Monday, June 28, 2010

End of an Era

Tomorrow is the last day of Kindergarten. An entire school year has passed in the blink of an eye. It feels like Meredith has been in school for three months, maybe four. Not ten. And tomorrow is the last day of this paradise on earth called Kindergarten. Meredith and I have been working on a little gift for the supreme genius of Kindergarten-ness, Madame Katie. A few weeks ago when I asked Meredith what she thought would be a nice gift for her teacher she cooked up an elaborate plan of inviting her over, making a nice seat on the deck under the umbrella, and serving her all kinds of delicious party foods and drinks.

This child loves a party.

I gently explained that her idea, though fabulous, would be tough to execute and "just imagine if EVERY Kindergarten child invited Madame Katie over.....the summer would be too short!"
So we settled on party food instead (with a few party drinks thrown in for good measure).

We assembled "Madame Katie's Summer Snacks" in a cute little metal tub that has dividers inside for six bottles and a bottle opener conveniently attached to the handle by a chain.

Meredith worked hard to do her best printing, and I'm hoping it's something her teacher will enjoy and use. I forgot to take a picture of the card she made, but the message is timeless.

"Thank you Madame Katie. I loved you being my teacher. It was nice being in your class. I will miss you. P.S. You always look pretty."
Inside, and out.

Monday, June 21, 2010

You can't make this stuff up...

Or, Everything I Needed to Know I Learned in the McDonald's Bathroom.

Or, you can dress them up,

but you can't take them out.

We had quite an eventful weekend.

This weekend marked the last few days of the week that Dave was away in California for work, and his trip to the U.S. Open to celebrate a momentous birthday. Instead of heading to Pebble Beach, the three remaining household members headed to Virden (really, the Pebble Beach of rural Manitoba) to celebrate.

We were heading out to celebrate Airdrie and Kevin's wedding shower and social.

The bride-to-be looked lovely!

Some of our favourite small people were in attendance! Baby Owen, the newest of the cousins, was there and prepared to be shocked by the overwhelming family paparazzi.

Sweet Morgan worked the camera with all the assurance an older sister can bring.

