Sunday, November 30, 2008

30 out of 30

Just got back from taking Will for a walk in the miserable cold rain. But she's asleep now and I can give myself a hearty congratulations.

I can't believe I actually completed thirty posts in thirty days.

I thought it was going to be hard going. But other than a couple of difficult days, it felt really good to just sit down and write every day. I've missed that.

I can't say that I'll be posting every single day from now on, but I also won't be giving up this blog any time soon. So thanks, NaBloPoMo.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Love Actually, but not today

I was going to write about my forming opinion of "Twilight" (which I finally caved in and bought for five bucks at Costco), but I think I want to actually finish the novel first.

What I really feel like doing is watching "Love, Actually." I only saw this movie for the first time last year - after Christmas! - and it was amazing. It has one of the saddest moments I have ever seen on film, when Emma Thompson goes into the bedroom to pull herself together before taking the family to the Christmas pageant, and Joni Mitchell is singing poignantly in the background. Heartbreaking! (As an aside, I had no idea "pageant" was spelled like that, although it definitely looks right.)

It also has the most romantic scene ever, in the restaurant in Portugal, when Colin Firth proposes to Aurelia in his terrible Portuguese, and she answers in her stilted English. I could watch that scene over and over. I love the "second language" grammar we get to see in the subtitles.

It is also highly entertaining to watch Bill Nighy and imagine him narrating "Meerkat Manor," but that's just an added bonus.

Unfortunately, when Will wakes up from her nap I have to go to Buffalo instead, for a last minute family get-together with the in-laws. Maybe tomorrow, and definitely before Christmas this year.

Friday, November 28, 2008

The next day

When I went to bed last night I couldn't breathe and I couldn't sleep, so after Will moved in beside me I decided to take one Nyquil. I told my husband what I'd done and then fell into a deep sleep.

I haven't slept that well in a long time. And I feel a lot better, emotionally speaking. The good part about parenting is that you get another chance to figure it out and do things better the next day. And it's always a million times harder when you and the child are both sick.

Anyway, a couple of pictures from yesterday of a very serious baker:

Maybe not always so serious:

Thursday, November 27, 2008

A good day, and then not so much

The day started out fine, fun even, but since then things have gotten steadily worse.

I keep started posts and then hesitating at the "publish" button, not sure what I want to say. What I want to put out there, even though nobody really reads this anyway.

Did anyone know it was going to be like this? Parenting? Such indescribable joy and such crushing, suffocating frustration?

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

I think I'm in love

Will is still hacking up a lung around these parts. Last evening she was waking up every 20 minutes or so, until I finally took her into the guest room to snuggle. Voila! Not only did she fall asleep and stay snuggled during her coughing fits, she stayed asleep even after I disentangled myself and came back downstairs.

(We won't mention the horrifying thud when she fell out of the guest bed, but even then she calmed right down and went back to sleep.)

So this begs the question: is she ready for a toddler bed?

She loves sleeping in the bed with us, obviously. But she seems to love sleeping in beds in general. Maybe getting her a toddler bed will actually help her sleep better.

I have to say that I have always been against getting a toddler bed. Why get a bed to fit the crib mattress and then another bed when she's even bigger. I have been all for the crib-to-twin transition. But like many (most) things in parenting, it's time to reevaluate my pre-Will ideas to fit my actual child.

I adore her crib set. It's from College Woodwork, the Rossport collection:

There is also a beautiful dresser/hutch combo unit in this same dark wood. I just love it.

When I started browsing for "toddler bed," I was not too hopeful that I would find anything close to this, or even anything I would like.

But then I found this:

Isn't it the most beautiful toddler bed you have ever seen? It's by Storkcraft, and will be available in Canada through Sears and Walmart in January. I would have ordered it today if it was available. I love it.

Let's hope Will feels the same way.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


I totally did something to my back tonight. Will had the nighttime crazies and was climbing over the coffee table for the third time. I pulled her off and onto my lap to have a "talk," and suddenly there was a shooting pain.

