Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Bedtime Stories

Here's something else she doesn't really need us for these days either:

A Week of Lessons

You know what's really funny? Watching a two-and-a-half year old try to walk after spending 15 minutes or so spinning herself silly on a tire swing.

You know what's a really bad idea? Letting a two-and-a-half year old spend 15 minutes on a tire swing.

Think: vomit. Lots of vomit. On the sand, through the nose, in the shoes. Oh yeah. Hindsight is 20/20 alright.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Lesson Learned.

I made my daughter walk about 2km today. Maybe I was a bit overzealous. It started out innocently enough, with a one block trip to the mailbox and the intention of heading to the park to burn a couple of hours before dinner. Then an over-ambitious mom decided to check out our new dance studio first and maybe buy a pair of scrubs.

In fairness, I did give her the choice of walking or taking her tricycle.

In fairness, she is two-and-a-half with absolutely no sense of time and distance.

At any rate, it could have gone much worse. She did a pretty great job of walking there, and was saved by the rain when we ducked into a gazebo for a snack just as her enthusiasm was starting to wane.

Funny though, once we made it to the studio she started doing weird things like demanding more snacks and lying down on the floor. Can't imagine what she was trying to tell me. Then of course the snack that she picked out sucked and she flatly refused to cross the threshold of the scrubs store. Weird.

Then I did what any self-preserving parent would do and aborted mission, only to suffer the slings and arrows of a child who didn't-really-want-to-actually-leave-and-now-REALLY-wants-to-go-shopping-and-oh-hell-I'm-so-exhausted-I'm-not-sure-who-you-are...and walked home. Alllllll the way home. With a couple of stops to address the following issues:

"I don't WANT to leave!"
"I don't WANT you to be disappointed!"
"I want ANOTHER snack!"
"I LOVE you mama!"
"Can we go to the park now?"

with the following replies:

"Coulda fooled me."
"And yet.."
"Not likely."
"Yeah, well, there's that."

Sunday, August 28, 2011


In the opinion of the esteemed Ferris Bueller, "isms" are not good. Now Ferris and I almost always see eye to eye, but here's one spot where we differ.

"Cow-isms" is the title of my new regular feature on this blog. Thanks Nik, for the recommendation that I create a forum to showcase the brilliance that my daughter regularly shares with the world. And thank you to Amy, who submitted her vote to hear the more dubious, yet equally entertaining, brilliance that my husband has to offer. On occasion, I also produce the odd flash of je ne sais quoi, so I'll throw that in here as well.

In this inaugural post of its kind, I submit for your consideration my husband's unique take on the world:

M: Why do you think his condition progressed so quickly?
J: Well, I think he's a little bit homeless.
M: ??

As well as my daughter's timeless wisdom:

M: What do you think my job is?
E: Well, to watch me take a bath, and to pick me up sometimes, and all kinds of stuff like that.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Just call me Mav...

The plan was to drive J to the hospital this morning to see a patient, then the girls would run some errands at Canadian Tire, Old Navy and the grocery store and swing by to pick him up on the way home for lunch. Sounded okay, and things were ticking along as scheduled...until mom decided to go rogue. Now that doesn't happen very often, so while what you're about to read may not seem like fodder for the next big action movie of the summer...well, it sure does to me.

Program GPS for Canadian Tire - check! T minus 11 minutes...

E: Mom, I want a snack.

Mom makes visual contact with McDonalds, thus activating salivary glands.

M: Babe, you just had two snacks, I think you're good until lunch.

Mom averts eyes from the arches only to be hit with a Tim Hortons. Stomach grumbles.

E: I want another snack.

Mom spies play structure looming stealthily behind Tim Hortons.

(cue Top Gun soundtrack) Goose, it's time to buzz a tower.

M: Change of plans, babe. What do you say we get a snack at Tim Hortons and go to the park and play?

E: Oh-KAY! Let's DO IT!!!

Now that's just the beginning of the excitement. Sure, there was sand and slides and chocolate donuts, but imagine my surprise when I spotted an old steam engine on the other side of the road. And, a lighthouse? Wait a that a rocket ship??! This would require some investigation. Turns out we were across the street from the Museum of Science and Technology! So we strolled over, opting out of the whole go-in-and-pay-admission scenario and just toured around. We went to the top of the Cape North lighthouse, at which point it occurred to me that getting down might be a predicament. We shot water bottle rockets into the sky alongside the Convair Atlas rocket, and rehydrated in the shade alongside a CN 6200 steam locomotive. Upon later research it turns out that there's also an Observatory, not to mention all sorts of wonderful things that can be found inside the museum itself. We will have to go back. But for today, with a little free time and a couple of open minds, we managed to take a boring old Saturday morning and turn it into an adventure.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Smile. It's Friday.

