Meet criminal Barbie

If you read my last post you know that naked Barbie dolls are littering my backyard, turning the space between the cedars and the school yard fence into the set of a slasher film. Venture back there and you’ll see a dozen naked blondes covered in dirt, painted eyes staring vacantly up at the sky.

Of course I wasn’t happy about this (Barbies aren’t cheap!) but as we also established in the last post, I am not great at attending to domestic chores in a timely manner.

Now it seems the Barbies have suffered yet another indignity. One that involves being shoved through the holes in the fence so Harmony and her friends can play with them at recess.

I know this because I was asked to stay after school and speak to the teacher about it. I also know this because a young boy was apparently “quite traumatized” by finding naked girl dolls in the school sandpit. I also know this because I happened to see Mermaid Barbie sitting on the Principal’s desk during a meeting that, thankfully, was NOT called to discuss the tiny sex offender living in my house.

Sigh.

So we had a talk with Harmony about not bringing toys to school, and about why a little boy might be surprised to find a naked female form that looks nothing like his mother buried in his playground.

Shame on me for thinking that would be the end of it. Double shame on me for not realizing what she was doing outside the next morning before school.

Can you guess?

Yup. PUSHING THE BARBIES BACK THROUGH THE FENCE. A tidy little “F you” to the powers that be including, or perhaps especially, her mother.

Then, later that day at recess, my little criminal upped the ante by lying to the teacher who came to investigate the crowd gathered around the sandpit.

Harmony, whose credibility might have been hurt by the fact that she was sporting a leopard-print vest, pink tights, blue rain boots and a tiara, could sense her reign of terror was coming to end. Refusing to go quietly, she calmly lied through her baby teeth and said “Nope, no Barbies here.”

To his credit, the teacher figured out pretty quickly that he was being sold a bill of goods. A bill of dirty, naked, anatomically incorrect goods. So he reached into his arsenal of shame and manipulation tactics and said: “Harmony, you empty my bucket when you don’t tell the truth so I’m going to give you to the count of three to tell me what’s going on here.”

Finally, Harmony caved. But not until he got to three, of course.

Now, all of this wouldn’t be so bad if I hadn’t been elected Chair of the Parent Council last week. Thankfully, I insisted the morality clause be removed from my contract but how long until I’m impeached is anyone’s guess.

 

 

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The Terminal, starring Daren

She's going to kill me.

She’s going to kill me.

Question: Let’s say you were on your way home from a short, romantic getaway with your husband and between flights he lost his photo ID, meaning he could not carry on with the trip home rendering him a virtual airport prisoner and catapulting you into another solo parenting mission of indeterminate length. Would you:

A) Respect his privacy and not mock him in his time of need

B) Start making jokes about Tom Hanks and The Terminal.

C) Blog about it because eventually it will be funny (like in 2017).

Option C it is!!

So there we were, in Saskatoon, partying like underage Disney child stars with the Stanley Cup and a couple hundred close friends. It was supposed to be a quick one-night getaway, a holiday within our holiday, a chance to spend a couple of days together without the kids. (Quick pause for context: I drive a 5-year old Volkswagen and buy my underwear at Costco. These facts, though fascinating, prove that we are far from a jet-setting couple. We rarely go gallivanting off to exotic locales like Saskatoon. Nor do we have an abundance of friends who win Stanley Cups. This was kind of a once-in-a-lifetime thing which makes my tale of woe all the more poignant. Or ridiculous.)

It all started just fine. We spent Sunday flying from Charlottetown to Toronto, then on to Saskatoon. (It’s only fair that I pause here to confess that I left my ID on the plane and only got it back because WestJet paged me about 30 seconds before we walked out of the airport. But that’s hardly relevant so let’s carry on).

After a great night having fun and catching up with old friends it was back to the hotel for a few hours sleep before starting the long trek back to PEI.

