Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Running From the Law... And Other Symptoms of Chronic Disorganization

It's that time of year for us again.  Well, to be more accurate, it is PAST that time of year again.

It's not like the Ministry of Transportation forgets to tell us.  No, no -- in fact, they are very diligent about sending us our form at least 2 months ahead of time.  I can't blame them.  We have no one to blame but ourselves.

You know what I'm talking about.  It's sticker time.
License plate stickers are the bane of my existence.  I'm certain that all those born organized people out there go out to the mailbox one day, open up a letter from MTO, see that it's the form for renewing their licence plate sticker, go directly to the phone and call their mechanic to schedule a Drive Clean test, actually manage to go get the test done and then drive directly to a Kiosk and pick up their stickers.

I don't hate people like that... I aspire to be like them, in fact.  But sometimes... in my darkest, most disorganized hours, it's hard not to want to go find an organized person and trip them.  :-)

You see... I am not naturally organized.  It's becoming a learned skill for me.  And... I am getting better!  My default mode, however, is still chaos in motion. 

I can deal with my disorganization... that's not really the part that bothers me the most.  It's actually the look on the faces of those people who are naturally organized that haunts me.

Take for example my neighbours:  Way back in January we met in front of our houses while shovelling snow.  They have a daughter about Kaycie's age and told me that they had just signed their daughter up for skating lessons and why don't Ken and I sign Kaycie up for the same session and then the kids could learn together and we could take turns walking them over to the rec centre and back?  Sounds like a great idea, right?  Sounded like a great idea to me too!  I agreed enthusiastically and promised to get right on it.

You know where this is going.

One week passes and I feel a bit sheepish that I haven't signed Kaycie up yet.  To be fair, I did go online to see if I could sign her up there, but it said that online registration was over and I needed to go in person.

Two weeks pass and I have somehow got it in my head that I need to go get Kaycie skates and a helmet before I can sign her up for lessons.  Avoiding shovelling my driveway in case they see me and ask me about the skating lessons.

Three weeks pass and I realize that yet again I have not done anything about signing Kaycie up for lessons.  But, it's 2am when I have this revelation, and so I am helpless to fix the situation.

Suddenly it's mid-February.  Whenever the doorbell rings, I jump... it's probably them wondering why we haven't been showing up for Monday night skate!  Why am I like this?!!?

March.  I pull into the drive way after taking the kids grocery shopping, and there is my neighbour and his daughter checking out their grass.  That's right... no snow on the ground... I have dragged this on until the end of winter!  As I get out of the car, he comes over to say hi.  We chit chat, and I quickly start apologizing profusely for not signing Kaycie up for skating lessons.  I try to explain how it all happened, and he just gives me that look.  That look of absolute non-computing.  That look that tells me he truly has no idea how it came to be that I didn't just walk over to the rec centre the day after we discussed it and sign up my kid.  It's a look that is very hard to describe, but if you know it, and if you're like me, that look is unmistakeable.  And it makes you want to just crawl under a rock.  Truth be told, my neighbours are lovely people, though!  I'm sure he still likes us!  LOL

Oh well.  Anyway, back to my sticker woes.  MTO held up their end of the bargain this year as usual and sent us the forms for renewing our stickers in February (both of us have April birthdays - thank goodness we only have to once a year instead of twice!).  I thought to myself, "Oh yeah!  Stickers.  I've got lots of time."

Fast forward to me visiting with my parents in the first weekend of May, when out of the blue I gasp mid-conversation and realize aloud that I haven't renewed our stickers and they expired in April!  I resolved to get them first thing Monday morning.

Well, have you heard that bit of trivia about how goldfish only have the capacity to remember the past five minutes?  Sometimes I feel just like a goldfish.

I managed to forget about those darn stickers over and over and over again over the span of the next two weeks.  Generally, I would remember about them while I was driving somewhere with no time to go and renew the stickers.  So, I spent those two weeks driving like a complete fugitive.  Looking nervously around me at every stoplight, obeying every law to the letter, taking routes that I thought cops might not travel.  It was ridiculous.

Finally, I planned ahead (what a novel idea!), managed to get an appointment on a Sunday to get our emission test certificate, and decided to make my Monday morning outing with the kids a trip to the MTO office to get our stickers.  I got up that morning, got the kids dressed and over breakfast, I laid out my plan for Kaycie.  It went something like this:

Me:  "Guess where we're going this morning?"

