Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Panda Plans

I have been having this conversation with my daughter a lot lately.

P: Mama, I want a sister. We don't have enough kids in our family. A's family [our dear friends] has three!
me: I'm not having another baby, honey.
P: Well, can't you just get a kid? Isn't there, like a place you can go to for one? Lots of kids don't have families you know. We could adopt!
me: ...ermm...it's not so simple....It's not like it's Target, sweetheart.
P: But--
me: I'll talk to Papa, okay?

She's had the same discussion with her father. I know, because one night S came rushing into the bedroom, adamantly wishing to know if I had promised Panda that we were going to get her a sister. (I hadn't.)

 The thing is, we've never mentioned adoption to our kids. I suppose they may overheard one of our late-night chats, but I think that Panda just has a heart as big as Ontario. She needs to help. She's fascinated with the idea of rescuing people/pets/random spiders. Also, she may or may not have watched 'Oliver and Company' on repeat once too many times on a long road trip. She is convinced that she needs a new sister exactly her age who loves Frozen as much as she does, who could be the Anna to her Elsa. Each time she brings it up I am treated to a righteous little lecture on how there are kids who need families because their mommies and daddies are mean, and like, pull their hair and stuff. And each time I try to explain that yes, there are kids whose mommies and daddies - for whatever reason- can't take care of them properly and keep them safe, it is true, but it is a loooong process to adopt a child, and anyway, does she realize she'd have to share her toys? And her brother?

But it doesn't put her off. She's determined. I'm worried that when we do finally tell them -we are holding off  in hopes of avoiding as long as possible the adoption version of the question "are we there yet?", incessantly repeated at regular intervals - anyway, I am worried that when we do finally tell them, she will think that we are doing it because she talked us into it. And if the transition is rough with the placement, or the kids fight a lot, I am worried that she will blame herself. 

Of course, she might just be mad at us, because are hoping to adopt someone a year or so younger than Pickle. Our daughter has never held the opinion that her executive powers should be less than that of adult, and  I can just hear her sighing deeply and patiently explaining to us that we were SUPPOSED to get a girl. Her age. Who likes Frozen. And then giving us that eyebrows-slightly-raised 'are we clear now?' look, and expecting that we'll obediently toddle off back to the placement worker and put in a request for a proper sister.

And if we ever decide on place to move to, and get through the application process in that new province... who knows? Maybe she'll get one. Is four that much more work than three?

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

A Post About The Weather (no, really)

It's spring here, and it has been for the last three days. Four days ago it was winter, because Canada changes seasons like a sixteen year old in a Mustang changes lanes.

I always learn a lot about strangers at this time of year. The optimists stroll about in regular shoes, with a light spring coat or a hoodie (or if you hail from Saskatchewan, a 'bunny hug') The more cautious among us switch to regular shoes, but keep the down-filled coat just in case of snow. Those with trust issues not only bundle up in parkas, but add a light scarf and winter boots for good measure. Then there are the crazy people (or 'college students', as I like to call them) who have stripped right down to shorts and sundresses, ballerina flats and sandals.

It's also pretty easy infer what a person's daily schedule might be. Wearing a scarf and carrying a heavier coat? Early morning commute, when it is still chilly. Long sleeves, no coat? Left the house around ten. Short sleeves, no coat? Headed out for lunch, or early cocktails. Sundress and heavy sweater? Wandered out at noon, and plans to be out partying until three in the morning.

Me, I am sticking with a spring jacket over my regular winter outfits for now. I'm an optimist, but I'm also too darn lazy get the summer stuff out of the closet. Also, I've seen snow fall in every month of the year in Canada, so maybe I do have some trust issues with Father Winter. Poor Pickle is an optimist too, but he doesn't even own a spring jacket, so it's goose feathers and bunny hugs* for him. I looked for one online, but apparently they are all already sold out. Normal people a) plan for spring, b) the season arrives on time in other parts of the world.

So here's to Spring, with the hope that she sticks around long enough for us to make it out to the cabane à sucre before the summer heat kicks in.

*I'm not from Saskatchewan, I just really like to say 'bunny hug'. Because seriously, how cute is that?

Monday, 13 April 2015

Sweet or Chicken? You decide! - (1/2) a Guest Post by S

Evidence as submitted by S:
"How I saved myself from humiliation in front of my children and a school friend.
Easter Monday: I have the kids home because school is closed and my wife has to work. I invite one of Panda's Gr 1 friends over because, as any parent knows, it's significantly less work to entertain your own kids (and keep the damn TV turned off) if one of their friends comes over for the day.
Around 11am, I corral them together to bake cookies, and they have a blast scooping, measuring, cracking the egg, mixing with the electric beater, etc, etc. Cookies are formed, fired into the oven, and I send them on their way. This, this, is my glorious day to catch up on housework. Oh yes, we've long reached that level of parenting glamour where you actually get excited to have time and energy to clean. But, I multi-task too much and burn the damn cookies. The timer was on but I ignored it. Might as well try one.. Hmm, just the bottom is black, still sort of edible...should I serve them? I consider this and immediately reject this dark path. She already never lets me forget the time that I biked her around on the child carrier seat without remembering to buckle her in. She'll never let me live this one down. I can hear her delighted voice at school for the next ten years: "...this one time, I had my friend over for a playdate, and my silly dad burned the cookies..."
HELL NO, am I going through that shit! The evidence of my crimes are quickly hidden away from view. Taking pains to keep them occupied outside of the kitchen, I made an entire second batch of cookies from scratch. Whipped by hand of course, the electric beater is too noisy and would certainly expose my sins... Lunch and subsequent cookies were served without incident, and my reputation was saved once again..."

