Friday, Fall and Garden Gnome Gary

Friday is finally here and the rejoicing has begun. Even the dog is happy….for a change. The sun has finally appeared and all seems to be almost right with the world. Now if we can only get the world to cooperate.Fall is knocking on my front door and I’m thinking I should get my ass in gear this year to be ready for a festive season, unlike previous years where I bought a pumpkin the day of Halloween and made the kids carve it after school. It was an interesting looking pumpkin. Sort of like Quasimodo meets Mickey Mouse.  

This year, I should be preparing early for Halloween by making up some treat bags that have actual treats in them and not pencils or small ghoul-shaped erasers or left over Froot Loops…what? Desperate times….

Or, find some pumpkins and paint them freaky colours so my neighbours think I actually do something besides throw a random pumpkin on the front step and take a sharpie and draw on a weird-ass awkward smile…then blame the kids for not being ‘motivated with the spirit of Halloween’. Damned kids.

I’m thinking of scoping out a local field and thieving a hay stack to throw on my front porch. A) Field? B) Will a haystack fit in my Corolla? I should have asked that ever important question when I bought the car. Note to self, ask next time.

My garden gnome Gary has been hanging out in the front garden all summer. I found him toppled over face first in the dirt. Poor Gary. I stood him upright and vowed to include him in my fall-planning. I’m thinking I could make him more fall-like if I hide him inside a plastic skull and sharpie on some fake blood. He could become Ghoulish Gary by Halloween. I bet I’ll start a trend and the ‘hood will be filled with blood-stained garden gnomes strewn all over front porches…It’ll be like the Walking Dead only we could call it the March of the Garish Gnomes….WHO’S WITH ME??!!  

I love getting out the scented candles and lighting them on crisp fall evenings…yes, I just took that from a Good Housekeeping magazine. HAHAHAHA. So cute. The rest of us just throw on the washing machine and hope the fabric softener makes the house smell clean.  

There are so many DIY sites with awesome ideas for fall decorating, that I should check them out. Or not. I’ll see if any include Sharpies and colouring garden gnomes, otherwise I’m out.

My biggest tip to get ready for fall is stock up on that wine before we have another wine shortage crises and the world comes crashing down around our feet and we have to actually think of something creative to do with our time. Pffft…STOP ME NOW BEFORE I GO TO MICHAELS AND SUCCUMB TO THE SMELL OF THE CRAFT PAINT.

OH THE HUMANITY…..    

 

 

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Top Ten Ways Busy Moms  Can Carve Out Some Precious ‘Me’ Time

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New moms, toddler moms, moms with tweens, teens, young adults and even moms with baby hippos, finding time for oneself in a non-stop kid-infested world can be downright challenging if not impossible.  There is always SOMETHING that NEEDS our attention or SOMEONE who desperately NEEDS our help.  OH MY GAWD, MOM WE RAN OUT OF TUNA.  You know, that kind of drama is just a pimple on the face of a pre-pubescent girl in the world of scenarios.  Being a SuperMom is downright exhausting!

Feeling the pressure?  Especially with the start of a new school year which brings fundraisers, bake sales, the ever popular candy bar sales and of course, who can forget EVERY SINGLE ACTIVITY IN THE WORLD IN THE HISTORY OF EVER BEING HELD ALL ON THE SAME NIGHT.

Been there, done that.

Now that my kids are no longer ‘kids’ I’ve had the luxury of sitting back and taking stock of all the madness that was their childhoods.  Here are some of my fave ways of regaining some sanity,  taking some breathing room and really just savouring a few minutes for that much needed break.  I mean wine.  Much needed wine.

Ask for help – For God’s sake woman, you do not need to rule the world all in one day. Ask Hubby/ spouse/significant other/pet llama to pull some weight and help take one of the little darlings to dance class or gymnastics or cyber crime unit day, or whatever it is those young kids do nowadays.  Remember the old ‘take turns’ you learned in Kindergarten?  Yeah, that still applies.  There is no shame in asking somebody you trust to get Kid A to Place A so you can sit down and have a glass of wine.  NOTHING WRONG WITH THAT STATEMENT.  Do we have to review the whole labour/delivery thing?  Okay….

