May 29, 2012

The Fourteen Hour Tour

INT. Van, clearly at the beginning of a long road trip. Has obviously been packed with great love and care by SANDI (mother, early thirties, slightly confused). NORAH (girl, almost four, round cheeks, big brown eyes, solemn expression) has opened up her travel backpack and spread out everything on her lap. The soundtrack to The Muppets is playing in the background. GPS Arrival Time readout: 4:32 PM

NORAH: Barf.

SANDI: Oh honey. We'll get you all cleaned up.

SETH (father, later-than-SANDI-thirties, great big bushy beard) jumps out and starts to clean NORAH up. 

SETH: Barf.

- - - -

INT. Van, less tidy. NORAH is wearing different clothes and still has a little barf in her hair. The Muppets is still playing. GPS Arrival Time readout: 5:13

OSCAR (Son, two years old, blue eyes and delicious dimples. Can only speak in Whine or Shout.):Daddy! I needa talkayou for a minute!

SETH: Yes, Oscar?

OSCAR: Is a holiday?

SETH: Yes, Oscar.

LUCY (Daughter, three months old): [unintelligible]

- - - -

EXT. Future Shop parking lot. SANDI is running back to the store, having unsuccessfully purchased as iPad 2 (for the business) instead of the new iPad (for the business). GPS Arrival Time Readout: 6:12

- - - -

INT. Van, much less tidy. OSCAR, having just completed an enormous snack, is covered in crumbs one. Fruit snack smears. The Muppets is.still.playing.

OSCAR: I need a nack.

SETH: You just had a snack.

OSCAR: I dropped my water!

SETH retrieves OSCAR's water.


LUCY: ...

- - - -

Other stuff happened, then we got there. At 9:39. Listening to The Muppets.

May 26, 2012

Lannis: Blackmail the Fifth

In the never-ending list of weirdo-crappit my kidlets say, here’s another blackmail post!

Previous installments are here, here, here, and here (Yes, we’re actually on the fifth installment, and I still have more unused goodies in The Blackmail File! Muahahaha!)

Basic overview—I have two kids, R and L (Right and Left? Heh.). They constantly spout the silly. I record it, and one day I’ll print the file and put it in their baby books (it’s currently 16 pages long... HA!). Also? I occasionally share it, because it’s just. that. snortastic.

Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum.

October 2011

R [almost 6 years old] to L [4.5 years old]: We’re going to silent read. Have a seat.
L [settles on a page]: Once upon a time...
R: No, no, no! Read the pictures, not the words!
L: But I am reading the pictures. I can’t read the words yet!
R: But if you’re silent reading you need to be quiet. Zip it! [L opens his mouth.] ZIP IT! Pictures only! With your eyes! Not! Your! Mouth!

R [almost 6 years old]: OW! OW! OW!
Me: What happened?
R: I stepped on something sharp! It must have been a bug with a spike on its head.

November 2011

[I laughed until I snorted, and of course it was witnessed by the 4.5 year old.]
L [dead serious]: You need to say excuse me when you toot, Mommy.
Me: I didn’t... never mind.

L [4.5 years old, singing while sitting on the toilet]: Eat a zombie! Eat a zombie! Wait, wait, wait, eat a zombie!

[Evening. I put boys to bed, return downstairs, pour drink. Hear something. Go upstairs. Find L standing on bed, belting out a song to Pigger, his stuffed pig.]
Me: Hey! You're supposed to stay in bed and be quiet, remember?
L: But I was singing a song! I'll be quiet later!

[Watching Disney's Mulan, I absently sing along.]
L [flabbergasted]: Mommy, that's crazy! Your brain knows the words to the songs and you've never watched Mulan before!
[Yes. Yes, that's it. Exactly. ::snort::]

R [6 years old]: At lunch at school today I dropped yogurt down my shirt and said, “Disgraceful!”

