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.