Moving and moving on

The house we’ve lived, loved & laughed in for the past 12 years has been painted, polished and staged with pots of fresh orchids. It’s almost unrecognizable. Gone is the clutter and 12 years of stuffed animals. Gone are the nicks in the drywall from countless hockey games in our foyer. Gone is the carpet with the red wine stain from that “adult toy” party and the blue Children’s Advil stain when my youngest son just couldn’t keep it down. In addition to new carpeting, we painted the house inside and out, and thanks to some pesky woodpeckers, replaced the roof. After just 4 frenetic weeks, we put our beloved family home on the market and crossed our fingers that it would sell. The market is slowing everyone warned us, hurry up so you don’t get caught holding two houses.

Our hard work paid off. We received an excellent offer the day we listed. But as relieved as we were to receive the offer, it was like finally deciding to have a family, getting pregnant on the first try and then being utterly overwhelmed at the irreversibility of that decision.

It’s a bit late now I realize, but I’m not ready to move. We’ve conceived and raised 3 kids here. Their heights are marked on a doorframe, which is now painted over in Benjamin Moore Satin Latex in Oxford White, but if I close my eyes I can still see each of them on their birthdays trying to stand as tall as possible while I marked the wall behind them with a Sharpie. Even Sharpies aren’t permanent after all. The dents in the drywall from wayward slap-shots have been filled in and painted. “The house looks new, you’d never know that 3 boys lived here!” my friends say, and my throat tightens.

I’m not ready to move. We’ve hosted innumerable birthdays, thanksgivings, wedding and baby showers and all kinds of celebrations here. Will Santa know where to find us?

The modern house we bought came fully furnished (the sellers are divorcing and wanted to take nothing), so my traditional furniture had to go. I’ve been selling it on Craigslist for 10-20 cents on the dollar to young families and people starting over. This will make the move easier, my friends assure me, but my house now resembles a bowling alley, with nary a chair, couch, or coffee table to stub a toe on. We eat sitting picnic-style on the hardwood floor surrounded by moving boxes marked, “Kitchen – Cookbooks” or “Rec Room – Games.” The house is nearly empty and still I’m not ready.

I’ve got 13 more days to get ready to transplant 12 years of roots. I think I’d better pack the kleenex last.

Love Lucie

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My Pet Peeve

As anyone with kids knows, every kid wants a pet. My eldest has been asking for a pet since he could say dog. I am allergic to cats and dogs, but that doesn’t bother him in the least. We gave him a goldfish when he was four and that appeased him for awhile. Until one morning a few months later, when he was found swimming sideways with just one slow moving fin. There my husband and I got a crash course in bereavement in children – they become inconsolable, wailing, flailing creatures that shed rivers of snot all over your new Lululemon hoodie. And we learned that this is definitely not the time to ask when he was last fed.

When it became clear that Fishy could not be resuscitated, we told CJ it was time to send Fishy off to Fish Heaven, but he started shrieking when we started to tip Fishy’s odorous bowl contents into the toilet. Pierced eardrums notwithstanding, we quickly agreed more decorum was needed to properly say good-bye to CJ’s beloved 2 month old pet fish. We drove to the beach, with CJ cradling Fishy’s bowl and floating remains on his lap, giant tears periodically plopping into the cloudy water. We parked and our little procession marched sombrely out to the pier. It was a suitably overcast day, Stan said a few lovely words about Fishy’s short but beautiful life and on CJ’s command, hurled him out to the sea (where he quickly became a snack for a Seagull but I digress). My normally stoic, rough and tumble boy lived on the edge of tears for the next week or so and most definitely did not want another fish to replace Fishy.

Now CJ’s two younger brothers have joined in on the fight – they are all begging/ demanding/ cajoling/ whining/ petitioning me for a dog. Or a cat. Something they can cuddle, which eliminates snakes, birds and all rodents (thank GOD!) from the running. They don’t care that CJ and I are allergic. It seems that every other day a different kid proudly struts around the schoolyard with the cutest puppy in his arms, while the other kids go green with envy. My kids want to strut like those kids. I want my kids to be those kids too, but I can’t be that mother. I can’t. My days of handling excrement are over. Plus those puppies get big in a matter of months and they really do get less cute. Every day I see hapless moms being dragged up and down these North Shore hills, yelling at their clearly hearing-impaired doggy to “stay.” I can see that dogs are just clumsy, rambunctious, adorable, loving toddlers that never grow up. So why would I voluntarily go back to sleepless nights, toilet training, having to hurry home to let the dog out, organizing dog-sitters and a daily crotch-sniff?

