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Inventive… I like it!

4 Feb

Tonight, Bronwyn and I went grocery shopping late, after the other kids were in bed.  This had a dual purpose: spend some one-on-one time with my eldest… and, hopefully, wear out a kid who (even after spending the day outside in the snow) wasn’t even close to tired at 8 pm.

To keep her occupied, and let her be helpful (and who doesn’t like free kid labour?!) I encouraged her to grab things off the shelf whenever possible.  This also allowed her a chance to practice her reading in a non-threatening environment, and try to recognize familiar brands etc.

We were almost done, and the store was very empty, so I sent her on ahead to get bananas.

“Get a bunch with 5 or 6 on it” I instructed as she ran off.

She returned with 7.

I inspected them thoroughly (I think that kids should be able to choose good quality produce at any age) and indicated that although they were a good colour there were too many brown spots.

She quickly returned with a second bunch.

“Too green” I countered.

I left her to scrutinize the remaining bananas while I threw more food into the cart.  She had been gone a little longer than I expected so I headed for the banana section.  That’s when I saw her, deep in conversation with a produce employee.  He was a guy about 17 years old, and I watched as he listened intently and walked all around the huge stack of bananas while she gestured and gesticulated what I could only assume were my previous instructions on Proper Banana Choice.  At one point she looked over at me and saw me watching her.  She indicated with a look that she had asked this guy to help…

She returned, triumphant, with a bunch of bananas.

“That man said these are the best bananas he has.  I couldn’t find the perfect ones, so I asked someone who worked here”.

I don’t know who was more proud: Bronwyn for having found the perfect bananas, or me, for witnessing my child engaged in such a grown-up solution.

Sigh.

THE ANSWER

16 Jan

For all of you waiting with bated breath, the answer to this question is….

HOLLY

And, yes, you can tell by the eyes.

I have never seen a picture capture what so infrequently passes over the face of a child: the ability to take on the characteristics of someone else.  It happened once when Holly was born and I looked at her face and saw my grandmother.  It happens more frequently when Josselyn makes a face and for a second I am transported back in time to when Bronwyn was that age.  But to have it on permanent record; proof that they are related; makes my heart content.  One day, I will show this picture to them.  Some day when they are older, and fighting, and hate each other.  And give them perfect proof that they are cut from the same cloth.  That we are all just extensions of each other.  Family sticks together.

Twins Part 2

9 Jan

Remember last March when I posted this?  Time for a new Picture Quiz!  Leave your vote below!

What child is this?

Another way in which I am an awesome mother

7 Jan

Before Christmas (and yes, we will return to Christmas blogging shortly) Walmart had a clear-out sale on school bags.  A whole bin of them for $2.

Josselyn does not tolerate random meandering down unnecessary aisles (for which our bank account thanks you) so I only had a glimpse, and couldn’t immediately bring to mind a use for more school bags, no matter how ridiculously priced, so we left without even looking at them.  However, I couldn’t get them out of my mind, and as I began to pack for our Christmas roadtrip (I can’t bring myself to call it a vacation as it has none of the required 4 S’s of Vacation: sun, sand, surf and/or skiing) I finally thought of the perfect use of a secondary packsack- overnight bags!

It was a “snow” day (with not a flake in sight) so I packed up all 3 kids to head to Walmart in search of awesome prices, mediocre selection, and horrific craftsmanship.  When we arrived I was dismayed (but not surprised) to find the $2 bin depleted.  Luckily there was also a $5 bin, and the girls and I spent the better part of half an hour digging through a hundred backpacks to find 3 different ones.

Josselyn’s was easy: Disney Princess in pink with sequins?  Deal.  Holly was quick: Disney Princess in blue and pink with sequins and sparkles?  Deal.  Bronwyn?  Not so much.

The girl is just not into girly stuff.  She rejected out of hand anything Princess.  She thought about the Fairies for about 10 seconds before deciding she could never own anything that purple.  And yet, she wanted something that wasn’t plain… but not too sparkly.  She almost settled on a boy’s, blue Zhu Zhu pets one when I pulled out… THE WINNER!  It was a tote style, over-the-shoulder, over-sized bag with matching binder and pencil case.  It was black with funky neon hearts and peace signs all over it.  I fell in love instantly.

Here’s where my good mothering comes in.

I let her get it.  AND, I let Holly get hers.