As related by yours truly:

Panda had made a sign for our door on Easter, so that the Easter Bunny would know whose house he was at. She was very proud of it and wanted to show it off at school, but it had been kicking around the house for a few days (okay, fine, it was on the floor) and when it came time to put it in her school bag last night, it was of course nowhere to be found. After we'd reassured her we would look for it and tucked her up snug in her blankets, S shamefacedly admitted that not only had he recycled it, he'd crumpled it up in a ball, too. Once the kids were safely asleep, he fished it out and I ironed it - with mixed results. So this happened:

Yes, that is my husband painstakingly making an exact copy of her poster, so that she isn't crushed in the morning. Or to evade her wrath, I'm not sure which.

I can't decide if our kids have the sweetest Papa ever, or the most chicken. What do you think? Let me know in the comments!

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Just Breathe

You might remember that I was laid off  from my job a while ago? 

Yeah....That hasn't changed. The excitement has worn off and life is so complicated right now that sometimes I feel like I can't breathe. S is looking for work all over the western provinces, but it's hard to get someone to look at you when you're three thousand kilometers away from a prospective job (that's 1864 miles, for anyone who doesn't speak metric.) I've already put my CV in for consideration for transfer to our western location; we said we'd give it until May, but we feel it is better to get it all on the table now. I haven't heard anything yet.

Our lease ends June 30th, and our landlord has declined to extend it until the end of August (they were nice about it, at least) so we need to be out of our apartment by the end of June. I can't leave my job until August 28th, or I lose the severance deal. I'm sure you see the dilemma. We  have two kids that need to be in school by September 2nd and we don't yet which province we are headed to, much less which city.

No pressure.

I guess it's like labour, I just need to breathe through it....

Monday, 6 April 2015

Hippity Hop Hop, here comes the Easter Bunny

I love holidays - all of them. We celebrate every holiday that we have any connection to in our home - Chinese ones, North American ones, Hungarian ones; and if I knew of any Icelandic holidays, we'd celebrate those too. Nothing makes more sense to me than celebrating life- and nothing makes less sense to me than lining the pockets of corporate interests to do so. We tend to try to keep things small at our house, and for Easter, that always means a whole lot of hard-boiled eggs.

Panda and Pickle, making remarkably little mess.

 It's tradition. We did it with my mom, and  and for all I know she did it with hers. In fact, I did it even before I had kids - before I was even married, with room-mates and whoever else I could coerce into it. (Luckily for me, when almost everyone you know attended art college, it isn't too hard to find people willing to draw on stuff.) So, every year on the night before Easter Sunday, we gather our supplies: Wax crayons (washable ones won't work), egg dye (food colouring, vinegar and boiling water), drop cloth, smocks (in theory -we couldn't find any) and hard boiled eggs. Stickers and temporary tattoos are good too.

Finished product
 Once everyone is in bed, the Easter Bunny comes and hides all the eggs around the house. He brings a basket (well, bucket) for each child as well. Bright and early on Sunday morning, happy little bodies tumble out of bed and rush around screaming in delight and trying one-up each other on how many eggs they have found. When all are accounted for* and several have been breakfasted upon, at last it's time to tuck into the Easter basket; chocolate, jelly beans, and a new spring outfit.

the baskets
And that's it, Easter in an eggshell! Now, does anyone have a recipe that calls for sixteen hardboiled eggs?

*Do not forget to count the eggs before the Easter Bunny hides them. A late night and a glass of Cabernet have a way of turning an overlooked egg into a nasty - and stinky - surprise a few weeks down the road. That's also I lesson I learned from my mother.

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Yay for Science!

There isn't much that gets Panda's brain-wheels turning faster than a scientific problem! That kid loves to know exactly how everything works and why, an attitude that will serve her well in her quest to be the first person to travel to the end of the universe and find out what's on the other side, and what the rocks there look like. (Pickle maintains that he is going to be race-car rocket driver, so maybe they can team up.)

So, a few weeks ago we headed out to the science centre to get their brains moving and give Netflix a rest (don't judge, it's been a long cold winter, and there is only so much McDonald's Playland that any one human being can tolerate. Even if they do have palatable coffee nowadays.)

Checking out the displays, and asking a million questions
 There were a thousand things to do there, even though the temporary exhibits were closed (probably a good thing, since we could see that one of the ones coming was a rather racy one about sex and sexuality. Complete with toys. I am not yet ready for that talk with the kids!) They had a blast running from station to station and learning about sound waves,  vacuums, wind tunnels, and hydro electric power. They made roller coasters and steered robots, and learned about density and magnetic force. There was a circular platform which they could stand in the centre of and pull a rope to raise a soapy ring, thus creating a giant bubble around their bodies. Pickle would invariably stick his bum out too far and pop it.
Pickle testing out the rollercoaster building blocks                                    Can you see a Panda hand?                 

There was a computer program which we could use to build a face by choosing from hundreds of different features. It didn't ;end itself well to building children though, so we tried to make ones that would show what Panda and Pickle might look like as adolescents.

They had a marvelous time. Places like this are one of the things I will definitely miss when we move to a small city!