Friday, December 24, 2010

Silent Night

Just a short note before I start our Christmas festivities. 

I am just sitting here finishing up the last of the gift wrapping and tidying and it struck me how silent it is right now with everyone in bed (I sent my husband to bed after working him hard today!).  Then it struck me how fortunate I am to have a noisy, raucous household full of people I love.  I know that we should be grateful year round for these true gifts of family and loved ones, but there is always a moment at Christmas time where I have a silent moment to myself - it's never planned - and I realize how much I have to be happy for.

Having just typed this, I am hearing the cries of my little babe over the monitor - what timing!  Happy Holidays to you all and I hope the season truly is bright for each of you!


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

101 Uses for a Mandarin Promotional Calendar

It's that time of year again!  The time of year when we open up our mailbox one day, and there it is... the Mandarin Restaurant's annual promotional calendar.  If you live near a Mandarin, you'll no doubt know the one I'm talking about.  It comes in its own little box and when you pull it out, it basically looks like a bamboo blind that's been converted into a miniature billboard/guide to the Chinese zodiac.  For those of you who don't know what I'm talking about, take a gander:

2011 is apparently the Year of the Rabbit!

Now, in past years, the arrival of this calendar at our home has been the source of some very minor disagreements.  I am inclined to pitch it as soon as it arrives (forgive me, Mandarin Restaurant, for what I am about to say), as I find it to be cumbersome, not my decorating taste, and kind of cheesy.  Other people in my household, who shall remain unnamed, have tended to like the arrival of the calendar, and look for a place to hang it in our house!

I should confess that I actually feel really guilty about throwing it away.  It seems like a waste to throw away something this substantial - even if I didn't invite it to the house in the first place.  So, this year, I enlisted the help of my daughter to help find other uses for the calendar to help alleviate my guilt.

I am happy to report that not only did we find several new uses for the calendar, but that Kaycie now refuses to give up the calendar and plays with it almost daily!  Goodbye guilt! 

And now, for your viewing pleasure, our list of alternate uses for the Mandarin promotional calendar:

#1 - Pirate Accordion:

For full effect, pump arms wildly back and forth and sing "yo ho, yo ho, a pirate's life for me!"

#2 - Toboggan:

#3 - Binoculars:

#4 - Telescope:

#5 - Boat:

With the exception of the toboggan, are you starting to see a pirate theme and wonder if our daughter has seen Peter Pan about a bajillion times recently?  Because if you were, you'd be right!

#6 - Golf Club:

#7 - Parade Flag:

I know that this picture doesn't really capture the spirit of a parade flag, but trust me...she was waving her parade flag in circles around the main floor of our house with such enthusiasm that I had to eventually confiscate it!

#8 - Bed:

#9 - Skirt:

#10 - Drumsticks:

#11 - Baseball Bat:

#12 - Super Hero Cape:

#13 - Prodding Stick for Sedentary Cats:

(No animals were harmed in the making of this blog post.)
Ok, so we couldn't come up with 101 uses, but I can still think of more:

- yoga mat
- hammock for dolls
- blind for very small window
- sushi rolling mat
- placemat
- scroll for making royal proclamations

... the possibilities are endless!  It's practically the perfect holiday gift!  What would you use your Mandarin calendar for?

Friday, December 17, 2010

Kaycie Sez: Kaycie's Greatest Hits

New from K-tel!  A grrreeat new double album!  40 number one hits from the original star, Kaycie!  

Yes, they're all here:

I've Been Working On The Railroad...
"I've been workin' on the rainbow, all the live long day.  I've been workin' on the rainbow, just to pass the time away."

Somewhere Out There....
"Somewhere out there, beneath me getting sick..."

Once Kaycie sings a song, it's eternally hers.

"My unh, my unh, my huh, my huh, my unh!"  
(* bragging rights to anyone who can identify the original song - submissions accepted in the comments section.)

But wait, there's more!  Bonus Christmas tracks!

