Wednesday, March 30, 2011

If Advertising was Honest.

As I was chugging back spoonfuls of Buckley's cough syrup last week, I remembered the company's tagline, "It Tastes Awful. And It Works.". It made me chuckle - it was so true. And I thought, wouldn't it be great if more companies used raw honesty in their advertising. And being one to always take a concept too far, I went ahead and made a whole slew of my own "honest" slogans. Oh yes I did.

*********


Walmart:  Awful store, but damn cheap.


Lululemon:  Hideously over-priced polyester, but it really DOES make your bum look smaller.


Starbucks:  With all the money you spent on venti no-foam double-whip extra-hot lattes, you probably
could have retired early.


Apple:  Sexier than Microsoft.


Facebook:  Catch up with old friends and then you wish you hadn't.


Twitter:  Pretend you know loads of people.


Visa:  Have what you can't afford. RIGHT NOW.


Toys"R"Us:  Come in smiling, leave screaming.


UPS:  It might get there on time, then again it might not.


Ikea: Swedish furniture so cheap you'll think you robbed us.


Yellow Pages:  Still dumping heavy books on your doorstep even though no one uses them anymore.


Costco:  For those occasions when you need five hundred kitchen rolls and a packet of gummy bears.


*********

(And that, friends, is why I'm not an advertising copywriter.)

Feel free to join in! Your turn.

* McDonalds: ...
* Google: ...
* You Tube: ...
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Sunday, March 27, 2011

"Mums can be stylish too!" ... and other nuggets of wisdom.

*Warning: this post is bitchy. I blame all the coca cola I drank while I was sick.*

"Mums can be stylish too!", the twenty-something girl doing my hair exclaimed in a serious but optimistic way, as she stretched and twisted my hair around the paddle of her brush and applied fifteen unnecessary products. I stifled a laugh and then, realizing she was not joking, wondered what she - with her leggings and boots and hairstyle that probably took fifty minutes to put together this morning - must have thought of me - with my sweater and jeans and comfortable shoes and tired expression.

My usual hairdresser was on holiday and though usually I'd wait for her to return (because she is the bestest and most awesomest stylist in the world), I decided my hair situation was simply too dire to put off the appointment, and agreed instead to see the next available person.

I'll call her Cindy.

The appointment started with a fifteen minute verbal fight discussion about precisely what kind of bangs I wanted (apparently there are many, many types of bangs), and then moved swiftly onto the question of whether I would, in fact, be able to find the time to care for said bangs, what with me having two whole children and all.

Cindy was not convinced I would be able to handle it. She tapped her fingers and looked at me from the corner of her eyes with her head turned pensively, to assess whether she deemed me a suitable candidate for bangs.

Finally, a few minutes later, she relented, gushing that, actually I would LOVE bangs, and that they would be super easy to look after.

Awesome.

After that, the conversation flowed relentlessly, and I'm pretty sure we covered everything in Western culture from the price of commodities to the drug problem of today's youth. (All highly serious topics will in future be written in italics to denote the seriousness of the subject.)

If you'd been a fly on the wall at my appointment, these are some of the statements you might have been privy to.

***

"It's really hard being a mom."

"Me, I want four kids, personally."

"I don't have any, yet."

"You go to work, and then you come home and they're screamin' and attacking you!"

"I don't know why people have kids."

***

"But I worry about kids growing up these days, what with all the cocaine!"

"Everyone's doing it."

"And it's expensive too."

"Its... like... hmm, how much is it? Oh I don't remember now."

"If you take enough of it, it can really damage your brain!"

***

"Men! They don't have a clue do they!"

"They never change!"

"They're all the same!"

"Tsk."

***

"My back is killing me, I really need a massage."

"Really - you're a massage therapist?"

"You don't even KNOW how good massage therapy is for you!"

"Oh wait, you do."

"I don't know if anyone has told you this, but the average lifespan of a massage therapist is five years."

"It's really hard work."

***

I listened to all the morsels of wisdom, and responded accordingly, nodding and shaking my head at the right moments, because in the end I just wanted my damn hair to be cut and made shiny.

