It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Food meme for lazy Sunday

Lifted from Kerri.

1. Can you cook? If yes, do you like to cook?
Yes, I can, and though there was a period there when I really hated it — three meals a day, seven days a week, it’s RELENTLESS!!! — I’m back to liking it again, which is good for everyone.

2. When do you eat with your whole family?
My eldest living on her own in another city, so she can’t count for this. My youngest is home every evening, pretty well, but my son has college course most evenings, and a social life on others, so all in all we probably only manage a full-family dinner meal once or twice a week.

3. What do you eat for breakfast?
Most often? A smoothie made with plain, low-fat (homemade!!) yoghurt with fresh fruit pureed into it, and a tablespoon of flax seed.

4. When, where and how do you eat on weekdays?
Meals taken at home, except my weekly date night with the husband. Breakfast with my daughter; lunch after the tots are down for their naps, dinner with my husband and youngest. How? With a knife and fork. (What does that mean?)

5. How often do you eat out (in a restaurant)?
Once a week.

6. How often do you order delivery/take-out?
Once every couple of months, I guess.

7. Regarding no. 5 and 6: Say there weren’t financial reasons would you do this more often?
Yes for delivery. Eating out? More in the summer than the winter, but really, once I’m decompressing after work, I often don’t want the fuss of getting out and getting somewhere.

8. Are there any “standard dishes” you serve regularly?
We have a four-week menu. Really. So dishes appear once or twice a month, regularly, with seasonal updates.

9. Have you ever cooked for more than 6 persons?
Routinely. When the kids were younger, we had ten around the table at least one night a week, often two or three. Now I cook for six (or more) once a week, on Mondays, when we have “feed a starving student” night.

10. Do you cook every day?
Yes, if you count toast and fried eggs. Now that the kids are older, we have two night where I don’t have to cook. We call it “fend for yourself” night, but they’re quite welcome to cook a family meal if they like!

11. Have you ever tried recipes from blogs?
Yes. It’s GREAT, what’s out there. I’ve used Epicurious most often, but sometimes I’ll just google a specific recipe that I want to try.

12. Who cooks more frequently at your home?
Me, these days, but for a few years it was my husband, back when I loathed cooking. I also tend to forget to eat (“What? It’s suppertime already? Didn’t we just eat?”) and he’s hypoglycemic: not a good combination. It was a matter of survival for him, poor man.

13. And who cooks better?
Good question. I don’t know!

14. Do you cook totally different compared to your mother/parents?
Yes and no. My mother was an impatient cook, of the “if it takes 20 minutes on medium, it’ll take 10 minutes on high” school of culinary thought. I never had tapioca that wasn’t scorched till I left home. (Having three kids in three years, all of whom are “STARVING, MUMMY!!!”, probably does that to a woman.) But as far as putting together nutrious, healthy meals on a budget, we’re cut from the same cloth.

15. If yes, do you nevertheless eat at your parents?
Sure. Even if we were wildly different, home is home. You’re going to be rude to your mother over her cooking style? Yeesh.

16. Are you a vegetarian or could you imagine being one?
I was a vegetarian for a few years, and don’t eat a lot of meat now, so yes. I don’t eat meat unless I feel the need, so when I do eat it, I thoroughly enjoy it. I probably only feel the need, though, because I’m not so conscientious about balancing proteins, etc., as I was when I was vegetarian. I don’t think it would be difficult to readjust.

17. What would you like to cook which you haven’t dared to make yet?
There is nothing I haven’t “dared” to make. There are some I’m too lazy to make, probably, but cooking doesn’t intimidate me that much. This could just be because I haven’t considered anything truly wild and difficult and exotic, though…

18. Do you prefer cooking or baking?
Hm. Once upon a time, I’d have said baking without hesitation. Now? I like them both!

19. What is your greatest misery in the kitchen?
That though I leave the kitchen all nicely cleaned before I go to bed, when I get up there are ALWAYS dirty dishes in the sink. Because I go to bed earliest, you see. This truly, truly stinks! (FAMILY, are you READING THIS?)

20. What do you dislike?
I’m picky about seafood. I loathe liver and lima beans, and I’m not a huge fan of the sweet. Apart from that? I’ll eat just about anything — the spicier the better!

November 30, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Redressing the imbalance, one diaper at a time

balance_scaleGender inequity. It starts when they’re in diapers, you know. In fact, the fundamentals of the inequity are IN their diapers. And lots of (most!) parents encourage it, every day. Hold onto the outrage here. It’s subtle.

And it goes like this:

Big brother peers at his baby sister on the change table, asks the obvious question. And his loving parent gives him the facts: “No, she doesn’t have a penis, because she is a girl.” That’s it. A simple question, a simple, factual answer. No harm in that, huh?

