Monday, February 20, 2012


Oh mama. I really stepped in it this time. Well, actually I picked it up and smeared my whole body in it.

So, the girl and I had a really nice morning at the Canadian Museum of Civilization. We're members and we go pretty regularly, although it had been a couple of months. When I checked the website last night I noticed that they were doing a reading of Robert Munsch's Thomas' Snowsuit today, so we obviously had to go. E loves that story.

It was great. We went to the reading, we did some sewing, made beaded zipper pulls, built the bell tower in Venice out of duplo, built the bell tower in Venice out of wooden blocks (read Olivia Goes To Venice much?), threw dice around and practiced hopping on a giant board game, wrote a postcard to Robert Munsch and unloaded some seriously heavy freight from a steamship. Then we had a balanced lunch of vanilla yogurt, chicken fingers and lemon jello.

So what's the problem?

Mama and her big fat mouth, that's the problem. Just as we were getting in the car I asked E: "Now what's the Number One Rule for the drive home?" And she dutifully replied: "NO SLEEPING!" Perfect. As we were driving out of the parking garage, we had the following conversation:

E: What happens if I fall asleep?

M: I'll tickle you and tickle you and tickle you until you wake up!

E: And then what will you do?

M: Then I'll make you eat worms for dinner!

E: And then what will you do???

At this point I saw the conversation as my opportunity to keep her awake for the ten minute drive, so I dug deep into my lobe of creativity to come up with as many ridiculous punishments as I could. She seemed to be enjoying herself. I threatened to make her go skating in the freezing cold in her underwear, tie her to the roof rack, feed her eyeballs and rotten cheese...and she thought it was all funny and great until this one:

M: I'll feed you beer and wine!

E: (a hesitant pause) But babies don't drink beer and wine! (oh god, she sounds like she's getting upset) And I'm a baby so I can't do that!

M: Oh babe, these are all just jokes. I wouldn't do any of these things, I was just teasing.

E: Oh. So THEN what would you do?

M: Maybe we shouldn't play this game anymore.

E: No, I want to! I like the jokes!

M: Okay, I would...make you watch terribly boring movies (...and on and on until we got home, trying to keep them as harmless as possible...and then we were home and unlocking the door to the house when I came up with...)

M: I would make you stay awake all day and not let you nap!

E: ...crickets...

I look behind me, and E's face is contorted into the silent cry of the deeply traumatized toddler. And then:

E: But I need to have a nap! I'm SO TIRED!!!! 


M: Oh babe! I'm just joking! Of course you can have a nap!

E: Those are baaaaaaad joooookes! I don't liiiiiike those jokes!


I scooped her up, hugged her, said I'm sorry about a million times, held her like a little baby and promised to never, ever, EVER tell those jokes again. After a few minutes she was calm enough for me to read a bedtime story. I put her into bed and told her we would do something fun when she woke up, then went downstairs.

Five minutes later I hear muffled sobs.

When I go up to her room, she looks up at me with big, teary eyes and says "I'm having bad dreams." I surround her with all of her friends, sing a song, and tell her to think about something nice like baking pies with mom. She says "I liked those jokes. I want you to tell me those jokes again!"

I have officially damaged my kid.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Either way, I think I'm winning an award.

Saturday morning. Cowfam residence. 9:02am. Daughter has pushed aside healthy grapefruit slices in favour of Whoopie Pie cream filling.

An example of Super Awesome Parenting, or Terrible Terrible Parenting?

I can't decide.

Thelma & Louise Day 3: An Ode to Cosmic Adventures

We were up, we were down 
We did the curly tunnel and the curly slide 
We danced under a disco ball 
We danced like Buzz Lightyear when he speaks Spanish 
We twirled like maniacs and chased and chased and chased 
We bounced, we swung, we climbed and climbed and climbed 
We ate grilled cheese and pizza and sipped slushies 
We rode in a boat and a blue car
We waited our turn, we didn't push or shove
We negotiated a few more minutes
And we made it home without falling asleep in the car.

Until next time, Cosmic Adventures.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

A Tale of Two Perspectives

Friday was Day One of the First (and Certainly Not the Last Because Mama's Memory Sucks) Thelma & Louise 4-day Surprise Vacation! Mama had neglected to remember that Friday was a PD Day, and with Family Day coming on Monday, the girls are (after a little last-minute client shuffling) on their own and up to no good for four whole days.