December 2011

Me [to self]: Did I get my tea steeping?
L [4.5 years old]: Yes.
Me [to self]: Did I sort the laundry?
L: Yes.
Me [to L]: Did I turn the TV on?
L: Yes.
Me [looking at DVD player]: Did I press play already?
L: Yes. Why are you asking all these questions, Mom?
Me [working my shoulder, realizing it finally isn't bugging me—I’d had a knot for days.]: That's because Mommy's muscle relaxants are working. I think we're going to have a lazy day today.
L [nods, completely serious]: And I think we're going to have a forgetful day...

[In passing, I pat my 6 year old’s back.]
R [outraged]: Don’t pet me, I’m not a cat!

L [playing with action figures]: Hey, do the bad guys share?
R: No. That’s part of what makes you a bad guy. You’re not good at sharing.

R [addressing L]: Please don’t repeat and repeat and repeat ad nauseam...
[Aw, bless!]

L [4.5 years old, singing]:
Bunnies, bunnies, bunnies!
Bunnies dance!
Bunnies, bunnies, bunnies...
Dancing bunnies!
Dance, bunnies, dance!
Just dance, bunnies, dance!
I’ll dance, too, of course I do!
Get the rope,
get the flames,
just dance bunnies, dance!
Or nobody will like you!
Save me.

[An exchange between my cousin Mandy and I, and another snippet of L, our Casanova, in action at 4.5 years old...]
Mandy: So this morning, L was sitting really close to me. He leaned his head on my shoulder, and told me my arm was hard. He then helped me lift it so I could put my arm around him and he could snuggle in closer. You are so in trouble.
Me: Yep. I know. And he’s self-taught, too. Can you tell?

[December 31st 2011]
Me: Today is the last day of the year!
R [6 years old]: And then we die?
Me [shocked]: NO! Then it’s the next year! Don’t you worry about dying, dying is an grown up thing to worry about.
R: Yeah. Because when you’re grown up you die.
Me: O_o

January 2012

R [6 years old]: If you eat too much cheese you turn into a...?
L [4.5 years old]: Cow.
R: Yes. If you eat too much mustard and relish you turn into a...?
L: Deer.
R: Yes. If you eat too many pancakes you turn into a...?
L: Manikin.
R: Wrong. You turn into someone who looks like a manikin.

R [addressing L]: Well I do not want to talk to you, my mouth is already getting dry.

February 2012

L [4.5 years old, singing]
How could I be glasses?
How can I be glasses?
I’ve never been glasses be-fooooore!
Never see you
Never see my heart
Never see you through my glasses be-foooore!

[My friend Sarah is over, and it’s been snowing heavily.]
R [6 years old, remarks on snow out window]: I HATE snow. And this snow is so bad there are skeletons coming out of the ground, and flying saucers coming out of the sky! THAT'S how bad it is.
[Sarah and I blink and look at each other.]
Sarah: This is going online later, isn't it?
Me: Oh yeah.

March 2012

L [4.5 year old]: Daddy, when will I be a superhero?
Mr Lannis: Probably not until you're in your twenties.
L: When you die you turn into dirt.
Mr Lannis: Yeah, that's about right.

And lastly...

Me: Guess what we're having for dinner?!
R [6 years old]: I dunno. A kick in the pants?

[This is what you get for feeding your children sarcasm with every meal...]

Occasional poster at The Mrs, I'm Lannis - or Leslie, depending on which circles you're swimming. A while ago I decided that I don't care anymore, hence my general standards for life are lower than The Mrs' (but she still loves me.) [Editor: I do]

I live in a small town with my favourite people: my husband, Mr Lannis, and our two boys, along with two cats and one hamster.

If you follow me on Twitter, you might witness my issues with linear thought, road rage, spending more money on food than books, and potty mouth. Be warned.

May 21, 2012

Leaving On a...Minivan

I'm more discombobulated than usual because we're piling into the minivan tomorrow for a week long visit to family in Pennsylvania.

The ten hour trip will be awesome. Everyone will look quietly out the window, talk in normal voices, sleep when required, and spend the whole time Not Flipping Out.

