It’s Not All Mary Poppins

A first!

Last night, I hosted a Halloween party for my daycare families. This is not ground-breaking. I often do this.

I do not always do this. There have been years when, really? Really?

I just did not care to socialize with these people.

I work with them. I am polite and professional. I am even warm and supportive. But I don’t always like every single one them, and hosting parties, though a nice thing to do, is, I figure, above and beyond. Now, I can make nice and chitchat with most people. I don’t have to actively like someone to invite them to a party. Parties are good for the daycare, increase the sense of being a small community, increase the idea of daycare as resource and support. I like that. It makes my working environment nicer, makes the parents happier. So these gatherings are at least as much professional things as they are social, sometimes more so. I don’t have to be friends with the parents to host a party — and, I might add, to thoroughly enjoy it!

But… there has been the occasional parent down through the years that I actively disliked. Socializing on my off-hours with someone I dislike is not part of the job description.

There was a period of three years a while back when I did not host one single extra-curricular gathering. No Halloween party, no Christmas party, no Sangria Fridays. Nada. There was this one particular mom, see, who was just a total party-killer. It wasn’t that she sat in a corner and moped, or that she was shy or nervous or awkward.

No, this woman would OFFEND people. Left, right and centre, she just said the most outrageously rude and offensive things… and she had NO IDEA she was doing it. I would be surveying the party, doing the Good Hostess thing of monitoring the flow of food and drink, keeping an eye for stragglers, hearing the buzz of conversation as I moved around the room.

And suddenly the buzz would stop in one corner. Stop dead. And every time, it would be because Ms. Insensitive had lobbed another Rude-Bomb into the room.

“You work for the government? Must be nice to take all those days off on the taxpayer’s money.”

(The irony of this statement is increased about a thousandfold when you realize this woman was a teacher.)

“Oh, I won’t get my kids inoculated. All that stuff about kids needing flu shots? That’s just rich doctors making another money grab.”

(The offensiveness of this statement is increased another thousandfold when you realize that the woman she was talking to was a doctor — and she knew it.)

To me: “I wish I had your job. Getting to play all day and get paid for it? Sweet deal!

She also felt free to declaim on parenting strategies employed by the other parents, how she would never do X, or that they should always do Y. Sleep, feeding, discipline, tantrums… all the hot-button parental topics, she knew The Answer and didn’t hesitate to share it. At no time was she angry. She wasn’t trying to offend. She was just saying what she thought… with absolutely no thought of how it might sound to the person with whom she was speaking. None whatsoever.

It was awful. Totally killed the happy party buzz, every time. People would see her coming and veer away, but given the size of these gatherings, there was only so far you could run. Oh, and her voice? Very carrying.

No way to escape her at the parties, no way to not invite her, and, short of signing her up for Sensitivity Training, no way to get her to STOP lobbing these conversational bombs. So, no parties for three years. Sigh…

But now? Now I have a WONDERFUL group of parents. Not just people I can socialize with because it’s good for the group dynamic, but because I actively like each and every one of them. I could happily become friends with

(That’s not a first, either, though it is unusual. Generally there are a few I actively like and the rest I’m neutral about.)

Nope. The first came after dinner (a potluck), when one of the mothers (Rory’s lovely, lovely mother), raised her glass and proposed a toast.

To me!

Do you know… in 15 or 16 or whatever years of providing daycare…
after three or so parties a year for almost all of those years…
this is
the very first time
a parent has proposed a toast to me.

I was totally, totally touched.

What a great group!

I am so lucky.


October 29, 2010 Posted by | daycare, parents | , , , , | 8 Comments

The only reason for the damned things I can think of

A baby cries. I walk up the stairs and pause on the landing. Which of the three bedrooms did the cry come from?

Who knows? The baby, probably as a result of hearing my footsteps on the stairs, has stopped crying. I wait.

And wait.

And wait.

I guess he/she has gone back to sleep. I go downstairs. I sit with my tea and my laptop. Two minutes into my next round of Scramble pithy, well-crafted words of wisdom, a baby cries. I walk up the stairs and pause on the landing…

We have now done this dance three times.

Once in a very long while, I can see an actual use for baby monitors.

October 27, 2010 Posted by | sleep | , , | 2 Comments

New Baby!

I’ve signed on a new baby to start in January!!! Deposit cheque deposited, contract signed, and two visiting days under our belts. The conclusion?

A lovely, lovely baby. With a very nice mommy. Daddy seems terrific, too, though I’ve seen less of him. I think this will change in January, when mommy is back to work.

Let’s see… She’s small for her age, and active. ACTIVE. Not crazy-going-to-kill-myself active. This is coordinated, athletic active.

“Mary! Mary, Baby Girl is standing on the chair!”

“Yes, Emily, I see that. I’ve been watching her, and I think it’s safe for her.”

“Baby Lily isn’t allowed to stand on the chairs.”

“That’s true. That’s because Baby Lily doesn’t pay attention to the edges, and she’s liable to fall. Baby Girl knows exactly where those edges are. I think it’s safe for her to stand on the chair.”

“But Baby Lily is BIGGER!”

