Time Stands Still for No One

I know that it has been a very long time since anyone has heard from this Garden Goat. This summer 2015 raced by and included the ending of this goat’s external employment at a corporate communications position held since 2003. Instead of a full run down on all that has happened this summer, I just thought I would jump right back into the fray. So here goes…

"..always hoping to get enough time to get everything done..."

“..always hoping to get enough time to get everything done…”

As always, it is crazy at my house. I scurry through my day trying to pack as much in as possible including a variety of impromptu activities driven by the on-the-fly needs of the small village I am currently trying to raise. I am always hoping to get enough time to get everything done so that I can afford a couple of “fun” hours. Some of those hours are with which to pack up the littlest of the offspring and head over across town to where my mom lives in a nursing home and have a visit with her.

Wait, someone is on the phone, it is a teacher. I guess I had better turn the car off and let the kids out of their car seats, this call is going to take a few minutes. Well, now I understand who did not complete homework (and who may likely serve jail time in their adolescent years). I have made notes to help the child improve where possible and profusely thanked the teacher for taking the time to call. (Also noted to be sure this teacher receives painkillers as part of their Christmas stocking delivered to the school from this house.)

Now everybody, back out to the car.

No, wait, the dog is barking, and that lady in my neighborhood is about to have the by-law officer incarcerate me for real. Run inside and get the dog in from the back porch. Finally some peace.

Back out to the car, now one of the little people needs the bathroom, okay move the whole show back inside and do a round of bathroom visits.  This activity will likely include plunging at least one toilet, hunting around for toilet paper (the teenagers used it all up) and probably one change of clothes for someone.

Good, we are all ready to go, back out to the car and into seatbelts.

Someone forgot to shut the house door, and our little dog has just run off down the street. I bribe an older child to remain standing guard over the car (lest I waste any more time taking little kids in and out of car seats). With the car now secured, I run like an idiot down the street, all the while sounding like a high-pitched version of Mickey Mouse. All is in the hopes of attracting my run-away-pooch back into captivity (the leash in my hand). Someone’s car alarm is competing with my canine calls, and sadly, my little white dog has now disappeared into the distant bushes.

elie-run-gg3

Forget the dog. I will get one of my other kids (of the high-school student variety) to mission all over the neighborhood making these ridiculous sounds while I escape with the younger kids, who are still sitting in the car. Teenager kid can track down the missing critter.

Suddenly realizing that the car alarm is, in fact, my own car’s horn, as the small fry thought playing with my key-chain and auto lock panic sounds would be fun. (!!!) My neighbor lady can now call by-law for reasons other than my barking animal.

Finally, I am back in the car; everyone is in seatbelts.

I go to put the gear into drive, and just then I remember.

My mom is no longer at the nursing home waiting for me to visit. She is now in Heaven and watching me running around trying to make time for everything including visiting her.

"...but opted for the perfect moment to do so..."

“…but opted for the perfect moment to do so…”

So many times I could have visited my mom but opted for the perfect moment to do so. That moment in time when I could round-up everyone, (when no one had colds) after I was “sort of” caught up on chores (including playing chauffeur). Only once everything was done in my busy life did I feel could I squeeze in a visit with my mother. My life has not changed; I am still super busy. Just now, my mom is no longer across town waiting for me to visit.

My mom was 86 years old. Her mother and mother before her lived well into their nineties, the latter till almost 100 years old. Somehow, deep in the recesses of my brain, I thought I had many years ahead to cram in those visits around all my busy moments (and as I age, perhaps less busy moments). Life abruptly taught me otherwise.

My mom was reasonably healthy. I had visited her eight days before her fall, the one that led to her leaving this world. In that last visit, my children had brought my mom a “Froster” from Wendy’s as a surprise. Mom sat among her older friends (one was 100 years young) as they looked on in envious approval as my mom enjoyed her frozen treat. I have great memories of that summer Sunday afternoon.

Due to a head injury (resulting from a fall), my mom went swiftly from stable health into the loving arms of her Creator, in what seemed to be an instant. Forever halting any and all visits in the future, I thought I would get around to having with her and my children.

