Riding in cars with boys

Nephew: “My friends and I were having this hypothetical situation conversation. You’re probably not going to like it though.”

Me: “Who, me?”

Nephew: “Yeah. The conversation was: Would you punch your mother right in the face, hard enough to break her nose, for a million dollars?”

Me: “What!”

Son: laughs maniacally

Nephew: “There are some conditions though: you can’t warn her that you’re going to do it, and you can’t tell her anything about it until after you’ve broken her nose and then you can explain the whole thing.”

Me: “That’s horrible!!”

Nephew: “I said I would do it.”

Me: “Oh my god!!!! Max, you could never do that! That would totally ruin our relationship.”

Son: continues to laugh hysterically

Nephew: “Yeah but then you split the money. Wouldn’t $500,000 go a long way to mending your relationship?”

Me: “No!!”

Him: “You could get reconstructive surgery!”

Me: “Forget it!”

Son: “I have a hypothetical situation. Would you: give up electronics, your phone, the internet, and reading for three months for three million dollars?”

Me: “No reading? Oh, man. Wait, no. I could do it. I could write for three months. I would write a book.”

Nephew: “Just don’t accidentally read what you write, because then it’s over.”

The above was an actual road trip conversation.

Happy Labour Day weekend, everyone!


Victoria Day, Camping, Dreams, Hard-Boiled Eggs & the Centre of the Universe

It’s Victoria Day in Canada so we all have the day off. It’s a beautiful day here in the Lower Mainland, the weekend that kicks off camping season, summer and happiness.

  • Screw that. You’ll never catch me camping. Why yes, I would love to break my back sleeping on the cold ground and be filthy and have to walk 100 metres every time I need to use a bathroom or access running water! Or the alternative, spend 9 hours packing inflatable mattresses and all the paraphernalia you need to live outdoors for 3 days, spend hours setting up camp, spend hours taking it back down, only to come back home and spend 9 more hours unpacking and washing everything that got filthy on the weekend. I mean, how about no.
  • The bf will get me to go camping. He’s the only one who could. Sounds romantic, cooking by the campfire and watching the kids and dog run around. Fine, I’ll do it.
  • There was a brouhaha yesterday on Twitter about how a bunch of prominent Canadians are trying to have Victoria Day renamed to also honour First Nations people, “Victoria and First Peoples Day.” Weird marriage, but I’m fine with it. As long as it falls on the third Monday in May. So I don’t have to go camping.
  • I spent a lot of the day yesterday watching hockey playoff games – well, really I missed the second game on account of even after a million years of living in Vancouver, I interpreted yesterday’s Penguins/Senators game as being on at 7:30pm, which is what the website said, right. YEAH, EASTERN. Good lord. I was on such long weekend mode that my brain didn’t compute that that was really at 4:30 my time. Anyway, I did get to watch 2 overtime periods after tuning in 3 hours late. Why does the stupid East have to make everyone recalculate times. Fine, it was played in that time zone, but they wouldn’t call it 7:30pm if it was one of the California games, they’d call it 10:30. Stupid East and their centre-of-the-universedness.
  • Speaking of the East, and when I say East, I really mean Toronto, it’s been nearly one week since the Maple Leafs had the biggest NHL-playoff-game-7-up-by-3-goals-in-the-3rd-period implosion in ALL HISTORY and lost to Boston in overtime. As a fan of a team, I actually (almost) felt badly for Leafs fans. But come on, they didn’t actually think they would advance to the second round, did they? Yep, they did. Why? Because of youngsters like that Kadri guy being all full of himself and considering this was a “very, very winnable series,” for the Leafs, and that sound-byte reverberating throughout Leafs nation. And because of the so-called national newspapers and networks focussing almost exclusively on that Toronto team, never mind that there were 3 other Canadian teams in the first round to begin with. The hysteria in the “National” Post and the national broadcasts was so unbelievably disingenuous and biased – I say “unbelievably,” but really, it’s believable. The focus on this team that has gone 46 years without a Stanley Cup and routinely doesn’t even make the post-season and finished 3rd in their division and 5th place in the Conference is astonishing, as it is every year. You’d think they’d finished first in everything. It’s all they’ll talk about, and it creates even more hysteria for the fanbase. You can’t blame fans for mapping the parade routes as soon as Toronto even wins a nothing game in the regular season; you can’t blame Toronto radio stations for dedicating their airtime to the Leafs and their starry-eyed fans; but that TSN, Hockey Night in “Canada” and the “National” Post get away with their bias for the Toronto team in Canada-wide broadcasts and newspapers is just… gross.