I did suggest that perhaps Holly would prefer a similar colour and matching style to the bag that Bronwyn was now joyously clutching to her chest.  And I may have unearthed an equally cute white one with orange and pink hearts all over it that I thought would be perfect for her.  And I definitely wondered if Holly would regret not going with MY choice when we got home and she realized that Bronwyn’s came with a matching binder and pencil case.  BUT, I didn’t force the issue.  Even though I would have loved Holly to have chosen the better bag.  The one not emblazoned with Princesses that screams FRANCHISE MERCHANDISE.  And I love the girls to be all matchy-matchy.  It makes my heart happy to see them coordinated.  But I let it be.

I think the bigger lesson of individuality could be learned from this.  As much as it would be easier to be raising cookie cutter children, that just isn’t the case.  They are each unique and special, and trying to mold them into clones of each other will come at a terrible price if I am not careful.  Although it would be great to try to instil into each of them the traits that I most respect and admire:  Bronwyn with her strong sense of self, and child-like (and yet so mature) faith; Holly with her sweet nature, daredevil, try-anything attitude, and cleverness; Josselyn with her determination, passion, and empathy.  Each of these things I wish they could all possess in spades, and it is precisely these qualities that make each of them special and unique.

I know I made the right choice when we got home and Holly decided that her new bag would now be her school bag and her old bag could be her overnight bag.  She was smitten with it.

And me?  Well, I think I’d still rather the girls match, but if it were up to them, 2 against 1 would have meant Bronwyn would now be sporting a grimacing Fairy or something equally garish!  Good choice, Julie.  Good choice.

Which one would YOU rather have?!?

New Year, but not much new…

2 Jan

It seems to me that whenever I physically cannot blog, I have inspiration coming out my ears.  However, on days like today, when I am home and alone and my house is tidy and no tv is worth watching and my husband is off cutting a cow into teeny tiny 1 lb pieces, I find myself bereft of creative thought.  Go figure.

I could regale you with tales of my holidays and new years resolutions and how great our new Zipfys are, but to paraphrase my friend Joan, “I just want to move on”.

But!  A slight recap:  we had a few friends over on Christmas Eve and spent the evening eating, drinking “Moose milk” and laughing hysterically over small children trying to play Pictionary.

Holly's wreath- pretty good eh?

That’s my king behind it which Bruce later used to draw “Good King Wenceslas”.  True story.

Next morning we woke up, opened gifts…

Giggly over stockings

… and drove 5 hours to visit Bruce’s mom.  We then left early in the morning to have Christmas morning with the extended family (as per usual).  We entertained the girls in the car on the way there with a lengthy and informative dissertation on the differences between towns, counties, cities and metropolises.  I am married to a Planner.  We also learned interesting words like “arch”.  As in, that bridge has a beautiful arch.  And where the Raptors and Leafs “live”.  And any viewing of the CN Tower must ALWAYS be accompanied by trivia pertaining to how many stairs it has (1776) and why there are no buildings between the Rogers Center and the Lake.  Ah… good times.

Christmas was wonderful with delicious food, good company, and well-behaved children.  It was hard even noticing them, since they spent the better part of 4 hours playing quietly with their new Playmobil sets!

We asked Holly to take a picture of us... sorry Uncle John!

Bruce with his Uncle and Bronwyn. One of my favourite pics.

Grandpa with Josselyn- an unlikely pair... but inseparable nonetheless!

Joss chillaxing with Uncle Eric... or is that Clark Kent?

Joss' other newest best buddy, Penny

They were curious about what was going on in the basement, but not quite brave enough to go down and find out...

Joss and Penny wouldn’t venture downstairs.  But there were others who seemed brave enough… to handle THIS:

PIG CHAMPION

I know.  Scary.  But it is a tradition as carved in stone as Butternut Squash soup for supper.  Taken seriously by all those whose last name is Howarth, or was Howarth at any time…

For the record, this is the first year that I haven’t been allowed to play HIPPOPOTAMUS.  Last year they shortened it to HIPPO.  And now I am considered (if not quite good enough, at least not bad enough) adequate to play without handicap.  Although Bruce is still considerate enough to allow me to follow him so at least I get a good paddle drop KAROLYN!

There is always a lot of laughter:

And a lot of blame…

PIG is important to Witherses too

But only one winner:

Eric! Get out of the picture!

Winner Christmas 2011: Karolyn Howarth-Withers!

