Mammaries, oh mammaries…

I love when people tell me that 2 year olds don’t know what they are doing because they are still too young.  In reality, they are small people who are more attentive than the FBI / CIA / Scotland Yard…you get what I am saying.   These little people are so aware of their surroundings that we don’t realize what parts of our conversations they are focusing on.  You can repeat words or phrases over and over and over again and they will never say it.  You slip up with an awkward word and THAT becomes the word they decide is worth repeating.  Why do I mention this?  It’s a warning to future babysitters who have a playdate with someone who is not yet two year’s old.  Please note that the parroting vibe might kick in at the oddest moment.

I had jumped at the opportunity to babysit (a.k.a play with) my grandson when his parents wanted to go see a movie.  The day finally arrived.  I knew my little grandson would be sleeping for about an hour after I arrived and then after that would be playtime.  I arrived (quietly), but my little sweetie was tossing and turning unhappily in his bed.  After a few moments and some debate, mom went upstairs to check on him.  Sure enough, he was wide awake and unhappy.  That meant only mommy could hold and coddle him.  Mommy and little man cuddled for awhile and time was a-ticking.  The movie was going to start soon, so I scooped him up and promised them that he would be fine.  They looked at their beautiful little boy…snotty and sobbing.  I told them to make their escape and I would text them and keep them updated.  Off they went leaving me and my date to start our fun.

First we had to turn that frown upside down.  My plan…DISTRACTION!  I knew that wee one was teething and didn’t nap long enough, so being cranky made perfect sense to me.  He cried for a few minutes as I held him.  He put his head on my shoulder and started to relax.  After another five minutes the tears dried up.  It was time to get him into play mode.

I figured we would start off slow.  Books!  He loves books so we went into his bedroom and we found two of his favourites:  That’s Not My Monster and Who Loves You.  We brought the chosen reading material into the living room and we sat down on the floor.  We read each book many, many, many, many, many, many times.  Good news!  He was finally laughing and having fun.  The earlier drama was all gone.

At one point, he happily clambered up into my lap.  He was sitting facing me.  I had the monster book open and ready to read again.  He clutched the front of my sweater and looked down my top.  Off the cuff I said, “Yes, those are boobies.”  Then I pulled back my sweater and continued to read.  He started patting his hands on the outside of my sweater saying “BOOBIES” and smiling.  Oh my!  This could not be happening!  Well after a few more rounds of happy “boobies” yelling I managed to convince him that he needed a cookie.  DISTRACTION!  Sha-zaam!  That finally ended the mammary game.

The rest of the afternoon went on without a hitch.  Snack and playtime and reading and dancing.  Best workout I’ve had in a long time.  The few hours passed and mommy and daddy came home.  I decided to come clean and confessed my little mammary outburst.  Mommy thought it was hilarious so that was good news.  He had also stopped saying it so I figured it was over.  Thank goodness!

I received an interesting text the next day from mommy, “I came home and went to put on my pj shirt.  Guess what mister said?”  “Boobies” strikes again!  Crap.  Quite my little slip-up.  Then again, I could’ve dropped a curse word like the F-bomb.  Whoa!  Imagine how THAT would have turned out.  Still, I just can’t help visualizing them visiting friends or family and suddenly, while a female is holding our handsome little man, he will drop both hands onto their chest and declare proudly, “Boobies!”

Mammaries, oh mammaries

a.k.a. BOOBIES!

 

Is it really “child torture”?

I was once asked why I torture children.  Whoa!  Let me explain.

A four-year old wanted to play make-believe with me.  No problemo!  I am always in for some fun and games.  Well, she started off by saying that we would be playing tea party.  “YOU can be a princess and I’LL be a princess…” at which point I interrupted her (as children are apt to do when we adults speak).

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“I don’t want to play tea party,” I said calmly.  “Let’s play something else”.  Child torture?  I think not.

