Arlo and Eli)
– a dress rehearsal for the Christmas concert on Tuesday afternoon (Arlo)
– me working on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday (though only half a day friday because SNOW MY GOD [SNOMG])
– an afternoon and evening Christmas concert on Thursday (Arlo)
– staying up until nine o’ clock and getting up at 6:50 every morning (Arlo)
– waking up three to five times a night coughing for a week (Eli) (and me) (and SA)
– ice skating this morning (Arlo) including walking to the rink in the SNOMG
– Christmas party for Eli
– including cookies and singing and hot chocolate and finally a movie
– more playing in the snow
– a lot of candy canes
– and finally the last minutes of the last day of school…
– more playing in the snow
– being surprised by me coming home early from work and meeting them after school
– walking home, all cold and soggy

…the children were tired. So tired. Their eyes were melting and their brains smoking. WOULD THEY ADMIT IT? BOLLOCKS.

The first hint of trouble came at about 4 pm. They had been lying on the living room floor, staring at the Christmas tree with their melting eyes, and I took a moment to look at my computer which at 4 pm usually means twitter.

An open laptop is an invitation. (hey Dell, you can use that if you pay me for it, yeah?) The kids came running over. I let Eli tweet a tweet, then I let Arlo tweet a tweet and it was funny and good. And perfectly spelled. And then Arlo wanted to tweet a second tweet and it was rude so I said no and he insisted so I shut the laptop.


Eli also did weep because he had been anticipating a second turn at the tweeting. I apologized and shut down the tweeting machine.

Next up: Arlo crammed a peanut butter cup in his mouth and sprayed chocolate all over me while he asked if he could go play at the neighbour’s house. “Did you eat all your lunch?” I asked. He shook his head. I asked him to please eat some real food, having already heard about the cupcakes, hot chocolate, cookies and candy they had both feasted on all day.


Turned out his lunch had been finished. “Huh,” he said, blinking, “I don’t remember doing that.”

I decided to let it, and him, go. Sadly he was back in five minutes, tears streaming down his face anew because neighbour friend was eating dinner. I could not take any more weeping. No more weeping. I needed to make pizza so I could eat it. This was the plan. Time for big guns.

“Would you like to sit on the couch and watch a movie,” I asked.

Oh yes. Yes. He sat, remote controls in hand, shivering, eyes swollen.

“But it’s my turn to pick,” Eli pointed out. More tears. Another round of tears for all my children! Cheers to the tears!

“I will pick,” I said. I picked the Drake and Josh Christmas Special. They were both happy about this.

I made pizza and fed it to them on the couch. After the pizza and movie they had dessert, because you need dessert right? Wouldn’t want your sugar levels to dip.

“Now,” I said, “it is bedtime.” I began to move things around in preparation for bedtime.
“I am going to make a movie,” Arlo announced. He took the tripod from the stairs and started to pull the legs out.
“How can you make a movie when it’s bedtime?” I said with a very false joviality.
“I’m not going to bed right now,” he said. “I’m making my movie first.”

I won’t transcribe the rest. There was more crying, me sending them upstairs, them making horrible shrieking noises, me yelling from downstairs that they should stop, and then more crying because I yelled.

I mean. You guys.

If you’re crying this much, you’re exhausted. If you’re exhausted you should sleep. If I’m telling you this, it’s not to assert some kind of puppet asshole control over you, it’s just because if you sleep you’ll feel better.*

They sleep now, tears dry on their cheeks. Soon, I will too.

*If I added up all the hours I’ve spent thinking about sleep in the past seven years I could buy a hotel. If the hours were worth money, which they are not.

Santa, etc.

Last year our neighbour, who was then 7, received an iPad from Santa, which totally fucking wrecks it for the rest of us. This year, Arlo has decided he wants an iPhone for Christmas, a black one, and I have, of course, decided to be logical at him, repeatedly. Thus, we have had the following conversation several times in the past weeks:

Arlo: I wonder if I really WILL get an iPhone 5 for Christmas. [smiles to himself]
Me: Hmmmm, do you think so?
Arlo: Well, it is pretty much the ONLY thing I want.
Me: Yeah..
Arlo: And Santa can do anything. And
Me: But expensive electronics are really not for kids.
Arlo: But NEIGHBOUR KID got an iPad last year from Santa
Me: I think his whole family got the iPad, actually..
Arlo: But mostly HE plays with it *
Me: Anyway, there are so many toys that are appropriate for children. There’s a whole Toys R Us store full of toys. I think those are the kinds of gifts Santa likes to give.
Arlo: I guess. But I really want an iPhone 5. A black one. [smiles dreamily]

*if most of your sentences start with “but” it’s probably not a productive conversation.

