Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Notes from the battlefield

Monday night was ringette night, and we threw Mallory back into the ring. She had known this day was coming and was prepped the night before. So it was no surprise when I got to the school to pick her up Monday night and she saw me, ran down the hall toward me as she usually does, leapt into my arms, gave me a big hug, then stepped back and stomped her foot and said, “I DON’T want to go to ringette!” Well, tough luck, kiddo. I told her it was non-negotiable and reminded her that a Happy Meal awaited her if she did well on the ice. Yup, I have stooped to bribery. (I can see my sister, who is on the cusp of having a brand new baby of her own, shaking her head in dismay as she reads this, much the same way I used to do before I had kids; and all I can say is, wait 4 years and see how many things you do that you swore you would never do!) Then I reminded her that she would have a friend on the ice that night, Evelyn, a friend who has been playing ringette for 7 years and volunteered her time and effort to help initiate Mallory into the ringette cult. Except that when we got to the arena, the program leader was giving Evelyn a hard time, saying she shouldn’t be on the ice. It was frustrating to say the least (and if I felt that way then I can only imagine how Evelyn felt.) There seemed to be little harm in letting a long standing member of the league, in full protective equipment, help a new member of the league who has years of membership ahead of her if only we can spark some interest in her. Finally the program leader acquiesced and they took to the ice. I can’t say Mallory looked particularly happy during the practice. It’s hard to tell with the mouth guard in place, but I think I had some looks of death shot my way as she dutifully skated by. A few times during the hour she appeared to be needing a lot of encouragement. But, she stuck it out for the full hour, which is a bigger success than we’ve seen all month. When the practice ended, Evelyn took Mallory into the change room and presented her with a ringette pin, explaining that she had received it for being a great ringette player and now that Mallory had also done a great job, she was passing the pin along to her. Mallory was trying to be sly about the pin but I think Evelyn really pushed her buttons when she gave it to her. The whole drive home was spent chattering about where she was going to put this special pin, in a box, but first she needed a special box, do you have any special boxes in the office Mom? Then I’m going to write ‘Ringette’ on the box, no, I’m going to write ‘Ringette Pin’, will you help me spell ‘Ringette Pin’?I told Mallory that the only way she could keep her special ringette pin was by being a special ringette player, and that meant playing once a week until the winter is over. Did she think she could handle that? She sighed heavily, like the weight of the world was on her shoulders, before nodding yes. So… we’ll see. There is a practice tomorrow that we will skip because frankly, at this point, going once a week without any tears would make Mallory a rock star to me. Twice a week is pushing it.So Evelyn deserves a world of thanks for getting Mallory back on the ice and helping her to see that a 50-minute ringette practice is not pure torture. After Mallory’s practice was Evelyn’s practice, and we stayed for a few minutes to watch the team. The girls are amazingly fast, can skate backwards with ease and stop or turn on a dime. We admired their agility for a while as I prayed that Mallory would come to appreciate that… or at least learn to not hate it so much, from now until April. And then we were off to McDonald’s to pick up her Happy Meal. For one night at least, she earned it.Here's Liam, hanging out in the penalty box. He's figured out where the buzzer is and liked giving me heart attacks by pretending to go for it. There's always fun to be had at the arena.)

