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Talking Toys

19 May

The day before yesterday, I felt like buying presents for the kids. It’s not Christmas, it’s not anyone’s birthday, it was just a day when I wanted to pull out surprises for the kids when I got home and see their faces exploding with smiles.

Getting presents for James is easy. There’s just one general guideline to follow: if it has wheels, he’ll love it. When he was younger, it was Thomas the Train. Then it was Hotwheels. And for the last year or so, it’s been Disney’s Cars. The kid has about twenty Lightning McQueens and fifteen Maters, plus a Sally, a Sheriff, a Red The Fire Truck, a Doc Hudson, and all of the other characters, and it’s still not enough. The Cars obsession showed signs of starting to flag a little, but that was before the preview for Cars 2 came out.

And now the toy stores have come out with a whole new line of Cars 2 products. And so I headed straight for the display and picked out a Lightning McQueen (yes, another one) and a Mater (yes, another one). These aren’t just any Lightning and Mater, though. Some previous iterations have had features like the ability to light up or make vroom-vroom noises. These new ones do all of that AND talk!

Buying presents for George is more of a challenge. He doesn’t play with toys in the same way that other kids do. He’s into more cerebral stuff that lets him work with words or numbers, but there are only so many alphabetic fridge magnets and alphanumeric toys that you can buy for one child. The only toy toys that he really likes are Lego blocks and Mr. Potato Head. And again, he has so much of that stuff that buying more would seem like overkill. I mean, his Mr. Potato Head collection fills three large boxes.

But still, there’s always hope that Hasbro has come up with a new Mr. Potato Head character to add to Indiana Jones Taters of the Lost Ark, Darth Tater, and all the rest of them. So I headed over to the Mr. Potato Head section, and to my utter astonishment, I struck gold.

A talking Mr. Potato Head.

This thing is super-cool. You don’t even have to press any buttons to make him talk. He’s equipped with a built-in microphone that picks up on conversation and noises in the room, and he talks back. His repertoire of things to say is surprisingly extensive. An added feature is that when the room is silent, he will say things like, “Can I get some attention around here?” And if you make a sudden loud noise like banging on the table or clapping your hands, Mr. Potato Head’s pieces come flying off.

It’s a fun, fun toy. A bit challenging to have in the room when you’re trying to watch TV because it keeps providing a running commentary, but that’s a minor detail to live with. What’s really fantastic about it is how much George loves it. Getting him a toy that he instantly engages with and has fun with is such a rare experience, and we savour it.

In the meantime, James has fallen in love with his talking Cars cars. He gets them to have conversations with each other (they too, have a decent repertoire).

So things are peaceful in my house right now, with the kids each having cool new toys to play with.

And because of the nature of the toys involved, things are very, very talkative.

(Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/kiraca/5651863946)

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Rough As A Badger’s Arse

18 Apr

To say that I am feeling rough today would be an understatement. I have that exhausted, fuzzy-in-the-brain, all-over achy feeling that is usually associated with the aftermath of a weekend of heavy drinking and dedicated partying.

I guess this is partly true. On Saturday our bridal party threw a Jack & Jill party for us. One of the groomsmen showed up with several bottles of wine and a beer-filled cooler that could have sunk a small ship. “Drink!” he commanded. “Enjoy!”

Well, orders are orders. I drank. I enjoyed. The guys crowded around the cooler of beer like bees around a honeypot, while me and most of the other women present tucked into the wine.

It was an outstanding evening. There was food, there were happy people, there was a lovely raffle prize (which was won by my five-year-old), and there was the incredible spectacle of my soon-to-be mother-in-law enthusiastically throwing a pie into the face of her firstborn son, the groom-to-be.

Eventually the guests left, leaving Gerard and I to settle our over-excited children. By the time we fell into an exhausted sleep ourselves, it must have been close to two in the morning.

I woke up yesterday morning with a well-earned hangover – the kind that comes complete with a queasy stomach, an excruciating headache and a death wish. I stumbled into the bathroom to get some extra-strength Tylenol and some water. Then I somehow – probably by luck more than anything else -found my way back to bed, and with the room spinning around me, I went back to sleep.

For a change, the kids were not up at the crack of dawn, as they usually are on weekends. They let me sleep, the little treasures.

When I woke up for the second time, I still felt kind of gross, but at least I felt as if I was going to live. I got up and went for a run (I say that as if it was a seamless event – the process of getting up and going for a run actually took about three hours).

The run was hard. The weather was bad. I was exhausted at the end of it – as if I hadn’t already been exhausted to begin with.

You’d think I would have slept last night, but no. Not only is George going through one of his phases of not sleeping, my mind is chock-full of details right now and just isn’t letting me rest. I tossed and turned and eventually fell into a fitful sleep, not long before I had to wake up.

To borrow a wonderful phrase from a book I read (This Charming Man by Marian Keyes, if you’re interested), today I am feeling as rough as a badger’s arse.

After another seventeen or so cups of coffee, I might start to feel normal.

Girls Just Wanna Have Fun

10 Apr

Yesterday was just the second time that I missed a day in the Post A Day challenge. But since I still have enough “spare” posts from earlier in the year, I remain on track to complete the challenge.

In any case, I have a good excuse. With three weeks to go until my wedding, there is still a truckload to do and stress levels are running high. But never mind about that. Last night I had the opportunity to forget about to-do lists and table seating charts for a few hours. Because last night, my maid of honour Michelle and bridesmaid Jenn picked me up and whisked me away for a night of out-and-out fun.

My girls adorned me with a shiny Miss Universe style sash emblazoned with the word “Bachelorette”, a light-up “Bride To Be” badge, a silver tiara, and a white feather boa. We went to a nearby bar with a live band, where Michelle had reserved a table for us, right beside the dance floor. Shortly after our first drinks arrived, several other ladies arrived. We drank, danced, laughed and drank some more. My glass of wine kept regenerating itself, and from time to time a shot glass would appear in front of me, as if by magic.

It was a great, great night. It was pure, unrestrained fun, and that is a big deal for this overwhelmed Mom who hardly ever gets to go out.

Thank to you Michelle and Jenn for putting it all together. As I write this almost a full day later, I am still basking in the warmth of the friendship that surrounded me last night.

(Photo credit: Michelle Clermont)