Wednesday, February 20, 2013

So Long, Blogger!

This blog has a new home! Don't think of this as a move so much as an exciting blast from the past. Not only have I returned to, I've reinstated my original blog name, Closer. Whooop Whoop!!

Come check me out at my new/old site: There will be punch and pie.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Operation Clean-Up-After-Your-Own-Damn-Self UPDATE

Why I Love Toy Jail

Disclaimer: "Toy Jail" is not my original idea.
I stole it from a friend who stole it from whoknowswhere.

First, a quick definition: Toy Jail is a bin or basket designated for any items your child refuses to pick up. Toys are then held in "jail" for a set period of time or earned back with good behaviour. For example, if I told my 3-year old to pick up her blocks and she didn't, I would put those blocks into the Toy Jail tote and she wouldn't be allowed to play with them again until she did something nice (tidy up another time, for example) to free them from The Clink.

In short, Toy Jail is pure parenting genius.

I love Toy Jail because:

1. It works

Toy Jail was relatively successful in getting my kidlette to clean up after herself. It took her a few days to "get" it, but once she understood that the toys in the bin don't come out of the bin, she got with the program. Now I'd say threatening Whitney with Toy Jail works about 70% of the time, and I've noticed that she is more likely to tidy up after herself without any prompting from me (spontaneous clean-up doesn't happen often - barely ever, if I'm honest - but it's more than she was doing before). The 30% of the time Toy Jail doesn't work to get Whitney to pick up, it still works for me because...

2. I'm lazy

I am not stuck picking up my daughter's toys, making sure all of the bits and bobs and tiny pieces for specific sets are accounted for, tidying her shelves, etc. In fact, it's almost better when she doesn't clean up because I can just throw all of her stuff in Toy Jail without following her around, telling her where things go, etc. I just dump it and leave it. What used to take me a half hour to clean up now takes about 2 minutes - throw toys in the tote, move tote back to its home in Lilo's room, and walk away. It's amazing.

3. It allows me to be totally neutral 

Because clean-up is so easy for me now, I literally don't care what Whitney does with her toys, and I'm able to be completely neutral about it. I don't get angry or frustrated and I'm never locked in a power struggle with my preschooler. If she doesn't clean up, the consequence is Toy Jail. End of story, and neither of us get bent out of shape about it.

4. I think bribery is a perfectly acceptable parenting technique

Toy Jail provides me with a whole bin of currency for bribery that is a) good for my kid's health (opposed to cookies or chocolate),  b) effortless (opposed to reading an extra book before bed or playing baby for the millionth time), and c) free (opposed to a trip to the store or a visit to Starbucks). Did you clean your room?  Bust Horace the Elephant from Toy Jail. Can you brush your teeth without whining about it? Grab your doll house from the Big House. Were you an exceptionally good listener? I see an alligator who can get out of the slammer early on good behaviour.

5. Fewer toys in rotation is a good thing

I've always wanted to do a toy rotation (where you hide half of your kid's stuff for weeks at a time and then switch it out so they think they have new toys), but we never had the space to do it before. Toy Jail is basically a forced rotation system and it is awesome. When she has fewer items to play with, Whitney enjoys her toys more. Also, it means easier, quicker clean-up of the toys that are "free". Whit's room has never been so refreshingly clutter free.

I think the only thing I don't like about our Toy Jail is the fact that it's obviously too small. I really do need a bigger bin.

Original "Operation Clean-Up-After-Your-Own-Damn-Self" post here.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

January Love/Hate List: Where I Get Progressively More and More Angry

I had exactly 3 things on my January favourites list:
1. Phonetic Danzig - because it's hilarious, 
2. Covers of "The Cup Song" (You're Gonna Miss Me by Lulu and the Lampshades) - because I'm a 13 year old girl. And yeah, I did learn how to "play" it. Don't judge me, and 
3. C.G.P Grey - because I love love love clever, educational YouTube channels. Other good educational channels include TEDtalks, Big Think, and anything featuring the vlogbrothers (Crash Course, and Sci Show, for example).