It's right under my left scapula, so difficult to press or massage. And every time I turn or exhale too hard there is more pain. I've just taken 3 advil, so hopefully that will help. Maybe a hot bath after Will is really asleep (her room shares a wall with the bathroom).

She had a difficult night too. She has a terrible cough and kept us up with her tossing and turning. At one point she sat up in bed (yes, with us) like she does in the morning and said, "Up!"

It was 4 am.

So yeah. Today was a little rough. Short attention span, a lot of bumping into things and an almost non-existent nap when she really needed one. Let's hope she sleeps a long time before waking up tonight.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Preparing for cookies

Today was a fairly quiet day. Grocery shopping before lunch, then a trip to the big book depot after nap. It's a huge warehouse where Will loves to run; the only drawback is how incredibly dusty she gets from playing between the stacks.

To prepare for some interactive Christmas activities, I picked up a collection of holiday cookie cutters at the grocery store. They are really cute, but also made of metal. I realized after buying them that they are probably too sharp for toddler fingers. But then at the bookstore I scored four of those plastic cookie cutters (for a buck!) and a kids' cooking kit. The kit has a cookbook, an apron, a spoon and a rolling pin, as well as a couple more generic cutters. I think I'm going to pick up another kit to use with her playdough. (That last idea was really my mom's, but one I am definitely going to use.)

I think we are going to bake gingerbread and sugar cookies. The gingerbread ones are a lot more Weight Watchers friendly - only 1 point a cookie! Will loved decorating cupcakes at her cousin's birthday party, so I am sure she'll have a blast with the cookies. I'm thinking about doing a batch to use as ornaments too. And maybe some rice krispie trees or wreaths that she can decorate too. We'll see how ambitious I am after the first round.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Neti Pot

Last night, my husband's cousin was talking about her love of her neti pot. She said it feels so good she uses it every day.

Not to appear uninformed, I did not comment. Instead, I came home and found this:

First, ewwww! I cannot imagine rinsing out my nasal passages with warm saline anyway, but I know that if I ever did, it would not involve that kind of calm and serenity. I imagine lots of choking and spilling water, not to mention cursing.

On the same note, I highly doubt that "using the correct amount of salt prevents any discomfort."

But the best part: what is up with that hair?

Saturday, November 22, 2008

How to choose a Christmas wreath

It's our first Christmas in our house, and although I am not a very "frou-frou" person (I had to look up the spelling on that one), I do want to add some touches of seasonal decor to the house. Will can already identify Santa, so I definitely want some fun (but not garish) pieces inside. I also really want a beautiful wreath to hang on the front door.

Well. I have no idea how to go about choosing a wreath. The options are endless, and I don't know how to pick one that will really capture the image of Christmas I want to send out into the world. (I know. I know. Just pick a wreath and be done with it.)

But how do I choose? How?

There is the evergreen wreath with adornments. The evergreen wreath without adornments. The pine cone wreath. The pine wreath with poinsettia flowers. The silver (or red or green or blue) ball wreath. The wreath made out of cranberries. The wreath made out of sparkly cranberries. The wreath with the snowman in the middle. The feather wreath in black or purple (that's a definite "no"). The wreath made up of stuffed Santa heads. The wreath made out of twigs.


Maybe I should just go with a star?

(Or a "Welcome" sign with a Santa? Or a snowman? Both?)

Friday, November 21, 2008

Friday Food Meme

I'm quite pleased that this is only my second meme of the whole month, and it's already been three weeks of daily blogging. I got this food-themed one from Ladybug's Picnic.

1. Favorite milk? Skim

2. What are the top 3 dishes/recipes you are planning to cook this season? I'm taking this to mean the "cold" season. I'll make a yummy tomato bean soup in the crock pot, beef bourginionne (also in the crock pot) and spinach-mushroom lasagna.

3. Topping of choice for popcorn? Just salt.

4. Most disastrous recipe/meal failure? I made some absolutely hideous vegetarian manicotti in university. I remember a really dense chickpea filling with lots of cumin.

