It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Still sick

Working, but still sick. Tots gone home, family fed. Coped fine all day, but energy reserves utterly depleted. Going to bed now.

April 27, 2011 Posted by | health and safety | 5 Comments

Ugh. And happy Easter to you, too

Grace’s mother is congested. It’s not a little snuffle, it’s my-head-is-exploding-with-the-pressure grossness. Her voice is raspy, she looks like death. (Well, as much like death as a pretty early-thirty-something can ever look.)

Jazz’s dad has no voice. His mouth opens to emit a raspy whisper which clearly causes him pain.

Jazz’s mother, Grace’s father, and Rory’s mother all have sinus pain and ear infections. Last week, Rory’s poor mother also had the stomach flu. Copious vomitting, and nothing to do with her now second-trimester pregnancy.

Every single child in the daycare has some variant of a cold. They all have runny noses. Jazz and Rory cough constantly. Constantly, and directly into my face 47 times a day. Ick. Grace seems to have a sore throat, though she is so quiet it’s hard to know for sure. Tyler and Emily were both home for a few days with fevers; now that all they have are runny noses, they’re back.

Grace’s mom coughs, blows her nose (again) and looks at me. “Look at us. It’s gross! And look at you! You’re fine. You’re in the middle of this all day long, and you’re fine.”

“Well, when you’ve been surrounded by toddlers for as long as I have, you get exposed to pretty much everything out there. I have a cast-iron immune system by now.” I said that. I really did. I should know better. I studied English. I know about hubris. It’s worse than tempting fate. Essentially I was putting a giant KICK ME sign on my butt and daring fate to go for it.

That was Thursday afternoon.

Thursday evening, my throat was a bit raspy. Friday morning, I woke up to a very sore throat, a voice that only came out cracked and croaking, and a full octave lower than normal, and a cough. And oh, the pain when I coughed. Thankfully, Friday was a day off.

Saturday it no longer hurt to cough. Thank goodness, since I was coughing approximately 72 times an hour. I still had no voice.

Sunday I was feeling better! Still with the cough and raspy voice, but more energy. (Good thing, since I was hosting an Easter brunch for ten. And it went very well. And then I had a nap. And went to bed at 8 pm.)

This morning I crawled out of bed at 4 am so as to spend the next hour on the couch blowing my nose every minute and a half. Since I was going to be awake anyway, why make my poor husband suffer through the noisy evacuation of 12 pounds of snot? (You’re welcome.)

This morning I had sinus congestion so bad my teeth ached. My doctor managed to squeeze me in at noon. I have a sinus infection (on top of the cold) and a prescription which I will start in 24 hours if the symptoms don’t abate. Thank goodness I ALSO had today off.

I may be taking tomorrow off, too. My poor parents.

How was YOUR Easter?

April 25, 2011 Posted by | eeewww, health and safety | , | 4 Comments

Baby Carriers

I used to have a baby sling. When maternity leaves were extended from 24 weeks to a full year, the sling fell into disuse, and I eventually gave it away.

A decision I now regret. Year-old babies require a lot of carrying the few few weeks, says the woman currently snuggling an 11-month-old. I have a fridge magnet that says, “If evolution were true, mothers would have three arms.” Indeed. (And eyes in the back of our heads. And the ability to turn our ears off at will. Oh, and squeeze 8 hours of sleep into 20 minutes… Anyone else got a wish for that list?)

Evolution has failed me, however, and I have only two arms. Two arms and five kids. One of whom can’t walk yet. Now, she’s having a good transition, as it happens, but even so, my job would be soooooo much easier if I didn’t have to set her down whenever I needed to help another child.

I am thinking I could use a baby carrier. Not a sling, though, because my incoming babies are not tiny infants. A few can walk, most can cruise along the furniture and/or crawl, and all of them can sit on their own. Besides, much as I liked the sling, I didn’t find it as secure as I’d have preferred. I generally felt I had to keep one hand available to catch an unexpected outward swoop of a baby. Maybe I had a poorly-designed sling, or maybe I was just paranoid.

At any rate, I don’t want these big babies strapped to my chest. I want them on my back, where they can see what’s going on, have the comfort of being carried, but where I can also use both hands to deal with the other children. I do NOT want a backpack style carrier with an enormous metal frame. Unless I were planning a 30-km hike over rugged terrain, those things are pretty much overkill. Pretentious, even. “Look at me! I’m such a total outdoorsy, macho mommy!!!” … as I wander into Starbucks for my grande extra-hot decaf skinny latte. Yeah. Kind of like a four-wheel drive mondo SUV in suburbia. Yeesh, already.

A parent once lent me one, and I felt like some sort of cyborg when I wore the damned thing… to be perfectly frank, it made me feel just a tad ridiculous. I’m going to be wearing this thing indoors almost exclusively. I don’t need it to convert to a stroller, I don’t need it to get me on and off airplanes. I want something as small and light as possible. I need it to get me through my day with a somewhat mollified baby and both hands free.

A simple enough goal, I think.

I’ve been checking online, and the one I’m leaning to is the Ergo.

This Canadian site carries it, and it has the black and camel one, which is the one I like. (Well, really, I prefer the green ones, but I don’t prefer them $30 more…)

I like the look of it, a lot. It’s small, it’s light, there’s no big frame, it can be worn front or back. It seems to be just what I’m after. Before I plonk down a decent chunk of money on one, though, I’m looking for feedback.