Kaycie:  "The Disney Store?!?!?!  I loooove the Disney Store!  I would really, really love a..."

Me:  "Sorry cutie, but no, we are not going to the Disney Store."

Kaycie:  (with an exaggerated slump and a dejected moan) "Ohhhhhhhh....."

Me:  "We're going someplace wayyyy better than the Disney Store."

Kaycie:  "Where are we going?"

Knolan:  "Ba, ba, ba, ba, ba, ba, ba, ba, ba, ba, ba, ba."

Me:  "Well, the government wants to make sure that everyone puts new stickers on their cars once a year to prove that they are legally ok to drive their car, and it's that time of year for Mommy to put new stickers on her car, so we are going to the office where the government gives people stickers!  Doesn't that sound like fun?"

Kaycie:  "You can use my heart stickers if you want!"

Me:  "Oh sweetie, that's nice, but we need to use stickers with numbers on them."

Kaycie:  "Well, actually, if your sticker is for your car, then you should really put Lighting McQueen stickers on it because Lightning McQueen is a car."

Me:  "I love you so much."

So, we actually made it out of the house and I loaded the kids into my beast of a stroller - I got a new one from Kijiji that allows Kaycie to sit or stand at the back of the stroller.  It is wonderful, but much, much bigger than I am used to.  Luckily, our MTO is down the street, so off we went on our morning adventure.

After stopping about 7 times to get off the stroller, take off our headband and put it in the under seat storage mesh, and then stopping another 7 times to retrieve said headband and put it back on, we finally made it to the MTO office.

I had foolishly assumed when I was formulating my master plan of attack for getting these stickers that since the MTO is a government office, that the door to the office would have an accessibility button that would automatically open the door for people with mobility issues - or a honking large stroller and two kids.

No such luck.  Have you ever tried convincing a cranky 3 year old who would rather be at a Disney Store to get off her stroller and hold the door open for you so you can push the stroller through the door?  Believe me... I was having just as much luck accomplishing this as I was convincing her that the MTO was a magical place where happy helpers gave out awesome car stickers.  Not happening.

So, after about 4 people walked out the door and right past me struggling with this giant stroller, a very nice man came back and held the door open for us.  Thanking him profusely, I quickly managed to herd my gang through the door.

Once we got in, and I looked up, my heart sunk.  The only way to get to the counter was to literally navigate my stroller through the red velvet rope maze nightmare that MTO had erected to control the masses... which thankfully were not present on this particular Monday.  And of course, Kaycie insisted on sitting on the stroller the entire time.... great.  Sometimes, however, it is very, very wise to choose whatever is the alternative to a public meltdown/battle Royale, so I let her sit on her precious stroller, and began my descent into madness through the MTO labyrinth with about 70lbs of child cargo weighing down my beasty stroller.

I will do everything in my power to avoid this scenario in the future.  It was hell.  And by the way... does no one offer to help people anymore!?  Geesh!

So, I finally got to the wicket, after running over the feet of some guy who had plenty of room to make way for me, but for some unknown reason decided to stand his ground, and of course, I had theeee most cheerful, sweet wicket attendant EVER!  (do you detect the sarcasm?).  With the most patience I have seen in a long time, she demanded my Drive Clean certificate... which was conveniently nearby since Knolan had fetched it out of my bag and had started to gnaw on it.  I rescued the certificate and produced it, all to the soothing and dominating sounds of Kaycie whining and complaining about the MTO not being magical, and how the Disney Store was much more fun, and blah, blah, blah.

I was starting to sweat.  I don't do well when I think people are staring at me.

Finally we finished the transaction.  And thankfully, we finished just in time for me to notice that Knolan was violently yanking on the ethernet cable that was running right at his head level all long the front of the row of wickets.  Awesome... that would have been the perfect end to our outing to have Knolan single handedly bring down the internet at the MTO office.  Miss. Wicket would have just loved that!

So, we managed to make it out of the maze and to the exit door, where again, I was having no luck getting any assistance - from my flesh and blood or otherwise - getting my stroller out the door.  I finally managed to somehow prop the door open with my bum and pull the stroller halfway through by holding onto Knolan's drink/snack tray when an elderly man came to help me out.  When we got through the door, I thanked him, but he kept saying something to me repeatedly.  I couldn't make it out until he kind of shouted:

"You need to get your daughter some bangs!"