  • So when, in the waning minutes of that last period in that game when the Bruins were down by 3 goals, and the Bruins obviously looked at each other and said, “Guys? What the actual hell? These are the Leafs. We are the BRUINS. Time to put this one to bed,” and gave their heads a shake, woke up and showed Toronto who’s boss, I was happy. Not for the misery of Leafs fans, because that crash, I mean that one in particular, will haunt them forever; especially for having that carrot dangled so closely, only to be wrenched away, after years of being let down by their team. No, couldn’t be happy about that. Sincerely. What I thought was fitting was that all those broadcasters, analysts and journalists would be miserable. Good. You’re not supposed to be so brazenly biased in your reporting, and having, year after year, the rest of the country have to be subjected to the complete lack of respect by your almost exclusive disregard for any other team. Cheer for Toronto in your mind if you want, but not in a Canada-wide arena. Shame on you. I hope you all cried in your pillows that night. The very image of that actually, genuinely lessens my pain of how Montreal finished the post-season. I have noooooo sympathy for you guys.
  • Know what I hate most about the National Post? Go to their NHL page. Listed in the left-hand column are all the Canadian teams. Toronto is on top. Then Vancouver, Ottawa, Winnipeg, Calgary, Montreal and Edmonton, in that order. There is no reason to this list. It’s not geographical east to west, it’s not alphabetical either by city or team name. Nope, but Toronto is first on the list. Before Vancouver, who finished way ahead of them during the regular season, in every aspect. What irks me the most is they list Montreal second-last – a bigger market than every other team listed after Toronto. Even, perhaps especially, in the “National” Post, the rest of the country has Toronto crammed down its throat. The “National” Post did, however, for once, realize that there were other cities in Canada when they beat that dead horse of a Vancouver riot for months on end, reminding us what a despicable fanbase Vancouver has, with their unique ability to paint other fanbases with with a very wide brush.
  • Whatever.
  • Okay, that was a vent but I really didn’t intend for this one to be a rant! Felt good, though.
  • So I made this awesome green bean salad this week, with a recipe I got online. I cannot explain how delicious it is. I almost became one of those people, tweeting about it and Instagram-ing it, it was that delicious.
  • My daughter has an iPod touch, and she’s on Instagram. She and her friends share photos of food. When we were at the airport on our way to Florida, she conned me into getting her some 9-dollar ice drink from Starbucks. Which she then Instagramed before throwing it away when she was half done. She searched the “Frappuccino” hashtag on Instagram, and it had like 6 million hits, which prompted my son to exclaim, “THIS IS WHY I HATE SOCIAL MEDIA.” Why is Instagram full of people’s food? Seriously. It reminds me of watching that show Happy Endings recently, and when the friends were all worried about how depressed Penny was after calling off her engagement, one illustrated the seriousness by how she “hasn’t Instagrammed an appetizer in like, a week!” It is such a hilarious show… and it just got cancelled. What’s wrong with people?
  • Anyway, I kind of modified the recipe but the dressing has shallots, crushed capers, mustard seed, garlic, white wine vinegar and olive oil and it is HEAVEN. Use French green beans, and let it sit overnight. You’ll die. You’re welcome.
  • Speaking of Florida, it was fun. I was telling my mom after we came home that even after all these years of being a mom, it still surprises me just how much my kids trust me as the Person In Charge. We rented a car, and I had no idea where I was going any of the time, but confidence inspires confidence, and Siri took us all across the state with Apple maps.
  • Yes, Apple Maps. Why does everyone hate it so much? The app took us everywhere we wanted with zero error. It’s brilliant. I gather when it was first introduced it did have some glitches, but none that I experienced. But it’s still the butt of Apple-hater jokes.
  • I just occurred to me. Apple is the Habs of the computing world. Everyone loves to hate them, almost bordering on disorder.
  • What’s the deal with dreams? Last night, I dreamt I had another baby, and he had such long hair that I desperately wanted to shave his head, like they used to do in Chile with newborns. My real-life babies were born bald as cue-balls, so this long-haired baby perplexed me. I woke up before I got to shave his head.
  • I always forget the exact timing of hard-boiling the perfect egg. I know you have to bring the eggs to a boil then take them off the heat, but I always forget how long to leave them in the water before putting them in cold water. When you Google “How to” you get: tie a tie, cook quinoa, make buttermilk, hard boil eggs, and train your dragon. Are these in order of popularity?
  • 12 minutes.
  • The kids have their own cordless phones in their bedrooms now – I’m hoping this will avoid my living room phone from going AWOL every day now. I can never find the stupid phone. I don’t even know why I want to answer it, it’s never for me. These kids are growing so fast.
  • A couple of years ago, I discontinued my land line because I didn’t need it, I had my iPhone, right? But then I thought, what if I pass out from a heart attack one day and the kids can’t find the phone to call 911? And I got the landline back. When I did, the phone company apparently forgot that I was unlisted and listed my name, address and number and I got so many calls from some crazy broad calling about how I’d just won a cruise every day that I had to change my number. That Do Not Call list? Useless.
  • That “passing out from a heart attack” scenario reminds me that I’m turning into my mother, the alarmist who foresees every possible bad event. “You can’t buy an apartment on the first floor! Rapists always go after the girl on the first floor!”