We have talked about what in god’s name he would do with a smart phone, how he’d have to pay for a data plan, which he could never afford on the one dollar per week he gets in allowance, especially since he always ends up spending his spending money on candy or to pay for things like the half a tube of toothpaste he squeezed out of the tube just to see what would happen, this last just the other day. (seriously dude wtf.) We have discussed how much they cost and how fragile they are (this child drops at least four things a day). We have even discussed the angle of proprietary software, thanks to Saint Aardvark’s personal bug up the ass, er, interests.

It isn’t the point. He doesn’t care about, or even hear, arguments against. Arlo thinks Santa is real. Arlo thinks Santa is magic. Arlo thinks Santa is going to give him what he most desires, because Santa wants Arlo to be happy and the iPhone 5 (in black) will make him happy.

Or possibly, Arlo knows Santa isn’t real and this is just a massive test.

Either way, this issue has been pushing my buttons, which of course makes it super fun for the kids. Push the buttons again! Again! iPhones for children are NOT part of our family value package. $500 gifts of any kind are not how we roll. You’ve been around enough Christmases and watched me shop, you should KNOW this. Want some damn Lego. You’re SEVEN. Ask for a pogo stick.

But you want what you want, because you want it. I’ve been so sensible for so long (about material things) I forgot what it is to just want something because you want it. Yes, because other people want it, because it’s a status symbol, because of what it represents. Still. Because you want it.

These examples of how my child is different from me sneak up on me. We all joke about stuff like “oh my kid is going to be an accountant because I’m a poet..but I’ll love him anyway,” but it’s sneakier than that. It’s a kid’s job to test his parent’s values, to assert his individuality. As soon as he can figure out a way to do it. So here I am, trucking along smug as a bug about my book-reading, music-loving kind-hearted child and then he says something that makes him sound like he’s a greedy, materialistic, value-less, status-seeking brat. Is he getting it, all the stuff I’m showing and telling? Is he going to join a frat someday? How will I handle it?

Except he’s a kid, just yacking on about stuff he doesn’t understand.

(For an entertaining/infuriating time, try talking to kids under 8 about gigabytes. Hilarious. Or precious metals. Everything that sparkles is a precious metal.)

It’s all part of separation. Letting go. I can’t make him value the things I value, and I don’t value the things he values, and all of this is as it should be. He can want an iPhone and he won’t get one, and the disappointment will be hard to watch, but he’ll take it and deal with it and it will help form him. He’s himself, not a clone of me. I spend so much time looking for the similarities between us I sometimes forget to appreciate and marvel at the differences.

Postscript, several days later.

Today the kids wanted to go shopping for Christmas presents. Arlo asked me for a list of things I wanted for Christmas yesterday and then he took it upstairs. I’m going to look at it and decide what to get you, he said.

This morning he wrote a list of stocking presents he would like, for Eli to peruse, and Eli wrote a list for him. Then Arlo came over and whispered in my ear:

Today can we go to a toy store, so I can look for something for Eli’s stocking?


He went upstairs and gathered his money. He had five dollars.

More whispering:

I want to get him a stuffed dog. Or maybe a Lego minifigure.

OK, I said. We can find those.

After much negotiation — you really don’t want to know how much or the nature of, just be aware that in real life there were more than two line breaks between the previous paragraph and this one — Arlo and I ended up at Toys R Us while Eli and SA went to Value Village because Eli of course also wanted to get a present for Arlo for HIS stocking but only had one dollar to his name, plus of course we couldn’t be at the same store at the same time because SECRETS.

Arlo went right over to the stuffed animal department and picked up a stuffed golden retriever puppy.

This one, he said.
How much is it? I said.
Uh, I don’t know, he said.

It was eight dollars. I fronted him the extra three.

In case you haven’t seen it, this account of a 7 year old’s Christmas list is dead on and the annotations are everything I have been thinking for the past two months.

Eighty-Eight — In Which We Go With the Flow

We did things this weekend WITH the pack instead of against it.

Review: Superstore at mid-day on Thanksgiving weekend


Pros: All staple groceries were in their usual place, amply stocked.

Cons: Parking lot full of people driving like they are in a car-driving video game. Everyone trying to park as close to the door as possible. Store full of same people now driving carts full of turkeys and potatoes, dragging screaming kids behind them. Carts abandoned in middle of aisles while owners wander off looking for cranberry sauce.

Additional comments: Was kind of like cutting out a piece of my soul and feeding it to someone I hate.

