It’s Not All Mary Poppins


Emma, looking at the family calendar on the fridge: “Oh, wow! It’s less than a week!”

Me: “I know. Monday already. Kind of startling, isn’t it?”

Emma: “What? Oh, not the wedding, mom. The season finale of House!


May 17, 2007 Posted by | my kids, wedding | 5 Comments

Plan B Comes Through!

You know how I said we had an officiant for the ceremony?

Welllll…. we had one booked a month ago, but I really didn’t much like him. We paid him his deposit, but we kept looking. Stephen discovered that a colleague of his works for a marriage service place, and tried to get hold of her. This proved to be harder than we expected (good reasons for that, as it turned out, but we couldn’t know that at the time). The weeks went by, the day came closer, and we were thinking that we were going to have to go with the dud guy, and I was being sensible about it – I wasn’t looking to make him my best friend; he just had to come and do the job – but it was oppressing me. I wanted someone who’d be into the spirit of the thing. I wanted someone to rejoice with us.

Today – finally! – we meet the woman we’d been trying to meet with for three weeks. (The convoluted explanation of why it took three weeks to connect, and why it was absolutely right that we connected now and not earlier, would fill another post.) Tonight we met.

And she is WONDERFUL.

I am sooooo relieved.

Let us compare the two:

Dud: Gave us 30 minutes
Wonderwoman: Gave us 90

Dud: Did not ask a single question. TOLD us how it would be.
WW: Presented us with an outline, but asked at every point for input.

Dud: Was rude to Stephen; interrupted him constantly. It was clear he was to talk and we were to listen. Though, oddly, he never interrupted me.
WW: Listened with respect to both of us.

Dud: Gave us an outline (carved in stone) — with someone else’s names in it! (Not even blanks. No, Bambi and Rocky throughout.)
WW: Had an outline obviously tailored to us (with OUR names in it) based on the phone conversation she’d had with Stephen.

Dud: Had really, really bad teeth and hair.
WW: Tall, slim, blond, with great teeth. In fact, for those who prefer willowy blonds to curvy brunettes, she has me in the shade.

Dud: No creativity at all. He had his script for the event. End of story.
WW: Thought of ways we might include our children; thought of a neat ritual to put in, when Stephen commented on the complete lack of religion in the ceremony; thought of a great way to work in the two readings we brought to her; compromised with us about other ideas – the whole hour was an exercise in negotiated creativity. It was heaven.

This woman was a cantor in her synagogue for ten years. She has a demanding, intelligent career. She played the flute for some years in the symphony. She sings opera. She volunteers as a singer in old folks homes. And she does marriages. She’s way cool, good-looking, intelligent, vibrant, and fun.

If things don’t work out with Stephen and me, I may just have to marry her.

May 16, 2007 Posted by | wedding | 10 Comments

I think he’s got it!

The fine weather is here! At last! Which means we play outside every afternoon as we await the mommies and daddies. Which means some Serious Lessons to the tots regarding “Street” and “Sidewalk”, the distinctions thereof, and where you May and May Not play.

Serious, persistant, consistent lessons.

“No, honey. That’s the street. We don’t step onto the street. The street is for cars. This is the sidewalk. We play on the sidewalk. The sidewalk is for people.”

Three weeks of diligent effort is paying off. The little ones – Emily, Anna, and Timmy, all about 20 months old – are now aware of the distinction. It may not prevent them from racing out into the street (Emma and I stand ready to prevent sudden surges street-ward), but it does at least make them slow down a bit, and, in Timmy’s case, check for lurking adults, before they step out…

The big ones – Nigel and Malli, two-and-a-half and almost three – are much more reliable. They rarely put a foot into the street.

(Any new readers will be reassured to know that mine is a very quiet, almost dead-end street that sees little traffic. Any car going more than, oh, 20 km per hour will almost certainly set off a full-throttle protest from all the adults watching our children play: “SLOW DOWN!!!” Given that one of the adults is a largish police officer, and from time to time he’s actually in uniform when he’s doing the yelling? It’s a pretty effective traffic-control measure… This is no four-lane highway we play beside.)

The big test came today, though. Nigel was playing with a ball. Balls are notorious for rolling where they oughtn’t. Or where children oughtn’t. We’ve had this lesson, too. If the ball goes into the street, they May Not, Under Any Circumstances, Go After It. Whenever we see a ball land in the street, the lesson is the same. Indeed, the lesson takes precedence over immediate retrieval of the ball. “Your ball is in the street! When your ball goes in the street, you mustn’t ever go after it. Never, ever. You must tell me. When your ball goes in the street, you must tell a grown-up. The grown-up will get your ball.” Over and over and over again.