That note is my cue to end this one. What time’s the game on today?

Anatomy, Guilt, Gold, Lice & Montreal

I have a few minutes, and here is what’s on my mind exactly right now:

  • Was watching The View on PVR today and there was this whole conversation about teaching your kids the correct terms for their body parts. They were going around the table talking about how they taught their kids to call it their “pee pee” and worse, their “cookie,” and only Whoopi was in vehement disagreement with this. I was astonished. And wanted to throttle Sherri, who kept calling the correct terms, “adult words.” Sorry? No. They’re called what they’re called. Penis. Vagina. What? It’s what they’re called. I taught my kids these words because they had questions, and when I have the answer, I give it to them. Don’t underestimate children. They’re just as smart as we are – we just know more because we’ve been around longer. My own kids are 10 times smarter than I am, and I’m outnumbered. If I underestimated them, I’d be in big trouble. What finally cemented this whole “wee wee” and “pee pee” issue for me was once when my ex and I took our son to the doctor for a checkup. To the doctor, in front of my son, who was probably two, my ex used the term, “pee pee.” The doctor immediately said, “It’s called a penis,” as I nodded vigorously. Then my ex said, “Well, he’s just a kid.” To which the doctor responded, “Always use the biological term. Teach them what things are called.” Then he went on to explain that child molesters use the “cute” terms, to make it somehow sweet, and safe. No one brought this up at The View table. Whoopi couldn’t stand what she was hearing, and I wanted to call in and give her this ammo. It’s NOT cute to teach your kids “baby” terms for intimate body parts. They’re called what they’re called. You’re not shattering a kid’s innocence by using the right words.
  • Exhale. Sorry, I know this forum is seldom serious.
  • Okay, so another thing on that episode was a Youtube video that you’ve probably already seen and I had before too, of these three little poodles, one of which was the culprit in a little mess. The filmer was asking the dogs, “Who made this mess?” And the guilty one slunk away quietly. I have a fur child like that. You immediately know if she’s been up to no good. Like, “Fan out! Find what she did!” One time I got home after work, and the bf had got there before I had, so she was out with him. I found a series of little things around the house…a half-chewed toilet paper roll, a ceramic puppy figurine that wore a real little scarf, with the scarf in shreds, and one other thing, I can’t remember what. I got changed, then picked up each thing and lined them up on the coffee table waiting for them to get back. They did, and she came running up, panting, tongue out, tail wagging, smiling big, “Hi! You’re home! How was your d….” until she noticed that my arms were folded, and she saw the stuff on the table and was all, “Oh, crap.” I grabbed the toilet paper roll and put it in front of her face, and said, “What. Is. This.” She turned her gaze then turned her head until it was almost all the way around, like an owl. I did this with each thing until she finally started to creep away, like I couldn’t see her or something. She still gets into stuff. Obviously the promise of a guilt trip is still worth the fun.
  • I was re-reading “Something Fierce” by Carmen Aguirre this weekend, because I’m about to lend it out. It’s about this Chilean refugee, who lived in Canada for a while, then returned to South America with her mother as a part of the Resistance. Great book. She talks about the difference between the highly-developed country of Canada and the culture shock of being in the much less developed countries as they were then, like Bolivia and Peru. It reminded me of when my family moved from Montreal to Ecuador for a year for my father’s job when I was about nine. You go from freeways and suburbs and shopping malls to a place like Quito, that had some beautiful, wealthy residential neighbourhoods and then some filthy, littered areas and finally “old” Quito, which is where the oldest churches are. These churches are not to be missed, some seemingly made entirely out of gold on the inside. My mom’s mom, who lived in Chile, came to visit us once for a month and we took her there to sight-see one Sunday. You can’t visit these churches, of course, without also walking through the streets. There were a lot of the indigenous Ecuadorians out in the streets, mostly women, with their Panama hats and long braids, babies in slings on their backs, etc. It wasn’t uncommon to see them with their older children sitting in front of them, and the mothers going through their hair and picking out lice, then biting down on the lice to make sure it was dead, then spitting it out. Some of them also defecated in the street. This memory is crystal-clear to me, because my father, who had an incredibly weak stomach, started dry heaving as we were walking. My grandmother, who was a very elegant woman, somehow was completely prepared, and took handkerchiefs out of her handbag, sprayed them with perfume, gave them to my mom and me to hold in front of our noses, and told us to just keep walking, and just pretend we didn’t know my dad. So we did. And those churches were really beautiful. Anyway, Something Fierce is a really good book, if you’re looking for something to read.
  • I’m finally going back to Montreal. Last time was in 2010. This time, I’m going with the bf. AND we’re going to a Habs game at the Bell Centre! I feel like after this trip, he’ll understand me much better. 2 New Year’s Eves ago we were out for dinner and I was going on about how my bestie was at that very moment at a Tampa Bay game, in a suite, with Phil Esposito, and she had no idea who that even was. I was getting worked up about this opportunity she had that she didn’t even deserve, and he was all, “Um…okaaay, not every fan is like you.” Well, every Habs fan is like me. And I don’t know even half as much as a lot of them do. So right now, he just thinks I’m not normal. But when he meets the other fans and friends I met there last time, he will get it. I cannot WAIT to go. And I’m very excited for him that he’ll see an NHL game in the very best city in the world to watch an NHL game in! Guys! We’re coming!

So, this was a weird post. Just a brain-dump. Ahhhh, it’s empty again. At least I didn’t keep you here all day this time.

Twinkies, Pants, Holidays, Flamingoes, and the End of the World.

We’re gonna have bullets and a hodge-podge this time. I’ll invent a title when I’m done.

  • A couple of weeks ago on a Saturday morning, I was distracted mucking around and gettin’ ‘er done, and my son came up to me holding a little leaflet. “Hey Mom, these people just came to the door. The wanted to like, give you a bible. I think they were … pilgrims? Anyway, here. Apparently, we’re all going to die very soon.” Hands me the leaflet and leaves the room, like nothing happened. My little atheist! The thing that bothered him the most about receiving the “the-end-is-nigh” message was having to put on pants to answer the door.
  • The period of mid-to-end-October through the end of the year is the time I wish I was a Jehovah’s Witness. We have October, so that’s Halloween. Halloween is a huge deal, of course, because of the kids I have. Costumes, candy…this year, I spent $50 damn dollars on candy. We easily had 100 kids or more. Turns out, kids come from all around just to trick-or-treat at our damned complex. And handing out the candy was crazy, the doorbell was going non-stop, and I had to control the puppy who was treating every ring like a brand-new occurrence, and an excuse to leap up and hug all the crazy princesses, zombies and ladybugs. And getting up and doing a flight of stairs to the front door with every ring on a gimpy knee was too much. I’m not hobbling and limping every Halloween, of course, it just gave me more to blog about this year. So there was Halloween.
  • Then, November. Both the kids have birthdays in November. BOTH. I spent my entire life enthusiastically avoiding Scorpios, then I got TWO of them. Love their guts, but birthdays are exhausting. Not like I’m the supermom who coordinates monkeys and clowns and caterers, but you know. If you know, you know.
  • And now we’ve got Christmas coming up. That’s right, I said the C word. So funny that I don’t observe the religulousness of it, but damned if I’m calling it The Holidays. What Holidays, exactly? I wish I was on a damned Holiday! It’s Christmas! Or Hanukkah! I’ll use either word where appropriate. But I never say “Happy Holidays!” Of course, it’s okay if you do.
  • So by December 31st, I’m pooped. And broke. And I envy all the people who get to spread their events out throughout the year, or the JWs who don’t have to bother with any of it.
  • OMG, I love Christmas. It will be fun.
  • A few weeks ago I was watching Modern Family. I’ve waited this long to tell you because whenever you start talking about it, people go, “LA LA LA LA!  Don’t tell me, I haven’t watched it yet!” Anyway, SPOILER ALERT: It was funny. And I texted my friend Lisa, who also happens to sit on the other side of my paper-thin wall at work. Lisa hears everything happening in my office. And I hers, except for that she’s maddeningly quiet. Anyway, when my mom and I call each other, it’s always for something important, and our first instincts are to get right to business, and always assume the worst. When we answer, it’s not, “Hello?” like normal people. Depending on the time of day, like if it’s daylight, it’s, “WHAT HAPPENED.” Or, if it’s say, past 9pm, it’s “WHO DIED.” Out with it, no time for formalities. And 90% of the time, it’s followed up with, “Oh, nothing, just wondering about picking up the kids,” blah blah blah and chatter. But SOMETIMES, it’s SOMETHING and we are conditioned to be prepared for that SOMETHING, THE WORST, FIRST. So anyway, when my mom calls at work, I’ll answer with a WHAT HAPPENED, sometimes followed by a dramatic inhale. And Lisa furiously messages me, What? What? And I’ll say, oh, we’re just co-ordinating if we’re having beef or chicken for dinner on the weekend. And Lisa once said, “We’re WASPs! We don’t like playing “Who Died”!” I panic her. You’d think after 7 years of sitting on opposite sides of the wall she’d be used to it by now. Anyway, Modern Family was on and I was like, SEE!!!! The phone rang in the middle of the night, and Gloria said WHO DIED! And Manny walked in, and said, “I heard the phone. WHO DIED.” Yesssss! I texted Lisa:

  • The bum leg is getting better. I’m going to physio, I get my leg rubbed where it hurts the most, and leave feeling pretty all right, like I might be normal again someday. I’m even doing most of my homework (icing, heating, and stretching), most of the time. I’ve been limping since the middle of October. The other day I got a message from a lady who temped at my office for a few weeks, and she started off with, “Hi, Limpy!” And it occurred to me: there are people who have only ever known me to have a limp. I’m aiming to be better by the end of the year. I hate this limp, and it gets in the way of me getting places at a thousand miles an hour, which is my preference. This whole thing is seriously a pain.
  • The very worst thing about the leg is getting dressed. Putting pants on. Putting boots on. You know how you can bend your knee right up next to your face when you’re getting stuff on? Well, I can’t on the one side. I told my bf that I wondered if I’d ever be able to The Flamingo again. It’s the only way I could describe what I’m not able to do right now, if I had a gun to my head. Bend my knee right up and balance on the other leg. He said, “The Flamingo? What is that? It sounds like a synchronized swimming move. Did you ever do that?” There will always be stuff to learn from each other, but having been a synchronized swimmer is probably something that would have come up by now.
  • We had a family dinner last weekend, this time for my son’s birthday. I had my music playing through my iTunes while I cooked, and when the album ran out, my daughter cued up the iTunes to play on shuffle. Every song that I have, that is. Which is in excess of 4,000. At first what I thought would be an awful idea, turned out to be awesome. We spent the rest of the night listening to Billy Joel, The Marriage of Figaro, No Doubt, Joni Mitchell, Justin Timberlake, Black Eyed Peas, Vampire Weekend, and Hootie and the Blowfish.
  • That’s right, Hootie. It was actually hilarious to see what would be up next, and the crazy mix worked.
  • I gather The Twinkie is endangered. I don’t know any of the story, except for little headlines and the tail end of stories on the news that I catch. Why is this such a big deal? Twinkies are super gross. This is probably a wonderful thing for humanity.

I have another topic which will definitely have to be a whole other post, and is a developing story. We’ll see if I can do that on the weekend. For now, it’s bedtime and that’s pretty much the update, except for that story of course. Which may get told unless it gets too long and I don’t even know how to tell it. That’s the problem with writing.

Bonne nuit!

Little Miss Lucky

This post is dedicated to our wee pup, Lucky, who’s not so wee anymore.

There’s this one guy at work who I always coerce to read my blog post, but lately when he does, he later says, “What about Lucky? How come you didn’t mention Lucky?” Look – Lucky’s bipeds have things to talk about too, you know. Anyway.

Lucky turns 1 today. It’s her birthday! So in her honour, this blog post’s ONLY about her. (This one’s for you, Derek. Happy now?)

Although I love having a dog, I didn’t want to have one when we lived in our old condo. I wanted a biggish dog, and didn’t want to have one in such a small space. The kids were after me for years to get a dog. My son once even said, “Mom, you know how a dog is man’s best friend? Well – I’m a man.” Then, when they knew we were looking for a townhouse, he said, “Living in a house is the first step to having a dog.” I pretended not to pick up on the hints. Once we were almost moving in after getting the townhouse though, I went by myself out to La…Ladner? Langley? Pick one. I don’t remember. There was a lady there who had one last female in her litter, I fell in love with her, chose her, then went back out there with the kids the day after my son broke his arm, under the guise of having to get some moving gear from a work friend. The kids, by the time we’d spent about 30 minutes in the car, were bored-bored-bored. Little did they know.

When we got her about 9 months ago, she looked like this:

And this (she used to lie beside the mirror closet in our old place because she thought she was sleeping next to another dog):

Can you STAND the level of cute??? I can’t take it.

We’ve been chaotically happy since getting her, from moving house and home just one short week after getting her, to puppy training her. Save for a couple of incidents, one that involved coming home to discover she’d found her dog-walker hadn’t shut her crate properly and had decided to throw herself a puppy-party for one that included the chewing of the following: one kleenex box, the natural progression of which obviously was the wall-to-wall covering of a layer of 500 kleenexes, one deck of cards (she’s fastidious; there was at least one bite mark in EACH card, jokers included), and exactly one shoe from 2 pairs of shoes. It would have been kinder of her to chew two shoes from the same pair, but whatever. She also marked her territory ALL OVER the house. She had a blast. We came home and did a three-way-unison dramatic inhale, and she was all, “Hi, guys! (wag, wag, wag) You’re home! Guess WHAT.”

Anyway, save for a couple of incidents like that, she is really a terrific little dog and it’s hard to remember what it was like before she was ours. Although having a puppy can be exhausting, particularly this puppy with a level of energy that has NO QUIT (a phase that I’m told will last a “few” more years (please be more specific!!!)), it’s worth it. We love her.

