Thursday, November 27, 2008

All we hear is radio BLAH, BLAH, BLAH

By definition, an Exam Preparation Audio Lecture should be designed to prepare students for an exam. (Kind of like how Management Information Systems are information systems for managers; the definition is inherent in the title.) So, one may ask what students require to prepare for an exam. Or at the very least, one should ask this question when one is the course audio lecturer. If one does trouble oneself to ask the question, one will learn that the answer is really quite simple.

We require a strategy. The exam must be completed within three hours. What kinds of questions are likely to be featured on the exam? How can we best complete questions such as these in the shortest amount of time possible? Are there any specific techniques that we may use in order to keep the 60-some formulas we have learned in this course intact? How should we best spend our time? The setting of a time budget should be reviewed. Opinion of what is likely to be featured should be provided, though the actual exam contents should not be disclosed.

We also require practice. Provide a series of sample questions. Cover a diverse base. And walk through completion of those questions, so that we may better understand how to arrive at a correct answer.

What we do not require is regurgitation of concepts previously studied in the text or lesson notes. We also do not require any statements that "This was covered in the earlier lectures, so if you have any questions, go back and listen to those". Nor do we require any particulars about the lecturer's favourite hockey teams, which details I am almost certain will not be examinable.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, we do not require a point by point on the lecturer's position. "I am sitting". "Now, I think I shall stand and walk about". "I am suddenly tired, so I think I should sit once more, if that's okay with all of you". With all due respect, it is an audio lecture. I cannot see the lecturer, nor do I care to. His movements do not interest me. I only care about what he says. In all honesty, he could be recording his lecture as he sits on the crapper, and I would still get every bit as much out of it. (But please, dear lecturer, do not actually say "Now, I am sitting on the crapper". This detail is totally unnecessary.)

Perhaps next time you record an Exam Preparation Audio Lecture for your class, you could take some of these tips to heart and provide students with something vaguely usable. 'Cause that would be sweet.

And now, I must return to studying and/or sleeping and/or caring for young children and/or ... I guess I could have titled this post "But there never seems to be enough time", but that just wasn't as cool.

And just to wrap things up on a pleasant note: I hope all my American bloggy friends had a wonderful Thanksgiving today. 'Cause you are all awesome and deserve much happiness and many pleasant days. All the best!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A petri dish of principle

So I'm trying to study for my exam, which is in a week. And, I don't know if I've mentioned this before, but all of the materials for this course changed for the 2008-09 school year. Dramatically changed. So that all the past exams from 2001 to 2008 ... yeah, none of them totally apply. Bits and pieces are usable, but for the most part they're not particularly helpful. So I'm studying them anyway, just for form and also to make sure I know the stuff that's still applicable, precious little of it that there is.

Also? There's an online course review that's supposed to be updated to the current term's materials. But it seems that someone just slapped "2008-09" on the top of last year's review and didn't touch anything else. Which is totally brilliant, and I hope they were paid well for this sheer genius.

Oh! And there are multiple choice questions that are meant to simulate the kind of multiple choice section we might see on our exam. Except that they aren't properly cross-referenced, no new material is included, one module is missing in its entirety, and much of the stuff we didn't study is still included.

But hey. It's a new course. And there are bound to be some growing pains. We're all trying to work through it and hoping for the best.

So anyway, I'm running one of the past exams from 2001, and I see an ethics question on the difference between in vivo and in vitro ethical principles. And I'm all "in vitro ethics?", and I wonder how exactly that would work. And also, what it is, since it's not in our current course materials but in my mind "in vitro" totally means something not remotely affiliated with accounting, except for the fact that it's really expensive. So then I start wondering how they can tell the girl ethics from the boy ethics, how they combine them together, where they implant, what the success rate is and, perhaps most importantly, what is this going to cost me this time? Because the Clomid was expensive enough. And also, I don't want to pay any more for this class, which was totally overpriced. And that's when I flashed back to that time in my earlier management accounting course where we were learning about ways to improve the CM ratio and I couldn't stop thinking about Robitussin cough syrup and how that totally works, but also has nothing to do with accounting, so I really don't know why we were studying it. I wish I knew why my management accounting courses always seem to reference stuff like this, 'cause I think that's awesome.

Suffice it to say, I am over-tired just now. And really ticked off at my course and its outdated resources. Also, I still have no clue what in vitro or in vivo ethics actually are or how to tell them apart, nor do I know why I should care.

Monday, November 24, 2008

You say it's your b-day? HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU!

J hates birthdays.

Specifically, J hates his own birthday.

It's not the other children, nor the presents, nor the bright colours that J loathes so. And while he doesn't generally enjoy cake, he is not morally opposed to it and certainly does not object to it being eaten by others in his presence. Decorations and gift bags are lovely things for which J has an appreciation. But nonetheless, J hates birthdays.

J's agitation revolves around the birthday song. Well, not exactly the birthday song, specifically. In fact, J quite enjoys the birthday song and sings it with great gusto for much of the year. (Whether it's someone's birthday or not. Complete with the presentation of pretend birthday cakes that he's made from scratch, of blocks, socks, and anything else at hand.) It is only when said song is sung directly at him that he appears to take great offence. At that moment, he loses it. Tears and screaming abound. Don't believe me? See for yourself.

It has been this way for the past three years, and we are starting to get used to it. We wish it weren't so. We trust it will change some day. Some day, a group of happy smiling people singing "Happy Birthday" will not make J scream as though he were being tortured in a prison camp. Some day, J will no doubt enjoy the singing. But for the moment, we can only conclude that "Happy Birthday" was written by Satan himself specifically to torture our son (and therefore indirectly our entire family and all of our friends).

Yes indeed. J hates it when people sing "Happy Birthday" to him. So much so, in fact, that J has taken to reminding us that no one can sing "Happy Birthday" to him on his birthday. His reminders start earlier and earlier each year. Next year's reminder began today. With more than four months to go until J's birthday, he reminded me that no one may sing "Happy Birthday" to him on his birthday.

This did not go over well. Partly because I am every bit as stubborn as is my son. But mostly because it's fun to bug him, and I just can't seem to help myself. I'm hard up for entertainment right now, so this makes me happy.