I painfully learned that time waits for no one, and I must change how I do business accordingly:

  • I will invite others over even if the house isn’t tidy or the occupants pleasant.
  • I will leave housework and chores at the level where they belong…a necessary evil but they ought not to be the focus of all my waking hours.
  • I will call people because I was thinking of them and not worry if they are busy (or worse yet that I might be bothering them).
  • I will answer mail and email right away instead of always waiting until I have time to craft the “perfect” response.
  • I may let my dog (and older kids) find their way back on their own without staying behind to use my guardian angel superpowers.
  • Instead of waiting until the house is clean before I draw or read with my children, I will just make the time regardless. (Perhaps that is how we will start chores, by doing the fun stuff first).

Most of all, I will make every moment, the perfect moment, regardless of what else is going down around me.

I will remember forever, that I will never know when it will be the last time I will get to be with the souls I treasure. So I will make whatever time I have on this planet count, with those I love.

The Garden Goat

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Santa is real to those who believe

“For those who believe (in God), no explanation is necessary. For those who do not believe, no explanation is possible” – – Author Unknown

Christmas-TimeWith the first snowfall comes the eager anticipation of Christmas…at least here in Canada. Those of us with a wide range of ages in our children are familiar with the question that seems to pop up as early grade school “Is Santa real?”

When all my little ones were under the age of 6 years old, I never worried about such a thought. The questions back then we “Can Santa Claus bring me… (such and such)?” or “Please don’t tell Santa I did that bad thing…promise?” I think the best one was “Don’t worry mommy and daddy about getting a new car, I asked Santa and I just know he will bring one for you on Christmas!” (!! Love it!)

Then came grade school and with it a multitude of layers of belief and questioning attitudes.

Some 7-year-old at school is all the talk this year because she managed to pull the beard off the Santa at the local shopping mall. Therefore, exposing all of her grade two classmates to her discovery, there is no Santa. This is until the mom over here points out the facts…that all the 7-year-old knows for sure is that Santa’s beard, on that day, was detachable. Bad hair day…so what! Cartoon-Santa

A very nice child in grade six took it upon himself to let my 6-year-old know that Santa was “fake.” All this because he sat up all Christmas eve at his window, did not see a sleigh, or reindeer and the next morning did not get what he had wanted for Christmas. Mom over here was able to mention that any child who stays up ALL CHRISTMAS EVE will not see Santa and possibly will not get anything from him…or so the rules go. Nothing new discovered here either.

Candycane-North-Pole

Then I got teenagers. They think they have EVERYTHING figured out. Occasionally, to change the balance in a family dispute, the 13-year-old, in a moment of defiance might offer to tell his siblings that he KNOWS there is no Santa. Again, I am able to let the small fry realize that the older sibling is only trying to make himself feel better. As due to his poor  behaviour…he won’t be getting what he is hoping for and that does not in itself mean there is no Santa.

I still have very little ones here at home. Thanks to society (and occasionally their disgruntled older siblings), I often find myself being grilled by the toddlers and little kids (cross-examination-style questions) on the reality of Santa Claus. For me, this discussion is easy. Santa Claus is actually St. Nicholas, a Catholic saint with access to heavenly powers and lots of magic. (Any further questions?)

Magic-for-GGThe distribution question on how does one man, eight reindeer visit an entire world’s worth of children in less than 24 with gifts for everyone…is also easily answered. Many saints have been known to bi-locate and employ the help of angels and have access to supernatural powers.

When asked “is Santa Claus for real” …my favourite answer is “Santa is real to those who believe…and not real to those who do not!” Followed up by “Who here BELIEVES in Santa?”… (a big show of little hands) I thought so…

Believe-Christmas-Do-dec-2012-EDIT-JCA-GG-2014

Looking forward to another magical December 25th for kids big and small at my house!

The Garden Goat

One who believes in Santa Claus

Raid my kids loot?