Our neighbours have sunflowers in their backyard that soar over the six foot privacy fence and keep us company as we dine al fresco.

This morning at the park the sky was an incredible, mesmerizing shade of blue, with one tiny, unassuming cloud drifting through its expanse.

When I forgot to bring a towel to the pool the other day, E found her own way to dry off by circumnavigating the pool, lying down on her belly and stretching out her arms and legs every few steps to make "water angels".

We had fruit salad for lunch today because, why not? It was full of "'ectarines", the few blueberries that didn't end up in my sous-chef's belly before they could make it to the bowl, grapes, pears, kiwis, apricots, and some "abo-cado" on the side. Dee-lish.

On the way home from a playdate yesterday, I hadn't realized that I was having animated conversations with the drivers around me until I heard "Chill out mama. It's okay. I'm telling you to chill out because you're not chillin' out" from the backseat.

Our mailman introduced himself to us yesterday. His name is Jim. He called me by name and said he's been on this route for four years and likes to meet the new people he delivers to. Now that's just nice.

My daughter can breakdance. I witnessed it myself yesterday. She's really good.

It's payday.

My daughter, after never once having any trouble staying in her toddler bed since it's introduction, fell out twice last night after I moved her bed to the other side of the room. Now maybe that shouldn't make me smile, but it does.

I'm starting a dance class in September. It's been about 18 years, so I'm a little rusty, but I can't remember the last time I was this giddy with anticipation about something.

In one week E will be reunited with her camper and the grandparents who own it, and just a few days after that we will be reunited with my brother and his extraordinarily wonderful trio of girls.

And if I haven't gotten you yet, you don't stand a chance against E's new joke:

Q: What's brown and sticky?


A: A stick!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

This one's for Gramma Leslie

Another visit to the Museum of Civilization last week gave us the opportunity to discover more new and distant lands that we didn't know existed within the walls of the vast Children's Museum. We've taken a bus ride through Pakistan, sewn wedding quilts in India and ground corn into flour in Nigeria. We've made lovely music in China and even got our origami on in Japan. On this latest trip we made flowers at a flower market and popped over to France for a little gourmet cooking, but the big surprise was a trip down the Nile. We found pyramids, a camel and we even studied hieroglyphs. Maybe Gramma Leslie will consider taking along a pint-sized companion on her next trip to Egypt!

Colour Me Happy

E is learning all about colours these days. Specifically, mixing colours. She loves to paint, and imagine her surprise to discover that if you have two colours, you can combine them to make a WHOLE NEW COLOUR! I believe it all started with pink, as things generally do around here. She wanted pink paint. Of course she did. So I pulled out the red and the white paint, and she was quick to inform me that no, not red paint and not white paint, she wanted pink paint. "Ah, but watch this!" I reply conspiratorially. "You take a little red, you take a little white and..."

"It's PINK!!!"

That's right kid. Your mom's a magician.

We followed that up with a little yellow-and-blue-makes-green, some red-and-blue-makes-purple, a dash of yellow-and-red-makes-orange, and for our grand finale - green and black makes dark green. Perfect for making "ogre hands":

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Parlez-vous fran├žais?

La fille has been showing lots of interest in the French language these days. Her favourite book right now is this one:

She wants me to read it constantly, although she refers to it as "the french book that I don't like". Go figure.

Also, she likes to make up words that sound french and ask me what they mean. Then she has little conversations in "french" to her stuffed animals sometimes, which is pretty adorable. She knows a few colours, a few shapes, and that "tout chaud" means "nice and hot" paraphrase. And every night we wish each other a Bonne nuit! Je t'aime! And that's just nice.

It's fun to actively teach your kids stuff and watch them effortlessly and enthusiastically add new facts and skills to their ever-growing repertoire of braininess. In fact, just the other day we discussed the whole  seasonal cycle of leaves turning colours and falling off of trees. When I pointed out one tree with leaves and one without, her response was "That is a-MA-zing!!!" without a hint of sarcasm. I felt like a genius.