And, actually, Cindy did do a very nice job.

So I gave her a good tip, told her to get that massage, and vowed to never visit a different hairdresser again.

The end (of my bitchiness. Normal, nice-person blogging will resume in two days).
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Thursday, March 24, 2011

She bangs.

My hairdresser asked me about twenty times if I was SURE I wanted bangs. I repeated that yes, I was. After a week slopping around the house in pajamas, feeling less than human and with my hair tied back to disguise the fact that it hadn't been washed in four days, I was ready for drastic.

When I arrived home, my sons gawked at me as I came in the door, as though I'd grown another head.

Then my older son said, "Mummy, I like your new hair! Is it going to stay?"


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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Other effective (but not recommended) ways of losing weight.

Oh hi there, how are you?

First, thanks for your comments and suggestions about the room sharing idea. This is why I love blogging: I have some impulsive idea about ripping out walls and right as I'm about to take my mallet and begin demolishing, you guys say sensible, helpful things and the walls remain intact and unharmed. (For now anyway) As per your advice, we've decided a more practical option would be to put the boys in one room for a trial run, converting the other bedroom into a playroom temporarily. I'll let you know how we get on with that!

Second, I've been sick as a dog ("AGAIN!", she yells).

It started with a piddly little cold at the beginning of last week. I tried my best to ignore the cold, but it got worse and worse until finally on Friday afternoon I wound up on the floor of my bathroom cry-dialing my husband at work and blubbering loudly about how I couldn't make it through another hour and begging him to come home (or, as I eloquently put it at the time,"I CWAN MA HURTS AS BEE REELLY SICK GERRA MEDCIN IN BLURBRA".)

Thankfully he was able to come home. And assess the damage. Body: aching. Temperature: 102. Head: pounding. Ears: throbbing. Sense of smell and taste: gone. Throat: sore. Cough: like a smoker's. Children: jumping on my head and trying to smother me with blankets.


The next day I dragged myself to the doctor, who diagnosed a sinus infection and wrote me a prescription for antibiotics, and though I don't normally accept antibiotics with open arms, I grabbed that delicious sheet of paper that promised freedom from sickness from his hands and ran like the wind to get it filled.

Because, as it turns out, sinus infections? Nasty little buggers that suck the life out of you.

Lucky for me, I was able to lie in bed dying (nearly) for a few days, and ringing my bell (imaginary), while my sweet husband brought me plates of food and hot cups of tea (true). And all the lying around in bed brought about a feeling of immense gratitude: that I have someone who looks after me; that I have access to doctors and medicine when my body can't sort itself out; for Netflix; and for the sickness-induced weight loss that took place while I was convalescing. Kind of like magic.

How was your weekend?
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Thursday, March 17, 2011

Sharing a Bedroom: Yes or No?

A few days ago I was struck by an idea. I couldn't tell whether it was completely brilliant or completely stupid, so I put it to J to see what he thought: It occurred to me that we could knock down the wall in between our two sons' bedrooms, and make one big bedroom for them. It would mean they'd  share a room, and they'd have a larger space that we could also transform into a play area. Good idea? Bad idea? I don't know. We're still thinking on it.

Growing up, I never shared a bedroom. On the one hand I enjoyed the luxury of my own space where I could disappear to read my books and play with my dolls and toys alone. On the other, I wondered frequently what it would be like to share a room with a sibling. With my brother being ten years older than me, I never had the squabbling, do-everything-together relationship I saw my friends experience with their siblings.

The bedrooms in our current house are quite small. Especially the boys' bedrooms. You can comfortably fit a few pieces of furniture into them - a single bed and a chest of drawers and a bookcase - and not much more. Thankfully the closets are built into the walls to save space. It's partly why we added two more bedrooms downstairs when we renovated our basement two years ago - so that when they're older, the boys can move downstairs into a larger space that's somewhat separated from the rest of the house.

I like the idea of the boys sharing a bedroom while they're still young, knowing they probably won't want to when they're older. I have this imagine of a beautiful large bedroom decorated in shades of blue, brown and green, with bunk beds on one side (think of the fun they'd have), a mural on one wall, an art area with a table and chairs where they could sit and draw and create things, a play area with all their toys, a seating area with bean bags where they could sit and read.