Survived another Halloween…the day after should never have been a Saturday. The Halloween pumpkin JCA _GGcreatures that live here got into the loot and then hid it all over the house. While the kids thought, they were cool and great spies…only to have their hiding spot discovered by the trail of wrappers and half-eaten candy bars. If that was not enough, the toddler crew got a hold of bubble gum and spat out what they did not like…(without the benefit of a nearby garbage). Part of this bedlam has lots to do with just being too tired this year to police the spoils.

I too… must confess. I am one of those parents who look forward to raiding the children’s Halloween loot for a few extra goodies to nibble on at work. This year that plan did not work so well. Just as starters, this year, I had only minimum child labour working the streets. I officially only had five kids out actively collecting goodies in costumes and two of these kids were four years old and under (sadly…they tire easily and the yield is minimal). At my revered age, this goat was too exhausted to sort all the candy except for the mandatory weed out of ALL peanut products to protect the severely allergic family members (myself included).

Years, gone by when there were 7 or more little goats working the streets (and I was younger and on my game), the loot would last for literally weeks. I had it locked up tighter than Fort Knox. Often, I was still enjoying Halloween spoils long after celebrating New Years, the following January.

Sugar-HeartIMG_1783_SMALLER

Unfortunately, this year, I underestimated the spell sugar still casts among the older crowd. Those who tell me daily they are adults (namely ages 22, 20, 17.5 and 15 years old), also lack any vestige of a social conscience. Those older teenagers surreptitiously raided the little kid’s loot as the children slept. Less than 48 hours past Halloween and not a chocolate bar could be found.  (!!) Okay…there must still be all that other junk like jaw-breakers, gum, licorice, exploding pop candy (I kid you not…actually one of my favourites). Nope, nothing…except the wrappers leading a trail to the older culprits.

Chocolate and prayer GG

In the old days, I used to go to work with enough goodies to share with co-workers right up to the Christmas Holidays. This year, on Monday, there was not even one tiny chocolate bar left to be had.

Halloween is a karma-type ritual where the universe gives parents all over the world…some payback. The sleepless nights with sick and crying kids, diapers, last-minute-homework (and a whole pile of other crisis and chaos) as each of us earns our stripes as parents.

Raid my kids loot?…Absolutely!…Halloween candy clearly is a perk of parenthood.

Candy-Halloween-GG

Whether I believe in all the reasons for or against Halloween, I am heavily invested. From early summer, when the little ones start planning costumes for Halloween to the ensuring all participants have costumes and on through to securing enough candy for an entire village to hand out on the day. Months of planning, scheming and saving up funds is dashed when as an adult I am forced to go to work without so much as a hint of sugar.

Last Monday, I sat in my office, no longer any evidence at work (post-Halloween) that I have a super-sized family (actually any kids for that matter). My childless co-workers have more chocolate than I do for the first time in forever. Memo to self for next year…raid the loot late on Halloween night stashing the goods at my office(across town) and bring select treats home every day, after work, but only for the under 12-years-old crowd.

In the meantime, I can be found scouring the Halloween sales until it is time to raid their Christmas Stockings, looking for chocolate!

The Garden Goat

There are no answers…only prayers

Canada-Flag-Half-mast-JCA captioned athan Cirillo was laid to rest with full ceremonial honours as Canada said goodbye to one of her sons.

Nathan Cirillo was laid to rest with full ceremonial honours as Canada said goodbye to one of her sons.

On Wednesday last week, something terrible happened in Canada. A young, innocent, noble man’s life was brutally taken by a violent attack as he stood guarding Canada’s national monument to peace and freedom. This murder happened at the war memorial in downtown Ottawa, Canada. In the wake of this horror, we as a nation, are learning some of the details. The murdered, Cpl. Nathan Cirillo was a soldier with Canada’s reserve military and also the father of a 5-year-old child he was raising alone.

This is the second murder of military personnel in as many days with the ambush and killing of Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent, on Monday October 20th, 2014. (When he was struck in a targeted hit and run, in St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec.) Things have forever changed in Canada as we a nation struggle to understand what has happened as we will never understand why.

Words cannot describe the feelings here in Ottawa and throughout this country. Today, October 28th, 2014 Cpl. Nathan Cirillo was laid to rest with full ceremonial honours as Canada said goodbye to one of her sons.

