It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Extracurricular babies

Today, you can find me over here, writing about the why’s and wherefore’s of toddler ‘extracurricular activities’.

If you have a Work It, Mom! account, feel free to leave your comments over there. If you don’t, you might consider it: WIM is a terrific community. Otherwise, do come back here and tell me what you think!

February 19, 2008 Posted by | controversy, Developmental stuff, parenting | 3 Comments

Oh, the irony

No post today because it’s a holiday here in Ontario! First ever holiday Monday in February, declared last October by the provincial government: Family Day. Let’s hear it for Family Day, the day families get to enjoy just Being Together!! Emma and I have a lovely day of shopping and coffee shops planned, culiminating in a girly-bonding eyebrow waxing. Too fun! So I’ll see you tomorrow, and maybe you’ll get to hear all about our Day Together.

That is the post I WISH I were writing.

See, Family Day was instated after the contracts were all signed last year, so it’s not included in my list of stat holidays. Which is why three of my five families decided to celebrate their Family Day by … sending their children to daycare.

Boooo …

February 18, 2008 Posted by | holidays, parents, the dark side | 9 Comments


Parents who come late on a Friday,
Parents who
come late on a Friday?

They are
earning themselves
their caregiver’s

I’m just sayin’.

February 15, 2008 Posted by | parents, the dark side | 7 Comments

We’re really pretty domestic, he and me

This is what I gave my sweetie for Valentine’s Day:

Because he does most of the cooking, and I truly, truly appreciate it. He loooooves chocolate, and has earned himself a bunch. Some luscious rich, dark chocolate will accompany the potholder. “Will”, because I didn’t get that far. (I’m domestic; I’m just not organized.)

Well, and getting the chocolate would mean GOING OUTSIDE in the FREEZING COLD, too. I’m disorganized and cold-phobic. He’ll get his chocolate when it warms up a bit. Like, April. Or maybe June.

And this is what he game me:

Which is very sweet, but also sheerest self-defense. Because it’s the feet, isn’t it? Always with the frozen female feet in the marital bed. I’m cold-phobic because once I get that way, I STAY that way. Brr, brr, brr. I hate my frozen feet as much as he does: and my feet, they are VERY happy with their toasty new friend.

But harken unto the heart-shaped hot water bottle. Isn’t that so sweet? It’s practical, it’s self-defense, AND it’s romantic.

We don’t do too badly around here with the simple-but-meaningful tokens of love and affection.

February 14, 2008 Posted by | holidays | 4 Comments

Thus proving that even after 22 years, you can make mistakes…

Emily woke up early from her nap. These days, if she soils a diaper, she wakes in tears. (Will she train next, now that Nigel’s done??) I changed her diaper and put her back to bed. She went back to sleep, bless her sweet, compliant self.

Her cries, however, woke Anna, who, having had an hour and a half nap, did not go back to sleep. Nigel doesn’t nap every day, so they cavorted for a bit, and it wasn’t long before Malli joined them. I haul out the toys an hour early, and we commence to play. By the time Timmy joins them, however, there have been a few spats. They don’t squabble a whole lot, this group. What gives?

We could blame it on the lack of sleep, but Malli had her normal nap, Nigel had one the last two days, so should be fine not having one today, Anna, though a little disrupted, did get a decent sleep, (if she’s going to be horrible, it likely wouldn’t be till later this evening, on her parents’ watch; I shall have to warn them) and Timmy got his usual amount. So I’m not convinced it’s the sleep.

When Emily joins them, it only gets worse. It’s not the nap. She’s had more than her usual amount, probably because of the short disruption in the middle.

One child lifts an unclaimed toy, the next one screeches. One child bumps against another child as he reaches for a toy, they both scream. Someone drops a toy and cries. Someone trips and cries. Someone can’t find the right colour crayons and cries.

What has gotten IN to them?


The penny drops.

That’s the wrong question entirely. It’s not what has gotten IN to them, it’s what HASN’T gotten in?

With Anna waking a bit early and Nigel so newly not napping, I’m off my schedule. I’m off-stride. I’m very clearly NOT THINKING, because…

I forgot snack. I FORGOT snack. I never forget snack. It’s a matter of survival.

I forgot snack.

I have, in a seething, whinging mass around my feet, FIVE toddlers whose blood-sugar is crashing. I’m worried about a bit of whining and squabbling? I’m lucky there’s been no bloodshed! Yeesh.

“Hey, guys! Snacktime!”

There’s a bowl of fruit on the table, and I start slicing. Pears, kiwis, bananas. Dipped in yoghurt (plain yoghurt) for protein and finger-licking food fun.

Twenty minutes later, snack is over, play recommences …

and happy, busy childish burbling fills the air.


February 13, 2008 Posted by | behavioural stuff, food, health and safety | 9 Comments

Necessity being the Mother of Invention…

“Mary, can you fix my bear?”
“You want him in the blanket?”
“Yes, please.”
“Yes, please.”
“Okay, lovie. Here you go.” I hand the child a deftly-swaddled teddy. (Years of practice.)

Children two, three, and four like the look of that, so in short order there are four bears swaddled in four blankets carried by four toddlers in my living room. It is nothing short of adorable. Times four.

“Mary, can you fix my bear?”
“Did his blanket fall off already? Okay, love.”

“Mary, can you fix my bear?”
“That didn’t take long, did it? Here, I’ll make it tighter this time.”

“Mary, can you fix my bear?”
“Mary, can you fix my bear?”
“Mary, can you fix my bear?”


