MADE IT!


Holy cow people, I made it through Kindergarten. Can you believe it?? I mean, I realise that technically Biggest made it through Kindergarten (yay Biggest!) but… I feel a bit like I graduated too. I should also note that it is surreal to have a child going in to Grade 1. How do these things happen anyway??? Wasn’t he just sleeping on my chest yesterday??? I digress. Without further ado, FIVE things I learned in kindergarten. (see below)

#1: Kindergarten teachers are the real life version of Guardians of the Galaxy. If not for our two fabulous Madames, I have NO idea how I would have lived through the first month of drop offs, never mind the rest of them. There was a point in that first month where I had to peel Biggest off my leg and walk away. Not going to lie, I went and drowned my sorrows in extra whipped cream on my mocha after that one. Now, of course, Biggest barely bats an eye when he marches in to class. Really, my gratitude knows no bounds. It takes a special person to deal with kids after they get peeled off legs and still come out living at the end of the day.

#2: Being prepared ahead of time is how sanity is maintained. I didn’t get this part until the beginning of June, so I’m not actually sure how sane I still am. However, as of now, lunches for anything are made the night before. Let’s face it, wrangling tired Gnomes is so much easier when all you have to do is get dressed and eat breakfast, as opposed to making lunches, getting dressed, eating breakfast, cleaning lunch bags, packing backpacks, washing water bottles, and remembering to sign the form that came home two days ago.

#3: Trying to buy supplies for more than one year doesn’t work. I thought I was being smart by buying a bigger backpack that wasn’t a fox. Same with almost everything else. I was wrong. The backpack was bigger when it was full than I expected. It didn’t sit as well as I expected. It’s ripped and torn, so it didn’t last any longer than a smaller one would have. So, basically the only thing it did was net me several extra requests to adjust and/or carry it. And I still have to buy another one next year. The one investment that did actually work out was a really high quality lunch bag that still doesn’t look worn on the outside.

#4: 10 minutes doesn’t ruin a morning. Getting out the door was my least favourite part of this whole year. We had very little issues the rest of the morning, but once we got to putting shoes on, I was pulling my hair out every time. (see figure 1) I did have better luck with loot, but sometimes… shoes still didn’t go on nicely. However, my sister called me once on my way to school (after I’d wrangled, pushed, shoved and hog-tied my way out the door AGAIN), and after I’d explained my irritation with the morning… she observed that it was only 10 minutes of my morning. Admittedly it felt a lot more like 1000 years, but she was right. It was only ten minutes. Since then, I’ve still had to wrangle, push, shove and hog-tie, but once we get out the door… we’re all pretty settled.

Figure 1.

Kindergarten drop off

#5: At the end of the day… We’re still alive! It’s been pretty crazy, as you can tell from my non-existent posting schedule. But, despite all the insanity (training runs, pick ups, drop offs, appointments, lunches, regular household maintenance, and hog-tying)… We are still alive at the end of the day. Even if we are lacking brain waves by the end of it. (see figure 2)

Figure 2.

end of the day

Farewell! (Au Revoir)

Mrs. Handler

Silence.


Ever wring out a washcloth and you know it’s still got water in it, but you can’t get any more out? That is how my life feels right now. It’s very very very full. I have finally acknowledged that I have some significant longstanding anxiety issues. And since I’m taking steps to mitigate some of the anxiety, I feel like I am content with life being that full. But. There are some times where I seriously wish for silence.

Silence is something that is easily taken for granted, because it’s one of those “void” things. Oddly enough, it’s like a white noise. You don’t really notice until it’s gone. Of course there’s different kinds of silence, like the silence that descends when your child has gone hunting in the lunch cupboard when you’re not looking. And the silence of the power going out. And the silence of the air just before a storm hits in full force. And the silence of a calm moment with no distractions or obligations.

That last silence is something I look for. It’s rare.

Sometimes, in a wildly contradictory sense, I find it when loud music is playing. (AC/DC anyone?)

Sometimes I find it when we squeeze in 5 minutes for a book before school, and the timer’s counting down so I don’t have to keep track. (Thank you, whoever made timers.)

Sometimes I find it when I’m doing a task that’s methodical, like chopping carrots, or watering plants, or scrubbing a toilet (Ok, the last one’s a bit of a stretch… but…).