Call me selfish, call me mean (my kids do) but I’ve heard enough about Marley & Me to know that your giant, drooling, hairy toddler-esque dog shouldn’t predecease you. After Fishy, I know I just couldn’t handle it.

Love Lucie

Giddy ‘up!

I’m positively giddy today.

My hubby has seen the signs, picked up on my cues, perhaps even read my blog and given me two days of solitude at our cabin in Whistler, BC.

The view from my "office" today

He even called it, a “business” trip since I’m always complaining that he always gets to go on business trips and I have three essays on motherhood to complete by the end of this month. So while I write, he’s going to take care of it all – taking the kids to lessons, feeding them (takeout, I’m sure) and getting them to school on time. And me, well I have two delicious days.

Two days of not yelling at my children to hurry up/remember this/flush the damn toilet/I don’t know where your homework is. And two days of without the grumpy feelings that reverberate in both the yeller and the yell-ee. Two days where I can actually hear a pin drop – if there was anyone here to drop a pin, that is.

Two days of not being a short-order cook. I won’t be making lunches, snacks or dinners – I will not have to referee the best piece of chicken in a tug-of-war nor will I witness the vegetables being scorned and dumped into the trash. I have two days of eating what I want, when I want. In the cabin’s fridge, I have a nearly full bottle of pinot grigio, half a wheel of camembert and a giant head of cauliflower threatening to go bad. I’m actually looking forward to cauliflower steak with cheese sauce tonight and I have no one to complain about the off-gassing this inventive combination will inevitably produce.

For two days, I will not enter the laundry room. I will spend two days living in my pyjamas, taking writing breaks by singing along to all the sappy love songs on my iPod, unperturbed by that canned laugh track that follows the Suite Life of Zack & Cody around.

I have three essays due by the end of the month that could launch my nascent writing career and my husband has taken away all my excuses for not getting them done by giving me these two days.

I’m giddy over this gift of me-time, and I know that the reason I’m giddy is because I get my crazy beautiful life back in just two days. And I know that they’ll miss me, especially when looking for the peanut butter tomorrow, because I took the jar with me.

Absence really does make the heart grow fonder, I promise to savour every delicious minute of it!

Love Lucie

Summer living is easy, working…not so much

Ahhhh, summer. Just when we’d given up and thought it would never come to Vancouver, it finally did. Waking up to warm, radiant sunshine reflecting off the glorious mountains and the endless sea, reminded every seasonally-affected one of us, why we choose to live in a rainforest the rest of the year.

So the kids are out of school and refuse to go to anything that smells like structure and/or has a teacher, ie. summer camp. And since we spending our first summer in Whistler, we are devoid of playdates and babysitters. So, in the meantime, I’ve become a Denny’s, open 24/7, peanut butter & jelly sandwiches at the ready, squeezing lemons upon lemons for their lemonade stand for which I’ve not yet seen a dime (I swear they are drinking their profits!), wiping counters and sweeping floors to keep the ants at bay. On a daily basis, I’m fending off the inevitable, “Mom, I’m bored,” or “MOM! He hit me!” or “MOOOOOMMMMMMM! He farted on my pillow and won’t say sorry!!!” with encouraging words to work it out for themselves and large glasses of pinot grigio.

There is no time to workout, no time to shop, no time for a much needed pedicure, no time to write, no time for me. As lovely as summer is, I’m counting the days till I get my beautiful life back.

Twenty-four.

See you in September!
Love Lucie

Home Alone

It’s 10AM and the house is quiet, very quiet. A truck rumbles by a few streets over. The kettle is furiously boiling water for my morning tea. The dishwasher has been emptied and reloaded with the breakfast dishes, and the shrapnel created this morning by making the kids a nutritious, yummy, and green lunch has been put away. Each ping from my computer startles me, telling me I have new mail or a Facebook update, and is investigated within seconds of receiving it.

