Month: September 2012 (page 1 of 8)

On a lazy Sunday morning

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…the kitties have stolen my knitting chair. But I don’t really mind. There’s always the couch.

Boomer Life: 3 videos to make your weekend shine

Dear Sunday Swells,

Some videos for a relaxing weekend.  We start off with something musical:

Now for a little romance, for those of us who remember the 80s:

And finally, you just know I’m going to include kittens:

See you next week,

Karen & Wendy

Award time: This one’s the Sweetest!

Dear Readers,

As many of you know, we’re pretty new (but ridiculously enthusiastic) members of the blogosphere. So imagine our surprise when we received this lovely note from Scott at Gnostic Bent: “Congratulations! You have just received the So Sweet Blogger Award for being so AWESOME!” And we got a button with a picture of a cupcake, and everything! Continue reading

Parenting Pro Tips: 11 ways to drive your teenager nuts

Dear Readers,

We’ve decided to do a joint post today, because it’s Friday. Yes, that’s really all the reason we need. Don’t question us.

Today’s topic: how to drive your teenager completely bull-goose loony, in just a few simple steps (without receiving a phone call from Child and Youth Services or your local equivalent). We both have considerable experience in this matter, and have decided, out of the goodness of our hearts, to share it with you.

Why would you want to know how to drive your kid up a wall? If you’re asking this, you’ve probably never actually had a teenager. Trust us. At some point, you will need this information.

Okay, your kids may have already left home, but with a little creativity you can probably find ways to apply at least a little of what you’re about to learn, even if your children have long since fled halfway around the globe. So settle in, and get ready to take notes. There will be a test.

First the easy stuff: social media—

1. Friend your kid on Facebook.

alt="image-parents on facebook"

No caption needed, really. We think the image says it all.

For some teens, this will be taken as an act of aggression, equivalent to hiding their iPhone or implementing the parental control setting on your TV cable box, such that they only have access to one channel: the Ontario Legislature Channel, to be specific. (Actually, this isn’t a bad idea, either. We might be speaking from experience.)

2. Once you’ve friended your kid, look around for his or her friends, and send each of them a friend request, too. This works best if you actually know who your child hangs out with, but it can be fun to branch out, too. Friend everyone your kid knows on Facebook, regardless of who they are! After all, you want your kid to be popular, right? And when your teen’s friends see how open and welcoming her parents are, they will be unbelievably impressed. Your kid’s cool factor will skyrocket.

3. If any of your child’s friends reciprocate and friend you back (don’t laugh, it has happened), make sure you post on their Wall. Post early, post often. Post things on your own child’s wall, too. You wouldn’t want your kid to think you value his/her friends more than him/her, would you? Exactly. Oh, and “like” everything your kid does. Even those pics of your kid barfing at last Saturday’s party. This is called “unconditional positive regard,” and all the parenting books recommend it. We do, too.

4. Some parents aren’t sure what they should post. We suggest that you simply respond (in a sensitive manner, of course) to whatever issues your kid (or their friends) seem to be experiencing that day. For example, if your teen mentions that they found it hard to get up that morning, you could say something like, “Yes, Snookums really was a fuzzy-wuzzy gwumpy bear this morning, wasn’t he?” Your child will appreciate your sympathetic approach. Pet names are optional, of course, but they do help to convey your caring message.

5. Don’t forget: teens love it when we speak their lingo. It shows them that we are real killer-diller hep cats. And kittens. So sprinkle your posts liberally with slang and text-speak. For example, let’s say you want to respond to a picture of your kid at a recent party. Instead of saying, “My goodness, son, you look like you were inebriated!” try posting, “Yo! Dude!!1! PARTAAAAAY!1!” This may not be English, but trust us, your kid will know what you mean. And will love you for it.

Next, the stuff that takes a bit of imagination, but is totally worth it once you get the hang of it—

6. Deliberately mis-pronounce words that have only one possible pronunciation. A favourite word to mess with is “psychological”, which, when you give it a little effort, becomes “psy-ko-logg-ih-cal“. When they say get annoyed and try to pronounce it the other way, look at them with pity in your eyes and condescension in your soul and reply, “but that’s not logg-ih-cal“.

7. Lie. A lot. When a big holiday comes along, like, say, Easter, who would blame you if you sat inside your locked bedroom and ate all the chocolate eggs and jelly beans? I mean, you’ve had them hidden in your room for a week prior, you’re only human, you just wanted one…and next thing you know, your face is covered in chocolate, you’ve got tinfoil in your teeth and your tongue is every colour of the rainbow. Well, oops. Sue me. I ate them and I enjoyed every pre-diabetic moment of it. But now it’s time for the Easter Egg Hunt and the cupboard is bare. This is when lying comes in handy. Tell your little kiddies that the Easter Bunny’s flight got delayed and she’ll be coming tomorrow with her baskets of joy, not today. Once you’ve placated them, run down to See’s Candies and stock up again, making sure to buy extra just in case you, um, want more.