I imagine them giggling together at night with flashlights under their duvets, reading books together in the afternoon, playing quietly in their room while I get some blogging housework done (wishful thinking perhaps?).

It would be so super awesome fun timez!

But... there are certain concerns holding me back: What if they get into a room together and stay up all night thrashing each other will pillows and skipping around their big room because sleep is no longer fun? What if they hate sharing a room and then we've knocked down a wall in our house and we're all stuck with it? What if one keeps the other awake?

As brothers close in age, they get on really, really well. About fifty percent of the time. And as most siblings, they have an I-love-you-give-me-a-hug / I-want-to-rip-your-head-off kind of relationship. So it could go either way.


What's your experience with siblings sharing a room? Is it a good idea or a bad idea?
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Monday, March 14, 2011

Why I'll never be a hairdresser.

Last night I found out that my husband has had sideburns for fifteen years. In that time he's never shaved them off. Which means that since we've been together - since I've known him - he's had sideburns.

He told me that, right after I accidentally shaved them off.

I'm not sure how I came to be the family hairdresser, since I am neither qualified at cutting hair, nor am I good at it. But in the end, it didn't last long, because one time when I cut my son's hair I became a little over-zealous with the bang-trimming and what resulted was a cut not unlike Friar Tuck's.


After the Friar Tuck incident I agreed to NEVER AGAIN cut either boys' hair. But I continued cutting J's, since his was more straight-forward. I've been cutting his hair for a few years now. This detail will become important in a minute.

I'm one of those people who never notices haircuts, hair styles, hair preferences, or any thing hair-related really. You could be my friend, my neighbour, my husband (ahem), or my mother, and I might not notice. You could dye your hair green and glue it together to form the shape of a sea horse and I'd probably be all "Hi, wow, something is different - did you get a new pair of shoes?".

Which explains why, after I'd finished cutting my husband's hair last night, I began to trim his sideburns, thinking that that was what we normally did.

But apparently that was not what we normally did.

I was finishing up, checking over the cut to make sure I hadn't missed anything (also checking him out because he's particularly handsome after a fresh cut). And then went about what I believed was my usual routine of trimming the sideburns.

I trimmed the top part, then asked.

"So then you'll do the rest of the sideburns?"

Because that's what he usually did...

"No. What do you mean?"

"Well, you can't leave them like this, because there's a whole..."

"Um. What?"

And it was then that I realized.

Oh. Shit.

I had trimmed a hole in the sideburns, a gap between the top and bottom parts. From here, there really was no other option, than to shave it all off.

So that's what he did.

I lay in bed that night, thinking about how I could make it up to him. I thought about sneaking out while he was asleep, grabbing a Sharpie, and drawing his sideburns back on. But that probably wouldn't work, because then I'd be tempted to draw on glasses and a mustache too and that would completely ruin the whole effect.

And then I considered shaving off my eyebrows to show some camaraderie.

But I like my eyebrows.

And so, instead, I decided the best gift I could give would be to never, ever, cut anyone's hair, ever again.
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Sunday, March 13, 2011

His Smart Remark.

In a moment of frustration, my son discovers a new rebuttal - a thing designed to tell me he's mad and simultaneously poke me where it hurts.

In the middle of an argument in which he's being told no, he may not watch any more TV, he looks at me, then to the side, his blue eyes narrow, thinking, before he expels the words.

"Go to work, Mummy."

Emphasis on the weeeeeerk.

My eyes are fixed on the carrots I'm chopping into rounds, not letting on that his remark might have vexed me. Instead I find a distraction, move onto something else.

The next time he says it, he adds a little more blow to his punch.

"Go to work Mummy. And I'll stay at home with Daddy."

Emphasis on the Daaadddddyyyy.

My first reaction is a pang of hurt, like a tiny pixie stabbed me in an emotionally exposed place.

But I recover from the pang of hurt. Perhaps a bit too quickly. Because my second thought is - work! Awesome idea! AWESOME! Not in a mean way, but in an, actually you might be onto something there! kind of way.

