Sunday, September 28, 2008

Good Fences

Reading back over my first three posts, I fear I've perhaps left the impression that my parental apathy is worse than it actually is. Given, my children spend an appalling amount of time in front of the television while I get on with other things, but we do also have moments every day that experts in the 80's would call "quality time".
Living where we do, a lot of that time happens out-of-doors, and last fall, after Rusty and Jerome had escaped to a neighbouring farmer's field for a sniff and a roll in the cowpies one time too many, it became apparent that we needed to build a fence. The Captain was typically somewhere far, far away at that point, so this was not a project I was going to be able to start and then hand off to him when I got bored. But I do have a great and wonderful friend, a sort of Thelma to my Louise (okay, I've never even seen that movie, but I remember something about them driving over a cliff, and that sounds like something Thelma and I would do, likely by accident) and when the idea of fence-building came up, Thelma was in.
First up was a trip to good ol' Home Depot for supplies. So, down the highway I went in my rusty tin-can of a truck and met Thelma in the chain link section, with children in tow. This turned out to be the hardest part. Balancing 6-foot fence posts in a shopping cart with Firstborn and Rosemary's Baby up front, wanting to grab everything and wield it like Luke Skywalker with his light saber isn't easy, and those bags of concrete were not designed to be carried by women. Except maybe those freakishly muscular body-building women you can't turn away from when they appear on TV. But I'm not one of those women.
Several hundred dollars and a wobbly, nerve-wracking truck ride home later, I was ready to start phase one of building my fence, which turned out to just be digging some holes and concreting my posts into the ground. Not a difficult task, but oddly, not one of those posts is standing up straight today. I blame society.
When the fence fabric, the chain link that would eventually trap Rosemary's Baby safely in the backyard while I sat on a lawn chair reading craft magazines, was ready to go up, Thelma and her always perfectly-behaved only child did the drive out to the middle of nowhere (several days in a row) and we got to work. The end result, after hours and hours of swearing and pinching our fingers, is what the Captain now refers to as "that misbegotten fence". But it holds in dogs and escaping children (more on this another day--it deserves its own post). And the experience gave Thelma and I yet another reason to believe that we are completely capable when our military husbands so frequently bugger off and leave us to it.
Since that time, Thelma and I have successfully ripped down and put up drywall and sledgehammered a fireplace, and we patiently await our call from Home and Garden TV.
Frankly, I think we will be a half-assed home-improvement sensation.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Gripping Television

Well, here we are on day 3 of the blog, and I have not yet been distracted by something shiny and forgotten all about it, never to return. Give me a couple more days.
That said, the backlog of housework since this little endeavour began is suggesting to me that maybe I can't do this EVERY day. But if there's one thing I learned from Judy Blume, it's that you don't have to write in your diary every single day. And also that girls in the early 70's had to wear maxi pads with a pink belt--yikes!!
But anyhow, this post should have a point, and here it is: Rosemary's Baby has taken the broken TV one step closer to TV heaven.
Let's back up a bit to a time when the TV was just a regular old 25-inch outdated monster that picked up 2 stations and sat on one of those basic black plywood TV stands we thought looked classy and modern in 1985.
Sometimes on the weekend, the Captain and I have things we want to get done. I retire down to the basement to engage in one of my many crafty hobbies and he hits the bedroom to pump some iron. We each kind of listen out for kids and dogs, but assume that the other is paying better attention than we are. This is where it began.
Halfway through beading a Christmas ornament one Saturday back in April, I heard an almighty crash coming from the direction of the living room and the Captain pounding out of the bedroom and yelling something I should probably just keep out of my family-friendly ramblings. I rushed up the stairs to find the TV on its face on the floor, the Captain still yelling and Rosemary's Baby looking as pleased as if he'd just won gold at the Olympics. Apparently, in a moment of Bamm-Bamm-like strength, the wicked little street urchin had decided to become part of one of Barney's group hugs and pulled the whole thing to the ground, miraculously not getting even his baby toe trapped underneath.
After returning the TV to its original position on the stand (WHAT?!! More on this in a moment), we turned it on to discover 2 large permanent rainbow blobs, at which point, the Captain crankily proclaimed "Well, we're just going to have to get used to it because we can't afford another one!" And get used to it we did. You'd be amazed at how fast you grow accustomed to random rainbow splotches on your screen while watching reruns of Seinfeld.
To make a long and pointless story short, after this happened a SECOND time, we decided for safety's sake to keep the TV on the floor, and it has become firstly, a depository for Rosemary's Baby's sippy cups, and secondly a source of fun buttons and holes for childhood exploration of all kinds.
Which brings us to last night.
The 2 channels alluded to earlier are really not cutting it for us, so the Captain occasionally acquires stuff we want to watch and puts it on his computer. He then hooks his laptop up to the TV and voila, it's like we have cable--without the cable bill! Last night, it became apparent that this is no longer an option for us. Perhaps Rosemary's Baby stuck a pencil in there (Firstborn did this to a phone jack once and cut telephone service to the entire house for 2 days). We don't really know, but we do know that hooking up the computer is no longer possible, and we're thinking a new TV--one we can attach to the wall nice and high--might be a good thing to buy ourselves for Christmas this year.
For now, I kind of like my Seinfeld in rainbow.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Mice are Nice