Bright and early we boarded the first of three legs that would take us back home to the girls. The plan was: Saskatoon-Calgary, Calgary-Toronto then Toronto-Charlottetown. (Perhaps my first clue that we were destined for disaster should have been when we started by flying in the EXACT OPPOSITE DIRECTION of our final destination. Or perhaps it was the gentleman who boarded in front of us wearing beer underwear and carrying a cooler that surely contained human organs).

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If you’re counting, that’s four provinces in 36 hours. But we were kidless and on vacation so it didn’t seem so bad. I actually got to finish an entire magazine article in one sitting, and Daren got to enjoy some in-flight entertainment.

"Dangit. I've seen this one."

“Dangit. I’ve seen this one.”

Everything was going well until my husband got off the Saskatoon-Calgary leg and promptly lost his photo ID. Somewhere between Gate 44 and Gate 46, it vanished. Apparently they are pretty strict on that “no one over 18 flies without photo ID” rule, so I boarded the Calgary-Toronto flight not knowing when I would see my husband again and having no idea how I was going to get him home.

But by the time I landed in Toronto he’d managed to sweet talk WestJet (who were AMAZING through the entire ordeal) into letting him fly using a photo of his driver’s license provided by our babysitter back home. And by midnight he was home, just six hours after our originally scheduled arrival time. Now I can’t wait until he wakes up and reads this. He’ll be so happy!!

Dear Daren…

It’s been 7 days since you escaped left for the cottage. I hope you and your buddies are having an AWESOME time golfing and that the weather has been spectacular. I hope you’re getting lots of sleep and enjoying many delicious meals and adult conversation. Don’t forget to try that new seafood place we talked about!!

Not much is new here. The girls have now memorized the entire soundtrack from Frozen and sing it to each other every night, substituting key words with “poop” or “vagina”. Last night they fought for 25 straight minutes about whether dolphins or mermaids were better. I’m not sure who won because I was smashing my head into the concrete and could not hear, but it seemed pretty heated.

Yesterday Harmony asked “why?” when I told her she should not open the door of a moving car, so I’m pretty sure we made the right decision to send her to summer school. Speaking of which, a bunch of artwork came home on the last day and I saved it for you in the recycling bin.

Good news about the plumbing! It was NOT a diseased muskrat after all. Turns out they had not been flushing the toilet in their bathroom for a few days (thank you environmental science unit!) so we had a talk about conserving water in more practical ways. And speaking of water … here’s what went down in the pool this afternoon:

This is Harmony crying because Leila accidentally hit her in the head with a golf ball. Where did those come from I wonder???

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This is Leila crying because Harmony yelled at her for hitting her in the head with a golf ball:

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And this is the toad who had the misfortune of hopping into our yard but mercifully kept them busy for the next 5 hours. Expect a call from PETA.

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And this is me, taking my first selfie just for you.

You wish

You wish

Can’t wait to see you on Monday. Don’t be afraid to bring wine to the airport.

Your loving wife.

 

 

 

I Think We’re Gonna Need a Bigger Bridge.

There’s a beautiful story making the rounds online about Duke Roberts’ last day on earth. Duke was a beautiful, three-legged, cheeseburger-loving black lab who had to be put down because of a large tumour growing inside him. Duke’s owners tenderly documented his last day as they took him swimming, to the park and had goodbye visits with all his favourite people. If you haven’t read it (and you feel like sobbing), grab some tissues and look it up.

Duke on his last day

Duke on his last day

Duke’s story hit me hard, not just because he we had a similar experience three years ago, but because we recently said goodbye to two feline family members and I wish I’d thought to document and honour them in this way.

Before I get to recent events, here’s a bit about our late lab, Buster – aka B, B Dog and Sir Fartsalot. Like Duke, Buster was also a rescue, which is ironic because that’s what he loved to do most when you were swimming. We let Buster go when he was 14, after discovering a large mass on his spine. The vets predicted he would never walk again and most troubling (to Buster) was that he would need to be fitted with a catheter and have his stool manually removed for the rest of his life. When he heard that I swear he looked up with his big brown eyes and said “Guys, I’m good.” On Buster’s last night, we ordered him a meat-lover’s pizza, hand fed him cat food and slept beside him on the dog bed.