Review: Playing with Saint Aardvark’s new phone


Pros: Shiny display. Nice camera. Functions well as a phone. Kept us entertained in the car for fifteen minutes while we waited to go pick up the kids from a birthday party (see next review)

Cons: An array of ringtones that all sound like they were taken from an episode of Survivor. “Rain stick banging on the empty coconut shell.” “By the ocean, in the rain.” “Good morning tropical birds.” (not real titles)

Review: Crash Crawlys Indoor Adventure Playcentre Extravaganza


Pros (for children): There are no rules except you have to wear socks. It is fine to scream as much as you want. Scream until your voice disappears. Please do. Children go here to enact their deepest primal desires (except for pooping outside) and the sound(s) and smell(s) of Crash Crawlys reflect(s) this.

Pros (for adults): Children do not require your attention for the length of stay, until they get hungry.

Cons (for adults): It is fine to scream as much as you want. Scream until your voice disappears. Please do. Children go here to enact their deepest primal desires (except for pooping outside) and the sound(s) and smell(s) of Crash Crawlys reflect(s) this.

Cons (for children): At some point, you will have to leave.

Additional Comments:

A. There is also a ball cannon, which is at the top of a climbing structure. It is a large funnel into which children can load small plastic balls and then, by pressing a button, or pulling a lever, exert pressure so that the great hissing noise of anticipated ball blast becomes the horrible, loud explosion of the ball blasting itself, a POP! that startles all the parents and minders in the building. One gets used to a certain level of shriekery, you see, but the random “hisssssss POP!” will get you every time because even if you think you are expecting it, you are not.

B. After forty five minutes in Crash Crawlys, the noise starts to seem normal, which is unfortunate, as it is not normal at all.

Review: The Applebarn (a u-pick apple farm AND ATTRACTION in Abbotsford)


Pros: 40 minutes from our house. U-pick apples. The smell of country. Fresh air. Pumpkin patch is free to roam; pumpkins are fairly priced. Small store sells lots and lots of apple cider, which is delicious.

Cons: Everyone East of a certain unknown line in the lower mainland also went there because it was a holiday and sunny and the heart of Autumn Motif Season. Narrow country roads crowded with SUVS looking for parking. Lineup to enter ATTRACTION. Fees to use ATTRACTION attractions (zip line, pumpkin cannon, pony rides, bouncy cushion, bouncy castle, hayrides) U-Pick apples actually at a different location just down the road from ATTRACTION.

Additional Comments: Pumpkin cannon sounds just like ball cannon at Crash Crawlys. Recommend against going to both Applebarn and Crash Crawlys in the same weekend.


My family is away tonight. SA has taken the kids to camp in a field in Aldergrove for the annual Perseid Meteor Shower Star Party.

This is the third year they’ve gone. Last year both kids went but the year before only Arlo went and Eli refused to sleep because his brother wasn’t home. Better they both go, that they all might have questionable sleep. I will definitely sleep beyond awesomely.

That sounds selfish because it is. I can try to justify it six ways to Sunday (father/son bonding time! astronomy isn’t my bag! I have a headache!) and all those ways are true but at the core of it is this truth:

I am in a pig’s muddy glory spending the night and morning by myself.

The night is one thing. They left at 6 pm and I have eaten disgusting canned chili for dinner while watching Orange is the New Black. Then I washed all the dishes, put on some PJ Harvey and had a long, uninterrupted telephone conversation. Now I am having a beer, even though it is 9:33, aka my usual bedtime, and listening to all the PJ Harvey again because it’s that good.

(It’s been twenty years since Rid of Me came out. I was nineteen years old. Coincidentally? I got a text message this evening from the guy I was dating in 1994 and he’s in town so we’re going to have breakfast tomorrow. Don’t worry, it’s not a rom-com sort of breakfast where I realize the mistake I made not marrying him. It’s more just to see what a 47 year old ex boyfriend looks like and maybe eat some bacon.)

Anyway, it’s been a damn fine evening by my current standards. I could have done other things, gone places, called people and met up with them. I didn’t want to. I could have written great works of fiction and non. I did not. I’m cool with it.

The best part will be the morning. That’s when I will wake up at my leisure, come downstairs to find everything exactly as I left it the night before, and drink my coffee without first helping someone pour milk on their cereal. It seems like a little thing, but over years it swells to a big thing. A big, dumb thing that you don’t understand but you still acknowledge is in the room, infringing on your space. Tomorrow my space will be my own, for just a little while.

