Monday, September 28, 2009

Back to school sucks

Sorry, Staples. You have it all wrong. It is not the most wonderful time of the year.

Back to school season means I need to find my chequebook. Online banking doesn't work for pizza days, school fees, music books or field trips.

Back to school means new and exciting viruses to infect us. I am one of those really annoying people that rarely gets sick. My spouse gets everything. He's on his 3rd illness. Teen daughter is on her first. The boys had one each. It seems each child had a separate disease they shared only with their father. This kind of generosity he can live without.

I've already gone on at length about school lunches. The children don't eat yoghurt. They infrequently eat chicken. Fruit should be selected for longevity, as it travels back and forth frequently. I send it anyways - maybe one day they will be famished enough to actually eat it.

There are positives. I'm sure there are positives. It's nice seeing my daughter in the morning, even though she's a wee mite grumpy. I can't blame her - she likes to sleep to noon, and is up at 7. The kids spend lots of time with their friends. Sometimes at the friends' houses, which makes ours quieter. The boys spend less time on their vidiot games.

The biggest drawback is homework. I really hate homework. And no, I do not do my kids' homework. I just have to irritate the crap out of them to get them to admit to having any, then nag until my brain hurts to get them to start. This takes 90 minutes. The homework takes 10. If they remember it - we've had our first call from a teacher requesting an interview.

It's been 4 weeks. 3 illnesses. 1 meet the teacher night. 1 request for interviews. Many, many lunches, several used more than once. You'd think after a decade of this I could manage it, and I can, it's just not the most wonderful time of the year. That's at the end of June, only 9 months away!

Monday, September 21, 2009


I went underwear shopping yesterday. The old stuff was not fitting well under my cycling tights. When your underwear is so old and saggy that your lycra wrinkles, it's time to at least consider upgrades.

Teen daughter and I hit Winners after spending much time getting her another cell phone and plan. This will be plan # 5. May it outlast the rest. Although I do hope her background picture is changed - much as I claim to have looked awesome this morning when she laughed hysterically and took my picture, she has evidence to the contrary. Her description of my cycling garb is quite funny. Glad she is sarcastic. I can't imagine having a kid incapable of sarcasm.

Winners on a Sunday afternoon is calm. The underwear racks were wide open, and I started the hanger shuffle.

I think putting underwear on hangers would be a really lousy job.

The shuffle began as it always does - promising, there are cotton panties here, let's check out the waistband. An elastic waistband, even if covered in fabric, must be overlapped to minimize the seam. A flat seam is good. A bulky seam is not. I don't want a bulky seam leaving its impression in my less than rock hard midsection. The promise fades as I realize most of the seams are done wrong.

I find a pair with all my criteria. Except it says Hello Kitty. I've mentioned this before - I'm 42. I do not wear Hello Kitty anything, especially not underwear. That's just wrong. I can understand it in tween or smaller sizes, but they had some in women's extra large. I opted to leave the Hello Kitty panties for someone 1/3 my age - preferably younger.

Why do they make so many kinds of nylon underwear? Who wears nylon underpants? Or mylar, or whatever it's called? My parents were very keen on teaching us the merits of underwear that breaths. Well, not literally - it must allow your bum to breath. Again, not literally. I mean, I don't have a full set of lungs anywhere near my ass. This is a good thing, as there are times when inhaling in that region would be most unpleasant. What my parents meant was that the smells must escape.

That reminds me of a story told by an anthropologist. He and some colleagues had been hanging out with a hunter gatherer tribe, untouched by western civilization, yadda yadda yadda. When they finally asked the tribe members if they had any questions, they asked why do you wear clothes that hold in your farts?

An excellent question. Given that clothing is not optional in a busy city, why make that situation worse with mylar or elastane or any type of synthetic crap clinging to your butt?

I did find many practical pairs of underwear. But only if you wear pants that go up to your armpits. If my trousers rise up to just below my bellybutton, my underwear should not reach well past my waist, front or back. They should rest, comfortably, a few inches below the pants.

Happily DKNY seem to have mastered the art of the cotton bikini brief without badly sewn waist elastic, and some of their garments ended up at Winners. I am now comfortably clad in underwear that fit nicely under lycra, breath, do not shift into areas in which they do not belong, and do not pinch. Too bad they only had a few pairs in my size.

It's the little things that matter. Like comfy gotch.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Painting a small world

The Nylons once said it's a small world. But I wouldn't want to paint it.