"Okay. Maybe I will."

He looks at me, trying to read my reaction. Seconds later, he forgets all about it and runs off to find his brother. 

I'm not sure what's worse - the fact that he's using that particular sentiment to provoke me, or the fact that I think it's not a terrible idea. I'm torn between wanting to be here all the time, and wanting to increase my work hours. Even though for a few seconds every time I leave the house I feel that awful twinge of guilt. Even though most of the time I'm exhausted before I even get to work late in the afternoon.

My son runs in. "I love you Mummy!"

Out of nowhere.

I melt.
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Thursday, March 10, 2011

Home exercise for parents, kids and dogs!

In the first week of my diet healthy eating plan, I lost one pound. And though one pound is not a substantial amount of lard subtracted from my jiggly happy behind, one pound is till one pound. And, considering the amount of accidental chocolate eating and wine drinking that occurred that first week, I'm not too sad about it.

Also? Look - this picture shows what one pound of fat looks like. My jiggly bits are this much less jiggly. So YAY.


ONE POUND OF FAT
Image from everydayhealth.com


The second week wasn't so successful (there was an accidental apple crisp, another bottle of wine, some twizzlers, a few slices of bread, some cheese, olives and a few lumps of sugar in my tea). But whatever. I still feel good about that first pound.


And then I remembered that my healthy eating plan was supposed to include an element of exercise. I had somehow (!) managed to completely eliminate this from my brain. So, because I'm still using the cold weather and slush as an excuse to not go for a run, I had the genius idea of getting an exercise DVD, which would allow me sweat away the calories in the privacy of my own home.


The last time I did an exercise DVD, I was about eighteen years old, and probably had a whole, empty room in which to perform the crazy flapping-up-and-down-for-an-hour thing in private without other people cramping me, standing on my toes, simultaneously screaming and yelling about Dora and Diego and socks. So, it was probably a little easier back then. You think?


After moving a few items of furniture out the way to clear some space for the flapping around, I told my sons (and dog) okay guys, mummy is going to do some exercises now, so you just sit and do some drawing on your table over there. 

The DVD started up, with four young, orange, skinny, bouncing fitness freaks, and one ultra-toned and rather shiny leader. "Let's have some fun!" She beamed at me with her startlingly white teeth. "Okay!" I beamed back sarcastically, starting my fast walk. As I marched on the spot, I noticed, the boys hadn't moved from their positions - one inch from me. The dog was also perched unnervingly close to my feet.


Five minutes into the DVD, my older son was trying, along with me, to keep up with the hyper fitness woman and her ambitious dance moves, flapping his arms and laughing hysterically. My younger son stood behind me, yelling "mummy! mummy!" with utmost concern in his voice. I suspect he thought his mother was having a vertical seizure. The dog helpfully wove in and out of my legs as I attempted to "grapevine" across the floor.

Fifteen minutes into the DVD my sons had discovered a new game: bash mummy on the tummy with balloons as she's leaping around the room, because that will be hilarious and provide much more entertainment than this boring DVD with people prancing around in yoga pants.

And so, the first day of my exercise DVD geniusness lasted approximately twenty minutes before I called it quits.


The next time I attempted it, I lasted forty minutes. Which means that, soon, I will probably look JUST LIKE the woman from the exercise DVD!

Don't you think?








The end.


p.s. Hahahahaha
p.p.s No, you are not invited to join in with my laughing. Only I am allowed to laugh at me.
p.p.p.s. Okay then, just a bit.

p.p.p.p.s Do you think she sneaks slithers of cheese when no one's looking too?
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Tuesday, March 8, 2011

When yor husband mistakes you for a ghost, you know it's time for a vacation. Or at least the self-tanning lotion.

One cold, dark night, I pretended to be a ghost in order to scare the living bejesus out of my husband.

Or at least that's what he'd tell you, if you were to ask.

His version of events go like this:

He came upstairs at 10:00 pm and found me asleep there. Not wanting to disturb me, he went back downstairs to continue fixing his computer thingamajigs. As part of my twisted plan to frighten the living daylights out of him, I crept down the stairs, mimicking the footsteps of our dog. And because of the dog-like creeping, he wasn't aware I'd come downstairs, instead thought it was the dog.