Read a Book – Remember those? They have covers and pages and words that are not accompanied by little bunnies rolling down hills. They have actual words bigger than ‘the’.  You are able to read said book whilst child is swimming, dueling, wrestling, skating…etc.  You do not need to spend every waking minute watching your kid drown in the pool during swimming lessons.   THAT’S WHY THEY HAVE LIFEGUARDS.    Even if you read ONE SENTENCE, you will feel almost adult-like.  Amazing…

Sign up for some scheduled class- Fun Fact: There are adult classes to learn new and exciting things like yoga, or exercise, or spin class or vibrational cooking…whatever the hell you want! Schedule yourself on your mommy calendar just like you scheduled all of your kids’ activities. That way, you practically guarantee a space for you.  STICK TO IT AND DON’T GIVE IT UP OR YOU WILL DIE.  That’s how you have to approach it.  Your health, mental and physical, may depend on it.

Lunch Break Walk-  I admit this one is kinda lame, especially if you work at job where leaving is like an episode from Prison Break, but it does have its merits if you can swing it.  If you work outside the home, it’s probably one of the only times you get to adult so cling to that and hang out with the co-workers you like and invite her/him/them along.  Could be a fun half hour.  Or lame.  Totally lame.  Crap shoot, really.

Repeat this phrase: “No, that doesn’t work for me” – Seriously, you are allowed to say ‘no’ and not just to all of your offspring. I mean to other parents, especially the snooty moms who have all kinds of time on their hands and sit back and drink wine on their porches and bake REAL HOMEMADE ORGANIC PRESERVATIVE FREE COOKIES AT THE BAKSALES and don’t invite you to sit and drink because you’re too busy RUNNING AROUND CARTING ALL OF THEIR KIDS AND YOURS TO ACTIVITIES.   Yeah.  Stop that.  Practice being a ‘snooty mom’.  And baking is overrated.

Extricate yourself from the situation – Just totally remove yourself from being involved.  In anything.  Be involved with your child, but don’t feel you have to join all the PTA meetings and the council meetings or the Society For Being a Mom Organizational Association…thing.   Pick one committee in which you can participate without overstretching yourself and do that.  There is no rule anywhere saying you have to be involved in EVERY school function, committee, organization or whatever.  ONE THING.

Carpooling is your new best friend – It’s best when everyone can lend a hand and carpooling can be a lifesaver….when it’s not abused. Or your generosity is not taken advantage of.  Fair is fair so outline the rules going in with other parent(s) so everyone is on the same page.  Make sure Johnny is aware who is driving or picking up so he can expect Mr. Jones to be there and not Mrs. Lazynski who wears her hair funny and smells a bit ‘off’.

Chores – When the kiddos are in charge of their own shit, it takes on a whole new meaning. As moms, we tend to think that ‘taking care’ of the kids equates to doing everything for them.  Not so fast.  They need to take SOME responsibility for their stuff, so start doling out things they are capable of handling and EXPECT them to follow through.   For example, if Tuesdays are hockey practice give him/her the responsibility of having their bag packed with ALL of their gear and having it ready at the door by the expected time.  If they get to practice and something is missing – a natural and logical consequence would be to miss practice.  They HAVE to take responsibility for their shit at some point.  They won’t forget next time.  I SWEAR TO GAWD IF YOU GET IN THAT CAR AND DRIVE HOME TO GET THE MISSING GEAR AND THEN BACK TO THE RINK I WILL THROW A GLASS OF WINE AT YOU AND MAKE YOU LICK IT UP.  It’s only practice.  They’ll live.

Lie – Sometimes, in life telling the truth can be downright harmful to everyone’s health. Especially, yours.  In the interest of healthy lifestyles, lying comes in as one of the top things to do when you are desperately seeking wine time.   Oh, sure…don’t get on that high horse, you’ll get a nosebleed.  HOW DO YOU THINK THE SNOOTY MOMS GET TO SIT ON THEIR PORCHES.  That’s right.  That headache has suddenly reappeared and Johnny may have to miss ONE NIGHT of Judo.  The kid has been kicking his sister for years, I think he has that move down pat…

Alcohol? Why yes, please –  Basically, it’s all about the wine, so enjoy!  You’ve earned your glass so kick up your feet and indulge in a glass or five before somebody notices you can no longer drive.