But what is the little boy hearing?

“She doesn’t have…” Girls miss out. Girls lack something.

No wonder men think their bits are so all-fired superior. No wonder so many women are ambivalent about their own.

Most of us probably don’t think much about it. Facts is facts, after all. But me, I’ve been having this conversation for the better part of two decades. After a while, the unspoken assumption began to really grate, and I determined that I would put a stop to it. At least in my own little arena of influence.

So, at Mary’s house, when the obvious question is asked?

“Yes, you have a penis and testicles, because you are a boy. She has a vulva and a vagina, because she is a girl.”

See? Everyone has something good down there. Easy.

If he’s been insufferably and intractibly smug about his sticky-out bits and her lack thereof, I will add another sentence: “You don’t have a vagina, because you are a boy.” Which will be uttered in tones of some wistful regret. Poor you, who doesn’t have The Good Stuff.

Chalk one up for genital equity.

November 28, 2008 Posted by | health and safety, Mischief, sex, socializing | , , | 10 Comments

Why you should have three children?

1st baby: You begin wearing maternity clothes as soon as your OB/GYN confirms your pregnancy.
2nd baby: You wear your regular clothes for as long as possible.
3rd baby: Your maternity clothes ARE your regular clothes. (Not me, thanks! I am a mere 5 – 10 pounds heavier than I was at 24, when my first was born.)

Preparing for the Birth:
1st baby: You practice your breathing religiously.
2nd baby: You don’t bother because you remember that last time, breathing didn’t do a thing.
3rd baby: You ask for an epidural in your eighth month.
(Not me! That breathing stuff worked like a charm. Thank goodness.)

The Layette:
1st baby: You pre-wash newborn’s clothes, color-coordinate them, and fold them neatly in the baby’s little bureau.
2nd baby: You check to make sure that the clothes are clean and discard only the ones with the darkest stains.
3rd baby: Boys can wear pink, can’t they?
(Yup. That about sums up the attitude, uh-huh.)

1st baby: At the first sign of distress — a whimper, a frown — you pick up the baby.
2nd baby: You pick the baby up when her wails threaten to wake your firstborn.
3rd baby: You teach your three-year-old how to rewind the mechanical swing.
(HA! My oldest was 7 when the third was born, and YES, she knew how to wind that swing!)

1st baby: If the pacifier hits the floor, you put it away until you get home to wash and boil it.
2nd baby: When the pacifier falls on the floor, you squirt it off with some juice from the baby’s bottle.
3rd baby: You wipe it off on your shirt and pop it right back in.
(Juice? What is this ‘juice’ of which you speak? Or ‘bottle’, for that matter?)

1st baby: You change your baby’s diapers every hour, whether they need it or not. (Um, no.)
2nd baby: You change their diaper every two to three hours, if needed.
3rd baby: You try to change their diaper before others start to complain about the smell or you see it sagging to their knees.

1st baby: You take your infant to Baby Gymnastics, Baby Swing, and Baby Story Hour.
2nd baby: You take your infant to Baby Gymnastics.
3 rd baby: You take your infant to the supermarket and the dry cleaner.

Going Out:
1st baby: The first time you leave your baby with a sitter, you call home five times.
2nd baby : Just before you leave, you remember to leave a number where you can be reached.
3rd baby: You leave instructions for the sitter to call only if she sees blood.

At Home:
1st baby : You spend a good bit of every day just gazing at the baby.
2nd baby: You spend a bit of everyday watching to be sure your older child isn’t squeezing, poking, or hitting the baby.
3rd baby: You spend a little bit of every day hiding from the children.
THIS one made me snort my tea out my nose. When you get to three (and beyond!), you REALLY understand the value of ‘alone-time for mommy’. Even if you get it in the bottom of your closet with a flashlight and a book…

Swallowing Coins:
1st child: When first child swallows a coin, you rush the child to the hospital and demand x-rays.
2nd child: When second child swallows a coin, you carefully watch for the coin to pass.
3rd child: When third child swallows a coin, you deduct it from his allowance!
(I did that with my first; my second did not swallow a coin (not that he didn’t do a whole pile of other weird things); and with the third, we waited for it to pass. Come to think of it, I’m not sure it ever did: should I be demanding that x-ray now, 6 years later?)

God’s reward for allowing your children to live!

November 27, 2008 Posted by | Mischief, parenting | , | 5 Comments

Oh me too pee too!

