It’s Not All Mary Poppins


The first day of my holidays. Spent most of it helping my brother move, and, as far as moves goes, it went very smoothly. Seems I impressed the socks off my sister-in-law’s dad (my brother’s father-in-law, too!) with my lifting prowess. See my muscles??

Not what they used to be, really, at all. I gave up going to the gym – all you dedicated parents will understand this – because it took too much time away from being with my daughter. I need one that opens EARLY in the morning. If I can’t do it before work, I have to go in the evenings, and my youngest, who just turned twelve, is at that oh, so delightful stage where she craves mummy time. I know this stage is fleeting. In another year or so her focus will shift outside the house, and I don’t want to miss these last precious months: “Just a minute, dear…not right now, dear…later on, sweetie…hang on a sec, love…” and then, when I have that spare minute, she’ll be gone. Can’t let that happen.

So I’m spending time with my sweet daughter and losing my muscle tone. A friend suggested I find a gym she can go to as well. Great idea!! I discovered that any gym that offers weight training, which is what I do, has a standard policy against children under the age of fifteen or so entering the premises. Insurance issues, I’m sure. That leaves me with aerobics, which I hate, hate, hate, and besides, since my son was born (4400 grams/ 9 lb 10 – in 87 minutes of labour) I can’t bounce, jump, or even jiggle too strenuously without peeing myself. *Sigh*. I’m considering surgery for this one. All the Kegels in the world haven’t fixed it.

So, scratch the aerobics. (Yay!)
Can’t go to weight gym for a while. (Boo!)

I can work out with the free weights I have at home, and go for long walks. It’s a compromise. It’s even a sacrifice, but Emma is worth it!

And tomorrow I’ll start my archive posting.

July 31, 2005 Posted by | holidays, my kids | 13 Comments

Last Day of Work!!!

I’m on holiday, I’m on holiday!! Last day of work today, out with a girlfriend tonight, three tangy lime margaritas into my holiday, and I’m having SUCH a great holiday!! And see what a good girl I am? I’m home and it’s only 10:30 p.m.



July 29, 2005 Posted by | holidays, Mischief | 5 Comments


Zach’s natural state is happy. He leans into life with a smile – and with one of his ever-present airplanes clutched tight in one dimpled fist. He seems always to be on the verge of a bubble of laughter. He’s just that kind of kid.

However, he is only human, and he is only just two. Today he arrived wailing. Even through the closed front door I could hear it, and I recognized his, er, voice. Some mornings are like that! Respecting his distress, mom and I keep the transition very brief. In less than two minutes mom is driving off and I am holding the boy, who is holding his precious airplane.

We snuggle on the couch for a bit as he calms. Arthur, though not generally well attuned to emotional subtleties, has in fact noticed Zach’s distress. He leans close and hands Zach a truck. (Not just any truck, either; this is the truck he sought out the minute he arrived, and has been clutching ever since. What a kind little fellow!)

Zach reaches out to receive the truck, and gazes solemnly at Arthur. Arthur smiles encouragingly back. They hold his pose for a beat, and then Zach, with the teardrops still glistening on his cheek, breaks into a beaming smile. And offers Arthur his airplane.

July 28, 2005 Posted by | Arthur, Developmental stuff, individuality, manners, socializing, the cuteness!, Zach | 9 Comments

Fool me Once…

Naptime. George and Zach sleep on cots in the kitchen. I hear rumblings and rustlings as I type in the basement. Go upstairs to check. Zach is sound asleep. George is faking it, eyes squinched shut and twitching, body tight.

I stand very still for a moment. George holds his pose.

“Hmmm…” I muse out loud to myself. “Zach is asleep. George is asleep, too.” George smiles. “I wonder who could have made that noise up here?”

George doesn’t move, his eyes stay tightly shut, but his voice slips between his almost-closed lips.


July 27, 2005 Posted by | George, Mischief | 4 Comments

Where have all the Timbits gone?

We generally make a Tim Horton’s run when Liam is with us. He loves to go – as do the rest – so why not? A coffee for me, a box of Timbits to share, and all for less than $4.00. Can’t beat that for an outing!

We assemble ourselves around the table, Alice on my lap. I dole out the timbits. Two each, your choice of sour cream or chocolate. The older boys, predictably, wolf theirs and look for more. Being in the business of civilizing them, I tell them they will have to wait until everyone is finished their first helping before we get seconds. They subside, and mournfully watch the slower chewers.

A reasonable interval later, I begin to pass round their third and final timbit. But what is this? I’m two short! How can this be? The answer is right under my nose.

Alice beams up at me – as much as any girl can beam with a face smeared with chocolate, dusted with sugar, and cheeks bulging with doughnut contraband, one timbit on each side!

Good thing extra timbits only cost 12 cents apiece!