That’s it.  Your list to freedom and some peace among the hectic, no holds barred world of kids, activities and school functions that make being a parent the joyous roller coaster ride it is…Good luck and may the wine be ever in your favour.

 

 

Parenting Tips For Surviving The Teen Years With Grace, Dignity and A Little Less Drunkenness

Adolescence, otherwise known as the slow descent into madness, or those lost years mommy raided the liquor store in search for more wine, or when the little darlings morph into bigger versions of Teletubbies gone awry, is a trying time for everyone; parents, teens, grandparents, teachers, babies, the dog, the mail-delivery person, the librarian with the big ass mole, the nice policeman who escorted you home after being caught outside the liquor store after hours banging on the doors pleading for them to “PLEASE OPEN I NEED WINE! I HAVE TEENAGERS!!!”….

The brains of average teenagers are still developing and pushing the limits. It’s one of the many fun and interesting ways they determine their place in the family; their role in the world and their intimate social circle. It’s also annoying as hell.

Limit setting and parents sticking to them is the key element to any good survival during this emotional roller coaster. They will yell, scream, slam doors and then use the ever favourite “Jan’s mom let her do it”. “AGAIN WITH THE JAN’S MOM?! I’m not Jan’s mom! I don’t care what Jan’s mom let her do! WHO THE HELL IS JAN?! Jan’s mom can stick it!! “ Natural and understandable responses to an illogical and peer-pressure kind of tactic that only ensues argumentative combative behaviour. BAD FORM, TEEN. But that’s what they know. Knee jerk emotional responses to having their asses slammed into a room with nowhere to go but to a ‘Jan’s mom’ kind of response. Stick to your guns! Not literal guns, but your limits. Stick to your decisions. You get it. DON’T CAVE!  

I could say here that communication is the key to any good relationship and speaking in quiet tones and providing a caring and open environment for them to participate in mature dialogue will assist in curbing the emotional upheaval….but that would be utter bullshit. Seriously. Teens are a ball of emotional crap wrapped up in a brain-fugue ire that speaking at all will only escalate the already shitty attitude they possess. I tend to throw my hands in the air and say “Jesus, help me with this child! Give him the necessary good sense that he needs to see the light!” and then proceed to speak in tongues. This generally confuses the shit out of the teen and he is so freaked out he turns around and goes to his room to try to call his father saying “Mom has lost it! Come home now!” And will never ask to go to another party/borrow the car/jump off a bridge, again.  

As a mother of three teens who are now adults, I can say you will survive. Motherhood be damned, the adolescent years are the most trying times; following of course after toddlerdom when the word ‘no’ was the prompt to put more toys in the toilet; the righteous pre-teen years where buying the right shirt was a major meltdown affair and of course the roaring twenties where there’s university exams, classes and staying out all night. Actually, now that I read that statement, being a parent kind of sucks. There is no decade safe where you can really sit back with your feet up and relax and say, ‘yep. We did it. We raised our kids.’ A parent’s work is never done and even now that my kids are no longer ‘kids’, I can say I still worry. We still argue (yes, Miss H even with Son), we still have to set the limit and toe the line and all that parenting lingo you read in all of the Parenting 101 books that kinda only work when the kid is already well-adjusted, graduated with a PhD and on his way to his own wedding. All those nice parenting books you bought will surely serve better as a nightstand where you can lay your bottle of wine after an afternoon of endless pleading and begging with the mail-delivery-person to please rescue you from your torment only for him/her/neutral to pry your death grip from his/her/neutral arm and run madly up the street….damned mail-delivery persons! (being politically correct is wordy, but not expensive)

Suck it up, Mommy/Daddy you’re a lifer now!

Ahhh, think back to the day when that adorable little pink baby was first placed in your arms and you promised him the world! And now, well now, he’s still kinda adorable and you would still give him the world if he wasn’t so damned stubborn like his father and have the intelligence of a snail. Then he comes home with decent grades and you think “Yesss. Finally, he has turned a corner. He is growing up” then he dents the car, or floods the basement with the garden hose or goes bowling with a frozen turkey and throws it through the front door.  

Yup.  

A teenager. The universe’s way of reminding you that young people can be stupid. We are the force that guides these young impressionable teens into adulthood with common sense, values and a wealth of information to make solid decisions; like bowling with a frozen turkey is way better suited in the basement using the hockey net. Duh…ANYONE KNOWS THAT.  

