Friday, November 12, 2010

That's My Boy

Kyle is definitely ours. I present you with the work of art he produced in his computer class the other day:

Oh, Kyle, you are absolutely ours.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Return of the Snow Log

Some of you might recall this post, Retiring the Snow Log--For Now, from June. I fully expected to break the snow log out again in October, and I was considering it a small victory that we hadn't had so much as a flurry until a couple of days ago. Then yesterday morning I was going about my business...

"Kids, eat your breakfast... Natalie, please stop talking to Brandon while he's supposed to be eating... Kyle, burping is disgusting. Saying 'excuse me' afterwards is great, but I'd rather you didn't do it at all... Brandon, eat your banana--don't play with it... Get dressed!... What do you want for a school snack today?... Please go brush your teeth... Stop playing in the water, and brush your teeth!... I don't care if this isn't 'pretty' enough to wear to school, Natalie, because it's what I got out, and you're wearing it... Kyle, stop reading long enough to put your shoes on..."

...when I looked through the kitchen window as the sky started to lighten, and I froze in place. Snow. Half an inch of snow covering everything in sight. And I'll admit it... I was a little excited. Apparently, living in a place where it snows regularly from November through April does nothing to diminish the feeling of joy that accompanies the first snowfall of the winter.

I know by the time April rolls around--or let's be honest, by the time February rolls around--I'll be sick and tired of the snow and shoveling and snowboots and snowsuits and scraping windshields. But for now I'm happy to bring back my little snow log. Let's see what Newfoundland has in store for us this winter.

Sunday, October 31, 2010


Betsy really needs to blog but can't find time to write anything longer than a Facebook status update.

Betsy has traveled back to the U.S. twice in the past month, once for a sad occasion, and once for a happy occasion.

Betsy's house has fallen apart due to all her traveling, and the dustbunnies are starting to boss the kids around.

Betsy underestimated the number of meetings that she would be involved in as Home & School Committee Secretary.

Betsy also underestimated the number of meetings she would end up having to take a four-year-old and a two-year-old to, and therefore she also underestimated the amount of sweating she'd have to endure.

Betsy always knew she was a perfectionist, but she didn't realize she could spend so much time perfecting the school's charity auction ad booklet.

Betsy's plan for the next few days is to exterminate the aforementioned dustbunnies since the husband is out of town working (golfing), and then she will attempt to resume blogging in paragraphs. Once she gets Halloween out of the way.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

I'm Glad That's Over

You know how the last couple of long blog posts ended on a nostalgic note? Oh, I'm so sad my baby's growing up and needs to be potty trained. Boo hoo. I'm so sad that my little Brandon doesn't need naps anymore. Well, guess what? I am over it. So over it.

I just spent the last week entertaining the demon who took over the body of my two-year-old. The doctor tells me Brandon was suffering from strep throat, but I really don't care what he had. I'm just glad it's over.

It's never fun when your one of your kids is sick, but there are degrees of 'not fun.' Sick babies are sad but manageable. Sick babies sleep and want you to hold them. Whatever. Sick kids are fine, too. Sick kids curl up on the couch under a blanket and watch a SpongeBob marathon. Easy peasy. Sick husbands kind of fall under the category of 'sick kids' because they whine and fuss and ask for you to bring them apple juice boxes and the remote control, but you don't really feel too bad for them. (Your husband does this, too, right? Because the only thing keeping me from kicking Shaun when he's sick is my belief that all men act like babies when they're sick. If I find out different he's getting a nasty surprise the next time he's not feeling well.)

I had forgotten what it's like to have a sick toddler or preschooler. Sick toddlers are complete monsters. I could do nothing to make Brandon happy for about three days straight. He wouldn't eat, but he was hungry and kept begging for snacks. He wouldn't sleep, but he was exhausted. He wouldn't sit still because he was restless. If he dropped a toy he'd wail like the world had just ended. When we'd wake up in the morning he would cry like he'd just been orphaned if Shaun or I forgot to carry him down the stairs--what kind of parents were we to expect him to walk down by himself?

As a result, I didn't sleep for three nights straight, and barely got a chance to sit down for three days. Every conversation with Brandon was like navigating an emotional minefield. I had to use my entire store of fake enthusiastic voices. "Brandon! Doesn't this yogurt look yummy?! Let's try some yogurt!" I was beat after the first day, so you can just imagine my condition after three days. I'm pretty sure I couldn't even form complete sentences by the time Shaun got home from work each evening.

The silver lining to this cloud is that now I am not at all sad that Brandon is growing up. You just keep right on growing up, little man. Because Mommy is not cut out for all-nighters any more. No more inconsolable crying, meals that take three hours or late nights for me. Bring on eleven hours of sleep at at time and kids who play by themselves. I have come to my senses--courtesy of the Strep Throat Monster. (That's our new name for the kid formerly known as The Best Baby Ever.)

Monday, September 27, 2010

The End of an Era

It was just a few short weeks ago that I thought I was getting my afternoon free time back because Kyle was in school all day again. I had no idea then that it was going to be more trouble than it was worth trying to fit naptime into my days. Between school pick-ups, babysitters, lunch, and ballet lessons I can't figure out where to carve out some time for Brandon's nap. Add to that the facts that (1) Brandon thinks he's four and doesn't want to nap and (2) bedtime is easier when he hasn't had a nap, and you end up with me facing another transition... giving up naptime.

Kyle had a strictly enforced 'rest time' until the day he started Kindergarten. Natalie gave up real naps about a year ago, but she's been happily 'resting' every afternoon since then. So, why is it that I'm considering throwing in the towel on naps now?

As much as I value the sanctity of my afternoon free time I believe I'm finally tired of being a slave to naptime. And for the first time in my stint as a mother my free time isn't necessary since there's no baby in the house. Brandon and Natalie keep each other completely entertained all afternoon long.

I'm entering very strange territory here--the land where I'm not the mother of an infant or toddler who will disolve into an unmanageable terror shortly after lunchtime unless forced to sleep. I've heard from some of my friends that the world actually keeps right on turning between the hours of 1 and 3 PM, but I've not experienced that world in nearly six years. Will stores be open yet not crowded much like they are on weekday mornings? Is it possible that I can take the kids to the playground when it's sunny and, dare I say it, warm? Can we invite friends over to play after lunch?

