Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Are you packing heat?


The product description read: Witness one of nature's most spectacular transformations - up close - with a reusable, collapsible habitat.



Totally appealing, no?

When I saw the live butterfly garden advertised online, I became restless. Against my better judgement, I knew I had to get one for my insect-obsessed 6 year old. I mean, the kit promised an easy-to-use feeder and complete instructions. And butterfly larvae with food shipped directly to my home.

There was no way this wasn’t happening.

Despite my aversion to having bugs in the house, I placed my order and – as is typical in my area – I requested it be shipped to a drop-off location on the USA side of the border so I could pop across, pick it up and bring the parcel home.

Now before I continue, I want to make one thing perfectly clear… I am a law-abiding citizen. For the most part. I drive below the speed limit. I almost always tell the supermarket cashier if she accidentally rings my apples in at the regular price instead of organic price and I don’t let my daughter pocket stray items that have fallen out their packages onto the floor at Canadian Tire. However, when it comes to rules like Do Not Transport Live Insects Across the Border, I scoff at the law and morph into a criminal. A trafficker, if you will.

Here’s my reasoning. If the insects can crawl or fly to my house from across the river, then why can’t I help them along by giving them a lift in my car? I mean, it’s not like I’m hauling them off to Newfoundland.

On the day of the pick up, I neglected to tell my kid that my mother and I were smuggling FIVE LIVING THINGS into the country, so as not to make her an accomplice. Reentering Canada, we declared our olives, our gluten-free bread and our brand new packages of socks while blissfully omitting the as-yet-unopened box in the back of the vehicle.

Upon our arrival home, my daughter and I opened the carton (which had magically appeared in our kitchen) because one of us was excited to see what was inside. An expandable mesh habitat, a small green feeding device and assorted bits of paper all fell out onto the floor.

“Where are the caterpillars?!!!?”

Panic ensued as mom and I scoured the area. Holy crap where are hell are they? Did they crawl under dishwasher? Are they still in the car? Are they really that small? Are they stuck to the inside of the box?

That's when I noticed the fine print, which read: caterpillars sold separately. 

Oh shit.

I went online and ordered the critters after being assured by someone at a California caterpillar farm that the creatures would arrive in a timely manner, and would be very, very small – as long as they stayed cool. 

 
I could handle that.

On the afternoon of the smuggling, I left my mother and daughter in the car and entered the drop-off location which - truth be known - is a sun porch attached to house belonging to a woman named Nell. Once inside, I spotted the box with my name on it, bathed in beam of bright, hot sunlight. I held my breath and opened the cardboard while people inside the house stared through the windows, becoming increasingly interested in my movements. Inside the box was a small plastic jar, with a flimsy lid and five big, hot caterpillars crawling around in their own poop.

They were f#%*ing ENORMOUS.

I briefly considered running and abandoning the mission, leaving Nell to care for the beasts but instead, I cringed and placed the jar in my purse. My purse! Then, I exited the porch, careful not to trip. In the car, I handed the handbag to my mother who promised to keep it upright at her feet as we traveled through the border crossing.

"What did you pick up?" my six year old inquired.

"Nothing, there were no parcels," I replied, voice shaking. I couldn't tell her. She's a crappy liar and she'd cave at the border.  

I begged my mother not to jostle the purse, without being able to explain that there was a very real possibility of five giant hairy beasts escaping their temporary home and appearing at her ankles.

"Anything to declare?" The guard at the Canadian side of the border was not in the mood for chit-chat.

"We bought a carton of milk."

"Any alcohol or tobacco?"

"Nope."

"Firearms?"

"None."

"Live plants or animals?" 

"Ha ha! What? No. Of course not."

The border guard stared at me. I stared at the border guard. He looked at my purse. My purse! I looked at my mother. Then, I did the only thing I could do. I opened the rear window.

Within seconds, my mile-a-minute daughter began regaling the man in the booth with tales about the turtle we saved at the end of our road – two years ago. And the donuts she ate - last year and the birthday party she was attending - next week and...

Suddenly, our passports were handed back to me as the guard smiled, said, “Have a nice day” and sent us on our way.

"THEY'RE HUGE!!!!!!"

