PEST GUEST- A Hair Raising Experience

I am one of the lucky ones. Twenty years in the kid business and other than having to read “those” warning letters from school…luckily, I never had to worry about any lice issues. That was until my 10-year-old daughter, with the waist-length hair, came home with a different letter.  According to the letter my daughter was harbouring an entire civilization beneath her auburn tresses. I could not finish reading the letter because the very thoughts of any additional life forms (beyond the children), was more than I knew I had enough alcohol to combat (and no, not the rubbing type)!

our pest guest

our pest guest

The only responsible thing to do was to enter complete denial that my last name was in the addressee field on the envelope. This letter must totally belong to some other forsaken household as there is no way my children (the ones scrubbed within an inch of their lives nightly in the bath) could be the host to any insect whatsoever. Alas, a complete re-read of the letter dragged me partially out of denial confirming that we did indeed have company.

. Alas, a complete re-read of the letter dragged me partially out of denial confirming that we did indeed have company

. Alas, a complete re-read of the letter dragged me partially out of denial confirming that we did indeed have company

First trip (still in denial mode) was to the pharmacy to check with a pharmacist on what product could be used to exterminate the guests and not harm the kid. Over the years, this pharmacist has come to know my family. She insisted on conducting her own, official investigation of my kid’s unfortunate situation. Thanks to this professional I had to reality face reality. Not only did my kid deserve the lice letter (evidence of the creatures confirmed by the pharmacist), but the joint (my kid’s head) was jumping!

This is one of those moments you wish there might have been a kid-wash that I could have sent this child to (similar to a car wash/dry cleaner) where they would be humanely fumigated (including clothing) and returned lice-free, ready to go home. Sadly, no such service exists.

My friendly pharmacist (after helping to confirm this news …no longer considered that friendly) then went on to mention the effects that lice can have on your entire family. You know the drill, the washing everything you own in hot water (at least twice), the hair products, the combing, the worry, the sealing all stuffed animals/toys in plastic for weeks…all of this effort is for the average person. My family is a herd of 11! My mind raced ahead trying to figure out all the implications. I no longer wanted a kid/wash for this child I was thinking more like depositing her anonymously at a local orphanage and waiting it out.

Then my lovely pharmacist reminded me that since my child was so symptomatic the rest of the kids were likely victims of the same invasion of PEST GUEST. The orphanage scheme was looking very appealing (except even if my kids were ninjas…there is just no way to drop that big a number off at such a place anonymously, cover of night, notwithstanding). In all of this, I had a four-month-old baby. All I could think of was shaving everyone’s head (the baby only had a few wisps)…oh the thoughts my evil mind was thinking (like starting with the husband’s mop first!). It must have been a look of horror/fear on my face (as all the colour had drained away) that prompted “pharmacist-gal” to show me the products one could buy to treat these unwelcome guests. Each box of the recommended solution was about $12.00 and I would need to have two boxes, for each one of my family members … (Forget the orphanage…I need to take the baby and escape).

the rest of the kids were likely victims of the same invasion of PEST GUEST

the rest of the kids were likely victims of the same invasion of PEST GUEST

I called my pediatrician and he was able to issue a prescription that my benefits covered…thankfully. I left the store with enough ammunition to rival a commercial exterminator’s entire vehicle load of pest-combating formula.

Then along came the process of washing everyone’s hair and applying the solution. Then the comb out part with the tiny toothed comb.  Fun like you cannot imagine. The older kids were in tears from all the combing. (All I wanted to do was take the baby and run away.) Only to be followed by the excitement of cleaning up and sterilization of anything and everything. Again, more fun.

Pest-host child came home from school the next day horrified to see all her jackets and sweatshirts hanging up outside the front of the house drying. “Mom, take those clothes down or everyone in my class will know I am the one with the lice!” I answered… “Considering I got a letter …doesn’t everyone already know?” Apparently these letters are very common and go out weekly to at least one classmate’s home. At the class level, the kids are not supposed to know who has the dreaded guests (you would think scratching your head often would be a sign). Because of the numbers I deal with BOTH the front and the back yards had laundry drying everywhere.

Well, I must say I am very proud of myself as I did want to BURN everything. I washed EVERYTHING, TWICE in hot water and bravely combed everyone’s locks through two rounds of treatments.  Friends who know me and family kept more than a polite distance from the invested retinue I lead.

Then the comb out part with the tiny toothed comb.  Fun like you cannot imagine.

Then the comb out part with the tiny toothed comb. Fun like you cannot imagine.

While being ostracized by everyone (family, friends and the rest of the human race in general), my best friend was amazing. My son and her son were friends and she invited him (and I) to visit her place including a sleepover. Did she just not get what I had told her? Nah… as she said “what is a louse here or there between friends?”…besides I was being too “nit-picky”!  I was stunned. I never forgot how I felt. Someone saw past our pest guest. This friend thought I was worth more than the louse.  I learned at that moment sometimes we focus on what we are afraid of missing the reality of who we are and should be…I was an invited as a guest regardless of the potential of “Pest-Guest” tagging along.

I also discovered other products to remove these unwanted guests, some are easy, and some are messy. I resisted the urge to listen to the kids’ version of when “Arthur” gets head lice (something about mayonnaise and a shower cap…way too low tech for me)! The best product seems to be tea tree oil. You can add it to any shampoo and “PEST GUEST” disappears (child remains). If you continue to dab a little on the kids’ hair (back of the neck) each morning…you can further identify your scalp as being unfriendly before the pests move in and take over. I also hear the same is true of Lavender oil, although I have never used it. (There is something after all to that smelly bubble bath and old lady perfume smelling like lavender).

Needless to say, I still cringe when rifling through a backpack I discover one of these letters indicating some child’s family in my kid’s class will be doing a lot of laundry. Only to realize, I did live through this and in the grand scheme of things…it is not as big a deal as I had previously thought. Compared to the illnesses and accidents that can befall the school-age crowd…lice is no big deal. Though I will admit not a pleasant experience and one that make me itchy just thinking about it!