I have always sworn that my kids would be forced to nap until Kindergarten, but suddenly I'm intrigued by all the afternoon activities I've been avoiding because they would interrupt naptime. It's highly probable that Natalie and Brandon will end up spending what used to be naptime hanging out in the playroom or watching a movie since the weather here will rarely be fit for leaving the house in another couple of weeks, but it's liberating to think we could leave if we wanted to.

I'm going to miss those quiet afternoon hours when I know the kids are tucked into their beds, but maybe it's time to embrace the possibility of all the things we could be doing instead of agonizing over how to fit naptime into our days. Maybe it's time to embrace the idea of having big kids instead of babies.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Fire Drill

There's a very fine line between teaching your kids what they need to know to be safe and scaring the bejeezus out of them, and I'm often guilty of crossing that line. Not just crossing the line in an oops-I-weaved-onto-the-wrong-side-of-the-road-because-I-was-changing-the-radio-station kind of way but more in a that's-right-I-jumped-the-median-and-I'm-speeding-down-the-highway-into-oncoming-traffic kind of way.

A few mornings ago I went downstairs into our playroom and thought I'd stepped right into my own little hell. There were toys thrown everywhere, and it was about 85 degrees. Brandon had turned the thermostat up as high as it would go, and the electric baseboard heat had been on all night in an attempt to turn our playroom into the tropics. This spurred a conversation that began as a discussion about not touching the thermostats but quickly morphed into a lecture on burning the entire house down. It went a little like this:

Me: "Brandon, we don't ever touch the thermostats."
Brandon: "Okay, Mom." (This was said as he grinned at me but attempted to hide his face behind his hand.)
Me: "I'm serious, Brandon. It's very dangerous for you to touch the thermostat and turn it all the way up."
Brandon: "Okay. I no touch the circle." (Still smiling.)
Me: "Brandon, it's not funny. When you turn the circle on the thermostat it turns the heat ALL the way up, and the heaters get VERY hot, and if the heaters stay VERY hot and you guys have happened to leave any of your toys too close to the heaters they could catch on FIRE and burn the entire house down. Do you want to start a fire? Do you want to burn the entire house down?"

Brandon's eyes got big. Kyle's eyes got big. Natalie's eyes got big. The room went silent. I just did it again, I thought. Way to scare the kids, Betsy. I said, "I guess now is a good time to talk about what we're going to do if the house ever catches on fire."

"The most important thing for you guys to remember is that we have to get out of the house quickly, and we need to meet somewhere safe. You don't take your toys, you just get out of the house, and we'll all meet across the street in the neighbors' front yard."

Kyle said, "Okay. I'll get my money first, though."

"No, Kyle. You don't stop for your money. You don't need it. Just get out of the house. Mommy and Daddy can buy you all the toys and clothes you need, but we can't replace you."

Kyle's eyes started filling up, and the tears started rolling down his face. I started to panic that we were about to be forced to have the but-I-don't-want-to-die-when-I'm-a-grown-up conversation again (that's a story for another day) when he said, "But what about all the MONEY?! The money will be in the fire. What will we do without money?"

I said, "Kyle, we don't keep the money here in the house. It's all safe and sound in the bank. Don't you worry about the money if there's a fire."

The tears quickly disappeared, and an excited look crossed Kyle's face. "Oh. Okay. That's good. But I think maybe we should start having fire drills."

I was relieved enough to see the tears stop that I think I agreed to these fire drills. I mean, fire drills are probably a good thing--as long as they don't result in nightmares. We really should have practiced what to do in case of a fire before now. But now I'm thinking about incorporating a lesson or two in the banking system and homeowner's insurance while I'm at it. It couldn't hurt now that I know where Kyle's priorities are.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Igor Has Left the Province

We're definitely not strangers to wind and rain here in Newfoundland, but our encounter with Hurricane Igor yesterday was quite impressive. While he was expected to be downgraded to a tropical storm, Igor did in fact hit the area as a Category 1 Hurricane. There were moments when I really thought the house--or at least part of the roof--was going to take flight.

At our house we were lucky to make it through the storm with our electricity in tact. Our cable was out for several hours last night, but if the worst thing to come out of Hurricane Igor is missing the season premiere of Glee I'll take it.

Damage and flooding are quite widespread throughout the province this morning, and several communities have been completely cut-off from help due to roads and bridges being washed out. Thousands of homes are without power, and school has been cancelled for a second day because the roads aren't yet safe due to flooding and downed trees.

I moved to Newfoundland expecting some pretty wild weather, but I really thought it would be in the form of blizzards rather than hurricanes. Who knew I'd ride out a hurricane in St. John's before I had a chance to ride one out in Houston?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Natalie's First Day

Natalie was more than ready for her first day of preschool of the year yesterday. The timid girl that was a little uncertain last year was nowhere to be found. It helps that she's back at the same school again (I'm not kidding myself into thinking there won't be a few tears--hers and mine--next year on the first day of Kindergarten) with all the same friends. This year Natalie is a Junior Achiever instead of a Little Leaper, and she's looking forward to learning to read so that she can outdo her big brother. My girl's growing up!

And just for the record... those flowered headbands are ALWAYS her idea. She might be tough, but she's still a princess.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


It's 55F and raining, and it's all too apparent that winter is right around the corner here in Newfoundland. Mother Nature decided to skip Spring in St. John's this year, so I'm really hoping she doesn't decide to skip right over Autumn into Winter. I don't think I'm quite ready for the Seasonal Affective Disorder and snowstorms, but I've got my Crockpot out and ready to go--just in case. Here's what's cooking tonight. Easy, delicious, and ready to be eaten whenever the workaholic in my life decides to come home.