It's always the same. The thought of several uninterrupted days to spend with my daughter usually begins with me giddly planning all sorts of fun adventures, followed by E waking up and proceeding to whine and complain the ever-loving will to live right out of my soul, followed by mama losing her schmidt before losing her pyjamas in either a  sloppy pool of tears (which elicits sympathy) or in a haze of whine/yelling while attempting valiantly not to have her words laced with profanity (which elicits admonition from a 3-year old...humiliating).

But when I look back on our day yesterday, I realize that there are two very different pictures I can paint for you. And if I can use such deftly artistic brushstrokes with the blog, why not with my memory that is already so shot full of holes that it will hardly be calling out any discrepancies? So here goes:


Friday: Glass Half Empty

I decide that E and I are going to start the morning out taking Ralph for a nice long walk, followed by some sledding, and maybe spend the afternoon baking Whoopie Pies. It's going to be SO. MUCH. FUN!!! When I hear my darling's voice, I rush into her room to inform her of my plans. What follows includes the following statements, delivered with her meticulously honed whine that is has been fine tuned to the precise decibel that elicits involuntary hysteria in her mother:

Naawwwwwhhh. I don't waaannnnt to do thaaaaat....
I'm hungry. I want a snaaaaaack...
Nooo...don't get my cloooothes. I don't waaaant clothes...I want to stay in my pyjaaaaamaaaas...
Pout, pout, spaghetti body, kick, kick, moooooaaaaannnnnnn....

I acquiesce, telling her she can keep her pyjamas on, we don't have to get dressed right away, and that we'll go downstairs and get her some breakfast.

I don't waaaaaant breakfast! I want a snaaaaack!

Call it what you want, let's go get it.

But I want to plaaaaaaaay!

You can play while I'm making you breakfast a snack.

Caaaaaarrrry me...

I can't carry you because I'm carrying my coffee and a glass....

Nooooooooo....I want you to CAAAAARRRRYYYY MEEEE!!!

You know, to be honest, the rest is really a blur. At some point, I started crying and she wiped my tears and she never did end up getting dressed and we never did actually leave the house at any point.

The End.


Friday: Glass Half Full of Awesomesauce!

It was just us girls yesterday, and we broke all the rules! E stayed in her pyjamas all day and mama didn't even take the dog for a walk. I mean, who has time for all the boring stuff when our day was chock full of R&R!!! I introduced E to the "facial steam" with hand picked essential oils, followed by a custom pedicure (left foot yellow, right foot pink). Her new Chirp magazine came in the mail and we created an All About Me book, complete with glitter glue! She helped me make omelettes for dinner and we chased each other around the house about 46 times before bathtime! We "washed" the tub together to make ourselves feel productive, and even read an extra-long, extra story before bedtime.

I can't wait to see what's in store for tomorrow!


See what I did there? Everything is true, it's just a matter of what gets emphasized, right? So I choose to say that I had an AWESOME day yesterday and you know what? Today has been EVEN BETTER!  I can't even imagine how to write a crappy version of today so far. 

I was forced to bake Whoopie Pies with E, then watch her dance, then we had to go to my friend's house and drink her delicious coffee and eat her delectable french toast with whoopie pies for dessert. Then I had to drive home with a cheerful toddler and put her down for a nap while I sat on the couch and blogged.

Life is good.

Friday, February 17, 2012

ATE Episode #1: The Basics

M: What is the Number One Most Important Rule in this family?

E: I don't know.

M: You have to think about it.

E: I think about it but I don't know even more.

(after some discussion of how knowing the "right" answer isn't really necessary, just give your best "educated guess"...we move on)

M: Okay. What do you think is the Number One Most Important Rule in our family?

E: Um. Um. No hitting and no kicking.

M: That's a very good rule. Next question: What is the Number One Most Important Rule at School?

E: No jumping and no running and no hitting and no jumping on friends.

M: What is mama's favourite thing to eat?

E: Um, shrimp?

M: (dipped in chocolate, maybe...) Okay, and what about dada?

E: I don't know.

M: If you had to guess...

E: I. Don't. Know. Can you please take the lid off of my hot chocolate cup?

M: What is mama's favourite thing to do?

E: Play with me!

M: What is dada's favourite thing to do?

E: Play with me too!

M: Where would you like to go on a trip?