Got Milk? …Nope

There are things in life that are certain…and others that remain a mystery.

Disappearance of milk (the groceries in general) at my house falls into both categories.

Cow Wanted poster milk captioned : The certainty is that as much milk as I buy will disappear. "

“The certainty is that as much milk as I buy will disappear. “

It always disappears and how this happens remains a mystery. Okay, yes, I have a small village living at my house and should understand than any grocery item is but a mere hologram in time until consumed, but still, the stats do not add up.

The certainty is that as much milk as I buy will disappear. This milk is of no particular specialty just the regular 2% milk, four litres to a bag. Chocolate milk is different. (It disappears within minutes regardless of the quantity purchased.)

I have friends that share their horror stories of how their young children have to be bribed to consume any milk. Apparently, those genes are not in my offspring … (neither are my genes present either  … something else to blame on the husband)! I had a significant milk allergy in my youth and had one child suffer anaphylaxis on contact with milk (thankfully the allergy was outgrown).

When I had a bottle fed baby/toddler in the house, I would wait until under the cover of night (11:30 pm as the store was open to midnight) to slip out to the local drugstore and buy milk. That was the only way I could be sure there would be milk for the baby in the morning as by then the teenagers were fast asleep. The drugstore crowd could almost set their watches nightly by the time I was regularly known to show up and purchase the better part of half-a cow’s worth of the stuff!

... this goat has to sneak out nightly to replenish the cow juice!

… this goat has to sneak out nightly to replenish the cow juice!

I mentioned my midnight activities to a good friend (a gal with a family as large as mine) who found it rather entertaining that this goat has to sneak out nightly to replenish the cow juice so that there is still SOME milk left in the mornings for the baby. Other than being this friend’s source of momentary entertainment…I thought little of it. Then came Christmas time, the doorbell rings and here is this friend telling me to come outside and see the present she got me for Christmas. I open the back of her SUV only to reveal about a dozen bags of milk! This gal thought that the gift of time would be useful to for the “mother of many” and, therefore, save me a week’s worth of travelling should I take her advice and freeze the forbidden serum.

That seemed to work though the natives complained that the frozen milk was unappetizing (Yay…this way it will last longer). Due to the kindness of my friend I was able to skip a few midnight excursions. Just to be in the drugstore (again) at the end of the week and have the manager rush up to me and say “Oh I am so glad you are okay…when we did not see you we thought something terrible had happened…like you had died!”

Got Milk

Got Milk FINALLY!

Died …I did…laughing. The baby/toddler child is now older so my nightly trips are no longer as important nor does the night staff at the store miss me (although I am sure that my consistent investment in the drugstore is mourned). In an effort to control the food budget, I am thinking of only buying for one day at a time. While frustrating for the teenagers it may be rewarding for my savings account…stay tuned!

The Garden Goat

Irish … today!

Goat wearing -St-Pats-Hat captioned "This goat is of Irish descent… "

This goat is of Irish descent…

Today is supposed to be lucky.

This goat is of Irish descent… (I guess anything is possible)!  Ever since I was little, St. Patrick’s Day was always a fun day. It always falls in the Lenten period. Because it was such a feast day, it was the only day my parents let me break from lent and have whatever I had given up (by force or otherwise). Great celebration for me as that usually meant I was reunited with my true love… chocolate.

When I was single, it meant going to lots of parties, and yes, some imbibing (… although mostly by my friends), laughter and of course wearing green for the entire day.

Then I got married.

Not as many parties, occasional imbibing (my limit is a half glass of wine and then fast asleep… maybe I am not all that Irish after all).

Then along came the baby.

That was fun… really cute green outfits… in size “tiny”. Once a few more kids had joined the crew (all dressed in green), it was a party going out anywhere on the 17th of March. It always looked as though I had kid-napped a half-a-dozen of the little people. (It helps that 7 out of the 9 kids have red hair.)

Next a few more children were added to the tribe.

Suddenly getting everyone dressed in green for St. Paddy’s was not only not as important but next to impossible. I was just glad that each child was clothed in reasonably clean laundry. As for any liquid celebrations…I was usually asleep on the couch once I had the last one in bed without the benefit of anything stronger than Diet Coke.

Then came imbibing… although sadly…not by the parents.

Irish scale


The teenager wannabe-adults who still live here seem to consider St. Patrick’s Day as some holy day on which mainstream religion condones intoxication. That is fun… (NOT). The only remotely “fun” part would be to get to the older children’s stash of liquid merriment before they do. Unfortunately, pillaging by the parents in other years has meant either the liquid refreshments for this year are well-hidden or not yet purchased.

Shamrock

Oh there is another option… the “friends.”

The “friends” are a nebulous bunch of youth, ranging from acquaintances to perfect strangers (and some oddballs they picked up along the way), all bound together with the common goal of being “Irish” on St. Patrick’s day. Lots of “Irish” could be stashed all over the city.

Now instead of ensuring that the wearing of the green happens at my house…I purposely “hide” ANYTHING that looks remotely green for the older crowd thereby rendering this bunch “passport-less” at most of the waterholes in town. No green means less free booze.

Staying tuned this year…anything is possible!

My green will likely be limited to serving green eggs and ham to the toddler squad and praying that the older ones remember what street address they live at.

This goat is still happy to be of Irish decent and looks forward to future years when the young adults are older (not living here) and have leprechauns of their own.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

The Garden Goat

Happy St Patrick's day

March Break …

...according to the kids it is their “holiday.”

…according to the kids it is their “holiday.”

Well, where my kids go to school it is March break… according to the kids it is their “holiday.” If five days of no running to catch the school bus, not doing homework and being able to get dressed without a single thought about being noticed by the “popular” kids is a holiday… by all means …dear children… please enjoy.

Depending on one’s level of awareness this “holiday” could be bigger than Christmas. Sleep in, snack, hang out and chill for 5 days without any restrictions sounds amazing. Enter the bad mom.