Ham and Bean Soup

1 pound dry navy beans
3 carrots, peeled and chopped
3 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
3 stalks celery, sliced
1 medium onion, diced
2 cups cubed cooked ham
3 cups water
2 cups chicken broth
2 bay leaves
salt and pepper

1. Place the beans in a slow cooker with enough water to cover, and soak 6 to 8 hours, or overnight.
2. Drain the beans, and return to the slow cooker. Cover with water and chicken broth, and mix in the carrots, potatoes, celery, onion, and ham. Add bay leaves and salt and pepper to taste.
3. Cover slow cooker, and cook soup on High for 3 1/2 hours. Switch to Low, and continue cooking at least 6 1/2 hours. The longer it cooks the more flavorful it becomes.

This recipe was adapted from Grandma B's Bean Soup on WARNING: This recipe requires some planning since the beans need to soak overnight. This is much easier said than done.

Sunday, September 12, 2010


You must read this book: Graceling by Kristin Cashore.

And then you should go check out the author's blog, This Is My Secret.

Good stuff. Good luck putting it down once you pick it up.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Where Were You?

We all have an answer to that question. Shaun and I were fresh out of college, living and working in Houston. I was in training that day. I've spent a lot of time in places far away from home, but I've never felt farther from home than I did that morning in Houston nine years ago.

Friday, September 10, 2010

It's That Time Again

I hate transitions.

This applies both to my own life and to all the little transitions my kids have to go through on the path to becoming little people. Packing up our house and moving somewhere else in the world every two to three years is always extremely difficult for me. Finding new doctors, new schools, and new friends while you leave all your old ones behind sucks. When the time came for my kids to transition from one nap to two or switch from bottle to cup it was bearable but still a challenge for a girl who doesn't like change. However, there is one transition that I dread more than any other as a mother... potty-training.

I ask myself, "Why would you dread potty-training?! You've been changing diapers every single day for over five and a half years! Sometimes for two kids at a time. Don't you dream of the day when you can stop buying diapers and wiping someone else's butt?"

Of course I'm looking forward to a diaper-free existence. But I have potty-trained two children already, and I know the third time around will not be any more pleasant than the last two. Like all transitions, the end result is worth it, but the process of getting there is painful enough to make me yearn to keep things the way they are.

Brandon has been exhibiting signs of potty-training readiness for months, and I have been blatantly ignoring them. I just cannot talk myself into beginning this months-long adventure into nagging, accidents, and public toilets. I don't want to see the inside of every grocery store restroom in a 25-mile radius while trying to minimize the amount of contact three kids have with germ-infested door handles, sinks, trash cans, and toilet seats. I don't want to start carrying a change of clothing around in the car again because my toddler has graduated from spilling everything in sight only to begin peeing all over himself.

I just don't want to. But I will. Because my little man is ready. In fact, he's wearing big-boy underwear right this very minute. And I'm trying really hard to convince myself that the only reason I've been avoiding this transition is because it's highly inconvenient--and not because this is Brandon's very last transition from baby to kid. That's making this transition almost as painful as all those public restrooms are going to be. Almost.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Compare and Contrast

Kyle's first day of First Grade was on Tuesday, and we took all the requisite 'first day of school' pictures. I just have to share these two side-by-side. The photo on the left is from last year, and the one on the right is from Tuesday.

He's a little bit longer and leaner, but he's definitely still the same boy. Those are probably the exact same pants, so this is proof that he did get slightly taller over the past year. The cardigan is a newer, bigger one. But my baby is losing his baby look, isn't he?


Wednesday, September 8, 2010

To Blog or Not to Blog?

I'm almost afraid to blog right now because I worry that my readers (all eleven of you) will be severely disappointed if I can't find the inspiration to blog with any regularity. You'd probably all finally given up on me, hadn't you? Stopped checking in on the Z family. Moved on to other websites. And here I go blogging again, raising your hopes, and sending the Internet into a flurry. Or not.

I can't promise to keep blogging, but I'm going to try. I sent Kyle off to his first day of First Grade yesterday, and my afternoon free time has been reinstated. (This is also known as 'naptime' if you're speaking to Brandon or 'rest time' if you're speaking to Natalie. Don't make the mistake of calling it the wrong thing to either kid unless you want to be mocked or set off a crying jag.) I have very strict rules that prevent me from doing any work during naptime, and blogging had started to feel like work with Kyle running in and out of the room every five minutes to tell me 'one more thing' all summer long. Now that Kyle's back in school blogging might feel less like work.

I wish I could say that the summer was full of blog-worthy happenings, but it was really a short but relaxing summer. The weather finally warmed up after Canada Day. I read a ton of books, courtesy of my Kindle. We spent two weeks in New Jersey at the shore with a ton of family members. Shaun's mom and my sister both came to visit St. John's. Shaun and I celebrated our anniversary, and I had a birthday. The end.

Perhaps the biggest news of the summer was that I had to brave Newark Liberty International Airport twice, and both encounters went off without a hitch. That probably deserved a blog post.

Anyway, I'm back for now. Stay tuned. We're heading into holiday season, and that's always good for a blog post or two.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

O, Canada!

Happy birthday to the country that's our current adoptive home! Thanks for letting us in and letting us stay for almost two years so far!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

School's (Almost) Out!

The last week of June has finally arrived, and in two days Kyle will be a Kindergartener no more. This week has been full of dress-down days, hot dogs, and bouncy castles. It has also been completely void of homework.
As far as we know we'll still be in St. John's for the next school year, so Kyle will continue to spend his time with all of these nutters:
Bring on First Grade!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Retiring The Snow Log--For Now

Here it is, once again--the official record of snowfall for this past winter. I refuse to believe that we'll have any more snow. I REFUSE TO BELIEVE IT. Winter is done, so I'm taking the snow log out of the sidebar until next winter. I'm sure it'll snow tomorrow as punishment for such a reckless act, but I don't really care. It's not like the weather we've had so far has been much better than snow, with the exception of about three days over the last two months.