“I KNOW! Isn’t that WEIRD??”

I get The Look. The one that says, “I think you’re mocking me, but I can’t quite figure out how, so I shall not Deign to Reply.” Hee.

New Baby Girl is small, she is quick, she is coordinated, she is quicksilver. She’s still a bit unnerved to be here, but she’s willing to be distracted and/or soothed. She likes the stroller and looooooves to be outside, so outside we go.

She can talk, though we don’t hear much yet, since she keeps her soother firmly in place.

That’s okay. She’s new.

She doesn’t eat, at all. Offer her food and she reacts in strident indignation. Outrage, even. It’s easy to see why she’s small. Food is just not significant to her.

That’s okay, too. She knows what she needs. She’ll eat when she’s relaxed and familiar in this new place.

But she does snuggle, and she does sit on my lap, and she does calm when I soothe her. She watches the other children, she interacts, and she thinks Emily is the most wonderfullest.

“I am like the Big Sister to the new baby.”

“I think you are, Emily. You’ve had lots of practice with Tyler, so you are a very good big sister.”

So Emily is wonderful. And Emily’s belly button? THE BEST THING EVER!!!! New Baby Girl hunts Emily down, grabs her shirt and yoinks it out of the way so as to poke a tiny finger into the button on that so-round belly. Poke, poke, poke.

Which Emily thinks is HYSTERICAL, so it’s all good.

New Baby Girl is a hoot.

October 26, 2010 Posted by | Emily | 7 Comments


Happy Halloween Craft, inspired by Frugal Family Fun blog, cheerfully crafted by Tyler and Emily.

I just love their sweet, lop-sided charm!

October 26, 2010 Posted by | crafts | , , | 5 Comments


The old wreath, though lovely in its time, had had it. Time for something new! While walking down the local shopping street, Emma and I had come across a store giving away sample books, and gleefully scooped a few. What can you do with upholstery samples?

Make leaves! The maple leaves were traced from a real, pressed leaf. The oak leaves I just made up as I went along. I like the maple leaves better. The oval leaves are fine, generic leaves, cut with pinking shears just for fun.

Mount them with a hot-melt glue gun on a styrofoam ring, painted brown so it’s not so noticeable…

And ta-dah! A fall wreath for my front door!

October 25, 2010 Posted by | Canada, crafts | , , , | 5 Comments

Even though ‘boobas’ is a weird word

This is a great post.

October 22, 2010 Posted by | food, health and safety | | 2 Comments

In which Mary waxes irreverent

An email exchange between myself and a friend. (The friend is a police officer. You will soon see why this is relevant.)

Me: …grousing about a certain behaviour on the part of a certain child which I am finding rather trying these days.

Him: I couldn’t do your job. Parents don’t appreciate tasers and pepper spray.

Me: Too right! Heck, they can barely tolerate duct tape!


October 22, 2010 Posted by | Mischief | , | 6 Comments

They live in a simple world

“Tyler, you have to push your pants down over your bum. You can’t just push them down over your penis.”

Tyler stands in front of the potty, his thumbs looped into the waistband of his pants, each a couple centimetres off center, pushing down as hard as he can. While he’s managing to shove the waistband a few centimeters south in the front, his small bottom is firmly and intractably covered. He’s only been at it for a few seconds. I’m waiting to see if he can figure it out, but Emily has clearly run out of patience. Her voice is an entertaining combination of sage and exasperated.

Tyler is unconvinced. The flaw in her reasoning is so obvious. Really.

“But the pee comes out my penis.”

“Well, of course it does, Tyler, but what good does that do you if it’s still in your pants?”

Tyler redoubles his efforts. Emily sighs.

“Tyler! You have to move your hands around to your BUM! You will never get your pants down like that!”

Tyler retriples his efforts.

“TY-ler! You can’t get your penis out if your bum is still in. Honestly!” Big sister Emily strides over and hauls firmly down on the back of his pants. “There! You see?”

Tyler gazes down. “There is my penis!”

“I TOLD you and I TOLD you, but you didn’t listen. Now do you know, you silly goose?” Her voice is a bit hectoring, yes, but she’s also smiling.

“I push at the front and you push at the back, and I can get my penis out!”

You know, you take this conversation out of its current context, and it rapidly becomes X-rated. That happens around here…

They both watch with satisfaction as Tyler completes the task at hand.

“Thank you, Emily. You is my helping sister.”

“You’re welcome, Tyler. But next time I don’t want to push your bum anymore, okay?”

“Oh, okay.”

I’m not sure that conversations like this aren’t one of the top five things that keep me in this job…

October 21, 2010 Posted by | Emily, potty tales, Tyler | , , | 2 Comments

This is a love song

A gorgeous sunny autumn day and only two children is the perfect opportunity to a meandering trek to the library. There were leaves to kick, pigeons to chase, rocks to find, and, eventually, a library full of books!

We found a lot of books. Fifteen or twenty will hold us for a week. Maybe.

In our haul was this one.

It’s delightful. Absolutely, utterly delightful. There is nothing I don’t love about this book. I love the illustrations, I love the text, which, after a few pages, I realized is a love poem. I love the way the illustrations expand on the simple words. I even love the cover, which is lightly padded, making it a little cushy under the fingers.