E: To...Hawaii! And Cosmic Adventures, 'kay?....
...I would like another nap. After this whole thing here (gestures toward computer).

M: Last question. If you could be any animal, what would you be?

E: A giraffe.

M: Why?

E: (pulls down shirt) Look how long neck I have!


This is the first installment of what I hope to be many discussions with The Expert about various issues. I have learned from this inaugural episode that my daughter is quite firmly planted in the real world and is the kind of student who might leave a question blank on a test rather than write a bunch of nonsense in the hopes of part marks. I'm not sure how I feel about this.

Please feel free to submit your question for The Expert. I'm sure she'll be happy to field it, unless of course she Doesn't. Know. The Answer.

Ask The Expert is Born

E: I want some HOT CHOCOLATE!

M: But hot chocolate isn't good for you.

E: But it's the afternoon.

M: Good point. How about this? If you answer some questions for me, I'll give you some hot chocolate. Deal?

E: Deal.

M: First question - Do you want marshmallows in your hot chocolate?


M: What?!

E: I can't drink marshmallows, I can only scoop them. So...that's bad, cuz my arms are tired.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Not in my house, please.


We talk about intention in yoga, about how doing a pose is not as important as the intention to do it, and how intention can go a long way toward improving the practice of yoga. And it is indeed a powerful thing. When I focus my intention on a pose, I do in fact achieve greater balance, experience a deeper twist, feel longer and taller. It works.

And it works in other areas of my life too.

Sometimes I get emails that upset me. Emails that have to do with insisting on keeping the Christ in Christmas, or asserting that foreigners are taking away Canadian jobs, or a myriad of other subjects that, through a thin veil of comraderie, essentially serve to push a belief as fact and tear down the opposition. I get upset because Why Can't We All Just Get Along??!, and because someone out there thinks that this is a message that I might want to receive and might agree with.

I don't.

I don't believe in God, but I celebrate Christmas because why not celebrate? It's pure joy and happiness, if you let it just be, without worrying about who started it and who can celebrate it and what to call it. My husband cleared the whole Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays conundrum up for me quite nicely. A couple of years ago he said to me, without any prior discussion of "intention": "My intention is to wish someone well. So if I know that they will be offended by my saying 'Merry Christmas', then I'll just say 'Happy Holidays', because I'm not trying to offend anyone, I'm just trying to be nice."


So what is your intention during the holidays? To spread the Word of God and convince people to believe in Christ and Christmas? That's fine with me. Go to it. And I wish you a Merry Christmas. Is it to put a smile on the face of friends and strangers, regardless of their faith? Then Happy Holidays may be a better choice, or you may want to go one better and determine which holiday each person you meet observes before offering your greeting. Also great, if you have the time. Either way, all I want for Christmas this year is not to get another one of those emails, if you don't mind.

Also, "foreigners". Here's my foreign policy: I like variety. In my diet, in my wardrobe, and in my people. But more than that, I hate hate hate the idea of someone being treated badly or made to feel badly because of circumstances they can't control.  I'm Canadian, that's where I was born. I love Canada. And I like to travel. And I like the idea of finding a country that suits me and where I might want to live for a while, and I don't like the idea of being made to feel badly in that country because I'm different and somehow not as good as the people who live there. Now imagine if the country where I was born is dangerous and scary and I don't feel safe there. Being rejected from this great new place would be infinitely worse. And I don't like that. It makes me feel bad. So please, no more of the "pro-Canadian" (read: anti-not-Canadian) emails either. Please. And thank you.

Now, going back to intention, I know that the people who send me these emails don't intend to upset me. They just think that they are commiserating with like-minded people, and I don't much like confrontation or to in turn offend someone by telling them that their messages are not welcome. So generally I just delete and move on. But it nags at me. It nags at me because I feel that by failing to respond I am condoning and perpetuating the message.

I had an orientation leader in my first year of University who responded to someone telling a racist joke with "Not in my house". We were newbies and we looked up to him and the guy who told the joke apologized and that was the end of it. I looked up to my orientation leader even more after that, because he simply would not tolerate having someone potentially offend someone that belonged to his "family", and he wasn't afraid to stand up and say so. I've never had that kind of gumption (yes, gumption), but I admire it.