He continued working on his wires, completely unaware of my presence, still believing I was fast asleep. After a few minutes, he heard a voice muttering something in an eerie, unearthly way, to which he turned. He looked, first at our dog, wondering for a second whether the dog had, in fact, spoken. Then around the rest of the room. 

And then he saw it me, sitting there on the sofa, staring at him in my ghost-like way.

Which? Nuh-uh. I don't think so.

My version of events goes like this:

Yes I was in bed, but unable to sleep, and so decided to go back downstairs for a while. I walked downstairs in a very normal way (no creeping or dog-imitating). Seeing my husband crouched under the computer desk, clearly absorbed in his wire-fixing business, I entertained myself, folding blankets and shuffling cushions on the sofa. After a while, I asked, "What are you doing honey?", to which I'm almost certain he muttered something back, then carried on fixing.

I hovered around for a bit, waiting for him to finish. Then finally asked him, louder.

"What shall we watch?"

I watched as my husband turned to see where the eerie voice was coming from, a look of horror on his face as he scanned the room, before finally settling on me - the ghost.


Later, after he'd finished blaming me for trying to induce a coronary episode, we were able to laugh about it. (Especially the part about the talking dog)



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Sunday, March 6, 2011

Learning Patience.

I put down my hairdryer and walk to the bedroom where my kids are screaming at one another.

"MOMMEEEE!!! GET O OFF THE SCALE SO I CAN GET ON THERE!!"

The boys are fighting over my scale. My older son points his index finger at his brother's head accusingly. His younger brother is standing firm on the scale, clad only in a diaper, stiff in protest, refusing to move off. He's tired of being pushed around.

"GET HIM OFFFFFFF!!! O! GET OOOFFF!!!"

It's Sunday morning and I'm too calm to be bothered by this display of brotherly affection.

"M, just wait. Let O have his turn on the scale, wait until he's done and then take your turn."

"BUT... BUT... BUT... HOW LONG IS HE GOING TO BEEEE? "OOO!!!!!"

"I don't know. Just wait and be patient."

My sons stares at me with all the incredulity a three (nearly four) year old can muster. 

I realize, it's an incredible thing to ask of a child his age - to be patient. I've only just begun to understand it myself. In fact, it wasn't until I became a parent that I really asked myself what it meant and gradually began to see how helpful it could be.

So we've been talking about it a lot lately - this thing called patience.

"What does the word "patience" mean, M?" I'll ask my son when I sense an outburst coming, encouraging him to repeat its meaning back to me.

"Um...." He thinks, looking around, up at the sky, searching his brain for a hint. "It means.... to wait?"

"Yes exactly! To wait, nicely, quietly."

I've learned the hard way that patience is a fine and delicate art that takes time - maybe a life time - to master. But, if we can crack it, we might have the answer to a million dilemmas. We might soothe a situation that's spiraling away from us, or find calm where else there might be rage.

I'm impatient by nature, but I'm working on it.

Because if I wasn't so impatient I could spend more time enjoying the moments with my family and less time thinking about what's next - wondering what's for dinner, how many emails I have to respond to in the next day, how I'm going to find a new babysitter, make it to the post office before it shuts, get to the grocery store, etc.

If I had more patience maybe I'd see beauty in ordinary things instead of skipping past them all the time, always in a hurry.

And maybe I'd appreciate more sensitively that this precious time is so much more than a day to get through or a dinner that will need to be cleared away ready for the next one. And that if things are not exactly as I want them to be right at this very moment, it's okay, because it's this moment that matters and it'll never come again.

If patience is a lesson, then I'm going to be a student for a long time yet.

As for my son?

He looks from me, back to his brother. I wait, thinking how marvelous it will be that my sons will be the most patient sons in the world. Maybe they'll teach it to others.


And then. 

"GERROFF THE SCALE O IT'S MY TURN!!!" and with that he shoves his brother off the scale, who lands on the floor, horrified, and in turns begins the process of screaming and wailing for his turn.

