It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Some things are better in theory than practice

Three small bodies stand at my living room window, quivering with excitement.

“Dere’s another one!”
“Oh, oh, oh! The garbage truck!”
“Mary, the garbage truck is here!!”

Garbage day is VERY exciting around here. Not only do we get the garbage truck — twice! once down each side of the street! — but we also get the Green Bin truck AND the recycle truck. It is just too, too thrilling for words.

“Garbage truck! Dere’s the garbage guy! Oh, the machine is crunching it all up! Look! Some felled out onna road! He needsa pick it up! Hey, he din’t pick it up, that garbage guy is a bad man! Eeeew, the green bin is gross! Yeah, dat’s gross! Lookit all the icky stuff! Another truck! Another truck!”

Okay, maybe not so much with the ‘too thrilling for words’. It’s the sort of thrill that requires words, lots and lots and LOTS of words. For the entire morning, whenever the roar of a truck drifts in through the open windows (Open windows! Must be spring!), all play ceases, toys hit the floor, songs stop mid-chirrup, and three sets of small feet pound to the window.

“Garbage truck!
“Dere’s another one!”
“Oh, oh, oh! The garbage truck!”
“Mary, the garbage truck is here!!”

Well, this is silly. It’s a beautiful day out there AND there are garbage trucks! Why aren’t we wandering the streets making garbage truck sightings?

We hear the roar. It’s coming from… three hands point to the left. Baby Lily just bounces in the stroller. We head left, and… yes! There, around the corner and across the street… is a


I push the stroller toward the truck. It surges forward. We come to a sudden and decisive halt. Startled, I glance down. Is something stuck in the wheels?

Well, yes. If you consider Tyler a “something”. His eyes are wide, he clutches the handle of the stroller in a white-knuckle grip, he is utterly frozen.

In awe?

Nope. More like terror. The garbage guy tosses the empty bin to the sidewalk and presses the gas. The truck surges forward to the next house, Tyler’s paralysis shatters, and he makes a desperate attempt to scale the stroller and get behind it.

“It’s okay, hon. It’s on the other side of the street. It won’t come over here.”

Which may be true, but it doesn’t apply to the SECOND garbage truck now coming down OUR SIDE OF THE STREET. Tyler returns to paralysed abject terror mode.

“It’s big and it’s loud, but it’s not allowed on the sidewalk, sweetie. It will only make lots and lots of noise, but it won’t hurt you.”

I think the terror has stopped his ears. He is not crying, but he is not moving, either. I think he’s incapable. The only thing to do is squat down beside him and pull him onto my knee until the Thing of Terror Formerly Known as a Garbage Truck has passed.

It takes ten minutes and three more Terror Stops to reach the porch. Another truck is approaching. Can we reach safety before it reaches my house?

“Come on guys! Let’s get inside where it’s quiet.”

Tyler bursts into furious tears. Terror? Relief? Trauma?

Not so much.

“I no wanna go inside! I wanna see the GARBAGE TRUCK!”

April 15, 2010 Posted by | Ottawa, Timmy | | 10 Comments


This one made me cry.

With laughter.


April 14, 2010 Posted by | my kids | , , | Leave a comment

A different world

Emma, who had left the house a few moments ago, clad in her usual classy stylishness, reappears in the front hall.

“Forget something, sweetie?”

“Yeah. Today’s Wear Pink Day, to support gay rights.”

She’s wearing an oatmeal shrug over short dark green dress, brown tights, and tan suede ankle boots. No pink in sight.

“If I don’t wear pink, everyone will think I’m a homophobe.”

I cast back to my high school days, thirty years ago. While I don’t recall any actual harrassment of gay students, this is most likely because a) I was insulated in my straight ghetto, and b) they were all staying firmly in a nice, safe closet somewhere. And who could blame them? Homosexuality was disparaged. It was gross, it was perverted, it was the subject of sniggering, and always a perjorative. “That’s so gay!” “You faggot!” How many teens have the courage to brave that, with no outside support at all?

Emma comes downstairs in a purple dress, a pink pashmina draped around her neck and across one shoulder.

“There! Now I can go to school!”

We’ve come a long way, baby.

April 13, 2010 Posted by | my kids, Ottawa | , , | 8 Comments

It’s supposed to be an answer…

“Mary, can you put my slipper back on?”

Hmm… They’re supposed to leave them on precisely because they can’t put them back on themselves.

“I can, but why is it off? You know you’re supposed to leave your slippers on.”

“Yes, but Emily needed to kiss my foot.”

April 12, 2010 Posted by | quirks and quirkiness, random and odd | , | 4 Comments


Good thing I like glitter!

Two little boys carefully drizzle pinches of silver glitter onto a looooong strip of clear packing tape, sticky side up. We’re making rain for our clouds!!

Predictably, they got a LOT of glitter on the tape. Even more predictably, they got a LOT MORE glitter onto the table.

THEN we discovered that long strips of packing tape can also be used to PICK UP the glitter!! An adult holds the ends of the strip and lays it lightly on the table. The children tap along the length of the strip, then the adult moves it and places it back down on the table. Repeat until the strip looks nice. Then do it again with another strip.

And again.

And again.

And again.

And soon enough, you will have a beeeeeeyoutiful rain shower, right there on your dining room wall!

If you have a nice, coordinated four-year-old around, you might even give her a small pot of beads, a longish thread and a real needle (imagine the PRIDE of being BIG ENOUGH to use a REAL NEEDLE!!!) and let her make raindrops of a different sort.

More rain on the weekend, and sunny skies for early next week. I think next week’s crafts will be about MUD.