This is an admirable sentiment. I have spent far too much time painting. It started with rented bedrooms, spread into rental kitchens, moved to assisting parents and in-laws with their homes, and now has taken over more of my life than I'd like.

We managed to avoid any painting at all for our first 3 years of home ownership.

Then the floral lavender border trim in the bathroom got to me. I removed it. The paint underneath was lavender. The white paint in the rest of the room immediately started peeling, leaving a lavender room. I had no choice. I had to paint.

Then the white walls in the rest of the house started bothering me. Well, sort of white. They had been painted with flat white latex paint. The children had covered the first 4' with fingerprints. Scrubbing those removed enough of the paint to prove the house had been peach. The entire house. Peach. Ewww. So I painted it all. Bedrooms. Hallways. Kitchen. Living and dining room.

Then we moved.

Our new to us house had screaming white flat latex walls. Had. We've now painted the basement - twice. The hallways. Bedrooms. Living room. Dining room. And, in a new experience for me, the backyard shed - twice - the front and back porches, and the bits of wood trim we have in the front. Those were tricky. They are between the first and second storey windows, just about 2' above the top of our ladder.

Did you know it is possible to paint successfully while hanging outside of second storey windows? Not comfortably, but successfully.

This is not something I expected to learn. I also didn't expect to have to tell a child to stop licking his shoe, or not to throw grapes on the rug and jump on them. Life has these fun and less than fun treats for us. Bring it on.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

When I grow up

For me, please substitute "If" for "When".

We all had images, as children, of what being a grown up would be like. My image included an element of seriousness that has proved impossible to achieve. So I'm still waiting to feel like a real grownup.

Real grownups are capable of being serious. They drive cars to work, paying for parking and gas. They drop kids off at daycare. They have working spouses, and both take turns making serious and healthy meals for the family. I see my colleagues, many of whom are much younger than I, and wonder how they manage to radiate such an adult aura. Can they tell I'm faking it?

Right now it's back to school season. The first question everyone asks is did your kids go back to school? The correct answer is yes.

Wrong answers would be more fun.

No, we sold them to a coal mine in China.

School? Is that required once they hit 10?

We sent them last year - do you think they need more time?

We would, but it totally interferes with their video gaming.

I think so. Haven't actually seen them in a few days. When did it start?

Back to school is not the most wonderful time of the year, despite the Staples' commercials. It means spending money on school supplies you put somewhere in June so you wouldn't have to buy them again in August. It means getting the kids out of bed in the morning and attempting to get them to eat. This is a real challenge with teen daughter, who thinks noon is an excellent time to wake up. Her bus comes at 7:20. She usually gets up around 7:10, staggers into the bathroom, rushes off, then calls her dad on her cell to say she missed the bus.

These are challenges I can handle easily. I don't even get that grumpy. Our local Staples has ample supplies at reasonable prices, and short lineups.

My real challenge is the school lunch.

I tweeted recently that school lunches were invented by an intelligent species of mold to ensure a reliable food supply.

My children don't like sandwiches. They don't like cold meat. Or warm yoghurt. It's ridiculous. Last year middle child lost his lunch bag on day 2. This year youngest child lost his on day 1. How do you lose your lunch? It's not like they are in a class of hundreds. Middle child didn't eat the healthy stuff I sent him with. So I sent it back today for youngest child. Teen daughter is still claiming vegetarian status, so I sent her with a fruit salad instead of chicken. I really hate making them lunches. If they ate them, it would be different. Honest.

My brilliant plan this year was to include mini freezer packs with the lunches, so that the yoghurt would stay cold. But I haven't actually sent any yoghurt left - the little bastards ate it all at home. Maybe I should just make lunches, send them with snacks, and they can eat the lunch when they get home?

A real grown up would have the answer. My mother, a true grown up, used to make all the sandwiches on Sunday and freeze them. We'd grab a sandwich and a piece of fruit, get milk at school, and all would be well. I seem to have survived without ever eating prepackaged granola bars, rice crispy squares, froot snaks or the other pseudo-foods marketed as suitable for noontime eating.

Good bye, summer. I really enjoyed mornings without making lunches. Only 8 more years until the youngest finishes high school - and I actually hope they go by far less quickly than the last 8. I may gripe, but the thought of them leaving is almost unbearable. They are terrific kids.