5. Favorite pickled item? I HATE anything pickled.

6. How do you organize your recipes? I just got a new wooden recipe box. It's beautiful! I organize by categories, on cue cards, but I also have an envelope of recipes I've cut out of magazines and not transferred yet.

7. Compost, trash, or garbage disposal? We have organic waste collection in our city, so that and regular trash.

8. If you were stranded on an island and could only bring 3 foods...what would they be (don't worry about how you'll cook them)? Pasta, chicken and coffee (if I can have the cream & sugar too).

9. Fondest food memory from your childhood? Coming home from school to lasagna or a big pot of spaghetti. My worst childhood food memory: Coming home from school to one of my mom's "concoctions"!

10. Favorite ice cream? Chocolate. Or strawberry. It's close.

11. Most loved kitchen appliance? Tassimo coffee maker.

12. Spice/herb you would die without? Garlic.

13. Cookbook you have owned for the longest time? A couple of those "Company's Coming" books.

14. Favorite flavor of jam/jelly? Strawberry.

15. Favorite recipe to serve to an omni (I would've used the word "uber" here, but hey, I didn't make this one up) friend? I have a great club sandwich wrap with my version of guacamole. Yum!

16. Do you eat tofu? Sometimes. I like to think I enjoy it more than I do.

17. Favorite meal to cook (or time of day to cook)? Dinner, if I have all the ingredients and someone to watch the child.

18. What is sitting on top of your refrigerator? Cat food, a calender and a couple of toys.

19. Name 3 items in your freezer without looking. Fudge pops, Blue menu dinners and frozen fries.

20. What's on your grocery list? Always fruits and veggies, milk, half and half and cereal, then whatever's needed for that week's "menu".

21. Favorite grocery store? Superstore (or at least something with President's Choice stuff).

22. Name a recipe you'd love to try, but haven't yet. Onion soup from scratch.

23. Food blog you read the most. I don't really read any.

24. Favorite chocolate? Milk chocolate, especially with caramel.

25. Most extravagant food item purchased lately? Hmmm - some expensive beef tenderloin.

26. What vegetables do you enjoy most? Asparagus, mushrooms and really good grape tomatoes.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Not a winter mommy

It's only the first real wintery day, and already I hate it. I. Hate. It.

I hate the play-acting, pretending that going outside is going to be so much fun.

I hate the winter clothes, having to cajole Will into putting on her snowpantssweeaterjackethatbootsmittens.

I hate the whining. The kicking. The refusing. The running. The crying. (Not all from the child, of course.)

I hate the bribing. Seriously, if I have to resort to bribing a child to go outside to play in the snow, why?! Why?

(Because she might like it! She doesn't know. It's winter! It's snow! It's a new experience.)

She didn't like it. I'm sure it was being restrained by the snowpants, because later she walked for 2 blocks pushing her stroller (after I had to wrestle her into her mittens. Grrr!).

She briefly enjoyed watching her footprints appear as she walked backwards. Then she took off her mittens. Then her hat. Then she went for her coat.

"If you want to take your coat off, we can't play in the snow anymore. We have to go inside."

Her eyes lit up. She pointed at the door and nodded. Emphatically.

I don't think I'm cut out to be a winter mommy.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Flashback (couldn't wait until) Friday: Photographic Evidence Edition

Another box from my parents' crawl space. This time, a photograph:

I'm 15 here, and it has just been announced that I will be representing Canada at an international leadership conference. Clearly, I'm quite excited. But that doesn't quite explain the outfit.

First, the leather mini-skirt/vest combo was my mother's. I know. And she used to wear it while teaching Grade 1. (I couldn't fit into it much after this photograph, but she wore it well into her twenties!) The story goes that my father, who taught Grade 8 at the same school, used to wait in the hall to watch my mother walk her students down to the library. In this outfit. So I can't believe I wore it for the history alone.

I think I can overlook the white turtleneck. Sort of. I mean, a turtleneck? In May? That's ridiculous even for 1990.

