Toddlers Without Tiaras

… tales of my threenager

Winter Fun

With Spring just around the corner, I have no choice but to come to terms with what could have been. This post is less about the Threenager, and more about what I was trying to build for her.

The back yard rink. A great Canadian childhood right of passage.

What is more magical than spending time with your family creating the perfect rink. Stars in the sky, watching your breath in the air as you exhale, laughing as you tried your hardest to stay upright. Then, after an hour in the cold, coming back inside for a cup of hot chocolate with a marshmallow on top.

Good times, hanging on the porch, with a hot chocolate.

Good times, hanging on the porch, with a hot chocolate.

 

I remember my dad building our rink as a child. Each night after dinner he would bundle up, walk through the snow, and start watering the ground with a sprinkler.  It had to be cold, but not too cold. If it was snowing, it was too warm. The perfect temperature was around -8. The sprinkler sticks out in my memory because I remember how funny we thought it was to use a sprinkler in the winter! We would watch through the window as the sprinkler moved back and forth. Eager for the night dad would tell us it was ready.

Day 1

This year I wanted to create the same magic for Big Sis. At the end of January I started the process. One Friday evening, after dinner, Big Sis and I went outside to prep the area. We needed to shovel a relatively flat area. As I had dragged my feet initiating the rink I thought I would get a head start on making the base with a ‘Quik Rink’ kit I picked up at Canadian Tire. After 3 hours of shoveling, we were ready to fill the rink. It was a perfect night. The temperature was going to drop closer to -20. If we could fill the rink, the base would be ready before the end of the weekend. Unfortunately the tap was frozen, and we gave up after another 90 minutes of trying to thaw the tap.

Day 2

It was a much warmer day. Temperatures were closer to zero. Perfect temperature to thaw the outside tap. Sunlight also made this process easier (I found out the tap would have probably worked the night before. I had accidentally turned the tap off instead of on.) No worries. I shake this off and get back to work. After 60 minutes the tap is flowing. We grab the hose, hook it up. Unfortunately, the hose froze in the garage. No problem. We bring the hose in, place it beside the fire. After another 90 minutes I take it back outside, hook it up, turn on the tap … wait … wait a little longer … yup … you guessed it … the tap froze during the time the hose was thawing beside the fire.  By this time I am becoming a tap thawing pro. Within 20 minutes the tap is working, the hose is working, the ‘Quik Rink’ is filling.

For those unfamiliar with the ‘Quik Rink’, I would equate it to an extremely overpriced piece of plastic, sealed with the equivalent of a food saver, with a small, relatively unmarked and difficult to find small hole, in which you insert a hose. It is like filling a water bed of sorts. The kit I bought should have created a 10 * 20 foot rink of pristine skating enjoyment. Instead, it provided much comedic entertainment for those witnessing my quickly declining rink making ambitions and abilities.

During this time I had sent my partner in crime to buy a new hose. I was about to give up on the hose we had. At the last second the hose started flowing, I inserted it in to the hole, walked around my rink with great pride, and then went inside. I DID IT! By myself! I managed to hook up the hose, thaw the tap, and fill the rink! I was proud (especially as my partner had been doubtful of my abilities to produce a skating rink). It would take time for the rink to fill. I went inside to grab a cup of tea. I figured it would take about 2 hours to fill.

20 minutes pass. I look outside at my work. To my HORROR, the 10 * 20 foot rink looks less like a rectangular rink, and more like a giant, clear sausage link. The weight of the water, combined with the slipperiness of the snow, and the ever so slight incline of my backyard, has caused the rink to start to slide down, and roll itself up like a jelly roll. I need to weigh the rink down. All I can find are bags of sidewalk salt and containers of windshield washer fluid. (Just what you want near your rink). I grab what I can, pull the bag back up in place, place the heavy items on top and hope for the best.

After dinner I am pleased with the progress. I talk a moment to try to push the water up to the top (hoping it will fill any little divots in this snow, freeze, and hold the rink in place).  Around 8:00p.m. I turn off the water, remove the hose, and leave the rink. I prop up the end with the hole with shovels to prevent the water leaking out. I take a picture to send my grandparents, pleased with myself.

I take this picture.

Looks good! Just need it to freeze.

Looks good! Just need it to freeze.

 

Right after I take this picture I can hear a faint trickle of water. Scout, the Evil Terror, er I mean super cute Terrier, bit the plastic on the front bottom right corner. Then persisted to run back and forth on the rink. I make shift a temporary fix propping up leaks where I can. Hope for the best. Go to bed.