Winter '09/'10 Snow Log

November 11 - 1/2 in.
December 4 - 1/2 in.
December 6 - 12 in.
December 10 - 3 in.
December 11 - 2 in.
December 12 - 1 in.
December 17 - 2 in.
December 19 - 4 in.
December 28 - 1 in.
January 9 - 6 in.
January 17 - 4 in.
January 21 - 3 1/2 in.
January 30 - 3 in.
January 31 - 1 in.
February 4 - 1 in.
February 5 - 15 in.
February 6 - 6 in.
February 9 - 1 in.
February 10 - 1 in.
February 21 - 2 in.
March 12 - 2 in.
March 27 - 4in.
April 15 - 3in.

Total = 78 1/2 in.
Total Snow Day Count = 2

This is entirely approximate. I am not the weather service. My measurements are conducted from inside the house as I look out the window and estimate how much snow is piled on my back porch.

Good-bye, snow log. See you in October.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


It's official. I need to lose 10 pounds.

Brandon: "I like you bedroom, Mommy."
Me: "Really? You like my bedroom?"
Brandon: "Yes. I like to lay your bedroom."
Me: "Oh, you like to lay in my bedroom. Well, I like your bedroom, too."
Brandon: "Mommy! You no lay my bedroom! You too heavy!"
Me: "I'm too heavy for your bedroom?!"
Brandon: "Yes. That's so funny, Mommy."

If it's that funny I might just need to lose 15 or 20 pounds.

Sunday, June 13, 2010


I should have guessed what we were in for when I woke up at 6:30 on Friday morning, walked into Natalie's room, and found her on the floor, lying on her belly, pushing up with her arms.

"Um, Sweetie... are you doing push-ups?" I asked, slightly puzzled.

"Yes! I'm getting ready for my show! It's going to be great!" she replied, as she bounced up onto her feet and clapped her little hands, an enormous grin on her face.

It was her last day of preschool and the day of the big end-of-year concert. Calling it a concert was a bit of a stretch, but I wasn't going to argue with a four-year-old. It was more like four songs and two nursery rhymes, but whatever. Natalie was excited, and thanks to her push-ups she was ready to perform!

Shaun and I couldn't wait to see our timid little girl stand up with her classmates and mumble a few cute little songs.

We were totally unprepared, however, for the little show-stealer Natalie turned out to be. She sang--loudly and in tune. She danced--with rhythm and hip action. She knew all the words, and projected her little voice across the roomful of amused parents. I've never heard sounds that loud come out of my child in public before. At home, yes. (I believe I've mentioned the iron fist with which Natalie rules her brothers.) But I had no idea she was a little actress in the making. She carried the show! And all Shaun and I could do was stare in amazement, occasionally turning to each other in bewilderment (Where on Earth did this come from? Where did she get the performance gene? Not from either of us!) before we had to turn back to the front of the room and gape at our four-year-old diva.

Natalie was also chosen to play the part of the spider in both 'Little Miss Muffett' and 'The Itsy Bitsy Spider', and I don't think I've seen many things cuter in my life.

I can't believe the school year is over, and I can't believe how Natalie has grown from the little girl with tears in her eyes on the first day to the superstar that I witnessed two days ago. I'm so proud of her! And, frankly, I'm awed that Shaun and I could make such a creature. Go figure.

Friday, May 28, 2010

I Love My Kindle

I know, I know. I've been neglecting my blog. But I have a good excuse. Well, maybe not a good excuse, but I do have an excuse.

I bought a Kindle. And it has taken over my life.

Do you know what happens when a bookaholic can buy new books with the push of a little button? Do you know what happens when suddenly any book that pops into your head can be in your hands in less than 30 seconds? Do you know what happens when you don't have to deal with the nightmare of dragging three kids to the bookstore (and more importantly, dragging them out of the bookstore)? Do you know what happens when you can carry around over 1,000 books at a time in your purse?

Your butt becomes permanently attached to your favorite spot on the couch, Kindle in hand, except for when you must be somewhere else. And even then, the Kindle is close by, in your handbag or sitting on the passenger seat of the car next to you. It's on the nightstand at night, and on the kitchen counter while you're making dinner.

Don't worry--I'm still cleaning the house and feeding the kids. I'm not becoming an episode of Hoarders in the making. I've even been busy over the last month. We've had dance recitals, book fairs, business trips, and parties. But my free time is reading time and not blogging time.

I hope to eventually recover from my Kindle infatuation, but for now I really hope I'm not forced to choose between my Kindle and, let's say, Kyle because I don't know who'd win.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Party Time!

We celebrated Natalie's fourth birthday with a party last weekend. On Sunday she invited friends from her preschool class and from our playgroup over to The Little Gym where they all ran crazy and played for an hour and a half. There were balls, bars, beams, and a parachute.

There was pizza. (I highly recommend The Little Gym for birthday parties if you're as lazy as I am, and the idea of twelve two-through-five-year-olds running around your house gives you hives. It's much more fun having a party when you know the cake, pizza, and lemonade all over the floor will be cleaned up by someone else.)

There was Barbie ballerina cake. This was chosen because Natalie loves Barbie, and she loves ballerinas, and she also loves as much pink and purple as possible on a cake.

At home there were presents and payback. Let's just say that Natalie wasn't nearly as nice about the help she was getting from Brandon as he was when she was being so helpful with his gifts a week earlier.

And what's that? Oh, that's just Natalie's brand new Nintendo DS. You know, the one her older brother convinced her she needed for her birthday.

And now I am done with the birthday parties until December!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Four Going on Fourteen

Every year my boys get a year older, and every year I'm amazed. Kyle's birthdays sneak up on me and make me feel old. Brandon's birthdays seem to come quickly, and they make me nostalgic.

Natalie's birthdays are an entirely different experience for me. We spend the entire four months between Kyle's birthday in December and Natalie's birthday in April counting down the days and discussing presents. By the time April 19th rolls around each year we've all been heavily prepared, and everyone is ready for it.

This year was no different. On Monday Natalie turned four, and I looked at her and said, "Happy Birthday, Baby! I can't believe you're four!" What she hears is, "Wow, you're such a big girl!" What I'm really saying is, "I can't believe you're only four."

