It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Geeks are Hot

Thanks to Q, who showed me how to get a new profile picture up on my blog. Isn’t it great? Momma goose with all the babes in her care – and a Canada goose at that. Seems so right, somehow. Further thanks to Q, who took the picture last summer, then realized how fitting it would be as my signature pic.

And, just to show what a truly manly man he is, Q has been converting files!! From analog to digital! (Be still my heart.) Go check it out – too funny.

December 29, 2005 Posted by | random and odd | 4 Comments

Snow Removal = Excitement Plus!!!

1. When these signs appear in the snowbanks, the tots are in for a treat, because some serious Snow Removal is heading our way. Even those of you where the flakes never fall know about snow plows, I’m sure, but have you ever wondered what happens to the heaps after they’re shoved to the side of the road? They can’t stay there – by mid-January the banks would cover the roads, and be creeping onto your front porch!

So first the signs: don’t park here or you’ll be towed. People co-operate with these things because we all want those snowbanks gone!

2. Stage one: These are city plows. Highway plows are different beasts, more like honkin’ big dump trucks with a couple of immense blades out front, but these graders work better on city streets. Though you can’t see it in these photos, their front wheels can, when necessary, tip to the side to about 45 degrees. Very cool!

The plows come in and push the snowbanks into the middle of the street. Deliberately. And again, drivers co-operate. Not without a little grumbling and muttering, perhaps, but it’s better than the alternative!

3. Then this cute lil guy, the sidewalk plow, comes along to shove the remainder of the rill out into the street, too.

4. Here’s a good view of the rill that’s been made down the centre of the street. But what, you ask, is the machine which faces it?

5. This is it! See those circular blades? They slice right into the banks, and then suck up the snow and shoot it into the waiting dump truck. They trundle in tandem down the street.

That spout can move from side to side, the better to fill the dump truck.

The line of dump trucks await their turn. We have a LOT of snow! This kind of snow removal does not happen after every snowfall: can you imagine the expense? We’re all happy when it happens, though!

You can see why this is a toddler thrill: TWO kinds of snowplows, a mondo snow-blower, and a gazillion dump trucks! Does it get any more exciting?

And for me: clear sidewalks and – oh, the excitement! – on-street parking once more!!

December 29, 2005 Posted by | Ottawa, outings | 16 Comments

Bait and Switch

Little Zach has an airplane obsession. All day, every day, planes, planes, planes.

Imagine his excitement, when, during our Christmas party with all the mommies and daddies right there in my house, his dada pulls out this great book with several pages, in the very first volume, dedicated entirely to airplanes!!! “Mary, Mary, yook! Ah-panes! Momma, dada, ah-panes!” I mean, really! How thrilling is that???

So thrilling that he decides it would pay to investigate that particular shelf of reference books, hitherto completely ignored, a little further. Who knows what delights might await? He grabs another book, waves it under daddy’s nose. “Read me dis one, dada! Dis book!”

Dad takes a look, snorts his wine elegantly out his nose. “Maybe in a few years, sport”, and hands it off to me. Quick like a bunny, dada grabs Volume A once more. “Hey, how about let’s look at those airplanes again!!”

I did mention that all the mommies and daddies were there, right?

December 27, 2005 Posted by | books, Mischief, random and odd, sex, Zach | 10 Comments

One Year Later

Today is the one-year anniversary of the tsunami that swamped so much of Southeast Asia. While I know that there are many agencies still working over there, World Vision is the one with which I am most familiar. Because they’d been in the area for 40 years before the tsunami hit, they had supplies, staff, and administrative infrastructure at the ready. If you’d like to see a bit of the things going on, here’s a link to a two-minute video clip.

For more information on other responses and programs, click here.

Did you know that in some areas, the tsunami killed four times as many women as men?

Out of tragedy springs hope – what else is left? From realized hope grows wisdom, strength, resilience, and joy.

December 26, 2005 Posted by | commemoration | 3 Comments

Merry Christmas!

I don’t know how much anyone will be blogging over the holidays (including myself), so in case this is it until January,

Merry Christmas!

I hope you all, no matter what your beliefs, have a joyful and life-giving holiday.

December 23, 2005 Posted by | Christmas | 13 Comments

Say what you mean or it’s cucumbers all the way

Arthur happens on me sneaking a private cookie. The tots have just had their (nutritious) snack in the next room. I was hoping to enjoy my less virtuous one in private.

“What are you eating, Mary?”

I hate this question. Kids do it all the time. He does not mean “what are you eating?” He knows what I’m eating. What he means is, “Can I have one, too?” Annoys the crap out of me, truly it does. You want something? Be direct!

(Plus, he just had a snack and I don’t want to share mine. What?!? I can’t hoard my cookies? I have to be noble every minute of my day? Did he share his grapes with me? No, he did not.)

Anyway… since it’s a non-sensical question, I figure I can give it a non-sensical answer. I’m not playing your game, kiddo, you’re playing mine.

I consider the cookie in my hand. “It’s a cucumber.”

“A cucumber?”


Any other child would have given me a blank or perhaps an accusing stare, and wandered off in disgust. Arthur, however, has never yet let an opportunity to talk pass him by. I want to pretend that cookie’s a cucumber, he’ll go right there with me. Talk is talk, after all!

“What colour is it?”

More consideration of the Lemon Temptation I’m rapidly eliminating. “It’s yellow.”