Nigel was trying to kick said ball, but, in typical 2.5-year-old fashion, he missed. Well, mostly missed. His foot glanced off it with just enough force to send it wobbling vaguely across the sidewalk. It meandered along the edge for a bit, then dropped off the sidewalk and gently, oh, so gently nudged against the curb, where it sat.

Nigel trotted over to the edge of the sidewalk, hunkered down and gazed at his ball. His ball which rested against the curb. The ball which was now touching the toes of his shoes. Touching his toes. He could just reach down and lift it, but…



May 15, 2007 Posted by | health and safety, the cuteness! | 8 Comments

Time’s a-wastin’

I am getting married in a week. In seven days, three hours and eleven minutes. Roughly.

Am I excited? Yes! No. Yes! Um, well. Yes, yes, yes, I am! (A little frazzled, when I stop to think about details, but overall, excited! YEAH!)

Am I ready? Well…

We have the reverend.
We have the license.
We have the venue.
We have food.
We have music.
We have our witnesses: our oldest children. There will be no other wedding party.
I have a dress.
Adam has a new suit (his very first!!) and dress shoes (his very first!!) He looks like a MAN.
Emma has a new dress and matching shoes. (She looks like a WOMAN. Which, given she’s only 13, is a little more unnerving than Adam’s 18-year-old manliness…)
Stephen’s heap o’offspring is all set, I think, once Middle Girl was assured that yes, she can wear pants.
Haley arrives on Thursday!
We have decorations, though they need a bit more work.
The reply cards have all returned. I had to phone a few people, but now I know.
No worries about flowers – we’re not having any.
Will there be a cake? Not sure. (Can I get one with a week’s notice? Do I care?)

Which sounds reasonably comprehensive, right? That’s a wedding, pretty much, right? Right?

Before the wedding I need to:
Confirm numbers with the food people.
Pay food people.
Sort out the readings. Probably Shakespeare’s CXVI sonnet. Everybody uses 1 Cor. 13, but if not that, what? NOT Kahlil Gibran, thanks.
Look into possibility of cake. Maybe.
Arrange to get 40 balloons filled with helium. On a stat holiday. Oops.
Sort out decorations.
Talk to the minister again. (Do we need a rehearsal for an 8-minute ceremony?)
Get my hair done.
Get the kids’ hair done?
Emma and I plan to have our eyebrows waxed. Ooo, girly bonding.
Make sure Stephen’s shirt and my dress don’t clash.
Lose 12 pounds.

Simple enough, right?

May 14, 2007 Posted by | wedding | 27 Comments

Why I Blog

I’ve been tagged by JennyUK to give five reasons I blog. Not sure I have five, but here we go…

1. I started blogging as an outlet for all the bitchy, snarly things that I sometimes want to get out. I soon discovered that I just don’t have that much bitchiness to get out, and, further, if people read only bitchiness here, they’d assume I am a bitch, and respond in kind. And then I’d have to pack and leave home, because I hate unncessary conflict. So my original reason fell by the wayside within about the first week.

2. I love to write.

3. After I’d been writing a while, I realized that I have a perspective that’s almost unique amongst all the mommy blogs out there. There are just not that many caregivers with blogs. I’m also older than many (most?) mommy bloggers, my kids are older, and I have a tonne of parenting experience – my own children and others’. I felt I had something valuable to offer.

4. I love to write, and I’ve often been asked about a book/thought about it myself, and one day the stuff in here might will be the basis of a book.

5. This winter, though, was hard for me. Most days the blogging was a chore, something I did more because I felt obliged than because I was enjoying it. The ideas were not flowing like water. My draft file, which normally has dozen ideas/posts in it, was dry. Each day’s post was hauled out of myself with effort, crafted from nothing. And I did it. For a whole four or five months, devoid of energy and motivation and often, desire, I simply made myself write. Because I had to, somehow. Perhaps I am a writer, after all.

(I am much better now. There are twenty posts in my draft file, I see several new ideas every day, I’m coming alive again. Phew.)

Well, then. I did have five reasons! If you wish to do this meme, let us know with a comment.

OH, and HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY to all the mummies out there!!!