Another in the “Peeve Me” series, a series in which Mary allows herself the indulgance of a rant for the sheer pleasure of venting. (Not, note you, for the seeking of advice. Advice, when proferred to someone who’s destressing through the joy of a pressure-easing rant, is sheerest party-pooping.)

One of the tots is a “me-too-er”. Doesn’t matter what’s s/he’s involved with, no matter how deeply they’re involved in it, as soon as this one’s attention is caught by another child’s action (movement, toy, game, play, thought, burp, hiccup, sneeze) THAT’S what they want to be doing, having, experiencing.

You know the type.

Being the calm, collected, loving, warm professional that I am, this does not get under my skin. Not the teensiest little bit. Because I love all the children, all the time. Every bit as much as I love my own children — maybe even MORE, because hey, no one’s ever paid me to look after my own — and we all know that all mothers love every SINGLE thing no matter how pointless and annoying that their beloved offspring do. They don’t get angry, they are only ‘disappointed’. Stimulating their childrens’ tiny minds is so exciting, they never feel a hint of boredom. They don’t find their child’s demands selfish, they take delight in his/her spirit. Motherhood is one long, uninterrupted saga of bliss and fulfillment.

(You didn’t get that memo? Where have you BEEN the last 15 years?)

It is the rare toddler who doesn’t have this magpie tendency (“Oooo! Something shiny! Me, too!”) to some degree, but this one has it to an extreme. This one cannot hold to an activity when something else happens. And around here, “something else” is always happening.

“I want to colour.”
“Oh, me too!”

“Can I have a ball now?”
“Can I have a ball, too?”

“You can be the baby, and I’ll be the mommy.”
“I’LL be the mommy, too!”

Some days Magpie has to get downright dizzy, what with all the back-and-forth-ing. Colouring only until someone walks by with a teddy bear. Teddy bear dropped when another child vrooms a small car across the floor. Vrooming a car until someone starts dancing. Dancing until someone picks up a crayon to colour. On and on it goes. Magpie rarely initiates, primarily imitates, and only until the next thing catches the glittering, ever-ranging eye. When all three “big kids” are playing together, Magpie can stay with the play for as long as any of them, but when there is more than one activity going?

“Oh, me too!”

Mostly, this is just something I note and respond to, no biggie. Depending on certain variables, sometimes I encourage extended focus on the first activity, other times I let M. flit.

Mostly, the other children are happy to have another playmate, and unoffended when the playmate zips off for the next thing. But sometimes the activity that catches Magpie’s attention is a quiet, one-child-only, savour-the-feeling activity. And sometimes, and here’s where the peeved in Mary rises, sometimes it’s an urgent activity that cannot be shared.

“I have to pee!”
“Oh, me too! I have to pee, too!”

And Magpie zips to the head of the line, drops drawers, and settles in. The original child does a desperate pee-dance in front, while Magpie sits. Magpie peers between thighs, puzzled by the lack of piddle, waits for the pee that does not happen. Which does not happen because Magpie doesn’t have to go. It does not happen because Magpie is responding to an urge another child is feeling!

This? This drives me BATSHIT crazy.

Phew. I feel better now. How about you? Any Me-too Magpies in your life?

November 26, 2008 Posted by | Peeve me, potty tales | , , , , | 7 Comments

Stand by Me

It’s been a distracting, moderately stressful and seriously sleep-deprived week here in Mary’s life. I am not up to a post, not one that involves actual brain activity — today I am functioning at an Old Brain level: eat, drink, toilet. Much the same as the toddlers, come to that, but without tantrums, spitting or biting.

So far.

I truly enjoyed this clip that Bridgett had up yesterday, and, as a way to post without taxing my limited resources too much, I thought I’d share it with you. It gets fun at a minute in, when “Stand By Me” begins.

The tots were dancing, which was a happy thing.

November 25, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | 3 Comments

What does YOUR handwriting tell you?

geeky man in lab coat

geeky man in lab coat

Here’s a slightly goofy little handwriting-analysis exercise you can do, and it doesn’t take long. You’ll need the speakers on to hear the analysis.

According to my handwriting, Dr. Ackerman (he MUST be a doctor! he’s wearing a lab coat! and a pocket protector! and has big glasses!) informs me that I am…

– gregarious, emotionally responsive, extroverted, a good lover, trusting
– average
– expansive, unhibited, gregarious, generous
– an aspiring, goal-oriented person
– physical, imaginative, warm, flexibile, free, uninhibited, playful, fun-loving, up for anything, direct (at which point I think Dr. A was thinking … inappropriate … (though flattering) thoughts about me. Which is a little worrying, given that he’d previously told me he thought he might love me.)

Told you it was goofy.

In fact, I’d say only about half the point are accurate, but it was a fun way to waste five minutes. And I do rather like the look of the pen they picked out for me.