The words fell out of my mouth as soon as we sped away from the booths, prompting my mom to gingerly pulled the jar out of my purse and show it to my daughter who squealed with utter and complete delight.

At home, I had a closer look.


Yeah, that's right.

And with that, our butterfly-raising journey began...

No, really.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

It's ALIVE!

by Andrea Mulder-Slater

I woke up this morning with two thoughts in my head.

1) Coffee. Because, coffee.

and

2) Martinis & Motherhood: Tales of Wonder, Woe and WTF?! Because, holy freaking crap – I’m in a book that’s being released TODAY. As in right now.

Did I mention I’m in a book?  Yes a book! This book:



Shannon Day and Tara Wilson of Tipsy Squirrel Press have collected 37 amazing stories that will make you laugh, make you cry and make you pee your pants (in a good way).

I’ll be honest here. The thought of my words hanging out in a book, with other - much cooler words - written by thirty-six other women - phenomenal women - from around the world, makes me want to go straight to the mirror to check if I have any flax seeds stuck between my teeth.

----------------------------------------------------
Who are the Wonder contributors
Who are the Woe contributors?
Who are the WTF?! contributors?
 ---------------------------------------------------- 

It’s mind boggling and exciting and terrifying. And it’s enough to drive a girl to eat chocolate bars. Or chocolate chips. Or at the very least a tablespoonful of those candy sprinkles you find in the cake aisle.

But all of that is nonsense because I am in a book and that book is – as of this moment – available to the world.

And because YOU my faithful reader are a BIG part of why I am in this book, I am going to share a brief excerpt of my essay, found in the WTF?! section of Martinis & Motherhood, published by Tipsy Squirrel Press.

I'll warn you ahead of time, the essay involves this:



--------------------
 Bug House
When my daughter was a toddler, she could whack a housefly like nobody’s business. And when I say whack, I mean annihilate.
Wings. Guts. Everywhere. 

When other parents were busy making sure their tiny tots Knew their red circles from their blue squares, I was encouraging my kid to work on her gross motor skills with the help of a fly swatter named Smack. 

 Her natural-born tracking abilities were most welcome during the year we lived in a rental while our new home was being built. 


Our temporary place was an A-frame with large, south-facing windows and about 70 billion fly-sized holes in the walls. 

We had a good system. My child would hunt, and I would help her ceremoniously flush her conquests down the toilet where they would (and I quote) “go to the fly fair” to be happily reunited with their friends and family.
And presumably, their legs. 

But then my daughter turned four, and just like that, the free ride was over...
--------------------


If you want to read the rest, you'll have to buy the book. It's available (print and Kindle) on amazon.com and amazon.co.uk. and (Kindle) on amazon.ca. My fellow Canadians can buy the print version from amazon.com now or can hold on for the 6 weeks it will take to become available from amazon.ca.

Now because sometimes I speak too quickly or too quietly or not at all, I should pause here to let you all know what Martinis & Motherhood is all about. So here, from the publisher, are the deets.
Stories that inspire, entertain, and make you laugh ’til you pee. Plus martinis! And not just any-old-martinis—these ones were designed just for moms! These tales of Wonder, Woe and WTF?! share a little glimpse into the lives of other moms, who are a lot like you. Through their tales, we’re reminded to savour the little things (like capturing extra morning snuggles), to let go of the stresses (they won’t be in that unfortunate phase forever), and to be grateful for the laughs that the unexpected brings (because laughing is better than crying and it may be the only workout our abs get!). So shake up an easy-to-make martini, put your feet up (quickly, before the kids find you) and join us on our journey as we toast to the many clink-worthy moments that motherhood brings.
Awesome, yes? But WAIT! There's more!

To celebrate all of this wonderfulness, I'm giving away a copy of Martinis & Motherhood and all you need to do to enter is leave a short message in the comments section below. Be brave, be honest and be quick because I'll pick a name at random on June 25th.

And... thanks for your support. I mean it.

No, really.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------
ps: Here is a list of my co-conspirators. They are all AMAZING!


