Saturday, May 30, 2009


An actual shower.

Make-up music class with the whole family.

Chasing Will through the garden centre.

Eggs and french toast and coffee.

Watching my husband plant while our daughter naps.

Thirty-four kids' books for a dollar each.

Daughter laughing as the swing goes up, up, up.

Wading at the edge of the cold lake, waves rushing against our toes.

Steak and asparagus for dinner.

Bedtime without tears.

Two chocolate chip cookies fresh from the oven, one for each of us.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

If I'm in the kitchen, it must be Hemingway

I think it's the warmer weather (not counting today, ugh). I suddenly want things to be immediately accessible, no matter where we happen to be.

Sun hats? Will now has three, and I'm trying to keep them at key locations: back door, front door, stroller. I think we need another one for the car.

We still have only one bottle of sunscreen, and therefore ended up at the Folk Arts Festival hiding in the shade or counting the exposed minutes in front of the stage. All the bags and trunks and strollers need a bottle of that stuff for the summer.

I'm not sure why this obsession with access has transferred to my reading habits. After being stranded in the car with a sleeping child and no book, I now find myself part way through at least four novels, each one ready to read in a different place in the house.

If I'm in Will's room and it's nap time (read: light outside), I'm reading either The Origin of Species by Nino Ricci or Tom Robbins' B is for Beer. So far the Ricci book is truly terrible. I can't stand the protagonist, but I'm enjoying reliving my time in Montreal. His description of the life of a student in the city is perfect.

In the hallway outside of Will's room is my nighttime novel, The Gargoyle, which I am finally reading after kgirl sent it to me as part of a December giveaway. This interesting book has my little LED light inside, so I can read as Will slowwwwwly falls asleep.

My own bedside novel, What are You Like? by Anne Enright has migrated to my purse with 1, 2, 3 Magic. I've since added Jen Lancaster's Bright Lights, Big Ass to my night table, along with the history text I picked up in South Carolina, Black Majority.

In the downstairs bathroom I have the option of Bed Timing or Cringe. Usually there are sections of Saturday's The Globe and Mail and a bunch of medical journals in both bathrooms.

Excessive, even for a student and teacher of literature? Afraid to be alone with my thoughts? Or just prepared?

Sunday, May 24, 2009


I think it is safe to discuss, in a completely nonchalant way, the breakthrough we have achieved are achieving with Will's sleep situation.

It is very far from successful, if one defines success as sleeping through the night. But! But.

I no longer lie down with Will in her bed as she falls asleep. I don't even sit on the bed with her. Instead, I sit across the room - next to the door even! - and I read my book with the fantastic LED book light I got at Chapters. (The light also doubles as a flashlight I can shine across the room to see if Will has fallen asleep. Something that backfires if I shine the bright light onto the face of an almost sleeping child. But we were talking about successes here.)

It all started with laundry. There were two baskets overflowing with clean and dry, but unfolded laundry that had been taunting me for days. One night last week I said to Will, "I'm just going to sit over here and fold laundry while you go to sleep."

She didn't go to sleep while I folded the first basket. But she stayed in bed. She had not fallen asleep by the time I finished the second basket. But still in bed. Then I leaned against the wall between her dresser and the door and waited. She fell asleep.

I actually asked my husband to give up "his night" at bed and bath so I could try it again the next night. Much dirty laundry was washed and dried, ready to be folded. Other than a brief meltdown over a sip of water ("The water's right there, you can get it. Good. Now climb back into bed.") it worked again.

The next time it was my turn I showed up with just a book. Sat in the same spot and read. It worked again.

Now, it still takes FOREVER for Will to fall asleep. And when I tried to replicate the snuggle, tuck-in and then go to the door to read routine when she woke up at midnight last night? Forget it.

But my daughter is finally learning to fall asleep on her own, without either one of us getting particularly upset and without me feeling like I am falling into an abyss or losing my mind.

That's my definition of success.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

My friend who hates rats may want to skip this post

There we were, enjoying the weather and a picnic next to the duck pond.

Bagels with cream cheese and sunshine, yum!

There were mallard ducks and Canada geese, geese with white heads and lots of ducklings. And something else . . .

The tail could have been anything, I guess. But then . . .

Templeton, is that you?

I don't know why I kept taking pictures (in between half-shrieking, to no one in particular, "oh my god, that's a rat!") except that I could not believe what I was seeing.

In a completely unrelated story, Will helped set the table on the deck for dinner tonight. She unrolled the place mats, positioned the napkins and plates and forks. Then I brought out the spaghetti sauce in a bowl, and went inside to get the noodles.

When I came back out - moments later - there was sauce dripping out of the bowl onto the table and the deck. Half of the sauce was inedible. I couldn't help myself from reacting: "Oh no! Will! What have you done?"

