Tuesday, September 27, 2011

All Request Day

One thing I'm starting to realize is that although preschool means a lot more uninterrupted free time for mom, it means a drastic reduction in said time for E. She's used to calling a lot of the shots, and now her days are largely scheduled by "the man". In light of this, I figured I'd give her a chance to take the power back by giving her an All Request Day.

The Perfect Sunday
~ Created and Directed by E

7:00am "My clock is yellow, it's time to wake up!"

Breakfast: Hot buttered toast and How The Grinch Stole Christmas

Swimming at a public pool, complete with pool noodles, life jackets and watering cans.
Making snowballs out of zamboni snow and throwing them at mom.

Lunch: Pizza!

Baking Gooey Double Chocolate Cookies with mom and licking the spatula. 
Sharing a cookie with mom while it's still warm.

Playing silly games with mom involving balloons, chalk, a spray bottle and furry winter boots.

Dinner: (whole wheat zucchini) Pancakes!

And lots and lots of snuggling while reading many, many stories before bed.

My guess is the sudden episode of pre-bed vomiting wasn't part of the plan. But sometimes, juuuust sometimes, it can be the marker of a really great day. No?

A strange man in my bed

Last week, and the week before for that matter, I didn't see much of my baby daddy. And his baby saw even less of him. We had...are you ready for this?...ONE meal together last week. Dinner. Saturday night. Lasagna.

But THIS week, baby daddy is on vacation. You know what that means?

Last night we had dinner together. We went for an after-dinner walk together - even Ralph came. We gave E a bath together, read her stories together and - you guessed it - put her to bed together. Then we sat on the couch and canoodled together while watching Bridesmaids. Hilarious.

He got into bed when I did, and this morning when I woke up, he was still there. I got E ready and walked her to school and when I got home he hadn't moved. We went out for brunch together, and I have to tell you that although I love going out to brunch with E, it sure is nice to do it sans enfants once in a while too.

I went grocery shopping without him, because I wouldn't let him come, because a) he would complain later about not studying and b) he sucks at grocery shopping.  But then I came home and he was there, studying away as though he spends every Tuesday afternoon hanging out at home instead of darting around a hospital, trying not to pee. Now we're working away, side by side, sipping coffee and eating homemade chocolate cookies and concord grapes. It's all so very decadent.

Did I mention that it's a perfect fall day? The sun is shining, the leaves are turning, people are smiling. I'm smiling too. For one whole, wonderful week, I have my family back. One of these days we'll plan elaborate family vacations during his time off. But for now, this is just what the doctor ordered. (Oh yes I did.)

Monday, September 26, 2011

Phoney Baloney

Apparently, after further questioning from her teachers, the girl named Baloney has the following defining features: brown hair, blue eyes and green wings. When asked if she could point to her, Elle scanned the ceiling before announcing that Baloney must not be at school today, but usually she flies around the classroom.


It's a good thing I didn't go blowing this out of proportion or anything...

But rest assured, if I see this girl -

- I'm takin' her down. You know, just in case.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Ballet shoes soothe the soul

Write that down. Particularly if the shoes are filled with chubby toddler feet - or should I say preschooler feet - and are tippy-toeing and leaping and twirling in a room full of other adorable tiny ballet-shoe clad feet attached to clumsy yet determined bodies.

For a blissful 45 minutes this morning, the only thing that either of us was thinking about was how absolutely friggin' awesome dance class is. E was once again giddy at the prospect of putting on her ballet outfit and getting to be a ballerina. She especially enjoys Good Toes/Bad Toes routine. Her mama was simply overjoyed at her good fortune to be able to watch the magic unfold. I could have stood there all day - heck, I could do that for the rest of my life. I wish I had words to explain to you how much I love this. But you must be getting the idea by now. Last week I was one of a swarm of parents all snapping pictures as though they would never again witness something so fleeting and precious. This morning I was one of two. I guess the novelty has worn off for some parents, and that's fine by me. Less competition for a good vantage point. I guess I can leave the elbow pads at home next time.

Good toes! 

Bad toes! 

More great form.


Up! Up! Up!

Hi Mom! 

Friday, September 23, 2011


Yesterday E told me that there was a girl at school that was trying to be a "baloney". I couldn't get much else out of her, other than that this girl wasn't very nice, and that her teacher said that she was just trying to be a "baloney".

I tried to let it go. E didn't seem to be too interested in talking about it more, and we moved on to other topics. But it lingered. If someone is not being nice to my daughter, they have my attention. "Baloney" sounds an awful lot like "bully" to me.

