Saturday, August 29, 2009

The Lady in the Muumuu

I was watching a really great comedian on the comedy channel a while back... wish I could remember his name, he was an absolute riot.

I love watching comedians... and the best ones always use universal truths as the basis of their routines and jokes - that's what makes them so funny I guess: What they're joking about resonates with the audience because, underneath, you know it's true. We laugh because we recognize it.

He was doing a bit on Tornadoes... commenting on the fact that they always seem to hit trailer parks - or at least, when you see reports on the devastation left behind, a trailer park always seems to be the hardest hit. It wasn't a trailer park getting blown away that he was making fun of, but the fact that the TV news reporters always seemed to find the most backwards, hill-billy-ish person to interview for the report: most likely a woman in a muumuu, missing a tooth or two, to exclaim about how it all went down - and which red-neck activity of hers was interrupted in the process... or how many of their "yard" cars were tossed.

It was hilarious... because everyone's seen a report like that, no?

Probably not so funny to anyone actually IN the community being reported on though... the ones staring at the television screen thinking "seriously? you picked THEM to represent us all? Oh my God... the whole world is going to think we're all like that!"

(And we know they're not, right? We must know that not everyone who lives in a trailer park is a redneck... or wears muumuus and has multiple broken-down vehicles littering their yard... but there's still an impression out there when THAT lady gets interviewed)

Unfortunately, every community has one of THOSE folks... and invariably, they end up in front of the camera - leaving their impression of how all of us must be. And when it's YOUR community, you sit there staring at your screen thinking "NO - don't listen! It's the lady in the muumuu!"

But too late... the impression is there.

Here, in Canada, we have our very own "lady in the muumuu" ... it's Quebec. My saying that will probably piss off a bunch of people... but I don't care - my blog, my opinion. Quebec is NOT representative of the "rest of us". They have their own rules, their own laws, their own taxes, their own daycare, school and health care systems. They march to the beat of their own drum. Whenever we have rules for something, it's always "this is how it is in Canada... with the exception of Quebec who will do it their way".

Every few years, Quebec has another referendum - a mass vote on whether or not to remain a part of Canada or to separate and become their own country. And it's always close: 51% chose to stay part of Canada last time? The vote has nothing to do with the rest of the country... we just sit back and watch the proceedings - and argue amongst ourselves about what the best outcome would be. There are huge numbers in the "just let them go!" camp... butting heads with the "OMG, NO... we can't let our country be split" camp. But it's really up to Quebec.

I've been on the fence. I don't want to see my country broken apart... and there's a bit of pride that would be lost if they left too: Canada would no longer be the biggest country in the world (since the fall of the soviet union), Canada would no longer share the longest undefended border in the world with the United States, Canada would no longer stretch "from sea to shining sea" (we might have to change our national anthem!).

But it's kind of insulting to have one member of the group constantly saying "we don't want to play with you any more" And it's kind of frustrating to have that one dissenting member be the one constantly caught on camera... with their thick accents and broken English, representing the rest of us to the world. They've been individual, "unique" (their battle cry) and doing their own thing forever... they've been talking about leaving for decades already.

So I think, the next time they want to leave, we should stop bending over backwards and kissing ass to keep them part of Canada. Let them go already... North America is big enough to handle 4 countries - and if we could come up with a new theme song to Hockey Night In Canada after all these years, coming up with a new national anthem should be a piece of cake.

At least when Quebec officially becomes their own country, the lady in the muumuu will no longer be placed front and centre, representing all that's out-of-wack in "this" country.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Come again??

8 year old: "Mom! Mom!! My tooth is almost falling out!!"

Mom: "Cool buddy! That's so awesome... I guess that means the Tooth Fairy will be coming to visit you again!"

3 year old (not to be outdone): "Mom! Mom!! My chin is almost falling off!"

Mom: "???" (seriously... I had nothing... other than laughing my ass off. I guess it made as much sense to her as a tooth falling out?)

One Decade Down

We survived another year... and another birthday party - barely. My oldest turned 10 years old on Tuesday. We were going to take him and his friends to the corn maze and let them run wild for a few hours.... but the incessant rain this summer forced a change in our plans. I suppose we could have taken them - the puddles on the mud paths throughout the maze were only ankle deep.... but I just don't think my van could have handled 6 (my vehicle's share) suped-up-on-sugar, mud-covered 10 year old boys on the drive home.

So a last minute change in plans: I took Tuesday off and prepared for an at-home party.

Which turned out to be way too much work.

My three years as a camp counsellor has left me capable (even if not completely enthused by the idea) of entertaining a group this age... which can be really challenging because, well, they're TEN - so just getting to be a little jaded... and a little less willing to be silly for the sake of having fun (even though they secretly still want to). But I was a teenager when I spent my time coming up with fun activities.... and had so much more energy for keeping them going. It took me the entire day to set up activities and build props and organize games. I was a little more than half-way through running the kids through them when I really started questioning my sanity (which I would never have admitted to out-loud because my husband was calling me crazy enough... minor points to him for at least helping though) - I was just exhausted.