J: No one can sing "Happy Birthday" to me when it's my birthday!
T: Yes, they can.
T: Too bad. We will all sing.
T: People sing on birthdays. Get used to it.
J: I don't like that!
T: Tough. People will come by. And they'll all sing. Just to bug you.
T: Yes.
T: Sucks to be you, then. They're going to do it anyway.
J: NOOOO!!!!
T: Yes. Loud. And off key.
J: They can't sing to me!
T: What was that?
J: No! Singing!
T: What? Extra singing?
T: Oh. Okay. Extra singing. You've got it.

Eventually, I got bored with this conversation. Sadly, J did not.

J: I won't let anybody sing "Happy Birthday" to me!
T: Well, then maybe they'll all just take your presents back to the store because you're rude.

J mulled this over for a moment, and then announced triumphantly:

J: But Santa Claus brings me presents!

(Ha! Showed you, you stupid woman. Santa can't take my presents back to the store. Because he makes them himself!!)

T: Santa Claus only brings you presents at Christmastime. Other people bring you presents for your birthday. Other people who like to sing "Happy Birthday" to you, and who don't like being yelled at for it, give you presents. If you're nice.

(Ha ha! Take that!)

J contemplated this unfortunate new development for a few moments.

J: (heavy sigh) Alright then. I'll let them sing to me.

My son, ladies and gentlemen. We've taught him well. "Do whatever you've got to do to get free stuff", we said. "Sell out. Sell like you've never sold before!" That's our family motto. Good thing J's picked up on it. We're so proud.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Ooh baby, it's freakishly cold outside

So, I came up with this awesome flowchart to remember eleven of the different variance analysis formulas I may need for my exam. It's complex and detailed, but it works like a charm. Easy to remember, it can be reproduced with pen and paper in under a minute. I posted it in the course forum for all of my classmates. The course director reviewed it and wrote me to say "This is amazing!", and so I feel all smart. I am flattered. But not so flattered as to do something stupid like reproduce a management accounting variance analysis flowchart here. Because it's ridiculously dull, and no one wants to see that.

Instead, I present random cuteness from our "winter attire" catalogue.

Baby N is wearing a fleecy that will soon not be warm enough, given our cold northern climes. But for now, he is all warm and fuzzy. And quite adorable, if you'll take J's word for it. J says "Awww. He's soooo cute. Is he a sheepy?" And then he taunts N by making "baa baa" noises at him. For about an hour. Then the novelty wore off. (Thank God!)

J sports the coolest winter coat I have ever seen. We found it a couple of years ago; a brand new item buried in a clearance rack, sporting a sweet $3 price tag. Obviously, we nabbed it knowing he'd grow into it eventually. The eyes on the hood double as reflectors for nighttime safety. And it has a detachable black cape on the back, for extra Batman authenticity. (But why a person would detach it, I can't imagine. 'Cause I think it's awesome!) J's hands are a bit blurred in the picture. He was excited about being a bat here, and he was flapping his "wings" excitedly.

So, how about you? Is your family all outfitted for winter? Is your weather already freakishly cold? Do you enjoy snow and winter sports in general? Or do you wish we could just skip those eight months in their entirety? (Yes. I said "eight months". It's terribly cold up here.)

Friday, November 21, 2008

Fine young cannibals

Yes, I'm aware of what time it is. I'm on a study break. Surfing around the Internets to pass some time 'til my mind clears.

I love you, always forever
Near and far, closer together
Everywhere, I will be with you
Everything, I will do for you

Yes, I said I'm on a study break. Yes. I'm aware of what time it is. What's your point?

I love you, always forever
Near and far, closer together
Everywhere, I will be with you
Everything, I will do for you

Okay. So I've got a friggin' Donna Lewis song stuck in my head. And it's running on repeat. It's annoying enough the first time. But after several hours of it, you start praying for the sweet release of death.

I love you, always forever
Near and far, closer together
Everywhere, I will be with you
Everything, I will do for you

What's especially bad is that I don't know the whole song. Just the chorus. I keep hearing the chorus. Over. And. Over. I can't seem to reach the stop button in my brain.

And I don't even like the song!

I love you, always forever
Near and far, closer together
Everywhere, I will be with you
Everything, I will do for you

It was playing on a TV program earlier today. Just a bit of background noise. And this is how it came to be in my head. I am apparently powerless to remove it.

I love you, always forever
Near and far, closer together
Everywhere, I will be with you
Everything, I will do for you

I thought I might be able to exorcise my demons, if I could just play the entire song from beginning to end. When it finished, the automatic repeat in my head would end. This sometimes works. But I don't know the entire song. Foiled again!

I love you, always forever
Near and far, closer together
Everywhere, I will be with you
Everything, I will do for you

Fortunately, Google allows me to search for lyrics.
Unfortunately, a number of sites contain misheard lyrics.
Fortunately, those can be highly entertaining.

I love you, always forever
Near and far, closer together
Everywhere, I will be with you
Everyday, I will devour you

Unfortunately, the song is still stuck in my head.

Fortunately, now that it's sung by a crazed cannibalistic lover instead of a whiny love-struck sap, I don't mind it quite so much.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Writer's Workshop: Memories

So, Mama Kat over at Mama's Losin' It wants us to post about memories. Specifically, "I remember when ..." is one of her weekly writing prompts. And we all have memories. So this should be easy. Right? Right? Yeah ...

Try as I might, I must admit that I've got nothing this week. I tried to think of something to write about. And I know that when you're having writer's block, other people can provide inspiration. And my advanced management accounting textbook just isn't inspiring any great writing moments for me today. (I don't know why.) So I wandered around and visited some of my best bloggy friends to try and find some inspiration.

I checked out Steenky Bee, of course, as she is all kinds of awesomesauce and I was sure she could help me out. But I was dismayed to learn that she's gone today. Fortunately, she was located in the vicinity of her neighbour's kitchen, taking a meeting with Clark Kent. But she couldn't talk, as she was busily belly crawling back to her home at the time.

The Bloggess is also busy today, dealing with her Pringles cravings and trying to save the world's kittens. This is an admirable goal, because everybody loves kittens. Even God. No matter what that email implied.

(Look! A bunny!)

Okay then. How about Heinous? Heinous always has something good to say ... but not today, apparently, as he is having some writer's block issues of his own this morning and can't think up witty comments. WTF, Heinous?!?! (Thanks for the shout-out, btw. You're awesome!)

This isn't working out so well.