Today, the Baloney came up again. This time, I wanted answers. Apparently, the Baloney told her that E could "never stick with her", and looked at her with a "very angry face". She didn't touch her or yell at her, but she was mean. I asked E if she told the teacher and she said no. I asked her what she said to the Baloney when she made the angry face, and E said "I just stared at her".

Up until this point, E was just talking matter-of-factly about the whole thing. But all of a sudden, she broke down. Her face crumpled, tears sprang to her eyes and she did that open-mouthed silent cry before letting out a big, painful wail. I cuddled, I comforted, I asked her repeatedly why she was crying. And eventually, when she finally answered me, all she could say was "Do I go to school tomorrow? I don't want the Baloney to be there."


Now I know that I'm a first time mom and this is the first time she has been out of my care and this all may be just a mountain-out-of-a-molehill situation. Maybe the girl looked at her sideways and E was overly sensitive about it. It's Friday, it has been a long week for a girl that's not used to all of this preschool stuff and she was pretty tired tonight. But my absolute worst nightmare as a mom is the idea of my daughter being bullied, and I am just beside myself. I have this sweet little kid who is not the least bit aggressive or mean-spirited, and I get that not everyone will love her (grudgingly), but I just can't wrap my head around how someone could be mean to her. And now she doesn't want to go to school, the place she was so excited about for so long, because of Baloney. Mean girls in preschool. Seriously?!?

I'm going to try to keep a lid on it for the weekend. We have a couple of days off and I'm hoping that distance might mellow things out a bit for both of us. On Monday morning I'm going to talk to the teacher and see what else I can find out. But it's going to be a long couple of days as I come to terms with the fact that my daughter has taken her first steps into the world outside of mom and dad's watchful gaze, and it's not all going to be roses. How do you ever come to terms with that?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

It's a little idealistic, but it just might work.

I'm wondering if you can all try something with me.

I think we can all agree that some people out there just - as my friend B-dawg so eloquently puts it - suck the mustard. There is such a thing as a bad egg, a bad apple, a total jerk.

HOWEVER...here's what I propose:

99% of people are essentially good people, and are just doing their best.

I got cut off in traffic the other day. Have I never cut anyone off, and can I not come up with a single scenario in which it was unintended and in which the driver might feel badly?

A salesperson was rude to me. Have I never snapped at someone who didn't deserve it (see: husband) for any number of reasons and later wished I could handle the situation differently?

People have different opinions from mine. Does that really have to mean that they have obviously not thought things through, or aren't as intelligent as me, or that they are wrong? Is there no room to agree to disagree, and to acknowledge that differences are not deficiencies?

As shamelessly cliche as it has come to be, I have never heard my philosophy for life summed up so precisely as this:

"Can't we all just get along?"

Come on, let's give it a whirl.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

My American friends will love this

E: I'm going to make a tower out of this money.
J: Can you count the money as you stack it?
E: In French or Regular?

Don't hold your breath

Overheard from the toddler on my back during our morning walk to preschool...at 8:20am...

"Mom, let me know when I can watch movies and eat Crispy Crunch, okay?"

Monday, September 19, 2011

...like in a race, I hope.

M: I thought we could go to the library after school tomorrow.
E: Sure!
M: And maybe we can meet Charlotte and Chantelle there too.
E: Meet them or beat them?
M: Meet them.
E: Why not beat them?
M: Why would you want to beat them?
E: I just think it would be fun.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Following in mama's dance steps

On a lighter note, today was my daughter's very first dance class ever! I'm not sure who was more excited...except that I'm pretty sure it was me...but we were both bubbling over this morning as we squeezed E into her tights and bodysuit and donned her oh-my-god-could-these-be-any-cuter ballet shoes.

She warmed up a little at home:

...and then rolled up to the studio looking every bit the pro:

...and then it was go time. Cute. Overload.

When it was all over and kids were barreling through the door into the arms of their parents, some overjoyed to be "official ballerinas" and some overjoyed to be back on the other side of the jail cell, E just sat quietly on the floor of the studio, her eyes resting expectantly on the instructor, no doubt hoping that the show might go on. Only when one of the assistants helped her up and turned her in my direction did she remember that I was even there. Most of the kids spent the 45 minutes stealing glances at their parents outside, running by the windows waving, or sobbing profusely and pleading for rescue, but not my kid. She stuck close by the instructors and soaked up every bit of tippy-toe action and plie science that she could get her chubby little legs around. And I almost died of bliss. I don't know if I remember my first dance class ever, but I remember fairly early on, and I remember what it felt to be in class every week and feel like it was just where I belonged, where I wanted to be. I'm going to do my best to keep reminding myself that this is her turn, and if there's a day when it's not fun anymore then she won't get any pressure from me to continue. But MAN it felt good to watch her loving something that I loved so much myself. And anyway, a mama can dream.