I'm not perfect...I can be a gossip and I hate it and I try continually to curb the tendency...but I think it's important to speak up when you're uncomfortable with something, and I'm uncomfortable. Of course, not everyone who sends me these emails reads my blog, so perhaps this isn't the most effective tactic, but it's a step in the right direction.

In short, I like everyone and I'm just trying to be happy and be nice to people. If you've got something to say to/send me that doesn't really align with that, then I would be much happier if you didn't say/send it, and instead think of something lovely to say. Like "Hope you're having a good day!", or "You are even more gorgeous than I remember!" That kind of thing is always welcome.



You see, this is why I spend so much time reading parenting blogs. Well, part of the reason. The other part involves reading how other parents can do dumb things too so that I don't feel so badly about myself. But a lot of it has to do with figuring out things that I should probably be doing with my child that I would not likely figure out on my own because I'm tired/not that creative/a bit lazy.

The puzzles came to me from a variety of sources recently, and I just can't believe what a hit they've been. Of course, E has had lots of puzzles in the past, but up until now they've been of the "beginner variety" - wooden boards with pegged cutouts rather than the big girl jigsaw jobbies. For some reason it just hadn't occurred to me that she would be ready for and/or interested in them.

I think the first person to suggest it was my MIL, who said that J's dad used to love to watch J and his brother do puzzles when they were about E's age, that it helped him unwind after a stressful day. Shortly thereafter, E received a few puzzles as a gift from my parents. She took to them like stink on a monkey.

But I have to admit, rather than providing a chance to unwind, that first 16-piece puzzle required 45 minutes to assemble, a glass of wine and the need for mommy to walk away for a minute...several times. One man's stress relief is another mom's kryptonite, it would seem. But E loved it.

Since then she has been playing with the puzzles every couple of days, and is getting more and more adept at them. This morning before school she pulled one off the shelf while I was getting ready, and after only a few minutes, I came in to find this:

I just love finding out another thing that my kid can do. How easy is it to get stalled in the fingerpainting/face painting/kitchen/dollhouse cycle of familiarity, but how completely awesome is it to break out of that and realize again, for the one millionth time, that your child is a genius and capable of anything? Pretty awesome.

This stop: Big Girl Puzzles. Next stop: Total World Domination.

Thank you, Mom.

E likes to be "checked on" after she goes to bed. And when I say after, I mean immediately after. We say goodnight, we close the door, and then we open it back up to "check" on her. She loves it, we love it, and that's why we do it. It started one night when E was sick, and one of us said that we would check on her before we went to bed. Then another night when J wasn't getting home until late and he said he would check on her when he got home. The downside of all of this late night checking was that E wasn't awake to enjoy it. So she started asking to be checked on right away. Pretty cute, if you ask me.

Anyhoo, we still often check on her before we go to bed. J more than I, because I seem to have a knack for waking her up, whereas J has the stealth of a ninja. But last night J wasn't home and I felt the need to check so I did and, naturally, woke her up. She sat bolt upright in bed and said in a sleep-filled sad little whine "Mom, I'm not sleeping very well tonight." (Her grammar always astounds me.) So I got her to lay back down, I stroked her back and sang a lullaby that I made up when she was a teeny tiny little baby. She likes to do things that we did when she was a teeny tiny little baby sometimes, and that suits me just fine.

Go to sleep, little baby
It is time to go to sleep now
Go to sleep, little baby
It is time to go to sleep

Your daddy is asleep
Your dog Ralph is too
Your mama wants to sleep
So we're waiting on just you

ad infinitum...

After two rounds, throwing in the grandparents and friends for good measure, I gave her a kiss and hoped to steal away into the night unnoticed. Only she did notice. But instead of complaining or asking for more singing, she just said "Thank you, Mom."

Be still my heart. 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Ham and Pineapple is a pretty good combo

It all started with a fairly innocent question about volcanoes. I'm hard pressed to recall exactly how the conversation went, as it was sometime before Christmas and unassisted recall of events more than twenty-four hours in the past cannot be reliably expected of me.

But one day E asked me about volcanoes and how they work. Now, I'm a biologist by education, but it's been a while since my credentials have been called into question and I'll be honest...if it doesn't relate fairly directly to the structure and function of the human body, you're more likely to get a blank stare and distracted by a tray of snacks than an informed response to your query.