Buster

Our boy

Like most black labs, Buster loved to eat, run, eat, lick, eat and snuggle. He LIVED for the cottage where he spent his days chewing sticks, chasing ducks and “rescuing” swimmers. He never made it to PEI but I know he would have loved it so we christened our ocean-front “Buster’s Beach” and every summer we go there to strip down and lick our privates. (Just kidding, we have a champagne toast and lick our privates inside.)

A friend comes to pay his respects

Beach sign courtesy of Jim Millard

Like all certifiably crazy dog-lovers, we always assign our pets thoughts and feelings:

“Look at Buster, he’s like ‘No way I’m eating that shitty kibble. I want what they’re having’.”

“Check Buster out. He’s sad because it’s raining and he can’t go swimming.”

“Buster is NOT happy about the olives on that pizza. Could you please pick them off for him?”

Always with a Scottish accent.

When we adopted Buster at age 9, we were told he “loves cats” which we later understood meant he loves to chase and ideally eat them, like ALF. But they soon found a way to coexist and eventually formed an interspecies alliance (now legal in Ontario and 20 States!) against puppy Scout.

Technically, the cats belonged to me. Lucy (short for Lucifer) and Avery were mine before I met Daren (who still rues the day he didn’t pretend he was allergic). The cats (aka “the girls”, “fish breath” and “God Dammit!!!”) turned 14 and 15 this year and they were as much a part of our growing family as the dogs and binge drinking.

Ready to pounce

Ready to pounce

Lucy and Avery were put down last Monday and it’s taken me a week to be able to write about them without blowing snot bubbles all over my keyboard. With multiple health issues coming to a head, we made the difficult decision a month ago but it took a few weeks to summon the courage to actually go through with it.

Anyone who’s ever euthanized a pet knows it’s one of the Worst. Things. Ever. Relieving pain and making “the right decision” amounts to nothing but a crock of shit when you’re waiting for the vet to enter the exam room. And when you have to do it twice in one sitting you can expect to spend the rest of the day lying in a dark room clutching catnip mice and babbling to yourself. Trust me.

Approach with caution

Lucy. Approach with caution

My cats weren’t like the adorable yet hapless Cirque-trained acrobats you see in homemade videos. They were stone cold nasty and about as cuddly as a box of weasels. Trying to pet them was like playing Russian roulet, but with a worse potential outcome. Adopting bobcats would have been safer. Even our vet had to use gardening gloves and two assistants to handle Lucy at routine visits. If our family wasn’t singlehandedly financing her niece’s Ivy League education I’m she would have fired us as clients.

When we went on vacation and had the gall to leave them with capable in-home caregivers, they used their liquid vowels to voice their displeasure forcing us to spend thousands of dollars in replacement mattresses, furniture, clothes, hockey equipment and autographed memorabilia. The last two went over real well. And the liquid bowels? They turned up at other times too, like the night before our wedding when about a dozen family members were looking for a place to sleep.

Avery sleeping soundly

Avery sleeping soundly, dreaming of bloodshed.

They hated most people, especially children. It took them years to warm up to Daren (no connection to the previous comment, I’m sure). And because cats love change, the parade of dogs and multiple house moves – not to mention the general pointlessness of life – made them a tad surly. They were like Tina Fey and Amy Poehler hosting the Golden Globes: no one was safe.

It was the kind of relationship (ie. abusive), where I took whatever they dished out and kept coming back for more. It was like the colonoscopy you know you must have but can’t quite bring yourself to accept with open ….. arms. To quote the Bandaid Christmas song, it was a world of dread and fear.

But it wasn’t all bad. Before the double D’s (Daren and dogs), they were the ones I came home to and the ones whose fur I sobbed in when my Dad died. They might have used their claws to say “no thank you” when I suggested we sit together, but they also kept me company in the bathtub and slept on my head.