How much is too much??

How many hours did you work this week? Tired? Too many things to do? A little overwhelmed? I am, and I worked exactly 4 billable hours this week. My husband worked 103.

Here's what his schedule looked like on paper:

M: 8am - 5pm
T: 8am - midnight
W: midnight - 10am
Th: 8am - 5pm
Fr: 8am - 5pm
Sa: 8am - midnight
Su: midnight - 10am

Total = 79 hours (just 1 hr shy of the newly reduced maximum number of hours that residents can work)

To me, that looks frighteningly unpleasant. Here's what he actually worked, forecasting conservatively for Sunday:

M: 7am - 9pm
T: 7am - midnight
W: midnight - 3pm
Th: 7am - 8pm
Fr: 7am - 9:30pm
Sa: 7:30am - midnight
Su: midnight - 1pm

Total = 103 hours

Look at those hours. Just look at them, and imagine them for yourself and your family. Not a wink of sleep was had anywhere in those overnight hours, and not one day did he get both lunch AND dinner. He eats before he leaves home, and he gets about 15 minutes every day to eat a sandwich and slam down a vitamin water or two before going back to work. He won't even carry around a bottle of water because it will mean he has to pee more and he doesn't have time to pee. Oh sure, he gets paid extra for the on-call shifts. It works out to $3/hr. Would you stay up for 32 consecutive hours, on your feet, handling 20 patients on your own and making life and death decisions for $3/hr? Me neither.

I could go on and on, but there's a pretty simple bottom line here:

If this schedule doesn't kill him, it WILL kill one of his patients.

Everyone knows this. Tired doctors are not good for patients. And yet...the system has figured out a way to make it look "acceptable" on paper, but it is not physically possible for residents to complete they work they need to do within the timeframe. So, they stay late. They come in early. They can't leave - they're responsible for people's lives.

I'm watching my husband struggle like I've never seen him struggle in his life, and he is not one to back down from hard work. We're both just hanging on, feeling like if we can just make it through two years of this, things will start to get better. But I have to tell you, from where we're standing, two years is a very, very long time.

Friday, September 16, 2011

The Preschool Chronicles - Anyone?

Just wondering if anyone out there can take this devilishly encrypted conversation and derive either a) deeper meaning about the inner workings of the Montessori system or b) what frickin' song this kid is referring to?

E: Do you know the song about the pirate?
M: No, did you sing a song about a pirate in school today?
E: Yeah. Do you know it?
M: No. How does it go?
E: Well, there's a pirate...a soldier actually, and he says one two three...and you stomp your feet like this (stomp, stomp stomp). And the soldier and the pirate sing together, and that's how the pirate song goes.
M: Hm. Wanna sing The Wheels on the Bus again?
E: No. I sang that with dada yesterday.

Monday, September 12, 2011


E has 2 cousins, one that she hadn't seen since she was 2-ish months old, and one that she had never met. All of that changed last week. She still has 2 cousins, but now they are no longer abstract figments of her imagination or two-dimensional faces on a computer screen. They are Cousin Aayla and Cousin Ruby and she loves them.

We spent a few days in Kingston last week where E had her first experience of sharing the spotlight as we all descended on GrammaPapa for a little family reunion. My brother, his wife, their adorable kids, myself and the girl. Dada was working...insert mock surprise here. It took about two seconds for E and A to become best friends, and as they grabbed hold of each other's hands and trotted across the parking lot, I breathed a huge sigh of relief. You just never know how these things will go...kids being unpredictable and all. Sure, there was a little fighting over toys, and sometimes E had a little more love to offer than 17 month old R was willing to accept, and bedtime got knocked on its keester a couple of times. But bathtime was an absolute delight, there were snuggles for anyone who wanted them and giggles erupting from every corner.  A taught E the elaborate art of dress-up, E introduced A to the Pied Piper and R used the potty for the first time ever.