Monday, November 28, 2011

That one

Liam's school interview, on the other hand, went pretty much as we expected it would. He brought home a pretty strong report card, which we were pleased with because we hear that his teacher is a toughie. Still, it seems that he is quite advanced in reading, strong in math, and that he is REALLY good at gym.
This kind of makes me laugh because he is still not the most competitive kid in the world when it comes to hockey... though (a) he has improved a lot even just in the last few weeks (must be because he is actually making it to both the game and the practice - for so many weeks when we were all sick, that just wasn't happening) and (b) whether or not he's good at it, HE LOVES IT. Oh man, does he love it. This kid eats, sleeps, and breathes hockey. It's kind of taken on a life of its own. He watches hockey games, he watches hockey game reruns on the Leafs channel, he checks Sports Center every morning for the scores of games that finished after he went to bed the night before, he maintains both his hockey sticker book and Mallory's hockey sticker book, and I am starting to find hockey doodles left lying around the house again - team names, game scores, lists of players, and so on.
Liam is going to his first NHL game in a couple of weeks, and couldn't be more excited. It's sort of a guys night out and I have to say that I am sorry I am going to miss it.
Liam also chose a hockey ornament for the Christmas tree this year, one we weren't able to find locally and finally bought off eBay today. More on that when it actually gets here.
So I guess this digressed from a school update to a hockey update, but whatevs. Back to school - Liam is doing really well and the only thing we have been given for him to work on is helping him to open up to his teachers, to help him prove to them that he knows as much as he does. And if that's the only thing that needs improving, well, we can't ask for much more than that.

Friday, November 25, 2011

This one

On Monday night this week, we had probably our worst ringette experience to date. Another night where Mallory stepped on the ice and then refused to move a muscle. One of the teenage girls assisting with the program spent a good 30-40 minutes talking to her, trying to coax her into action, before we finally pulled her off the ice. During this 30-40 minutes we had plenty of time to discuss our options and we basically came to the conclusion that it was time to quit ringette.

On the drive home, over dinner and into the evening we talked about ringette not being the be-all end-all. That perhaps we’d give Mallory a break from skating until after Christmas, and then get her back into CanSkate lessons for ½ hour a week. Or maybe we wouldn’t try to keep pushing the skating; maybe we’d look for a dance class or even get Mallory started on piano lessons, since she seems to show an affinity for music.

Later that night I got online to check out the league’s cancellation policy, though, and I discovered that the deadline for pulling out and getting even a partial refund had long since passed. So we can quit ringette, but we are still on the hook for $400 worth of ice time and a bunch of equipment. Then and there, I vowed that it’s not over until it’s over: Mallory is going back to ringette. It may not be every week, it may take some bribery, but she is going back. I am not going to kiss that $400 good-bye just yet.

It was with this fresh in mind that we went into parent-teacher interviews this week, and perhaps that’s why I was braced for the worst. Well, not the worst, exactly. I mean, I know Mallory is a pretty bright little thing and that socially, she is one to be reckoned with. I was a bit apprehensive, though, that we might hear back that she lacks focus, is bossy and stubborn, or tries too hard to be the class clown. Instead, we got a glowing report on her that indicates that in addition to actually being a very friendly, responsible and caring kid, she’s at the top of her class academically, reading and writing and doing math at a level beyond what’s normally taught in JK. So she has pretty much shattered my perception that Liam was going to be our intellectual kid who’s less of a socialite, and that Mallory was going to be social as all get out but potentially lack the academic strengths that Liam has.

Then I remember the ringette thing, and I’m glad that she can focus and do well at school and give us something to praise her about, because boy howdy has she been close to being tossed out the window after some of her escapades at the rink.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Operation Christmas Child