November 22, 2008 Posted by | memes and quizzes, random and odd | , , , | 5 Comments

A perfectly sh*tty gift. Or is that p*ssy?


Are those what you think they are?

Yes. Yes, they are. Just when you thought potty-training had quite enough potential for farce, some marketer (in Sweden, I think), decides that what’s required are MODELS of the excrement in question. PLUSH, CUDDLY models. Because lord only knows I want MY toddler snuggling shit. Yes, indeedy.

“Their friendly personalities and plush exterior will help your child be more comfortable with the potty training experience” says the cheery blurb under this product.

Note to writers of script: “Comfortable”? Not to worry! Toddlers have NO PROBLEM with their bodily functions. None! Not the teeniest smidgen. Excrement is FUN STUFF.

Just watch toddlers when one among them produces their noisome output. They GATHER ROUND. Gather round, discuss, note the odor (with varying degrees of exaltation), the colour, the size. “Dat’s a BIG, stinky poo, Timmy!” “YEAH!”)

They do not need their output turned into soft and scent-free versions of reality (which they probably won’t recognize anyway — because, hey, it’s SUPPOSED to be stinky). These are the people, you recall, who can poke their wee button noses into a potty filled with urine, in which floats an arc-shaped sausage of shit and declare that they’ve produced a “rainbow”. Comfortable? No worries there! They’ve got that whole “comfort” thing nailed. Really!

Other sellers talk about “overcoming taboos”, and again, I’m saying “Taboos? TABOOS? Have these people never spent actual in-real-life time with a real-life toddler?” There are NO SHIT TABOOS among toddlers. Nor pee ones. One might hope, but they DO NOT EXIST. These people (toddlers are people, too) have been known to fingerpaint with the stuff. (Kind of gross people, bytimes, but people.)

Even those who don’t get that up close and personal with it will peer right down into the bowl to marvel over their production — and expect mom and dad to do likewise. Maybe even do a little song and dance number with them. So, no taboos, either. Nuh-uh!

So, really? Plush poo-plops and pretty pee-drops serve no viable potty-training purpose. And come on. Do you really, really want to encourage your tots to become attached to their excrement? Aren’t there enough children out there hollering, “Don’t FLUSH it, mommy! It’s MINE!!!” without us encourage further emotional bonding with the stuff?

And what, pray tell, if little Joey decides that THIS toy will become his lovie? What if he has to take Mr. Plop with him no matter where he goes? What if wee Felicity develops an urgent fondness for Ms. Piss? Do you really want one of those sitting on the table at the restaurant, lest someone throw a shit (or would that be “pissy”) fit? What if you have to have two or three of these around the house at all times, in case one is lost? Can’t you just picture your grandmother sitting down on one, left behind and partially hidden in the couch cushion? Gives a whole new meaning to “anal retentive”, doesn’t it? Or “feeling pissy”, come to that…

So, no. Not for the children. Please.

But for the beleaguered parent, they might have their uses. A little comic relief, perhaps. Or, when the stress of the whole potty experience becomes too great, maybe you could whip Ms. Piss across the room, or pummel Mr. Plop.

And you can be SURE your child-free friends and relations will think these things are the funniest damned things ever to give to the harrassed, potty-stressed parent.

So, you parents of potty-training tots: Have you seen the last of these things? Not likely. Consider yourselves warned.

November 21, 2008 Posted by | eeewww, Mischief, potty tales, random and odd | , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Fishy craft

I’m a sucker for those foamy stickers. We have tubs of them littering my craft cupboard. Red, white and green Christmas foamies in stockings, trees, snowflakes; pink, lilac, and yellow ones in Easter bunnies, tulips, and eggs; primary-coloured party-themed foamies — cakes, hats, and sunbursts. Fun!

Most recently I picked up a bucket of Sea Creatures foamy stickers.

Which, of course, obliges me to find a craft for them. Something a wee bit more creative than slamming them onto a piece of construction paper, not, of course, that the kids object in the slightest to this as a craft. They would be thrilled to take home page after page after page of stuck stickers. Most of them piled up in the same three square inches of the page. Woo!

It’s me who craves … something more. I have no idea what, though.

If you’ve ever wondered how I come up with the crafts I do — the majority of which I make up on the fly — come with me on an annotated tour of Mary’s creative process. It starts with gazing…

I consider the tub of brightly coloured fish, whales, dolphins, frogs and turtles. Hmmm… They all swim. They need water. Water! Let’s make water. We can make something waterish and then stick them to it. They can be ‘swimming’ in the waterish.

