Thursday, 28 March 2013

Spring Picture Bullshit

I may bitch about my kids. A little here and there. Ok, a lot.  Zip it.

But I want to go on record saying they are the coolest little people I know. They may drive me crazy at times, but I am proud of them in so many ways and I love being their mom.

Teenagers get a bad rap. I will be honest with you that I was afraid for the dreaded age of 13. Everybody tells you how scary and awful it’s going to be. But I can look at you with a straight face and tell you that it’s not that bad and MUCH better than that weird tweeny stage.

Here’s why. At 13... I know what I am dealing with. Mood Swings and all. During the twilighty age of 10, 11 and 12, they flip between little kid to toddler to hormonal teen.
Seriously for all that is good and holy, just pick an age and go with it so I know what parenting hat to put on. Are you 3 or are you 16? It’s like dealing with a bi-polar schizophrenic…who forgot to take their meds.

The Trolls are pretty fantastic. I love spending time with them and if I had to pick someone to go to the mall with or have a girl’s lunch with, it would hands down be them.
They are funny!! They are witty. They make me laugh.
And they may be a wee bit like me and at times can be sarcastic assholes. 
I love it.
I have no idea where they learned it from. Probably Dylan. Way to go Jackass. Remember when I told you “more is caught than is taught”? Well, mark yourself down for a fail on that one.
Ok…maybe a little is from me. Like a 'sprinkle' of my influence.
Again, zip it.

Last year the girls all came home with ‘Spring School Pictures’
I brushed hair, arranged clean matching clothes and paid for the tacky school picture packages back in September. Why on earth are they taking pictures AGAIN in March??

I went on a crazy rant about how it was yet another money grab from the school and photography company.

Pictures say a thousand words eh? Well if these pictures could talk they would say this: 

“Here…. look at all these shitty lovely pictures of your child we took without any warning or permission. Please buy them all for 1000 dollars. If you don’t…you are a shitty mom who doesn’t want memories of your children’s school years. That makes you an asshole. Way to go mom. Did you remember to add extra money to the therapy pot? No? Well then you may as well just go get another bottle of wine to wash away your mommy shame. FAIL. ”

Really? I’m not falling for your big corporation mommy guilt game. I bought the damn pictures in September that will NEVER hang on my wall and sent them to extended family like the good mother, daughter and wife I am suppose to be.
My rant was not quiet nor was it hidden from the girls. Pretty sure the entire neighborhood knew how I felt about the stupid Spring Pictures.
I may have done the Dylan arm flap. Shhhhhh.

So this year when they informed me it was Spring Picture time, I offered a dare instead of a rant.
I dared them to pick the CHEESIEST background.
I dared them to pick the TACKIEST pose.
And then I informed them there would be a prize for whoever could get away with the FUNNIEST face.
And be subtle enough to not get caught.

Olivia won.
And I have never been so proud.

Such a pretty meadow Olivia. Good choosing.

I am expecting a call from the school any day now. Pretty sure I will be given a detention slip for my shenanigans. Pffft…well worth it. I make a mean spitball.

Whatever…Olivia OWNED Spring Pictures! That's my girl.

Xo J

Normal pic. I know I am biased…but look at how pretty she is. Trust me..she is just as beautiful on the inside.

Monday, 25 March 2013

On Why Instructions are Important.....

I like instructions. I am the type of person to read instructions and follow them step-by-step.

Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

But sometimes instructions make the task at hand more difficult and time consuming. Sometimes I can complete the job faster and more effectively with my own ideas.

I recently dip dyed the older girls hair. Although I am not a girly-girl in any way, shape or form and have never actually coloured my own hair and really don’t even know how to use make-up…it just didn’t appear to be Rocket Science to me.
So in keeping up with the ‘Worlds Coolest Mom’ persona, when the Trolls asked me if they could dip dye their hair, I said yes.
They were shocked.
Truth be told, so was I.

We bought a dip-dye kit from the local drug store.  It seemed simple enough and it was only $14!!
Please remember: I love me a good deal.

OF COURSE I read the instructions before taking on such a monumental task.