Days 3 – 5

Hope for the best. Well that didn’t work. The dog had punctured the upper and lower layers of the plastic. The majority of the water dripped out. After pealing off the top layer, I discover my Quik Rink, is no more than a light frosting. It looks more like an area I am preparing for a Polar Dip, than a winter skate.

2015-02-03 16.15.41

Anyone want to take a plunge?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I figure this has created enough of a base that I can flood. I was wrong. I was very, very wrong. I am sure if I were to remove my deck I would find a perfectly usable skating rink under there. The water is anywhere but on my rink.

I start flooding in smaller amounts. I am trying to create areas that will eventually join to create a smooth area. My hopes of creating a large 10 * 20 foot rink have shrunk to a 4 * 8 foot ice quarry.

2015-02-04 15.45.172015-02-04 15.45.082015-02-04 15.44.49

 

 

 

 

Day 4 brings hope. Under the plastic I can see streams of water. It looks like an underground network of rivers leading to one of the Great Lakes. Despite the grass peaking through the snow, I have finally created a solid patch of skatable ice. 15 inches by 15 inches. Possibly only usable by the Anna skating doll I have seen at Target, but still, usable.

Day 7

After 3 more days of flooding, the rink is making little progress. I have decided it looks more like a life-size diorama dedicated to the impact of the melting polar icecaps on the Polar Bear habitat. (So of course I went and bought a polar bear and took pictures to prove my point.)

2015-02-05 17.21.20 2015-02-05 17.21.42

 

Week 2

I’d like to say things improved. I was making progress when I started using 10 pitchers of water every hour for the better part of week 2. My friends were laughing at me (I can’t imagine why.) I was crawling around looking for holes, plugging them with snow, and then making ice band aids. I was almost at a point where I could start flooding the entire rink. We came close. Our progress halted when we went away for a couple of days, returning to bitter cold temperatures, and a huge snowfall.

2015-02-06 12.37.19

 

 

 

 

 

Oh well. At least I have a head start on our backyard swimming hole for the summer.

Anyone want help building a rink next Winter?

Wed, March 25 2015 » Uncategorized » No Comments

Never Trust a Toddler

"I do it All BY MYSELF!"

“I do it All BY MYSELF!”

Something wasn’t right. As she walked towards me, tying to entice me with a free makeover, my gut told me to walk away. Clutched in her hand, a hairbrush dripping with water. With a twinkle in her eye she said “I do it ALL BY MYSELF! … I brush your hair!”

It is hard to say no to such an ambitious young child. Luckily, only moments earlier, I had witnessed a questionable act which only reinforced my desire to politely decline her services. (Only further spurring both her laughter and her determination.)

Hair brushing is a hot topic in our house right now. She doesn’t want me to brush her hair. Even the smallest tangled is met by blood curdling screams. All hair elastics and barrettes are pulled out before we get out the door. The worst part is meal time. Somehow, her food ends up in her hair, making any attempts to fix her hair worse.

We have used every product on the market to decrease the tangles and the pain associated with hair brushing. (Although, I am convinced some of the screaming is for show, as it often starts before the hairbrush makes contact with her hair.) Often, when we are in a rush, I will resort to a wet hairbrush. It seems to do the trick in a pinch. Somehow, I know the Toddler Hair Treatment Special offered on this day was created using this basis.

While I would normally indulge Big Sis, and accept a free makeover with open arms, I knew better. Nothing is free!

I’ll leave it to your imagination. Just know, Big Sis’ only has access to one water source.

 

The Makeover

At 38″, Big Sis only has access to one water source. Ewwwww!

 

 

Sat, February 14 2015 » Tantrums, Uncategorized » No Comments

An Answer for Everything

Big Sis loves her Nana. On many levels I suspect she ranks higher than her parents, her sister, and even Santa on her favourites list.

I love my Nana!

I love my Nana!

Big Sis has a sixth sense. She instantly knows when Nana is on the phone, and will run from the opposite side of the house to talk to her. When she get the phone she only has one question (well more of a request):

Big Sis: “Nana. You come over? Now?”

Last weekend I called my mom around dinner time. Big Sis quickly grabbed the phone, demanding Nana come over immediately. Nana nicely explained that she couldn’t come over right now. It was dark outside, and Nana doesn’t like to drive at night, especially during a stormy winter’s night. She told her she would come over another time.

Big Sis was disappointed. Her brow furrowed. Then, her facial expression changed from disappointment to excitement. Her response to Nana ..

Just walk Nana

Just walk Nana

Big Sis: “That’s OK Nana. … You can walk!”

A future problem solver. Not a bad solution for a 3-year old. (Too bad Nana lives over an hour away.)