We did a "10th birthday challenge" with 10 games... 5 team and 5 individual... where they collected points - for the team and for themselves. At the end there were prizes. There were winners and there were losers... which is good for them at this age, right? Because kids don't lose enough these days... it's character-building. There was a prize for everyone... but WHICH prize they eventually walked home with depended on the final standings.

I didn't get a prize. And I worked harder than any of them.... just saying. (minor over-sight on my part).

I did spend less on the prizes than I would have on taking the group to the corn maze, which is good. But man this party was way more work than I envisioned it being when I came up with the idea.... I don't know what I was thinking. My husband, he just thinks I'm crazy and tells me I've gone overboard... which I suppose I did a little bit.... but really? The eye-rolling doesn't help. Just because he never had a birthday party as a child, doesn't mean our kids shouldn't have them - or that the kids shouldn't have the time of their lives on this one day of the year meant just for them. He'll have to get over it.

And the kids did have a blast. My son was thrilled with his birthday and his friends were well-entertained for a few hours. Unfortunately, I was so run off my feet that I didn't get a single picture of the event. No pictures of my son's only 10th birthday party (that would be zero mom-points to me)... it was an hour or so after the party ended... and I was already wishing I could be in bed, when I remembered that. Damn it. Not that I actually had time to take any pictures... just sucks that no one else in the house thought of it either. I should have assigned one of his aunts to camera duty...

It was a good day - and I'd say *almost* worth all my time & effort. I'm glad it went over well and I'm pleased that my boy is happy.... but next year? We're going to find a much easier way to put a smile on his face. I think this was his last "big" (or at least parental-labour-intensive) birthday party. Maybe next year we'll take them to a movie.

To make up for missing the pictures, I had the bakery re-create his cake from the party... to take to our smaller family-gathering the following night. I took some pictures there.

And I'm happy to report, that along with what he'd already saved, my boy collected enough birthday money to buy the Wii he's wanted for so long... we're going to get it tonight. I'm telling myself that THAT will be worth the 10 hours of my life (and conveniently ignoring the fact that he still would have collected that birthday money even if I had done something much simpler).

Anyway, that one decade down for offspring #1. And I don't feel old enough to have a 10 year old yet. This one keeps me on my toes... which, I suppose, is his job - being the oldest. Almost everything with him is something new... something I've never had to deal with as a parent before... something I'm never quite sure I'm handling right. But he's a good egg... and I think I'll be able to handle 10. Just starting to get a little nervous of those rapidly-approaching teen years now that we're counting in double-digits!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Was it intentional?

Did you know that Mastercard Inc. is based in the town of Purchase, New York?

Just struck me as funny....

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Grindstone Days Racing

We actually found the beach where they do the kids races and hot dog lunch this year! (last year, although we KNEW there was racing/activities for the kids, we were too new to the area to figure out WHERE they were being held.... we actually showed up at the wrong, and very empty beach so the whole family missed out. Clever, no?)

But not this year! We found the right, and VERY busy beach - with plenty of time to spare before the start of the activites. The kids had a blast.... there were rounds and rounds of various types of races.... and plenty of prizes (and freezies and ice cream!) for the participants to go around. They lined 'em up in their various age groups and the crowd cheered all the kids on. My girl, in her 3 & under category, did great for her first competitive showing! (see her in the middle in her purple shirt & jeans?)
** After scrolling back through these pictures, my daughter felt it necessary to point out that I didn't post any pictures of them eating their freezies. Sorry for the slip... there WERE freezies.... many many freezies.


And two out of three actually managed to stay upright! Although we can't blame the nephew for coming down half-way through.... it's hard not to trip over other fallen bodies when you're not looking where you're going!

Remember these?

Yes, apparently someone still makes giant potatoe sacks.... and there are those of us who still punish our children by making them attempt to race in them!

(this one ended up with a turned ankle - but no lasting damage ;)

These rarely end well - but at least I stayed dry!

Against my better judgement (and fear of being soaked!), I partnered with my oldest for the water-balloon toss.... because "I really want to win a prize in this one Mom!" (ummm... and you're picking ME kid? Good luck with that!). My little man partnered with his cousin. My son & I actually made it down to the final 5 teams....which was only one round past the other two boys. Perhaps my oldest should have chosen his cousin as a partner after all... it was my little man & I who were responsible for both balloon bursts!

Shoe Scramble!

This was a funny race.... I've seen them before, but don't remember if I ever did one as a child? Somehow or other my oldest ended up winning a prize during this one... despite the fact that both his brother & cousin actually crossed the line before him?