The first step was to bleach the ends of the hair. Although this made me nervous, I was successful with both girls. Yeah me! Usually things like this end up with the twin who goes first has to deal with mom’s inevitable screw up, while the daughter that goes second benefits from moms trial and error lessons and her sisters tears.
(In this house you want to be second!! Seriously, crib number one fell apart.)
Not this time…two kids with perfectly white hair at the bottom and ready for colour.  
I began contemplating a new career as a hair stylist.

Next came the pink and purple dye part. The instructions informed me that although this fluorescent colour (read…holy shit that’s bright pink) does wash out of the hair after a few months, the user should be EXTREMELY CAUTIOUS while handling and applying the product. In bold letters it stated to AVOID SKIN CONTACT and use the gloves provided. And the dye would permanently stain ANY and ALL items it came into contact with.
Well…duh, wasn’t that the point?
Make contact with hair…hair is stained pink.
Brain surgery? I think not.

As I was applying the colour, I realized the gloves provided in the kit were a pain in the ass and not helpful at all. Between the hair and the dye and the plastic of the gloves it was all slippery and shit and I was becoming annoyed.
So in a moment of frustration, all I could remember was the package telling me that the dye eventually washes out.
My brain had blocked out the other part about permanent....forever…staining…. skin contact…avoid…caution…blah blah blah.

I took the gloves off. I massaged that dye into the ends of the hair like a freaking Vidal Sassoon pro. I may have had a British accent.

Ummm. Ooops.
I panicked at the sight of my pink hands and squeezed the bottle too hard and pink dye squirted down the front of me.
Then my hands were slippery with pink dye and the bottle fell out of my hand and landed on the kitchen mat in a splash.
But it hit the white cupboard on the way down.
Then the ends of the long hair dripping with pink dye landed in a slop against the back of my white dining chair as I let go of the hair to pick up the bottle.
Then I grabbed a white towel only to remember a titch too late that my hands still held a lot of dye on them. So I grabbed another towel. And then another. And another.
Then I scratched an itch on my forehead.
Then I said a very bad word with my outside voice and had to apologize with pink jazz hands to my daughters.

Once the kitchen was cleaned up, I set about the task of trying to wash the pink dye from my hands. I looked like a Smurf on acid. Convinced it really could be there forever, I decided to give a few household products a try.
I mean really, how permanent could this really be? I must have something lying around that would turn my hands back to normal.

Turns out it’s pretty permanent. Those instructions were there for a reason. But if you ever find yourself in this predicament, please refer to the graph below to assist you in choosing products according to their pink-hand cleaning efficacy. 

Although the product ‘Goo Gone’ sounds like it should only be found in a store with blacked out windows, it actually does exist. 

And as you can see in my handy-dandy pie graph, it worked the best. Not 100% removal..more like Fuchsia Pink to Bubble Gum Pink.
However, pink hand buyer beware…it burns like a mo-fo. In hindsight, I should have paid attention to the itty-bitty Skull and Cross Bones at the bottom of the bottle.
They should make that shit bigger so people know not to wash their hands with it. 
Good news though, the tingling is almost gone.

Please don’t ask "why butter". There really is no explanation for my thought process behind that one. I was desperate.

So perhaps the $14 dollar pink hair dye was NOT my best idea ever. ‘Perhaps’ I will pony up the 35 bucks next time to have it done at a professional salon.
Where they know what they are doing.
And use gloves.

·      2 Dip Dye Kits- $28
·      1 Ikea Kitchen Floor mat- $35
·      1 Williams’s Sonoma Apron- $65
·      1 White Cape Cod Style Kitchen Cupboard- $389
·      1 White Pier One Dining Chair- $199
·      6 White fluffy towels - $150
·      4 Sessions of Therapy for hearing mommy drop the F-Bomb -$800
·      8 Household Products- $25
·      1 bottle of wine- $15 and my dignity lost in the liquor store paying with pink hands.

Watching your children's joy and happiness and LOVE of their new hair…. PRICELESS!!!!!

I’m thinking my next kitchen should probably not be white.

xo J

Finished Product....well worth it all.

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Belly Buttons and Vaginas

Anyone in a marriage or relationship quickly realizes that Family of Origin plays a very important part in roles, responsibility and functionality of life within that partnership.

When Dylan and I were first married, we attended marriage counseling that included exploration around our family experiences in regards to values and beliefs. Don’t get me wrong, this was very important and I recommend it to anyone to try to figure out some of the ‘big stuff’ before walking down the isle.