May 13, 2007 Posted by | memes and quizzes | 6 Comments

Cause and Effect

Nigel. He trundles through his days with a grin, mostly. He hasn’t the effervescent, hair-trigger laugh of little Anna, but he’s a stable, amiable, reasonably easy-going little guy.

Except when his mother’s about. Then he’s temperamental, whiny, and prone to tears. Before you all start nodding your heads sagely and trotting out that old chestnut “Isn’t that always the way? They behave better for everyone else than for parents!”, let me describe something for you.

Yesterday morning, on our way to the library, Nigel stumbled and fell. This is hardly unusual. Nigel can trip over dust motes. An unexpected draft topples him. The rush of neurons caused by a sudden thought zipping through his brain overbalances him. In short, he is not the most coordinated of tots.

I give him a kiss and set him on his feet. I notice that he has grazed one knee slightly, but since he doesn’t appear to notice, I’m not so foolish as to point it out to him. There’s no grit in it, it’s not even so deep as to bleed. Meh. We’ll wash it when we get home.

Which we do. Nigel is mildly distressed when he sees the scrape. In less than a minute, though, I’ve convinced him that getting a bandaid is FUN. Which, when you are two years old and you get to decide whether to decorate your body with Elmo, Harry Potter or butterflies, it IS.

Thereafter, he forgets all about the wound. The bandaid gets lots of attention. The other children clamour for one, but Nigel sets them straight.

“You don’t get a bannaid unless you get a bo-bo. Only I get a bannaid!”

Mummy arrives at the end of the day, greets him with her usual affection. Nigel shares with her the highlight of his day, his voice ripe with pride.

“Look, mama! I gots Elmo on my knee!”

“Oh, no!” Mama’s voice drips pathos and concern. “Did you get a bo-bo?”

The pride of accomplishment vanishes from his face, instantly replaced by misery. “Yeeeeeah! I gots a bo-bo! I falled dow-ow-ow-ow-owwwwn!”

I have tried to explain to this mother the strategy of responding to a bo-bo as if it’s an adventure. I’ve tried to explain the idea of leading the way emotionally by your reaction. Mother can’t bring herself to do this: she sees it as emotional manipulation.

I see it as teaching/modelling a certain attitude/response. However, even if I were to accept this idea: if my response has him happy and proud, and hers has him in tears – are we not both ‘manipulating’? Are tears the only ‘genuine’ response? And which ‘manipulation’ has the most positive result? What is inarguable is that Nigel is responding to the unspoken expectations of the adult’s responses. Parents have far more influence over their tot’s emotional responses to things than they often realize.

And Nigel? The boy who’d been full of pride and satisfaction five minutes before? The tears and wailing echoed down the street even after they’d vanished from sight. His mother’s soft coos of reassurance faded sooner.


May 11, 2007 Posted by | behavioural stuff, Nigel, parenting, parents, whining | 11 Comments

I May be Out of Commission…

For a few days. Or I might not. It all depends.

For some while, the battery on my laptop – never a powerful beast – has been slowly and steadily fading away. Gradually it has faded from fully charged, to 87%, then 73, then 64, the maximum charge dropping away inexorably. This didn’t particularly bother me; even at its most powerful, I got maybe two hours time on the battery. Mostly, this has been a very small, portable desktop.

However, this week the cable has become really persnickety. If the laptop is shifted by a couple of centimetres, the computer moves from AC to battery. Not good. So very Not Good. When your battery is 11 minutes from dead, you don’t want to be relying on it…

On Monday, I spoke with a nice young man in Texas, and a new battery and cable are presently making their way northward.

This morning, when the table was jostled by passing toddlers, we reached a new low: 2% battery. This translates, in present battery currency, to about 87 seconds of computer life should the cable decide to cut off life support.

I’m hoping that the transplant arrives before the patient dies…

May 10, 2007 Posted by | Uncategorized | 6 Comments

It’s not just the “why’s”

I love three-year-olds. They’re relatively independent, they’re generally toilet trained, they’re verbal, they’re no longer testing the boundaries all the time. Tantrums are out; conversation is in.

They’re fun, and funny.

Everyone knows that three is the stage of “why, why, why”. Phew. Dozens of ‘why’s’ a day. Dozens. It can be exhausting, but mostly I love getting those glimpses into how their little minds work.

But three is the time for another fascination, and even though Malli doesn’t turn three until June, she’s there. She’s so advanced!

I am changing Timmy’s diaper on the living room floor.

Malli squats beside me, chattering away.