This “recap” took more time and space than I expected.  Christmas Part 2 to follow…

Gotta Keep ‘Em Separated

5 Dec

The Christmas Season is well upon us now.  And since we are officially past Holly’s birthday, with party and “day” under our belts, we can turn our attention to what’s really important: all the stuff we are going to receive in the next 4 weeks.

Now, please, don’t get me wrong.  We are very grateful and awed that so many people love our children enough to go to the effort of actually entering a store (going online), in the month of December (December 23rd) and handing over well earned cash (swiping their credit cards) to purchase an item they spent all year thinking about (called to ask what each girl wanted).

Sorry, I couldn’t resist.  No really.  We love it.  Don’t stop…

It isn’t the types of toys that make me fear Christmas.  In fact, this year, it sounds as if the girls are going to have their best Christmas EVER (gift-wise anyway- the lack of snow situation is seriously worrying Bronwyn).  It isn’t even the quantity.  It is the gnawing, mind-devouring agony of the post-Christmas week going something like this:

G1:  That’s MINE.  I got it for Christmas.

G2:  But I was playing with it.

G1:  Well you can’t, cuz it’s MINE!

Me:  Just let your sister have it, she was playing with it, and you didn’t even care until you noticed.

G3:  Hey!  She has MY *thing*.

G1:  But you said you didn’t want it.

G3:  I did not.  I said I didn’t want to play with it now.  But now I do, so give it back.

G2:  How can I play *X* when she has all the pieces?

G1:  Well, *so and so* didn’t give you all those things, she gave them to ME.  And I want to play with them.  ALL.  Right now.

Starts crying

G1:  She HIT me.

Me:  I’d hit my sister too if she were being so selfish (in my head of course, I’d never say that out loud for real… ever… or anything….)

Me:  Don’t hit your sister.

G1,2,3:  BUUUUUUUUUT SHEEEEEEEE TOOOOOOOK IIIIIIITTTTTTTT…….

Does this happen in anyone else’s house?  How do you deal with it?

Elaine and I can (now) fondly reminisce about our days sharing a room in the basement.  We actually (based on the Berenstein Bears’ book, I think) plastered masking tape down the middle of our bedroom floor.  My side had the door, so I made Elaine enter and exit our room through the backless closet door (which led into the laundry room).  We had to share a room, but that didn’t mean we had to share anything else.

I want my kids to grow up in a house where everything is communal property.  Not everything, of course.  They each have their “special” toys and keepsakes that they keep in their rooms, and have a 6th sense when someone else is even thinking about touching them.  But most things.  I want them to be able to open up the My Little Pony bin and play together without attaching ownership onto every comb and accessory.

I dream about a home where all the toys are there to share and be played with, instead of hoarded and purchased in 3-packs.

However, the more I poll my friends, and listen to their experiences, the more I fear this is a pipe dream.

Maybe kids are meant to covet ownership as a means to control their lives, and practice their negotiating skills.  Maybe this is a lost cause on my part: insisting on joint custody of every Barbie.

All I do know is that I can’t referee every fight and preside over every judicial hearing, or I will go crazy.

What do you think?

When my life gets hard, these are things I never want to forget…

5 Oct

Bronwyn:

One morning last week, Bronwyn woke up early, and instructed me to stay in bed, while she fixed breakfast.  I came out to the kitchen and saw 4 bowls of cereal with milk, and a glass of water at each place.  She used everyone’s favourite colour dishes, and even remembered to use the almond milk for Joss.  And the best part?  Besides the fact that she didn’t spill a drop, and put everything back where it belonged?  My water was poured in a wine glass, because, according to Bronwyn, those cups are “fancier”.

Holly:

Last week I asked Holly what she wanted for lunch at school that day.  She replied with, “oh anything… except what you made me yesterday”.  After further prodding, she told me that the crackers had touched her ham in the container and made the ham all “spoofy” (definition: where ham has cracker crumbs all over it, and renders the ham “slobbery”).  “I was really disappointed”.

I looked over in surprise (that she knew the word “disappointed” and that she used it so correctly in a sentence).  Holly misunderstood my look though, and quickly jumped in:

“Not disappointed in you, Mom; just disappointed in my lunch”.

Josselyn:

Me:  How old are you Josselyn?

Joss:  Three!

Me:  No, you’re not three, you’re two!

Joss:  I DO three.  I DO!

Me:  Ok, ok… well, does that make you a big girl?  Or are you a baby?

Joss:  Me a Princess.