Natalie is wise beyond her years, always one step of her brothers, and she doesn't miss a thing. She listens to and absorbs everything the adults around her say, files it away in her little head, and never lets on that she's listening. In public she's reserved, shy, quiet, and afraid to put herself in unfamiliar situations. At home she loves her brothers fiercely, but she rules them like a tyrant, and they willingly do her bidding from the time they wake up in the morning until they go to bed at night. What they don't do willingly she tricks them into doing.

She is definitely mine. My mother will agree, as will my brother and sister.

My little girl turned four on Monday, and I wasn't at all surprised by it. Of course she's four. Hasn't she been four forever?

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Where goin'?

I had this conversation with Brandon yesterday while I was buckling him into his carseat.

Brandon: "Where goin'? Mommy? Where goin'?"
Me: "We're going to the grocery store. Then we're going to pick Nat up from school."
Brandon: "I wanna go Mom-mom an' Pop-pop's house. I wanna go Pop-pop's house, NOW!"
Me: "Oh, we can't go to Mom-mom and Pop-pop's house today. They live far, far away. We'd have to take an airplane to go there, and we have to go pick Natalie up soon."

Thirty seconds later, as we're driving down the street.

Brandon: "Where goin', Mommy?"
Me: "We're going to the grocery store, Brandon."
Brandon: "No gross store! I go air-port!"

I guess he knows he can find airplanes at the airport. Think he misses his Mom-mom and Pop-pop much?

Monday, April 12, 2010

Birthday Boy

For the first time in over five years I no longer have a child under the age of two in the house. Brandon's second birthday was yesterday, and I'm pretty sure that means I can't call him a baby any longer. My baby, yes. A baby, no. Not that he's acted much like a baby over the last year. This child can hold his own with a silly, impulsive five-year-old and a bossy, wily almost-four-year-old any day.

I'm the first one to admit that I'm lazy, so Brandon's second birthday was exactly like all the other second birthdays we've celebrated around here--a few presents and cake, attended by immediate family. I don't do parties for two-year-olds. As far as a two-year-old is concerned it is a party if they see cake, presents, and singing. Some days they think it's a party if they just see a dog in the backyard next door. Or if you tell them they're having pizza for lunch. Or if Dora comes on the television. You get my drift.

Here's the cake I made:
Brandon picked out the little sugar candies shaped like Lightning McQueen and Tow Mater. The red sugar sprinkles were all me.

Brandon wailed as we sang to him.
I'm not totally sure why that was since he perked right up after the singing stopped (the singing really couldn't have been that bad), and he blew out his candles like a pro.

He had an excellent time opening presents despite a large amount of help from his big sister.
And then we spent the rest of the day watching Brandon play with all of his new toys and try to keep them away from the vultures known by the names of Kyle, Natalie, and Ethan (Kyle's friend).
I really can't believe my littlest man is two. Life is easier for me now than it's ever been in my entire tenure as a mother. Now all we need to do is attempt some potty-training, and I should be home free. Hah.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Three Days in New York

Shaun and I spent three days in New York last week while my parents wrangled the kids, and we had an amazing time. I'm not saying you have to do what we did if you ever go to New York, but here's what you'd have to do if you grow up to be just like us.

Day 1:

Arrive at Newark Liberty International to torrential downpour and take train into NYC.

Check-in to an awesome room at The Plaza. Have lunch at Sarabeth's on Central Park South. Go see The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, a Swedish film subtitled in English and based on the novel of the same name.
Wander through Greenwich Village and catch a show at The Comedy Cellar, with headliners including Darrell Hammond, Jim Norton, and Nick Griffin.

Day 2:

Wake up whenever you want rather than to the sound of children banging on their bedroom doors or sneaking down the stairs.

Go shopping in SoHo.

Catch Ricky Gervais at a taping of The Late Show with David Letterman.

Have dinner in the the Theater District and take in Race on Broadway, starring James Spader, David Alan Grier, Kerry Washington, and Richard Thomas. Day 3:

Wake to some of the warmest temperatures and sunniest skies you've seen since September (you'd have to live in Newfoundland to accurately duplicate the joy at finding 60-degree temps at 9 AM).

Have some of the best french toast ever and a bellini at Balthazar in Soho. Do some more shopping for yourself and for the kids at Fresh and FAO Schwarz. Wander through Central Park and laze on a park bench in the sun. Do a little more shopping and have lunch at The Shops at Columbus Circle near Central Park.

Take the train from New York's Penn Station back to Newark Liberty International, and hope that your flight home isn't delayed in some fashion by the weather in St. John's. (It will be, but you don't know it yet.)

The End. (Until I'm ready to get into my most recent near-death experience at the hands of Continental Airlines and the St. John's International Airport. You're just going to have to wait for that part of the story.)

Monday, April 5, 2010

A Good Time Was Had By All

Well, the grandparents returned home today, and I don't think 10 days have ever passed more quickly! There were horsey rides, bicycle rides, snow, sun, cupcakes, Easter eggs, and more. We all had a blast.

Week one of Kyle's Spring break flew by, and I now get to spend the next week detoxing the kids. No more dessert every night, no more endless board games and Barbie movies, no more all-day pajama-wearing... starting tomorrow. I guess I'll be detoxing myself, as well, since I'll have to stop ignoring the laundry, I'll have to start playing with my own kids again, and there will be no more trips to New York with Shaun.

Oh well. It was fun while it lasted!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Thank You, Rupert

When Shaun and I first decided to try escaping to New York while my parents are visiting we submitted a request for tickets to see a taping of The Late Show with David Letterman. You just fill in a form online giving your name, phone number and the dates you'd like to attend a taping, and then you get a nice little message stating that someone might call you. Or they might not. And if they do call you it could be at any time between the date of your ticket request and the date of the actual taping. Oh yeah, and you'll be required to correctly answer a trivia question before they'll actually give you tickets. Hmm. Okay.

In the two months since we requested tickets I totally forgot that we actually requested them until yesterday morning. I was on my way out the door when I looked at my cell phone and saw a missed call from the night before with a 212 area code. Now, most people that have spent time in the Northeast U.S. or that just spend a lot of time watching television know that a 212 area code on your caller ID means that someone is calling from a New York City phone number.

My first thought was, "Who's calling me from New York? And why would a telemarketer go to the trouble to call Canada?"