(Nana, I apologize for the picture. I recognize that in real life your hair is not grey and blue. Love you!)

Wed, January 14 2015 » Uncategorized » No Comments

And a new year begins

Christmas was a lot of fun this year. Big Sis asked Santa for 4 items: a doctor’s kit, a baby, a book, and a box.  Santa delivered 3 of the 4 items.   Santa wrapped the gifts this year; he usually doesn’t. This provided the first entertainment for Christmas morning. Big Sis spent more time squealing with excitement over the orange and Frozen themed chocolate egg in her stocking and showed no interest in her other presents.

After she finished her stocking, instead of tearing into her gifts she tackled ‘Lil Sis’ stocking. She was excited, until she discovered two items in her sister’s stocking. The first, 4 more characters for the Little People Disney Princess Castle (Aurora and the 3 Fairies!). The second, Elsa and Anna fork and spoon. Charlotte had a look of shock/disappointment/jealousy. The first of many moments to come when Big Sis wants to keep her little sister’s toys.

The Doctor’s Kit was a huge hit! Dr. Big Sis is very talented. If anyone needs a checkup let me know. I will see if she can squeeze you in. She will check your temperature, listen to your heart, take your blood pressure, give you medicine, AND count your teeth in the same visit. She is very efficient.

Maybe next year

Maybe next year

At the end of the night, while tucking her in to bed, we discussed the days events. She told me about her baby, her book, and her doctor’s kit. Then, in the sweetest little voice, she said, “but, no box. Santa did not bring me a box.” While I know she had a great Christmas, who would have thought that she was really wanted a box for Christmas. Maybe the Easter Bunny will be able to help us this year.

Party like it's 2015! Who needs a tilt-a-whirl, when you can self-propel yourself.

Party like it’s 2015! Who needs a tilt-a-whirl, when you can self-propel yourself.

Days later, after fighting off every illness possible, we rang in the New Year with friends. Against my better judgement, we allowed Big Sis to have a cupcake close to bedtime. Big, hilarious, worthwhile mistake. She spent upwards of 20 minutes, running, singing, and giggling, while she ran in circles. Her head was down the entire time. She would run until she collapsed, get-up, and run again. Oh to be 3!

 

 

Mon, January 5 2015 » Uncategorized » No Comments

The Sniff Test

We’ve all done it!

Scenario 1: You go away for the weekend –  You reach in your bag, search every pocket and corner, empty the bag, fill the bag, empty the bag again – you forgot to pack your extra socks, undershirt, pants, whatever the item is. You need it, and you only have what you are wearing, you have no choice but to wear your current clothing.

Scenario 2: Perhaps you are at home. You pick up a piece of clothing off the floor. Maybe you can’t remember if it is clean or it is dirty. Maybe you are questioning if you can get one more wear out of it before it goes in the wash.

Scenario 3: As a lifeguard it was towels. Who hasn’t forgotten to change the towel in their bag, until you are at work the next day, shivering, as you finish teaching swimming lessons. You reach into your bag to find a towel that has been there too long. (At least in this scenario you have a towel. The only worse position is when you have to decide whether to towel dry …. or take something out of the lost and found …)

What do you do in each of these scenarios? You give it THE SNIFF TEST!

It isn’t something we like to brag about, nor try to broadcast. In our home we operate with caution, and when in doubt, put it in the wash.

Now, you can probably see where this is going, so I’ll get right too it.

The Sniff Test

The Sniff Test

Earlier this week, we were getting ready for the day. (I cannot believe I kept my composure). We have been teaching Big Sis about clean versus dirty – focusing on her underwear and the need to change pairs each day (and sometimes just about wearing underwear in general, as we have discovered come bath time she has opted to go commando  all day).

I asked her if she had clean underwear. She took the pair she was holding in her hands, lifted it to her nose, and made two long audible sniffs.

Then, with her furrowed brow, looked at me, while nodding her head, and said “Yup! They’re clean!”

I don’t know where she learned this –  although she does burst out laughing when you mention dirty socks – perhaps there is a connection. It isn’t a part of our morning routine, and I hope it doesn’t become a regular aspect of Big Sis’!

 

 

Tue, November 25 2014 » Uncategorized » No Comments

You’re ruining everything!

Best friends - post show.

Best friends – post show.

A year ago my youngest brother married the love of his life.  While they both looked incredible, the flower girls stole the show (err actually leaf girls, buy you get the picture).  Too cute for words!

My niece is 3 years older than my daughter. She took the role very seriously. She  practiced for days leading up to the event.