But look at my sense of how to appropriately match/style an outfit: since the clothes go "white, brown, brown," I of course will add a white accessory to my head. It looks like some sort of hideous (and thankfully mostly hidden) white bow, which I think was attached to a ginormous barrett, but could also have been a silk pocket square stolen from my dad to use as a glamorous hair adornment.

Moving on to the bottom half of my body. It too requires a white accessory to "balance" the outfit. I suppose I should be grateful that I did not think to go with white nylons and brown shoes. However, I couldn't just wear dark hose and dark shoes - oh no! - I had to wear brown (or some kind of dark sheer) nylons and white (white!) shoes. Shoes that have just enough of a heel to make them hideously unattractive. But then again, what could be more of an eyesore than white shoes with brown pantyhose. Dear god.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


This morning there was a little bit of snow on the ground.

When Will and I went outside, she looked around for a minute and then said, "What is dat?"

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

Later, we were visiting my friend and her five-week-old baby. My friend asked Will what was on her shirt.

She looked down. "Dat's a bird."

That's my girl!

Monday, November 17, 2008

A Night Out

I thought we had avoided the evening's mishap on the way out the door. Will was waving at us madly from the carseat, my husband was pulling out the keys to lock the front door and suddenly he said, "Do you have any shoes for tonight?"

I didn't, so I ran to the closet and pulled out my black heels (with the strap and the peeptoe, if you must know) and breathed a sigh of relief.

"Imagine if we had left without my shoes!"

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

It's forty-five minutes later. We are in the car sipping our Starbucks, a relaxing night spread out before us.

"You did pack my dress, right?"

"Um, no."

"With your dress clothes? When you put them in the garment bag, you put my dress in too, right?"

"I'm not wearing a suit. I just folded my clothes and put them in the suitcase."

Next stop: Suburban mall.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

I should probably not admit that this is the third time I've left my home city without the dress clothes necessary for whatever event I was leaving to attend. Once it was a wedding. Then a dinner and graduation, in Winnipeg of all places. Now dinner and a show. Three times I've had to make a mad dash around the mall desperate to find something - anything - appropriate to replace my forgotten clothes.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

The new outfit was a great success. I found a great pair of black pants with a bit of a shimmer, and a beautiful black sleeveless top with some baubles around the neckline. Paired with my black heels and a black wrap, I looked like quite the sophisticated lady.

We did have to rush in the hotel before dinner, and then our cab's wiper actually broke and the driver stopped to fix it en route. But nothing could stop us from having a wonderful evening. The dinner was excellent and the show was fabulous. We even went to a jazz bar for drinks afterward without a care in the world.

A perfect birthday present should always come with overnight childcare.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

November 16th, 11:26 pm

I'm not going to comment on the fact that my daughter spent the entire night in her crib, with only one awakening, when my parents stayed with her last night, but she's already been up 3 times tonight with me.

Since I'm barely making it in under the wire for NaBloPoMo, I'm going to save the post about how much fun I had last night, mishaps and all.

Instead, a few random facts about my (lack of) physical prowess:

1) I have never turned a cartwheel. My Grade 9 P.E. teacher tried to use me to show the class how to "help" someone learn, but I adamantly refused.

2) I have discovered that I am suddenly terrified to complete a front roll. I thought I'd show off for my husband and daughter the other night, and could not figure out how to do a simple somersault without breaking my neck.

3) I did not learn how to swim until I was 9 years old. Swimming lessons in Grade 4 were very embarrassing.

4) I did take modern dance and ballet until I was 13. My dad still wonders how I could take dance for 9 years without becoming even a little bit graceful. (Ouch!)

5) I am still proud of being on the volleyball team for 3 years in elementary school. (Number 14, Baby!) We made it to the regional finals twice, winning silver both times. I was the team captain (yes, captain!) in Grade 8. My underhanded serve was my secret weapon, as the opposing team always assumed it would get caught on the net, but instead it would zoom over for an easy point.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

How do you solve a problem like Maria?

Last summer, my secret and then no-so-secret TV obsession was "How do you solve a problem like Maria?" This show had actually been showing in England when I was travelling 2 years ago, and now it was in Canada. A talent search to find the star of the new Canadian production of "The Sound of Music," and it was brilliant.