Then I heard the voicemail message. "Betsy, this is The Late Show with David Letterman..."

The voice went on to tell me that if we were still interested in tickets for this coming Wednesday night we should call back ASAP and be prepared to correctly answer a trivia question about The Late Show. Oh crap. The trivia question. We like watching Letterman, but the show doesn't air until the butt crack of dawn in Newfoundland, so we haven't seen it in over a year and a half. Thank God my phone was set on vibrate, and that woman had to leave me a message! There's no way I could have answered a trivia question without preparation.

"Shaun! We got called for Letterman tickets but we have to answer a trivia question! Get on Google!" I yelled.

Shaun Googled The Late Show, Letterman, Letterman trivia questions, and prepared himself with several open internet browsers. He then called The Late Show back... and was forced to leave a message. He commented that he wasn't going to be as prepared to answer the question now that it would involve a callback. Would his call be returned the same day? It was a Saturday. Would we have to be on guard all weekend? Until Monday even?

Then the phone rang yesterday afternoon. And the trivia question we were hoping for was asked. The question that popped up several times when we Googled 'Letterman trivia questions.' What kind of business does Dave's neighbor Rupert own? A deli!

Shaun gave the correct answer, and now he and I are on our way to Letterman on Wednesday.

I'm not sure if we're excited to see Letterman or if we're just excited to have scored tickets. These Late Show people are on to something. The official story is that Dave likes to ensure he's got actual fans of the show in the audience, and that's why they ask a trivia question before granting tickets. I think it's more likely that they're just trying to make sure you'll show up. Phone tag and trivia questions make you feel like you've actually won something.

Anyway, if you're hanging around watching TV on Wednesday night see if you can spot us in the audience. It should be a good show. Ricky Gervais and turkey callers. Who doesn't love a good turkey call? At least Ricky Gervais should be funny, right?

Friday, March 26, 2010

Happy Dance

You probably thought I was going to blog about how excited I am that my mom and dad are flying into St. John's today. I am excited about that, but they don't arrive until this afternoon. I have more important news right now.

I have a new microwave, people! Finally! Goodbye, domestic goddess. Hello, Healthy Choice frozen meals and leftovers. The kids are going to be elated to experience the joys of microwave popcorn once again. After three weeks and one day I have regained the ability to nuke, and I can finally resume feeding my family my way.

I haven't been this excited about a household appliance since I bought my Dyson in a fit of hormonal nesting right before Brandon was born.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Today's Random Thought

I should really water the one plant in the house more frequently. It was a house-warming gift when we moved in about 18 months ago. It only occurs to me to water it about once a month. Poor plant. But if you want to survive around here you have to make your presence known via noise or bodily fluids.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Spring or Sheila?

It's officially Spring if you go by your calendar, but Newfoundlanders don't really expect Spring to arrive and then stick around until late May.

Last year around this time I was complaining about how mild of a winter we'd had so far. I wanted to experience a legendary Newfoundland winter, and I was begging for Sheila to show me her stuff (you'll just have to click the link if you want to know who Sheila is). Sheila did, in fact, deliver the goods on March 22nd, and I was pleased. The winter remained mild by Newfoundland standards, but we saw an impressive amount of snow by Texan standards by the time May rolled around.

I just knew we were in for it this winter. There was no way we'd have two mild winters in a row. We're in freaking Newfoundland. You know, that place on your map just southwest of Greenland.

But I sit here today contemplating my snowfall log with a total of almost 40 inches less snow than the same time last year, and I'm bewildered. What is going on? We've had cold, and we've had rain, but where is the snow? The forecast for tomorrow has a little snow predicted, but I don't see Sheila anywhere. Shouldn't she be lurking right about now?

The difference this year is that I am not complaining. I was complaining around Christmas that I wished there was more snow. I was complaining in February that I wished there was more snow. But now that it's March, and the snow has melted, and we were teased with some quite lovely sunshine last week, I am ready for Spring. I am ready for warm temperatures and playgrounds and banishing the kids to the backyard. I am ready to put the snow boots and suits in the back of the closet.

But I am not crossing my fingers. I'm sure I just jinxed myself, and tomorrow I'll check out the Weather Network to find that a storm has popped up out of nowhere and will be stranding my parents in Toronto on Friday. Just wait. Because that's the kind of luck I have.

Friday, March 19, 2010


Who doesn't love a good countdown? We're all getting very excited that we only have one more week until the arrival of that super-duper grandparenting team, Mom-mom and Pop-pop.

Not only are they coming to visit for 10 days, but Shaun and I will be vacating the premises for a couple of days while they're here and going on our own mini-vacation. We haven't been away together but without the kids since September of 2006 when Natalie was 4 1/2 months old. She turns 4 years old a month from today. No wonder we're so tired.

7 Days!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Two Irishmen, Patrick & Michael, were adrift in a lifeboat following a dramatic escape from a burning freighter. While rummaging through the boat's provisions, Patrick stumbled across an old lamp. Secretly hoping that a genie would appear, he rubbed the lamp vigorously. To the amazement of Patrick, a genie came forth. This particular genie, however, stated that he could only deliver one wish, not the standard three. Without giving much thought to the matter, Patrick blurted out, "Make the entire ocean into Guinness Beer!" The genie clapped his hands with a deafening crash, and immediately the entire sea turned into the finest brew ever sampled by mortals. Simultaneously, the genie vanished. Only the gentle lapping of Guinness on the hull broke the stillness as the two men considered their circumstances. Michael looked disgustedly at Patrick whose wish had been granted. After a long, tension-filled moment, he spoke: "Nice going Patrick! Now we're going to have to pee in the boat!"

Funny courtesy of

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Cry Baby

I like to watch TLC while I run on my treadmill because there is no greater inspiration for weight loss, fitness, and just trying to look good than the likes of What Not to Wear (How much fun would a makeover be?), 19 and Counting (For real, Michelle Duggar, stop it with all those kids, and please stop making your own dresses!), and A Baby Story (Never doing that again, so might as well lose the baby weight. Brandon is almost 2.).