At a minimum, I insist that dishes are done, baths are taken and clothes are washed (including having the dog walked) … apparently I am the “fun” killer. This March break I will only be on hand for 2 of the 5 days in question as this year I do not have enough vacation days to fund the entire week.

My poor darlings are left to the evil intentions of their Dad who is home for the entire break. (!!) Before everyone thinks that the guy I am married to is loafing around “sleeping in” every morning, our 18-year-old offspring (who resides still here), apparently requires a drive to work every morning, before the crack of dawn. (I could give the child a lift…sparing the slumbering spouse except I am already at work at before this ungodly hour).

... back into bed for a much deserved “sleep-in”

… back into bed for a much deserved “sleep-in”

Day one of March break… husband thought he could sneak out, take the young adult to his place of employment while all those “March Break kids” were happily “sleeping in” planning to tip toe back into bed for a much deserved “sleep-in” (well say at least until 8:30 am).

Dad arrives home, strategically he tip toes silently up the stairs, all the while imagining what glorious a moment it will be when his head is reunited with his pillow. He made it to the bed… completely undetected by the natives. As he slips into the sack, he realizes the 4-year-old (who was sleeping in our bed when he left)…is now missing. (!!)  Once you have kids, everyone knows that silence is never a good thing.Things are TOO quiet.

Then the husband hears the 2-year-old talking in her crib and some type of muffled whispering. Thinking that he might still be able to steal a few winks (while the toddlers are playing) he draws the covers up around his ears and nestles in for what he hopes is perhaps an extra 40 minutes of beauty sleep (this guy can use all the help he can get).

Then he hears the chomping sound.

It appears that there is also sounds of licking and smacking of lips and little voices exclaiming “yummy.” Okay… husband is out of bed and into the babies’ room. There, awaiting the sleep-deprived “man-of-my dreams”, were the two children in question. The 2-year-old in her crib and the 4-year old by her side.

At first glance, the sight was overwhelming.

At first glance, the sight was overwhelming.

At first glance, the sight was overwhelming. There was brown, creamy spots everywhere. Both children were covered in the substance. (I am sure the husband contemplated calling emergency services praying that some agency would take the children through a car wash and the other responding agency might be plumbing specialists). It was not until the 4-year-old said “Do you want to try some Daddy?” did “Mr. Mom” realize that the brown creamy spots were, in fact, CHOCOLATE CHIPS!

After interrogating the 4-year old as to how this candy arrived in the baby’s crib and who opened it, a quick shrug of her shoulders allayed all fears… “Daddy, the bags opened all by themselves and the chips jumped into the crib.” That kid is no longer allowed to watch Disney…EVER!

“Daddy, the bags opened all by themselves and the chips jumped into the crib.”

“Daddy, the bags opened all by themselves and the chips jumped into the crib.”

“Daddy” was busy. Far from sleeping in, the other half in my marriage spent the entire morning bathing cherubs, scrubbing chocolate slime out of toddler hair, and removing the confection from everything imaginable. After the spent hours washing sheets, blankets, and toys while laundering a sundry of other items (including a rather large assortment of half-dressed baby dolls), it is doubtful that I will ever be allowed to purchase chocolate chips again.

Just for the record, there WERE TWO FULL bags of chocolate chips.

I like to keep two bags of Chocolate chips on hand for making fudge. Good thing this sanction is occurring in Lent!

The Garden Goat (Chocolate Obsessed)

P.S. For those who love fudge check out below for my recipe.

Garden Goat Favourite Fudge Recipe

2 pkgs milk chocolate chips

Garden Goat Favourite Fudge Recipe

Garden Goat Favourite Fudge Recipe

I can sweetened condensed milk
1.5 tablespoons vanilla extract
Line pan with waxed paper. Heat in saucepan over medium-high setting the condensed milk, gradually add all chocolate chips, stirring constantly to keep from burning. Once all the chips are melted and the mixture is very smooth, remove from heat and add vanilla, stirring until well blended. Pour out onto wax paper and refrigerate for 4 hours. Enjoy!

FLUFFY!

Fluffy is one of those words you want to hear when you are buying a pillow, squeezing a stuffed animal or perhaps describing your bedroom slippers. When you look up in the sky and observe “fluffy” clouds all seems right with the universe.

“Fluffy” as a body type is NOT good…period.

Fluffy Cartoon Sheep captioned " ..."fluffy” would be the sheep!"

…”fluffy” would be the sheep!

When you separate the goats from the sheep, “fluffy” would be the sheep.

This goat is now known as “Fluffy.” A term bandied around by my family, affectionately addressing my dissatisfaction with my middle-aged body shape as I struggle to remain fit and not succumb to my body’s urge to “fill out.” Those reading this who do not know me likely are not aware that weight was always a struggle for me. Although, in the last 25 years, no one could tell as my usual size was an 8 (in most things) regardless of having given birth nine times. (!!)

In my teenage years, I was always a little heavier than the average goat.

Fluffy…It started slowly. Suddenly what I was used to eating everyday was now causing me to gain weight. I was always blessed because normally my body reacts to stress by rapidly losing weight. Full time job, kids, pets …and, oh, yes… a husband…stress was my friend. Up until now this has been great…I never really had to think much about size beyond moderation of intake.

This new body of mine is clearly receiving its messages from the underworld. If I even look at something edible, the scale in my bathroom berates me the following morning where I learn I gained another half pound even though I skipped dinner. Even changed scales…sadly that did not help.

Fluffy-Scale captioned as "...the scale in my bathroom berates me!"

“…the scale in my bathroom berates me!”

Running with the crowd I do, I am not exactly languishing around in the prone position more than perhaps 4. 5 hours per day (and that would be in the name of a night’s rest). Sure my 9-5 job is somewhat sedentary, but I have always made up for that with the Olympian effort required in housework staying on top of the brood I am raising. (Never one or two trips upstairs in a day…more like 20 trips). Not to mention the bath and bedtime hours in which I haul, lift, drag and carry a medley of toddlers, young kids and preteens to the bathtub with herculean force in the interests of household hygiene.