She’s people-friendly and never met a dog she didn’t like. Except for this one time a few months ago, we were throwing the ball for her at a park in Vancouver, and it was getting dark, there were lots of trees, sorta foggy, think Sleepy Hollows. Anyway, she was having the time of her life, since this ball-obsessed dog is HAPPIEST when retrieving her ball. She’s so ball-obsessed, if you’re throwing her ball, she knows NOTHING else. Well, until through the darkness, this enormous black Great Dane came bounding up. HIM, she noticed. She FREAKED and came barreling down at us as we sat on this park bench, tail between her legs, hind legs first like a hare, like, “YOU GUYS! Oh my god, what the hell IS that! HIDE! HIDE!” and she ran headlong right into the park bench first, then scrambled underneath and stayed there as we petted that sweet dog and apologized to its owners that she’d never seen a horse before. Lucky couldn’t BELIEVE we were taking our lives into our own hands like that. “What. The hell.” She came out eventually, all “Oh, nothing. How’s it going, I see dogs like you every day, whatever.” The divot in her head from the bench took a couple of months to sprout fur again. All good.

Here she is again, today. One whole year old. I gave her a brand new crunchy bone (witness the crumbs on the carpet), a kind she hadn’t had before, that gives her fresh breath. So okay that was kind of a present for me, too. Coincidence!

We just got back from her birthday party. A couple of weeks ago, my daughter thought it up, made invitations, and slipped them under the doors of Lucky’s best friends. “Meet us at the basketball court on July 20th, from 6pm to 6:30pm.” They showed up. With presents, even! Lucky was mildly enthusiastic.

Group shot: Lucky, Kira and Finnegan.

Happy Birthday, Miss Lucky. Here’s to a ton more.

The Importance of Being Prompt

This past week, one day after work, I spent a while talking to my boss and I ended up leaving the office a few minutes later than usual. I then gave a girlfriend a ride home, and we were chit-chatting the whole way.

At 6:03 pm, when I was pulling into our underground, I received a phone call from my daughter, who was 3 floors up. “MOMMY. Where are you?! You are SO LATE! Are you okay? WHEN ARE YOU COMING HOME.”

Jeez. The world is ending! The sky is falling, the sky is falling!!

My own fault, really. I am chronically punctual. In fact, I’m not just punctual, I am EARLY. For everything. As the saying goes, you can’t be on time if you’re not early. One of my favourite lines ever from one of my favourite shows ever, Friday Night Lights, is: “Be here at 6 am sharp. 6 am sharp means QUARTER TIL SIX.” I’ll admit it – I swooned.

When I tell my kids a time that I’ll be home or meeting them, I give them the LATEST time I’ll be there. This time after work is 6 pm. I am unfailingly home 10-15 minutes before that. This was the one time in their lives that I was 90 seconds late. I was late picking them up one time before, but that was due to traffic, AND I called 30 minutes before I was expected to let them know I’d be late. It’s what you do.

I grew up like that, respect appointments, respect other people’s time. Both my parents were of the exact same thinking, and as a result, their 3 children are punctually consistent. We have 8 zillion faults, but we are on time.

My father was much more so. Going to the airport to catch a 10 am flight? We’d leave at 6 am. Why? Well, better early than late, AND you must always allow for traffic, or a flat tire, hail, locusts, whatever. My dad was ex-Navy. Ex-Chilean Navy. The Chilean navy is modeled on the British version. Time is a very big deal. Also a big deal? Bed making. I used to fastidiously make my bed as a kid, thrilled when I’d get to keep the quarter if it bounced off the sheets. That habit didn’t stick, and plus a quarter doesn’t go very far these days. It used to buy a pack of gum. I’m old.

Speaking of British, when I watched the Royal Wedding this year (not LIVE), when Wills arrived at the church when the SECOND struck that he was meant to be there, I thought: “He’s going to make a terrific husband.”

Anyway, you know how many times I was late for school? From grades Kindergarten to 12? ZERO. Let’s say there’s 280 school days a year, times that by 13, that’s a LOT. Of no lates.

People who are consistently late, I pretty much hate. That rhymes. I could continue. What rhymes with Nantucket?

When you’re late, whether it’s your intention or not, you are telling whomever’s waiting for you that their time is not as important as yours. You can be late, and they can just wait. Basically, as we say in Chile, you wipe your butts with their time. It makes me absolutely mental. It is not cute if you are late – it’s irresponsible and disrespectful. And people who always do this, were probably raised that way. Like with manners, when someone is late for everything, I blame the parents. I know for damn sure my parents raised me to respect time and other people’s time, and it stuck. Clearly, I’m passing this on to my kids, and they will thank me one day.

When you are on time, you’re demonstrating a very basic but undervalued respect – that you consider the other person to be at least as deserving of respect as you are. When I came upstairs that day, my daughter flung open the door and wrapped her arms around me – like she actually had thought the sky was falling. It reminded me how much they count on me and know that I do what I say and be where I say I’ll be when I say I’ll be. This time, it bit me in the ass. Never again!

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

The kids started school this week. It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

It’s actually true, my little girl has always loved school, is a fanatic about it, and happily my boy, who has never shared the same enthusiasm for it, is very pleased with himself as he entered middle school this year. He’s loving it so far (I KNOW we’re only 4 days in, but I’m determined to maintain his excitement!). He might be among the youngest in the school, having come from elementary school where he was one of the oldest, but is still fancying himself quite the grownup, complete with LOCKER and LOCK and a shiny new CELL PHONE. He sent me his first text today: “hi mom.” I melted.

I took him to school on his second day, and he actually stopped on the sidewalk when we were a block away, and said, “Mom, I would like to walk the rest of the way by myself.” I was dumbstruck. I said, “Are you sure?” “Of course, Mom. I’m sure, I’ll really be okay.” I agreed, he gave me a quick hug, the kind your boy gives you hoping that no one is looking, said, “I love you Mom, bye,” and started making his way. I stood there like a dork clasping my hands in front of me watching him walk away all by himself, and he took about ten steps and looked back and gave me a “you can leave now” wave, then took another 3 steps and did it again, and I got the hint and bewilderedly walked back to my car like I was all fine with it. All those things raced through my mind, with each step he was becoming more of a man, moving farther away from me both physically and figuratively, my mind leaping ahead 6 years when he brings home a scowling, tattooed, pierced girl who swears and chews with her mouth open and never says please or thank you, him moving in with her, me never hearing from him unless he needs money or laundry done, everything, everything. But then I was really proud of him, because he knows how ridiculously co-dependent I am and he had to have known it would be hard for me to hear he wanted to walk the last 40 metres ALL BY HIMSELF but he was man enough to do it anyway.