When I play with children, I love getting their minds working.  I love challenging them.  I want to see and hear what they will think of next.  Honestly, they are brilliant!  There are things that we, as adults, can teach them.  However, their minds, at the young age, have a world focus that is so pure and genuine.  It’s a mind that we adults used to have, but then had reprogrammed along the way to adulthood.  As we went to school we were taught to think a certain way.  We were taught about past beliefs and were not only encouraged, but forced to think that same way.  I recall, as a child, I needed some form of escape.  I think this is what got me reading at a young age.   It was something to release me from reality.

Reading is a great escape.  A good author can have you leave this reality and enter another world using only your mind’s eye.  This is often the reason why I prefer reading the books instead of seeing their counterpart movie versions.  Movies cannot recreate what I have beautifully conceived and visualized in my mind.  This is also one reason why I love the Harry Potter series so much.

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This wonderful woman (J.K. Rowling) has written stories that children are enthusiastic about.  They WANT to read.  Youngsters and many adults (me included) love them!  The stories are exciting, but also sometimes scary.  There are good people and evil people.  These stories, although taking place in a magical world, incorporate everything going on in our muggle…ahem…human world.  Think about it.  J.K. Rowling’s story about Harry Potter talks about bullying.  It talks about shy people.  It is detailed about friendships and how you can end up in arguments with your best friends.   It discusses bravery.  It tells the reader that you will find friends in the strangest of places.  You learn that there are those who will always have your back and those who will always try to put you down.  In the end, the moral of this series for me is that, no matter how difficult life’s challenges may be, it is important to always to be true to yourself and hold onto your beliefs.  Again, my opinion only.  I am sure there are many differing opinions about these books.  Huzzah!  Even better…books that mean something different to everyone.

Back to my non-tea party playdate (a.k.a. adorable granddaughter).  Did she get mad and storm off when I said I didn’t want to play princess tea party?  Nope.  She sat back for a second, hummed and hawed and said, “Ok, let’s play hospital.”  The new game was about to begin.  Oh sure, I kept changing stuff along the way.  She wanted me to be the doctor and I told her I wanted to be the patient.  She let that one go too.  Then she wanted me to have a baby and I wanted to have a broken leg.  Well, that one I gave in to.  Why?  Well, she had the baby doll all lined up and ready to go.  Lesson learned:  If you want to have friends to play with, sometimes it’s your way and sometimes it will be your friend’s way.

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I know that parents want their children to be happy, happy, happy all the time.  No tears, no issues in life.  Give them whatever they want because you love them with all your heart and would never want anything to hurt them.  The difficulty with this is that the real world isn’t like home.  Eventually they will have to deal with the bullies or they might not get their own way.  What will they do then?  How will they handle it?  If you don’t have them try it out at home where it’s controlled and safe, they won’t know what to do when it happens outside the safe house.

Conclusion:  You may disagree with what I have said.  That is fine with me.  We all have our opinions about teaching children to become great citizens in this world of ours.  There are gads of books out there from psychologists to psychiatrists to other parents.  Every parent worries that they are the worst parent ever and that someone else has the right answer and the best way to raise their children.  NEWSFLASH!  Parents who love and care for their children ARE great parents.  Everyone is doing it wrong and everyone is doing it right.  That’s why there are so many books on this subject because no one really knows the best way.  If your gut tells you it feels right then go with that way.  You will be happy and your child will be happy and happy people go on to live happy lives.

Feel free to challenge your kids during playtime.  No harm…no foul.  Your brilliant lad or lassie will surprise you with what they can come up with.  “Child torture”?  Naaaaah!  Let’s refer to it as…mini-brain stimulation.  When you get that clever answer back you won’t regret it.  Give yourself a star for being the BESTEST PARENT.  (Yes…my made up word, but there should be a word for something better than best)!

Dear Parent / Guardian – Please feel free to print off this star and wear it proudly.

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Can you do me a favour?

I am sure that many of you have been asked, “Can you do me a favour?”  Harmless right?  You might have been the person asking this yourself.  In most cases, it is a quicky, easy request that you probably would have done anyway.  However, what if it is something more than you thought?  This is one of the hardest favours to fulfill.  You don’t want anyone to be offended.  You want to please others and make sure there is peace.  The older I get, the more I realize that saying “no” is something that I won’t feel bad about saying.  Why?