Then I noticed that each plate had one perfect scoop of spaghetti sauce on it, and I almost died from the cuteness (before explaining that serving the meal was really something that required Mama's or Daddy's help).

In lieu of the dinner helper, more cuteness from after the rat pond duck pond.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Green thumb

What do we have here?

Could that be Lasha, using the new potter's bench to - gasp! - pot her herbs and vegetables? You mean to tell me that she didn't just look at the pretty pots sitting empty on the stylish bench? She didn't pass the herbs in their biodegradable containers and briefly consider potting them, before something else caught her attention, indoors?

Look! I really filled all of those pots myself, with my gloved (and sometimes bare) hands. The herbs are mostly on the top, with one pot of tomatoes. Then there are more tomatoes and basil on the bottom, with the red leaf lettuce and the morning glories Will planted in art class. (Her frog pot is peering out at you from beneath ladybug eyebrows.)

It is freaking me out that I actually completed the first phase of my garden project. The next phase being watering and maintenance, which I'm assuming will include getting rid of (and replacing) plants that don't make it. But so far, I have quite a sense of accomplishment. In fact, I think I'm going to have a glass of wine.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Half asleep in frog pajamas

It had to have been after ten o'clock last night, as Will stumbled into the downstairs kitchen at my in-laws' house, that the title of the Tom Robbins' novel fell into my mind.

Most of the relatives turned Indian standard time into an art last night, arriving to a five o'clock get-together between six-thirty and seven. (For the record, we got there shortly after three.)

But I was in good spirits for the evening. My husband had taken on the toddler co-sleeping the night before, and I slept the entire night on my amazing pillow-top mattress. After eight or so blissful hours, I awoke to the sun gently filtering in through the windows. I heard my child eating her breakfast (without me) downstairs. I stretched my non-aching limbs and padded downstairs for some coffee.

With a morning like that, even a delayed family gathering - with dinner to follow - couldn't upset me. Then Will ate an entire bowl of biryani with meat (she never eats meat!), saying "yum" the whole time. She revelled in her older cousins' attention, and the 2-year-olds put on a great show of all their favourite songs.

The late night threw us all off today, but we still managed to pick out a lot of different pots and plants for me to start my own deck garden. I'm going to focus on a few herbs: basil, thyme, parsley and rosemary; some strawberries in a pot; some mini tomatoes and red leaf lettuce. I've never been much of a any sort of a gardener, so we shall see how it goes.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Cough, cough, sniffle

There are some definite benefits to being married to a family doctor. Free birth control pills. Twenty-four hour access to a medical opinion. The hilarity of watching one of your brothers ask him to take a look at "this one spot on my" whatever at family gatherings.

But ever since H started seeing patients every day, and especially after he finished building his practice - over a year ago now - Will and I have been getting sick. A lot.

It started last June when she had a terrible deep cough for more than a week. She ended up on two different puffers and an antibiotic for an ear infection. My cough got so bad I had to use the puffers too.

This fall I got strep throat for the first time ever. Again, the benefit of the family doc husband is that he could bring home the rapid strep test. The downside? Strep throat really hurts!

At some other point in the fall both Will and I had such deep coughs and wheezing that we even went for chest x-rays - which showed nothing - but back to the puffers we went.

I know all of this exposure to different illnesses is actually building Will's immune system, so I guess in the long run it's a good thing. But enough is enough. There is nothing more pitiful than a toddler waking up in the middle of the night crying, "nose! nose!"

I am also absolutely certain these upper respiratory tract infections are contributing to Will's sleep issues. Every time something starts to work well, the coughing/sputtering/congestion wake ups start all over again.

I am grateful for one thing. (I feel like I should whisper this, so the fates don't hear.) We haven't yet been hit by a terrible stomach bug. I'll take another cold virus over dealing with vomit any day.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Bouncy castle rescue

It started out innocently enough. There were only a couple of toddlers in the bouncy castle. It was only a dollar. She loved the trampoline at gymnastics. Why not give it a try?

Of course, it was only supposed to be fun for the children.

Will got stuck at the top of the slide when it started pouring. That slide was so slick by the time I got up there that we actually slid right through the doors of the castle and onto the lawn. An unexpected - and very wet - good time.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Imagine the dinner party

Do you want to know something that really annoys me?

Married men who refer to their wives as "the boss."

As in, "I'll have to run that by the boss" or "I don't know. The boss takes care of all of that."

All of that could mean anything: children, the bills, house hunting, the couple's social calendar. So if she's "the boss," what then? It allows the husband to abdicate responsibility for the details of a particular activity. And the turn of phrase itself is ridiculous and demeaning. It's like a throwback to a time when a man could focus on what was really important, and the wife would take care of the rest. And the rest? Just let her think she's got a little bit of power, right boys?