Where was I? Oh, yes. Volcanoes. Something about shifting plates and magma chambers...all culminating in boiling hot lava. And lava is cool. Ask any kid or 70's aficionado. So we went from bumbling explanations and Google Images to the old baking soda and vinegar experiment:

I had a video to put here, but it was too long. Boo.

That was pretty fun. And it led to further questioning about the best places to see volcanoes. Enter Hawaii. Although I did mention that there exists the odd inactive volcano in Canada, once mentioned E was immediately enamoured with the thought of Hawaii. I mean, who can blame her?

Since she has discovered Hawaii, it has been pointed out to her on various maps throughout the city, various (and otherwise boring) tea shops and waiting rooms have been transformed into tropical islands bubbling with eruptions, and on various occasions our after school playtime has centered around - you guessed it - Hawaii. She's obsessed. My favourite part? She calls it "How-why". So cute.

This is her interpretation of a volcano:

And this is her, lei and all, enjoying a smoothie in Hawaii, courtesy of IKEA.

Of course, as you can expect, she has insisted that we go there. Today. Although yesterday would be better. Which is great, because when I think about affordable family getaways for debt-laden folks on a budget, Hawaii is the first place that comes to mind.

Love with a capital Elle

My daughter and I made valentines last week. I decided to give myself a break and buy some colourful cardstock and pretty stickers, rather than jumping whole hog into some of the ridiculously labour intensive Martha-certified nonsense I had found on the internet. And it was super fun.

The best part was how she very deliberately chose each colour for each recipient based on their preferences, each sticker lovingly hand-picked and positioned with care.

Or when she decided that I needed one, and that it should be yellow because I love yellow.

Or when she was just so proud of her accomplishment that she couldn't help but tell Dada that she had made him one even though it was a secret because it wasn't Valentines Day yet but she wanted him to know now because she didn't want to wait.

Or how she yelled to our neighbour as I was loading her into the car that she had a valentine for him but it wasn't Valentine's Day yet so it was a secret.

Or when she asked me to write "I love you because you're my best friend" in her dad's card. Yeah, that was probably my favourite part.

The Best of Times

Today my husband went to work on a new *horrific* rotation and was greeted with 30 patients (where the maximum is 25) for whom he is now responsible for the next 24 (ahem...32) hours, and who are complete and total strangers to him.

For my wonderful, wonderful husband, there won't be many smiles and hearts and rainbows today. E and I did our part yesterday with a delicious steak dinner and a fabulous handmade valentine. And he did his part this morning with a lovely card, an adorable pink hair ribbon and some seriously thoughtful* chocolates. We smiled and hugged and yelled "I love you! Have a good day!" out the door to him, and I hope some of that stays with him in the long hours that follow.

I'm having a lovely day. A day off. Baking brownies. Reading blogs. Enjoying the sunshine. I feel a bit guilty, but I know that it's unreasonable to deny myself the enjoyment of this day. So I'm going to accentuate the positive by taking a look at this last month that the Cowfam has enjoyed. J was on a very light rotation, with days ending by 4pm and weekends free and clear.

We went to the Museum of Nature several times and I learned that my husband is unnaturally obsessed with dinosaurs and fossils in general.

We skated on the Rideau Canal and I learned that Beaver Tails with cinnamon and sugar are actually improved upon with a squeeze of fresh lemon.

We bought new chairs from IKEA and hung a bunch of photos and I learned that this place can indeed feel less like a student residence and more like a family home.

We bailed on a couple of weekend road trips and I learned that my husband gets incredibly antsy if there is not at least one planned activity for the day.

We didn't go sledding once and I learned that my husband has - somewhere between the Pediatrics ER and Plastic Surgery - turned into something of a "helicopter mom".

We spent a lot more time on the division of labour and I discovered that I feel much better at the end of the day if I relinquish control and don't lose my schmidt.

We played, we teased, we giggled and were generally lighthearted, and it was lovely. The husband and father that comes home periodically for the next 28 days won't be the same one that we've gotten used to lately, but now that I know that we will see him again, I find it easier to focus on being more supportive and less panicky.

Happy Valentine's Day to my two sweethearts. At least we have each other.