Tellers of Wonder
Lynn Morrison nomadmomdiary.com
Angila Peters detachedfromlogic.com
Magnolia Ripkin magnoliaripkin.com
Louise Gleeson latenightplays.com
Jocelyn Pihlaja omightycrisis.com.com
Alison Huff crumbsdown.com
Leigh-Mary Barone Hoffmann happilyeverlaughterblog.com
Shannon Drury theradicalhousewife.com
Patricia Mirchandani raising-humans.com
Lauren Stevens lo-wren.com
Cordelia Newlin de Rojas multilingualmama.com
Sarah Deveau doingallthethings.com

Tellers of Woe
Shannon Day martinisandmotherhood.com
Tara Wilson dontlickthedeck.com
Vicki Lesage vickilesage.com
Abby the Writer littlemissperfect.com
Brooke Takhar missteenussr.com
Kate Parlin shakespearesmom.com
Christina Antus christinaantus.net
Jennifer Baird-Dean thechiofjen.com
Sara Park crcrsmommyblog.com
Tamara Schroeder thattamiam.com
Kristen Hansen Brakeman kristenbrakeman.com
Lori Lu Green LeRoy theinadequateconception.com
Carolyn Mackenzie facebook.com/carolynmackenzietvpersonality

Tellers of WTF?!
Susanne Kerns thedustyparachute.com
Sarah Halsall del Rio established1975.com
Lisa Webb canadianexpatmom.com
Jessica D’Andrea Kapp jesskapp.com
Kim McDonald twobugsandablog.com
Lisa Carmody Doiron momologues-soliloquies.com
Olga Mecking europeanmama.com
Holly Rust mothersguidetosanity.com
Kathryn Leehane foxywinepocket.com
Jill Hudkins Robbins rippedjeansandbifocals.com
Kristine Laco mumrevised.com
Andrea Mulder-Slater noreallyandrea.com

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

25 Minutes in a Medical Office

by Andrea Mulder-Slater

Yesterday, I went for a follow up visit with my optometrist, after something peculiar was discovered during an earlier appointment. Perhaps pure spun gold was found at the edge of my iris. Maybe I had a third pupil. Really I had no idea because I had asked exactly zero questions.

Remarkably, I wasn’t the slightest bit concerned about my ocular oddity, which was completely out of character considering the fact that over the past year, I’ve been painstakingly working my way alphabetically through the medical community (cardiologist, dermatologist…) you know, just to “rule things out.”

But, for some inexplicable reason, what can go wrong with my eyes is a question I had not yet asked Dr. Google.

I arrived early for my 3:30pm appointment. This is what happened next.

3:25pm: Enter waiting room, sit down and grab home decorating magazine. Flip through pages of pristine kitchens with monstrous bowls of glossy lemons sitting on gleaming countertops while speculating why wealthy homeowners require so much citrus. Glance at the teenage boy sitting to my right. Imagine how bizarre it would be if I could read his mind. Turn my attention to the radio as Taylor Swift encourages me to “shake it off.”

3:27pm: Say, “No, actually I’m Andrea,” after the receptionist looks at me and declares, “you must be Mary.” Watch the receptionist rifle through file folders before abruptly leaving her desk.

3:28pm: After finding out that today is Monday and my appointment is on Tuesday, I pull out my iPod and pretend to look at my “schedule” while apologizing profusely to the flustered woman behind the counter.

3:29pm: Say thank you repeatedly when my optometrist agrees to see me today instead of tomorrow. Breathe a sigh of relief since I wearing my last clean pair of underwear and laundry tonight is not in my plans.

3:31pm: Follow a cheerful eye technician into a dark room. Sit down and rest my chin on a padded cushion - wet with the scent of rubbing alcohol. Press my face firmly into a machine designed to encourage captured spies to turn in their co-conspirators. Feel my body jolt uncontrollably as tiny puffs of air are repeatedly forced into my eyeballs.

3:32pm: Willingly trail the same technician into another dark room where a giant camera sits, waiting to snap photographs of the inner workings of my weepy eyes.

3:33pm: Sit down in a second waiting room with a nice supply of children’s books and toys.

3:35pm: Smile at my optometrist who has just emerged from her office with a tissue in one hand and a small bottle of liquid in the other. Answer yes when she asks if I have someone to drive me home. Lean my head back and allow a woman I barely know to drizzle an unknown substance into the corners of my eyes. Listen to her tell me to keep my eyes shut for a few minutes while also adding that the drops might cause a slight burning sensation.