This morning my run coincided with A Baby Story, and the expectant father of the episode pissed me off just enough to want to blog. His poor wife was laboring along in one of those birthing tubs, totally naturally, trying not to lose her mind, and approaching the point where she was going to have to start pushing. Then the camera turns to Dad, who says, in a mildly annoyed voice I might add, "I didn't realize I'd be bending over the side of the tub and that I'd have to spend so much time on my knees. These old rugby knees of mine are giving out. I'm in some pain."

He was in some pain. HE was in some PAIN. Poor guy. What a moron. I hope his wife makes him pay for that one later.

Thank you, Shaun, for not being a moron and keeping any discomfort you were suffering from to yourself while I was giving birth to your children.

My man is a keeper. That woman on TLC? She should throw hers back. If he's complaining about his knees while she's giving birth just imagine the whining the first time he falls victim to an exploding diaper.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Toaster Pancakes Are Not Good

I detest cooking. This isn't a recent development--just ask my mother. Most attempts at getting me to make dinner as a teenager resulted in hot dogs or Hamburger Helper being slammed on the table with a huge helping of attitude on the side. Before Shaun and I had kids I would make dinner approximately twice a week, and we'd go out or order in the rest of the time. In fact, calling what I'd do twice a week 'making dinner' is an insult to the phrase. Boiling some pasta and throwing a jar of spaghetti sauce on top of it isn't really 'making' anything.

Now that we have children I do attempt to cook a little more frequently. This was difficult in Houston where you can get take-out from a different restaurant every night for a month without repeating. Here in St. John's my take-out options are limited, forcing me to become a little bit more domestic. I've also become a little bit more dependent on Domino's Pizza, as evidenced by the fact that if the doorbell rings at all between the hours of 4 and 7 PM Brandon will immediately run for the kitchen yelling, "Pizza!!!!"

You can just imagine how dependent I must be on my microwave. Completely dependent. Just-claim-me-on-your-taxes dependent. If I go to the trouble to cook you better believe I make enough for leftovers, which requires the microwave for reheating if you don't believe in planning for dinner far enough in advance to preheat the oven. I can also create an entire hot meal exclusively using my microwave--I'm a little bit proud and a lot ashamed of this. If lunch is hot in any way (rare when peanut butter sandwiches, coldcuts, fruit, and dairy products don't require heating) it will involve microwave use. I do not believe in using the oven during the day.

Now imagine my horror when my microwave stopped working 10 days ago! I'm not going to lie. It's been a struggle. FYI, unlike frozen waffles, frozen pancakes cannot be heated in the toaster. Leftovers are going to waste because I cannot bring myself to reheat them via oven or stovetop. My George Foreman grill and Crockpot are about to start charging me for overtime.

Why don't I just go buy a new microwave, you ask? Because this house is a rental, the microwave also functions as a range hood, the homeowner is a lovely woman but is also very particular about what appliances enter her house, and appliances are a very sticky issue during relocations. I also thought that having a new microwave installed would be a matter of a few days, having forgotten that apparently all appliances in Newfoundland have to be first built, then sent via ferry, and finally installed by very, very busy appliance-installer-men.

I've been forced to get creative with my oven. And by creative I really just mean that I've used it for all the things you've all been using your ovens to accomplish for years.

Me: I warmed this leftover pizza up in the oven! I had no idea at what temperature or for how long, but I decided to wing it.
Shaun: Really? It's pretty good like this.
Me: I know! And it didn't really take that long. Sure, it would've taken 45 seconds in the microwave, but 6 minutes in the oven isn't so bad. I did have to preheat it, though.
Shaun: We should do it like this more often. It's good. The crust is crispy.
Me: Whoa now, Shaun. Don't get used to this. As soon as we have a working microwave this leftover pizza is never going to see the inside of an oven ever again. If you want oven pizza you're going to have to warm it up.

Someday I hope to tap into my inner SuperMom and find the desire to cook, but for now I would really just like it if someone could put a rush on my new microwave. Please? The kids really miss having pancakes for breakfast--and I'm not making them from scratch.

Thursday, March 4, 2010


I'm not sure why it is that I can always find the energy for a rant (see my airport hating below) but I struggle to blog about everything else going on in my life and in my mind right now. It's not like nothing is happening. I think it's just that my everyday life saps me of all energy, and the only things I feel like doing in my free time (naptime from 12:30 PM until 2:30 PM on weekdays, excluding Wednesdays) are mindlessly surfing the Net, curling up with a book, or, let's be honest, napping. Only a moderate case of annoyance can temporarily suffuse me with energy enough to blog these days.

I like to blame Seasonal Affective Disorder.

I also believe part of the credit should be given to Kyle's illness of a few weeks ago, which was probably one of my more terrifying run-ins with childhood illness to date. This illness was followed immediately by a vacation that began with several weather-related delays, several hours spent on the phone rescheduling flights and hotels, and several hours in airports and airplanes with three children under the age of 6 and a husband. The hours spent on airplanes are what I'm blaming for the past week's snotty noses, nasty coughs, fevers, and draining ears. (Yes, I said draining ears. The beauty of Brandon's ear tubes is that he no longer gets ear infections, but now all the nastiness that used to take up permanent residence on the other side of his eardrum now drains straight out. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: motherhood is glamourous.) Add to all of the above that not even I was spared from a head cold following our vacation, and it's been a really long three weeks.

I promise to do a better job of blogging just as soon as I get pissed off again. Or the snot takes a break around here. Or the sun comes out. Really.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Airports I Love to Hate

I'm pleased to announce that Newark Liberty International Airport has been joined by two other airports on the list of Airports I Hate. Welcome to the club, St. John's International Airport and Toronto Pearson International Airport. Here are just a few features of these airports that have earned them places on my list:

St. John's International Airport
- A total of six gates. That's right. Six. Imagine the endless entertainment to be found for three kids in an airport consisting of one terminal with six gates and a tiny Tim Hortons.
- A snow-covered parking lot ensuring much adventure when parking, extracting suitcases and children, and walking to the terminal. Also ensuring much shoveling, de-icing, and warming-up when returning from any and all vacations.
- Excellent location in what can only be described as the foggiest and snowiest spot in all of Newfoundland and Labrador. This location often makes it possible for travelers to enjoy hours of delay, flight cancellations, and the rearrangement of travel plans. Be prepared to take advantage of your travel insurance.