“I have a vagina.”
“Yes, you do.”
“Anna has a vagina?”
“Yes, she does. Anna is a girl, just like you.”
“Timmy has a penis.”
“Yes, he does, because Timmy is a boy.”

All this is pretty standard. This is what three-year-olds do. The “she’s-a-girl-so-she-has-a-vagina” (boy/penis) theme is considered great small talk amongst this set. They’ll try it on anyone: mom, dad, gramma, grampa, the teller at the bank, the bus driver, the minister of your church. It’s a good conversational tactic, really: find a point of common interest. And hey! If this isn’t ‘common interest’, what is? Everyone has one or the other, right?

While Malli can identify the bits, it soon becomes apparent she has a few gaps in her understanding…

“Timmy is a boy. He have a penis.”
“That’s right. He has a penis and testicles.”
“Uh-huh. Those little round things behind his penis.”
(Yes, Mary gets into it with the tots. Just like I do with any topic they’re interested in. Education is education.)
“He has a penis and tessacles because he a boy.”
“That’s right.”
“I has a vagina.”
“Yes. The vagina is the bit on the inside of you.” (Which, I happen to know, she has discovered. ‘Nuff said.) “The part on the outside is your labia.”
“I’m soon gonna be a boy.” Well. That was unexpected.
“You are?”
“Yes. When I get big, I will have a penis like my Max and Errol.” (Her older brothers.)
“You will?”
“Yes. When you grow big, you get a penis.” She considers Timmy, as he scrabbles onto the couch. “And maybe Timmy has a vagina when he grow big.”
“No, I’m pretty sure Timmy will keep his penis.” (The laughter is not far beneath the surface, but there’s NO WAY I want to disrupt this conversation.)
“He not keep his penis if he soon gonna be a girl.”
“Well, no, but he’s not. You generally stay a boy if you start as a boy.”
“Well, I soon gonna be a boy.”
I decide to try another tack: “Does your mommy have a penis?”
“No, she have a vagina.” A sudden thought occurs. “YOU has a vagina?” Ha! Progress!
“Yes, I do. Because I was a girl when I was little, and I’m a woman now.” Consolidate the notion…
“I a girl now.” Oooo. She’s getting it now!
“Indeed you are. And when you grow up, you will be a woman like mummy and me.” Confirming… and…
“No, I has a penis when I gets big.” Well. THAT didn’t work.
“Why will you get a penis? Maybe you will keep your vagina and be like mummy.”
“No. I’m soon gonna be a boy.” The girl is unshakeable.

I can hardly wait to tell her mother the Big News.

May 9, 2007 Posted by | Developmental stuff, sex, the things they say! | 13 Comments

My Daily Grin

“Okay, guys! Naptime! Let’s go upstairs!”

And then I get to follow their little diapered butts* up the stairs. Imagine the thumping of little hands and feet on the stairs, and the grins and giggles as they jostle each other as they go.


It just doesn’t get much cuter…

(*And yes, the lower one on the left does indeed say PRINCESS across her bottom. Couldn’t you just drown in the cuteness?)

(Hmm. I guess all you can really see is “CESS“. Which pretty much describes what I removed from those cute little pants a mere 20 minutes before this picture was taken. My livingroom is still airing out… Not so cute.)

But still! Those wee butts up the stairs! The thumping and the giggling and the jostling! Cute, cute, cute!

May 8, 2007 Posted by | sleep, the cuteness! | 8 Comments

Ah, lazy Mondays

I don’t really mind Mondays, you know. Not with this group. No sudden plunge back into mayhem, Mondays are a quiet day, a lazy day, a soft and easy introduction to the week. Why?

Naps. Mmmm… love those Monday naps.

These children all need a single afternoon nap. Anna clocks in at 1 hr 30 minutes, most days; sleeping champ Emily gets herself three and a half hours. Everyone else falls somewhere in between. But on Mondays, they all – each and every one of them – get two naps, one in the morning, on in the afternoon.

Why is that? Because on weekends at home, only one of them ever naps. Only one. Ever, at all. A combination of activity-filled weekends, and/or poorly maintained sleep patterns at home means that they all but one stagger in on Mondays with deeply shadowed eyes and cranky dispositions. And the one who naps even on weekends enjoys her extra catch-up from her busy weekend.

While I feel sorry for their fragile little Monday selves, I can’t feel bad about my quiet, two-nap Mondays.

Excuse me. Time to pour my tea and get a few chapters on in my current book.


May 7, 2007 Posted by | daycare | 15 Comments