I guess it's going to take them a while too.
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Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Grouchy Motherbug.

Reading has been one of our primary sources of entertainment through this long harsh winter in which, many, many days have been spent indoors. We visit the library once a week to replenish our stock, returning home with a random selection of little-known titles and of course some well-known ones too.

Rare is the occasion I refuse to read a kids' book. Unless, that is, the book is driving me bat-shit crazy to the point where I can no longer stand it and might be about to cut out my tongue in sheer frustration.

That was the case with Eric Carle's The Grouchy Ladybug a few days ago.

Now, let me start with some clarification: I like Eric Carle's books on the whole. Brown Bear Brown Bear What Do You See and The Very Hungry Caterpillar have been literary staples in our house for both boys. So loved, have they been, that their covers and pages are battered and chewed and scribbled on. Signs of true love, these.

But after reading The Grouchy Ladybug for the fourth time in a row one cold snowy afternoon, I found myself doing the unthinkable: I hid the book. Not just like, put it away, but went to the extra effort of stowing it away on the top shelf (that even I can only barely reach) of my bedroom wardrobe, underneath a pile of clothes. I even made sure the edges weren't showing. Hercule Poirot wouldn't have found it.

Why, you ask, did I do this you raving nutter?

Because, for the love of cheese, the repetition part of the story went on and on and on and on and on, until my tongue was fuzzy, my mouth was dry and I could actually feel my brain beginning to melt from repeating the same words over and over.

I understand why children's authors use the repetitive technique: kids love it, and there are probably multiple studies that prove repetition assists learning, etc. Many of our favourite authors use the technique too (we read Dr. Seuss a lot).

But in this particular book, the repetition grated on me like fingernails on a chalkboard. As the grouchy idiot ladybug challenged more and more creatures of increasing size to a fight, I found myself craving the end of the book like I crave a glass of wine at the end of a long day.

Maybe I was having a grouchy day, or hadn't yet had my coffee. Or maybe it was because we'd read the thing THREE WHOLE TIMES ALREADY, that I was becoming ever-so-slightly bothered by it. 

Whatever the reason, The Grouch Ladybug was relegated to the back of the closet that day.




How about you? Have you ever put away a book your kids loved because you didn't love it?
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Tuesday, March 1, 2011

How to make believe Spring is coming.

What do you do when, on March 1st, you wake up and see this out your window?



And then, to add to your misery, you check the weather forecast and it says this.



And as you gaze out at the snowy panorama, you think back, to a long time ago when you could see the green grass, beckoning your bare feet, and your children ran up and down in bathing suits, wielding popsicles and dancing in sprinklers. And you could feel the warmth of the sun on your skin as you bent over to smell a flower in bloom. And everything was yellow and happy.


But then, for a second, you wondered whether, perhaps you just imagined it. It was so long ago, after all.


What do you do? 

Do you throw yourself on the floor in a screaming fit of rage against the cruelty of the everlasting winter?

Maybe.


Or perhaps you go to Twitter and spew your raving anger there, for the tenth time that week.


Or maybe, because it's minus twenty zillion degrees and you're stuck indoors with your kids, you bake five dozen chocolate chip cookies and eat a stack of them.


Or, when your spouse arrives home, before he's even taken off his coat you whip out a map of the world and point to other, more favourable, non-freezing places where you could live.


Yes, yes, all of those.

But then, the realization sinks in, that yes, you live in the coldest tundra on earth (almost), and yes, you want to scream every time you see another snowy day, but your kids are in school here, you have a place of work, friends, neighbours and community. And like it or not, for now, you're going to have to make the best of it.

So, you pull on your woolly toque, your snow boots and six sweaters, and drive out to the mall, to find shiny, happy objects that remind you of sunnier times and which will lull you into a false sense of spring. Because damn it - if I can't have spring, I'm going to pretend it's spring anyway.


And you find, to your heart's content, a pair of gold boat shoes - which? Perfect!




So you see, it may still be winter outside, on March 1st, but I have shiny gold boat shoes. And though I may not get to wear them for another three months, they make me happy.




Tell me readers, how do you stay positive during the winter?
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