The Stiletto Mom had some promising things to tell me about memories. But then she went off into some kind of strange tangent about monkeys. Now personally, I have nothing against monkeys. But I have no monkeys in my past. No memories of monkeys at all. And I couldn't come up with anything, monkey-related or otherwise, to write about. (In hindsight, I wonder if she got confused when I asked about "memories" and thought I said "monkeys". That makes sense. Miscommunications like that are the reason for much of the world's strife, I am certain.)

Okay. Nothing. I've got nothing.

Fortunately, Captain Dumbass posted yesterday about a great memory of his. He says he remembers that the trailer for "The Shining" scared the hell out of him when he was a kid. Well, that I can certainly relate to. I remember the first time I saw it, too. Totally freaky. And if you check it out, I'm sure you'll find it very, very scary too.

Can't find it? Well, thanks to the wonders of YouTube, I can help you out with that. Here it is!

See? Terrifying!

Okay. That's as much of a study break as I can afford just now. Must get back to the riveting details that are advanced management accounting. Jealous?

How about this: I remember when I could memorize an entire textbook word for word without too much trouble. Today? Yeah ... not so much.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Spin Cycle: My favourite things

I'm feeling a little bit more positive today. (This is no doubt due in part to my discovery that eleven of the seventeen formulas I have to learn for Module 2 are interconnected. As long as I can remember the web that connects them to each other, I should be okay with them. Now to learn everything else. The "Exam Formulas" link over on the right? Don't click it. It's seriously just exam formulas I still need to learn. It will bore you. Enough about the exam for now. It will be okay. I think.)

Today, I learned that the knee has healed up enough to be able to withstand physio. So that's fantastic news, as it means things are improving.

Also today, N turned six months old. He eats like a little piggy, in direct contrast to his older brother, and is getting quite plump. Granny calls him her little butterball. A six-month-birthday post will be written when I have more energy.

The kids got up early today. The doctor's office was a long wait. There was considerable studying today. And now, I am tired. And lazy. And it seemed like a good time to just give up and go for the archives. How convenient that Sprite's Keeper has asked us to revive our old favourite posts for this week's Spin Cycle!

(I love her!)

I don't have much to grab, to be frank. Until late August this year, this was one of those private unsearchable blogs for a few family and friends, and so older posts were not written with due care and attention, and are totally not suitable for re-posting. What to do ... what to do ...

It is my understanding that American Thanksgiving is coming up soon. In celebration, I give you my post from Canadian Thanksgiving. Which was over a month ago. Because we're awesome like that up here, and we don't believe in waiting a month when turkey can be eaten right now. Seriously. What's wrong with you people?

Oh, whatever. Just ... Here ya go!


Now it's turkish delight on a moonlit night

Today is Canadian Thanksgiving. In our household, it goes something like this.


H: J, put your shoes on please.
J: I got the green!
T: J, can you please move that toy?
J: I wanna take this hammer!
H: Fine. But put your shoes on please.
T: J, I really need you to move this.
H: Please do what your mother tells you.
J: I got that green, too!
T: Come on! I need to pee!
H: Why did you take your pants off, J?
J: I ... um ... can't remember.
T: I can't get around that toy, J. It's too big.
J: N's crying.
T: J! Will you please move that toy!
H: J! Pants! On!
T: Honey, you're confusing him.
J: I wanna take this saw too!
H: N, please stop.
J: I want chocolate!
H: No, J. We're going to have dinner.
T: Pants! Toy! Now!
J: But I want chocolate!
T: Please? Please move the toy?
H: No chocolate! Listen!!
T: (Singing to N) Rock-a-bye, baby ...
H: J, put your pants back on.
J: Why?
H: Because I asked you to!
T: ... when the wind blows ...
J: But I want ... um ...
H: I am tired of you saying "I want"!
T: ... the cradle will fall ...
J: But Daaaaadddddyyyyy!
J: I want ...
H: Stop saying that!
T: Please stop crying, N? *sob*
J: Whyyyy??
T: H, can you move the toy?
H: J! Move that toy!!
T: J? Please?
H: Why won't you listen, J?
J: I wanna watch "The Incredibles"!
H: N, please stop crying!
T: What?! No! We are not watching a movie!
J: But Mooooommmmyyyy!
T: I said no!
H: J! Put your pants on!
J: Umm ... I ... I wanna ... umm ...
T: Enough! I need to pee! Move the toy!!
J: I give you the toy!
H: Good, J. Now please, put your pants back on.
T: Thank you, J.
J: You're welcome, Momma.
H: N! Please?!
J: Can we watch "The Incredibles"?
H: No, J. It's time to go!
T: How are you doing, honey?
H: Just great! J?! Now!!
J: But I'm just spinning!
T: I'll be right there!
T: Okay. Can we go?
H: J! Pants!
J: Um ... oh! Okay!
H: Thank you, J.
T: Okay. Now can you put your shoes on?
J: I want my boots!
T: No. You need to wear shoes.
J: But I want my boots!
H: No, J! Shoes! Put them on!!
T: ...
H: ...


Today, I am thankful that H didn't just drive off the embankment on the way to his brother's house for Thanksgiving. Thanks, Hon!

And Happy Turkey Day!!


So yeah. That was the post. Heartfelt family moments. Still makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

Now go visit Sprite's Keeper and put your spin on it!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

I can't. I can't. I can't stand ... this

I can't do it.

I can't handle two kids, a birth mom with cancer, two parents with dementia, a child with an eating disorder, a broken knee that still hurts like the devil, vehicle repairs, money concerns, and school. I can't pass this class. I can't memorize the 15 formulas that relate to Module 2, plus all the formulas in the remaining 9 modules, plus all the theory. I can't catch up on all the reading that I skipped over entirely or skimmed over casually when life was so crazy that I just ran out of time. I can't prepare for the exam with the resources that have been provided, given that half the course is new material with inadequate practice resources.

I especially can't do it in two weeks, which is the time that remains until the exam date.

I can't. I can't do it.

I should probably mention that I always panic two weeks before every exam, and it always turns out okay. I don't think it will, but it does. But right now, I feel very ill-equipped, and I don't know if that will change before the exam date. I feel stupid and poorly prepared and stressed and miserable. And I think I should probably just drop out of school. But I can't do that either.