While the public outrage focuses on the innocent victims, there are two other victims less known, the mothers of both the murdered and the killer. I cannot begin to fathom how either of them must feel. The soldier’s mother, with her hero son, violently and senselessly ripped away from her forever in 30 seconds of horrific brutality. The murderer’s mother, also losing her son as he is swiftly gunned down by federal security authorities.

As some of the background is explored, and the details are filled in, we are learning that mental illness may have played a role in the killing of Cpl. Nathan Cirillo. It does not change for a moment that this young man in Canada’s employ had his future mercilessly and cruelly stolen in an instant. Nor, that the nation remains mourning the tragic loss of innocent life, and a little five-year-old has been left an orphan.

The murder’s mother released a statement indicating her anger at her son. She said that the tears she was shedding were for the victims of her son’s outrageous act and not for the loss of her own son.

Any mom that has had to deal with mental illness in a child is aware there is no quick cure and no easy fix. You straddle the path between love and support for your broken child and total abhorrence and shock for the actions of your own flesh. You seek help from mental health experts where you are counselled try to live each day as best you can. The path forward is a maze of opinions, stigma and at best, complete misunderstanding, even from family. You know there are issues. You stand alone with no clear answers. There is no easy solution. Outsiders and family alike judge you, they judge your actions and those of your child as though they are one and the same. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Mental illness does not discriminate in choosing its victims. It is not well understood nor are the signs and symptoms that first appear in the teenage years and often ignored as just part of growing up. Parents are left bewildered as no matter what resources are engaged; no one has all the answers.

In the game of life, if we roll back the clocks, both moms were once in a hospital delivery room meeting their babies for the first time. Both the victim and the killer were once just tiny babies, wrapped in hospital blankets. Adorable, new human beings with a lifetime of potential stretching out in front of them.

We need to be sure that each child whom mental illness strikes down has the help they need, when they need it. As a nation we need to continue to advocate better support in the form of mental health research, awareness and access, especially for our teens and their parents.

Soldier-and-Canada-Flag-JCA The murdered, Cpl. Nathan Cirillo was a soldier with Canada’s reserve military and also the father of a 5-year-old child he was raising alone. Rest in peace.

Rest in Peace.

Heartbreaking for a mother to watch over a lifetime, her baby grow up through mental illness, his life culminate in being a murderer who brought a country almost to its knees.

When we pray and think of the victims, let us keep a special place in our hearts for the mothers of both the victims and the perpetrators. Many of us parent troubled kids in this game called life without all the answers and enough support …we could use your prayers.

The Garden Goat

 

 

How I do it…Minute to Minute

People always ask me how I manage…Something about having 9 kids, working fulltime …the expectation is that I should be crazy by now…the truth is I am. So after having asked me a bazilion questions concerning why (and often how…sadly) and if the tribe all have the same father (or how I can afford this or how I, personally, am contributing to the overpopulation of the planet), there is the odd, honest, interested folk that just want to know “how” I manage. The real answer is that I truly don’t. My idea of managing is a lot different from what people assume I might be doing.

Denial-bottle

“The older I get, the more I live like a recovering alcoholic…instead of “one day at a time” it is more like one moment at a time. “

The older I get, the more I live like a recovering alcoholic…instead of “one day at a time” it is more like one moment at a time. I lowered my expectations to below reality and that way I am almost always happy (this confuses the heck out of the husband)! It is a “good” day when I sit down and discover I sat in maple syrup and it is not still sticky. (!!) I often reflect on the wise words of Abraham Lincoln … “The best thing about the future is that it comes only one day at a time.”

I used to get my knickers in a knot if the whole house was not clean. Now I realize that would be a completely unrealistic expectation. I focus on a bubble area of about five feet all around me, if it is already clean I am delighted. If not, a few minutes of hurried activity and my bubble-space is tolerable again. Since I have welcomed denial as a permanent state I no longer struggle with having to accept the reality that a clean house, in good repair will likely elude me until the youngest I care for is at least in Grade 10 (or about another 14 years from right now).