Okay. This HAS to stop. I am beyond bored. I could just consign the bears to the toybox, but that would be unkind, they’re having so much fun. I could take away the blankets. That would be simple enough. Or …

Inspiration is fun sometimes, you know?

“Hey, you guys! I want to show you something. You go sit on that bench.”
“It’s a surprise. I will show you. Way you go.”

Four tots watch expectantly as I haul my sewing machine out from the kitchen cabinet. (Yes, kitchen cabinet. If this house extended to the luxury of a whole room dedicated to crafts, I would not consistently refer to it as “small”.) Set it on the dining room table.

Take a pink flannelette sheet which has been modified to fit the nap cots for the older children. Fold it in half, width-wise, and in half again. Cut it along the folds to create four pink rectangles. The children, safe on their side of the wide dining table, are all mesmerized. Fold each rectangle in half to form a near-perfect square.

THEN sit at the sewing machine and drill one seam after another, until …

I make four bags. Four pink, flannelette bags. Total time elapsed? Twelve minutes. What have I created? Sleeping bags! Sleeping bags for teddy bears! Sleeping bags which the tots can put the bears into BY THEMSELVES. Bags which stay on a whole lot better than blankets. Not that that really matters, because the kids can get the bear back into the bag BY THEMSELVES.


It’s all about In-dee-pen-dence, Baby!!


I think she likes it!

February 12, 2008 Posted by | crafts, daycare | 13 Comments

Transitions ain’t easy

Nigel is giving up his afternoon nap. (Boooo….) He is three now, though, and so long as he gets a decent amount of sleep at night he doesn’t need one. (Booooo….) I’m being mature and professional about this, really I am. (Booooo….)


Nap-weaning, like walking, like speech, like potty-training, like just about any other developmental progression, doesn’t necessarily (does it ever?) occur in a nice, straight line.

“Come sit with me, and I will read you a story.”
“I want to sit on your lap.”
“Anna’s in my lap for this story. You can sit in my lap for the next story.”
“NO!!!” He stomps off to glare at us from the safety of the Quiet Stair.

“Okay, everybody, snacktime! … Nigel? Snack is ready. Come have snack, sweetie.”
“I don’t WANT snack.”
“You sure? It’s plums and bananas.” (Which he looooves.)
“I don’t WANT plums and bananas.”
“If you don’t come now, they will be all gone.”
“I don’t WANT plums and bananas.”
“That’s okay. You don’t have to have them if you don’t want them.”
Twenty minutes later, when snack is finished and the table cleared…
“Where is the plums and bananas? I WANT SOME PLUMS AND BANANAS!”

“I don’t WANT to play with the tiles!!”
“Then don’t. If you don’t want to play with them, Nigel, you certainly don’t have to.”
“But I don’t WANT to!!!”
“Nigel, do you want to play with the tiles?”
“Then don’t play with the tiles. That’s okay.”

He sinks into a heap of tears. I pick up the soggy heap, give it a snuggle, then put it gently but firmly to bed. Because some days? Some days there’s just no percentage in being awake…

February 11, 2008 Posted by | Nigel, sleep, tantrums | 11 Comments

Like a casting call, only questions

It has belatedly occurred to me that, from time to time, I wax wise and opinionated about this and that parenting quandrary. These things are, of course, of great interest to me, but could, perhaps, be of less interest to you, my small handful of loyal readers.

So I am hereby inviting you to suggest topics, ask questions, raise issues that are of interest to you. Not me, but you. Well, they have to be of interest to me, too, but maybe you can surprise me with something fascinating I hadn’t thought about writing about here…

So yes. I AM indeed getting you to do my work. Inspire me! Tell me what to write about! So I don’t have to come up with topics!!

You can leave an idea in the comment box, or, if you want to spend more time, or say something more personal, than would belong in a comment box, you can email me at notmaryp at gmail dot com.

February 10, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | 11 Comments

Isn’t she just so SMART?

And cute as the dickens, too!

February 9, 2008 Posted by | Mischief, random and odd | 4 Comments

What is it? Ummm…

This is a pipecleaner, also called chenille wire, or chenille stem. An adult has twisted one end a few times, resulting in this:


Couldn’t be simpler! A five-year-old could manage the twist. My toddlers cannot. The ends are a bit “pokey” in our parlance, so I’ll often wrap it with electrician’s tape, or duct tape. Today I didn’t. I will warn their parents…

Pinch the end away from the twist, like so:
The tots can do this. Theirs do not emerge looking quite so heart-like. Theirs emerge looking like stick people who have had a nasty run-in with a pencil sharpener, and are now in traction. Poor sad stick-people. Poor battered pipe cleaners. Nice, NICE mommies and daddies who will say “It’s BEAUTIFUL!!!!”

Make a second loop, putting it through the previous loop before twisting. Make a second heart (stick-person-in-traction). Now you have a two-link chain of hearts! Continue as long as there is interest or pipe cleaners.

Ooooo… very long!

So what is it? It’s A Craft, is what it is, a Valentine craft. (Because of the Hearts, see.) Crafts don’t have to BE anything. What’s it for? Its purpose is to keep the tots amused, to give them a chance to practice some fine-motor skills, to experiment with a different medium. As all parents know, crafts at this age are about the process, not the product. (In other words, for confused non-parents: it isn’t anything. It’s never anything.)

The nice thing about this craft is that when you’re done, you can take it apart and make something else of it. As many times as you like!

February 7, 2008 Posted by | crafts, Developmental stuff, holidays | | 8 Comments