I look over at Kaycie, who is looking EXACTLY like Cousin It without her headband on.  All I could muster was, "She won't keep her headband on."   Then I smiled an exhausted smile, and headed home.

 And what became of those stickers you ask?  Well, I am happy to report that they are now proudly affixed to both my ownership papers and my license plate.... and it only took me until this afternoon!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Monday Memories: Mother's Day Confessions

As a tip of the hat to all you mothers out there, I thought that a fitting ode to my mom might be to list some of the crazy things my siblings and I did as children - but the list is mostly me, so as not to incriminate the siblings too, too much.  I list them because my mom must have been a complete SAINT to have kept her cool while raising me and my brother and sister.  I know we weren't the worst kids, but when I think back on the things we did, it makes me do one of those nervous laughs - partly out of mortification and partly for fear my kids will do worse!

So, Mom... this list's for you!  Happy Mother's Day, and thank you for being a patient, understanding soul!  Love ya!

1.  Filled the dishwasher with regular dishsoap and flooded the kitchen completely with a sea of bubbles.

2.  Ripped the pantry door off its hinges while rough housing in the house.

3.  Dragged a dead spider plant in its hanger out of the pile of garbage at the curb for many, many garbage pick up days in a row and hid it in the window well at the side of the house.  Somehow Mom kept finding it and taking it back to the curb.  I got very attached to objects, for some reason.  It reminds me of that old IKEA commercial... you can imagine how upsetting it must have been for me to see it for the first time!  I need help, clearly.

4.  When I was about 8, in the name of "science", I kept a cup full of spit in the cupboard for several weeks... just to see what would happen.  You can imagine how pleased my mom was when she stumbled across that little gem!  (you can't imagine how embarrassed I am sharing this, but it's a good example of the kind of stuff my mom endured.)

5.  Was in charge of my little brother one night and went to another town with our friends to meet some boys and in a spectacular display of complete irresponsibility left our brother (who was probably 12 at the time) by himself to play Nintendo in the middle of the night at this one boy's house.  This boy's grandmother happened to be sleeping in another room and woke up.  When we arrived back at the house well after midnight, we walked in to find the two of them playing Nintendo.

6.  In all seriousness, I wrapped our van around a tree one day and probably gave my mom (and dad... and my best friend's parents) a heart attack and flashbacks of the crumpled van for life.

7.  <Removed to protect the innocent!>

8.  The very first week I moved away from home to go to university, I participated in frosh week initiation and described it in gleeful detail to my mother.  I was giddy with the novelty of a new place to live, new friends, and the creativity of the frosh week planning committee.  My mom will probably never recover from the shock of hearing all of the "creativity".  Sorry mom!  Not sure what I was thinking!

9.  After they kicked the bucket, kept our sweet little guinea pigs in a jar for a while (perhaps waiting for the right time to bury them?  My memory is fuzzy on this one.).

10.  Stole a flashing construction light (which I hid in my closet under a blanket because I was overcome with guilt).

11.  Faked sick many, many, many times.

12.  Phoned my mom many, many, many times in the middle of the night crying about stupid things I'd done - and to her credit, she always was so wonderful about it.

13.  Spent all my money in the first semester of university... and I mean every cent.  I was selling the scrip (the university's fake food plan money that they gave to residence students... it was like monopoly money) to commuter students at a discount to get my hands on cash.

14.  Wrote all over my bedroom walls... and invited every person who came to our house to do the same.  At the end, I couldn't believe the people who ended up leaving their autograph on my bedroom wall.  Even our highschool's vice-principal signed!

15.  While trying to slide down our staircase bannister (well... that point is actually in dispute... I think I shall have to blog about this one day to defend myself.  In the meantime, though... let's say I was trying to slide down it for the sake of simplicity.) I flipped over and only saved myself from crashing from the second story to the main floor by somehow grabbing the vertical thingers... spindles!  Thank you Google!  Anyway, I hung there for a while, gasping in a panicked whisper: "Help!" until my mom wandered in to the hallway and looked up and saw me hanging there.  She's got a good head on her shoulders and coordinated a fine rescue!  Although she said later she was freaking out, she had the presence of mind to stand under me to cushion my fall until Dad could get there to haul me back onto the stairs.  Only a mom would sacrifice herself like that to cushion the fall of her flaky child!