That’s why we also have wine. For when those guidelines are a little skewed, those decisions are a little off the mark and we struggle with guilt, ire and Jesus.

Good luck, fellow parents. You are not alone during this traumatic and challenging time. Remember, they will be around FOREVER. Also, the liquor store is open daily until 11pm. Make sure to get there early.

You. Are. Welcome.

 

    

 

The Unrelenting Echoes of Summer

The ‘hood battles are raging and the summer days are stretching onwards and upwards. No one is immune to the reaching fingertips of ire and impatience emanating from cranky neighbours who refuse to admit their age is getting the better of them. If one is to listen to them, the kids are running amok flailing wildly among heathens and hoodlums destined to dethrone the king of badness. Nothing good happens past nine- thirty peeps, and children left to pillage and plunder the village into the abyss of indifference and permissive dismissal are future adults destined for the Presidency of an American nation. Alas how are we to survive the madness?!Calm down, peeps.

The children are children playing in the backyards of responsible professional adults paying their taxes, abiding the laws of society and contributing to the well-being of community and ‘hood alike.

There is no crime here, only that of youth being restless and young on summer nights that have magically become windless and warm. The days where summer seems to last forever, where any kid of any age can dream of digging for buried treasure, swim in the depths of a backyard pool and savour the taste of s’mores and burnt marshmallows on a backyard campfire. Tents, giggles, sleeping bags, practical jokes, stolen garden gnomes (oh, my poor Norman where art thou?) all a big part of childhood and growing up in a safe environment surrounded by loving parents and committed neighbours to raising a generation of well-adjusted, educated, intelligent, compassionate and community minded young people.

That’s what my idea of a neighbourhood is.

Watching out for each other against the rallies of the occasional late-night thievery, lost dogs, wayward cats, and kids out past the boundaries of the park at the end of the street. Local spring clean-ups, bottle drives for hockey trips, Mummering Christmases, barbeques and the fence raising- shed building- deck erecting- construction that brings friends and neighbours together.

We connect to support each other in times of confusion and debt reduction, lost jobs, raised taxes, sky-high grocery bills and illness and heart attacks and even the death of someone’s parent or relative. It’s what they mean when a neighbourhood becomes a small village.

We become each other’s indirect relative.

A communal leaning post.

Friends. Allies. Fellow compatriots in a world where we embrace differences and stand up for the underdog. Where we denounce bullies, raise up kindness and understanding and assist at all costs.

It’s in the DNA of every Newfoundlander to have this innate sense of community; to feel responsible for each other because, hey, don’t I know yer father? At least, that’s what I was led to believe.

Let’s see more of that. Community. Fellowship. Understanding.

AND FUN.

Hey kids! Your loudness behooves me!

The kids running around playing spotlight after dark, the fires in the backyard pits, the barbeques, the late night dog walking, the chatting…

There is no room for fear of being loud or obnoxious. The sounds of laughter and squealing from children should be a sign of a healthy happy environment fraught with joy and the unending bounds of childhood activity.

It should be lauded as the epitome of strength of home and family; not sullied as unnecessary and appalling.

As the summer progresses, let the children play in the streets and wreak havoc in the backyards. Soon enough they will be grown and gone and our yards will echo with their lost squeals of fun-fueled delight from summers past. Youth is fleeting.

Let’s not wish it away.

 What?! I can’t hear you! Whispering sucks. 

 

 

The Fall

Sometimes I feel like the worst mother in the world. I don’t seem to ever have enough to give or I just don’t seem to give a damn. It’s brutal the feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt that plague me. And that guilt! I think it’s a universal feeling. Mothers often question their ability to make logical decisions in the face of chaos and drama. Are we doing the right things? Are we making the right decisions? Is there enough wine in the world to get me through the next few years/decades/century?  My answer is probably not.  

Being a mom is hard.

Every time there seems to be a major catastrophe in one of my kids’ lives, I internalize it and blame myself for their struggles. If only I gave them this or if only I warned them about that or if only I was better at being a mom…it’s never ending.

Watching one of the offspring struggle with a life event is heart breaking and standing around waiting for him or her to come to his senses about it is even worse. I’m knee deep in that now and I can’t seem to get myself out; to convince myself it will all be fine in the end, it’s just a few more weeks and things will turn around. We’ll all laugh about it later.