But as the house filled up and life got busier I spent less and less time with them. Three dogs and two kids take up so much physical and emotional space that I had very little left for Lucy and Avery.

There’s a lovely verse that many people find comforting when grieving their pets. It’s called “The Rainbow Bridge” and it’s named after the place we’re supposed to meet our animals before we  cross into heaven together. So I imagine them there now, with Buster, healthy and happy, throwing out sarcastic one-liners like the two old guys on the muppets. Waiting for me.

Me and Lucy.

Me and Lucy.

 

Everything I Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten. Version 2.0

Today was Leila’s first day of pre-Kindergarten. Here she is looking perfectly adorable and ready to kick some academic butt.

Doctor? Astronaut? Prime Minister?

Fact: 89% of successful women brought kitten suitcases to school.

Someone sent me Robert Fulghum’s “Everything I need to know I learned in kindergarten” and even though it’s chocked full of wisdom I’ve taken the liberty of suggesting updates for a (less) mature audience. Here goes:

  1. Wear underwear everyday, no exceptions. They’re called privates for a reason.
  2. Do not put anything in your nose, ears, mouth or anus that doesn’t belong there. This includes play doh, lego, crayons and your fingers (all of them).
  3. Don’t follow the big kids. They’re all following each other and pretty soon it’s going to be like the zombie apocalypse in your school (without the flesh eating). So do your own thing.
  4. Don’t let your mom talk you out of wearing fleece pants underneath a taffeta Christmas dress if that’s what makes you feel good. It’s not your fault you’re the only one in the family with any fashion sense.
  5. It’s okay to have pet hair all over your clothes. The kids with goldfish will be jealous.
  6. Brush your hair only if the mood strikes you. You’ll spend plenty of time in front of the mirror when you’re older.
  7. When it comes to lip gloss, less is more. Mommy should not need a spatula to get it off you.
  8. Your mom has no idea where your library books are so don’t bother asking.
  9. It’s okay to poop at school. It’s not okay to hold it all day then run home screaming, clutching your butt.
  10. Wash your hands 30 times each day. 50 if the turtle/chicken/lizard is in your classroom this week.
  11. Change your food preferences daily. Just because you begged for it yesterday doesn’t mean you have to like it today. And if you’re not hungry, just take a small bite out of everything in your lunch bag so it cannot possibly be reused the next day.
  12. Include everyone in your games, invite everyone to your party. You never know when you’re going to be the one who needs a friend.
  13. If mommy goes out with her friends you are probably going to find a bag of chips and a brownie in your lunchbox the next day. Embrace it.
  14. If it’s not blood, broken bones or barf mommy will not be coming early to get you so don’t bother calling.
  15. Know that mommy and daddy don’t expect you to get straight A’s but they do expect you to try your best.
  16. Good behavior is EXPECTED and will not be rewarded. Deal with it.
  17. The promises mommy makes when you are screaming and clutching her leg may not always be honoured. It’s never too early to learn that life is full of disappointments.
  18. Don’t bother asking to bring the turtle/lizard/baby chick home. The answer is no.
  19. Be especially nice to the kids who aren’t nice to you. They are sad and could use a little bit of your smile and your light.
  20. If those kids are still mean to you, kick them in the shins and run away.

 

Solo Mission Day 1: June 2

Diary of my captivity, Day 1: They tried to wear me down with incessant bickering. I got them back with broccoli in the Mac and cheese so we are calling this one a draw. If our enemies could harness the anger and venom of a 4 or 7 yr old whose sister is touching her blanket / arm / toy / book the world would be a very different place. A very scary place. Forget a woman scorned. Hell hath no fury like a 7 year old. I would also like to thank Austin for adding to the enjoyment of this day by eating an entire bag of carrots and shitting it out in the dining room while we were at the library. And the award for best advice of the day goes to the gentleman who opened the pool and helpfully suggested we not swim in it until “the algae clears and you can sorta see the bottom.” Super duper.

Wanna come over and swim in my lake?

Wanna come over and swim in my lake?