"all looking as though they had stepped out of a bandbox..."

“all looking as though they had stepped out of a bandbox…”

When I only had five small goats (kids), on Sunday mornings, I would show up at church with the kiddos all looking as though they had stepped out of a bandbox. Suits and ties for the guys and pretty dresses for the gals. Then the teenage years showed up. The nature of a teen is to not want to be caught dead with their parents …(ever) and certainly not in public. This common attitude meant that I again lowered my standards. My cup was overflowing in gratitude that any of the resident juveniles were willing to be present on a Sunday morning, in our vehicle …much less wearing pants that were reasonable (not pajamas) that did not show their underwear/behind or advertise their nudist creed.

Denial offers me the advantage of being in the grocery store buying yet more sustenance for the hordes and not remember or fully appreciate this trip is not the first one of the day. The more I manage my crew minute-to-minute, I find the rest of the world quite tolerable. Due to dealing with the natives at my house I have unlimited patience elsewhere. This totally pays off as I have zero road-rage, always allowing other cars in ahead of me (husband hates this) and in general completely oblivious to the errors and issues other people have waiting in line or being frustrated by customer service representatives. I have seen and heard more than I would ever want to at my house. Again, denial is my friend.

Therefore, in living moment to moment (albeit somewhat in denial), I can enjoy many idyllic “now” moments, focusing on what went right and gratefully remember those forever. As for the other moments, since I have few expectations and revel in my denial, I hardly notice.

Some things escape my state of denial and one of those is bathing. No negotiating. Head to toe washing is mandatory every 24 hours regardless. I could easily manage without a stove sooner than I could without a washing machine or bathtub. Cleanup around here usually involves a blow torch and a belt sander and that is just for bath time.

I no longer freak if supper is not made (or eaten), if dessert is consumed before dinner, and the bathroom is disgusting. I obsess enough to be sure that I might pass the minimum health regulations for where I live.

I just think someday everything will stay just the way I left it …C-L-E-A-N…and then I will know the youngest of the children is now all grown up. Though to most of you reading this, it means F-R-E-E-D-O-M! I think the shock of something remaining CLEAN will be enough to shake me from my complacent denial into the reality; the messy days are now over. Sadly, so would be the days of the children living here.

I will take every chaotic, messy, crazy moment life gives me (including LAUNDRY) and enjoy my blessings as when life goes back to what is considered “normal” by most, it will spell S-A-D-N-E-S-S (in the extreme) for me as this chapter of my lifetime has come to a close.

"I will take every chaotic, messy, crazy moment life gives me..."

“I will take every chaotic, messy, crazy moment life gives me…”

A very Blessed 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!

What really scares teenage boys

There are people out there that sometimes criticize those of us with larger families. One of the predominant negative reactions is based on the notion that the older kids are forced to “parent” the younger kids in a large family. Well, no, that is not the case for the most part. (Although many of us with larger families do expect the older children to lend a hand here and there when really needed.)

An example of how the opposite of just that is true happened a few years ago when my older teenage boys did a token few hours of babysitting for a noble cause (I was delayed at work). (Had my family been like the stereo-type image of the large family these older kids would have been mini-parents and known just what to do!)

What really scares teenage boys...

What really scares teenage boys…

My husband and I work opposite shifts. So that up until now there has been no outside daycare arrangement. Our hours of work have been scheduled and sought out to achieve a situation where the kids are continuously cared for by one parent or the other. This makes for very little impact on the siblings, is financially cost-effective and allows the other parent to not worry in the least knowing that the children are in the other parent’s care.

However, the odd time there may be a situation where an “older” kid is expected to care for a younger sibling. But on the whole this is not the usual scenario.

This one particular day I was delayed at work with a very important meeting that ran overtime. While on this day I was not terribly late leaving work I would be delayed by about an extra hour (even if I leave only a little later than I usually do, the delay in traffic commuting home often is as much as an extra hour or more).