But you know what's even more fun? The greatest part of all this learning is witnessing what happens when they filter through all of those tidbits to decide what they think is cool and find their own interests. It's really quite mind-blowing, and maybe that's kinda lame in a yep-I'm-a-parent-and-everything-my-kid-does-is-amazing kind of way, but I'm too busy having my mind blown over here to care about being lame.

Princess for a Day

One of the many, many things on my list of things to do with my girl this summer was High Tea at Chateau Laurier. My girl is definitely at least part princess, and has a deep appreciation for all things pretty, sparkly and luxurious. She also loves spiders and dirt, but there's a time and place for everything, right?

When I first asked her if she wanted to go to tea with mama at a Real Castle, she was intrigued, but I sensed her hesitation. "Babies don't drink tea, right mama?" she inquired doubtfully. Then, when I explained the concept of British "tea", adding that this particular castle substitutes hot chocolate for the underage crowd, the furrowed eyebrows shot up well past her hairline and she was sold. Casually toss the word "cupcake" into the conversation and you had better have this excursion planned for the VERY near future because you will have an EXTREMELY impatient princess on your hands.

We had the distinct pleasure of entertaining friends Rob and Shaggy from London last week and, knowing Shaggy to be an enthusiast of all things decadent and girly, I suggested we make it a Tea Party for three. It was a wild success. From the moment we emerged from the Dungeon (parking garage) into the Castle proper, E immediately shouted "I AM HAVING SO MUCH FUN!!!!" And it only gets better from the dungeon. Giant bouquets of flowers, gilded walls, marble was more opulence than she had ever experienced. Once we found the tea room, the staff made sure to treat her in the manner to which a lady of her standing is accustomed, and she gobbled it right up. She was a fabulous dining companion, even if she did wrangle some of Shaggy's treats away from her.

I have a feeling that tea parties around our house are going to become a bit more elaborate in the future. I'm not sure watered-down juice and wooden strawberries will cut it anymore.


I'm exhausted these days.

No, I'm not pregnant.

But I sure am beat. Haven't been sleeping well, haven't been sleeping in, and all this thinking about big changes lurking around the corner are wearing this girl down.

I had a job interview yesterday.


Yep, the ball is rolling. I have another one today. Pretty soon it's going to be all work and a lot less play for this kid and her kid. And while E is nothing but completely and utterly excited about school, and while a lot of her work will probably mostly still feel like play, I have a feeling that both of us are going to find ourselves dragging our knuckles through September. And with J on 24-hour call every 4th day, it's going to be a family of zombies around here. Ralph better learn how to feed himself, I suspect.

I had a point here somewhere...

Right. Priorities.

This is the first time in my life that I'm applying for a job knowing full well - and making no secret of the fact - that it is not my number one priority. I want to work, and I will commit myself to a job and do it well, but I will not sacrifice time with my family to do it. I will work when E is at school, and sometimes when J is home on weekends or in the evening, but I will not hire a babysitter or take her to daycare so that I can work. I just don't want to. In the past, I've always been willing to bend over backwards for a job, work hours I didn't really want to work, take extra clients instead of dinner and generally aim to please. I'm still aiming to please, but my family is taking top billing these days. That means that I might have trouble finding a job, I might have trouble finding clients, and I'll definitely feel pressure to work more hours, to give up family dinner and bathtime and bedtime. But I won't do it. I want to take my daughter to school every morning and pick her up at the end of the day. I want to make sure that even though we're apart during the day, that we both get the quality time together that we need, free of rushing around trying to get out the door or to bed on time. Knowing what I want and why I want it makes it much easier for me to tell people this as I interview for a job. But it still feels pretty weird.

But I gotta tell ya, after that first interview yesterday where I tried out my new "Here's the way it's going to be" interview style, I slept better than I have in weeks. I think that's a good sign.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Day 2 Musings...

Things that make me REALLY happy:

1. Walking into E's room first thing in the morning to find her sitting up with her hands in the air and a big smile on her face. Happens about 95% of the time - not sure why but I love it.

2. Hearing E say "Yeah, sure!" to anything I might suggest, be it oatmeal with bananas and cinnamon for breakfast or a a post-nap tricycle lesson. Music to my ears.

3. Getting a down winter coat, brand new for $34.98. Seriously.

4. Getting a big pre-nap hug from my daughter, followed by her pretending to fall asleep on me because she is so supremely comfortable and happy to be snuggling with her mama.