Forty-Four — EveryMom

We spent the weekend camping with a bunch of people, some of whom I knew and some of whom I didn’t, all of whom were totally awesome. Little kids frolicking on a mossy forest carpet, adults drinking their weight in assorted alcoholic beverages, walks and brisk air and sunshine and tent sleeping and campfire smell. O! Campfire smell, I have missed you. Perhaps I will have an opinion to share about camping with the kids, something we only did once before, three years ago, and which obviously scarred us. But at the moment I am too tired and can only relate two anecdotes.

1. Yesterday I was walking, alone, up the very steep hill from the beach to the campsite. A man and his teenage daughter and their big shaggy dog were walking ahead of me. The dog kept turning around to look at me and smile and pant at me. The man was getting annoyed because it is a steep hill and come on dog, just walk. They were walking so slowly that I passed them, and then the dog sniffed me and smiled and the man said, “There, you saw her, are you happy?” to the dog and I smiled at them and thought, “gosh I am such a special person that even DOGS have to smile at me,” and then I heard the man tell his daughter that he thought the dog thought I was her MOM. Not the dog’s mom. The girl’s mom. In other words, the dog thought I looked like its owner, who is the mother of a teenager.

2. Today I was at Safeway, alone, replenishing our food supply because we ate all our food when we went camping. Weird, huh? Anyway, this dude was pushing a toddler in a stroller and as I passed him the toddler got all excited and said something toddlery. I ignored him because I don’t talk to strange toddlers and then I heard the man say, “Yes, she DOES look like Mommy but she’s not really Mommy.”

First of all, suddenly my “you look familiar” face has gone from “that girl from the cheese shop? Maybe?” to “Mom” and how do I feel about that, I wonder? And second, he made it sound like I was purposely impersonating the kid’s mother. “She’s not REALLY MOMMY. Don’t be fooled.” Hey, I’m just buying bread and apples, man! I don’t want to be anyone else’s mommy! I sure as hell don’t want to look like EveryMom, unless I can make money from it. Can I?

Is it too late to do commercials for laundry soap or yogurt? I guess then I’d have to eat yogurt. DEALBREAKER.

Thirty — Summer!

Prompt two for Bring Back the Words: “What is your quintessential summer supply list?”

Today was the last day of school for Arlo. Technically it was only 2 1/2 hours of school. We all stood around outside the school at 11:30 going ‘what do we do now? Do we go home? And? Then? What?’ It was raining, so that didn’t help.

Hopefully it all comes back to me.

Must haves for summer:

– Umbrella and rain boots (ba dump!)
– Internet connection
– Library card
– Lip balm
– Hat (ball-cap style)
– Spare hat (full straw style, in case it gets really hot)
– Sunglasses (must be new every season because I wreck sunglasses. Yes, if I bought a good pair I *might* take better care of them, but then again I might not and then I might end up wrecking expensive sunglasses)
– Sunscreen — whatever’s handy. 30 spf for my face all year ’round and whatever doesn’t smell like coconuts for the rest of my body.
– Children’s sunscreen — the spray-on kind, not too smelly, not too cold, not too sticky you get the idea.
– A big bag to put all the stuff in
– Purse in which to carry the stuff I don’t want the children to find (secret chocolate, my phone, etc)
– I suppose I should check the status of my bathing suits as I have a tendency to buy halves of two pieces when I see them for cheap and then end up with yellow bottoms and black and white tops. I know! Travesty!
– Sandals. I only wear one pair but I own three. Last year I was looking for the perfect sandals, despaired of ever finding them, bought two cheap pairs instead and THEN found the perfect ones. #lesson
– 400 five-dollar t-shirts, two of which start the summer white
– Bubbles for the children to blow
– Water bottle. Have you guys seen my new (late summer 2012) water bottle? I’ll take a picture of it for you tomorrow.
– Tea tree oil for all my itchy spots, not that we have mosquitoes here, I am just itchy a lot
– Heel file because my heels are made of coral. They’re so hard and mean they held up a gas station last week, just for free twizzlers. How embarrassing.
– Toenail polish, the brighter the better
– Deodorant! And hair oil goop stuff so my hair lies down a little bit each day. My hair needs its rest.
– Snacks! I like almonds and raisins and fruit; the children enjoy a fine assortment of crackers
– Tasty beer
– Often gin
– In a pinch, wine
– Music. Lately, the children have become obsessed with SONIC HITS the local HIT STATION that plays all THE HITS. They are starting to chafe my nards with this, actually. I turn the key in the car’s engine and the radio hasn’t even come on yet and Eli says “Is this SONIC HITS?” Are they paying you to listen? I don’t think so. Settle down, Beavis.