Oh Christmas Tree:
"Oh Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree... we gotta leave the city."

Jingle Bells:
"Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, jingle all the way.  Oh mac fun to win to ride one more hoping sleigh, HEY!"

... and many more!  Every one a "number one"!  "Kaycie's Greatest Hits", a great value from K-tel!  In record shops now.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

R.I.P. Gingy :-(

Well, I learned a hard lesson about parenting today that nearly broke my heart, but fortunately, that lesson was also comical.  Sit back and enjoy this tale of love found, love lost, road kill and redemption.

My friend Morgan invited me and the kids to her house today to do some Christmas cookie decorating.  It was like a scene out of some wonderful holiday movie.  Morgan's home is SO inviting and relaxing... it's one of those homes that truly do make you feel right at home.  She had cute Christmas decorations throughout the house, Christmas plates to eat off of, snowflake glasses to drink from, and even an adorable holiday tea set for our girls to enjoy together.

Our girls and Morgan's A-DOR-A-BLE little boy (I could write a whole post about how cute this little guy is!) all sat down with their freshly baked gingerbread-man-shaped cookies at Morgan's kitchen table and started decorating!  The snow was falling gently outside the kitchen window, and Kaycie was having a ball!  She took great care in decorating her cookie man, and in true Shrek fan fashion, she affectionately named her creation "Gingy".

Gingy (I sooo wish I had pictures to share, but alas... I forgot my camera) was very dapper.  His adorable feet were buried in about an inch and a half of frosting, with gumdrops on top of that!  A humongous pile of red sprinkles made a handsome vest, and another massive pile of frosting fashioned a face.  Kaycie was SO proud.  She made another "Gingy" for good measure, and after she and her friends were done their cookie decorating extravaganza, they were set aside for safe keeping, and off the kids went for some play time.

As all play dates do, this one came to an end, and I bundled up the kids, we said our thank you's, and we headed out the door for home.  Morgan presented Kaycie with her little tin foil pan of cookies to take home so that she could show Daddy her creations.  After hugs and waves, and an epic battle over whether or not Kaycie could take home Morgan's neighbour's shovel, we were on our way.

I was driving along, Christmas music drifting through our van, Kaycie and I singing away, goofy grin plastered across my face, when she stopped singing and innocently asked, "Mama, can I look at my Gingy?".

(for those with an untrained ear, that was the sound of a record needle scratching vinyl)

My joy came to a screeching halt as my holiday giddiness was immediately replaced by holiday horror, and the realization that I had left Gingy and Gingy in their tinfoil pan ON TOP OF THE CAR!

I tried not to panic, thinking that if I slammed on the brakes, I would surely send the Gingies (I have been avoiding writing "Gingy" in plural form, because I just don't know how to do it!  This will have to do, though.) to their demise if there was any hope that they were still on the roof.  I threw on my 4-ways and slowly pulled over and got out of the car.  All this time, Kaycie is of course asking, "Why are you pulling over?", "Where's Gingy?", "What are you doing?"

I opened the door, stepped out of the van, took a deep breath and looked up.  Of course, there was no tray.  I mean, who was I kidding... as if this little pan had stood any chance at all on a blustery winter day on top of a freaking van!

I slowly got back into the car, and turned around and said to Kaycie,

"Honey, mommy did something kind of silly."

"What, Mom?"

"Well, I put your cookies on top of the van when we were all getting in the car to go home, and I forgot them there, and now they've blown off the top of the van!  Isn't that silly?!"

I know... novice mistake... I was trying to make light of the situation hoping Kaycie would just say something like, "Oh Mommy, that's so funny!  Oh well, let's go home."  I was clearly delusional.

Kaycie was devastated.  I could see the realization of what had just happened creep across her sweet, innocent little face.  She started to panic and said, "Is Gingy ok, Mom?  We have to go back!  We have to go back and find my Gingies!"  I suddenly had this insanely irrational hope that somehow this tray had landed right side up in a fluffy snowbank! 