I suppose that's enough for now.  Hopefully my mom will find this little trip down memory lane amusing now that a number of years have passed.  Happy Mother's Day, Mom!  Thank you for being just the mom I needed and for being a patient and wonderful human being!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Kaycie Sez...

Hi all!
No time to write!
Here are some Kaycie-isms I'm worried I'll forget:

After jumping on the couch in the sunlight and seeing a plume of dust shoot into the air:  "Oooooh!  Fairies!"  (I wish!  Are they cleaning fairies?)

To the neighbour's dog in a high-pitched, British-y accent:  "You must simply come to my tea party!  I need some villains there."

After she had gathered all of her preschool friends around behind me:  "Mom, your butt looks like a unicorn!"  (great... just great.)

After we had cleaned her room I asked her if she liked going to sleep in a clean room:  "Yah!  And tomorrow I'll mess it up again, and then YOU should clean it!  And then every day I'll mess, mess, mess and you'll clean, clean, clean!  Right Mom?"  (I see a sticker rewards chart in Miss Kaycie's future!)

And finally, at Kaycie's school, the teachers asked all of the kids why they loved their moms and then wrote their answers out and posted them at the Mother's Day Tea at Kaycie's school (which was practically my best day ever!).  Kaycie's response:  "Because I love her so much!  I just do."

Awww!!!  I loved reading that!  Anyone who knows me won't be too surprised to know that I was holding back tears (of happiness!) through the entire tea party!  I just love those little cuties of mine so much! 

*By the way, Knolan has decided he'd like to start talking now, but it may be a while before we have a "Knolan Sez" feature.  His vocabulary consists of cat, mama, dada, buhbuh (bottle), and baba (bye-bye) - not too much fodder for blogging quite yet!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Monday Memories: Tales from Sick Bay

Ugh... finding it so hard to find time to blog these days, even though I really want to!  Even my normal middle of the night writing time has had to make way for sweet, sweet sleep these days.

But, today I have time to write.  It's election night in Canada, and I am keeping my sweet little girl company on the couch, watching the election coverage while she fights through some sort of stomach flu she's picked up.  Poor girl is such a trooper.  Lots of barfing, high fever, and aches galore.  And, I have now watched Barbie and the Three Musketeers (I know, I know) more times than I care to divulge.

(*Perhaps I should take a moment here to forewarn you that this post contains A LOT of gross references to barfing.)

Kaycie actually astounded me.  While she was clearly very ill, she seemed to be able to compartmentalize and preserve her desire to have fun and be entertained... despite looking and acting like death warmed over.

For example, our first indication that Kaycie was sick was when she up-chucked seemingly out of nowhere at her cousin Maddy's birthday party.  One moment she had been dancing on the stage in Dave and Buster's party room with all the other girls at the party, and the next she was re-decorating Ken's shirt.  When we got her all cleaned up and snuggled into Daddy's lap, I said to her, "Is there anything we can do to make you feel better before we go home?"  Kaycie just looked up at me with dark circles around her eyes and mumbled, "I just really want to dance with the girls on the stage" before dozing off in Ken's arms.

Even more entertaining was her display of multitasking later that evening.  She was laying on the couch watching a movie - eyes half open, feverish and listless.  Suddenly, another wave of barfing hit her, yet as she was spewing her guts out, she never once let her gaze drift from the TV screen.  Even when I came over to rub her back while she was repeatedly heaving, she gently moved my arm out of the way so that her view of the movie would be unobstructed.  It was the weirdest thing I've seen in a while.  Talk about captivated!

As all this was going on, I naturally found myself recalling the many, many times I was sick as a child... and times I wasn't really all that sick (wink, wink).

My dad was seemingly in charge of morale boosting whenever I was sick.  Right off the top of my head, two instances come to mind:

- Once, our family was on vacation at Disney World.  We'd been camping at the Disney campground and I was waiting with my family at the bus stop for the shuttle bus to the Magic Kingdom.  I felt really nauseous, but as a little kid who was DESPERATE to get to Disney World, I was trying my best to hide the fact that I was so sick.  Suddenly, though, I could fake it no longer.  Projectile vomiting pretty much sums up what happened next.  I was mortified that I had done this in front of a crowd.  Always knowing the right thing to say, as my dad gently led me away from the bus stop, he said, "I think you impressed those guys back there... did you hear that one guy say, "I've never seen anyone puke that far before!"?