Sometimes I find it when I’m laying down for a nap (which, if it weren’t for the bliss of a restful sleep, would be quite annoying, because you really only have it for a second before you’re out and drooling).

Sometimes, I find it when there’s nothing left to do but laugh. (For instance, when Littlest tried to tell me that it was Biggest’s fault and Biggest wasn’t home.)

And sometimes I find it when I can’t laugh, but my mind chuckles anyway (like when I told Biggest to watch where he was going and he refused and rode straight into a bush. Freaking hilarious but he would have been devastated if I’d so much as chuckled.).

And, without a single doubt, I find it every single time I run. (It’s doubly delightful if I run long enough to get tomato face. Tomato face means you did a great job.)

Truth be told, I think that a soul finds silence when it finds something to delight in.

And with that, I have to go to sleep. Silence is waiting, and with that little piece, I can get up tomorrow to start it all again.

 

Mrs. Handler.

Solo Ab Flies Again (And other stories.)


It is once again a much-later-than-intended update. I’ve been planning to write one for at least the last three weeks. On the plus side, with my life as busy as it seems to stay, I have a gazillion and one stories for the telling.

Littlest has become quite the personality. Today he picked an entire bouquet of dandelions, and promptly called them “people flowers”. He picked enough to name each one after a family member. It turns out that we have a lot of family. (It should be noted that I suspect that he figured out a way to pick as many as he could by naming them after people he could give them to.) He also gave one to a random stranger, who seemed delighted with the slightly hand-squashed partially ragged dandelion that was offered. (Thank heavens or that would have been a tough explanation on my part!) He’s also discovered the world of bugs. We switched our daycare drop off time to a less horrifying hour, so now he and I have a full half an hour to pick up 48 wood bugs and rescue 69 worms instead of racing for the bus. He’s fearless. On another end, I was waiting to pick up Biggest a week and a half ago, and Littlest loudly (and cheekily) asked me why I didn’t have a penis. The waiting area was FULL.

With that subject on the go, Biggest’s school started sex ed this month. It’s actually better than I expected. Part of me was dreading what he’d come home from school talking about. But they did take into consideration that it was 5 year olds they were talking to. One parent mentioned that their child had been taught how to refrain from giggling at words so they now say “That’s VERY interesting. *smirk*”. Biggest couldn’t remember the girl parts. His description was that girls had a button, and some kind of dinosaur thing (my eyes watered by this point..) and he figured it was a flavosaurus. Mr. Handler (after I excused myself to the kitchen) explained what the actual name was but I told him later that I preferred his idea. He’s done amazingly well with his fish (Moose) and is growing into a responsible little person. Sometimes I have to blink and go “Wow… how did this happen??”.

To which, I also have to go “Wow, how did this happen??” as Mr. Handler and I just celebrated our 8th anniversary. Our 10th “Meet-i-versary” will be in October. Life flies sometimes!

Speaking of flying… my first 10k of the running season was last Sunday. I am happy to say that both my sister and I tore 8 whole minutes off last year’s PR (personal record)… finishing at 1:00:30 (myself) and 1:00:29 (my sister). We actually were faster than that, however, due to a long set of circumstances, I pulled my ab at 7k. I have been terribly inefficient at core strength workouts, so basically I have a solo ab. Just one. A singlet if you will. Between my computer setup and running with a water bottle in my hand, I don’t really have an even set. Twasn’t noticeable until I pulled it but I have since procured some more balanced watering equipment. Should do the trick. Next up is the MS 10k! My sister and I have adjusted our training schedule a bit but our little running crew has acquired accommodations for our half in September. I’m so excited!

Well, it’s time for me to carry on. I planted my flowers and things today (finally!) since the weather’s been too awful, and I’m now behind on the dishes. Toodles for now!

Mrs. Handler.

 

PS: If you use Instagram, here’s a not-so-subtle plug for @gnomehandler. Pictures are worth at least 1000 words.