Updated to add: You know what would really help me out right now? That's right. An ear infection. That, and the baby's swing battery dying. Again. HAHA!!

Monday, November 17, 2008

A raccoon by any other name would still not speak

Some of you may be aware that our 3-year old has an eating problem. In that he doesn't eat. Anything. At all. Every time he agrees to put food in his mouth, we count a victory. We have found a few things that J likes to eat, but even then there's always a fight about food.

We have been to specialists. We have found nothing that works. Our 3-year old is about the size of a typical 2-year old. At three-and-a-half, he weighs only 26 pounds. Every meal takes three times longer than it should. It's a constant struggle.

Do you want to know what a typical mealtime in our household is like? It goes something like this:


T: J, what do you want for lunch?
J: Eggs.
T: Okay. You want eggs?
J: Yes, please.

(Because the little tyrant is nothing if not polite.)

T: Okay. Let's go make eggs.
J: I want the sunny brown ones.

("Sunny" means "light", I have learned.)

T: Okay. We'll use the sunny brown ones.
J: Can I watch you?
T: Yes, you may watch me crack the eggs.

(J pushes his stool over to the stove to watch me crack eggs into the frying pan.)

T: Okay. Here we go.
J: I want that egg.
T: We're going to use that egg.
J: And that one.
T: Okay.
T: No, J. I will crack the eggs.

(I crack the eggs into the pan. Two eggs for J.)

T: I'm going to turn the burner on now, J. You need to move your stool.
J: Oh. Okay!

(J puts his stool back at the counter.)

J: It's not right!
T: What?
J: My stool! It's not right!
T: Oh. You mean it's not straight?
J: It's not right!!
T: Okay.

(I straighten the stool, which was very slightly crooked. But apparently, if it's not 100% straight, it is completely unsatisfactory. J is appeased. I then turn the burner on.)

J: Are the eggs cooking?
T: Yes.

(N awakes and starts to cry. But I am powerless to do anything, as the eggs are cooking and require constant stirring in order to scramble to J's satisfaction.)

J: N's crying.
T: Yes, I know. I'll deal with him after your eggs are done.
J: I'll help!
T: No. You need to eat. I'll handle it.
J: But I wanna help you.
T: You need to eat, or the cat will get your eggs. I'll be quick.
J: Okay.

(The eggs are cooked and J's portion is put on his plate. I go to get N, who is now shrieking at top volume, and I instruct J to stay at the table and eat. But J gets off his chair and comes after me anyway.)

T: J, you need to sit at the table and eat.
J: I just need to get my red dice.
T: No toys at the table, J.
J: But ... um ...
T: Go back to the table and eat before the cat gets your eggs.
J: Oh! Okay!

(Runs back to the table and climbs in his chair. I finish changing N and return to the kitchen. I dish out my now cold eggs and sit down to eat. And as I do so, I notice that J's plate is untouched.)

T: J, why aren't you eating?
J: My eggs are too hot.

(I check the eggs, which are only mildly warm at this point.)

T: They aren't too hot, J. Please eat them.
J: No. They're too hot.
T: J! Eat your eggs!

(J takes a bite. I finish my eggs. Then go to get baby N to give him some cereal and formula. I return to the kitchen to find J banging his fork on the back of his chair, with a full plate of eggs in front of him.)

J: This fork is a bell.
T: No it's not. Now eat.

(J throws his fork on the floor. I wash it and give it back to him.)

T: Now eat.

(J returns to banging his fork on the back of his chair.)

J: This fork is a bell.
T: J! Stop playing and eat!

(The eggs are ice cold by now. J holds up a contraband red Lego for me to see.)

J: This is a dice.
T: You're not supposed to have toys at the table, J.

(I take the Lego away. J starts playing with his eggs, dragging his fork across the plate and spraying them over the counter. I put the eggs back on his plate.)

T: Don't play with your food.
J: But raccoons play with their food.
T: But you're not a raccoon.
J: Yes I am.
T: No, you're not.
J: Yes I am!
T: Fine. You are. But you know something?
J: What?
T: Raccoons don't talk!
J: Yes they do.
T: No, they don't.
J: Yes they do!
T: No. They don't. Raccoons don't talk. They don't talk at all. Raccoons don't do much of anything. They just sit quietly at the kitchen table and eat their eggs!!

(J mulls this over for a moment.)

J: I'm a talking raccoon!
T: There's no such thing.
J: Yes there is! I'm a talking raccoon!
T: No, you're not. Because raccoons don't talk.
J: But I'm a talking raccoon!
T: J! Eat your lunch!

(By this time, I have finished my lunch and N has eaten his bowl of cereal and is now eagerly drinking his formula.)

J: Feed me!
T: I'm not going to feed you. You're a big boy. You can feed yourself.
J: Feed me!
T: No! I'm not going to do it!
J: Feed me!
T: Feed yourself.
J: I can't do it.
T: Yes, you can.
J: I can't get these eggs!

(I balance N's head on my arm and hold the bottle with the same hand. I scoop eggs onto J's fork with my free hand, and instruct him to put the eggs into his mouth. Instead, J pours the eggs over the counter and onto his chair. I scoop them back up and put them on his fork, insisting that he eat them. And the rest of lunch goes like that. I scoop the eggs up, J pours them on the chair, I put them back on the fork, J puts them in his mouth. Finally, he finishes.)

T: Good work, J.
J: Thank you, Momma.

(I put N back in his swing, and go back into the kitchen to give J a glass of milk. I find J lying on his back on the floor behind his chair.)

T: Do you want the yellow glass? Or the blue?
J: Green!
T: Yellow? Or blue?
J: Spiderman!
T: Yellow? Or blue?
J: Purple!
T: Blue it is!
J: NO! NO! NO!
T: Yes. Blue it is.

(I pour milk into J's glass. J continues to lie on his back on the floor behind his chair.)

J: I can't get up.
T: Yes you can. Now get up.
J: No. Pick me up!
T: No. You can get up.
J: No, I can't! Lift me up!
T: Get up, or I'm putting your milk back.
J: Lift me up!
T: Fine. Have it your way.

(I start to pour the milk back into the carton. J flips out, stands up in a hurry and climbs up onto his chair. I give him the glass of milk.)

J: I couldn't get up.
T: Yes, you could.
J: No I couldn't.
T: You just did.