The best part was when the singers with the lowest number of votes had to sing in front of the musical director (who was later arrested on some kind of solicitation charge and missed the finale!) and then he decided who to "save" for the next week.

Tonight, we are off to see the winner, Elisha (my top choice as the show developed) as Maria in "The Sound of Music." And have dinner at a high-end Mexican restaurant. With Sangria. And stay overnight. In a hotel. Without the child.

These are a few of my favourite things . . .

Friday, November 14, 2008

Warning: May not sleep well

Dear Gramma and Granpa,

Thank you for coming to my house for a sleepover tomorrow! I am really looking forward to it (and I think my parents are even more). But there are a few things I think you should know.

After my bath and my stories, sometimes I point to my crib and make the sign for sleep. Then if you rub my back a little, I roll over and close my eyes.

Sometimes I would rather stand up and sit down and roll around and chat. I hope that's okay with you.

I always wake up at least once during the night, and I usually (okay, always) move from my crib into my parents' bed. Sometimes I snuggle in and go right back to sleep.

Sometimes, like last night, I can't get settled and I'm awake for a long time. A really long time. I don't think you'll mind. Will you?

Anyway, I'm almost always pleasant in the morning, even if I've had a rough night. Don't worry. We have lots of coffee in the cupboard.

Love, Will

Thursday, November 13, 2008

How's your day going?

After I finally got Will to agree to take a shower with me and we were both standing in the bathroom buck naked, water running, she refused to get in. Not taking a shower wasn't an option for me, so I quickly put up the baby gate, gathered a couple of books, closed the doors and jumped in the shower.

Will stood in the bathroom for the entire time screaming. Still naked.

Of course, in true toddler style, as soon as I was out she was as pleasant as could be. And now? She's gone upstairs into the bathroom of her own accord and is sitting fully clothed on the potty reading her musical Pooh book.

Is she two yet?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

How many points in a chai tea latte?

I'm officially doing weight watchers. Well, as "official" as I can get by borrowing my sister's points ruler and instructional booklet.

It has only been one week, but I am very serious about it. I have a notebook divided into quadrants where I track my daily food/points, water intake and multi-vitamin. On every 2-page spread there is one square left over to summarize my week and mark my weight. And the first week I lost 3.5 pounds, which I am very happy about.

I would be lying if I said I wasn't really doing this to see the number on the scale go down. (And for the record, this is the first scale I have ever owned.) I've just felt like my eating got a bit out of control while I was breastfeeding, and I wasn't able to curtail it when the breastfeeding stopped.

The best part about tracking what I've been eating is this incredible sense of control. I know how much I should be eating, and I can make choices throughout my day to work around this. I'm still making the meals that I normally would, but I'm dividing them up into portions and eating a lot more salad (no points with a "spritzer" for dressing!).

I think a lot about whether eating something is really worth it, whereas before I would just eat the cookie even if it wasn't a really good cookie. And I'm still eating at night, but now I plan for it, and save those points for a glass of wine or a fudge pop (or two).

I also did some research into restaurant nutrition guides when I knew we were going to be out on the weekend. I was speechless. I know I shouldn't be shocked, but I cannot believe what restaurants put out there - especially things that seem healthy. It is unbelievable.

So we will see how this goes, but so far I really like the feeling that I am in charge.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Of ponies, tails and trucks

Yesterday my best friend and I took our daughters to the Royal Winter Fair. Will had a great time pointing out all the animals. There was even an "owwwwllll," her new favourite word.

I don't think I like being up here!

Today was a quieter day. I was able to get her hair into two slightly askew pony tails. But by the time we left Costco, she only had one left and her face and shirt were covered in chocolate.

When she isn't looking for "owwwlllls," Will loves
pointing out "truhs" in her books and on the street.

For now, she's fast asleep and I'm off to prep for a spaghetti squash dinner in honour of the new season of Top Chef. (In Canada we're always a few weeks behind. Do not tell me who wins!)