But…it’s the everyday shit that you are ON YOUR OWN for to figure out through trial and error.

For example: language around body parts, bodily functions and issues pertaining to sexuality. They should add that to mandatory pre-marriage counseling. That would be beneficial for the real life stuff.
Or simply for comical value for the counseling Pastor. Just sayin’ Pastor Jim...that would have been well worth your timeJ

Please know that I am all for kids being as comfortable with the word penis as they are with the word elbow. When the girls were little and learning body parts, we labeled noses, eyes, belly buttons and vaginas correctly and with equal amount of praise and gusto.
However, you can count me out when it comes to specific anatomy of the lady bits…I’m pretty sure they cover that in grade 5.

In my Family of Origin, in an attempt to appear lady like and classy, we had nicknames for private parts. Like ‘front bum’ or ‘wee wee’ or ‘pee-pee’er’. Pooping was lovingly referred to as a ‘jobie’ and farts were cleverly disguised as a ‘puff’.
I shit you not.
These were the words we used and I thought they were normal. Can you imagine my surprise in college when I excused myself after a puff to go to the washroom for a jobie?

Those words still make me cringe and my kids know it and say them just to see my reaction. Oh what fun. No…not fun. At all.

My Family of Origin was just a wee bit more delicate around wording compared to Dylan’s. When making dinner I still refer to the chicken boob parts as  ‘chicken chests’ and my mom still goes all red and flustered if you say the words menstruation or ovulating.
Trust me it’s funny.
I know this because we say them randomly and repeatedly just to bug her.
Hmm…I wonder where my kids get their assholeness from?
Don’t answer that.

Dylan’s family however, was much more literal.  Don’t get me wrong, I hit the In-Law jackpot. Dylan’s parents are awesome and I am truly blessed to be in their family. They are also a lot ‘different’ than my own family. I truly appreciate this and have learned much from these differences.

I have also made fun of them. Shocker I know.

Don’t worry, they can hold their own and tease me right back. The tricks my father-in-law has played on me are blog worthy.
(Note to self: Write blog about father-in-law)

Dylan refuses to use the word ‘poo’. He goes bat-shit-crazy when he hears a child say, “I have to go poo”. It actually puts him over the edge. It’s hilarious.
Yes…I say it just to see his reaction. Ok, even I am beginning to see a theme here.

In his family it was called a bowel movement.
Close your eyes and imagine a three-year-old saying “Mommy, I need to have a bowel movement”.
Enough said. 

Anatomy was called by the proper terms at all times and farts were never discussed. 
Come on Stilwell's!!! Farts are funny!!

So we compromise. While the girls know correct terms, we do have some family words that I am sure will make the girls cringe when they are grown and parenting their own lovely children.

For example, a bowel movement is called ‘business.’
Why you ask?
After realizing that pooping was an Olympic event similar to the Decathlon for Dylan, I started calling the washroom his office. Hence…he would go to his ‘office’ to attend to his ‘business’. 
Farts were cute little ‘foo-fits’ when the girls were younger. We've grown as a family and farts are just farts now. And yup... still funny.
Vaginas are ‘vajajay’s’ or ‘jays’ (thanks Greys) or ‘woos’. Don’t ask. Just go with it. There is nothing funnier to say than balls or junk. And breasts are boobs or boobies or melons or gazungas. 
Don’t judge me. I never said I was mature.

The compromise part is that Dylan still uses correct terms when in conversation with them. While they were younger this was fine, but Dylan is quickly learning that it is highly embarrassing for 13-year-olds to have a verbal exchange with dear old dad as he throws out these terms. The girls almost died the other night at dinner as he asked one of them to pull up their shirt, as he didn’t care to see their breasts.
Food was spit in horror, milk was snorted as children were successfully embarrassed and just like that dinner was done as high pitched squeaky girls left the table in disgust.

This morning as Dylan was getting them all out the door for school and I was getting ready for work, I heard the usual arm-flapping rant from Dylan about clothing choices.
Tights are NOT pants.
One of them was instructed to “go show your mom and see what she says”. Knowing full well what moms answer would be, said child wisely decided to change rather than face the scrutiny and lecture of moms outfit judgment zone.