And the sanity must-haves:

– Regular showers
– Time to write in my journal in the morning, and a break mid-day, otherwise a full day with two children might just result in me stealing a skateboard and running for the border
– Exercise
– Sleep
– Several nights sitting on my porch until it’s dark, talking with Saint Aardvark
– Tiny vacations, even if they are just in my tiny brain.

Happy, happy summer! I hope!

Twenty-Eight: Brains

Eli and I were driving to the store today, to look for maple leaf-shaped baking pans. Arlo’s 7th birthday is Canada Day and I thought I might make him a cake for the first time in 7 years but like all my ideas, this one is harder to execute than you might expect. Canada Day may as well not be happening at Michaels Craft Store and Winners/Homesense.

Eli said, “It sure is raining.”

I said, “Yup. But, it’s June. It always rains a lot in June. Remember last summer when we left for Ontario and it was raining? And then when we got there, it was SO HOT.”

“Yes, I remember,” Eli said.

I turned left at the corner.

“I have a picture of that day in my head,” Eli continued. “the day we arrived in Ontario.”

“Oh yeah?”

“Yeah. And it’s hot in the picture. And there was a car seat just for me in grandma and grandad’s car.”


“It’s too bad you can’t come in my brain and see the pictures too,” he said.

“It is too bad,” I said.

“The small part of my brain is showing the pictures to the big part of my brain.”

I laughed out loud, even though Eli doesn’t like it when you laugh out loud because he hasn’t figured out yet if you’re laughing with him or at him.

“I’m laughing because it’s a great picture in *my* brain now. Of your big brain and your little brain,” I explained.

“It is kind of funny,” he allowed.

This is one of my favourite pictures (in my brain) of our trip to Ontario last summer.

This is one of my favourite pictures (in my brain) of our trip to Ontario last summer.

Eight — A Place I Don’t Need to Go Again.

From an e-mail I received today:

“There is no better time time to book your Mackinaw City vacation at AAA’s highest rated properties at great discounted early bird rates. These prices will not stay like this for long so be sure to book your reservations now to enjoy these special savings! We guaranteee the lowest rates on the internet for Mackinaw City Hotels!”

Last summer when we were in Ontario for three weeks, SA and I decided to leave the children with their grandparents and travel to Mackinaw City, MI, for some Adult R&R. We reserved a room at the Travelodge and refused to be saddened by the cheaper and dirtier than usual bedspread, the stains on the wall and carpet, the lack of (advertised!) wi-fi, and the proximity of the balcony to the next room’s balcony. (hint: it was about from heretohere.)

We put on clean clothes and walked down to downtown Mackinaw City, drank some cheap American beer and ate four pounds of fish and chips even though we ordered a plate to share (if you order a plate to share, they give you a ‘bit extra’ and charge you $2 for sharing it, resulting in still nearly a pound of fish and chips between us OHMIGOD I WASN’T THAT HUNGRY THAT’S WHY I ORDERED ONE PLATE NOT TWO JESUS) and walked around looking at the tourists who went into the t-shirt shops, bought shirts that said “Mackinaw City: Where Bros Go To Get it ON” and then wore them around the city while they looked for fudge.

And on the topic of fudge, of course we promised to bring the kids some, it was the only way we could convince them that their grandparents would NOT kill them in their sleep if we went away for two days — hey, they are fine grandparents, but apparently the kids are attached to us, whatevs — so on our second day away we went first to Fudge Brothers or suchlike, for a 1/4 lb of fudge and then to a Candy And Fudge Emporium Extraordinaire Est. 1921 where I tried to buy a bag of candy corn from a salesgirl who was a) from an Eastern European country and b) worked on commission.

Salesgirl: HI!
Me: Hi, I would like just a small bag of…
Salesgirl: Two bags for $5! Three bags for $7!
Me: No, that’s OK, I just want one small–
Salesgirl: Ohhhhh, NOBODY buys small bag. Everyone gets big bag! Big bag is $10, or two for $15!
Me: I just have two kids. Two small kids. I only need a small bag of candy corn.
Salesgirl: I don’t sell ANY small bags. All day. No small bags.
Me: Well, I want this one.
Salesgirl: Fine. $3.
Me: Here you go!
Salesgirl: Fine.
Me: Thanks a lot!
Salesgirl: Fine.

The kids ate two bites of fudge, half the candy corn, and forgot about the rest.

So no, Tourism Michigan, we have no need of Mackinaw City this year.

Although I just remembered the $30 gummy bear the size of an actual bear. I might need to go back for that, someday.

My feet, straining to be free of their Travelodge prison; Mackinaw City, MI, 2012

My feet, straining to be free of their Travelodge prison; Mackinac City, MI, 2012