A while back, when my body first started to give indications that a revolt was on the horizon (as evidenced by a seemingly substantial matter accumulating under my skin from my neck down), I decided to take immediate action. I quickly registered at the local gym in the hopes that using those implements of torture would stave off my body’s sinister motives. Alas, not so easy especially when I became the poster child for EPIC treadmill FAIL.

(see post from April 19, 2012 http://gardengoatquote.wordpress.com/2012/04/19/cool-not-mom-versus-the-treadmill/)

TREADMILL…NOT…next idea.

In testing out what works for me, I have come to the conclusion that there are some demon foods that I just cannot eat. I have also discovered that I cannot hope to live to see tomorrow on a planet where chocolate is deemed contraband.

In my youth, if I skipped the odd meal, my efforts were rewarded by drastic weight loss…a few pounds in a day or two. Now the demon scale reads either the same number or adds a half pound. Forget weighing my food by the ounce (an old Weight-Watchers’ trick) I need an instrument that weighs me by the ounce so that I can appreciate and arrest the transformation before another “Fluffy” molecule is added to my carcass.

Husband is very supportive as he tells me to give away the clothes that are too small, get in the game and get some outfits in the “right size.” I quickly tell him that I do not want to reach my seventies with a closet that is out of “Goldilocks and The Three Bears” … containing sizing in small, medium and large.

I am now out of denial (first stage of fluffy) and hoping that 2014 will be the year I take charge of the subversive creep and stem the tide of “Fluffy.”

NO FluffySheep-FLuffy-JCA

While others  bravely struggle to keep their New Years’ Resolutions of weight loss and healthy eating I  stubbornly  continue to deny being on a diet while I try to secretly defeat and deflate “Fluffy.” Perhaps I should chronicle these non-diet adventures and force my subconscious into reality. An appropriate title for such scribbles might be “Enough of Fluff” or maybe “Fluff vs Buff” or better yet “Get tough on Fluff”…no doubt best sellers all of them.

Enough of Fluff book captioned as "Perhaps an appropriate title might be “Enough of Fluff”..."

“Perhaps an appropriate title might be “Enough of Fluff”…”

My battle with “fluffy” still continues as I am sure it will until it is either augmented or replaced by the next chapter in my life …“Baggy” …oh.. I can hardly wait.

“Fluffy” (I hope NOT for too much longer!)

The Garden Goat

New-JCA-Goat

It takes a village to raise a child…that is WHY!!!

In a recent (wee hours of the morning) visit to the Emergency room, I found myself engaged in a reasonably fun conversation. The other person had come to this oasis for the same reason I did; a pediatric specialist consult for a small, sick child (as we each had one in tow).

...how I could possibly (and truthfully) answer her incredulous “Why?”

…how I could possibly (and truthfully) answer her incredulous “Why?”

Normally, when two parents who are strangers meet, the ensuing conversation flows easily as the unspoken common denominator is the child (in this case two sick little ones).

This conversation was similar to others I have had before. This young mom told me all about her child, the health concerns she was managing, including funny stories and anecdotes from her extended family.

While waiting on the pediatric guru, I was enjoying the company of the other mom as we both sat, nearby each other. The interchange with the other parent distracted me from counting the seconds as they dragged into half minutes and slowly rounded the clock again completing another minute with no medical relief for the little one in my lap.

"... completing another minute with no medical relief..."

“… completing another minute with no medical relief…”

At first glance, the other parent assumed that the two-year old, sick infant in my care was mine. I clarified the relationship was one of grandmother and granddaughter. (!!) Conversation continued. At some point, other family members became the topic where (probably to fatigue as I do know better) I revealed I had 9 children of my own. (!!) The mom I was talking to sat bolt upright and said “Why?”… Only to be immediately followed by “Oh I am so sorry …I did not mean that… but really WHY did you have 9 kids…I have two, and that is more than enough for me!”

I

... how I could possibly (and truthfully) answer her incredulous “Why?” (??)

… how I could possibly (and truthfully) answer her incredulous “Why?” (??)

was stunned. What part of “why?” should I be addressing? The only thing I could come up with was to ask her “why?” she only had two. (!!) The answer… “too much cost and way too much work”… (No really?). Then this mom further qualified her answer indicating part of her decision to limit her family size was she did not want more than a one-child-to-adult ratio. I guess her personal experience with raising kids was more that of a zoo-keeper trying to keep the lions calm between feedings (hand-held gaming devices notwithstanding). I still was trying to consider how I could possibly (and truthfully) answer her incredulous “Why?”

Many thoughts came to mind…

If, it takes a village to raise a child then I am raising a home-grown village to ensure optimum results!

"...then I am raising a home-grown village to ensure optimum results!"

“…then I am raising a home-grown village to ensure optimum results!”

Thankfully I did not really answer her question…other than to say I believe I am blessed beyond belief… and yes, I am aware that two kids can be a challenge though more (children) is often easier… (…although, yes, definitely, more work).

I thought about what the conversation might look like if we were not talking about each other’s children and let’s say we were talking about pets. Many people have 3 or more pets; some have 3 or 4 dogs plus cats, turtles etc.. I cannot imagine meeting a pet owner (perhaps at the vet), learning they have several pets and then proceeding to ask them “why?”

Better yet, meeting someone who mentions they are recently married for the second time…and I ask “why?” I am sure that I would be shut down pronto as rude. Then how can it be that people think it is appropriate to say “why?” when they discover I have a larger family than the average Joe? What if every overweight person I know who announces they are on a diet is met with my response of “why”? Or someone else shares that they own two houses, or 4 cars, or travel twice a year to Europe…would it still be appropriate to answer “why?” ???