(There is a slight pause as J contemplates this.)

J: You're not being very nice to me.


The kids are asleep. I need to study now. Exam December 3. I am not prepared.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Master of the house

Once upon a time, there was a kingdom. In the kingdom lived a happy king and a happy queen. King H and Queen T could do whatever they wished. They had lots of money, slept late on weekends, and could watch any television programs that they chose. And there was much rejoicing throughout the land.

One day, a brave knight named Sir J arrived at the kingdom and there was much rejoicing. But Sir J screamed and cried and needed much care. And as he grew, he became a total crankypants. He took some of the money. And some of the sleep. And most of the television programming became much more cartoonish. King H and Queen T were happy to have Sir J in their kingdom, but they were also very tired, a fact that made them cross much more frequently. But King H and Queen T and Sir J all learned to live together, for the most part in peace and harmony, and life was mostly good.

A few years passed, and a baby named N arrived at the kingdom and there was much rejoicing. N was a good baby. A sweet baby. He loved to eat and sleep and be played with, and he rewarded all of his minions with many smiles and giggles. And though he too took some of the money and some of the sleep, the kingdom continued to function well. Everybody loved N, as he was very cute and very chubby and very happy. Sir J loved N very deeply, and sang to him, and offered him many toys. And despite the poverty, exhaustion, and cartoonish television programming, the kingdom was essentially a happy place.

And then N started to cut teeth. And he developed a loud and high pitched shriek, the likes of which has never been heard. And upon seeing how everyone raced to his aid when he made that noise, N decided to use it for everything. And the kingdom became a much louder place. King H and Queen T were very tired and cross. Even Sir J became frustrated with his beloved N. And while he continued to sing songs to N, they were delivered in loud staccato tones. Finally, having reached the conclusion that all babies cry all of the time, Sir J began to search for a solution.


After a particularly bad night with resultant morning drama, this conversation was heard in the kingdom:

H: I didn't order a baby that cries all the time. It must have been you.
T: I didn't do it either. Maybe we could trade him in for another baby.
H: (incredulously) Another baby?
T: Or, you know, something else. Like maybe a fish tank.
H: Or magic beans.
J: Or a play-doh barber shop?


And this is how Sir J became the owner of a brand new play-doh barber shop. You can't judge us. You weren't there.

Friday, November 14, 2008

The Spin Cycle: Relax? I don't do it

I'm late. I'm late.
For a very important (Spin Cycle) date.
No time to say "Hello"
I'm late. I'm late. I'm late.


Sprite's Keeper asks "How do you relax"? That's a good question!

Life here tends to get mighty busy. Even right now, while I'm on maternity leave. I'm a mom of two and a full-time student. Ordinarily, I also work outside of the home. Add in the household chores and you'll see I'm not left with many extra hours in the day. I rarely get enough sleep. Sometimes, I forget to eat. In my spare time, I wish for spare time.

Relaxing tends to take the form of study breaks. And as luck would have it, I study at my computer. So how do I relax? By reading all of your blogs, of course! I love them!!


Okay. Got to go. The kids are asleep, and I've got an exam in a few short weeks. Must study now.


And ...

I'm late. I'm late.
For a very important (study) date.
No time to say "Hello"
I'm late. I'm late. I'm late.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Angel of the morning? HA!

J awoke out of sorts. I mean, really out of sorts. He cried. I mean, really cried.

J: I want my hearts!
H: What hearts?
J: The red ones!
H: What red ones?
J: The hearts I had in bed!
H: Hearts you had in bed?
J: My hearts! I want my hearts!

This continued for quite some time. J has many toys that he loves. Some he takes to bed with him. His favourite toys are round and egg-shaped. He has a preference for green items, though he is starting to really like red too. But he has no heart-shaped toys, and we had no idea to what he referred.

H: Where did you get them?
J: From the litter box!
H: J, you're not allowed near the litter box.
J: No. I didn't touch the pee or poop.
H: There are no hearts in the litter box.
J: Yes there are!

H tried in vain to placate J, who continued to shriek about his missing hearts.

H: What do they look like, J?
J: They're red hearts!
H: How many hearts were there?
J: Two! A big one and a little one!
H: How big are they?
J: One's big! And one's little!
H: What are they made of?
J: My hearts! My hearts! I WANT MY HEARTS!!

H searched for J's hearts. Hunting high and low. He even went out into our front yard and rooted around in J's sand table in search of the missing hearts. In the freezing cold. In his pajamas. At one point, he thought he'd found a red heart-shaped toy out there. But the sobbing J insisted that it was not the right one and just screamed louder.

J: My hearts! My hearts!
H: Are they squishy, like gummy candies?
J: No! They're ... they're ...
H: What are they made of, J?
J: They're made of wood!

And through the entire search process, I lay still, nursing N back into a peaceful slumber, and periodically stating what I thought was the very obvious. That the hearts do not actually exist. That J had a vivid dream which he now believes to be real. That we cannot magically bring toys out of J's dream world and into this one. Of this, I am quite certain. And so, I stupidly attempted to reason with my 3-year old while H unwittingly validated his preposterous claims. I reasoned thusly:

You're not allowed near the litter box.

And if you were allowed near the litter box, you certainly would not be permitted to sift through it.

And if you did sift through it, you would not find little red wooden hearts in the dirty cat litter.

And if you did find little red wooden hearts in there, Mommy and Daddy would have thrown them out, because they would be icky and disgusting.

And if Mommy and Daddy had actually lost their minds enough to allow you to keep the little red wooden hearts that you had found in the dirty cat litter, they still wouldn't have let you sleep with them, because we do not sleep with hard wooden toys!

All perfectly logical, I thought. But an over-tired tantrum-throwing 3-year old is not perfectly logical, nor even remotely logical, and he could not be made to believe that his beloved little red wooden hearts existed only in his subconscious. Obviously, the hearts are real. Obviously, H is just not looking hard enough. Obviously, we are horrid, cruel parents who intentionally steal and hide our 3-year old's toys just to make him cry. We laugh about it later, while we sit together and play with the toys as he cries himself to sleep. What parent doesn't do this? You've done it. We all have. You know it's true.

Eventually, H had to admit that I was probably right. The hearts were fictitious. The morning activities resumed, around the shrieking J.