Ah well, it's all in fun.... and I think he honestly believes he was 3rd? Not going to spoil it for him ;)

A little hard on a girl...

So all the races were divided into age groups... only not ALL age groups were included in each category - there were only a couple that were for "3 and Under".... and the shoe scramble wasn't one of them.

Now not having the little ones doing all the activities might work for some 3 year olds... but not ones like mine, who really believe they're just very short 8 year olds. She wants.... expects actually, to do everything her big brothers and cousins are doing.

So we let her line up with the 4 & 5 year old shoe scramble.... she raced up to the line at the very last minute and I quickly put her shoes out right where she could see them. She didn't have a hope of getting them on as quick as the other kids.... but at least she could be part of the action.

The first pic is her determined little face as she zeros-in and makes a beeline for her shoes (front and centre in the pic).... and the second pic is her collapsed in grief as the nasty/mean/heartless/warden-like organizer of the race saw the paired set of shoes and jumped ahead of her to toss one away.

Nice. Like my 3 year old needed an additional handicap against the "big" kids. I wonder if it made her proud to make a toddler cry?

(since I figured it would be really out of line to slap her or anything else I was thinking of at the time, I just collected my girl off the grass and helped her get the shoes on. But I still think the lady was an over-zealous b**ch... they're little KIDS for crying out loud! Ah well, my girl forgot about it within a few minutes... and it was only a *small* black mark on an otherwise great afternoon)

These kids are NUTS!

They're like maniacs.... little mini sugar-addicts maybe - scrambling over each other, hats in hand (the better to collect their bounty) - desperate for a fix.... ruthless! (but fun to watch ;)

Aren't candy scrambles fun??

Monkey see, monkey do...

In the cool of the evening, when my girl's big cousin snagged her mother's jacket to wear, my little copy cat couldn't resist the urge to wear mine too... and drag it along through the wet sand, of course. Shorty.

The Main Event

August long weekend is "Grindstone Days" up in our cottage community. All sorts of activities for the families to enjoy, but the main event.... what my boys have looked forward to and practiced for all year, is the talent show. The evening starts with the kids showcasing their talents, then the evening belongs to the adults. It's alot of fun - and we have a surprising amount of talented folks up there!
The Huz is always up for singing and playing for a crowd - I spent many a night during our dating years sitting around bars watching him up on stage.... and it looks like the kids have picked up his performance gene. They both took a turn at the mic belting out a song for the crowd.

They had a blast.... and I couldn't be prouder.

*This was two weeks ago already.... they're already trying to decide on which songs to do next year ;)

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Because I'm clever like that

So I've been in a bit of a pissing match with my former Internet/phone service provider. It started with an issue at my office: I took over the existing service in the space we lease when I took over the office from the company who was here before me.

(it was my mother's company.... so there's a relationship there - but that's beside the point).

She was on a 3 year contract with them.... which was up in September of last year. I had my company's name put on the bills at some point last year and stayed with them long after her contract term had expired. But this spring, I decided to switch providers to save money.

Long story short is that the old company (MTS) wasn't happy about my leaving and taking the business to their main competitor, Shaw.

They sent me a bill for over $4,700.00.... it seems they'd taken it upon themselves to lock my company into a new 3 year contract without any consent or signatures from me. Yay.

The customer service rep I managed to get on the phone when I called MTS about their "error" was atrocious. We butted heads from the word go. I've worked in customer service before... still very much do - and one thing I know about dealing with frustrated clients is that you DON'T ANTAGONIZE THEM FURTHER. Her attitude and comments pissed me right off. Right there on the spot they lost my personal business as well.

At some point during the call I managed to get transferred to a gentleman another department.... where I insisted on filing a complaint about the person I'd been subjected to. HE handled my call beautifully - and was even pleasant while taking my service complaint.... mentioning that he could see who'd I'd been speaking with in SALES and would make sure the complaint was addressed.

She was in SALES. I about fell off my chair. I think my exact words to the guy were: "Sales?? You've got to be kidding me! SALES? I hope she's not trying to support a family with it because she SUCKS at it!"

Any hoo.... off topic. (I'm not talking to them about THAT situation any more - my lawyer's handling the correspondence)

I called the same day from home to cancel my phone/Internet and television services. When the rep on the phone tried to offer me a deal to stay, I just told them they were wasting their time... based on the dealings with my company and the rep I'd suffered with earlier, there was no keeping me as a customer.

Now I had electronics at both locations that belonged to MTS... I was warned that I would be charged for them if they weren't returned. Mad as I was, I told them to come pick them up any time.... but that was just my temper talking.... and my back up at her snooty attitude. (Even if I was pissy about having to do anything further in the situation, I knew it was my responsibility to take the stuff back.)

But, major procrastinator that I am, I neglected to return the stuff in a timely fashion.