*I'm not being sarcastic when I describe the chocolates as "seriously thoughtful". They are the closest approximation he could find to the supremely addictive Kirkland Brand Chocolate Almond Toffee that disappeared from the Costco shelves before I could fill the basement with reinforcements, and that can now only be found on Amazon for the double the price. I'm not kidding.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Gotta let it out

I am really, surprisingly, actually broken up about this whole Whitney thing. Those of you who know me know that I can get emotional about things both monumental and insignificant, and may not be entirely surprised that - though you may not even know the side of me that is a rabid Whitney fan - the news of her death has thrown me into a bit of an introspective spiral. Those who don't might be led to make the assumption that I'm a fairly superficial, starry-eyed celebophile, but I'm not so concerned about that. There are worse things to be perceived as...I shouldn't leave that sentence dangling like that, so I'll ramble for another line or two so that you forget all about it. There.

One of my very first memories of wanting something desperately for Christmas is Whitney's first album, in cassette form of course. I remember writing the letter to Santa Claus requesting it, and I remember exactly where I was sitting when I opened it up. I had spent the previous summer learning all of the words to every song on the album, thanks to my next door neighbour who already had it, and it went immediately into the cassette player. This was back when I had a reasonably pleasant child-like voice and wasn't embarrassed about belting out soulful tunes at the top of my lungs. These days I need a hermetically sealed car interior for such performances. More on that later.

The Greatest Love of All is, without question, one of the most beautiful songs ever written and was sung by, without question, one of the greatest voices that ever did sing. It was my first love in a long line of gorgeous melodies churned out by the inimitable Ms. Houston. There's one spot in I Will Always Love You where, no matter where I am or what I'm doing, my eyes start to sting. That didn't happen when I watched the video of Jennifer Hudson singing it in tribute to Whitney at the Grammys. Jennifer Hudson has a beautiful voice, but Whitney had no equal.

In recent years my childhood idol was reduced to a caricature of her former self. She became another example of ridiculous Hollywood headlines and the sad decline that is associated with the privileged, drug-fueled existence of celebrities. And while I expect it from almost every other famous person I can think of, I did not expect it of her. I heard someone in the past couple of days remarking about how, though she was strikingly beautiful, she was never overtly sexual in her appearance or in her songs. That was refreshing. There was something different about her. Something more about raw talent and pure artistry than making it big and being famous. But, eventually, it got to her too. Who knows what specific factors combined to flip the switch, but once she started slipping it seems that there was no going back. Her persona was shattered, her relationships were shattered and, ultimately, her voice was shattered. Once that happened, it seems as though she no longer had a place. And, unfortunately, what happened this weekend was probably just a matter of time.

It makes me sick to think that year after year, casualty after casualty, everyone just stands by and lets people destroy themselves in the name of celebrity. At the beginning of the Grammys, Bruce Springsteen sang "We Take Care of Our Own". But in reality, no one takes care of people like Whitney. Everyone, and I mean everyone knew about her problems. But as long as she was smiling for the camera, everyone let her continue on her destructive path. Yes, people have to be responsible for themselves and yes, people have to want to be helped. But people today encourage self-destructive behaviour by watching reality shows and buying gossip magazines and continuing to hire people - not just despite but because of - their erratic and deplorable behaviour. I know I sound like a mom right now, but that's because I am one and in a few years I'll have less control over the influences that my daughter will be subjected to, and I absolutely hate the idea that her very impressionable mind will have no choice but to be bombarded with a bunch of narcissistic children masquerading as adults and acting like lunatics. Isn't there any way to round up the population of Hollywood and give them one good collective kick in the arse? Isn't there anyone who is willing to stand up and acknowledge that they'd rather not lose their self-respect along with their teeth to heroin and live to enjoy their success? Anyone?

Anyway, maybe that sheds a bit of light on why I'm taking this latest tragedy so hard, or maybe you're doing the wide-eyed oookaaaayyyy and backing away slowly at this point, but I just want to share one more thing. This morning I got in my car to go to work. I ended up leaving earlier than expected due to unforseen circumstances, and the very second I turned the key in the ignition I heard the very first note of one of Whitney's biggest and best hits - How Will I Know - as it leaped out from the speakers. I cranked it, and belted out one of the most inspired performances of my career on that five-minute drive. As outrageously silly as it sounds, I actually believe that it was a sign, a chance for Whitney to say goodbye to me, or me to her. Either way, it was a moment just between the two of us. The old Whitney and the old me, singing our hearts out together.