J: My hearts! My hearts!
H: Do you want to go potty?
J: No! No potty! My hearts! I want my hearts!
H: There are no hearts. Now go potty.

J refused to go potty. Refused to get dressed. Refused to stop screaming. And eventually, ran over to me, grabbed baby N in a death grip, and sang a new song. If you consider his high-pitched shrieks of rage to be "singing". Which I do not.

J: I want my baby!
T: You have your baby. He's right here.
J: My baby! My baby!!
H: J, you're holding the baby.

Eventually J, clothed and nearly in his right mind, was escorted off to preschool. He had refused to go potty before leaving the house, insisting "I want to hold my pee pee in my penis for preschool". What an odd request!

And so he left, wearing a pull-up, just in case he had an accident on the way to school. Which he didn't. But once inside and at the potty, he did overshoot the toilet and get pee on the floor, on the underwear he was about to be changed into and, perhaps worst of all ... on Panda, his faithful companion who he can obviously no longer have for today's naptime. That oughta be fun for someone to deal with.

But not me!

I love spending time with my son. But today, I am relieved that his teachers get to handle him. 'Cause ... damn!

I thought I saw you

I thought I saw you the other day,
But I really wasn't sure.
A shadow in among the fray.
Passed by me in a blur.

I thought I saw you the other day.
I didn't know what to feel.
A billion shades of dappled grey,
As many ways to heal.

I thought I saw you the other day.
I guess you're doing fine,
'Cause most things just work out okay
If only in my mind.

I thought I saw you the other day.
Thought maybe I should speak,
But I didn't know what I should say.
Tired. Feeling weak.

I thought I saw you the other day.
A chance for me to grow.
But I turned and walked the other way
Preferring not to know.


The above poem is apropos of nothing. It was inspired by Mama Kat over at Mama's Losin' It, whose writer's workshop for the week included a prompt to begin a post with the words "I thought I saw". So there ya go!

Head on over. Check out the writer's workshop prompts for the week. Read the many posts. Write one of your own and link up. Come on. You know you want to. It's fun.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


I hate getting my hair cut. I consider it to be a necessary evil. One that should be put off as long as possible. The result of this is that I often have long shapeless hair that desperately needs some style. When it starts to drive me crazy, I get it cut. Usually, I get it cut into a jaw length bob. That works well for me. It looks good. It looks professional. It suits my hair type and my face shape. And since it's an easy cut, I can just go to the cheapest place to get it done.

Last time I got my hair cut, I asked for the usual jaw length bob. But I apparently managed to get the only hairdresser in town who couldn't handle that. And I ended up with this crazed uneven quasi-bob falling past shoulder length. Longer in some parts, shorter in others. It looked completely ridiculous. So for the past six or so months, I've been wearing a lot of pony tails to hide the differing lengths.

Whatever. It's just hair.

In my usual zen manner, I recently decided that it was time for another haircut. And not being one to learn from my mistakes, I went to the same place. You get different hairdressers each time, so the lady with the pinking shears and anatomy issues (is that your jaw, or your shoulder?) would likely not be there. And she wasn't.

I thought I'd go for a slightly different cut this time. I've worn the cut in question before. And I liked it. And I know it's an easy cut. It's basically a rounded shoulder-length bob with a slight whispy bang and a few longer layers by the face for added shape. Pretty.

I went in armed. I had pictures of the cut. Four different pictures, in fact, showing the same cut from different angles. I showed the pictures to the butcher stylist. I showed her all four pictures. She agreed that it was a simple cut. And she went to work.

I left a few minutes later with a cut that is completely unlike that in the pictures. It's cute. And it's professional. But it's much shorter, heavily layered, with a fuller bang. It bears absolutely no resemblance to the pictures that I showed her. None. Zero.

But at least it's cut. And it's a cute cut. And it's not crazily uneven. So that's something. And ordinarily I might think it was an improvement over what I had before. But I don't.

Why don't I?

Because I have just noticed that the cut I am now sporting ... the cut I did not request and which will take months to grow back out so that it can be fixed (at a different facility, thank you, because I have now learned my lesson) ... the short sassy cute cut that is not what I wanted ... is virtually identical to the cut currently worn by my friend Liz. Who has roughly the same hair colour. Awesome.

Liz doesn't like her cut much either. But that is not what disturbs me. No. What disturbs me is that Liz and I are close friends. We actually hang out. And when we hang out, other people actually see us. And I don't want to look like the freakin' Bobsy Twins!

Here's another issue. Because Liz and I are close friends with similar interests, people have gotten confused in the past. If one of us expresses an opinion, it is assumed that the other will share that opinion. (Now, oftentimes that does happen, but it's not written in stone or anything!) As a result, occasionally Liz or I have found it necessary to gently explain that we are not actually the same person. I'm sure that's obvious, but human nature is such that sometimes people just need to be reminded. A quick word seems to do the trick. Problem solved.

But I just can't help but feel that having the same blasted haircut will only reinforce public opinion that we are interchangeable, when we are not!! And it really pisses me off!!

Ah, son-of-a ...

Sunday, November 09, 2008

J, he's got a ...

Today, J wanted breakfast for supper. Oatmeal. Oatmeal with dinosaur eggs. Dry oatmeal with dinosaur eggs. And nothing else would do.

Would you like an egg, J?
No. Oatmeal with dinosaur eggs.
Oatmeal isn't really a supper food. Hamburger soup?
No. Oatmeal with dinosaur eggs.
But you need protein.
No. Oatmeal with dinosaur eggs.

Oatmeal. With dinosaur eggs.

Okay. Maybe he's on a carbs kick. I can get behind that. But oatmeal? For dinner? It just ain't right!

As we continued to suggest alternatives, J sat down and played with his Leggos, all the while insisting on breakfast for supper. And not just any breakfast, either. No. It must be oatmeal. Oatmeal with dinosaur eggs. Dry. And immediate.

How about pancakes?

Oatmeal. Oatmeal with dinosaur eggs.

Oatmeal with dinosaur eggs served by Mommy, because there are lots of dinosaur eggs when Mommy does it, and there aren't lots when Daddy does it, even though J's oatmeal with dinosaur eggs comes out of a package, and the exact same number of eggs are in each package. You can't reason with a 3-year old. And as he played with his Leggos, his insistence grew, and I began to feel alarmed. And a little intimidated, too.