Monday, November 10, 2008

We are coming for you

My sister swipes her subway pass and she and her boyfriend squeeze themselves through the turnstile together. They go down to the platform and sit on a bench to wait for the train.

Suddenly there is an announcement over the loudspeaker:

To the young man and woman sitting on the bench.

They look around, shocked. So do several other subway riders on the platform.

We know you did not pay the full fare. We are sending a transit authority down to speak with you.

Her boyfriend takes a drink from his water bottle.

Go ahead and take a drink. We are coming for you.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

They decide to make a run for it and take a cab downtown. For the rest of the day, my sister thinks they are coming for her, and she believes they are tracking her every time she uses her subway pass for the next week.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Sunday Morning

Me: I'm making coffee.

A toy car whizzes by from the family room.

Him: I'm making memories.

ETA: On looking at this again, it reads more like a Hallmark card than intended. Add a bit of snark to his tone of voice to capture the true mood of the scene.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Tiptoe through the tulips . . . we hope

Today was our last chance to plant the tulip bulbs that have been waiting in the fridge for the past 3 weeks. So at 11'oclock this morning, you could find me in the most unlikely of places.

The front garden.

I can't say that it was a fun experience, exactly. There are a lot of roots and stones in that little patch of earth. And my holes were too far apart so we (read: my husband) ended up just turning them into trenches so we could use all the bulbs.

But it was definitely a family endeavour. Will helped her dad with the digging.

Then she gleefully threw the bulbs into the trench and then helped to arrange them.

Even though the gardening book told us that we could keep bulbs in the fridge for several weeks, I'm not completely convinced that they will actually bloom. Here's the "before" shot:

Let's hope that in 5 or 6 months there is a beautiful "after"!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Flashback Friday: A Kindergarten Tale

While digging through one the boxes of stuff from my childhood, I came across the remains of this book:

It's a story about a little girl who's getting ready for the first day of school. Of course, on that day Katy does not want to go. She puts on her oldest dress and refuses to brush her hair.

My own 4 year-old self did not identify with this part of the story. I remember being very excited to go to school. I did feel that I was similar to Katy, however, in our shared "hair the colour of butterscotch taffy." Anyway, Katy's mother tries to make her feel better by slipping a little surprise in her pocket.

It is important to note that Katy's mother tells Katy about the surprise. Katy goes off to kindergarten, of course has a wonderful day, and on the way home remembers to check for her surprise: a new pencil.

Her friend Sandy tells Katy that she can use the new pencil at school. And that's where Katy's story ends, as the rest of the pages and back cover are long gone. I'm sure Katy shared her love of school with her mother and thanked her for the wonderful surprise.

My own story version of this story is a little different. I remember this book well, so I'm sure my mom and I used to read it to get ready for school. But apparently I wasn't yet very good at making associations.

One day at kindergarten, it was time to get our snack. I went back to my coat (or bag, I can't remember which) and to my surprise, I found a little bag full of miniature marshmallows!

Was I thrilled that my mom had clearly left me my own surprise, just like Katy?

Oh no. I was very concerned that I had found something that did not belong to me. What were these marshmallows? How did they get inside my coat? Another child must have misplaced them! What should I do?

I gave them to the kindergarten teacher and told her they were not mine.

I was pretty proud of myself too. I might be a girl with "hair the colour of butterscotch taffy" but I certainly did not take things that didn't belong to me. No sir!

That afternoon when I came home from school my mom was very excited to see me. She wanted to know if I had found my surprise.

My stomach dropped. I felt awful. Those marshmallows were for me? I still remember all the emotions from that moment: I was disappointed. I was embarrassed. I felt so bad because I could see that my mom was disappointed. It was horrible.

I'm not sure about the lesson in all of this, but it is one of the most vivid memories from my early childhood. And it seems to be one of the origins of my ongoing fear of being wrong, or making a mistake. But it was just a mistake. No big deal. I wonder if anything could have been said to make me realize that it wasn't a terrible thing. Just a little mistake.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Do I have to tell you to stay off my lawn?