After whisking E back to Ottawa in time for a day of rest and her very first day of preschool, the cousins came and stayed for the weekend. There was more bedtime tomfoolery, movies in the middle of the day, cake for dinner and casserole for breakfast, lots and lots of stories and much, much more work being done on the potty. Sure, it gets a little hairy with 4 adults and 3 kids occupying the same space, but when it works, it's magic.

Every morning, E's first question as soon as I walked into her room was "Are my cousins still here??" And last night, after they had packed up and moved on, she named two of her dolls Aayla and Ruby and  insisted on sleeping with them, one tucked under each arm.

We're going to see them again next weekend, just for the day to celebrate Aayla's 4th birthday in Kingston. Then they'll head back to British Columbia where they live, and I'm pretty sure it will be a long time before we see them again. That's hard, knowing how important those first meaningful relationships are to a child, and knowing that she just won't understand why we can't see them anytime we want. But after what went on this past week, I have a feeling that it won't take much to steer us west the next time we start talking family vacation.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Preschool Chronicles - Excerpts from The First Day

According to teacher, Ms. Veronique

"She definitely has firm ideas of what she does and does not want to do."

"She has a great sense of humour. She always wants to make the other children laugh."

"Great first day. No problems whatsoever."

According to E

"They have a sandbox! We played in the sandbox, and everybody had shovels and pails and everyone shares every toy with everyone. The teachers helped us fill our buckets."

"I don't run in my school. Also, we talk quietly."

"Ms. Camy helped me walk down the stairs."

"One lady had plastic gloves. Do you know why she had plastic gloves?"

"We have fancy beds that we sleep in, and all the kids had fancy beds too and we were all together in the same room. Mine had my brown blanket and my bunny pillow and my kitty bla bla!

"The teacher said Shhhh, it's time for sleeping to me because I was talking."

"They had snacks! They had watermelooooon, bagellllls, cheeeeeeeese and crackerrrrrrrs, applllllles, carooooooots....I had all of it."

"I liked my lunch. Actually, I liked everything except the tomatoes. I didn't like the tomatoes because I only like tasty things."

"The lady with the plastic gloves said that she didn't want to get poop on her hands."

Favourite part of the day: Playing in the sandbox

Plan for next week: Play with the bells

Friday, September 9, 2011

And, she's off!

It's awfully quiet around here.

What do I do now?

E has been at school for 45 minutes now. 45 minutes down and many, many years to go. I hope she likes it.

The phone is right here. I'm willing it not to ring, hoping with 95% of my being that she's fitting in, having fun, making friends, not peeing in her underwear.  The other 5% is wondering how bad it would be to get just one more day together before she becomes a student and not just my baby.

I spent a few minutes last night before bed scheduling out this whole day. Right down to the minute. Partly because of that and partly because the organization gods were clearly smiling on me this morning, getting E off to school went like clockwork. We even had time to take some pictures.

E was the second person to arrive and be greeted by the teacher. I love the number 2 spot. All the pressure of being first is gone but you don't have to sit and let it build up again by waiting forever. I think it's a good sign. She sat in the chair that the teacher pointed out and began dutifully removing her shoes...but not before she informed her that she was carrying a lunch bag that contained a fork and a spoon. I gave her a quick kiss, wished her a wonderful day, and that was it. As I walked away I pretended not to notice the toddler that was clinging to his dad's leg, sobbing dramatically and begging not to be left there. And when I turned around before heading out the door, she was gone. Just like that.

There are freshly baked oatmeal cookies that will be waiting with a big glass of milk when she gets home. There will be a HAPPY FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL cake for dessert tonight. Her Uncle Hill, Aunt Kelly and cousins Aayla and Ruby are coming to visit, which will make the whole thing feel that much more festive. And that also means that I have a few things to take care of in the 6 hours and 3 minutes left before it's time to pick her up. And I'm very, very grateful for that.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Happy September!

Man, I love this month. E does too. She's been waiting for September for months, ever since she learned that that's when school starts. Last night I met her teacher, Ms. Veronique. She's Swiss, she has a french accent and sky high stilettos and looks far to young to have been teaching for 20 years. I like her very much. I think E will too, although she was happy enough eating brownies and clowning around with her good friend Holly last night while the grown-ups talked business.

In about two hours we're heading in to introduce her to the school, her classroom and Ms. Veronique herself. E is positively drooling with anticipation - I'm surprised I convinced her to sleep first.

Then we're heading off to camp with GrammaPapa for the weekend, where E will sleep in a camper for three nights in a row.

Big start to a big month. Stay tuned.