Nobody is laughing right now.

I’m too busy stopping myself from giving in to my tendency to help; to come to the rescue; to bail him out.  

That’s not my job, but it sure feels like standing around waiting for her to grow up is taking way too long. And he sure doesn’t understand why I’m just standing here waiting and not putting out my hand to help.

I am helping. Just not her version of help.

I know what the issue is, but if I give in what would be the learning life lesson; the character building experience; the chance to grow from struggle?  

There wouldn’t be one.  

The child/adult needs this to happen. Consequences from actions. That’s how life works.

I just wish I didn’t have to be the eye witness to the fall and the struggle to climb back out.

But that’s my job.

I’m a mom, after all.

Summer Days Can Be Noisy. Bring Your Headphones. And Gas Ovens. 

The summer is spinning on and I’m trying desperately to hang on without randomly sticking my in the oven…It just occurred to me that even that wouldn’t be effective, as I have an electric oven. I guess when you see the old lady-with-her-head-in-the-oven gag, she actually owns a gas operated appliance, which obviously would do one in. An electric one would only be harmful if it was simultaneously touching water…or plugged in whilst out in the rain. But then, why would you have an oven OUTSIDE IN THE RAIN. No one would need to bake a cake outside during a monsoon. Unless you wanted to have a baked goods sale on the side of the road instead of the usual lemonade stand and having the oven outside is both convenient and a sales pitch, and people would be too excited and cause mass riots in the ‘hood since, BAKED GOODS.    Then some people would think y0u are trying to sell the oven instead of the baked goods, which would cause more discussion and chaos.

No oven outside is what I’m saying. Totally useless and makes too much noise in the ‘hood which apparently, is an issue what with all of the children home from school because ITS SUMMER HOLIDAYS AND THAT’S WHAT HAPPENS IN THE SUMMER.

And no need to stick one’s head inside it, since it would also be pointless. And kinda creepy looking. Unless, cleaning. Ugh.    

What was I saying?

Right. Summer.  

It’s happening and really I just want to sit outside in the sun. It’s the best.  

Unfortunately, there are people in the universe who are not happy well-adjusted human beings who, for some unknown reason, decide that living in a neighbourhood full of children and families is a great idea until the children decide to, God forbid, laugh and play then it’s all STOP THOSE CHILDREN FROM HAVING FUN I’M TRYING TO BE QUIET HERE! And we’re all like YOU LIVE IN A NEIGHBOURHOOD WITH FAMILIES. And they’re all WELL THAT’S NOT MY FAULT. GET THOSE CHILDREN TO BE QUIET. JEOPARDY IS ON AND I CAN’T HEAR ALEX’S QUESTION! And I’m all like IT’S ACUTALLY THE ANSWER, YOU NEED TO COME UP WITH THE QUESTION GAWD DO YOU NOT WATCH JEOPARDY ON A REGULAR BASIS?! And they’re like NO BECAUSE I CAN’T FREAKIN’ HEAR IT WITH ALL THE FRIVOLITY AND FUN GOING ON!  

Hence, the oven.

Maybe I will have a baked goods sale with ovens and children and lemonade stands and garage sales and carnivals in the streets. Mags can be outside and bark at all the joyous crowds gathering then we could have firetrucks and police cars sounding their sirens and in the evening have fireworks and a bonfire and…

DID SOMEBODY SAY BLOCKPARTY??!!  

 THIS LOOKS AWESOME.  AND SCARY.  HANG ON KID! But don’t scream. That’s way too much noise.  

18th Birthday Story – Rock Star Edition 

Today is my son Kyle’s 18th birthday. A milestone in any young person’s life, I thought I would re-post this story in honour of him. AND, for purely motherly love and embarrassment, because nothing says HAPPY BIRTHDAY better than an awkward story about when you were 3years old.  HAPPY BIRTHDAY, KID!!!

To celebrate this momentous occasion, here is a special story about the first time my son learned to speak. It’s all very dramatic and tears at your heart strings so get out your tissues…okay, it’s actually an embarrassing tale of music and Walmart, but still. It was traumatic for one of us. Maybe two of us. The innocent lady who witnessed my child’s descent into the debauchery and the morally deficient world of rock music and was probably scarred for life and myself, who led him there.