I've been meaning to get involved with an organization called Samaritan's Purse and their Operation Christmas Child program for a while now... and finally made it happen this year for the first time. (Barely.) In a nutshell, the program has you pack a Christmas shoebox for a child in a developing country. You choose the gender and age bracket of the child you want to sponsor, pack the box, make a small financial contribution to cover the cost of shipping the box, and the rest is history. This seemed like a really good, tangible charity to get the kids involved in. There are lots of collection boxes at work for various programs at this time of year, and porch light campaigns and Salvation Army bellringers and the like, but the idea of having the kids do something for other kids just like them felt like it would drive home just how lucky they are. I worried a little about navigating the Santa issue (i.e. why does Santa give us such nice toys and not these kids?), but they didn't question that as much as they could have. Phew.
Since collection week in Canada is from November 21-27, and we weren't busy on Saturday morning, it was the perfect time for a shopping trip. We went to a department store and read over the list of recommended items a few times to provide some direction (no war toys, no food except for hard candy, hygiene and school supply items encouraged along with toys) and then each of the kids got a basket and free reign to pick out things for a child their own age. Well... ALMOST free reign. Liam did pretty well on his own but Mallory had to be coaxed into not turning her shoebox into Princess-palooza. All in all, they did very well.
We got the goods home and set about packing the boxes... and I have to say that we did a good job of estimating how much 'stuff' will fit into a shoebox, because they are both chock-full but the lids still fit on. We included a note to our recipients, taped a label to the top to identify the target child demographic, added some rubber bands to keep the lid secure, and I'll slip out on my lunch hour one day this week to drop the boxes at the local collection center.
Kids being kids, once the boxes were packed and the notes going inside composed, both Liam and Mallory wandered off and started a new activity, and I don't know how much more thought they will give to these boxes. But hopefully doing this once will evolve into a yearly event, and as the kids grow up and they understand more, I hope they will spend more time considering how much different their situations could be if they lived elsewhere in the world.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The holidays are officially underway

You know, it's hard for me to write that, because I really think the holidays are officially underway as of American Thanksgiving; but this year our town's Santa Claus Parade moved up one weekend, putting it before Thanksgiving, so whoomp - here it is.

On the pro side, it was a lot warmer for the parade this year than it was last year (not that that stopped us from stocking up on hot chocolate and Timbits to help weather the show!) On the con side, the parade was WAY long and there was way too much filler... long periods of time between interesting entries... and it's not like I am THAT picky about what we're watching. I just like for there to be some lights, some music, SOMETHING worth watching. I digress.

I was starting to worry that my camera was dying during the parade because I couldn't for the life of me get it to focus, but today it's back to working fine, so I'm going to blame it on the low light and hope there's nothing more to it than that. I got all of three pictures that turned out, so here they are - in no particular order:
Liam enjoying his hot chocolate.
Friends of ours on a float.
The big man himself - on a very much scaled-down float, compared to past years. When the grand finale of the parade gets cut, what does that mean for the rest of it? Wondering a little whether there will be a parade at all next year.

Friday, November 18, 2011

The kids' bathroom counter

Pretty indicative of how things in our house are right now! Mallory made it through a full school day on Wednesday but started feeling unwell during gymnastics, and that's one activity she simply adores - I can't imagine she'd fake it to get out of that one! She came home, slept on the couch for three hours, then went to bed without eating any dinner. And so it continues.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Fundraising fun

For my local peeps... this one's for you. Liam and Mallory's school is selling poinsettias as a fundraiser. The flowers come from Ross's Flowers on Indian Creek Road East. You purchase a coupon for a poinsettia from the kids, then redeem it in person at Ross's. Red poinsettias are guaranteed and all other colours are on a first come, first served basis. Coupons will be available December 1 and must be redeemed by December 24.

Prices are as follows:

4" pot - 1 plant - $8
6" pot - 1 plant - $15
7" pot - 2 plants - $25
8" pot - 3 plants - $30

So if you are interested in any poinsettias... let me know!

P.S. Mallory came home sick AGAIN yesterday. But you wouldn't have expected anything less, would you???

Sunday, November 13, 2011

On the mend

Saturday morning's vomit incident has traumatized Mallory a little bit. Though she only threw up the once - well, it sort of happened in three different waves, but still just one overall incident - she was terrified all day long that it would happen again. The first 'wave' happened when she coughed, and her illness has morphed from a fever to vomiting to (now) a cough, and so every time she coughed yesterday (which happened with great frequency) she has a Tupperware container in front of her mouth in case anything came out. She is also convinced that she was sick because she drank grape juice and even though grape juice is one of her very favourite drinks, she doesn't think she will ever be able to drink it again without the same thing happening.