The Official Passing of the Elevenses


So a little backstory. When I was a wee youngin’  AGES and AGES ago.. My mother started Elevenses with me. Back then I was tiny with ginormous eyeballs, so she’d hold me and talk to my big giant eyes at about 11pm. This continued for quite some time, and became the Elevenses Tradition. When I was a teenager, this would be my time to have a cup of tea and chat about my day, clearing my noggin for sleeping. It remains to the present, albeit less often due to my own collection of tiny creatures with ginormous eyeballs.

 

Which brings me to the Official Passing of the Elevenses.

 

Biggest and I have had our challenges. His mannerisms remind me of my sister and my husband, and yet, he’s definitely his own person. He takes a whole bunch of stuff in through silent, mostly unnoticeable observation. His brain goes a bazillion miles a minute, and he thinks WAY more than he lets on. In so many ways, he’s my complete opposite. And as such…. I haven’t got the first clue about how to really connect with him. (Littlest I find easier, because he’s me. Really. Which is exasperating but familiar. And he’s got a comedic streak that will put you at serious risk of cracking up at extremely inopportune moments.)

 

And that is where today comes in. I have had a heck of a time the last week. He KNOWS that I’m struggling to understand where he’s coming from. And he’s lonely. I don’t see a lot of him sometimes, and it makes me really sad when I see that on his face. So today, it all blew up. I was pissed. He was pissed. He didn’t want to listen. I didn’t want to listen. The crux of the matter, our mutual frustration point as it were, was getting out the door. I get so much sass when we’re travelling, and getting boots on to go anywhere causes me significant anxiety for the amount of fuss that occurs. And so… Mr. Handler helped us out. He sat me and Biggest on the couch, and got Biggest to tell me what was actually up, while helping me keep my anger down so I could listen. Did I feel like I was 5 again? Maybe a little. Did I need to be 5 again? Yes. Once we’d said our pieces, and understood what was going on… we ended up under a blanket laying on a pillow.

 

And began our Elevenses.

 

It’s really more like Sixes. Actually, we gave it a new name. Pillow Stacking. We dragged a whole bunch of pillows into a pile and snuggled up. And we talked. Turns out, both of us hate taking our pajamas off, because we’ve spent ALL night warming them up. Neither of us like turning the TV off. And both of us like to snuggle. Who knew? Something in common after all. Long story short, I told him if he used the code word “Pillow Stacking”, I would make every effort to put everything down, grab some pillows and pile underneath some blankets so we could talk. They say good relationships start with communication, so I’m optimistic. (This is really my first foray into my children actually growing up… and I thought 3am feedings were hard…)

 

Also.

Who doesn’t love being in a pile of pillows???

Also.

Littlest told me, after I got my hair cut this afternoon, that I looked like Daddy now.

Also.

Littlest has gotten a case of the DOODLE DOODLE DOOOOOs… a thing of my own creation. While he has not inserted his sing song doodles into a silent prayer time at church like I did… He did start doodling on a VERY VERY quiet bus.

Also.

Biggest coloured in the lines in an adult colouring book. In fact, he may just have coloured closer to the lines than I do.

Also.

Biggest has started to read words.

Also.

Tonight, Biggest got me to drive him to the dining room table in a laundry bucket. I may or may not have also been in the bucket. Biggest likes red lights. It was a pretty tight squeeze, but I hear Mommy power is an extremely clean and almost sustainable energy source.

 

That’s it for now.

Mrs. Handler

It’s finally happened. I’ve gone cuckoo.


You know, I always have the best of intentions in getting time to write these things. And always something comes up. Like a couple of weeks ago? When I took a fancy picture of my wrapped up hand and said “STORY COMING SOON!”? Well.. I lied. Actually I didn’t, but the story couldn’t be written because I didn’t think about the fact that I couldn’t type. (Oops).

SO! NOW I CAN TYPE AGAIN! YAY!

Turns out, I did a bunch of stuff that week, went a little overboard in my cross training, and moved a washer. 3am and a $40 cab ride to the ER… sprained it. The official term is “sinovitis” or some such creation meaning “swollen joint”. Let me tell you. Typing with one hand is absolutely infuriating, and tying tea bags closed with 2 fingers and no thumb because you can’t actually touch your thumb and finger together because of the splint… is only slightly less so. So you see. I did have the best of intentions. And well, it was just out of my control. (I do have a functional joint now. Sinovitus can kiss my a… never mind.)