Then why is it appropriate to ask me that about my kids? At a base value, I will assume the “why” is not because the person posing the question is clueless about how children enter our lives on this planet earth. Instead, I have discovered (in many similar conversations with other parents) that it is more about the other parents’ need to justify their own family size than it will ever be about mine. The explanations that are volunteered, by perfect strangers, in defense of their personal decisions to limit their respective family’s size … is astounding. Considering this guilt is being divulged in a public place without the benefit of even a prompt (by way of a question from me)…and only an as a rhetorical answer to a rude questioning they aimed at me is actually rather funny. I have been privy to what would almost amount to a full-scale confession by perfect strangers trying to justify their reasons (very assorted…some VERY odd) for limiting their offspring…just because I went out in public with SOME of my kids.

Many thoughts came to mind...

Many thoughts came to mind…

I have now developed a full retinue of pre-canned answers to be served up to those inquiring souls (albeit total strangers) who feel the need to continually ask me “why?”!!

To: All those who have never met me before but feel they must ask me “Why” I have 9 children:

  • Because, I heard that children are cheaper by the dozen.
  • I believe in reincarnation, and most of my family is dead and depending on me to give them another chance.
  • Because, the GOVERNMENT will allow me to have my own planet if I can meet their quota.
  • Because, many hands make light work, and we are hoping to have a farm.
  • Because redheads are recessive genes (and a dying race)…I am trying to even out the odds.
  • Because a relative of mine, left me an inheritance that pays a huge dividend with every child I add to our family.
  • Because my husband makes so much money, this is the only way I don’t owe the government anything.
  • Because I do NOT know any better.

"...Because I do NOT know any better!"

The Kid-Keeper (The Garden Goat)

Happy New Year 2014…Resolutions? …Only ONE!

I think 2014 will be a totally amazing year

I think 2014 will be a totally amazing year

Every year at this time it is always the same. Everyone is thinking about the past year and making a list of New Year’s resolutions (something I have never been a big fan of). I am not too sure why I have never been hung up on New Year’s resolutions…I just have not. By nature I dread anything that is too structured. I think a part of me thinks that if the item is carved in stone, I will feel terrible if I fail and then the rest of the year will be a write-off. (And, no…this is not new… I do NOT like lists of any kind…although as I approach “older goat” status and find myself frequently forgetful …I may have to relent and become more list friendly.)

So, I sit with pen in hand (okay keyboard…) and think what my New Year’s list should be.

… and think what my New Year’s list should be.

I am not a big fan of the process involved in change although I very much love the notion that change is possible. I do enjoy realizing how sometimes the smallest steps can make the biggest difference. So, I sit with pen in hand (okay keyboard…) and think what my New Year’s list should be.  If I look at most people’s lists they are centered on healthy living …I guess I could start with that. Many of the items other people seem to list touch on stopping some habits and starting others. So this is what my list started to look like:

  • Stop being fluffy (gained 20 lbs over the last two years …2014 I need to say goodbye to the flab!)
  • Stop living in the past (love to remember how things were as a denial of how things really are)
  • Start drinking (yep…WATER…a confirmed, self-confessed Diet Coke addict over here)
  • Start walking (with the little dog that lives here…at least)

BORING!

Then I thought about a list of things I wanted to make sure I did.

  • Reconnect with a special friend I very much miss (hope this happens ASAP)
  • Sort out the miles of family photos and do something with them (even if only copy to a CLOUD)
  • Publish a book (Yep…watch for it)!

BETTER!

I then realized that there are other lists I had not thought about.  Recently I learned about “Bucket Lists.” These are apparently lists you make of the top 100 things you want to do before you leave this planet. I have always been too busy to even think about what I might do in the next five minutes far less what I might do over my lifetime. I decided to give it a try. It was scary. The first five things looked like this.

  • Speed race a car on the Indianapolis raceway
  • Take pictures from the Eiffel tower
  • Walk through Central Park, in New York, at midnight…maybe stay the night!
  • Design a tattoo
  • Spend overnight in an igloo and tour the Arctic (read that as sneak away anywhere where my kids won’t go!)
...sneak away where my kids won’t go

…sneak away where my kids won’t go

Then came the realization I have the potential to be a lot wilder than I ever imagined. Figured I had better stop at Number Five as I was worried that developing the other 95 items might lead to my inner child to hyperactivity! Besides, taking care of the brood I preside over does not lend itself to the extra financial freedom required to avail oneself of a casual trip to the Eiffel Tower on any given day. All kidding aside, I thought “what is one thing that I can have as MY RESOLUTION for New Years?”

I reasoned that coming up with just one BIG item would get rid of the list, the remembering, the guilt …it is perfect. It is even green …I won’t have to even use paper to write it down.  I can keep my resolution to myself as who would bother making a list of just ONE item to post on a fridge! (??) (Who am I trying to kid…forget the kitchen fridge…this goat publishes a blog!)

Now the quest to find that one item; it is not easy to compress all those points into one item. This one item will have to transcend ALL items. It must be ONE thing that makes everything else excellent. While lost in thought while checking my email (multi-tasking). There I found a blog post of a friend I come to know through social media training, PJ McClure. There in his blog, on Linked-In “Do What Is Right, Not Just What Is Allowed” (http://pjmcclure.com/blog/do-what-is-right/#!) was exactly what I was searching for.

I found my one item for the New Year 2014…make all decisions in 2014 by the highest standard available…DO WHAT IS RIGHT irrespective of the freedom to make other choices still considered as lawful and acceptable.

I reasoned that coming up with just one BIG item would get rid of the list...

I reasoned that coming up with just one BIG item would get rid of the list…

THE BEST!

The Garden Goat’s RESOLUTIONS for NEW YEARS 2014:

1.            DO WHAT IS RIGHT…always…in everything. Choose the very best option                in every circumstance so I can live my BEST LIFE!

That will cover the fluffy, the water, and the photos. That may change the bucket list as “design a tattoo” may move much further down the list.

I hope I can live up to that! If I do… I think 2014 will be a totally amazing year!

I wish you all a very happy, blessed and exciting New Year 2014.

With love and best wishes to you and yours for 2014…

The Garden Goat

I hope I can live up to that! If I do… I think 2014 will be a totally amazing year!

I hope I can live up to that! If I do… I think 2014 will be a totally amazing year!