These sweet faces were like an oasis in the desert by the time we finally arrived there.
I was hoping to leave the house by 10 to start the drive. At 9:00 I looked at the clock and thought "well look at that, we're almost ready to go and it's only 9:00."
That's like inviting the Bermuda triangle to relocate to your backyard.
The next hour disappeared into loading the car, coming back in the house for just one more thing, changing one child's clothes because they were soaking wet from playing in the grass, coming back in the house for just one more thing, locating the cat in the neighbours yard after discovering that one of the gates no longer latches, changing my clothes from the muddy cat, and coming back in the house for just one more thing.
All we had to do was get gas on our way out of the city and we'd be off.
At the gas station I decided to get a carwash. After all, we were all now in clean clothes and it would be a shame to get dirty by leaning against the car.
Aaron has a bizarre fear and fascination with car washes. He quite likes the manual type of carwash, but is terrified of the "blue" carwash. It's the type of carwash that has the soft cloth brushes. To him I guess it looks like he's about to be swallowed by a sea of blue octopuses. Octopi?
When we went in to pay for the gas I kept reassuring him that the car wash at THIS particular gas station was a very friendly one, and he continued to whimper with anxiety. The gas station attendant chimed in that indeed it was very friendly and in fact there were little elves that sprung up from nowhere to wash the car, but he'd have to look quickly or he'd miss them.
Ohhhhh so helpful.
So into the carwash we go, with Aaron sitting on my lap to keep him from wailing.
We presoak - no problem.
We soap up - no problem.
And then all the lights go out in the carwash and the door at the other end opens.
Our car is still covered in soap.
No elves.
After sitting in stunned silence for a bit, we drive the soap-mobile out and back around to the front of the gas station.
Again I take both kids out of the car, traipse into the shop, inform the attendant that the elves have gone on strike, get a new carwash slip, put both kids back into the car and head back for round two.
By some miracle we made it through the carwash the second time, fully washed, rinsed and dried, and headed out onto the open road.
Part way there, we made a roadside pitstop because Aaron needed to pee. I'd brought the potty along but as I was standing at the side of the road it seemed SO much smarter to me to just leave the potty in the car and teach my three-year-old how to pee standing up. As he watered the grass it occurred to me that I might have just opened Pandora's box. What was I thinking? It had never occurred to this child before that moment to even TRY peeing standing up.
I spent the next 10 miles waxing poetic about how that was only something we did when we were in the middle of nowhere with no potty and certainly was NOT as much fun as peeing sitting down.
By some miracle he hasn't tried it again since then. I feel like I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop.
We stopped in Brandon for some lunch and a chance to play on the climbing structure at McDonald's. After wearing off some energy (and boosting their immune system...) in the climber we made one more trip to the bathroom before loading back up in the car to drive the final leg to Virden. I took all three of us into the wheelchair accessible stall as the bathroom was busy and it was the best way to corral everyone in one spot.
Aaron had his turn.
Meredith had her turn.
As I had my turn, the conversation went something like this:
Aaron: "Mommy, do you have a vagina?"
Mommy (who recognizes this conversation and now feels a deep sense of fear): "Yes"
Aaron: "Does Mer Mer have a vagina?"
Mommy: "Yes"
Meredith (chiming in ever so helpfully): "All girls have vaginas"
Aaron: "Do I have a vagina?"
Meredith: "No Aaron, you're not a girl, you have a penis."
Aaron (now wailing and throwing himself on. the. floor. of. the. stall.): "But I want to be a girl, I want a vaginaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa."
At which point I threatened him with loss of limb if he didn't get off the floor and quickly made a lot of conversation about hurrying up to wash hands and get on the road.
I could hear snickering from inside the stall as the dialogue unfolded, so like any mature adult, headed out of the stall with blinders on pretending not to see anyone else in the bathroom. Meredith washed her hands and I lifted Aaron up to wash his.
The lady at the next sink leaned over and smiled and said: "I've been there. One time my daughter asked her pediatrician if he was going to smell her nuts."
By some miracle we got back into the car without the ground swallowing us up entirely.
The rest of the day proceeded rather tamely by comparison. Aaron didn't break any of the shower gifts, despite his efforts to the contrary, and Meredith ate enough peanut butter marshmallow cake to sink a ship. Best of all we got to relax and visit with family into the evening.

We drove on to Deloraine that night and spent the night at Grandma G's apartment so we could sneak in a visit with her too. Aunt Lois was in from Alberta for a visit, so the kids got reacquainted with her and she won Meredith over for good by sharing the adventure of looking through an old suitcase. The suitcase originally belonged to a great-great aunt I believe, and the things in it were likely my great-aunt Bessie's. After watching her delight in exploring the treasures, Aunt Lois invited Meredith to choose something to bring home. Much to her delight, she chose a little wooden box filled with jewels!

She tells me she has it hidden under her bed, but the exact location is a well-kept secret.
Some cuddles with Grandma G were the biggest treasure of the day though.

The kids fell asleep after only 10 minutes on the road, and stayed asleep for a good portion of the drive home.
By some miracle I get to keep these kids!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Picnic Season

As of tonight we're officially 0 for 2 on picnics actually held outdoors. Tonight was the family picnic at Meredith's elementary school, and owing to the rain, thunder, and my Ronald McDonald hair from the 3000% humidity, the picnic was held in the school gym instead of in the school playground.

A little inclement weather was not enough to prevent my kids from eating Freezies as long as their legs.

Did you know a Freezie that big is paradoxically equivalent to 3.5 litres of liquid? Or at least enough to make a three-year-old pee his pants in the carseat on the way across the city - a feat he had never accomplished before?

Seems every other child in the place was of the same mindset. The Freezie mindset that is, not sure what happened in their carseats after the fact. I'm sure these three mature Kinders didn't have any such toddler trouble...