I am not sure if you had the same upbringing as I had, but “no” was not in our vocabulary.  We would impinge on our own family time in order to make other people happy.  My mother’s theory was that God would pay us in heaven later.  I still knew that, in many ways, she wanted praise and accolades from others.  That took me a long time to understand.  She seemed to be very helpful, but like many others, we do want to be thanked and appreciated for what we have done.  It makes us feel better as human beings; being helpful to others.   My perspective on this subject has changed dramatically over the years.

I always loved helping people.  It got so bad that I would give up my time and the daily living of my life in order to accommodate the wishes of others.  I dated a hypochondriac that would have me with him in the emergency room at least three times a week for illnesses that never existed.  All he wanted was attention.  It was actually my boss at the time, who pointed it out to me.  I thought I was being helpful and a good girlfriend, where my boss pointed out that he was just using illness as an excuse to keep me from being at work and giving him (the unemployed) more attention.  The relationship ended.  That was in my early 20s.  I dated many “fixer-uppers”, hoping to save the world one person at a time, and then finally realized that I couldn’t fix people.  I could only take care of myself and make myself happy.  Enter Wiseguy.

My hubby of 20 years was (and is) always supportive of me.  I had given up on finding someone to spend the rest of my life with.  One night I finally asked the heavens / God / the universe / all other gods…”I just want to meet someone who can make me laugh.  I want someone to have my weird sense of humour.”  Then, I decided that I would give up.  There was no one on the universe like that.  Again…enter Wiseguy.

I met my funny mate.  I met the man who would make me laugh.  I met the man who never demeaned me or made me feel stupid.  This man always elevated me and backed me in whatever I wanted to do.  Feminism?  Yes…he always wanted me to be me and pushed me to believe in myself.  Now THAT my friends is what a true mate and friend is like.

Now, you many not have found your perfect match, or you may be working on the relationship you are in…but always remember that in order for any relationship to work, you need to love yourself first.  It may sound corny or weird, as we have been taught to love others, but loving yourself and taking time for yourself let’s you be more loving to others.

And…when people ask for favours, remember, in most cases, it is a one way street.  The “favour” you do does not mean that they owe you anything back.  You do it out of the kindness of your heart.  Do NOT expect anything in return.  If you do, you might be disappointed.  This is the old lady of wisdom speaking now.  I have done many favours for many people.  I have received some thanks, but in most cases it ends up becoming “Thanks, but what have you done for me lately.”  In other cases it becomes expected and routine that you will be there so it’s not appreciated.  Be mentally and emotionally prepared for that.  If you feel that you need the accolades and believe you won’t get them, then feel free to take a deep breath in, exhale out, and kindly say, “NO.”  It is one of the hardest things to say, but saying YES all the time and being miserable about it is not good or right for you either.

Old lady lesson (yes, I am considering myself an old lady and I’m fantastically proud of it):

  • YOU CAN SAY NO!  It hurts at first, but it’s not the worst.

P.S.  Hmmmmm, sounds like a good slogan for a t-shirt

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P.P.S.  Double Hmmmm…anyone out there is the t-shirt industry…”Can you do me a favour?”

Let it snow, let it snow, let it…STOP ALREADY!

I am Canadian.  I was born in York (now renamed Toronto), Ontario, Canada.  I have lived in Canada all my life.  Culturally speaking, I am a cross-breed.  Heritage-wise, my upbringing was full on “small village” Croatian.  This encompassed types of food eaten to language spoken in the childhood home; all pure village-Croatian.  There are however, very strong parts of my upbringing that are 100% Canadian and shall always remain as such.  The one major part is what most people think when they hear about Canada or think about Canada:  snow.