“Some cucumbers can be yellow. After they’re ripe, they get yellow.” Arthur nods, an encouraging, we’re-in-this-together nod.

“So they do. You’re quite right.” I answer, brushing cucumber crumbs from my hands. Arthur pauses, then cheerfully trots off, his interest in conversation lasting only as long as the cucumber.

You know, some people have to hide a drinking habit, sip their martinis from cracked old coffee mugs. Some people have a lover, risk and reward, slip him out the back door as hubby comes in the front. Exotic and daring. Me, I’m hiding in the kitchen, trying to hide my cookie habit from three-year-olds.


December 23, 2005 Posted by | Arthur, food, manners, the dark side | 7 Comments

Because Activity is Important

Apparently, the children haven’t gotten their snow legs yet.

But as Mr. Outdoors Dad will tell me, physical activity and fresh air is very important.

And really, I agree.

So last week, I took them out for a flounder in the snow.

December 22, 2005 Posted by | Ottawa, outings, the cuteness! | 10 Comments


Is often mystifying…

“Emma,” says George, looking into the laptop. “Let’s play the suh-wuk game.”

“The shark game?”

“No, the suh-wuk game.”

“The work game? The shuck game? The stuck game?”

Nope. She did figure it out, though. Bet you can, too.

Hint: that decorated piece of greenery standing in the corner of our living room is a “Kwissmass suhwee”.

December 22, 2005 Posted by | Developmental stuff, George, the things they say! | 10 Comments

Good Call

Arthur sits on the bottom step. I see him there as I happen by. This step is the “Quiet Stair”, the time-out spot, the place children go to calm down, to think about their misdemeanors, or to keep them out of Mary’s way long enough for her to overcome dark, vengeful urges. Except I have no recollection of sending him to the stair, none at all.

“Arthur, are you sitting there for fun, or are you on the Quiet Stair?”

“I’m on the Quiet Stair.”

“Do you know why?”


“Okay. Why are you on the Quiet Stair, Arthur?”

“Because… I, uh… it was… maybe I…”

He hasn’t got a clue. And neither do I. Let’s see. This is Arthur. There have been a number of stair-able offenses this morning, but I hadn’t thought I’d used the stair as a consequence for any of them.

“Was it for shoving the furniture around after I said not to?”


“Was it for hitting the tree ornaments with your wooden hammer?”


“For tearing the cushion open with your teeth?”


“Poking the budgie with a paintbrush? Sitting on little Alice? Throwing blocks? Licking Darcy’s face after he said ‘No’?”

“No. No. No. No.”

Hmmm. The mystery will have to remain unsolved, I guess. Don’t suppose it really matters.

“Okay, kiddo. You’ve been pretty quiet here, so you can get up now if you like.”

“No fanks. I think I’ll just sit here for a while.”

You know, I think it’s probably better that way.

December 21, 2005 Posted by | Arthur, manners, random and odd | 13 Comments

Christmas is Coming

Musing on Christmas gifts. I get gifts every year from my clients, some of which are perfect and greatly appreciated, others of which, ah, not so much.

I will say up front that I understand that gifts are not obligatory. There is nothing saying that my parents need to give me a gift at all. The fact is, they do. It is also true that these gifts are an expression of their valuation of the service I offer.

About five years ago, I was given the best gift I have ever received. This mother gave me a portion of her Christmas bonus (I have no idea it if was 1% or 90%). The cheque was generous, and be sure I appreciated that. However, it was the sentiment expressed on the card which accompanied the cheque that mattered most of all: “This is your portion of my Christmas bonus, which I would not have been able to earn had I been worrying about my daughter. I am able to be my best at work, knowing that she is getting the best with you. Thank you.”

You know what? I actually teared right up when I read that. It remains the single best gift I have ever, ever received from a daycare parent, not because of the generosity of the cheque, but because of its symbolism. Mom saw me as a contributor to her work productivity, and so she shared her reward for that productivity with me. It was a measure of the value she placed on my contribution to her world – to her peace of mind.

Last year I received a range of gifts. Three of them spoke of that kind of appreciation. They had been carefully chosen with consideration given of me, my character, my needs. One was a weekend car rental – a great gift for a woman who, at that point, didn’t own a car. One was a hand-knit scarf, knit in shades carefully chosen to match my dress coat – not something the parents saw me wear often. Someone was paying attention!

I also received a couple of token gifts. You know the kind. Perhaps like us you keep a stash of small, nice, generic items, to be given to people who unexpectedly give you a gift, and you wish to reciprocate. They’re impersonal, inexpensive little throw-away gifts. The sort of gife you give the paperboy. No personal thought went into it, because they’re not intended for a specific person. Call me shallow, but a box of a dozen pouches of hot chocolate screams “throw-away” gift.

I should be ashamed of myself, qualifying my gifts in this way. Gifts are, after all, gifts. “It’s the thought that counts!” someone out there is indignantly huffing. Well, true. And how much thought, do you think, went into the grocery store box of hot chocolate? In pouches, yet. As was so well expressed by the woman who shared her Christmas bonus with me, the gift is ultimately an expression of their valuation of the service I provide their family. I did not feel much valued by the hot chocolate people. I did feel valued by the scarf family.

For it is, indeed the thought that counts.

December 20, 2005 Posted by | Christmas, daycare, manners, parents | 20 Comments