July 26, 2005 Posted by | Alice, food, Mischief, outings | 10 Comments


I don’t tend to get a lot of tattling in the daycare. This is not because the children are such kind and giving types, nor even my extraordinarily well-honed child-rearing techniques. It’s a developmental thing. It’s about Rules. Tattlers understand about Rules. Generally, children are four, or very close, before they become aware of (and noxiously devoted to) Rules. Whereas two- and three-year-olds are quite capable of understanding that they are not to jump on the couch, it takes a four-year-old to grasp that this is A Rule. Rules can be applied to others: ever wondered why your previously delightful three-year-old has suddenly become so damned bossy? And, aha! They can tell on people who break A Rule. Hence the tattling.

George, at three and a half, has just begun to experiment with it. It isn’t getting him very far, and I know that, unrewarded, it will fade. Liam, though, is five-almost-six, and a tremendous tattle-tale. It must be paying off somewhere in his life. A dozen times a day he races to me with urgent news of someone or other’s petty misdemeanor. My response is always the same, a low-key acknowledgement of his proclamations, and a direction to go back and play. I make a point of NOT going to check on whatever he’s tattled about. This works well with children in whom tattling is not well-established. It lessens the likelihood of it becoming entrenched.

However, when a child comes with the tattling firmly established, direct communication can’t be beat. The best way to approach a child in the Rules-and-Tattling stage? I have some Rules for Tattling!! Brilliant, no??

Rules for Tattling:

If someone is bleeding, tell me.
If someone is in imminent danger, tell me.
Otherwise, don’t.

We had the chance to try this out on Friday afternoon. Liam came charging over to me, the desperate importance of his message and its earth-shattering urgency broadcast by every quiver of his stocky little body.

“Mary!! Arthur’s taking the couch-cushions off the couch!!!!”

I respond in as bored a tone as I can manage – which is pretty convincing, because I am bored, bored out of my mind, with all the tattling… “Liam. Is anyone bleeding?”


“Is anyone in danger?”


“No one’s going to get hurt?”

“Ah, no.”

“Then you’re just tattling, and I don’t need to know.”

With each question and answer, the dissatisfaction and astonishment increases in his face and voice. Am I not going to do anything? Am truly I not going to Enforce a Rule?? (This isn’t merely a power thing: it really does bug them when rules are flouted.) He tries once more to get me to see the horror of the situation.

“But Arthur’s taking the couch cushions off!!”

“Liam. Liam, listen to me. Liam: I. Don’t. Care.”

Oops. I was doing just fine until then. “I don’t care” was a tactical error, and I knew it the instant it fell from my weary lips. It was entertaining, though, to watch Liam wrestle with this idea. His expressive face was a riot of conflict: astonishment, dismay, horror, exasperation, and then increasingly, wonderment, a sense of possibility, and enthusiasm. Suddenly he reached his conclusion, the only sane and natural one when presented with an inert adult who’d just said she didn’t care, and erupted, his fists in the air, bellowing out as he races down the hall to the couch:



July 25, 2005 Posted by | Developmental stuff, George, Liam, manners, Mischief, socializing | 16 Comments


Liam: You can’t hitch-hike to Alberta because there are tornadoes there, and there won’t be any TV.

July 22, 2005 Posted by | Liam, random and odd, the things they say! | 3 Comments

Machiavelli, Jr.

It’s nap/quiet time. Some of the boys are too old for naps, and thus play quietly in the livingroom. The babies are in cribs upstairs. The middlers sleep or lay quietly with books and soft toys on low cots in the kitchen, out of sight of the livingroom, until quiet time is over.

Arthur is one of the middlers. Some days he naps, others he doesn’t. Today looks to be a no-nap day, though he has managed “quiet” relatively well thus far. But he’s bored and wants to be with the big boys in the livingroom. I’m still hoping he’ll drop off.

A voice comes from the cot behind me as I type.

“Mary, c’n I get up now?”

“No, Arthur. It’s still quiet time. Shush.”

I hear him shuffle, his feet drum a bit, he starts to hum.

“Arthur!” I intone warningly.

Quiet descends. For maybe 90 seconds. The voice resumes.

“Is it still quiet time?”

“Yes. I will tell you when quiet time is over. Meantime, Be Quiet.”

I can see Arthur trying to see the boys in the other room, but he can’t from where he lays. Nonetheless, they are the inspiration for his next attempt.

“Mary? Mary, there’s a big mess out there, and it’s too much for them to clean up. I need to go help.”

Nice to see such altruism at such a young age.

July 22, 2005 Posted by | Arthur, individuality, power struggle | 4 Comments

Family Dynamics

Kyle: You guys! Let’s play Normal Family now.
Mary: And what’s a “normal” family? (A wry adult is curious as to the innocent’s definition of that word.)
Kyle: Well, I like Normal Family. Right now they’re just playing “Fight Family”.

Nice to know that this is not normal for the boy!

July 21, 2005 Posted by | parents, socializing | 3 Comments

Behind the Scenes

Sometimes there’s another whole story behind what they think they’re telling you…

Arthur is admiring a flower in my front yard.

“Mary, may I sniff your plant?”

“Well, of course you can, sweetie.”

He positions himself carefully, leans over, closes his eye, and takes a deep and audible snort. Straightens and smiles, very pleased with his little self.

“There. I didn’t eat it. I just sniffed it.”

July 21, 2005 Posted by | Arthur, eeewww, the things they say! | 3 Comments