You know what else is infuriating? Running in snow. It’s basically impossible. Despite that, my sister and I managed to do sprints on Saturday and made up a kilometer pace (which is obviously not a “maintained” pace) of 3:55/km – 4:30/km. Kept that up for 3km despite the awful weather we’ve had. I’m optimistic despite having missed almost a full month of training time.

On a more amusing note, I went sledding with the boys and my timid I CAN’T POSSIBLY WASH MY HAIR BECAUSE I MIGHT GET WATER IN MY FACE, I DON’T WANT TO BECAUSE I MIGHT HURT MYSELF, I CAN’T FIGURE OUT HOW TO PUT MY FOOT IN MY PANTS DESPITE DOING IT EVERY DAY FOR EVERYONE ELSE children… THREW themselves down the steepest hill for 2 solid hours. Much to my delight of course. (We had the “can’t take my feet OUT of my pants” problem when we got home.)

Also, I win the Terrible Party Planner award twice this year. It’s been so busy that I only planned a tiny gathering for Littlest’s birthday. To be fair, he seemed gloriously content to have the highlight of his day be picking out his very own flavour of ice cream after dinner, so it must not have been that bad. But, that brings us to Biggest. It’s a week and a half away to his birthday, and I have yet to figure out what we’re doing. Honestly, it’s the school thing that’s throwing me off. It’s really three options at this point.

#1: We invite ALL the kids from his class to something big (and hopefully casual).

#2: We take a couple of children for something little (and figure out how not to disappoint the rest of the class).

#3: We do a family only birthday party.

I really can’t decide. I know there’s a couple of kids he’d invite, but we don’t have the space for more than a couple, and there’s the matter of him being really well liked with almost all of the kids, so inevitably if we don’t invite someone, we will break a couple of 5 year old sized hearts. And I REALLY don’t wanna be THAT parent. I think he’d be just as happy to enjoy bowling with his family, but having asked him about what he’d like… his answers seem to vary significantly. So I might just have to put my two cents in and make the decision for him. Also, I think it’s possible that he tunes me out after the first 2 words, so I can’t really be sure he understands the nature of my request. TOUGH LUCK KID! MOMMA’S GONNA GO BONKERS SOON, SO SHE’S MAKING THE DECISON! *whew* I feel better.

Unless I’ve gone bonkers already. Which I may well have. Having adjusted my schedule with the running and everything, I have successfully ENJOYED getting up at 5:30 on weekdays. That alone should make me bonkers. In fact, let’s INVESTIGATE. Why would 5:30 leave me less bonkers than usual?

Oh, what’s that you say? LESS WHINING? Oh. Well I guess that’s not so bad.

TIME FOR TEA (That reads coffee more often lately, but rest assured, I drink a CRAPTON of tea the rest of the day. How else would I remain standing?) Really that needs no further clarification.

A MOMENT TO HEAR THE BIRDS BEFORE THE INEVITABLE “I CAN’T PUT MY PANTS ON, MY FEET ARE LOST!”? Well we definitely have to keep time for that. It’s hard finding feet. Especially when you’ve somehow managed to misplace the aforementioned coffee and it’s gone cold… Ever tried to find a pair of toes in pants without being able to see properly? (Just a heads up, it’s nigh impossible. I’d suggest leaving the feet lost to see if they find themselves while said coffee is ingested.)

Fair enough peeps, that is why I labour intensively to scrape myself off my mattress at 5:30am.

I should note, actually, before I get further sidetracked, that this pants thing is really wild. It seems that Littlest absolutely cannot STAND putting pants on. Everything is fine until he has to get dressed. Then suddenly, he has no strength to pull anything off, he pouts, he whines, he cries, he fusses, he sits on his bed and mopes, he puts himself for a nap, he hides in his closet, the list goes ON AND ON AND ON. So much so that I have to send him to get dressed a full HOUR before we have to go so he can be assured of leaving the house in something other than his skivvies. I feel as though daycare might frown on my bringing him stark raving naked. It’s actually such a thing that he put on shorts once (since he refused pants) and I suggested he go out on our deck (in the snow) to see if it was an appropriate choice. He went out, stood on our freezing cold deck, stared me dead in the face and said “It’s GREAT MOMMY, I’M WARM”. And promptly walked back in. It should be noted though, he did request snow pants for the journey.