So more money was added to my business bill.... and I got one at home for over $700.00. Shit.

Week before last, I finally got around to collecting everything that belonged to them and made plans to return it (and get those excess charges removed).

It took me a dog's age but I finally managed to disconnect the little box at the office (modem maybe?)..... stupid thing was plugged in behind (and before) a built-in counter top/cupboard unit and was way more of a challenge then I was expecting). Then I made the drive home to pick up the TV box and remotes.... which, of course, I hadn't been clever enough to actually bring with me in the morning!

I hate dealing with electronics... but I finally managed to sort out the maze of wires behind the TV and disengage the box - along with all it's cords. I even found all four remotes with little to no difficulty.

I drove down to their closest retail location with my bag full of stuff and waited in line from my turn with a rep. The paperwork is painstakingly long... and they had to do two sets: 1 for the company and 1 for me personally.

We returned the business thingy, then the remotes.... but when he got to the cable box he had trouble with the serial number. I guess there wasn't one? After scratching his head for a bit, he finally called another guy over who looked at the box and said "that's not one of ours - that's a SHAW box"

Talk about feeling like an idiot (and nothing worse than BEING an idiot when you're in the middle of a pissing match). I'd finally gotten around to taking all this crap back (so I could finally tell them to shove it all!) and I brought the wrong box??

Did I mention that I HATE dealing with electronics??

What I'd done was carefully un-install what the Shaw guy had carefully attached to our TV and brought it down to the MTS store.... instead of their $700 unit (which who the hell knew where IT was then). Grrrrrrrr.

Not a shining moment.

So I took the box home and tried to hook it back up to the TV exactly like I remembered taking it off.... but knew I did something wrong when the kids complained "MOM! The TV's not working!!" a couple of minutes after arriving home.


We eventually got it sorted out.... and I finally found and returned the MTS box yesterday. But jeez what a process.... just another example of how clever I can be I guess.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

From OUR point of view

To entertain himself while we waited for the main event to start, my oldest asked if he could have a turn with the camera to take some pictures.

And he decided to take a picture of us.

Only, he was missing from a great family shot.... so our little man decided to solve the problem by having a turn to snap a shot with his brother IN it. Only.... You know where this goes, right?

So we all took turns taking pictures with everyone else in the family (amidst the giggles).... until some nice neighbor took pity on us and offered to take a shot with the WHOLE family in it ;)

What did families do for amusement before digital cameras?

And it was fun scrolling back through the pictures now and knowing who took which ones by who was missing in the shot (well, with the exception of the pictures my girl took - those you just knew who took them, know what I mean?) And now I have a collection of us... the way we look from each of our points of view :)

Cute, But still needs work

Practice, practice, practice.

Of course, when everyone in the family is taking turns, taking our picture, the girl must have a shot at it too.

I think she'll need to get her hands on the camera a few more times before we'll be able to tell if she's a budding photographer or not. My friend's three year old has access to a camera and takes some really great pictures already.... I've gotten a few chuckles from seeing the world from her perspective - but my girl? Still needs work, lol...

First I showed her how to line the people up in the screen (we practiced on Daddy & her brothers)... then hold it steady... then push the button & see the picture.

Then I turned her loose and took my place on the other side of table with Dad & the boys. We got several interesting shots to choose from. The two I posted above even have a piece of us in them!

Not quite there yet, lol...

"Bad Boys, Drive BAD Toys"

Ummm, yeah.... I don't think so dude.

(you'd think if you're going to proclaim yourself a "bad boy", you'd only put the sticker on something that *might* qualify as a "bad toy". Rusted-out, 20 year old minivans just don't cut it.)

Full Circle

I remember going for bike rides with my mother when I was a little girl. Really little.... riding in one of those toddler bike seats on the bike behind her. I've seen pictures of my Dad with me in the bike seat but I have no memories of that.... but riding with my Mom? I remember....

I don't remember where we went or what we saw along the way... just my view of the situation: Her back. I remember her lower back in front of me, exposed from her shirt riding up... and I remember how tempting that little patch of bare skin was for my fingers. I used to "draw pictures" on her back.... trailing my fingers around in little circles creating pictures that only I could see.

It makes me smile to remember.

I've asked her about those memories.... asked if she remembers me doing that - and she totally does.... although she just remembers me constantly tickling her back when we'd ride around.

Guess she didn't realize I was creating works of art at the time ;)

Well now I have my own little girl, riding around in a bike seat behind me. We spend a fair bit of time on the bikes up at the cottage.... riding to the store, riding to beach, riding around. She quite enjoys it.

And this past weekend, it brought a smile to my face to feel little fingers tracing circles on MY lower back. I couldn't help chuckling... talk about coming full circle (and you're right Mom... it's insanely ticklish!)

Perhaps I have my own little budding artist on my hands?