The visit will be fantastic. We won't break anything, I won't get grumpy because I'm away from my house, and Oscar will be fine sleeping in a bed that he can get out of for the first time in his life. He'll spend every evening Not Getting Out Of Bed.

The enormous family reunion will be great. We'll see people we haven't seen in forever, we'll convince our children that one of Seth's cousin's real name is Old Man Winter, and I will be relaxed.

I promise.

(Internet access will be sporadic and I will be lazy (-er than usual, that is)

<< What The Books Haven't Answered

May 16, 2012

What The Books Haven't Answered

Dear What To Expect Series,

Thanks for all the hard work you do to terrify inform new parents. I'm so glad that you warned me about penile adhesion, projectile vomiting, and febrile seizures, and even though they have actually happened, I'm thankful that they're on my list of Things To Worry About If My Children Cough.

I feel, however, that by restricting your Q&A section to questions from parents who only ask about things like "My daughter already knows her A,B,Cs, so why should I send her to preschool?", and "How can I stop my son from hitting his friends?", you're limiting your usefulness to the vast majority of us; real parents who have vitally important questions about their child's true to life behaviour. These common behavioural issues have never been addressed in any of the parenting books I've ever read, and - believe me - I've read a lot.*

So, since you've played such a big role in my development as a mother, I thought I'd try to give something back to you, What To Expect, and provide you with a helpful list of the most important questions we as parents are looking to have answered about our children:

Vitally Important Question Number One: Why is the worst thing my son can think of to say to someone is "Go away!", and when can I expect him to start hurting people's feelings like he means it?

Vitally Important Question Number Two: When the house is quiet, and the kids are playing nicely together or even laughing with each other, should I just assume that they're doing something bad like chewing up toilet paper and spitting it onto the window, or should I wait until I walk in on the floor smeared with diaper cream before I get them in trouble?

Vitally Important Question Number Three: Is there a reason why my daughter thinks that the end of the world will come if she can't put every small toy she owns in a bag and hide it in a corner somewhere -

Vitally Important Question Number Four: Why is dressing up in a pink negligee we found at a garage sale No Fun At All unless Mommy puts on the matching robe?

Vitally Important Question Number Five: How can I make my son understand that the seam on his socks doesn't Have To Be Straight or else The World Has Ended?

Thank you for your time, and I look forward to reading your answers in the updated version of What To Expect.

Yours sincerely,


Bonus Question, possibly for use in your upcoming book How To Understand Your Parents' Sense Of Humour When You're An Adult: Is it horrifying that I laugh out loud every time I look at this picture?

* Two.

This time last year: Project Grocery: Party Time

May 15, 2012

Daycare And Me: A Cowboy Love Song (Except It Doesn't Rhyme, And There's No Music)

Winner of this week's best post title? Me.

Also, I beat my wireless network into submission, and am now typing in my backyard while Oscar practices his colouring skills on the patio furniture. It's pretty sweet, and someday soon I'll show you pictures of my backyard paradise ("paradise" by comparison; "soon" in very relative terms), but today, we're talking about daycare.

I've moaned (a lot) about daycare back when I was working full time in order to pay for my kids to be there. It broke my heart when I first sent Norah (before you and I met, dear blog reader), and it broke my heart when I sent Oscar last year. I didn't want to go back to work; I didn't want the majority of their little lives spent with other people, no matter how great said people might be.

Of course, I got over it - mostly by using the Scarlett O'Hara Method Of Not Thinking About It. We couldn't afford for me to stay home with them, so they had to be in daycare, end of story.

Fiddle-Dee-Dee, and all that.

And it turns out, a few months in full-time daycare didn't kill them, or turn them into serial biters or chicken finger eating tantrum-throwers. They both came home knowing how to flip their own coats on and sign for "more food", so there's that. And some of the women there truly did love them and take a real interest in their little lives (Jacqui, Kaye, and Shauna, I'm looking at you).

But daycare done me wrong, too - I was hassled me about cloth diapers, I was condescended to and made to feel like a pretty bad parent, and the management suffered from such a serious case of Administrative Discombobulation that I worried that it might be catching.