The other one sent me this text.

Somewhere between the two of us and the quirky combination from our Family’s of Origin, the girls will sort it all out and then pass their learned dysfunction onto their own children.

And then I will teach my precious future grandchildren what words to say to remind mom of her youth and her amazing parents. The words that can make their mothers recoil on the spot.

I can hardy wait.

Xo J

P.S. I also don't like the following words: slacks, blouse, brassier, stump, soda and cyst. 
So please refrain from ever using the sentence below in conversation with me.

"As she sat on the stump, she put down her soda to straighten her slacks and adjusted her brassier that covered the cyst under her blouse, then let out a puff and realized she needed to have a jobie.

Monday, 18 March 2013

Camping with a Teenage Girl

My new friend Heather, the mama behind the blog ‘Failing with Flair’ is this weeks “I Get a Day Off From Writing and Feeling Pressure to be Funny and Get to Laugh at Your Stories and Share Some Blog Love Monday”.

Ok, so she doesn’t really "know" we are friends and how much I love her...yet. 
Meh, minor details.

But I have been stalking her blog and Facebook for just enough clues to find out where she lives and all about her life. What she doesn’t know is that I am REALLY good at social media stalking and that I have watched enough CSI and Criminal Minds to deserve my own badge, gun and bullet proof vest. Seriously, I try to figure out the who-done-it plot on sit-coms, the news and grade 7 girl drama for shits and giggles.
CSI Stilwell at your service.

Plus I know Calgary really well, so when she drops hints for me like where she is hanging out and what traffic she stuck in, it’s like she is leaving me a trail similar to Hansel and Gretel just so I can find her.
To become best friends.
I think she is ever so thoughtful to make a game out of it. See, she already knows I love to win. 
And my prize will be her.
Ok, that came out wrong. I am not boiling bunnies. It’s ok, Heather will understand. 
She get’s me.

Heather sent me her post on a REALLY shitty day at work. She made me actually ‘laugh out loud’ as I sat in my car in the midst of work related tears (I was parked ya’ll, don’t worry…her story was far too long to read at a red light or between changing lanes in rush hour). 
I called her my email fairy.
See, we already have nicknames for each other.

Heather is a mom to four and a truly gifted storyteller. I am honoured to have her here. I also want you to READ THIS because we have all been there and it will make you laugh. 
If you haven’t been there and don’t laugh…well then whatever. Screw you and your perfect body.
Kidding. Don’t be mad. My anger stems from jealousy.
I know it’s not the Christmas season, but I would also like you to READ THIS. It is perhaps one of the most beautiful stories of the true spirit of Christmas I have ever read. 
It will also let you see what an amazing woman my new friend Heather is.

Ok, I will stop rambling. Well, at least here. I will continue to ramble to Dylan as per usual. He is so lucky isn’t he?
Do you have a teenage daughter? Have you ever taken her camping? Are you going to be ok? Do you have the number of a support group I can contact? Some sort of program to get me through the worst of the pain, till the twitching stops???

Liz is an amazing kid, but we are just beginning her teenage years, and it turns out there are a whole lot of things I don't remember about teenagegirldom. And this becomes blatantly obvious on vacation.

Liz and I get along like a house on fire when we're out camping, because she is my daughter and I have ruined her. She is scared of the same things I am, and we are usually each other's first line of defense.
We walk together to outhouses, and NEVER make spooky noises while the other one is peeing. We run from the same things in the dark. I can throw myself through the door of the tent trailer onto the floor and kick it shut behind me because I imagined I was being chased by skunks with knives (It can happen!), and she won't laugh at me, like OTHER people in our family do. We have a song we made up years ago for when we have to walk through a dim forest/empty field/past an abandoned building of any kind/in the dark/to an outhouse/isolated garbage bin. It has one line, repeated over and over, as we stomp along in time with the song (because marching makes you less likely to break into a run). It goes: "We are so brave. We are so brave. We are so brave. We are so brave. We are so brave," to a simple 3 note tune (that way it's easier to remember when your voice starts to quake).

She's always been one of those kids who makes her own way in life and doesn't really give a shit what other people think. It's one of the things I admire most about her, and one of the things that makes her so popular. She marches to the beat of her own drummer (usually a more interesting one than the one we used for our camping song), and her quirks are the best part of her.