3:36pm: Hear my optometrist walk away.

3:37pm: Open my eyes. Feel an immense burning sensation. Do a quick scan of my immediate surroundings. Notice a giant stencil of a pair of glasses on the wall down the hallway. Wonder what time it is. Bend down to grab my purse.

3:38pm: Try to focus on the contents of my handbag while searching for my phone. Blink furiously in a futile attempt to clear the haze from my eyes. Realize that I am unable to see my fingernails. 

3:39pm: Look here. Look there. Look at the wall. See pictures of large eyes on giant posters. See black lines where words once appeared. Key in on the LARGE PRINT WORDSEARCH book that is sitting in a basket on the floor. Pick it up to get a closer look. See nothing but colors.

3:40pm: Wonder why my mother neglected to mention this symptom when she had the same procedure two weeks ago. Then, freak the fuck out.

3:41pm: Breathe in. Breathe in again. Wonder where everybody went. Hear nothing.

3:42pm: Strain to look at a colorful wave of spectacles hanging on the wall in the distance. Think about everyone who works in this office. Realize THEY ALL WEAR GLASSES. Reflect on the fact that after their examinations, both my mother and daughter ended up WITH GLASSES. Deduce that that everyone who has ever set foot in this space is now WEARING GLASSES. Convince myself that these drops are how my optometrist talks people into BUYING GLASSES. 

3:43pm: Picture myself in glasses. Imagine deciding on a nice turquoise frame with a bridge wide enough to accommodate my enormous Dutch nose. Wonder what contact lenses might feel like.

3:44pm: Hear footsteps. Reach out into the foggy abyss…

3:45pm: Shuffle behind my optometrist into the examining room. Ask if I will ever be able to see well enough to pluck stray hairs from my chin again. Feel much better when I hear that in order for my doc to properly inspect my eye, she had to use a medication that relaxed my focusing muscles, effectively give me the eyesight of a drunken ninety-year-old man.

3:48pm: Leave the office with a warning (to watch for any bright lights and/or sudden darkness) and a recommendation to see an eye surgeon just to make sure my retina isn’t trying to quietly defect from my body. 

3:49pm: Pay the bill with utter and complete difficulty. Because, blurry everything.

3:50pm: Climb into the passenger side of a stranger's car. Exit said car. Find my mother and child by scent. Ride shotgun to the grocery store to purchase many new items without being able to read any ingredients. 

Once I arrived home, I strained – with no luck - to see my reflection in the mirror. Instead, I took this photograph of my eye so I would be able to inspect it once my vision returned. Keep in mind; this photo was taken in a brightly sun-lit room and typically, bright lights will reduce the size of your pupil. But as you can see, mine looks like a dinner plate. A big black dinner plate that does not budge. I mean seriously, You could serve a tuna melt on that thing.

 Full disclosure: I Picmonkey’d the hell out of this image.

That was yesterday.

Today my pupils are properly expanding and contracting and I can see clearly again, although my head is aching which may or may not be normal.

Wait, let me just go and ask Dr. Google…

No, really.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Make Flowers

by Andrea Mulder-Slater

Do you like flowers?  Of course you do. 

Do you like it when flowers start to wither and die, leaving cupfuls of thick, stinky water in their wake? Of course you don't.

To bridge the gap, I've come up with five blossoms that won't drop their petals in your cereal bowl.

This week on The Art of Childhood, find flower-making ideas that are super-easy, even for non-crafty types.





Read it here: 5 Stunning Paper Flowers Kids Can Make

http://www.yummymummyclub.ca/blogs/andrea-mulder-slater-the-art-of-childhood/20150429/5-flowers-that-will-live-forever




Saturday, May 2, 2015

Enough With the Arting and Crafting

by Andrea Mulder-Slater

Children and art DO NOT go together.

Yes, you read that right.

This week on The Art of Childhood, find out why I am banning my kid from making art, and why you should too.

End the madness before it's too late. Trust me, I'm an artist.


Read it here: Kids Crafts: Just Say NO

http://www.yummymummyclub.ca/blogs/andrea-mulder-slater-the-art-of-childhood/20150421/im-banning-my-kid-from-making-art-and-so




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