April 9, 2010 Posted by | crafts | , , | 8 Comments

When life hands you lemons…

I am a master at this. It’s been very rainy this week. Very, very rainy.

We could grouse about being stuck in the house. I could rant about being confined with five children who haven’t gotten to burn off some steam for days, and why does that mean I’M about to blow???

I could do all that, but no! Inside time? Three days in a row? Just means more time for CRAFTS! And since the theme for this month is (SURPRISE!) spring, why not turn all that rain into a theme craft?

First, the clouds. (HA! The clouds ARE my silver lining! Ironic, no??) Materials needed: cotton balls, duct tape (or any wide tape), grey tempera paint, paintbrushes (or toothbrushes, or foam dabbers).

Take a cotton ball, and puuuull it apart. This is a REALLY FUN activity! In fact, it could have been the whole craft, right there. It takes LOTS of concentration, and just about the right amount of fine motor control to challenge my tots without frustrating them to death.

Emily works on a cotton ball:

While the children are streeeetching cotton balls, the grown-up is taking a few strips of tape and attaching them to each other to make a cloud-shaped mat of tape. Sticky side UP, of course.

Then the children can stick the cotton balls to the tape:

When your tape is covered in poofy cotton, you have a cloud!! Only this is a happy, puffy white cloud. It is not a RAIN cloud, is it? Let’s look out the window. Are those clouds nice and white? No? What colour are they?

That’s right, they’re GREY. (If you don’t have any grey paint, you get to mix your own. Mini-lesson #2: white + black = grey! Cool, huh?)

And then you dab the grey paint onto the cotton balls. No, there are no pictures of this part. It required a certain amount of monitoring/help, and I forgot the camera. You’ll have to imagine this bit.

This might help:

It was only with the fourth cloud that I realized that they look more realistic if they’re not rectangular… Use an odd number of strips of tape (I used five), make the middle strip the longest, the adjacent ones a bit shorter, and the last two on the outside the shortest yet, and your blob will be more sterotypically cloud-shaped, and not look like a puffy grey box…

There you go! That was our craft today! Next installment: RAIN.

April 8, 2010 Posted by | crafts, Emily | , , | 3 Comments

She’s her mother’s daughter.


April 7, 2010 Posted by | my kids | 2 Comments

Getting my groove back

I am so out of the park groove, it’s sad. Truly sad.

Even though it’s been the mildest winter I can recall, ever, in my whole life — and you know, that’s not such an insignificant number of winters — it’s still been a long time since fall. A long time since near-daily trips to the park. A long time to get out of practice.

Take this morning. Where a few short looooong, dark, chilly months ago, it would have taken me a mere 40 minutes to get us out the door and into the stroller, today…

Well, let’s see. There is a certain degree of autonomy this spring which was lacking last fall. Some of the children can get into their own shoes and jackets. So that’s good.

The stroller was ready in the drive, with, given the cloudy skies, the rainshield in place. The bag of sand toys had been unearthed from its winter storage in the back porch, and sat on the kitchen floor.

I had those kids dressed, out the door, and into the stroller in TWENTY MINUTES.

Impressive, no?


We get to the park and discover…

the sand toys are still in their bag on the kitchen floor…

I have only one spare diaper in the stroller, and no wipes…

Because I forgot to pack the ‘outing backpack’.

I DID remember the box of tissues,

but I forgot the water bottles.

Since my cell phone, which doubles as a timepiece, is defunct at the moment, I’ve taken to carrying a watch…

only not this morning.

So I had NO IDEA what time it was. (Where was everyone else? Dunno. Frightened off by the grey skies, I guess, but the forecast was for less than a mm of rain. Pfft.)

So I had NO IDEA what time it was… which, because we have to be home when the kindergarten bus drops Emily, I need to know… and so we ended up leaving the park much earlier than we would otherwise…

which ended up being a good thing, since I’d also forgotten the snack.


Oh, well. We got out, we romped for a bit, we came home. We didn’t get as long as we might have, but we did spend enough time to carry home the three cups of sand they dumped out on my front hall carpet…

because I forgot to empty their shoes while still at the park.

Normally I sit them all on a bench, and go down the row, not just emptying their shoes, but also peeling off their socks and beating them (the socks, relax) against the side of the bench to remove the ton of sand also in the socks. And then I put the socks and the shoes back on. Oh, and I also empty out the cuffs of any folded-up pants while I’m at it, and sometimes even check pockets, depending on placement of pockets.

(If this seems cumbersome to you, you’ve obviously never had the accumulated grit from five toddlers strewn around your home. That’s a LOT of grit. Strewn on floors, abrading furniture, turning sheets to sandpaper… it’s worse than glitter, more destructive, and not nearly as pretty.)

Only I didn’t do any of that today, so I’ll be sweeping and dusting and shaking sand out of sheets for the next day and a half. Sigh…

It’s lovely to get out every day. It’ll be even lovelier when I get my shit together groove back.

April 7, 2010 Posted by | outings, the dark side | , , , | 6 Comments


March was rough. I was weary for much of it, not really enjoying the job, not really enjoying the children, feeling tired more than motivated. It showed here — or, rather, it didn’t, as I didn’t put in much of an appearance last month. I was too tired to blog, and wasn’t getting much joy out of the children, anyway. Write something entertaining? Oof. Kids being funny? They were just making me tiiiiired.

But I think I’ve turned the corner.

My four-day Easter weekend was exactly what was required. Just the right mix of completed projects, family time, husband time, friend time, and goofing-off time. Lots of hours spent savouring the glorious weather with a book and a cup of tea on the front porch. Lots of time spent walking the dog along the river.

I feel like a new woman. Bring on those babies!


April 6, 2010 Posted by | daycare, the dark side | 6 Comments