My youngest son, who’s 5 and in afternoon preschool, has a playdate with this best buddy this morning. What’s even better is that his best buddy’s Dad is going to take him directly to preschool too! I dropped him off when I dropped his older brothers off at school at 9AM, giving me a delicious 5 hours and 45 minutes to myself! I’m currently taking an online memoir-writing course called The Momoir Project and today is online classroom day, so having the peace and quiet to concentrate on my writing without having to entertain my precocious 5 year old is blissful.

But it’s too quiet.

Every ping, chirp and hungry lawnmower outside is distracting me from writing. They say that writing is like this, lonely. But I’m a very social person – maybe this is the wrong gig for me? I’m used to writing between interruptions. Ever since I left my corporate job to raise our kids, I’ve been multi-tasking – turn on Go, Diego, Go, draft a blog post, play indoor soccer, check up on Twitter, make a bed, jump on the bed, make macaroni and cheese for lunch, review post, pack snacks for school, edit the post, head to preschool (usually late), post a blog, go to the gym, check blog stats. The accomplishment of actually posting something in my cut-up day is herculean and feels awesome. Today, I’ve had no interruptions and no one to entertain and I’ve accomplished less – I’ve cleared the dishes, wiped the counters, put in a load of laundry, drafted a blog post, checked Facebook and Twitter, sent email and paid a bill. Somehow, I’ve frittered 5 hours away and pick up is in 45 minutes!

Come September I had hopes of tackling those inane Martha Stewart-esque items on my To Do List, like using up all those frozen strawberries to make jam, finally copying all my Duran Duran CDs to my iPod, and matching all those socks in the lonely sock bin. But surely even I will stop making up things to do after a while. I’m reminded of that transformative scene in the War of the Roses when the busy, uber-efficient Mrs. Rose realizes the house is finally perfect and has nothing to do, and it frightens me.

This September my youngest will go to school full-time. Barring sickness, after the morning rush to get out the door is complete, I will have 6 hours of to myself. Every day. What the heck am I going to do? I’ve dreamed of this moment for more than ten years, and now that it’s finally here (almost), I know I will really miss them.

No longer will I be able to say, “oh, I didn’t have time!” Time will be all this empty nester will have! Time to go to the gym, to garden, to sew on all those missing buttons, to clear out the crawlspace, and possibly, to write my great Canadian novel. Bills will be paid on time! Field trip permission forms and library books will no longer be lost! Perhaps, I could even tackle the clutter on my desk?

Or it could be time to get a puppy 🙂

Love Lucie

Mothers Day Off

Are you the kind of mom who loves to spend Mother’s Day with her kids – eating cold lumpy eggs with a smile, getting bread crumbs lodged in your panties as the kids devour your breakfast in bed for you? Or do you take the opportunity (if offered) to run for the hills, or at least to the spa?

My kids usually make me breakfast in bed, juice and buttered toast as they’re not allowed to turn on the stove without an adult present. This meal “fit for a Mother” is delivered by 3 proud kids on a tray resplendent with hand-picked dandelions and homemade treasures they’ve made at school. I love this tradition except for the mucky butter knife left on the counter and puddles of juice spotting the floor from the kitchen to my bedroom. I nibble on the toast, trying not to wonder if they washed their hands before buttering my toast. My husband says I can suck the joy out of things sometimes, and sometimes I have to agree.

Mothers Day is kind of weird for us mothers with mothers, mothers-in-law, and grandmothers too. Who do we celebrate? Not many men can organize brunch for 20, remembering their moms, aunts, grandmothers and children, so it usually falls to us to take care of everyone but ourselves.

I envy my friends who organize family bike rides on Mothers Day, complete with elegant 3 course picnic dinners for all to enjoy. If I tried that I’m sure one of my sons would be wailing because his brother “accidentally” rode his bike into him and refused to say sorry, one kid would go on strike and refuse to pedal any further, my husband would gag at the sight of the egg salad even though its my favourite food and my picnic blanket would be overrun by hungry ants.

I’d love my Mothers day to be a sunny ski/golf/spa/beach day, my belly full of egg salad and bacon and mimosas, accompanied by my happy-to-be-with-me fresh smelling children and loving husband.

Every day is Mothers Day – we cook, clean, work, counsel, cajole, launder, kiss boo-boos, check homework, and shop for groceries. I propose we rebrand Mothers Day and call it Mother’s Day Off, because that’s really what we want (plus a little appreciation).

And remember it’s Mothers Day, not Mothers Brunch, so make sure you get your 24 hours worth! Feet up ladies!

Love Lucie