The daycare family picnic was last Friday, and the pouring rain was enough to make me leave the camera at home. Little did I know I'd miss the chance to snap a photo of Aaron petting a llama with hair exactly the same colour as his. Ginger knows no bounds.

Fortunately, we brought a butterfly home with us so we could capture it on film.

Like her wispy bangs?

What's that, you say? Wasn't she growing her bangs out like more than a year ago?

Indeed I thought we'd made it through the bang-growing-out phase and were approaching the bangs-are-long-enough-to-stay-in-the-ponytail stage. In a fit of stubbornness (is that a word?) however, Meredith decided she did NOT like the hairstyle I had created for her daddy's birthday party a couple of weekends ago, and took matters into her own hands when I stepped out to run a last-minute errand (read: buy more beer).

I came home to find her previously braided hair in a fluffy mess around her head. When I asked what happened, she informed me she did not like the fabulous do, and when she couldn't get the elastic out, hand handily cut it (and a good sized chunk of her hair) out.

Voila, new bangs.

Fly little butterfly, fly......

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


This little face graduated from Kindergarten today.

We've got the Diplome de Maternelle to prove it.

Doesn't it seem like we were just getting the Kindergarten Information Night invitation in the mail?
Doesn't it seem like we were just buying a backpack and pair of princess sneakers?
And now here we are, acting out song after song in French, surrounded by friends and a year's worth of construction paper and lamination.

We will never forget Madame Katie. Thank goodness today was not the REAL last day of Kindergarten. We've got about a week and a half more of Madame Katie time before mini-Madame-Katie has to say au revoir to real-Madame-Katie. I'm so thankful that the school is small and Meredith will have the chance to encounter this remarkable teacher in the hallways and on the playground. She has set the bar very high, and I'm so pleased that Meredith has spent the year with someone gifted to do what they do.

As far as we know, most of the friends will be back next year, and it will be interesting to see how their friendships change over time. I'm fascinated by the idea of looking back on these pictures of Meredith with her friends when she's a teenager. How many of them will still go to school together?
Will Mr. Blue Eyes, aka Josh still be there?

Ayden is moving to a different school in September, and we'll all miss the chance to see him and his fantastic family on a regular basis at daycare and school. Gabrielle will be back for Grade 1, as will the rest of Meredith's daycare pals.

Party-dress Kate was cute as a button and Meredith is sweet on Kate's baby brother. Maybe we can work a brother swap on those days that she's not so sweet on her own little bro.

It was a beautiful, sentimental day. The kids did a fantastic job of preparing a program for their parents to watch and I can't imagine how Madame Katie still looks so young after teaching 17 Kindergarteners the lines to a play performed entirely in French!
As if graduating wasn't enough for one day, there was more excitement to come on this wonderful Wednesday. Tonight was also the year-end piano recital. It was an exciting event, capping off Meredith's first year of piano. Her lovely teacher, Carol, hosted the recital at a local nursing home so the kids had a chance to perform for their families and some of the residents of the home. Aaron charmed all the ladies, asking question after question about their wheelchairs and walkers, and even chatting up a lady with a patch on her eye. Nothing is off limits to that kid, and none of the elderly folks seemed to mind one little bit! He sat on a few knees, tried to abscond with a cane, and sat still better than I could have hoped when the performers were playing their pieces. It's a piano school full of girls thus far....will Aaron be the one to change that?

This is the only still picture I managed of the evening, all the students and the eternally-patient Carol. She has saintliness running through her blood.
Meredith is the youngest of the students and did really well at the recital tonight. She stumbled a few times, but kept right on going. As she was playing one of her songs, one of the nursing home residents said 3 or 4 times "She's cute" in the hearing-impaired version of sotto voce. After she finished playing, Meredith asked me "Was it rude that I didn't answer that lady who was asking me a question while I was playing?"
Bravo, my six year old! Oh the places you'll go.....