I called the school 8 minutes later to make sure he’d gotten there safely, which he had. Oh, the agita.

Anyhoo, my little girl, who looks forward to the first day back at school almost more than she does CHRISTMAS, and had spent the last days of vacation busily unwrapping, labelling and packing her school supplies, choosing her outfits for each day of the following week and dreaming about who’d be her teacher, who’d be in her class, where her desk would be and what grades she would get this year, and informing me that now she is INTERMEDIATE as a GRADE FOURER, was positively delighted with the start of another academic experience. She’s so into being back in the routine that she’s getting up almost at the same time as I do now, being that she’s INTERMEDIATE she can share in the morning duties, and wouldn’t you know, she’s packing both her and her brother’s lunch, and she’s even packing his backpack in the morning. She’s shaved about 16 minutes off my morning routine. My girl!!

I ask them in the evening how school was that day, and my son says, “it’s the first week, Mom – not a whole lot.” My daughter, on the other hand, recites every step she took from the first bell. On day two, they took turns telling the class how they spent their summer vacations. Her highlight was our trip last week to the PNE, which included the special bonus of a puke-free outing even after 4 rides on the Corkscrew.

Which got me to thinking. “How I Spent My Summer Vacation.” There are so many different stories to tell about this summer, but I’ll stick to our tale of real estate shenanigans for now. Shall I begin, after that 700 word preamble?

We’ve been living in a 2 bedroom condo for the last 4.5 years. It’s a beautiful place with a great view and we love it, but over the past couple of years I’ve been feeling the need to move. The kids share a room with bunkbeds, and although they’ve never ever complained about the arrangement, I knew that the time for them to each have their own space was nigh. And through a series of happy events, we found ourselves in the financial position to contemplate upgrading to larger quarters.

I called my real estate agent, prince of a guy despite his penchant for liking hockey teams comprised of obnoxious #$$holes (he likes the Bruins), with whom I’d been working ever since I got into the market more than 12 years ago. We started exploring the possibilities, looking at some bigger townhouses, and we finally settled on a place about 5 minutes from where we live. This after looking at about 20 houses.

It bemuses me how some people seem to not care at all about what their home looks like when they’re showing it. Aren’t they supposed to be trying to sell it? One guy didn’t even bother to not be home when we went to look. The place smelled, his huge self took up half the couch as he sat there eating and watching TV, and he hadn’t even bothered to pick the towels up off his bathroom floor. I don’t care what your price is or how well you’re located, if your place is a filthy dump, I’m not making an offer.

We looked at the final townhouse complex, the roads of which were teeming with kids, and even has an indoor pool. My daughter grabbed me by the collar with both fists and said, “whatever you do Mom, PROMISE ME WE’LL LIVE HERE.” Well, there were something like 6 units for sale, and with each place I got more depressed. When you find the place you’re meant to buy, you’re supposed to instantly feel: “This is it!” I wasn’t even close with any of them. And then we saw the 6th one. It was perfect in every way, ticked all the boxes. I got excited, and the kids could smell it. We walked into the backyard, and the guy next door was outside with his dog, having a smoke. My daughter jumped up and down and squealed to him, “We’re your new neighbours!!” He just kind of laughed and said, “Really? Welcome!” The kids went back inside and chose their bedrooms and I talked to my agent. We made an offer contingent on the sale of our condo, and it was accepted! We were off to the races.

Now came the onerous task of putting OUR place on the market. I can’t believe the amount of crap we’d amassed in our short time here. It took a solid weekend of de-cluttering, throwing out of crap and donating stuff and taking other stuff to storage to get this place ready to list. I’ve seen the shows, I know what’s required. And I couldn’t stop to thinking of Slobby Von Filthenstein from that one townhouse that made me want to be sick.

Finally, we were done. I looked at our place, and it was BEAUTIFUL. Almost made me wonder why we should even move, it looked that good. And the viewers started pouring in. Nobody ever didn’t love it. But we weren’t getting any offers. And it was exhausting keeping the place pristine, hard job when by the time we’ve been home for 2 hours in the evening, it tends to look like a cyclone hit, no matter how clean it was to start with. I grew frustrated, and antsy knowing the townhouse we loved would be loved by someone else soon with a more attractive offer than mine.

And of course, that’s what happened. Our place wasn’t selling, and the townhouse got a better offer. I had 24 hours to buy it outright which of course I could not do without the sale of our place, and we lost it. We’d seen every other townhouse on the market, and I knew I didn’t want a single other one. And I started thinking, you know what, it won’t be so bad to live here for another year. I didn’t want to be moving homes in the middle of the school year, so I began convincing myself to stop this madness, stay in this gorgeous place and leave well enough alone. A couple of weeks passed, with a handful more viewings that always had the same “WE LOVE IT” feedback with no offers, and then I started getting pissed off. “Really? You love it, eh? Then MAKE ME AN OFFER. OR GET THE HELL OUT.” I started sharing my sentiments with my agent who began to wonder where positive, optimistic Veronica had gone to. SHE BECAME REALISTIC. GET USED TO IT.

And wouldn’t you know? One day I decided to glance at the real estate listings and not be so obtuse, approached the existent listings with an open mind, hoping I’d consider one not too sucky to buy. And guess what? The townhouse was still listed. Weird! I called my agent, who said he’d look into it, and he called me back and said the other offer fell through! What! So I wrote another, lower, offer than last time, same conditions, and it got accepted again!