Christmas at School…Secret Santa NOT!

Secret-Santa_2013-GG2

In the weeks leading up to Christmas, if you are like me, your kids deluge you with handouts, notices and invitations to volunteer at the school all in the name of celebrating the upcoming holiday. This would be fine if this is where it ended…but sadly… no. My kids then go on to tell me verbally  not only the school’s plans but how some kid’s parents go all out with the holiday celebrations and send trays of homemade treats to the school and how they wish I would do that for them. (!!!) Before I sound too cynical, in my youth (years ago), when I had only two or three (kids) in school, I was the young mom, carrying the baby and hauling in full-size, homemade gingerbread houses full of candy to each classroom. Much to the delight of my own children who would then bask in the glow of fellow classmate’s appreciate as the ensuing afternoon turned into a zoo. Those remaining hours of the day were apparently quite entertaining as the children were lost in thought “scheming” to steal a bite from the house while the teacher struggled to keep the class on task. I never once considered the nightmare I had created for the class teacher.

Now years later, I am much wiser (although much older and tired). I have now streamlined my celebratory spirit to (sometimes) include a general Christmas card delivered to the school secretary on the last day before Christmas holidays.

Goat-and-santa-hat-and-gingerbread-house

The pressure to celebrate is alive and well in our school system. Enter “Secret Santa.”This is supposedly a program designed to have each child bring in a token gift to exchange anonymously with a fellow classmate. Sounds like something from a greeting card. The note home, at first glance conveys the thoughtful, peaceful spread of some holiday classroom fun…at least on the surface. “Secret Santa” started out last year in my daughter’s grade 6 class as a very benign activity spreading holiday cheer with each child drawing a classmate’s name out of a hat and shopping for an item less than  $5.00 in cost. It sounded reasonable.

secret-santa-logo

“Sure” was my answer to the 11-year old wanting to be the “Secret Santa” and shop for a surprise for her peer. This was doable as I had an entire week in which to make this happen.

Next morning, making the lunches the 11-year old says “I can’t go to school because we don’t have Rice Krispy Squares”-??? Did I miss something? Yep-apparently in the week leading up to the “Secret Santa” gift, each day there are to be special things happen to the peer (the one whose name was picked out of the hat).  These “special things” are designed to give “clues” to the unsuspecting recipient. Well, to this “week-before-clue” thing, I said “sorry sweetheart, you will have to give some of your snack (carrots) as your special clue.” The answer …this boy (secret Santa kid) doesn’t like carrots …HE HATES THEM! I guess each child was to fill out a sheet indicating their favourite things and this little darling made sure everyone knew what he hated. CARROTS! (This vegetable is not normally a culinary custom at this time of year…not sure why the kids had to be so specific!) Oh well, packed up a conciliatory treat of some cheese and crackers as “the clue” for the CARROT HATER.

No-Carrots

Next day, just before bedtime (when the stores are closed and I am ready to call it a night),  the Secret Santa Helper announces that I need to pick up “Gatorade” as the clue for tomorrow! (Really?) Race out to the corner store, purchase the requested liquid and then turn into bed for the evening. Tomorrow will be a breeze…or so I thought.  Next morning…more tears… the “helper” forgot to mention that it HAD to be BLUE Gatorade!!! I guess the CARROT HATER does not like orange anything! While out shopping later in the day, I found a few chocolate bars (on sale) and thought that would help with “clues” for the CARROT HATER. Next morning, more tears…”I can’t take in chocolate… my teacher said the next clue HAS to be a small toy!” UGH! (I am thinking I should take time off work and bake a candy laden gingerbread house, deliver it early in the morning to this teacher’s class and let the zoo begin…just out of badness!) Day three…I now have several little toys from the dollar store that can serve as clues. My daughter will be proud of me today as will the CARROT HATER and the teacher. As I proudly present “the clues” to my daughter (in the hopes of regaining some morsel of appreciation) I am told that this day the teacher said that the clue needs to be “handmade.” I am done. I tell my kid to get the teacher to call me. (NOOOO…gingerbread is TOO GOOD for this teacher) No phone call. (Teacher is likely sick from eating all the carrots other parents must have sent in for the CARROT HATER).

Later that night the daughter wants me to take her shopping…again… I ask why. Apparently we still need to get the Secret Santa gift (?). It is not enough that I have already spent more time, money and THOUGHT on a child I do not know (and I am beginning to loathe)… I now have to shop for a gift? The rules are:

  • under $5
  • nothing smelly
  • no liquid
  • must be thoughtful
  • no cash

After an entire hour shopping for the CARROT HATER we are still no closer to find a gift my daughter thinks the teacher will endorse. Frustrated… I ask what about just enclosing a $5.00 bill in a really, really nice hand-drawn card?? This was answered in the negative (of course) all because the teacher said NO MONEY…period. At this point I am seeing the teacher as a diabolical force intent on ruining Christmas ahead of time with this demented secret-Santa scheme.

5.00 bill

Christmas I thought was supposed to be fun. Instead it has become a make-work project engineered to exhaust the parents, create turmoil and conflict and somehow in all of this, the kid receiving these clues/gifts is to be happy. I will show you HAPPY! Finally found some puzzle, gender and colour neutral, toy/game that just squeaked under the limit at $4.99! Slam –dunk done! This was the official day for Secret Santa. No more clues, lists, late-night trips out, tears …WE ARE ALL DONE (carrots not withstanding). Hurray!

Real Santa Claus

Real Santa Claus

That is until my kid comes home from school with her secret Santa gift…you got it…a FIVE DOLLAR BILL! Naturally I need to know about what “clues” were given…apparently none. Why money when the teacher said NO? Because this giver’s mom said it was stupid to run around and shop for someone you do not know and that everyone accepts money. Then I find out the parent who sent the $5 bill is the CARROT HATER’S mom…who knew?

I think all matters regarding Santa should be left to the one and only REAL Santa. As for the teacher…there are no words to describe what I wanted to say… I think the teacher should get a carrot-shaped lump of coal in their stocking.