For me, one of the "challenges" of moving into a house, on a street, with other houses is, well, the people who live in those houses. I'm not someone who really wants to interact with other people. I detest small talk. I hate going to parties - at least the ones with a high percentage of people I don't know.

(When I went on a retreat with my classmates in Grade 8, one of the first activities we had to complete was a "coded" name tag. In one corner, you were supposed to rank how outgoing you were, with 10 being the highest level. I chose "8" and absolutely believed it, but discovered over the next couple of years - aka, the social nightmare that is high school - that at most I was probably a "6.")

We took ownership of the house a few weeks before we actually moved in. Of course, we still came to the house almost every day (our! very! own! house!) and within a day or two almost all of our neighbours had stopped to introduce themselves. Our one next door neighbour (stage left if I'm standing on the porch and the road is the audience), actually stopped her car and got out to meet us. Now I'm all for saying "hello" if you are on your way to or from the car, but it made me a little nervous that she actually stopped driving for an introduction.

I would describe her as slightly eccentric. A grandmother with a streak of pink hair; a motormouth who tells us she doesn't "chit-chat"; a self-defined carefree, unstructured gardener who nonetheless carefully arranges seating areas and places decorative stakes at the boundary of her property.

Fast forward a few weeks, and we have been living in the house for about a month. My husband is thrilled to finally have a yard, and he has been spending spare moments pruning the overgrown trees. (Sometimes Will and I hear the "toot" of his car locking, but then Daddy doesn't appear. We find him outside, pruning shears in hand, cutting off errant branches in his dress clothes.)

So we are standing on our deck looking out over the yard, and my husband asks me if I have picked up the branches he cut on the weekend. I laugh. This is not something that would even occur to me to do.

"No, seriously. I left them in a pile in the yard."

I look back and there is definitely no pile of branches. In fact, there is a full lawn bag next to the far shed. It has a "president's choice" logo on the side. I had picked up some lawn bags at Walmart. "That's not even one of our lawn bags."

"But who would come into our yard and pick up branches? That's crazy, right? Crazy!"

"Maybe it's like the monster in Frankenstein who cuts all that wood for the poor family . . ."

"Seriously! That's trespassing! Who would do something like that?"

Suddenly we see a flash of pink hair through the bushes, and our neighbour materializes through the leaves.

"Hi guys! I just wanted to let you know that I was cutting my lawn today, and I noticed that you hadn't cut yours. You probably don't have a lawn mower yet. So anyway I mowed your front yard and was going to do the back, but I didn't have a chance. So I just picked up those branches and pulled a few weeds from your path here."

My husband's mouth drops open. Neither one of us knows what to say.

I go first. "Um, thank you?"

My husband starts using his best Judge Judy voice. "We were concerned that someone would actually come into our yard." But even he doesn't know how to continue.

"Well, that was me!" she says brightly. "Just didn't want you to think there was anything strange going on!"

She vanishes as quickly as she appeared. My husband looks at me. "That is crazy, right?"

"I mean, it could be interpreted as something nice . . ."

"But if I said to you, I'm just going to go next door and mow the lawn and pick up her branches, maybe pull a few weeds, what would you say?"

"That's just crazy!"

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

What would Judge Judy say?

I haven't blogged much about my husband here, so I thought I would offer a little "get to know him" meme I found over at Jayesel. (That and I spent all day travelling to my parents' place and back, and I don't want to bail on NaBloPoMo on Day 5!)


1. He’s sitting in front of the TV. What’s on the screen?
Judge Judy. (It could also be America's Next Top Model, The Amazing Race, or the original, Bob Barker, Price is Right.)

2. You’re out to eat; what kind of dressing does he get on his salad?
Raspberry vinaigrette

3. What’s one food he doesn’t like?
Melon. Every kind of melon - even watermelon. That's just weird.

4. You go out to the bar. What does he order?
Rickard's Red on tap.

5. Where did he go to high school?
Kitchener, ON

6. What size shoe does he wear?
I think it's a 10 1/2

7. If he were to collect anything, what would it be?
He actually has a collection of those U.S. state quarters they were issuing a few years ago when we lived in NY.