The following week, after a few more showings of our place, my agent called me and said we’d received an offer! My heart jumped! Then I saw it: they were offering me WAY below asking, 12K lower than what I PAID 4.5 years ago, AND they wanted me to throw in my TVs. What! Such a ridiculous joke. I immediately told him I wouldn’t even consider it, and he could just let it expire. I wasn’t even bothered to counter. He told me we had to take every offer seriously, and I said, “They’re not even in the ball park. Who the hell is their agent? How dare he write an offer like this! Tell him he can kiss my ass! Give me his number!” (‘Kiss my ass’ became a recurring theme through this negotiation.) He convinced me to write a counter offer, and I said, “Fine! Up the price by a grand! Or they can kiss my ass!!” He got me to agree to go $2K lower than my asking. And NO TVS. Or they could kiss my you know what. They came up by another 8K, still nowhere near where I wanted to land. So my agent and I sat on the phone that night, me printing the umpty-ump pages of the stupid offer to make another counter offer so I could scan it and send it back to him, me all the while grumbling how I was going to deduct the cost of printer ink off his commission, him telling me HE was about to kick my you know what, and I countered at my bottom line. And I told him, “Tell them to sign it, or kiss my ass.” And they signed it.

If you’re still reading, good morning!

So now, we’re moving. In 3 short weeks. And I have to wrap my head around packing and all that miserable stuff that comes with moving. So, we got the place we wanted, and the kids have been reminding me about that puppy now that we’ll have a yard, announcing to everyone how Mom is considering a puppy, which they’ve already named and we haven’t even met yet, and what Halloween decorations we’ll have in our front yard, and all that good stuff. My daughter changes her mind daily about the motif her new bedroom will have, and my son has already made a friend at his new school who lives in our future neighbourhood.

We did it! And I can recommend you the world’s most patient real-estate agent. I mean, if you can stomach working with a Bruins fan.

By the time the puck drops on the first regular season Habs game, we’ll be settled in our new digs. I can’t wait to watch on the TVs I wangled keeping!

El Viejo

My Dad died on Saturday. On Sunday, he would have turned 72. It’s far too young to die, but he had been unwell for a long time. So, although we were prepared for it, it still came as a shock. Much more of a shock than I had anticipated.

My father was not a perfect man, perfect husband or perfect father. But he was a man, he was here, he lived here for 72 years, and if not for him I would not be me, and my kids would not be themselves. I owe him an immense gratitude for that, for my life and therefore being here to be a mom to my kids.

No one is perfect. Some are less imperfect than others, but no one is perfect. When we’re children, we think our parents are, I mean, for the most part. You grow up and you come to know your parents as imperfect, ordinary adults and for some that enlightenment is not always great. Our parents are fallible and thusly normal.

I didn’t have the opportunity, or really, the courage, to sort out my own issues with my dad before the end came for him. And that is a regret I’ll live with for the rest of my life. All I have now is the imaginary conversation we have in my head, filled with realization, empathy and forgiveness. And although that imaginary conversation is comforting, it didn’t actually happen. And now it never will.

If someone you love hurts you, tell them. If you love someone, tell them. If you have to have a knock-down, drag-out fight with someone you love, do it. Just do it. Or else regret it when it’s too late. People don’t live forever.

I hope that somehow, somewhere, if our energy transfers when we die, that “el Viejo” can see in my heart. That’s a comforting thought, too.

My Day as a Ten-Year-Old Boy

A month or so ago, my daughter was invited to a sleep-over party at my girlfriend’s house, with her little girl. She was terribly excited to go, leaving at about midday on Saturday and not due back until Sunday morning. Sleep-overs are a new thing and of course super exciting for an 8-year old. I myself was very seldom allowed to go to those as a kid, never being the one allowed to stay overnight. My dad would let me hang out at my friends’ places but when it came to bedtime and the girls were gearing up for the real fun, there my parents would be, to pick me up and take me home to sleep. I always hated it, but understood years later that this crazy sleep-over thing was North American nonsense, nothing my parents knew about growing up in Chile. Plus, my parents were always worried the Dad of the house I would be sleeping in was a perv. Seemed like all North American men had to be. Because they watched too many America’s Most Wanteds and the like. So, although I thought I had the worst parents EVER, they were really just looking out for me.

I find myself maybe feeling the same way, and because my daughter would be sleeping in the home of my very good friend who is DIVORCED (no pervs in the house), she got an overnight bag and a kiss on the head with the admonishment that she’d better behave well, you know, not like she’s at home, and sent her on her way.

Now my son was SUPER excited by this event, being that it’s ALWAYS the 3 musketeers on the weekends (the kids only spend 2 weeknights per week with their dad), and the thought of having me all to himself was pretty novel. I told him, “OK – we’ve got all day and night. Pretend I’m a 10-year-old boy. What do you want to do?”

He got straight to work making up a list of what I’d like to do and what he’d like to do and struck items off the list until we came to a mutual scenario (stricken off the list by Mom was going down to the video game place and hanging out all day. I’ve seen the hoodlums who walk into that place. Yeah, no.).

We decided to:

  • Eat fast food
  • Play laser-tag
  • Come home and watch the hockey game
  • Watch Tron Legacy on Blu Ray with popcorn with too much butter on it.

In that order.

We went to the fine eating establishment of McDonald’s, and he ordered the Happy Meal and we discussed the Batman toys that came with the meal. There is a whole bunch of new characters now compared to when I was a kid, not that I ever knew much about Batman. It was an education.

Then, we went and signed up to play laser-tag at this local indoor playground extravaganza filled with kids where you can’t even hear yourself think, there’s so much shrieking. We had to wait a while to join a birthday party of six-year-olds. How was I supposed to know the 2 of us couldn’t just go in there ourselves. While we were waiting, I was sooooo happy that this little man of mine, who doesn’t let me call him “Honey” in public or god forbid “Handsome,” sat there talking to me and HELD MY HAND the whole time we waited, not caring for a second who could have seen us.