This may all sound a little bit cuckoo, but I totally sympathize with her. I have a fear of throwing up myself, one I thought was just my own thing until I saw a Seinfeld episode where Jerry admits to the same fear, and really, it does make sense; I mean who likes throwing up? Lucky for Mallory, she has been blessed with a pretty tough stomach. The last time she threw up was as a nine month old, the night she ruined Cory's birthday party (and possibly his dining room rug). So, four years between incidents: not too shabby.

This weekend was a little bit wacky in that Mallory had ringette at 7:30 on Saturday morning, this afternoon, and then has it again tomorrow night. We did not take her yesterday morning, figuring that after the last session, we'd be lucky to get her on the ice once this week, let alone three times, and that the 7:30 a.m. session would be the first one to get cut. It's a good thing we didn't take her because the way the timing worked out, she would have been puking on the ice rather than at home. Although that would have spared my rug, I'm not sure how the other parents would have felt about their kids' lesson/practice being interrupted like that. What do they do when someone throws up on the ice? I'm picturing a big patch of purple ice at the arena and it's kind of making me laugh.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Why my living room smells like a salad bar

This morning seemed to be going OK... and then Mallory started vomiting... and out came the grape juice she drank last night. All over our white living room area rug. By the time she was done spewing I took one look at the rug and decided that it was ruined; there was no way we were going to get that much purple out of it.

Little did I know that ordinary white vinegar is some sort of miracle cure that can actually remove stains like that from rugs. Right now I am mighty thankful that we went with a cheaper olefin rug rather than something ritzy in wool that would have held onto the stains much more tightly. (I am also mighty thankful that we happened to have a 4L jug of vinegar in the pantry!) I would defy anyone to walk in right now and figure out where Mallory was when she lost the contents of her stomach.

So it's probably going to smell vinegary for the next week or two, but that's a price I'm willing to pay to have a white rug again. We turned down two out-of-town social engagements this weekend, and as it happens, it's a good thing we did. Because I'd far rather be scrubbing the purple out of my own rug than someone else's.

Friday, November 11, 2011

On 11-11-11

Mallory: has a temperature of 104 and came home early from school, sick again. Though to be honest, I am surprised that she went at all today - she didn't look good right from the get-go (but insisted that she wanted to give it a shot).

Liam: wrote this in response to the writing prompt, "Said the Spider to the Fly: pretend you are a spider. You want to invite Mr. Fly for dinner.":

Can you com ofr for dinner. We code have lots of food. We code go to a restrrote.

I adore the fake-it-til-you-make-it mentality of Grade 1.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Where in the world is CC?

I have been out of the loop for the last few days because - I know this will come as a huge surprise - NOT - we are sick again. Mallory came home from school with an upset tummy yesterday, and today I woke up feeling OK but by the time I got out of the shower I was dizzy and nauseous and decided not to go into the office. This is beginning to feel like groundhog day. The only upside to it is that on Monday night, Mallory had her worst ringette session of the entire year; she got on the ice, skated across the ice to stand and stare at us through the glass, and cried for about ten or fifteen minutes until we took her off the ice. Definitely the worst (and shortest) session yet. I would like to think, with the benefit of hindsight, that this was because she was not feeling well, and if she felt anything like I felt this morning then I don't blame her for it.

(Really though, I think this may be wishful thinking. She did not complain about being sick on Monday. I realize I am probably just trying to rationalize away some terrible behaviour.)

So today I stayed home, took a long nap, watched the entire 'Where in the World is Matt Lauer?' segment on the Today show and then, because he was in the Swiss Alps, I got the itch to actually go back and make an album of our trip there. That is the one trip I never did anything with, and suddenly I have this urge to do it, like, right now. Great... like I need another project.

I felt much better after my nap and a bowl of oatmeal in the middle of the afternoon (I have joined the steel cut oats bandwagon - that stuff is awesome!) I will be back to work tomorrow, right in time for the weekend. I think it's going to be another weekend of laying low and not overextending because clearly - clearly - I am run down to the point of having every passing germ knock me off my feet right now.