Once upon a time, in a land called Grand Falls Winsor, lived a nice little family with a mother, a father two daughters and a young son. They all lived happily in their house playing and frolicking in the meadows. ( okay, there were technically no meadows in GFW. AND we don’t frolic as a rule. Only on very special occasions like Christmas, or when some of us are really drunk. No pointing any fingers, just sayin’. ) Anyway, the boy, who was three years old, had not begun to speak any language intelligible to any human life form. The mother, being very concerned, took said young boy to a Speech Pathologist. The Speech Pathologist was a young woman of very good bearing and simply stated “There is nothing wrong with the boy. He will speak when he’s ready. Go home and rest your head, lady” 

So, the despairing mother took her young boy home and after a lengthy car ride listening to the young son speak something akin to the Cantonese and Ancient Tibetan Mongloid tongue , wearily escorted young child into the house. It was during this phase in the young mother’s life that she began experimenting with music. Music she adored when she was young and single and had somehow lost in the day-to-day tedium of Barney and Caillou episodes (it should be noted here that Caillou was seen as an evil child full of whininess and annoying shit that led the mother to bouts of anxiety and desperate pleas of “LET’S ALL GO OUTSIDE AND GET SOME FRESH AIR BEFORE MA HEAD EXPLODES!” ) Yeah.

One day, while playing her music very loudly, she noticed her young son sitting very attentively. The daughters, heard the rendition of Bryan Adams’ “I Wanna Be Your Underwear” and asked repeatedly to hear the ‘underwear song’. Mother was happy to appease her young daughters as she found this tune particularly humorous, obliged…often. After the young daughters had ventured off to school, the mother took young son to Walmart for a bit of shopping in the afternoon. The son, being very sleepy and ready for his nap at that time, was readily dosing in the cart and humming a tune the mother recognized as Joan Jett’s “I Hate Myself For Loving You”…Joan rocks. The mother, knowing the son was unable to speak, allowed the son to sing the song at will, while all the Walmart staff looked on adoringly saying how cute the little boy was singing to his mother. Yeah.

As the mother approached the checkout line, she noticed a woman behind her who seemed particularly taken with the young boy. She was smiling and cooing to the child as the mother flung her intended purchases on the conveyer belt. Knowing the young boy was securely occupied, the mother paid close attention to her groceries when suddenly she heard a most familiar sound. “I WANNA BE!” being sung behind her. She went swiftly over to her son. Could it be? Was that him? Had the spell of the Cantonese speak been broken and replaced with the x-rated lyrics of an old Bryan Adams song? The lady who had been occupying and smiling at the young boy thought the boy to be speaking to her. So, she replied “What do you want to be?” The mother, knowing the son was merely repeating the words to a raunchy song, attempted to intervene by pointing to a random balloon and distracting the boy. Alas, the boy could not be sidetracked. Again, he sang out “I WANNA BE!!“. Full of fear for the next line, the mother hurriedly began to throw her groceries onto the belt all the while, the nice lady said again, “What do you want to be?” and leaned closer to hear the boy. The young boy looked innocently up at the woman, his sparkling blue eyes dancing with joy as he sang, quite in tune I must say, “YOUR UNDERWEAR”.  

The lady, aghast and shocked by what she had just heard, recoiled in horror and glared at the young mother. Washed with embarrassment, and stifling a laugh, the mother simply retorted “Oh, it’s a song his father taught him” and pushed the cart out of the store, praising the child for his speech and promising to teach him more ‘appropriate’ songs. Like more Joan Jett, whose song son repeatedly sang henceforth as “I hate myself for lubbing you….” yeah. 

The son, now thirteen and three quarters has had a varied singing career. I have been called regarding his poor song choices including the popular titles “My Humps” by the Black ‘Eyed Peas, “I like Big Butts” and the infamous “Save a Horse Ride A Cowboy” which I am totally not responsible for. That last one was definitely Hubby’s country music influence. I did teach son how to do an awesome rendition of Blue Rodeo’s Bad Timing when he was four. I wish I had recorded it. 

Brought to you today in honour of son’s 18th birthday, and to all the women and men who care for their children everyday unconditionally, allow them to sing dirty rock songs to stranger and endure endless episodes of Caillou all in the name of love. 

Speaking and not singing. So proud!