I wheeled the car around and we re-traced our path back to Morgan's subdivision, looking all the way for any sign of Gingy and co.  Suddenly, up ahead, I saw smear of red and white on the road, and a foil pan dancing across the road on the wind.  My heart sunk, and a lump formed in my throat.  Poor Gingy and Gingy.  I can only hope that death came swiftly to the two of them.  They didn't stand a chance... poor little guys!  They and the asphalt were now one... literally... they were completely squashed.

I kept driving, but said to Kaycie, "Honey, I found them and I don't think we can take them home... they got run over by a car, sweetie."  I turned the car and headed for home as Kaycie started bawling.  I apologized profusely, of course, but the tears kept coming.  I asked her what I could do to make her feel better, and she said, "I want to see them."

Of course!  This must be the 'closure' that people talk about!  I wheeled the car around for the third time, pulled over to the side of the road beside the carnage, and let Kaycie pay her respects.  I apologized again, and the little cutie says, "It's ok Mama.  Don't worry."  I can't even describe the relief I felt when she said those words!  It amazes me in hindsight how horrible I had felt about the whole thing - she had been so proud of her creations and in the blink of an eye, they were gone, and it was completely my fault!  But, she amazed me with her maturity about the whole thing once she was able to see them.

So, off we went, but Kaycie was still a little teary eyed.  She called from the backseat, "Mommy, do you think Morgan has another Gingy for me?"  Well, long story short, Morgan was a super mom and once she heard our tale of woe, we wheeled around for the fourth time and headed back to Morgan's for our replacement Gingy.  (Morgan, if you're out there.... you're the best!  Thank you!!!!)

So, my hard learned lesson is one that will stick with me.  You won't catch me putting anything on the roof of the car again for a very, very long time!

Rest In Pieces, Gingy.  :-(

Thanks to Morgan, I now have a picture of Gingy the First to share with you!  See below for Gingy and the remnants of Gingy's airborne grave.  :-(

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Kaycie Sez...

In response to a heightened demand for "more Kaycie stories", I think I'll start collecting little snippits from her over the week and post them once a week for your reading pleasure.

So, without delay, please find below this week's instalment of "Kaycie Sez..."  (credit goes to Ken for the very "street" title):

  • Overheard while Kaycie was pretending her 2 dolls met each other on the street and were having a conversation:  Doll A - "Oh hello!  Great to see you!"  Doll B - "Hello!  Ooohh... you look defecating!"
  • Kaycie enters our bedroom and says to me, "Mom, I'm wearing my magic belt to protect me."  I see that she is wearing her silver sparkly belt and ask her, "to protect you from what?" to which Kaycie replied without hesitation:  "Canada."
  • Upon tucking her in at bedtime, I say to Kaycie, "Close your eyes and go to sleep."  Kaycie says, "but when I close my eyes, I can only see the inside of my head... it's too dark in there."
  • Kaycie:  "Mommy, is it ok if when I grow up I'm a girl?"  Me: "Sure"  Kaycie: "Yesss!!!"

Friday, December 10, 2010

Oh My Darling Clementine

Short and sweet today, I'm afraid, but I just couldn't let this week come to an end without confessing my severe addiction to that sweet, sweet winter treat... the clementine! 

Every winter our household eagerly awaits the stacks of wooden crates full of clementine-y goodness that appear around the end of November at our grocery store.  I'm not talking about the crates that are there during the rest of the year with those poser fruits.  No sirreee!  Those crates are about $8 a pop, and you'll be digging out seeds once you pry your way through the dry, thin peel.  Nuh, uh... the good stuff only makes an appearance once the holiday season arrives... and the price is usually right too!

Are you like me?  Have you ever eaten the perfect clementine?  If you have, and if you truly are like me, then you have got the taste for blood, and you need more. You will be able to relate to my annual quest for citrus perfection.