Goodbye Whitney. And thank you.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Party like a 3 year old

E's birthday party was last weekend. In the days leading up to it she exuded a kind of serene anticipation, while her father basked indulgently in the Sea of the Blissfully Unaware and I teetered precariously on the brink of full blown neurotic hysteria, blanketed by only the sheerest wisp of surface calm and self control. 

Now I could take you on a blow-by-blow through the week leading up to party day, detailing the myriad of potholes and near-misses, the agony and the ecstasy of it all, but instead I think we might all just benefit from a good glossing over: 

It went spectacularly well, in my humble opinion.

The Toronto grandparents arrived on Friday evening, and treated us to a dip in their hotel pool before bedtime. E donned a stray lifejacket and proceeded to lead me through a hot/cold therapy flush, alternating between the pool and the hot tub with exuberance while the others languished in steamy relaxation. The rest of the evening was a flurry of chopping, wrapping, moving furniture and origami, followed by two pooped parents passing out on the couch. 

The next morning we headed off to dance class, where we met the Kingston grandparents and watched E strut her stuff. She came out of the class announcing "Mama! We did retirés! Look!" My baby can retiré. I'm so proud.

And then it was party time! We whisked her home, whisked her into her party outfit, and waited patiently for the first arrivals. First there were our neighbours with their adorable son who will be one year old next week. Next on the doorstep were her friends C & C, whose mom I met in the park this summer when we bonded over being newcomers to Ottawa. A bit later a couple of hubby's old friends from high school arrived with their girls who are just about E's age. We ate pizza, we decorated butterflies, the kids mostly kept to themselves and allowed the parents to have grown-up conversations...mostly about our kids...and, of course, there were cupcakes. Rich, decadent brownie cupcakes with candy bugs on top. I've been dying to make these cupcakes since I saw them online while looking for ideas for E's first birthday cake. Now that I can be relatively confident that she won't choke to death on a jelly bean, I was excited to finally put it to use. I think it was a hit. 

There were no meltdowns, no tantrums, no fights and nothing was broken. E loved all of her presents and said thank you and didn't try to grab the burning candles. She has played with every toy she received and we've read each book. She didn't fly into a sugar-induced rage at naptime, and was happy to share a cupcake with mom and dad after dinner, instead of eating a whole one by herself. I did enjoy a couple of glasses of wine that night, but in the spirit of celebration rather than self-medication.

On Sunday the festivities continued with a skating party on the Rideau Canal. Mama, Dada, E and the Kingston grandparents all experienced skating on the world's longest skating rink for the first time, although E spent most of her time being pushed by Grandpa, and we enjoyed BeaverTails and hot chocolate as rewards for our efforts. 

Yep, the weekend was a big success. E enjoyed turning 3 and her biggest fans enjoyed watching her. We kept worrying about whether she would want all of her school friends, or whether she would want to go somewhere expensive or whether she would get overwhelmed and not enjoy herself. But in the end, we were chilled out and so was she. I think there's a connection there. As parties go, they are likely only going to get more complicated, but I'm glad that we were able to squeak out one more low-key affair before the lists of demands start coming in six months in advance. The only thing I'm concerned about now is her reaction when presents eventually stop showing up in the mailbox. 

"A-nother present for me??!" *big smile*

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Wise words

" impossible it is to read minds and hearts. How wonderful it is to just hear what the person you love needs and learn how to give it. To set each other up for success rather than failure."
~ Glennon Melton

Thank you, Glennon, for writing down your thoughts so that those of us who are not quite as clear-headed can learn very important lessons while enjoying a morning coffee and giggle.

I think I'll schedule a Love Seminar, just in time for Valentine's Day. I'm beginning to feel that sometimes surprises come at the cost of stress and worry and fear of disappointment. And I'm pretty sure none of those things are on my husband's wish list.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012


3 year olds get to eat cinnamon buns for breakfast.

3 year olds don't have to worry about choking on small parts.

3 year olds can ride scooters.

3 year olds can bring cupcakes to school to share with their friends.

3 year olds can do things like play with stamps and cut birthday cake all by themselves because they're 3.

3 years old is where it's at. At least it's where E's at. And it's looking pretty good so far.

Happy Birthday to my teeny tiny little baby. I will call you that out loud as long as you let me, and in my head for the rest of my life.

 Goooood MORNING!!!!

 What are these doing here??

 Out of the way dad. I'm scootering.

We take our photo ops where we can get them. 
And sometimes that's while we're on the potty.