The Garden Goat Goat-in-Santa-hat

Do you also live in a well-meaning neighborhood???

To those of you who live nearby … (and others who might be jealous of how the other-half actually lives)!

" I love that I am surrounded by such support."

” I love that I am surrounded by such support.”

Some of you are likely very delightful people and perhaps if you knew me better, you might think the same of me. However, there are some of you located near (and around) where I live that for some reason, have absolutely no idea why our city, has a By-Law department. This department has been established to reinforce and assist our city with issues of real concern to the taxpayers.

It is possible that you and I differ on what could be considered a real issue.  I have never called “By-Law”… on anyone, in my life. Perhaps I might be tempted too, if I worried about my children being eaten because someone has decided to adopt a wolf and pass it off as a dog and allow the critter to run loose in the local playground. Or… should I discover that the party music next door is still in full decibel, well into the wee hours after midnight, for the tenth night in a row. This after I have (several times) politely requested the party-goers to respect the noise curfew.  Although, in reality that would only amount to being tempted to potentially look up the “By-Law” number to keep as a handy reference for “next” time.

There are some things you may want to consider BEFORE you call “By-Law.”

There are some things you may want to consider BEFORE you call “By-Law.”

There are some things you may want to consider BEFORE you call “By-Law.”

If I have a half-dozen bicycles on my property, it does not necessarily mean that I am running a hot, stolen bike ring. It could actually mean that my larger-than-average family has numerous biking enthusiasts residing within our abode. If you happen to see one of my kid’s bikes, on the street, there is no need to also call the police and report that you have found stolen property. (Really? What?  Stolen from the alleged bike fence I am running 10 feet away on our lawn?). This required me booking a week-day off work, to go down to the main clearing house, (located at the opposite end of town),  to reclaim, after proving ownership of same (once I turn the entire house upside down to locate the original receipt) not to mention dealing with the distressed kid whose bike got “turned in.”

Celebrations and holidays are celebrated with family and friends visiting…usually identified by the doorbell ringing. My neighbors celebrate my every breath by calling the “By-Law” officer. I love that I am surrounded by such support.  In life, there are things that happen to all of us. Sometimes one’s pet pooch can make a jail break and be running around on the streets WITHOUT immediately rendering me an incompetent pet owner.  Nor does ownership of a large dog necessarily mean that ALL barking in the neighborhood is emanating from my property.

"Dear By-Law informer I have yet to stoop to these infractions (however…there is always tomorrow)"

“Dear By-Law informer I have yet to stoop to these infractions (however…there is always tomorrow)”

A car I have removed tires and brakes from (to fix my other car with) will be momentarily heading to the recycling department. This does not mean I have opened a car repair depot on my driveway, and you, the faithful can expect inconvenience as customers line up and down the streets waiting for undercover car repairs.  I will admit the vehicle is less pretty on blocks; however, that is to keep it from moving (i.e. running over small children). Not really sure how you even viewed the vehicle as it is parked way in the back behind my other vehicles. The car in question is significantly safer on blocks than sitting poised to roll down the driveway. In fact, I am not sure how anyone could have gotten far up enough on the property to view the end of the driveway (undetected by the rest of us) to notice all these details.

But then coming up my driveway, (once you trip over all the kids’ toys) is nothing new to the neighborhood peeps.  Some well-meaning soul alerted “By-Law” that I was moonlighting as a garbage collector at the side of my home. (??) I, too, collect family refuse in hopes of participating in garbage day (another city service)…but with the numbers here it is not just ever one bag.

Running the family that I do, we are basically a small institution. In having said that, there should be some understanding among the faithful in my neighborhood that some of these “infractions” are actually just little things that occasionally happen, perhaps more often than they might in smaller families. No one intends to upset anyone else because of allowing one’s kids to park their bikes on the driveway, or play with sidewalk chalk or Heaven-forbid…lay interlocking brick.

"Surely there are By-Laws against peeping Toms and STALKERS."

“Surely there are By-Laws against peeping Toms and STALKERS.”

The attention I receive from the “By-Law” department is second-to none. My attentive neighbors seem to overlook that perhaps with the number of family members living together, there are a dozen more times my door opens (per day) as kids race in and out, providing the family pooch with endless fantasies of freedom. The dog manages to get out every once in a while, so if you have all this time to summon “By-Law” then why not help me locate the pooch? If you call “By-Law” and report the supposed stolen bike ring, then surely no need to make a separate call to the police and have them remove a little boy’s bike found less than 20 feet away from the alleged stolen bike sale. A car parked one hour longer on the street enabling little girls the space on the driveway to decorate with sidewalk chalk. Ohhh another NO-NO…“By-Law” came to visit on that occasion too (by the way the city official LOVED the kid’s artwork!).

My best friend visits with her dog and within the hour…you guessed it…“By-Law” is at my door. For those of you who keep this city office in the loop, I would like to know how you are always so on top of my every move. Surely there are By-Laws against peeping Toms and STALKERS. I will find you!!! (Don’t be too worried that I will hunt you down immediately as by the time I have the dog tied up, the garbage hidden, the cars parked in the driveway, the bicycles locked in the garage…I will be too exhausted to bother!)

Calls have included; grass not as short as some would like, children’s toys in the driveway, an excessive number of bikes (more than 1?) all over my  driveway, vehicle imperfections (albeit undergoing some repair) as the car is older and perhaps not appreciated by the natives. The interlocking bricks that were awaiting the landscaper, had to be covered for a day, and then covered again while they were being laid on the patio so as not to offend the “By-Law” patrons.

I pay taxes too. I expect By-Law to enforce laws that are important. I also would not dream of calling “By-Law” on anyone unless I simply had to have the situation remedied, and it would need to be a serious matter. This made me wonder what other laws exist in other areas of the planet so that I can appreciate what other poor-devil-By-Law-officers must contend with in other lands. This list is quite entertaining; I can assure all of you I have not attempted (yet) any of the following. However, rest assured that should I even contemplate such an activity I will likely be carted off to the city jail. Given the bigger items I have to deal with every day, in real life…perhaps a break, at taxpayer’s expense, in the city jail is what I truly deserve.