English: A milk chocolate Easter Bunny.

The Easter Bunny is a well-known slacker, and frequently misses her airline flights. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

7.1. Lie to make your life easier. I read a good one the other day: when the ice cream truck drives through the neighbourhood ringing its bells, tell your child that they only do that to announce they’ve run out of ice cream. This is brilliant in its simplicity and cunning. I’m surprised our mother didn’t think of it back when we were young.

8. Whenever your kids ooh and aah at someone else’s startling act of genius, like winning an Olympic gold, for example, claim that you won one as well. The bigger the story, the better. How to ease into this fabrication: “Well, Johnny, I actually invented that lightning bolt stance when I broke the 9-second barrier at the 1934 Olympics in Timbuktu. It was written up in all the record books, you know and the government gave me free cheese for life.” This one works a treat as well: “Oh my god, it’s much more difficult than it looks, wearing that lingerie, stilettos, and those angel wings down the catwalk—do you have any idea how heavy wings are???” Kids love this. Trust us.

9. Make sure to vacuum their room early and often. Don’t do it while they’re out, as they may not notice your efforts, and won’t have the chance to thank you properly. Rather, wait for the right moment, such as when they’ve been out late the night before, and the room smells like stale beer. While you’re vacuuming, it’s a nice touch to sing along with the vacuum cleaner. Kind of a “whistle while you work” thing. It’s easy: just open your mouth and go, “EEEEEEEEEEEEeeeeEEEEEEEEEEE…” as loudly as possible. We promise you, they’ll thank you for the clean living space. They may also offer you their allowance if you JUST. PLEASE. SHUT. UP.

10. On the dance floor, be the Parent With the Mostest by knowing all the words and actions to YMCA or The Funky Chicken. If you feel ambitious, go look up the latest viral video on YouTube, Gangnam Style.

alt="image-Gangnam-Style-Allkpop.com"

Doesn’t this look like a fun little dance move? You will definitely be Top of the Pops with your kids if you can nail this one. (Image from allkpop.com)

Your kids will be unbelievably impressed if you can emulate these dance moves—especially if you dress the part! Don’t be afraid to attempt a little air-guitar, either. Most kids will be riveted to the spot by your awesome moves. This is not the time for lip-synching. Sing loud, sing proud.

11. When the waiter comes to take your order at a restaurant, make sure you say in a plaintive but loud voice, “Mummy needs a liddle drinkie.” Kids think this is quite hysterical, especially if it’s breakfast time. Don’t be surprised if they fall off their seats with laughter. This tip works, whether you’re ordering from McDonald’s or a 5-star Michelin restaurant. For extra bonus points, you can follow them around while they’re shopping in their favourite hip, happening places, wailing, “But [insert kid’s name here], slow down! Mummy needs a drinkie-poo!” This is sure to bring the house down.

If you follow these helpful tips, developed by us through years of hard work and diligence, you are guaranteed results of a spectacular nature.

It took us 30 years to perfect the ability of driving a teenager wonky—after reading this, you’ll be able to achieve the same positive results in just hours. You’re welcome.

We wish you the best of luck,

Karen and Wendy

Okay, now it’s your turn! Do you enjoy sending your teens screaming up the wall? We want to hear about it, and so do all our readers. Go ahead, don’t be shy. We promise we won’t tell your kids.

Boomer Memories: Camping FAIL

Dear Wendy,

Ah, yes, camping for the unprepared. I know it well. Back in 1977, my friends and I got the bright idea of heading out to Mosport Raceway, north of Toronto, to watch the last Formula 1 Canadian Grand Prix held in that esteemed location. All three of us had camped in the past, but never on our own, and collectively it turned out that we gave new meaning to the term “clueless.” But what the heck—off we went in my friend’s Datsun, ready for a great weekend of racing and fun.

Our problems became apparent just after we arrived.

Like you and Lars, we forgot to bring an axe, but it wouldn’t have helped in any case, because we seriously underestimated the time it would take to get to Mosport from Ottawa, with the result that we arrived at about 10 p.m., and discovered that any available firewood had been scooped up by the approximately six zillion other campers who’d preceded us.

Oh, and did I mention the other six zillion campers? They’d also called dibs on all the available camping space. We drove Anne-Marie’s little Datsun around the muddy, dark camping area, and finally found a place to pitch our (borrowed) canvas tent, vintage circa WWI, which none of us knew exactly how to set up. Using only the car’s headlights and our own smarts, plus some very creative swear-words, we finally figured out the antique tent’s secrets, and got it into a more or less upright position. It spent the rest of the trip threatening to collapse.