Yes, that is a gun. Complete with hammer. And it appears to be cocked. *

Okay, fine. So we gave in. Because we're lousy crisis negotiators. Besides, he looked kind of scary and it just wasn't worth a hail of gunfire. But his list of demands kept growing, and eventually he was sitting there screaming: "Feed me, or the Panda gets it!"

Well, what would you have done?

Send help.

* Okay. Granted, J insists that it is a nail gun. But I've never seen a nail gun that looks like that. I'm still not quite sure how J figured out how to make this eerily realistic looking Leggo weapon. We do not have gun-type toys in this house, and I had no idea J had ever even seen one.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

The Spin Cycle: No more kings?!

So, lately I've been stalking reading the blog of the lovely and talented Sprite's Keeper. And I must say, I quite enjoy it. She organizes a weekly Spin Cycle wherein her minions agree to post on a particular topic. So this week, I thought I'd join in. The theme is voting and elections. And who can't get behind that, right?


We in the Great White North had a federal election just recently. My vote actually counted for absolutely nothing, but I'm kind of getting used to that. The point is that we exercised our right, headed to the polls, and voted, just as we are supposed to. We took H's mom with us. She lives right nearby, so this should be easy. It's just voting, after all. Shouldn't take long.

H's mom is a bit disorganized these days. She misplaces things. Keys. Phone numbers. Her voter card. That sort of thing. Happens. I'm starting to relate to her more and more, actually.

Anyway ...

The plan was that H would first pick J up from school, then pick up Mom, and then take her to vote. When she was done, he would drop her off, stop off at home to pick up me and N, and then we would return to the polls and take turns, one sitting in the van with the kids while the other voted.

As complicated as it sounds, there was a good reason for the multiple trips. H's mom has certain physical limitations, doesn't drive, and certainly can't weedle into the very back of the van and, with my broken knee still being a huge issue (I know: whine, whine, whine), neither could I. I also couldn't drive yet because of the aforesaid whining broken knee. And with two children in carseats and three adults in tow, one adult always has to sit in the very back of the van. You see? So we had to coordinate this whole ordeal in two trips. And this seemed to be the best option. Mom only lives a couple of minutes away, and the poll is right in the middle between our two homes. Easy peasy. Right? Right!

All went according to plan until H picked up Mom and discovered she had misplaced her voter card. Undaunted, H took Mom to the polls and learned that, since she didn't know her riding (which was written on the card), she would have to wait in two line-ups: the first to obtain her riding, and the second to vote. Apparently, a lot of people head to the polls without the card. (Who knew?) The first was a long and slow moving line.

It was doubtful that H and I would both get to vote if he waited for her. So H decided to leave Mom in the first of her two line-ups while he returned home to pick me up. We live minutes from the poll. We'd work this all out.

We returned to the polling station. We would be quick, as we both had our voter cards and the lines for those who knew their riding were quite short. H parked as close to the doors as possible. I waited in the van with the kids while H went to vote. And when H returned, Mom was walking beside him. She was miffed, and I heard her crossly expressing herself and H's response of: "Well, it's not my fault!"

This was when we learned that our area of town actually has two polling stations. Having no idea that this would be the case, and without the appropriate voter card at hand, we couldn't possibly have realized that Mom was expected to vote at the other one. So H left me to vote while he drove Mom to the other station, waited for her to vote, and then took her home after. He then returned to our polling station to pick me up. Meanwhile, I voted and then sat on a bench to wait for him. (People were oddly reluctant to get up and let the woman with the crutches sit on that bench, but I guess that's a story for another time.)

All told, the outing actually took hours.

And after reading this ordeal, you can no doubt understand my frustration that my guy didn't get in. 'Cause after all of that, my vote should have counted for something. Right? Right!


Really, we had some pretty slim pickings in this last election. But I have learned my lesson. Next time, I will make my vote count. I will pick the best candidate available. Even if he is not officially on the ballot. I will campaign with might and main, and ultimately, I will vote Captain Dumbass for PM!

Actually, no. Make that Captain Dumbass for King! 'Cause we really should have a King, don't you think?

I think he'll get in.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Pearl jam

By highschool, my life had changed substantially. Fewer bullies. Better coping skills. And though it was still possible, it took a lot more to make me run away. New environment. New people. I was a better fit.

An observer who sat on the sidelines, I was able to blend. At the first sign of trouble, I moved swiftly into avoidance mode, and I was rarely backed into a corner. I had learned well. There were usually many ways to stay out of trouble. And when I was firmly stuck in the mess, it was never for long. I'd learned it wouldn't last, and I could wait it out. So aside from a few memorable blips, grade 10 was a better time.

I was smart, but poorly organized and easily distracted. My grades put me in advanced Math and English classes. But I didn't want to excel. I wanted to pass my classes, but with average standing. I didn't want to be smart. I had found my niche. I fit in well with underachievers and troublemakers. Hard work just wasn't my thing. But neither was failure.

I shortcut every assignment, always doing just the bare minimum that was required to get a passing grade. No more, no less. But sometimes, my poor organizational skills would get me into trouble, and I'd have to act quickly.

And that's how I found myself dumbfounded in 10th grade English, staring in disbelief. As I walked through the door, I saw the writing on the wall.

The note on the blackboard read "REMINDER: IN CLASS ESSAY TODAY ON 'THE PEARL'".

Scanning the room quickly, I spotted one of my friends. Wild-eyed, I straddled the seat in front of his desk and faced him.

T: Hey, D. Did you read the book?

D: Of course I read the book! We have an in class essay today on the book! What kind of idiot wouldn't have read the book?!

T: Shut up, and tell me the plot.

(I'm not even kidding. I vaguely remembered being handed the book on the first day of class. I have no idea where it went from there. I do not remember ever being told that we would have an in class essay on it, and I certainly don't recall a date being provided. See? Poor organizational skills. You have no idea.)

D stared at me in disbelief, fully taking in the situation. But not a moment could be spared. Class was about to start. In a matter of seconds, D ran through the basic plot. No character names were supplied. I seem to recall D saying something along the lines of "A guy finds a pearl, then a bunch of really bad things happen, so he throws it into the ocean".

I nodded. "Okay. Thanks. Got it." And then I went to my desk, and got ready.