8. What is his favorite type of sandwich?

9. What would he eat every day if he could?
Um, maybe pizza?

10. What is his favorite cereal?
Mini Wheats

11. What would he never wear?
I have no idea. He's not too picky.

12. What is his favorite sports team?
Buffalo Bills

13. Who will he vote for?
We're Canadian, so not eligible, but definitely Obama. Here he's usually NDP or Green, unless a "strategic" vote is called for. But never conservative.

14. Who is his best friend?
I am.

14. What is something you do that he wishes you wouldn't do?
This would be easy if it was something he wishes I would do: more cleaning up!

16. How many states has he lived in?
One state and three provinces.

17. What is his heritage?
South Asian.

18. You bake him a cake for his birthday; what kind of cake?
Carrot cake. He also loves trifle.

19. Did he play sports in high school?
No . . . he was into student council and artsy stuff like the jazz choir.

20. What could he spend hours doing?
Looking at maps and surfing the Internet.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Yes. You. Can.

It is a beautiful sunny day in southern Ontario, and everyone I know is watching and waiting. Anxiety and anticipation over an election that is not even our own.

I think one of the reasons Canadians are so baffled by Americans is the presence of such extremes. There are extremes of opinion and emotion that we just can't get our heads around. Sure, we have extremes here, our fundamentalists and our anarchists, but they are tempered by a moderation that is accepted as the norm.

That's probably what draws Canadians to Barack Obama. He is so moderate. So reasonable. So calm. So clear and articulate. Not to mention his ability to bring people together, to inspire.

So I sit here watching and reading about all the people going out to vote. So many positive stories of people coming together to make a statement, to make history. And I wait, thinking yes. Yes you can.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Multiple Choice

Let's say you have a 5 year-old child and you want him to celebrate his birthday with his extended family. You know that most of his cousins live about an hour away, and that one 19 month-old cousin lives close to 2 hours away. When you are choosing the date and time for the party you decide on:

a) Saturday afternoon at 2 pm, so no one coming from out of town (a.k.a. "all the guests") has to worry about work or school the next day.
b) Saturday evening at 5 pm, ditto re: the out of town guests
or c) Sunday evening, please come in the afternoon but dinner won't be until 5, no wait, 6:30

When your child's grandparents (who also live an hour away) call at 5:15 to say they are getting in the car and will be there soon, you decide to:

a) feed the children dinner, and let the adults wait to eat when the final guests arrive
b) allow your child to open the presents of the guests that are there
c) first b) followed by a)
or d) have everyone wait until the final guests arrive - in. an. hour.

When your child's uncle and aunt, parents to his 19 month-old cousin (who is writhing around on the floor from exhaustion) tell you at 7:30 pm that they really need to get going, you choose to:

a) express disappointment but understanding at their decision, and call the birthday child to come and thank them for coming to his party
b) allow the birthday child to open his present from them and thank them for coming to his party
c) ask them to stay for cake and candles, and quickly gather everyone to sing happy birthday, after which they can quietly leave as the cake is being eaten
b) refuse their attempts to leave by putting operation "cake, candles, open presents" into motion, a flurry of activity that looks efficient but ends up taking an hour and fifteen minutes.

Yeah. Me too.

Sunday, November 2, 2008


I am taking a deep breath.

Can I do it? Can I commit?

Every. single. day.

I've officially joined NaBloPoMo.

In these few short months that I've been blogging, I have enjoyed the chance to get back to some writing, and have a place to share some of the things I find interesting in my day-to-day life. But that's with no pressure.

The idea of writing something every day is both terrifying and appealing. Just a little push to see what I can really do (and the lows to which I will sink, minutes before midnight, on a "low news" day!).

We'll see where this month leads . . .

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Happy Hallowe'en

It was such a beautiful warm night, we actually did some real trick-or-treating. The tiger had a blast. Hope your Hallowe'en was just as much fun!