Biggest has been quite the talk lately also. He’s got really exceptional math skills, according to his teacher, and can add 1’s, 2’s, and 10’s in his head. Crazy child, he certainly didn’t get that from me. (I hate math.) On another note, he was with Mr. Handler and came to see me at work one day, and, after discovering that I wasn’t coming, said “OK Mommy! I’ll keep you in my heart until you get home! See you soon!” And walked out the door. Squeeeeee! (He sure throws one heck of a tantrum to offset the sheer adorableness of it all.)

 

And with that, I think I’ve confirmed my absolute lunacy, and will now commence cleaning of the house.

Mrs. Handler.

Observations


It’s lovely when you look back and realise just how much your children have grown into people. In the end, the whole point of parenthood is to grow them into responsible adults, right? As part of that, there are several basic adult skills that are necessary to demonstrate to your children. The unexpected part? Watching them successfully use it… on you.

 

Diplomacy. A useful skill. Except when it’s used to negotiate dessert. Hard to argue with logic, yet argue I must. By argue I mean put my foot down anyway, and silently tell myself to make sure the fine print is clear. I am learning to be more concise.

Attitude. It’s important to learn that we have the ability to change our attitudes even when we have no control over situations. However, I just gotta say, watching Biggest fix his attitude, and promptly confront me about my own…  Awkward. The other day he threw out his attitude. He literally pulled it out of his proverbial pocket and chucked it on the walk to school. And forgot about it entirely. I am learning to let go with immediacy.

Positive Thinking. While I have made considerable strides in my own positive thinking, it’s lovely to see the unexpected ways Biggest and Littlest put these skills to use. Like, when I say “We’ll see”… Biggest excitedly turns to Littlest and says “THAT MEANS YES, I THINK!”… I must attest to the difficulties in denying the playing of Zombies with that kind of attitude. I am learning to be more decisive in my answers. (Which also means I’m learning to actually choose No as an acceptable answer.)

Patience. Littlest is a foodie. He lives for food. In fact, given his short stature, I wouldn’t be even slightly surprised to find that he’s actually descended from a Hobbit. In his quest for more snacks, he consistently waits it out. I say “not yet…” and he’ll go back to his Lego, and with EQUAL enthusiasm 5 minutes later, delightedly ask if it’s snack time yet. And once it’s actually snack time, he wiggles his whole little body and claps in delight as he runs to the table. I am learning to let my patience stay full so my delight matches the wait.

Problem Solving. Both boys think outside the box when it comes to solving problems. Biggest has thoughtful, well considered solutions to his problems. Littlest has clever, unexpected solutions to his problems. For instance, Biggest will suggest sharing something for 5 minutes before trading. Responsible right? Another example: Littlest wants a snack for another time, so he goes straight to the lunch cupboard, pulls out a snack, and hides it in his closet for later when he’s actually hungry. Gotta admit, it’s a unique solution. I’m learning to consider all options.

 

You know what else I’m learning? How to keep my poker face on. The above lessons are absolutely true, and these kids floor me sometimes. Other times, like yesterday, I have to remember to keep my face straight while I’m dissolving into mental giggles. Both Biggest and Littlest were fighting over the Lego (They were fighting over who got to sit on the one foot patch of carpet that was next to twelve others exactly like it.) I had enough and told them it was time to clean up the lego and play quietly in their rooms until they could play nicely together again. Well.

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO (simultaneous)

Biggest said that he refused. I said that there wasn’t a refusal option. He said that he definitely wouldn’t. I said it was clean up or naptime. He said he was going for a nap but he was going to stomp the whole way. I said no he wasn’t. He looked me square in the face, and slammed his foot on the floor. I… footballed him. He hasn’t been footballed for a long time. Actually, it was more like he was a giant plank of wood. Either way, he was not prepared for me unceremoniously dumping him over my shoulder and hauling him off to bed. The look on his face was priceless, and it took all my concentration to not laugh out loud.

Still the mom.

Littlest was also unceremoniously footballed too, since he decided that despite his brother failing miserably at succeeding in his efforts to go to his room rudely, he was going to try too.

Still the mom.

 

Ah… the power of observation.

Mrs. Handler.