This particular day my three eldest boys were home alone (as the teenage daughter was staying at school late for a music rehearsal). In order to appreciate what this meant, the ages of the teenage males were 18, 16, 15 years respectively and they were left caring for the 2-year-old baby for about an hour. Dad had to leave at the usual time and I was stuck in this important meeting. Not to much of an imposition. Although up to this point none of these young men had ever had (in their entire life) to change a baby diaper (not bad for being the elder siblings of a family of 9 kids!).

"...caring for the 2-year-old baby for about an hour."

“…caring for the 2-year-old baby for about an hour.”

This meeting was pivotal and involved senior management and government stakeholders. Sadly I totally forgot to turn off my cell phone as is customary protocol when attending one of these meetings. Just before the meeting was about to wrap up my cell phone goes off and it is my home number trying to reach me. All I can think of is the baby must be up from her nap and these guys would not be calling me unless it was an EMERGENCY.

I slink down under the boardroom table to figure out what can be such a crisis that this team of teenage boys had to call me. First question “Mom…when are you coming home?” I am now under the table trying not to be obvious telling them I “will be home soonest…why?” The middle boy proceeds to explain. “The baby needs a new diaper!” Hmm, okay… then change the baby…no big deal…right?

“Well mom it is not that kind of diaper (!!)…You have to come home NOW! We are not changing THIS!”

Great… I am still under the boardroom table feigning rummaging in my purse. Speaking in the most sepulchral of tones (so as to be completely inaudible to the folks up five feet higher perched around the meeting table) while maintaining the air of serious authority (!!). “That baby cannot sit in that diaper as I won’t be home for a least an hour! Take the diapers, wipes and change her on my bed (big queen sized bed). Surely the three of you can figure it out. DO NOT CALL me again. Love you all…bye!”

I stuck the phone in the bottom of my purse hoping to cover up the fact I had even taken the call. I then slowly squirmed back into my seat and continued with the meeting. Pretending all the while that my under-the table dive was merely to locate a throat lozenge hidden deep in the black hole known as my purse and nothing more.

As I drove home that evening from the meeting the phone was strangely silent. I smiled to myself and thought …silly me; three teenage boys…one messy diaper… these awesome guys of mine must have risen to the occasion.

When I got home the two-year old met me at the door. I had to laugh the diaper was on backwards (tape at the back) but she was diapered all the same. I asked how it went and the boys told me it was “no problem.” Again smiled to myself thinking that a new level in maturity had been reached and I need not worry in the future the few times I might be late coming home from work. These fellows had it covered.

"I had to laugh the diaper was on backwards (tape at the back) but she was diapered all the same."

“I had to laugh the diaper was on backwards (tape at the back) …”

After supper I went upstairs to my bedroom en-suite bathroom to get baths started for the children. I looked at my queen bed dreading to see what small mishaps or spills might have occurred during the DIAPER FIASCO (possibly requiring a full laundering of my bedding). To my surprise none, everything was pristine…with the exception of a whole bunch of duct tape seemingly placed strategically all over my bed (????)-

Back downstairs to talk to the boys.

"why Duct Tape?"

“why Duct Tape?”

“Why the duct tape?”

The answer… “Well Mom you told us to just handle it and we did not want the baby to squirm and get THAT STUFF all over us…so we duct taped her to the bed so she would be still. Don’t worry it didn’t hurt her, we put it over her shirt and socks (not on her skin) and we did not get covered in that nasty diaper junk!”

"...did not want the baby to squirm and get THAT STUFF all over us!"

“…did not want the baby to squirm and get THAT STUFF all over us!”

Really glad that this was not a day child services planned to drop in and visit me.

Thankfully the baby was smiling (even with Elmo facing the wrong way on her behind) and the duct tape was easy to remove from the bedding.

Memo to self…next time hide the duct tape and be sure turn my cell off before entering the meeting room!

The Garden Goat

Memo to self…next time hide the duct tape and be sure turn my cell off before entering the meeting room!

Memo to self…next time hide the duct tape and be sure turn my cell off before entering the meeting room!

2012 in review Garden Goat Annual Report

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

19,000 people fit into the new Barclays Center to see Jay-Z perform. This blog was viewed about 90,000 times in 2012. If it were a concert at the Barclays Center, it would take about 5 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

 

Heads Up!