Snow…that wonderful white blanket that covers the green grass.  Those little flakes that fall from the sky gently and quietly.  You might hear a whisper of snow as it lands upon your puffy coat.  Snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes”, as song by Maria VonTrapp (a.k.a. Julie Andrews) in The Sound of Music.  As children we were disappointed if we didn’t have a white Christmas.  I recall actually being at midnight mass and praying for snow.  Imagine my elation when I, prayers granted, left church to see the ground covered in 2 inches of snow and more falling down.  Yay!  Snow!  That wonderful, magical, wintery, fairy dust from the sky.  Well, not so much anymore.  Why?  I am now the designated shoveler of said wonderful fluffy stuff.  Happy?  Heck no!

Snow is one of those interesting things that people yearn for if they are excited tobogganers or avid skiers.  If you are the “driving-around-town” type, then snow becomes a disaster.  There are those who do not recall how to drive in snow, making it a precarious game of pass or fail:  pass the crazy driver who seems to keep fish-tailing, or fail and get hit by said crazy driver.  Ahhhhh…snow.

I bring you back now to the snow-filled back and front yards of my youth.  We had, what was called “packing snow”.  This snow had some wetness to it.  This was vital for creating the most formidable fortresses to hide in.  This fortress was also the place where you stored the snowballs you made with this same mouldable snow.

Snowmen?  Pshaw….best around!  You might need three people to roll the snow in order to make large boulders, but it was worth it!  That three-ball tiered snowman was a work of art!

Snow angels were also on the play menu.  You dropped down in the snow on your back and waved your arms up and down like a bird, and moved your legs out and in.  Once completed, you could stand up and leave behind a beautiful “angel” in the snow.  Yes, the miracles created by using the white, fluffy stuff.

The hardest part of childhood winters was the dress up.  Most of us did not have snow pants so we had two pairs of pants that were tucked into snow boots.  Your coat had a hood with a drawstring that was tied tightly under your neck.  The pièce de résistance  was the scarf.

IMG_2651That magical impediment to play freedom.  That scarf started around your neck, covered your chin and nose (which led to frost forming on the scarf when you breathed).  Then, it was wrapped around your forehead leaving your eyes open.  No peripheral vision and your hood usually slipped down making the scarf slip down so you usually walked with your head up high as your eyeballs tried to focus on what you were working on.  I do recall waddling into the backyard and slipping INTO the snow.  Yes, my body was submerged, but my scarfed-face was breathing air.  My siblings did not rescue me.  I was trapped…immovable (to their delight).  Ahh…the good ol’ days.  Then suddenly, it all changed.

Childhood is full of so many things that are fun and then we become adults and we are no longer permitted to enjoy the trivialities of life.  Ponder this…jumping into a pile a leaves in the fall.  Not fun when you are an adult because you are the one raking the leaves, not jumping into them.  Snow?  Again, if you are a skier then snow is great, but if you are not, then snow becomes something that needs to be removed.  It is work.  It is sweat.  It’s not fun.

Lately, our Canadian winters have been a bit off-kilter.  They have been cold (-20 degrees celsius) or super cold (-45 degrees celsius) and not as much snow.  Initially I was happy to hear that.  Three years ago all I did was shovel the stuff.  I started feeling bad for little children because they would not be able to build snowmen or make snow angels.  Please understand, I was NOT wishing for snow and yet…well…it seems like this new torrential snow onslaught is kind of my fault.

I love children and want them to be able to enjoy the same things I revelled in as a child.  These days it seems that children have to be supervised 24/7 which gives them no time for freedom of exploration like we had.  I recalled one day in seventh grade when I became friends with a new student from Florida.  I recalled how thrilled he was when he saw snow.  He had heard about it, seen pictures of it, but couldn’t imagine ever feeling it.  His leaned his head back, stuck out his tongue, and waited for the flakes so that he could taste it and feel it.  His exuberance led to a snowball fight (which I started so that he could get the full effect of the snowstorm).  I guess that passion for life is what made me think about children and their lack of our Canadian birthright to snow.