Step … Reach in to basket … grab leaf … gracefully rotate arm … drop leaf … repeat

In preparation for the event her father tried to dispel the common ‘no man left behind’ mantra, stating that if her little cousin (my daughter) did not cooperate, she should just keep going. This would not be the day to be the hero. If a flower girl is down … just keep going.

The day of the wedding was beautiful and sunny.  It was an outdoor wedding at the Pyramid Hill Winery in Kelowna.  We were all a little nervous on how Big Sis would perform. Both girls were beyond excited to be wearing their flower girl dresses; with matching headbands and gold shoes.  Once the music started I knew there would be nothing I could do. I would have to hope Big Sis followed her older cousin and all would go as planned.

The music started … they were given their cue.  The two little girls walked together hand in hand behind the guests until they reached the aisle (or at least I thought this is what happened). At that point my daughter screamed with delight “Mama!” and ran up to the front (where I was holding gummies to motivate her walking all the way to the front).

Afterwards my brothers friends “tattled on my niece”.

Apparently, half-way through the walk, before they turned the corner, my niece stopped, turned to my daughter and said “You are ruining everything!”  Big Sis wasn’t performing up to my nieces standards.  Instead of gracefully tossing one leaf at a time, with a full arm extension, my daughter was stopping to admire the scenery, and tossing her leaves in bulk.  Afterwards I watched the footage for a play by play account of the events.  Sadly we don’t have the audio, but you can see the moment in the video when “the talk” occurred.

Happy Anniversary Uncle Greg and Aunt Min!

Mon, October 20 2014 » Uncategorized » 2 Comments

Frogs

When encountering new creatures it is important to instill confidence and curiosity in young Threenager minds.

Tonight we found a frog (maybe a toad … it was something that jumped).  I grabbed Big Sis to see. I tried to get her to pick it up. She said ‘No!’ And ran away. I managed to place the frog on a woodchip. She reluctantly held the chip. It wasn’t long but I was able to get a picture.

As I carried the frog into the light for a closer look I was somewhat proud of myself.  You see, as a child, I was subjected to years of torture. Living with 4 brothers who, under the guidance of brother #1, had a knack for catching anything that moves, and bringing it in the house.

Some creatures,  like the baby bunnies, and chipmunks were cute. Some creatures were interesting, like the turtle that filled our Mr. Turtle pool, the crow, or the baby mice and toads. Others, I could have done without – such as the snakes (that they stuck under my bedroom door, or the bugs).

Tonight though, I was thankful for my brothers. When I saw the frog I used it as a learning opportunity for Big Sis. Unfortunately I should have followed a lesson plan. I suspect all my effort was lost the moment I screamed like a banshee when the frog hopped off the wood chip I was carrying. #NatureVersusNutureFail #SoCloseButNowBigSisIsScarredForLife #PestRemovalIsNotAViableCareerPathForMe

Princess and the frog

Princess and the frog

Sat, September 27 2014 » Uncategorized » No Comments

Top Notch Parenting

Driving home on Sunday Big Sis started singing a little song. Somehow I feel her father influenced her words. So glad this is her most recent speech accomplishment. Listen closely to figure out what she is saying.

 

Mon, September 22 2014 » Uncategorized » No Comments

Just Happened … chocolate + toddler + car = bad decision

Chocolate + toddler + car = bad decision

Chocolate + toddler + car = bad decision

Despite my better judgment I shared my Ghirardelli Toffee Dark Chocolate with my Threenager this evening. I gave her a small test piece. She loved it and ate it without any mess. I then gave her a full square. Imagine my horror when I looked in the rear view mirror, catching a glimpse of chocolate while at a red light. I made her ride with her hands in the air for the rest of the trip home.

Why?

Why?

Why did I think I should go against my better judgment.  #totalparentfail #needtoinvestinindustrialcleaningcompany

Mon, September 15 2014 » Uncategorized » No Comments

no more apples!

Today Big Sis informed me that she doesn’t like apples. Perhaps the 5 dozen muffins, 6 dozen squares, 1 pot of applesauce, and apple slices every day for the past week were too much.

Two is better than one.

Two is better than one.

Big Sis informed me after her nap this afternoon. She set the table for dinner.  Each place had a container of applesauce and a fresh apple. 10 minutes later I noticed she had taken two for a snack.

Then I found a third.

Three is a crowd.

Three is a crowd.

 

 

Just a little nibble.

Just a little nibble.

And then, I found a forth. Perhaps her little nibble of each tasty apple was too much. Hopefully this phase doesn’t last long. There are 3 bags in the basement.

Mon, September 15 2014 » Uncategorized » No Comments

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