I've never been big on those snap traps. Perhaps it's the mother in me. So one day a couple of years back, my wonderful husband, the Captain, brought home one of those humane things that traps the mice but doesn't do them any real harm (unless you forget to check it for several days, and I've had a couple of traumatic experiences with this, so let's just move on). Since then, I've spent many a morning chatting away to cute little furry, beady-eyed prisoners downstairs in the pantry. Today was just such a morning. My dogs, who shall heretofore be referred to as "Rusty" and "Jerome" (because I'm obsessed with personifying long-retired puppets from Canadian children's programming), like to attend the release party, and despite their insistence on pulling down the curtains in a frenzy of barking and jumping every time a squirrel runs by the window, they never give escaping mice a second sniff. So, with Firstborn safely playing computer games, and Rosemary's Baby glued to an episode of Barney (Mother of the Year!!!), out to the field we trotted, with a quick stop at our farm-sized vegetable garden to find the often-missing, always-filthy pair of work gloves. A quick sidenote here: if you're ever driving down the highways of rural Manitoba and see a slightly dishevelled woman in her pajamas releasing wildlife into the fields while wearing a pair of oven mitts, there's no need to pull over and call Mental Health Services. It's just me.
Maybe I'm simply used to mice. We're situated in an area where we are directly surrounded by hay fields, so we see quite a few. But I'm confused as to how they became such an object of terror in my family. I have a vivid memory of being woken up at 6AM to the sound of my mother shrieking, having found what she thought was a mouse (later to be identified as a plastic measuring cup) buried in the sugar bowl. Don't get me wrong, I've had few unpleasant experiences myself: releasing a mouse in a field a few miles down the road only to discover that she'd had babies in the couch, all of whom I'd condemned to death by catching and releasing her; the dead mouse lying in the big sack of coffee beans we keep in the basement (probably all that caffeine...); the aforementioned forgotten trap left in the workshop while we went on vacation. Unpleasant. But scary? I guess I'm just not that easily alarmed anymore. And that's a good thing when Firstborn has found something cool he wants to shove in my face...

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Poo Incident #6

Don't you love it when posts start out this way?
I realize now how spoiled I was with my first child. "Incidents" involved things like bottles of chocolate syrup being spilled all over the living room and then mashed into the carpet, or entire jars of Vicks Vapo-Rub being smeared through his hair. One unhappy episode involved me ill-advisedly allowing him to play with the spice jars while I yakked on the phone to a friend living at the other end of the country. Who knew that a 3 year-old playing with a jar of dried hot peppers could be so disasterous? You know what happened--he rubbed his eyes. Well, these were the good old days.
My youngest is a 2 year-old hellion. On a good day, I secretly think of him as Rosemary's Baby. He has little interest in chocolate sauce and hot peppers (yet), but is oddly fascinated with the contents of his diaper, and more specifically what he can do with it. About 6 or 8 months ago, I opened his bedroom door to wake him up from his afternoon nap, to be met with the unmistakeable odour of poop and a wall mural that can only be described as inspired. Since then, we've had a handful more of these little events. I've yelled and not yelled, laughed and put on my serious face, filled his room with toys and books to keep him occupied and thrown out several poo-covered copies of Goodnight Moon, but nothing seems to stop little Poo-casso. I have noticed that the murals themselves are evolving. What was once a hypnotic series of smears and handprints now looks a little more like some long-forgotten series of ancient hieroglyphics, but let's move away from art appreciation for a moment...
For the record, the best way to remove dried poo from the wall is with a good brush for scrubbing and a bowl of soapy water. The best way to keep from murdering your toddler is to laugh. Hysterically. At everything.