Clearly, January wasn't very exciting for me, so I thought I'd share with you some of my January Hates (equally as boring as my Faves, but what this post lacks in quality, I intend to make up for in quantity). 
1. Canadian Netflix - Seriously, Netflix? Seriously!! I signed up for a free trial, and then I didn't use it because I couldn't find any of the movies or shows I was looking for. Then I forgot to cancel my subscription so now I am stuck actually paying for this piece of crap service. I heard the American version has a much better selection so if you're living in Canada, I suggest a) getting software/services that obscure your IP address so you can get the American Netflix,  b) downloading movies like everyone else on the planet, c) using some other streaming service, or d) going legit and purchasing or renting DVDs (I liked once upon a time). That being said, I intend to milk the crap out of Netflix because I'm all paid up until February 15, so if you have any movie suggestions, lay them on me (hopefully I'll be able to find one or two of them on the site)...
2. Les Miserables (the movie, and probably the live show) - Am I the only person on earth who hated this movie (well, me and the other two people I saw it with)?! Because honestly - I heard nothing but good things about this film and the audience in our theatre clapped when it was over (the old lady sitting beside me was literally sobbing). They CLAPPED, y'all, like the people on the screen could hear them or something. They clapped like it wasn't the longest, most boring movie they had ever seen. I was expecting an epic masterpiece. I spent the whole movie waiting for it to get better but it never did. My ass was crying out for Fantine ("I'm dying, Fantine! Take me with you, Fantine!") by the end of the show.
I thought maybe I didn't like Les Mis because I'm not big into musicals (I was obsessed with Hedwig and the Angry Inch for a long, long time, but I don't think that counts). But then I realized I loved Phantom as a kid. My Fair Lady (a musical so long, it requires two VHS tapes and an intermission. I know because I own it) is one of my favourite films, so... I think Les Mis was just that terrible. 
Les Miserables was rife with subjects that make me weep like a baby - poverty, injustice, child abuse, combat, death, fundamentalism - but the tears I shed were (figurative) tears of boredom. The only strong emotion I felt was anger, like when Russell Crowe's character offed himself. I get why he did it, I understand The Point that was being made, but I was just like "fucking asshole!" 
Also, my heart was filled with loathing any time Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter came onscreen. I felt like I was watching Sweeney Todd all over again (I liked Sweeney Todd, but once is enough). Does Helena ever play a character who ISN'T Marla Singer? 
And I hated Cosette. She was kind of a useless twit, wasn't she? All that, and she and her boyfriend end up filthy rich and living happily ever after. I mean, great, Jean Valjean achieved his goal, but nothing changed within the system and Cosette didn't even know his back story, so, in my mind, he kind of turned her into part of the problem rather than part of the solution. Am I missing something? Maybe the point of this story is that EVERYTHING is futile? Because that's totally what I came away with.
The book is probably better. 
Speaking of books...
3. The Fifty Shades Series by E.L. James - It took me almost a year to get through this series, but I finally finished the last book (Fifty Shades Freed) this month. Wow. I mean, it wasn't THAT bad because, obviously, I finished it. It was entertaining, but you know the writing is horrible when you're skipping the sex scenes in an erotic novel because they're boring, and exclaiming "you're freaking KIDDING me!" at every terrible plot twist. 
I have nothing to say about this series that wasn't already covered in this aaaaaamazing Goodreads review (, but I will say that fewer books have made me as angry and depressed as Fifty Shades of Grey made me. 
Ladies and Gentlemen, if your partner does any of the following things: scares you, threatens you, attempts to control any aspect of your life, cuts you off from friends and family, becomes overly and unnecessarily jealous, makes you feel stupid, hits you (without your explicit consent in a real BDSM relationship - not an abusive relationship disguised as BDSM a la Ana and Christian), RUN! RUN RUN RUN RUN RUN AND NEVER LOOK BACK! It is not romantic. It is not a measure of how much he/she loves and cherishes you. You cannot change him/her into a kinder, gentler version of him/herself - he/she needs extensive therapy to do that, and even if you COULD change him/her, you deserve to be with someone who isn't broken to begin with. RUN, RUN, RUN, FUCKING RUN!! FUCKING RUN!!!
ALSO, if your friend tries to rape you, report the sonofabitch. Don't pretend it never happened and continue on with your friendship. Cut all ties with that dude/girl and do yourself, and every other person he/she has raped or will rape, a favour and lock him/her up. He/she does not love you! He/she needs help! You do not deserve to be molested! RUN RUN RUN!!
That goes for you, too, Bella Swan! 