Once, they sent Norah outside to play with no shoes on. In January.

(That's my best outraged parent story. The rest of them are don't translate well into print because they all start with "It's like they think..." or "they act like...")

Now that I'm retired (for a year, anyway...let's talk in February), I jumped at the chance to have them home with me All The Time.

Except Mondays, because Mommy needs to have a few hours in a row to Get Things Done, or possibly Think A Whole Thought.

Daycare done me wrong, but my kids still go.Me and logic, we're like this.

May 12, 2012

Lannis: Model Behaviour

To answer your question: Yes, my mother does still read this blog.

Possibly not anymore after today.

* * *

Confession: I have a problem.

And no, I’m not talking about this board for those Pinterest followers keeping score at home.

[Note: I have no other explanation for that phenomenon other that what’s on the board description, so... don’t hold your breath waiting for one... unless you’re into that. Heh.]

But no, not that. I’m actually talking about this, uh, I mean him

You might be wondering who this is. If you know me on Facebook, perhaps not. Mr Lannis certainly knows.

Allow me to introduce you to Caleb.

No, that’s not his real name. I made it up. I tend to do that, occasionally, name things — kidlets, characters, fabricated identities of random Marks Work Wearhouse flyer models... all of the above, really. Heh.

And Caleb, well, he caught my eye one day in the aforementioned flyer, because he looked exactly like someone I know. In my head.

Yeah, if that didn’t sound strange, stick around, because I’m sure we’ll hit that mark shortly. I’m about to expound upon one of the many idiosyncrasies of my marriage. [Insert shameless snort here.]

Ready... set... weird!

In our house I we have a little tradition. Every Thursday the local paper arrives with the sales flyers for the week. Mr Lannis is the one who goes through said flyers.

And hides one in particular. The one from Marks Work Wearhouse.

For this reason:

Note: this particular status update had an interesting and incriminating conversation beneath it, but in the interests of privacy we’re going to nix that part of the screenshot. Let’s just say a friend of mine declared that Caleb must be an excellent kisser due to his scrumptious almost-dimples, interested parties went running for their recycling bins, and for the benefit of those outside of the geographical range of this particular advertisement, I ended up uploading a pic of the flyer page in question...

That’d be this one:

You see, I lick like this particular model. A lot. And he’s caused a bit of a stir on my Facebook profile recently, so I’m sharing more... because I’m filterless gross friendly like that.

He was in the most recent flyer, too:


I mean, LOOK at him...

The first person to imply he’s wearing a less-than-politically-correct undershirt wins a screwdriver stabbed in their ear canal! Aaaaaand go!

Ah, I see you’re all distracted by the charming tilt of his jaw and the alpha-male confidence radiating off those biceps.

Me too. And those lips:

::sigh:: Please excuse me as I wipe away the drool...

I read somewhere [::cough cough:: Pinterest ::cough::] that infatuation only lasts a few months, so clearly I am in love with Caleb, because we’ve now been involved for over a year.

And last fall this happened:

This is the note I left Mr Lannis one evening when he was working late... it reads, “He wants me to run away with him. I said yes.”

The next morning I was greeted with Mr Lannis’ reply on the facing page. He charmingly called me a couple of dirty inapproriate CREATIVE pet names, and claimed that he told Caleb about my body pillow.

Yes, my body pillow.

The one I have snuggled and twined myself with every night since pregnancy made my hips ache? For years Mr Lannis has called it my boyfriend, and in the last year or so my body pillow boyfriend has had a new name — you guessed it — also Caleb.

Caleb’s fictional apparent response was to be sickened. This I doubt. Clearly he’s into me. Just look at the way he stares dreamily out of the page. At me.

But back to my bizarre marriage... Mr Lannis is a wonderful man, and he tends to be rather... quiet.

People frequently call him normal.

(Pfft... like that word really has any true definition?)

More than once I’ve heard (I’m outing you, Mrs... haha!) that Mr Lannis is not who people “expect” me to be with — possibly because he’s, well, sane.