Oh, and did I mention that this was in October? And that it was freezing cold? And that it rained the ENTIRE FREAKING TIME?

Even given the sweat we’d worked up getting that damned tent up, we were unbearably cold, and the light sleeping bags we’d brought really didn’t cut it. We wound up zipping them together into one giant bag, which we tried to share, on the theory that we’d be able to keep warm from one another’s body heat. Unfortunately, three people in one very wide sleeping bag is just not a good idea: whenever one of us rolled over, the others were all forced to do the same, and the result was something akin to the rolling tracks on a bulldozer. We rolled around the tent all night, none of us actually sleeping much, and all of us bitterly cold. More unladylike words were said.

In the morning, another problem became obvious: we’d shopped for food before the trip, but we failed to bring anything to cook it on (okay, we had a frying pan, but no stove, and no fire), since we’d been under the misapprehension that we’d easily be able to track down my friend’s brother, who was allegedly onsite with his camper van. And the food we brought—massive slabs of steak, two dozen eggs, and a whole whack of bacon—pretty much demanded cooking. No fruits, no bread, no peanut butter even…I think we did bring knives and forks, but they seemed like a cruel joke considering our extreme lack of food. Or rather, the food we had, which was tormenting us by being completely inedible.

You remember how the site at Woodstock turned into a giant sucking quagmire of mud after the torrential downpour they had that weekend? Yeah. That. At some point Anne-Marie managed to lose a shoe in the muck, so she was forced to spend the rest of the trip hobbling around with one bare foot (okay, so it turns out that high-heeled wooden clog sandals aren’t exactly ideal camping gear—who knew?). She remained bitter about this for several weeks, as I recall.

alt="image-camping-rain-mud"

Okay, this was actually taken at the Isle of Wight Festival last spring. But trust me, Mosport looked a lot like this when we were there. Except with crappier tents.

alt="image-1970s wooden high-heel clogs"

One of these shoes is probably still buried in the mud at Mosport. If future generations find it, they may question our sanity. They would be quite right.

We huddled in the Datsun and tried to assess our options, which were pretty limited. Just when we’d almost decided to give up and head back to Ottawa, we saw someone outside the car, gesturing to us. I rolled down the window a crack. Our visitor turned out to be a very pleasant gentleman named Jim from Kansas City (I could never remember which Kansas City, because apparently there are two), who owned the sleek-looking van next to us. Taking pity on our bedraggled state, he kindly offered us a share of his plentiful dry firewood, and invited us to warm up in his van.

We all exchanged looks—we had no idea if this guy was really a mass murderer, since we’d known him approximately thirty seconds—but we must have figured there was safety in numbers. Or we were too wet, cold, and hungry to really care much. We followed him to the van, which was in fact warm, dry, and absolutely mass-murderer free. Granted, it featured wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling orange shag carpeting, but this was the seventies. People did that to their vans back then.

Jim turned out to be a Viet Nam war vet, who’d made a fortune in the racing business and now followed the Grand Prix circuit whenever he could. Once we’d dried out a bit, and warmed up to the point where our teeth had ceased chattering, he gave us the promised firewood, offered us some matches and paper, and told us that if we needed anything else, we had only to ask. He didn’t once tell us we were dunces, or suggest that we were anything other than pleasant camping neighbours who happened to be in a bit of a jam. Jim, wherever you are, God bless you.

The second night was just as awful as the first, except that we weren’t hungry any more, just cold and exhausted. Hey, that was a step up! Anyway, by the second day, the rain had stopped, and we sat in the grandstands watching legendary Formula 1 racers like Mario Andretti and Gilles Villeneuve (who’d actually spoken to us the previous day! Oh, the excitement!) tear up the track.

alt="image-Villeneuve-Mosport-1977"

Did I mention that our tickets entitled us to wander through the sheds the day before the race, and gape at the cars and their drivers?

The thrill we felt as those amazing cars surged past at speed…you could feel it in your chest, and it (almost) made our camping woes seem worth it. Andretti’s car crapped out about three laps from the end of the race, and I believe first place went to Jody Scheckter from South Africa. I don’t remember whether Villeneuve placed, but we screamed our lungs out every time his car shot past.

Oh, and we did eventually find my friend’s brother, who’d apparently been there all along. After the race, we broke camp (if you could call it a camp) and hit the road back to Ottawa. But I don’t think any of us will ever forget that awful, wonderful weekend! (However, please note that if either of my kids had tried a stunt like this, I would have a) mocked them to death, and b) had a stroke. Not necessarily in that order. Probably a good thing I didn’t tell our parents what we were up to, right?)

Love,

Karen

p.s. You’ll note that this experience didn’t stop me from future camping expeditions. If you and Lars ever want to come along on one of our treks, we’d be happy to show you the ropes!

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