Friday, February 1, 2013

Operation Clean-Up-After-Your-Own-Damn-Self

Well, it's February 1st, which marks the beginning of Operation Clean-Up-After-Your-Own-Damn-Self at my house. I feel like a slave to my 3 year-old; it's bad enough I wipe her butt, I don't need to follow her around and pick up her toys, too.

Whitney isn't on board with this plan. She hates cleaning more than I do, and she outright refuses to do it. I threatened to get rid of her toys ("I'll give your train set to a little girl who cleans up after herself"), but Whit was delighted to share them with someone. I tried bribery ("You can have a cookie if you tidy up"), and she responded with "I don't want a cookie". I tried "toy jail" ("I am going to put your toys in this box and they'll never see the light of day again!"), and she said "That's okay, Momma. I have a lot more toys to play with". The kid is IMPOSSIBLE.

I should have been encouraging good housekeeping habits from day 1, but I'm too lazy to enforce a "tidy up" rule when it takes a lot less time and energy to do it myself. The only thing worse than cleaning is arguing with a toddler about cleaning. But the only thing worse than THAT, I have come to discover, is having a bratty, ungrateful preschooler, so it's time to get down to business.

My kid is gonna haaaaate me.

I'm going to stick with the "toy jail" strategy, where you put any items that are not picked up in a big box and forbid your child to play with them until he or she earns them back by doing chores and other good deeds. True, Whitney loves when I stop harassing her to clean and start chucking stuff into the toy jail box, but she won't like it much when every single one of her toys has been shut away.

We'll see if it works. It's the end of day 1 and her "toy jail" is already full. Clearly, I'm going to need a bigger box.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Three Things New Miranda Does that Old Miranda Didn't

1. Drink more water

Cointrin and I are doing another "contest" to cut soft drinks from our diet. It's more of a support group thing than a competition because, as usual, there's no prize, no nothing - just two people who have chosen not to drink any juice or pop until... we're not sure. Sometime.

Needless to say, Cointrin is doing a much better job at this water thing than I am (true, I haven't had any juice or pop, but my Mio use has increased exponentially). It's hard. I would have cracked completely if we weren't doing the no-pop-challenge together. I would give anything for a Pepsi right now. Also, some hash browns, covered in cheese, with some onions and wieners in them. And a BLT. And some chips and onion dip. God, I'm hungry.

2. Make my own eczema cream

Really, that's a thing I did last night. Check it out!

I used this recipe:

I'll check back in a week (no, really. I will!) and let you know how it's going. I think eczema or no, this is probably a good hand cream recipe as far as homemade stuff goes. What's not to love about olive oil, coconut oil and oatmeal?

3. Join Tumblr

Okay, this is less like, a "New Miranda" thing as it is another way to get some more Hannah Hart into my online diet, but there you go. I have a Tumblr now. And I have nooo idea what to do with it. I feel like I'm showing my age here. What is Tumblr, anyway? I always thought Tumbler was to Pinterest as MySpace was to Facebook, so I never bothered. Come to find out I can follow blogs or something? Clearly, I need to surf around the site for more than the two seconds it took me to sign up and find Hannah.

Bonus Thing

I also researched some volunteer positions in my area, but nothing meshes with my childcare arrangements and Chase's work schedule at the moment. I think I'm going to have to keep creeping on some one-time-volunteer opportunities until something I can take comes up. I did learn that one of the senior centres has positions available, so that's definitely something to consider if I could somehow magically accommodate the hours. I would also love love love to teach people to read at the library. Oh my goodness; if only people wanted to learn to read with a 3 year-old and 6 month-old whining beside them...

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Even More Games I Play with My 3 Year-Old

Whitney is playing "We're going to the ball" in this photo.
Chase's boots are her dancing shoes.
The hall mat is The Ball (her dance floor).
Her lack of pants indicate that there's more going on at this party than just dancing.