5. Having a family lunch as my husband stops in for a bite while hurrying between hospitals.

Things that REALLY bum me out:

1. Whining, cranking, yelling, ignoring, and general uncooperativeness.

2. Waking up in the middle of the night and not being able to fall asleep due to thoughts of my eventual demise/bankruptcy/failure.

3. Having to fight with my toddler over eating her meals, focusing on what I need her to do (generally getting out the door), or anything really.

4. Things that cost money.

5. Ralph's high maintenance tendency to wine and yip throughout our "peaceful outdoor dining experience" for me to throw the ball for him. Also, same behaviour when he wants in the house RIGHT NOW. Also, his habit of scraping his ceramic food bowl along the floor when he feels it should be filled.

I'm making great inroads on this quest for pure and unadulterated happiness, the kind that transcends daily life with all of its inadequacies and allows one to exist on a higher level of euphoric consciousness. Without the drugs.

Fittingly, my daughter requsted today that we travel to the land of Happiness and Laughter and Sunshine. It may just be a line from her current favourite story The Pied Piper of Hamelin, but I appreciated the unintended synchronicity.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Secret to Happiness

Turn off your affirmation tapes, return your self-help books and cancel your registration for that motivational seminar. I've got it. Right here, free, on the world wide internet...

The Secret to Happiness.


1. Do stuff. All kinds of stuff. Whatever pops into your head. Go for a run. Sit on the couch and fart around on Facebook, cook a seventeen course meal. Surprise me.

2. After you've finished doing whatever it is you decided on, take a minute - just a minute - to pay attention to how it made you feel. Good? Bad? Super-unbelievably-fantastic? Bored? Disappointed?
Just get a snapshot of your state of mind as soon as your done doing it.

3. Write down what you did and how it made you feel.

4. Look at what you've written and take some real time to decide why you felt that way. If you felt good, was it because you succeeded at something? Because it made you feel smart or strong or productive? Because you wanted to do it, or because someone else wanted you to do it? If you felt bad, was it because you didn't get any satisfaction from it? Because it didn't go well? Because you feel guilty about doing it? Write that down too.

5. Do this for everything you do for at least a week. Everything. Work, the dishes, drinks after work, grocery shopping...record it all. Heck, write about writing this stuff down.

Eventually, you should start to see a pattern. You should start to identify the things you do that make you happy, and the things that don't. You should start to see activities, relationships, thought processes and seemingly insignificant details that directly affect your state of mind.

Now here's the most important step:

6. Do the stuff that makes you happy. Don't do the stuff that doesn't.

Admittedly, this is a first step. There will be things that don't make you happy for whatever reason, that you must do anyway. This is going to involve some attitude adjustment, but let's not get ahead of ourselves. If you're anything like me, making an effort to dissect and examine your feelings about your daily activities will be enough of a challenge without trying to make too many changes right away.

Oh, did I forget to mention that? These instructions are simply the product of my wandering mind that were formed this afternoon as I puttered around my family-free house. They have not been tested, they are not backed by any scientifically sound research. But I'm going to start following them first thing tomorrow. I even bought a new notebook, but I never actually need an excuse for a new notebook. Buying notebooks makes me happy.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Pressure's on

Less than a month now until E starts preschool...sniff...and it's time to take this potty training thing one step further. What does that mean? Underwear for naptime. I shudder at the thought of all the extra laundry, but it's a necessary evil.

The good news? We're on Day 3 diaper free for naps, and Days 1 and 2 were a success! She woke up dry! Twice in a row! Of course, she seems to be sleeping a little longer today, so I'm preparing myself for a soggy mess when she wakes up, but keeping my fingers crossed. She has been promised another party if she goes a whole week without peeing during naptime. And we all know how well that went over the first time. It doesn't hurt that she knows we're doing this to get her ready for school, and she's super excited about the whole school thing.

This morning she asked me if I was coming with her to school. I told her that I would come on the first day, but after that I wouldn't be there. I added that I will walk her to school and pick her up every day, and asked her what she thought about that. She was quiet and pensive uncomfortably long time...then she slowly, but decisively, nodded her head and said "Yeah. Good."


Wednesday, August 10, 2011

What did you do today?