Toronto Pearson International Airport
- Extra security checkpoints for flights into the United States consisting of a full carry-on baggage search and an explosives swab for all members of your travel party over the age of 1. This experience is enhanced by TSA employees with no previous experience with passengers traveling with prescription penicillin.
- Vast terminals with zero amenities in the case that you have a six-hour layover. However, in the case that you must claim your bags, clear Canadian immigration and customs, re-check baggage and go through another security checkpoint with three children, a laptop, three carry-on bags, a stroller, and various liquids in the form of Infants' Motrin, milk, etc., Air Canada will be happy to provide you with a connection time of less than 90 minutes.

Be sure to check out these airports on your travels if you're a fan of emotional torture.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Now What?

A winter storm watch. That's what.

Kyle's back in school this morning, but he's still feeling pretty terrible. I'm hoping he'll last the entire day without the school calling me to pick him up. His neck still hurts, he doesn't want to eat, and he's got a constant headache, but he was in better shape this morning than he has been in days.

Just when it's pushing 11 AM, and I'm hopeful that Kyle will make it to lunchtime at school, I check my friendly little Weather Network bookmark to find that there's a storm watch in effect for Thursday night into Friday afternoon. When do we leave for Florida? Friday morning. Right in the midst of this storm watch.

Please don't tell me that my wonderful trip to Florida and Disney World is going to be delayed by a nasty little winter storm. I really need this vacation. I'm in desperate need of a break from the Newfoundland weather, and I need to recover from Kyle's run-in with strep throat and torticollis. I'm tired. The universe wouldn't really do this to me, would it?

For the moment I'm just going to hope that this 'watch' doesn't turn into a 'warning'. And then I'm going to start working on contigency plans, people, because that's what I do. My mind is a minefield of worst-case scenarios. It never hurts to be prepared.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Get Me Out of Here!

This is my fifth day of house arrest. The first three days were cozy snow days with Daddy home to help entertain the munchkins. The last two days have been forced upon me not by snow but by one sick little boy. The differences between snow days and sick days are plentiful.

Snow days are filled with excitement as I wonder how much snow we'll get, if the power will go out, if the mother of all snow plows will plow in the end of our driveway. Sick days are colored by the monitoring of fevers, weighing the necessity of calling doctors, the administration of endless fluids in the name of dehydration prevention, and my overwhelming terror that what's probably just a cold is really something deadly like meningitis. Snow days are all about napping, and sick days are all about sleep deprivation--especially when you throw in an overnight trip to the emergency room.

About five minutes after I posted the pictures of our snowmen on Saturday Kyle started complaining of neck pain, but he still willingly went to his best friend's birthday party that afternoon. Sunday morning he woke up complaining that he had a headache and he couldn't move his neck because it hurt too much. He was also feverish, complaining of a sore throat and earache, and I could feel the lymph nodes in his neck were swollen.

I administered some Tylenol, and I began my internal debate over how serious Kyle's complaints were. Was he faking? Was the sore throat making him think his neck hurt? Were his swollen glands making him think his throat was sore? Did he have an ear infection making him think both his neck and throat were sore? Had he twisted his neck playing in the snow? Was all of this caused by a cold virus versus a bacterial infection, therefore rendering a trip to the doctor pointless since no antibiotics would be forthcoming? Not that it mattered since it wasn't like I could get Kyle in to see a doctor before Tuesday (don't get me started on the healthcare system here--that's a post for a different day). All this debate ended where it normally does--I was going to wait and see how the situation developed.

Fast forward to 1:30 AM Monday when Kyle was still crying, having gone to bed several hours earlier but not having slept at all. He couldn't move his neck at all, and he was complaining of a serious headache. I sat with him for another hour trying to make him comfortable but not succeeding at all. A rather uneventful trip to the ER ensued, where it was determined that Kyle has torticollis that was most likely triggered by some kind of upper respiratory infection. Bring on the antibiotics.

What's torticollis, you ask? Apparently, it's a condition involving a muscle spasm in the neck causing moderate pain and rendering the victim unable or unwilling to move their head from side to side due to the severity of the pain. It generally lasts 2 or 3 days before improving, and it's common for children to temporarily acquire this condition in the wake of a cold of some sort. Go figure. I've never heard of it happening, but trust Kyle to get it.

Yesterday was a very long day once I factored in very little sleep (for both Kyle and myself), Kyle's incredible discomfort and refusal to eat, Brandon's 22-month-old energy, and my immeasurable worry that Kyle's condition wasn't really improving. I cannot describe the relief Shaun and I both felt when we checked on Kyle around 11 last night, and not only was he not feverish, but he was sleeping deeply and comfortably for the first time in almost 48 hours. There was even snoring.

I'm relieved to report that today is even better. Everyone got a full night's sleep last night. Kyle's neck is improving, and his spirits are much better. He even played with some Lego right before lunch, and he got into an argument with his sister. Now I know he's feeling better--he hadn't engaged in any kind of battle with Natalie in two days. Insert sigh of relief. You know I was worried when I start welcoming the battle of the siblings.

I'm crossing my fingers and hoping I can send Kyle to school tomorrow. I'm ready to get out of this prison! Oh, and did I mention we're leaving for Florida on Friday? Yeah.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Blizzard Update | Day 2

Sometime between yesterday when I shoveled inches of light, powdery, fluffy snow and this morning when Shaun got his turn to shovel the falling snow turned very heavy, dense, and wet. While this was unfortunate for poor Shaun it made for excellent snowmen! It still has not stopped snowing, and I'd have to guess the snowfall total to be about 20 inches or so.

Right after lunch we bundled up our little snowbabies and headed out into the backyard for some sledding and giant snowman-making. I'm happy to report that the endeavor wore them out, and two of the three are currently sleeping. Shaun is soon to follow suit. It is his turn for a nap after all.