You know what the perfect clementine is like... I know you do.  You see it sitting in the crate... its peel is nice and shiny and it looks kind of lumpy, with visible pores (sounds like I'm in the cosmetics industry!).  You pick it up, and it feels kind of heavy for its size.  You slide your thumb under the skin and *squeal*... the peel basically just falls away... preferably all in one piece for all us weirdos out there who like it when that happens.  When you open it up and look at the little segments, there are, of course, no seeds.  Yay!  You pop it in your mouth and delight in the splash of orange-y juice that the perfect clementine yields.

But wait... what will make it the absolute greatest clementine ever for me is if there is a little weensy baby fruit segment in there, attached to a  bigger momma fruit segment.  I peel that sucker off and eat it last!

Oh how I love me some clementines!  And... I feel totally guilt free eating more than one at a time!  All that Vitamin C... woo hoo!  Plus, you know that it just takes one of them to start getting mouldy and then you've lost the whole box in super short order, so you might as well eat them up fast!

I started this post pretty confident that I wasn't the only one having a love affair with this star of the citrus aisle, but now I just think I may be weird.  Am I the only one?  Anyone else out there a fan of this little guy?

Monday, December 6, 2010

People Are Interesting

I remember my grade 12 English teacher observing that I liked to people watch.  It's true... I think I could probably occupy myself just about anywhere as long as there was a steady supply of people to spy on.

So, I've been toying with the idea of having one day a week in my blog dedicated to the interesting people I see on my travels.  I run across so many weird and wacky humans while I'm out there doing my thing, and I think it will be kind of cool to document what I've seen so I don't forget!

So, without further ado, here is my list for this week of the interesting and giggle-inducing people I've stumbled across:

1.  I saw a young woman walking across a parking lot the other day who was just plastered in make up... tonnes of foundation, glaringly silvery eyeshadow, eyebrows that had been tweezed like crazy and then drawn back on with some sort of intensely black marker, hair completely sculpted, super dark lip liner and super light lipstick.  The part that made me giggle was that I looked behind her and saw that she was walking out of our local Beauty Supply Warehouse.  I just love stuff like that!

2.  A very nice older woman at the grocery store helped me navigate my stroller through a narrow aisle.  When I looked up to say thank you, I saw that she had a pierced lip with a hoop ring and a cross dangling from it.  I have never seen anything like that before!  It was so weird... especially considering this woman had to be at least 70 years old.  There has got to be a story there.

3.  Again, someone helping me with my stroller.  A man who was probably 50 years old, perfectly dressed in a tailored business suit, trenchcoat, shiny shoes, and a snazzy briefcase helped to make sure my poor baby didn't get squashed by the elevator doors.  When I looked up to thank him, I saw that he was wearing the most bizarre hat!  It was a "poor boy" style cap that had a Minute Maid logo on it and it was soooo tattered and thread bare.  I could just tell that this was his go-to hat and he wore it every day.  What a contrast to the rest of him!

4.  Parking lot hippies!  This made my day.  I was parking at the lot near my doctor's office and when I pulled up to the ticket dispensing machine, this couple in a VW van who literally had John Lennon glasses and headbands called out to me, waving a parking ticket in the air.  They told me that they had been waiting for someone to come and park because their ticket didn't expire until 6pm and they wanted to do someone a favour by passing it along.  I was, of course, completely happy about this turn of events, and thanked them profusely.  As they drove away, the woman shouted out the window, "Pay it forward, my friend... pay it forward!".  The neat part was that when we went to leave after seeing the doctor, my daughter said, "Mommy, we need to give our ticket to the next person!"  And, so we did!  We made their day, too!

So, what I've learned this week is that strange people are generally polite if you go by my sample group.  I've also learned that I spend a lot of time looking down.  Every time I look up, there is a dramatic reveal of something!  I think I will make a concerted effort to look up while I'm wandering about from now on.  :-)

I think that's about it for this week.  This big world is just full of characters, though, so we'll see what next week turns up!