But it’s the words, the lovely, lovely words, which are the core of this book. Listen!

How do I love you?
Let me count the ways.

(Yes, that does sound familiar. I wonder what the rules are on that? Is Browning’s work no longer covered by copyright?)

I love you as the sun
loves the bright blue days.

I love you as the bee
loves a fragrant flower.

I love you as the thirsty duck
loves a sudden shower.

I love you as the bird
loves a song to sing.

I love you as the waking bear
loves the smell of spring.

I love you as the cat
loves a sunny sill.

And as the dancing snowflakes
love the winter’s chill.

How do I love you?
Let me tell you how.

I love you as the next
loves the sturdy bough.

I love you as the sea
loves the sandy shore.

And as the ancient world
loved the dinosaur.

I love you as the wind
loves its own sweet sound.

And as our friendly Earth
loves to spin around.

I love you as the moon
loves each shining star.

I love all that you will be
and everything you are.

Are you sighing? I was. It’s lovely, with so much meaning packed into many of the lines. The sun exists without the blue sky, but each enhances the other. A bee is drawn by instinct and by need, to the flower. The comfort and security the branch offers the nest.

I think it was the page with the bear that finally did it for me. In the picture of the cheery, deeply inhaling bear, I got a sense of expansion that bear must feel, going from that dark, close winter cave into the fresh, bright spring air… and suddenly…

Suddenly I wasn’t thinking of either of the two lovely little bodies cuddled up with me. I wasn’t even thinking of my own wonderful, grown-up kids.

I was thinking of the time after my first marriage ended. When I had just begun the relationship with the man who is now my husband. No, I wasn’t thinking, I was feeling. I was feeling once again that sense of expansion, of growth, of unfolding. The total lack of fear, the security, the respect, the mutuality, the reciprocity… All things that are part of love, things that I’d never really had before.

We’ve been together fourteen years. I am still sometimes struck dumb by the wonder of this relationship, how right we are for each other, how much I love him, how happy, easy, comfortable we are with each other.

It’s all there in this little book. A book expressing the love of a parent for a child?

Yes. And much more.

This is a lovely, lovely book.

Buy a copy for your child .. and another for your significant other.

October 20, 2010 Posted by | books | 3 Comments

Creativity doesn’t end with card stock

Here we have a fun and funky visual oxymoron:

A rain boot which leaks.

There is not much point to a rain boot which leaks. For a while, I made do by putting a plastic bag over my foot before I slipped it into the boot. Because I’m lazy frugal wanted to put off buying another pair until next spring.

And then the second boot sprang a leak. And somehow, I’m not sure why, this put me over the edge. I was NOT going to wear these stupid things again. It’s not winter boot weather yet, but my winter boots are perfectly capable of resisting the dew on the grass.

Yes, really. My rain boots were leaking not when I stomped through ankle-deep puddles or hauled the dog out of the ooze along the river. They were leaking if I walked too far across the dew-drenched field at the dog park. Leaking to the point of having to change my socks when I got home because of the big soggy spot on one side.

And yet my frugal soul really does cringe when I have to physically toss a piece of clothing into the garbage. I rarely do it, in fact. Outgrown clothes are given to younger children. Worn shirts are stripped of buttons. Holey socks become cuffs on old sweat pants. Jeans become jackets become pencil cases. Pretty nearly all fabric can be torn and turned into either handkerchiefs or cleaning rags. I really, really, really hate throwing something away without getting any subsequent use of it at all. But leaky rain boots? You can’t foist leaky rain boots off onto some unsuspecting charity. Leaky rain boots are pointless, really. They really are just plain old garbage.


They are.

(I can’t stand it.)

Besides, I don’t need rain boots right now. What I need, and don’t have, are some sort of footwear like gardening clogs, that enclose my foot but can be slipped on without using your hands so I can take the two steps out to get the mail in, or go the ten metres from the front door to the street to the side drive to put the garbage bins away. That sort of thing. When you’re only going to be outside 20 seconds and really don’t want to spend 30 seconds lacing boots. Don’t even want to bend over to pull on your boots.

What I needed, in other words, was something like this:


(That discolouration on the inside? Not dirt. Dye. From the bread bags I was wearing inside them…)

As rain boots they leaked, yes. But as clogs, which will never be in use more than a couple of minutes at a time? They’re PERFECT. I did learn that in order for them to stay on really well, the foot opening should be a bit smaller. And yes, the edge is a bit rough. I could seal the edge them with something — half the width of black duct tape, perhaps.

Maybe I will. But maybe I won’t. Because they’re perfect.

And the rest of the boot?

Ta-dah!!! Cut into four circles, stripped of the fabric backing, thoroughly scrubbed and disinfected, they were transformed into …

a set of truly funky rubber coasters. Hee.

I ended up throwing out only a quarter of the original boots. Practically no waste, clogs I’ve wanted for ages, AND a set of coasters. I just feel so damned virtuous!

October 19, 2010 Posted by | crafts, random and odd | , , | 10 Comments