Clearly, I don't consider this term of endearment, well, endearing. So do me one favour.

When I call my husband and you happen to be nearby, don't ask him if he had to "take a call from the boss."

(I wonder if I'll like my husband's new co-worker. Or his wife. Who declared that it was time for her to end her maternity leave to "become a productive member of society again.")

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Preschool: Finding a good fit

I have determined that I am not a Montessori kind of girl.

The best way I can describe it is that the philosophy just doesn't resonate with me. I went to an open house at one Montessori preschool a few weeks ago and it was fine, but I just didn't get it. The stations, the progression. The uber-structure of the tasks juxtaposed with the free-flowing child centred timetable to work through them.

I thought I would give it another shot last night, hitting the open house of a different preschool, this one defined as "beyond" Montessori and located in a central and very interesting downtown location. I wanted to like it, for the geography alone. But it just isn't a fit for me or my Will. When they beamed about 3 year-olds learning the continents and the countries and "colouring them the same way as the map" I thought, "So what?" Not to mention wondering why on earth they couldn't colour the continents any way they pleased.

I know Montessori works for a lot of people. I am sure it is exactly the right environment for a lot of kids. I have also learned to trust my instinct as this child's mother, and I know it is not for us.

The good news is that the other preschool we visited last night is an amazing fit. If Will was 2 1/2 and toilet trained (the minimum requirements) I would probably start sending her tomorrow.

This preschool is located inside a nursing home. When I told this to my sister she thought it was the scariest thing she had ever heard, but I don't see it that way at all. What an incredible experience for both the children and the residents, full of possibility. And the discussion I had with the teacher met my expectations.

She talked about how the program is primarily for socialization. The kids learn to take direction from an adult who isn't their parent, interact with their peers and work independently. It focuses on creativity and play, and there is some "circle time" where they learn to sit and listen in a more direct way, preparing of course for kindergarten.

This is exactly what I was looking for in a preschool. But what I loved even more was the teacher's attitude. She acknowledged that sometimes on a rainy day the kids just need to blow off some steam, so they take their instruments and march through the halls, making music. That "circle time" at the beginning of the year probably lasts about 5 minutes and gradually progresses. That when they have a tea party "upstairs," the residents let them use real china tea cups.

I love it.

And Will? Well, she went right for the costume jewelry, then stayed with a preschool parent and painted a picture while her dad and I toured the outside space. She seems to agree that it is a good fit.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

And there's this thing called the Internet

I probably should not admit this to anyone, but I have no idea how Wi-Fi works. Seriously, none. Right now, I am sitting in a coffee shop with my husband's laptop (that's an embarrassment of its own, I know) and I'm online. And it's like magic.

I knew the coffee shop had wireless access. I just didn't think one could access it so easily. I thought there was something you had to install in your computer to make it work. (Please don't say "modem", I'm not that clueless.) I just thought it was a special kind of modem, or something that had to be installed into the modem to be able to utilize this magical service floating in the air.

Just before leaving the house, we also discovered that we could steal the signal from our across the street neighbour. Not that we will be doing this. Even though they are rude and pretentious with their landscaping team and its weekly visit. No signal stealing for us.

And I know I am a million miles behind every other connected person in the developed (and possibly developing world - when my husband was in Zimbabwe he would call me using some guy's satellite phone). But this wi-fi thing? This is freakin' awesome.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Trust me, it looks stunning

I just took 16 pictures of myself to show off my new hair, but they all make me look crazy. Self portraits do not seem to be my strongest skill. But in the spirit of actually maintaining a somewhat stylish do throughout the summer, I have pre-booked my next appointment in six weeks. No longer will I be the girl peeking through her overgrown bangs (or pinning them back with a toddler clip), straggly ends fraying in the summer wind.

Anyway. I'm back home and no one is around. I don't see father or daughter in the yard. The car is in the driveway. The shoes seem to be in the front hall. Are they napping? Have they been abducted? Are there simply shoes I have not accounted for?

I would normally be torn between cleaning up and catching up on TV, but yesterday we found not one, not two, but three ginormous black spiders inside of the house. Two were alive, one of which (whom?) was not even in the basement, but on the wall above the television.

Now I am on a quest to rid the house of all as much clutter as possible, to both spot and thwart the evil arachnids from their attempt at invasion. There is nothing worse than seeing a spider and then losing it from your line of sight. It could be anywhere, reappearing at any time.

Arachnophobic much? And I can't let myself freak out in front of my daughter. I had a hard enough time convincing her that she just had to tell the ants to "get down!" when they got too close to her on the deck.