Baby - Playing "Baby" makes me want to shove hot forks in my eyes, which is probably why it's Whitney's favourite game. She ALWAYS wants to be an infant and she wants me to take care of her. She plays this game even when I refuse to take part; she follows me around on her hands and knees, clutches at my ankles, and says "goo goo ga ga" or "whaaah waaaah waaaahnn!" until my head explodes. She puts herself to bed in Lorelai's crib. She wants to drink from real bottles. She swipes soothers. I want to murder her, but I try to be sympathetic. I know she's jealous of all of the attention Lorelai gets, so I indulge her a bit - not just in baby stuff, but also in special mommy-daughter time, games, creative play, etc., but this baby game is hard work. I have explained over and over again that I like big girls much better than babies (truth), and that I like playing other games, but she clings to this infant thing just the same. It's a phase I hope she gets over, like, NOW.

Doggy/Kitty - This game, where Whitney pretends to be a dog or a cat, is slightly more tolerable than "Baby" if only because she doesn't pretend to cry during it. Also, I get to sit on the couch while I throw an imaginary stick for Whit to fetch. Reeelaxing. Part of my responsibility as a pet owner is putting a bowl of water on the floor for the dog/cat to drink from. Water gets everywhere and inevitably, our real cat will start drinking from that same bowl, forcing me to put down another one for Whitney. I usually cut the game short when Buddy finds that second bowl of water and/or when there is more water on the floor than in the bowl. It's annoying, but cleaning up that mess is still preferable to playing "Baby".

Whiney Monster - Okay, this isn't really a game so much as a technique I stole (and potentially warped) from Jennifer Kolari to get my kid to stop whining. When Whit's voice reaches a pitch that I equate to nails on a chalkboard, I say something like "it sounds like the Whiney Monster has jumped down your throat again and made your voice sound like this [insert whiney voice here]. Open your mouth so I can see him!" If Whitney isn't overly upset, she opens her mouth so I can peer in and shout "Get out of there, Whiney Monster!". It gets a laugh and Whit will stop whining (at least, that's the goal). Every once in awhile, she tells me that it's not the Whiney Monster but Baby Monster* who is paying her a visit. Almost 50% of the time, the Whiney Monster technique doesn't work at all and I'm forced to play other games like "Mommy can't hear you when you use that voice" and "If you don't stop whining, you're going to your room or Mommy's gonna fit you with a pair of cement shoes and throw you in the river".

*Baby Monster - "Baby Monster" more or less grew out of "Pink Monster/Monster on the Rocks". Baby Monster (a tiny, pink, male creature named "Karen" but often referred to as just "Baby Monster") is Whitney's imaginary friend. He shows up everywhere, but he's famous for joining us when we are out and about. Sometimes he rides in Whitney's pocket or in her hand, sometimes the stroller. Sometimes he runs ahead and beats us home. He's also a big fan of the bathtub and joins Whitney for a dip. Lately, his family has been visiting us, too. His dad, a grey monster, has taken a particular liking to me. I think Whitney created Daddy Monster to be my pet like Baby Monster is hers. I always wonder what she imagines Baby Monster to look like. I personally picture him as a dusty-rose coloured saltasaurus. "Baby Monster" is one of my favourite games because it doesn't involve any clean-up, it doesn't require me to spoon fake food into my kid's face, and it's open ended enough that Baby Monster can do just about anything. It's fun to hear Whitney make up new adventures for him.

You can read about more games I play with Whitney here and here.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

My Early Mid-Life Crisis

Well, it took a little longer than last time, but I've hit that point in my mat leave when I actually WANT to go back to work. I know from experience that I'm delusional (I'd be in the office for 2 minutes before I decided that I'd rather be at home), but it doesn't keep me from daydreaming about cubicles and reports and lunch with my coworkers.

I think I'm having a mini mid-life crisis because... what the hell am I doing with my life?! And whhhyy do I want to go back to my job? Am I THAT boring*?

*That was a rhetorical question. I am that boring.

I have a little under 6 months left of my maternity leave; I'm determined to stop whining like the ungrateful douche bag I am, and do something with this amazing time I've been given. The problem is,  I don't know what I want to do. No matter. I will forge ahead. Join me and New Miranda in the coming weeks as I invent projects designed to make me feel better, but that I will probably never follow through on. Weeee!!