Dear By-Law informer I have yet to stoop to these infractions (however…there is always tomorrow):

  • In Washington State, it is against the law to boast that one’s parents are rich. (No danger of this one…my kids would be lying!)
  • In Alabama it is illegal to play Dominoes on Sunday. (It should be illegal to recognize Dominoes as the only food group!)
  • In Minneapolis, double-parkers can be put on a chain gang.
  • In 1313, King Edward II enacted that “You are forbidden from dying in parliament.”
  • An old statute in Kentucky states that men who push their wives out of bed for inflicting their cold toes on them can be fined or jailed for a week.
  • A 100-year-old law in Willowdale, Oregon makes it illegal to swear during sex. (WOULD LOVE TO KNOW WHO REPORTS THIS ONE!)
  • An odd law in Minnesota makes it illegal to hang male and female underwear on the same washing line.
  • In Melbourne, Australia it is illegal for men to parade in strapless dresses – but they are allowed to cross-dress in anything with sleeves.
  • An old law in Russia allows a police officer to “beat a peeping tom soundly.” (SHOULD YOU NOT BE CALLING  By-Law FIRST??)
  • In Texas, two categories of men are exempt from peeping tom charges: men over 50 and men with only one eye.
  • A pregnant woman can urinate anywhere she wishes, including a policeman’s helmet, according to a London local by-law.
  • But in Vermont, women require their husband’s permission to wear false teeth.
  • In Virginia, horses of more than one year old are prohibited in a place of worship. (Get it right when you report it …a very LARGE dog!)
  • In Tennessee, shooting any game other than whales from a moving automobile is against the law.
  • In Oklahoma you could be sent to prison for “making an ugly face at a dog.”

This is where I will restrain myself admirably and not make ANY ugly faces at any of my neighborhood peeps.

garden-goat-logo-_jca

The Garden GOAT

(ssshhh By-Law does not know a GOAT lives here!)

Walk a mile in my moccasins before you judge me!

Years ago, when I was younger, I used to notice toddlers having meltdowns, in stores as their embarrassed and seemingly strict parents read them the riot act,  promptly removing the child from the premises. I remember thinking,”oh… that poor child … if I was its parent, I would never let a child cry like that.” In those days, the parents in these scenarios were all monsters. After all who could possibly get upset at a two-year old? Had the number for child services been readily available I might have been one of those to register my disgust, especially in the case of one kid who literally was dragged out of the store. Back then, I thought I knew what saw. Clearly, no child should ever need to be wrestled with or dragged anywhere.

"...promptly removing the child from the premises..."

“…promptly removing the child from the premises…”

Fast forward about 25 years.

I am now the woman with the howling toddler who cannot understand why they cannot buy everything their baby-child brain decides should go in the cart. My three-year old has an obsession with baby dolls (stop laughing …the child, I am convinced, would be like this regardless of the fact she is the youngest of nine!) and thinks each trip to the store is about getting a “new” baby. If finances were not an issue, I might be okay with adoption of all these dolls, except that this kid insists on naming each baby “Meatball.” (I have no idea why.) This clearly indicates there is likely no recollection of the first half-dozen “baby” purchases or any acknowledgement that her crib is stuffed with “Meatballs”!.

Recently, while at a store, trying to get a hockey helmet for one of her brothers, my youngest decided that she should have some of the toys and candy, handily marketed at knee-level. Well, the affirmative answer my kid was expecting never arrived. Instead, I dared to tell her “NO…not this time! You have already had things bought for you this week.” I am thinking that this will be perfectly reasonable as an explanation and there will be no more fussing.

Wrong!

Howls and wails, stomping of feet and a torrent of tears as this kid loudly proclaimed she was taking the candy home anyhow. Husband-of-the-year was out with us on this excursion, and he offered to remove the screaming child while I continued checking out of the store. This was an offer I could not resist as by now the decibels were being appreciated (not) by the other shoppers who were nearby waiting to also check out.

Exit the possessed, annoyed toddler and very embarrassed husband.

"...the possessed, annoyed toddler... "

“…the possessed, annoyed toddler… “

My purchase was completed in stony silence as I think even the cashier was nervous to say much. By the time I reached the van (yes with this number of progeny …naturally I drive a bus) the toddler was belted into the car seat and all smiles.

As my husband tried to back out of the parking spot, a car was stopped, and the front passenger was staring at us. My husband asked why they were stopped right in his way. Well the diatribe of screaming from the passenger side of the car was deafening. I guess they had watched the toddler get escorted to the vehicle (minus the coveted treats and toys) with brisk and determined resolve on my husband’s part. The passenger continued to scream that she was going to call child services because no toddler should ever be carried crying out of a store. We are terrible parents and deserve to have our child removed. I have no idea whom these people were, only that they were out in their car and had no children with them.

My husband was incensed, as was I, for a moment or two; then I remembered what I used to think of tantruming kids before I had any. I realized that I would never be able, to explain adequately, why this little child, (obviously against her will) had to leave the store right at that moment…nor the million “Meatballs” at my house.

I am glad, that in my younger, childless days, I did not stoop to judge too quickly (other than to take mental note).  Otherwise, I am sure there would have been numerous, needless calls to child services, on perfectly decent parents. Until one is in the position of having to navigate the terrible-twos, out in public, purchasing the necessities of life, one will never completely understand.

Sometimes, it is just better knowing in your heart, you did your best, regardless of what any passerby thinks or dares to say.

"Walk a mile in my moccasins before you judge me."

“Walk a mile in my moccasins before you judge me.”

Please, walk a mile in my moccasins before you judge me.

Garden-Goat-Logo-_JCA

Please note: I would not hesitate to call child services in the case of legitimate abuse. Just interesting how my lens has completely changed, as now, I am a parent and often in these situations myself.

THE GARDEN GOAT