So I entered the New Year 2013 just like everyone else on the planet (pretty much) vowing to make significant changes to my everyday life that would turn my life around in “good” ways. One of those vows was to get a little more consistent in writing this blog and be sure to deliver a new post once a week. Seemed reasonable and achievable as it was not as though I was promising to go on an extreme diet and eat my way through mountains of carrots while neglecting my true love in life.. Chocolate. No, writing for me comes naturally and this would just mean being a little more organized and focused.

New years resolution sticky notes

“He said NO ONE really ever keeps those New Year’s resolutions.”

Being someone who often thinks I truly have “superpowers” I also often bite of more than I can ever hope to chew. Understanding my irrational exuberance (as evidenced when planning the lives of those around me) is something my husband seems to understand quite well. He said NO ONE really ever keeps those New Year’s resolutions. According to him it is more about recognizing that you have to make some changes, feeling great there is an actual day out there when your fellow humans (in droves) are doing the same and “fitting in.” Reality is, in less than 60 days there will be no trace of the enormous changes I wanted to make … so accept the reality and don’t waste the effort on something that will only fall by the wayside in mere weeks. Yep…like the great wife I am my inner voice screamed “I’ll show him.”

Not being one to  want to arm the natives where I live with anything more they can use against me there was no way I was writing down any resolutions that I was making. I would just store them in my head and then I would not have more than just personal accountability to wrangle with day-to-day. There is just something terrible about announcing to your entire family you are on a diet and being discovered and called out by the 3-year-old. “I saw mommy eating chocolate…in the bathroom BEFORE breakfast”-uh-huh…much easier to just commit your good intentions to memory.

a-charlie-brown-christmas-ice-skating

“One of my resolutions was to be more consistent in taking the small fry skating at the arena.”

One of my resolutions was to be more consistent in taking the small fry skating at the arena. I personally love skating and now that the littlest is a little older (more importantly I have the scoop on the teenagers in my life and can blackmail them into my service as babysitters.. THANK YOU Facebook!) and can be left home, my resolution was to take my 6, 8 and 11-year-old (and their cousins) public skating once a week.

Week 2.5 into the new year and things are going well…sort of…I still had not posted a new post but in my defence I was not only doing the weekly skating but also doing double duty at the outdoor rink at the end of the street (yes in my perverse mind extra skating made my tardy blog post schedule seem almost righteous!).

Skates

” I personally love skating!”

Well this all came to a crashing head…literally. With less than 10 minutes left of public skating time, two midget skaters (oh I would say Grade three level) not too much higher than my hips (I am almost 6 feet tall) crossed in front of me. The notion to fall on them and protect myself never occurred to me. Although my husband did point that “viable” (no really?) option after the fact. No, I instead whipped around to be sure I did not fall on them and instead lost my balance and smashed my head into the ice. All I saw was white light. Thinking I might be lucky enough to be having an out-of-body-experience I was caught up in what was happening (not too clear but bright light and pain) when I heard many people and kids (shucks NO out-of-body experience… I can still HEAR KIDS) all wondering if I was okay.

Skating Goat

Being someone who often thinks I truly have “superpowers” I also often bite of more than I can ever hope to chew!

Ice packs, more ice packs, paperwork from the arena and a drive home from my husband, I figured I am fine. Did all the “Dr. mom” checks…no dilation of eyes, no pressing need to vomit, no real confusion (beyond the normal I usually have)…if I was one of the kids I would have deemed the child fit. Three days later and I still have a headache…I write that off as everyday life. Who does not get a headache? (Rephrase…who with children does not a reoccurring headache?) After my family doctor sent me for a CT SCAN…the verdict arrived…massive concussion…off work for a week to rest.(!!)

Thinking perhaps I had scrambled the priority of what my resolutions should have been, as I wait for my large cranial bump to heal I am thinking that weekly blog posts are underrated almost as much as helmets.

The Garden Goat (and Helmet)

Garden Goat in Helmet

The Garden Goat (and Helmet)