Careful to use no character names, since I didn't know any of them, I wrote an essay on "The Pearl". I discussed the symbolism. At length. I uncovered the hidden meanings, and commented on the tragedy. All of the subtle nuances were revealed in my incredibly vague words.

I got a 79%. I'm not sure if D was more upset that I'd passed, or that my mark was actually higher than his. But I remember how his head nearly exploded when he learned I'd gotten a better grade.

To this day, I still have not read "The Pearl", though I really think I should.


I bring this up now because I am wondering what happened to the 15-year old girl who could BS her way through a project, still end up with a 79%, and call it a good grade. 'Cause now, I have to work really hard for my grades. I need superior organizational skills. If I get behind, I panic. Minimal to zero effort no longer results in a decent grade. A 79% makes me want to slash my wrists. Frequently, I lack comprehension skills. And my memory frankly stinks. I feel like an idiot all the freaking time. And what makes it even worse is that now, I'm actually reading the book!

I am totally not enjoying this class. Apparently, I kind of suck at it.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Momma got run over by a reindeer

So, an elk hit our van.

No. Not the other way around.

Last night, as we were driving down a dark stretch of road on our way home from the flu clinic, a suicidal elk leaped out of the bushes, raced to the road, and slammed its preposterously large form into the side of our van. I really didn't know they moved that quickly.

It survived. We survived. The van, I think, survived.

Initially concerned for the welfare of the animal, J became angry when he saw the damage to the van. "Reindeer!" J shouted sternly, "Why did you hit our van?!"

H swerved to avoid the elk. Thankfully there was no oncoming traffic. Because of H's evasive driving, we did not hit the beast head-on. And for that, we are thankful. Also, the antlers did not come through our windshield or my window. And, while the front end and passenger side of the vehicle are pretty messed up, damage appears to be contained to the front of the van. The back door doesn't appear to have even been hit. We are happy to all be alright. 'Cause the van is just metal, and doesn't matter as much as the rest of us.

But just to recap 2008 to date:

High risk pregnancy;
Abrupted placenta;
Prolonged bed rest;
Grumpy disability provider;
Kidney stones;
Hospital stays;
Precipitous birth;
Complications immediately post-birth;
Birth mom with cancer;
Financial constraints;
Broken knee (tibial plateau fracture);
Surgery and another hospital stay;
Block fire;
Suicidal elk slams into van.

You ever have one of those years? I seriously can't wait for 2009!!

Later this week, we will be having elk burgers. Just you wait. I'll get him yet.

Monday, November 03, 2008

It's all I can do

So Shelle over at Blok-Thoughts is doing the "Don't you hate it when" contest for a second month. I have never gotten any votes, but it's still good fun. So here goes ...

I'm in school. Working hard to get my assignments in on time, but it's not working out so well. After a few mediocre assignment grades, I thought my marker might be penalizing me for late submissions. But in hindsight, I don't think he is.


Because on my most recent assignment, which I submitted on time, my marker docked me three of the five available marks on one question because I didn't specify per unit profit of $36. But the question asked for total profit, not per unit profit. And I showed the calculation as the number of units sold multiplied by this: ($180 - $144), where $180 is the selling price per unit and $144 is the cost per unit. So out of curiosity, what does $180 - $144 equal? And why did I lose three marks?

I hate it when that happens. Don't you?

Now, go and visit Shelle. Read. Vote. Play. Have fun! I'm going to go beat my head against the wall until things start making sense to me. It's all I can do.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

On this day

Today is an anniversary.

I didn't blog much in 2007. I was really busy. And my mood was altered. And so, there is no entry to refer back to. But I remember the day. One year ago today.

H and I had difficulty conceiving our children. I had to take Clomid. And some other stuff as well, which I won't get into here. The medication has certain side effects that aren't at all pleasant. But ultimately, we got pregnant. Twice. So it was all worthwhile.

We were in Maui last September. And it was there that we learned that we were going to have a second child. We were ecstatic. And thankfully, the morning sickness didn't start until a few weeks post-vacation, so we still had a good time.

We came home and settled back into our routine. I went back to work. But the morning sickness was so awful this time around that I had trouble coping and keeping to my schedule, and I was taken out of work at the end of October. The plan was to return to work when the morning sickness subsided. Shortly thereafter, that plan was abandoned.

On this day last year, I was 10 weeks pregnant and suffering pronounced morning sickness. I was home alone with J, who had just gone down for his afternoon nap. I put a few toys away. And then I phoned H and my mother in a panic. There was blood. Red blood. Lots and lots of red blood.

I laid down and awaited their arrival. Mom would stay with J while H and I went to the emergency room.

We were scared. The bleed with J hadn't happened until I was 18 weeks along. J's issue was an abrupted placenta. And I ended up on bed rest for a combined total of 5 months. But this was different. This was earlier. And there was even more blood. I thought I'd lost my baby.

We arrived at the emergency room and were quickly seen. It seemed that history was repeating, and no one wanted to take chances. A check showed that I had not miscarried. "Threatened abortion" is the distasteful term given; it means "threatened miscarriage". I was put on rest, pending discussion with my obstetrician. A phone call and a couple of emails later, and I learned that my obstetrician wanted me to remain on bed rest until at least 20 weeks gestation. While it was too small to visualize on ultrasound, the symptomology indicated that the placenta was detatching. A second pregnancy, and a second abruption.

And ultimately, a second live birth. A second miracle.

I didn't get off bed rest until I was at 37 weeks. The bleeding just never resolved. And there were other complications that kept cropping up. It was hard. But it was worth it. I have my boys; my miracles.

On this day, we learned that a rare complication can still happen, and that it can occur more than once, defying probabilities. We learned that I just don't carry well, and we decided not to have any more children. And some days that saddens me, but it is for the best. Because neither H nor I ever want to go through that fear again, and we now know that it would happen.

Today is an anniversary. It marks a moment. Something we will always remember. On this day, we learned that our child was still with us, despite the complications and misgivings. We banded together as a family, with faith to beat the odds. We received help from family and friends. Prayer chains were begun and continued for seven months. We received support from others, too. Coworkers. Employers. Doctors.

Thanks to all of these, our miracle is here today.

Today is a good day.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Driving in a winter wonderland

I hope you enjoy this somewhat realistic depiction of a Canadian police chase. It's not totally realistic, though; no polar bears or igloos are featured.

(Looks like it's only viewable with Firefox.)