The point is, he balances my... uh... deranged personality wackiness. He likes to humour me.

The truth is... he gets me.

And that morning when I woke up and found his angular scrawl all over a flyer’s boxer brief advertisement (yes, he scribbled the word “SL*T” on a random photo of some stranger’s junk — IT. WAS. AWESOME!), I felt more warm, lovable fuzzies toward my hubby because he was playing along with my threat of running away with a fictional heartthrob than I would have if he’d simply written “I love you.”

It may seem dysfunctional, but it’s not. It’s our marriage. I don’t claim to understand it, I just love it — and him — to pieces.

Uh, Mr Lannis, that is. Not Caleb...

Okay, Caleb too.

Hm. Polyamory doesn’t sound too shabby right about now... something-something-don’t-knock-it... am I right? Heh.

PS: If you’ve been able to follow this post, like, AT ALL, please feel free to use your Google-fu for the good of all and find out what Caleb’s real name is. I’m sure he’d love to hear from me. I vote we start a fan club.

Pssst: I wager he tastes way better in person... ::snort::

Occasional poster at The Mrs, I'm Lannis - or Leslie, depending on which circles you're swimming. A while ago I decided that I don't care anymore, hence my general standards for life are lower than The Mrs' (but she still loves me.) [Editor: I do]

I live in a small town with my favourite people: my husband, Mr Lannis, and our two boys, along with two cats and one hamster.

If you follow me on Twitter, you might witness my issues with linear thought, road rage, spending more money on food than books, and potty mouth. Be warned.

This time last year: Quackers For Crackers

May 9, 2012

What I'm Not

So I'm sitting in my backyard, watching my children alternately fight, ignore each other, play nicely, and eat weeds while I wait for my wireless connection to come back on line (it doesn't. I have to upload this when I get inside), and it occurs to me to wonder what it's all about.

Not the weed eating - I think I know what that's about. It's probably some kind of nutritional deficiency, and if it means that I have fewer weeds in my backyard and my kids eat more greens? I'm fine with it. Farm to table and all that nonsense, right?

No, today I'm wondering what this blog is all about. I'm having a wee moment, and am pretty sure that there's about to be some serious navel-gazing going on, so fair warning.

Clearly I'm not able to blog as often as I used to back in the leisurely days of working full time, being pregnant, and parenting two children under three. Trying to blog while being a stay at home mother with a housekeeper (however temporary) and up to date taxes is obviously more than I can handle.

When I first started blogging in December of 2010, I was a little more than halfway through my year long maternity leave with Oscar, hoping desperately that by living cheaply (and never using the word frugal) I could stay at home when my back to work date rolled back around in April. I was serious. I was "how-to". I was virtuous.

Wop-wanh. (Or whatever that sound is.)

Gradually - most noticeably when I went back to work and was immediately buried in paper - cracks appeared in my Frugality Blogger facade, and my natural weird started to shine through. I always felt a little strange writing about saving money on groceries as if you should be emulating me or something - I don't even make my own laundry detergent, for heaven's sake. I can't be a How To Live Frugally blogger because I barely know how to do it myself.

So here I am, a year and a half of blogging later. I'm in my third (!) month of maternity leave for Lucy, and - again - I dearly hope to stay at home come next February. We still have very little money to throw around, I still love my budget spreadsheet, I'm still a natural cheapskate when it comes to most things, and I still like to talk about money. Not much has changed, really.

I'm just not a Frugality Blogger, and I like to write poems to Terry Pratchett.

And I'm okay with that.

This time last year: A New Life In The Life Of

May 7, 2012

Ladies Of Leisure

What am I doing with all the extra time on my hands?

Having tea parties, and kissing babies.


May 5, 2012

Lannis: Holding on

I still hold my kids’ hands.

I noticed this today, walking across the school parking lot, as students and parents hurried toward the yard to begin the day. Adults were hustling along their kids, some older, some younger than my own, and no one was holding anyone’s hand.

Except me.