This morning the girl and I went to our local library for storytime. Now I don't know if you've been to your library's storytime yet, but I'm willing to bet that ours kicks your library's butt. Alright, except for Zoey's. Live reptiles trump just about anything else, I'll admit. I've been to storytimes in Toronto, which were pretty fun with lots of songs and a little dancing, and in New York where they might as well have been phoning it in. But here in Ottawa - we make hats.

That's right. Or we colour pictures of fish and cut and paste them into the ocean. This is no garden variety storytime. There's even a giant turtle pool filled with bubble solution. Outside, of course. Oh, you don't take little field trips outside at your library? Didn't think so.

On the way home it started to rain a little, so you know what that means. Cupcakes. With chocolate milk or espresso, depending on the age and preferences of your taste buds. Whoever heard of a flower/coffee shop? We have, and we like it.

After a little crabapple picking at the neighbour's house and before lunch, we squeezed in a little ballet class, by special request. After a decent warm up...

And point... 

...and flex!

...the prima ballerina was ready to put on a show!

All in all, it was a lovely - and terribly girly - Wednesday morning. Just the way we like it over here in the 613.

The Great Cure-all

E and I have just survived another bout of this 48-hour-unexplained-fever business that is so common in wee ones. And I learned something on this go-round that might make things easier the next time.

See if you can pick up on a pattern here:

BEFORE ice cream... 

AFTER ice cream. 

BEFORE ice cream... 

AFTER ice cream.

Any questions?

Sunday, August 7, 2011

No Explanation Required

I'm done explaining. I just thought you all should know, in case you happen to take note that there are significantly fewer words tumbling from my overactive oral orifice (sounds dirty...but I like it) the next time we talk.

Okay, just this one last time, I'll explain.

I think it has to do with a pesky need for approval, and not really knowing what I want. I find that I'm always over-explaining things, trying to justify my decisions and actions in someone's mind, not least of all my own. And I tailor these explanations to the expectations I believe people to have. It's disturbing, distasteful and dumb. I will not do it anymore. I will do what I will do. I will think what I will think, and I will, for the most part, do and think without the running dialogue of whys and wherefores. It's nothing personal, you understand. It's not you, it's me.

Thursday, August 4, 2011


E is a good sleeper, but she's not one of those kids who passes out in the middle of her toys, or her dinner plate. She pretty much saves the snoozing for her bed, and occasionally the carseat or stroller. I'm often envious of pictures parents have of their little ones becoming so exhausted with playtime or dinnertime activities that they just pass out in amusing positions. I don't have many of those.

Of course, this morning my baby woke up with a fever, and so all regular habits go out the window...

Trip to the Dentist!

E had her first trip to the dentist yesterday! And it was a huge success. Witness the monumentous event for yourself:

Nice chair. Maybe I can get one of these for the living room.

 A pink bib?! This place really gets me.

Practicing keeping my  mouth open...without talking.

 A water sprayer - fun!

A water sucker - double fun! 

 Better play it cool, I think the dentist is coming in.

 I already told you, I have 20 teeth. Okay fine, go ahead and look for yourself.

Hey, what are you writing in my chart? 

You want a look too? Geez, you guys sure are thorough.  

 High five! Let's do this again soon.

Monday, August 1, 2011

This is the life

Today was a good day. A very good day. Of course, any day involving animals and my daughter is bound to turn out well, and if you make those animals horses and have us riding them, well...can you think of another way to spell success?
The horse belongs to a friend from our university days that we've recently reunited with, and I get the feeling that we might have even more in common now than we did then. It was just one of those easy, relaxing days that I'd have been happy to see stretch into the evening, enjoying the company of an old friend and her charming husband. But, of course, toddlers must nap, and you'd do well to remember that no one has ever won a battle against an overtired munchkin.

Later this afternoon as the girl and I were playing in the backyard, I looked around and came to a realization of sorts. I realized that I am supremely happy to have a clothesline, lovingly erected by my husband, where I can watch my clothes flutter in the breeze, soaking up the smell of fresh air and sunshine; to have a charcoal barbeque found on the curb down the street, that makes my backyard smell like a campfire and my burgers tasting of smoky goodness; to be living a less hurried, less complicated existence than a few short months ago, when life was more exciting but more exhausting at the same time.

I loved our time in New York, and I still miss it sometimes. But I wouldn't go back now if we had the chance. The simple things are what I'm interested in these days, and it feels like we finally have a little room in our lives to appreciate them.