And we can make something watery with… plastic? That’s nice. Light shines through plastic. I could use paper sheet protectors, I have a couple of boxes of 50 of those. Light shines through the plastic, but it won’t through the foam. That’ll be a nice effect. Sort of silhouette-y.

And for the colour… how about blue tissue paper torn into bits and glued to one side of the plastic? Or maybe shoved somehow into the sleeve? Nah. Too hard to get the tissue distributed evenly inside the sleeve, and they’d probably only crumple the plastic all to heck trying. Gluing is better, and if I water the white glue down a bit, I’d get a lovely shiny translucent effect…

Except the only tissue I have on hand is orange. Boo. Not that, then.

Paint, maybe? Hmmm… the tempera beads up on the plastic. Acrylic paint works like a charm, but it also stains like a bugge rather badly. So, not acrylic. Back to the tempera…

Which means I can’t use the plastic. What can I use? It needs to be transparent, to give that watery feel. Transparent, or translucent. Translucent, translucent… (I am opening doors and drawers in my kitchen as I mull this over)… Waxed paper! Ha!

And, yes! Tempera sticks just fine to wax paper. Paintbrushes apply it too liberally, though. The light won’t shine through, and the kids will just saturate the paper. We’ll produce nothing but sodden blue wax paper shreds. Fingerpainting? No, same problems. How about sponge painting? Ooo. That might work. Because you dab with sponges, see, instead of scrubbing (as toddlers do with paint brushes). Dabbing is less damaging to the paper. Ha! Sponge painting, then!

I have no sponges. I threw the last bunch out when I forgot to wash them and they went moldy. I remember now.


Well, then… paper towels! Half a piece, wadded up a little, dipped in a small dollop of paint, and dabbed on the paper.

All toddlers can wad and dab! (Why does that sound vaguely disgusting?)

And it works like a charm! Tape the wax paper to the table so it doesn’t slide. Dab one side of the paper with blue and green tempera. Flip the paper and stick on your sea creatures foamy stickers.

(Total time elapsed in “creative process” getting to this idea? About 4 minutes.)





Pretty cool, huh?

November 20, 2008 Posted by | crafts | , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Why dads rock

How do I love this? Let me count the ways…

1. It’s got the drone that so many babies love. (HOW do babies fall asleep to loud, steady noises? Beats the heck out of me, but we all know those who do. That incredibly annoying whine is probably soothing that kid. He definitely has that pre-sleep glazed look about the eyes. Either that or he’s being hypnotized by the sound. Either way, it’s all good!)

2. It’s steady movement — that the parent doesn’t have to do!! You can sit across the room and read your book while your tot is strolled into submission.

3. It’s ingenius. Top marks for creativity. If you have a drill, and a cheap stroller (I picked up one only this week for under $25), you can do this.

4. Your wife is probably killing herself laughing. WITH you, of course. With you.

5. All the other dads will be SO JEALOUS! Invite your friends over. The men will all talk HP and solder, and the women will snort their drinks out their noses in the kitchen. It’ll be very bonding for everyone.

Of course, you have to have a LARGE empty space in your home. My entire livingroom, even totally stripped of furniture, does not have that circumference. (Maybe someone could rig something similar using a treadmill??) Just like baby swings, you can’t leave the child unattended. I also wonder how long the battery on the drill will last. In my experience, those things aren’t all that powerful. (Granted, my experience with power tools (apart from a sewing machine) is limited…)

Still! GREAT idea, good execution — AND, the most important:


What more could you ask?

via: BoingBoing

November 19, 2008 Posted by | parenting, random and odd, sleep | , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

When all else fails, confuse them

skuut1“Timmy, please walk in the house.”

Yeah, Timmy. We don’t run in the house.” This is Nigel, visiting for the day. (And don’t you just HATE that “yeah” thing they start to do around the age of 3 or 4? Isn’t it just too totally obnoxious for WORDS?)

“Nigel, you are riding a bike in the house. I don’t think you can talk.” (Which is not entirely fair. The bike is a Skuut, and they’re allowed to ride it in the house, whereas they are not allowed to run. Why yes to the bike and no to the running? Remember that “pitter-patter of little feet” thing? Running is MUCH, MUCH louder. So, not entirely fair, my comment, but still. The irony of his position is unavoidable, to everyone but him.)

Of course, Mr. Literal three-and-a-half year old takes this … literally:

“Yes, I can talk. See?” He opens his mouth wide, the better to show me his talking apparatus.

“No, I mean, because you are riding a bike in the house, you are not in a position of moral superiority.”

. . . . . . . . . . . “Oh.”

November 18, 2008 Posted by | Nigel, Peeve me | 4 Comments