Parenting Guild Wars 2 Style


As some of you know, I like to game. Specifically, I like to play MMORPGs. In layman’s terms, that stands for Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game. The truth about how these games affect the lives of the people playing them varies depending on who you talk to. For me, it’s been a positive affectation.  I finished typing out a rather long and embarrassingly nerdy explanation of such perks, but instead of giving you that version… Suffice it to say that I find the interactions between players to be of a psychologically interesting nature. Moving to the reason I brought up MMOs… I play Guild Wars 2 specifically, and I play it for the people. However, it has had some interesting outcomes that were unexpected.

#1: We have loot. I already wrote about this in a previous post last semester, but the loot table has gotten an upgrade (for those nerds reading this, it got patched). It’s easier to get loot this time around, but we only roll for it once a week. However, this has significantly improved our getting out the door with smiles intact.

#2: We level up. I love games. All types even. Biggest and Littlest do too. Their favorites though, all have characters to level up. So, this weekend, after failing for the umpteenth time to try to explain to Biggest why we put effort into things like listening, I gave up. Or rather… I told him to throw the effort out the window, since it wasn’t working anyway, and put some experience points into levelling up instead. The light bulb went on. I have yet to have an issue since. In fact, this morning, I had a discussion with him about picking his feet up when he was walking, and I told him that I levelled up my stealthy feet when I was his age even if he thought he was too young to learn that skill… And after two minutes, (his own words, I kid you not) “Mom! Look! I put my adulty pants on and I levelled up! See??? It worked!” (as his boots were no longer dragging on the ground.) (Side note: I didn’t realize he understood the meaning of adulty pants, but my inside voice was laughing so hard I couldn’t see straight).

#3: We have map bonuses and buffs. This is my version of a chore chart. In Guild Wars 2, when you complete an event in a specific part of the world (it’s broken down to maps to save on processing power), you may receive extra rewards specific to that map. Behold! Our household has been broken down into three maps: Biggest’s Reach, Littlest Citadel, and Momma’s Rest. Each has a customizable map bonus that may be chosen when regular household duties are completed. (I mean… events…) Better yet… Bonus events yield buffs. Buffs are temporary bonuses to individual people. For instance, I (the mother) have a Preparation Buff that I award myself for completing prep each night. My map bonus currently is +1 Brandy (Neat). My preparation buff stacks up to 5 times, each stack gives me an extra half hour of playtime anytime during the week, in addition to my “play days”. (I now have specific days I allow myself to play on only, since my training has commenced.) Biggest currently has +30min quiet reading time as his map bonus, and has 1 stack of Nourishment, which gives him an additional jelly bean at the end of his loot roll for the week. Nourishment is gained by eating dinner nicely and has a maximum stack of 5. Littlest currently has +30min quiet reading time as his map bonus as well, and also has one stack of Nourishment. If they complete the bonus event (which was dusting the living room today), they gain the Might buff, which gives them an additional 30min to spend either playing a video game with me or watching an episode of Paw Patrol. Also spent in addition to regular time and stackable up to 5 times. They both currently have the Regeneration (Momma’s Grace) Buff which allows them cartoons on Saturday, since they’ve been quite polite to me this week. There’s a couple more that they haven’t earned yet, but it’s been fun. More importantly, it’s worked really well so far! We salvaged this morning despite a near wipe by putting map bonuses on the line. I guess they wanted those pretty bad because they smartened up in less than a blink of an eye.

 

And, on a serious note, for the first time in well over 6 months, I feel as though I’ve actually connected with these little creatures. It’s been a really rough few months with attitudes, and I can happily say that this week, I didn’t feel like I was rewarding bad behaviour with snuggles, and I didn’t feel like I was being badgered every 5 minutes for something. Time for a new phase in our lives, the phase where they’re people figuring out how to be people instead of trying to figure out how to wipe their asses. Or perhaps… in a more nerdy fashion, we cleared the boss and we’re off to learn the next one.

I wish you good night, and happy gaming, whether it’s Words with Friends, Candy Crush, Monopoly, Catan, or something wilder like Halo or World of Warcraft. In the meantime, I’m off to get some rested experience points, since our event usually starts waaaaaaay earlier than I ever anticipate.

The Handler.