And it happens naturally. When they hop out of the van, I stretch my arms out to either side of me as I start walking, and miraculously sweaty little palms slip into mine as we trudge across the tarmac.

They expect it as much as I do.

They’re well-trained, and Mr Lannis and I -- however we might look overprotective -- are avid hand-holders. In grocery stores, if the boys aren’t in our grasp, they’re hanging on to the cart -- yes, I’ve mastered the ability to steer a shopping cart single-handed. And we’re not those parents harping at our kids to keep up or stop touching the shelves.

And the boys’re independent in other ways on the schoolyard. The oldest won’t be walked all the way to the area designated for the older grades, instead stopping in the kindergarten yard to receive a kiss on the cheek goodbye.

And the youngest doesn’t want a kiss at all -- a high five will do.

But walking across a parking lot? They stretch out their hands willingly, sometimes before I have the chance.

Because they like it as much as we do.

They’re now five and six-and-a-half, and I don’t know when it’ll stop. All too soon they’ll be too cool for it, or be linked self-consciously with a crush, and they won’t even need me to pick them up and drop them off at school, let alone guide them across a parking lot...

I know there’ll come a day, but right now? Now, even as spring rain makes me want to curl my fists into my sleeves or stuff them into my pockets, I feel a short tug, and I know.

We must hold them close while we can.

Occasional poster at The Mrs, I'm Lannis - or Leslie, depending on which circles you're swimming. A while ago I decided that I don't care anymore, hence my general standards for life are lower than The Mrs' (but she still loves me.) [Editor: I do]

I live in a small town with my favourite people: my husband, Mr Lannis, and our two boys, along with two cats and one hamster.

If you follow me on Twitter, you might witness my issues with linear thought, road rage, spending more money on food than books, and potty mouth. Be warned.

May 3, 2012

A Girl And A Budget Walk Into A Bar...

Something something, punchline, general hilarity. See? There was a reason you clicked over to The Mrs today, and it was budgetary gut-busting.

The reason I'm laughing is that it's taken me seven years to understand that the only way a budget will work is if you have a reliable way to track your spending, and that a "reliable way to track your spending" is so individualized that it's taken me a further two years to find one that I might actually use with success.


I say "might", because this is the girl who spent money on Quicken and signed up for Mint with great excitement, only to abandon both (Quicken in two months, Mint in six). I've created spreadsheets that have two weekly entries in them before the vast expanse of blank cells begins, and I've used a cash budget except I kept forgetting to take cash out.

Now that you've stopped laughing, I'd like to introduce you to my new best friend, the 20th century:

Oh, my much-beloved budget spreadsheet is alive and well, and it's the file on my computer that is opened and updated most frequently. But during my years of experimentation and - let's face it - abject failure at tracking our spending, I've come to realize a few Very Important Budget Facts:

Very Important Budget Fact Number One:
Spending categories are my enemy. Having to categorize transactions is the reason I abandoned Mint, and if I met a spending category at the grocery store, I'd follow it around and sneak really expensive things into its cart.

Today, I have only three columns in my tracker: Fixed, Other, and VISA. I track the fixed expenses so I know what our balance is. I track the other expenses so I know how much of our variable spending is out the door and how much we have left for the month, and I track whatever we put on the credit card so we don't spend our money twice.

Very Important Budget Fact Number Two:
Despite having 24 hour access to online banking, I can't actually figure out what we've spent unless I write it down, and simply looking at what our balance is or matching transactions on Quicken or Mint doesn't stop me from spending too much money. So far, writing it down does. So that's what I do.

Very Important Budget Fact Number Three:
We spend most of our variable money on food. We like food. So we're not going to worry about Project Grocery anymore (did you notice? bet you didn't.) I find it extremely tedious to unpack our groceries and take a picture of them, let alone tracking how much we spent and rolling over the shortfall or (rarely) surplus. We still shop the sales, use a list, and use coupons - sparingly - but the money is all rolled up in our "Other" category.

See? Hilarity ensued. And YOU wanted to read about Nathan Filion.

This time last year: Project Grocery: Blurry But Alive