...but I can still start sorting photos even as I lay low... right???

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Before we leave Fall completely behind

(PS - the reason you hear me say 'music box' is because Mallory has a rule for filming video - she always gives me a code word to give her to let her know the camera is rolling - and that was the word of the day)

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Right here, right now

Another sick day for another member of the Cook family. Kind of the story of our lives these days.

(Hey, did I mention that I finally opened comments up?? Sorry that took so long.)

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Guess who's coming back?

It's Movember, the month formerly known as November. During the month of Movember men across the country grow mustaches in the name of charity. Well, really they do it because it provides them with a respectable sounding alibi. But according to the official Movember website,
During November each year, Movember is responsible for the sprouting of moustaches on thousands of men’s faces, in Canada and around the world. With their “Mo’s”, these men raise vital funds and awareness for men's health, specifically prostate cancer.

This year, a group of Chad's coworkers have arranged a challenge, and Chad is in on it... he's going to be looking like the officer again in no time! Want to support Chad in his excuse to fit a lot of Tom Selleck jokes into his workday... er, fight against prostate cancer? There's a clickable Movember badge on the right... I'm sure he would appreciate your support, even though he's not the kind of dude to ask for it himself. (If this post goes 'poof' in the next little while it's because Chad has found it and is aghast that I would put out a public plea. On the other hand, if he becomes the top pledge-raiser with your help, I'm sure he'll thank me!!)

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Bah Humbug: Halloween edition

Yesterday was the first Halloween since I have had teeth that I did not eat about 40 mini-sized candy bars and collapse into a sugar coma. I did not eat a single piece of candy yesterday, not because I am being virtuous but because the thought of food still turns my stomach, even though I am now a couple of days out from the puking. Unfortunately, even though the kids were more than game for trick-or-treating, I think they felt pretty similar. They both just had a small nibble of their stash before heading off to bed. Like I said... this has not been the Best Holiday Ever at the Cook household... damn germs. Oh but wait, the story gets better. I finally had a doctor's appointment for Liam yesterday, the one I had to book five days prior, the one during which I would figure out why he's been sick for the past two weeks. I raced out of the office, through a construction zone, picked him up from school, got held up by a funeral procession on my way back over the bridge to the doctor's office, walked into the office ten minutes past the appointed time... and the doctor had left. He was late for lunch or something, I guess. I swore on the inside for a good long time for that one. I have never, ever had to wait less time than that to be seen - but late is late, I suppose. *sigh* For the first time this year, having them more local to us now, our cousins joined us for the first part of the night. We typically order pizza for Halloween (I know, super original, right?) so they joined us for that and for a few getting-the-costumes-on shots.
I never did get a shot of each of the kids' pumpkins except for this one. Liam drew that face and carved it all himself. Mallory has developed a pumpkin phobia (seriously!) and would not come near this one, even though Chad did Ariel's face for her.Our first stop is always next door, which went a little worse than usual this year since our neighbour decided to string up some dolls by their throats. Mallory was not amused. I was not amused when she wanted the wig off after about the fourth house, and I wound up carrying it around for the rest of the night. (Can't say I was all that surprised though!)I love these pictures... we arrived at this door at the same time as a whole gaggle of kids... and the bigger kids pushed their way in front of her (I think Liam was three steps in front of the group and got out in the nick of time.)
Here she is... still waiting.

We went to fewer houses this year than last since nobody was feeling great, but it was cold out so it was nice to be home early. The kids had a hoot again this year running to answer our own doorbell and making sure that our visitors all got the right allotment of candy dropped into their bags. The cat meowed from the basement for two hours nonstop until the last TOT'er left and we let him out. And with that... Halloween 2011 is over. When I get some energy back I will take down all the decorations, but since that's when I usually also haul out Christmas which is a pretty large undertaking... it may be a while.