She has so many neat things about her that it's very rare for any of them to REALLY annoy me, but this year, camping with her was more challenging than ever before.

Although she is normally a very neat child, with a place for everything, and everything in its place, out camping there are fewer spaces for places and those that exist usually need to be shared by everyone. This meant that the 378,645 cubic inches of mascara, bronzer brush, lip stain, eyeliner, lip gloss, blush, bronzer, tweezers, eyebrow brush, face cleanser, makeup remover, eyeshadow brushes, lipstick, eye shadow, blush brush, and cotton balls she brought with her for the 10 days we were about to spend in the thriving metropolis of 'just outside Pincher Creek' were CONSTANTLY encroaching on everyone else's space.

Every time I tried to get the big pot out of the bottom cupboard to make dinner, I was pelted with a hail of Q-Tips. A simple search for my toothbrush resulted in near blindness caused by accidentally triggering a spray of HoneyDo perfumed body mist. (People should carry this stuff in Banff instead of Bear Spray- it completely incapacitated me. Even now, the smell of overripe fruit causes my eyes to tear up and sinuses to involuntarily drain.) Trying to find a diaper in an 8 x 12 tent trailer involved lifting my body weight (no mean feat) in cosmetics just to access the diaper bag, which had been emptied of its supply of baby wipes, as she prefers these to the harsher cleansers in the makeup remover she also brought along (apparently just to fill some weight requirement).

Her hair, which she used to care so little about that she allowed her father to shave it off, now requires the electrical output of a small village in Tanzania simply to keep it in an acceptable state for a week spent swimming in a muddy river. Her phone charger and IPod were plugged into the outlets that we had (incorrectly) assumed would be used to run the lights and power in the trailer, and the sound of her blow dryer drowned out singing birds for miles around. She had appropriated the longest extension cord we had because nothing else could reach the tent, where she was straightening her hair, and she was seriously annoyed that she we didn't have a power bar so she could heat her spiral curler at the same time. At one point, she actually UNPLUGGED LANA AND ERIK'S ENTIRE TRAILER to charge her Nintendo DS. (It was accidental, and she felt really bad, but we'll never let that one go. It's just too funny.)

She and the other girls were able to do near-professional manicures and pedicures on themselves, using the array of polishes, files, and buffers that they had brought with them for the trip (in comparison, Isaiah was excited simply to find a $5 pair of sneakers without holes in them to wear after his 6 weeks volunteering at a wilderness bible camp). She sacrificed a $20 beach towel to clean clay (CLAY!) off her body when the kids found a deposit in the river and spent 3 hours sculpting, and used my entire supply of laundry loonies to wash and rewash her white bathing suit to remove the streaks of mud. She used up a brand new bottle of body wash in 6 days (one intended to last the family a whole week), because camping makes her sweaty and she has to shower twice a day.

And here is what makes this all bearable. At one point, the tent that all the girls were sleeping in developed a leak, and I went looking for our roll of bright yellow duct tape. After several fruitless minutes, I asked her what had become of it, and she informed me that she had used it to make shoes.
Yep. Shoes.
She had gotten instructions for making duct tape shoes, and because yellow is a cool color, had used up the roll we keep in the camping fixit box. Come on. Tell me this isn't cool. My wonderful daughter had used up something I desperately needed, but she did it in such an awesome, creative way that I was too busy being impressed by her to give a hoot about the tape (besides- I didn't need to sleep in a puddle- that was her problem). And, despite the fact that making duct tape shoes sounds like it should be required learning for the homeless, she wore them all over the place this past summer, and inspired home repair fashion in countless other teenagers.

So I will keep being proud of my funny, independent daughter, and I will keep learning to camp with a teenage girl. Because the thing that scares me most of all is that someday, that teenage girl will stop wanting to camp with me.

Thank you Heather. Not only for the much needed laughs and sharing your blog with us (after all, misery loves company), but your heartfelt reminder for me to stop in the midst of my crazy and enjoy it….even the thirteen year olds.
This phase in our life will be over in the blink of an eye. And I will miss it.

Now you can all get in line behind me.
I call friendship dibs.

Xo J