The birthday party kids came to their turn and had no problem with us joining them. They had 3 adults (men) with them, who, when they saw me suiting up, said, “grown ups can play???” and joined us too. Holy CRAP it was fun. My boy and I teamed up and raced around shooting six-year-olds like it was open season and working up a wicked sweat. Also, this heretofore probably uncool Mommy shot the grown-up guys. A LOT. My boy was pretty impressed! We laughed our heads off and then paid for an extra 15 minutes to play just for ourselves, which we didn’t use up because my boy said, “Mommy, I just can’t shoot you.” *Squish*

We went to Costco, ostensibly to pick up the Tron Legacy movie but I also snuck in some of my weekend shopping. On the drive home, he asked if we could stop to get a drink because he was SO thirsty and would never make it the extra 7 minutes until we got home to have some Gatorade. So we stopped at this little corner grocery store and right at the till there was this big bin of fortune cookies. “Buddy, we HAVE to get some.” I forget what mine said, but his said, “You will have very good fortune in the near future.” He immediately started imagining what it could possibly be. Because, of course, fortune cookies don’t lie. Maybe we’d win the lottery and get our big house and that dog that the kids always wish for! (My kids are like me: always genuinely shocked we don’t win when we get a lottery ticket. It’s ALWAYS someone else.)

We got home, hung out and watched the Habs play the Bruins in the 1st round of the playoffs, and then got down to the business of nighttime and having some dinner and watching the movie past bedtime. Dinner was the one thing we hadn’t planned on our list so I surveyed the fridge for a good quick dinner for 2.

I said, “Hey, how about I make us some grilled-cheese sandwiches for supper?” I usually don’t make them because they’re not a serious dinner, although I could easily make them more often because they’re such a huge hit. I make them “perfectly – just a little bit burnt,” just the way they like them!

And this, I will never forget: My boy’s eyes popped wide open and he was dumbstruck – then he said: “MOMMY. My fortune came true!!”

Memory for a lifetime.

The day I spent as a 10-year-old boy. You should try it. It freaking rocks.

Kids, Habs, American Idol, Divorce, Nail Polish and He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named

As we all have, I’ve had lots of thoughts filling up my head lately, none of which could singularly fill a blog post, so here’s another edition of the quick and dirty update.

  • The kids have always been super fun to hang around, at all their different stages. They’re getting pretty big now and our conversations are getting more fun and interesting. There’s no question in my mind that they’re both smarter than I am. They ask me way too many questions about puberty and sex but I’m proud of myself that they both think it’s no big deal to broach the topic with me. I think of asking my mom similar questions at their age and it still makes me go “eeewwww.”
  • I’m particularly pleased that they like good music (requests for Queen? Madonna? and Rush? WIN) and appreciate good comedy. My son and I watched a Fish Called Wanda yesterday and he got ALL the jokes.
  • The Habs. Four game winning streak, including a shutout, the 7th this season for Carey Price in fact. And last night they beat Tampa, coached by Guy Boucher, a huge game leading up to the playoffs. No complaints. Even Nomez played a good game, much to my surprise, but it will still be a long time until I like him.
  • We’re watching American Idol. Look, it’s about the only show on prime time that is appropriate to watch with the kids that isn’t on one of those maddening Miley/iCarly/Sweet Life channels, so back off. Casey is our favourite. He’s the bomb.
  • I’m in denial about a crappy couple of days I’ve got coming up at the end of the month. I wish we could just fast-forward to April, or that I could clone me and send my clone to have the crappy days. La la la la la.
  • Charlie Sheen is at the very least bi-polar. I’m no expert, but I don’t have to be. I have eyes and ears, so I am qualified. I would like him to go away now though. But for his sake, I hope it’s in a strait-jacket, as it will clearly have to be against his will, and that he goes and gets all the legal meds he needs.
  • I’ve got way more to be thankful for than not, which is what I like to focus on rather than dwell on what sucks. But a lot sucks, for sure. I can’t stand the people who are always loudly proclaiming how perfect things are and all the stuff they have and the charmed, enviable lives they lead. Who are they trying to convince? I always think they’re full of it. Also, the people who always complain drive me crazy. My own best friend was shocked when I told her I was leaving my husband. I never whinged about my marriage to her or to anyone – that is so dull.
  • We were just talking the other day about how when I did end my marriage and proceeded to be deliriously happy, that she and another of my friends thought – OK, that looks like fun – and left their own husbands. Those guys went on to blame me. Nice, eh? After I was nothing but nice to them. The 3 of us were married when we met, and have so many funny/ha-ha and funny/sad stories about our breakups that there’s a screenplay in there somewhere.
  • This is turning more introspective than I intended.
  • The kids and I went out for lunch with my mom yesterday and when we got our meals, the kids’ fries were cold. It drives me crazy when restaurants pass off their older food to kids, like they’re secondary citizens or something. I seldom speak up, but I did. The kids got new fries, AND their meals were taken off the bill. I love when that happens.
  • I got a new Macbook Pro a couple of weeks ago. It’s great to have another computer in the house, and now the kids don’t have to compete for computer time anymore. I mean, they do right now because I’m typing this on the MBP.
  • So, I got the Macbook and was then driven crazy by not being able to sync it with MobileMe. Nothing worked, it would not accept my username or password. All my other devices did. I went to Twitter, wasted a lot of people’s time trying to kindly solve my problem. Spent hours on Support Chat with Apple, who offered me all these solutions and NOTHING worked. Finally, Apple determined I’d have to take it in for service, which I never had the time to do. My eight-year-old was on it the other day. She said, Mom, why does the Macbook say it’s October 19th? I adjusted the date, and voila, everything works now. This is part of the reason I had kids, I tell them. To pick up on the details I miss, along with helping me carry groceries.
  • I won’t even try to deny that in a large part, my time between October-April is measured by days between Habs games. Boston’s on Tuesday. How I hate the Bruins. Can’t wait.
  • I love bright red nails. I’m going to single handedly put Revlon out-of-stock of Revlon Red.

And with that, I am clearly out of updates. And I promise to never employ Charlie Sheen as a topic again.

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