So…I apologize.  My “let it snow, let it snow, let it snow” wish, which is usually reserved for Christmas, became my wish for Canadian children.  I hope that schools are closed tomorrow so that kiddies can play with vim and vigor!  I hope that I see snowmen all up and down my street and other neighbouring streets.  I hope I get to hear the squeals of laughter and joy as they make snowballs and snow angels.

However, if I do not hear peels of laughter, then my “let it snow, let it snow, let it…” will become “STOP ALREADY!”

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P.S. For some added fun, please read one of my favourite December-time reads.  It is about a newcomer to Canada and their supreme desire to see and revel in the joys of snow.  Diary of a Snow Shoveler.  

P.P.S.  Heading back out now…4 more inches have fallen…STOP ALREADY!!!

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My new “watchful” eating plan

I refuse to go on diets.  As Garfield the cat once proclaimed:  Diet is Die with a ‘T’.  I prefer to refer to it as a “watchful” eating plan.  I will watch what I eat.  Most often this entails watching myself inhaling pizza or continuously devouring a plate of french fries.  Yes, I have watched myself do this many times.  However, as I age, I do realize that I should be adding fibre into my daily meal plans.  I have also introduced yogurt with some fruit on a daily basis (this is day two, in case you are wondering how long I have been at it).  I have determined that I need more vegetables in my daily eating habits as well.  As such, I have deemed Asian food to be my “go-to” as I do love a good stir fry which can contain many, many varieties of vegetables.  In keeping with the Asian spirit, I have also gone to my local “Dollar Store” and purchased something that I believed would assist me in fulfilling my destiny of enjoying the consumption of my Asian cuisine.  You guessed it…chop sticks.

Let it be known that I have never really used chop sticks.  I am an avid fork user and an occasional user of spoons.  Chop sticks have always intrigued me.  The first time I actually tried to use chop sticks, they managed…ahem…I managed, to make them cross over and actually fling a piece of meat off my plate onto an unsuspecting table.  After my fingers cramped over and over again from the exertion, I relinquished my wooden apparatus.  Basically, I woos-ed out and grabbed a fork.  For shame!  However, on this evening, I decided to attempt the impossible yet again.  Ha-zaaa!

I had procured a lovely beef and vegetable stir fry.  The beef was super tender (I had worried about over frying it).  The mish-mash of vegetables would have made a dietician proud:  broccoli, red onions, red peppers, baby bok choy, carrots, celery, snap peas, mushrooms, and crunchy bean sprouts.  Oh my!  A smorgasbord of delightful vegetables and beautiful colour.  I added some rice into the mix and was ready to proceed with my healthy feast.  I put my stir fried creation into a lovely bowl and proceeded to google how to hold chop sticks.  Yes I did.  I practiced and was ready to chow down on my homemade creation.

Hmmm, playing with the chopsticks felt easy…until I actually tried to pick up food.  My first attempts were quite successful.  I picked up the succulent beef and shovelled it into my mouth.  Success!

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I think I became too cocky.  After the first few attempts I became more clumsy and tense.  My fingers were actually turning white from white-knuckling.  What had happened?  Eventually I changed over to the scoop method.

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That worked for awhile and then I finally decided that I was super hungry.  Back to my reliable and trusty fork I went.  That gleaming dart of food happiness.  I devoured the rest of my meal.

I will not give up.  I shall try to use the wooden spikes again.  Try, try and try again.  I will not give up!  Well, I will give in if my fingers cramp up again, but after that I will figure out how to eat with these food fantasy sticks.  If I can’t figure it out on my own, I am sure someone can give me lessons.  There is probably a 3-year old who has it down pat.

The silver lining of this adventure:  It took me waaaaaay longer to eat my meal.  It gave me time to think and analyze my eating procedure.  As such, I actually felt fuller much quicker as I was not inhaling my food as I usually do.  It made me appreciate every flavour and every vegetable I was biting into.  Hmmm….perhaps I have found my new watchful eating plan.  Eat slower.  Digest slower.  Enjoy the time more.  I think it’s a solid future plan.

P.S.  If anyone can give me the “Dummy’s version” of how to use chop sticks I would be very, very grateful.