- Another time, I had thrown up all over my pillow in the middle of the night and (I did warn you about the gross factor, but one last warning in case you skimmed over the first one) basically had mashed it all over my hair.  I sleepily stumbled downstairs and into the kitchen to find my parents.  My dad looked up at me as I said, "I threw up in my hair".  Without hesitating, he said, "Oh... I thought you had put a pretty flower in your hair."  (Note: It is possible that he actually thought there was a flower in my hair... either way, I instantly felt better.)

My mom, on the other hand, always knew what would make me feel better.  Today, I found myself trying my best to say and do things for Kaycie that my mom would have done.  She knew just the right way to stroke my hair and rub my back, and she would always go out and rent me a pile of movies to watch from the couch where I was propped up with lots of pillows and supplied with as much flat gingerale and plain toast as I wanted.

Sometimes she would come up with fun things to help me pass the time.  I remember the thrill and excitement that shot through me when she showed up beside me on the couch and passed me her cassette tape recorder, saying that maybe I would like to record a story or a song with my voice and play it back for myself.  Me?!?!  All by myself?  I was allowed to use the tape recorder?!?  To a little kid, this is a big deal!  I don't know how much time this actually kept me busy for, but in my mind, I had a glorious afternoon on the couch - barf bucket close by - recording songs, plays, stories, secrets, and.... imitations of boys from my class.  Ok... I wasn't the coolest kid in school, but at least my mom might be pleased to know that I don't remember being sick that day... just how awesome my mom was.

I was also prone to what Ken's sister cleverly calls "mal a l'ecole".  "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" was a completely bad influence on me.  I remember licking my palms to make them clammy while moaning and groaning in my bed.  I used to do ridiculous things like set the temperature dial on my water bed to its highest setting so that when my parents felt my forehead I would be so hot they'd think I had a fever.  Actually, that little stunt almost backfired on me when my mom took my temperature and got a reading of 105 degrees F.  I had to confess quickly to avoid a trip to the doctor.  Luckily, I think I was able to pass the whole thing off as me just trying to get warmer overnight resulting in me feeling sick.  I got a bit of a mini-lecture on messing with the temperature dial, and off to school I went.

I do remember trying to replicate the trick that Elliott used in "E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial" to convince his mom he was sick.  One morning I realized that I had a test I wasn't ready for that day, and so I got ready to give the performance of a lifetime to get out of going to school.  My mom came in and in my best fake sick voice I weakly gasped, "I.... think... I'm... sick".  Mom grabbed her trusty thermometer, stuck it in my mouth, and left me with instructions to keep it under my tongue for 2 minutes as she walked out of my room.

I only had 2 minutes... I needed to act fast!  Luckily - I thought - I had the foresight to remember to turn on my reading light earlier in the morning so that it would be nice and hot by the time I had to put on my game face.  I scrambled out of bed and held that old-school glass thermometer up to the light bulb.  I stood there looking at the thermometer with glee... this would be fool proof!

Suddenly, the thermometer burst open.  Noooo!!!!  Little beads of mercury fell all over my carpet and I was helpless to do anything!  Not only was I helpless to do anything, but I was instantly terrified.  My mom had always warned me that if I accidentally broke a thermometer to never, ever touch the mercury inside.  I'm not sure what would actually happen if I touched the contents of a thermometer, but I was convinced it would mean instant death.

So, I was suddenly and simultaneously facing my two biggest fears:  instant death AND getting caught faking sick!  How could I have ever thought I could get away with this?!!  I had little time for panic, though.  I had to act swiftly.  I grabbed an envelope from my desk and used a pencil to nudge the little jiggly spheres of mercury into the envelope.  I somehow managed to get them all, and I tossed the intact end of the thermometer into the envelope and scrambled back into bed.

The shame of this story is that I have absolutely no recollection of what happened next.  I likely made up a story about dropping the thermometer, but I do remember that it was very important to me that my mom NOT realize that I was all the way on the other side of the room beside a hot reading lamp when the thermometer broke.

But, back here in the present, I sit here looking at my little cutie pie snoring away, and I can't help but wonder if she'll have cherished memories of her mommy taking good care of her while she's sick... or if she'll just remember that I got in the way of her movie!  If the way she just snuggled into me is any indication, though, I am hopeful that cherished memories will win out.