Do any of you use one? Do you have comments? It is easy to get on and off, particularly if you’re wearing it with the baby on your back? Does it wash well? It it durable? Any other input?


April 20, 2011 Posted by | daycare | , , , | 27 Comments

Because any time’s a good time

for a hug.

We are getting ready to go out. I am kneeling in the front hall, thrusting various bits of children into various bits of clothing. Jazz decides Rory needs some loving, flings an arm around his neck, and squeezes. Hard. A look of alarm crosses the poor lad’s face. Not wanting to discourage Jasmine’s impetuous affection, but also not wanting poor Rory throttled before my very eyes, I draw them both into a hug, casually inserting myself between them. Rory draws a largish breath.

Tyler decides he needs a piece of the hug action, and hurls himself at us. Grace wiggles in. Five-year-old Emily has the words for this. “Group hug!” she yodels, and joins the giggling mass.

“We did a group hug with mummy,” Tyler tells me.
“You and Emily?”
“Yes,” Emily concurs. “When mummy was sitting.”
“Isn’t that nice! You were all three sitting?”
“No, me and Emily were standing. Mummy was sitting. On the toilet.”

And you know? I’m guessing Mummy didn’t mind. 🙂

April 18, 2011 Posted by | Emily, Jazz, Rory, Tyler | , , | 2 Comments

The Giving Tree: Love it or Loathe it?

I love Shel Silverstein‘s poems. I own Where the Sidewalk Ends, A Light in the Attic, and Falling Up. I can recite any number of his poems for the entertainment of the tots.

But I have never, ever liked The Giving Tree.

Lots of people love it. I loathe it. It creeps me the heck out. It’s a metaphor, of course, for parental love. The tree is the parent, and the child is… the child. At first, the metaphor works just fine. When your child is very young, after all, you as the parent give far more than you get. Those sleepless nights, the exhaustion, the incessant demands… in return for which, in the first few weeks, you don’t even get a smile! There is no way it can be otherwise. A baby is a baby. You give more than you get because they can only be what they are.

And, really… unless you become incapacitated and live with a child who treats you with the love, patience and respect you gave him/her in their infancy as they change your Depends… barring that, you always give more than you get as a parent. On balance, over the course of your life, your parents have probably given you more than you’ll ever give them. Beginning with, ahem, your life. That much is true.

BUT! But at some point, and I would argue this should begin to occur in the late teens to early twenties, the child should start giving back. (Because we’re raising adults, remember?) The balance may never be even, that’s probably not possible, but as the child becomes an adult, there should be some return, some reciprocity of love, respect and giving.

When the child never, ever gives, but only takes? A parent should not keep on giving until it kills them. Good lord. That’s just sick. And yet the book suggests this is a good thing, it’s how it ought to be, it’s laudable, it’s sweet, it’s appropriate, it’s something parents should emulate, even.


Only this week have I stumbled across an alternate interpretation. Maybe my reaction was the point of the book. Maybe, rather than see it as something parents are called to do, we’re supposed to feel revulsion. Maybe we’re supposed to see it as unhealthy, gone too far, extreme. Maybe it’s even supposed to help children begin to grasp the giving that their parents have done.

Maybe. And you can be sure that, should I read this book to children old enough to understand, I’ll be making the point that the boy is being very selfish. It doesn’t seem many people have read it as a cautionary tale, though. They either loooooove this book — such a sweet thing! such parental devotion!, or they loooooathe it — such abuse! such selfishness!

I’ve always fallen into the latter camp. Though I would like to believe the alternative interpretation is the intended one, I really don’t. I think the majority interpretation is the accurate one. And in that case?

This is a co-dependent relationship that SCREAMS for an intervention. And who better to provide it than Sassy Gay Friend?

April 13, 2011 Posted by | controversy, parenting | , , | 25 Comments

Sharing, sharing, sh–

In my entry there is a row of hooks for the children’s coats. Each hook is labeled with their name. When I have something I need to convey at the end of the day, I will often jot a reminder on a sticky-note and stick it to the wall above the relevant child’s hook. Because this is a daycare, the sticky-notes are fun and cute. Recently, I’ve been using notes shaped like hearts. The notepad is also stuck to the wall above the hooks, so as to be handy when needed.

A parent arrives to collect their child, scoops their precious bundle into their arms. The child is now eye-to-eye with the pad of sticky hearts.

“Heart! Heart!”
“Yes, those are hearts,” says doting parent.
“Heart! Heart!”
“Oh, you want a heart?”
“Heart! Heart!”
(May I interject here that this child is fully verbal, and perfectly capable of saying “May I have a heart, please?”)
“Okay, honey.”

And parent takes a heart and hands it to their child.

Without a second thought. Without a glance in my direction. Without asking if they could take it.

Is this not truly bizarre? That it didn’t even occur to them to ask?


April 12, 2011 Posted by | parents, Peeve me | 10 Comments

Egg-carton flowers

Like any good daycarista, I collect egg cartons. Egg cartons provide too many good craft and activity options to ever be without. I found the inspiration for my … er, door-thing… on One Pretty Thing, but can I find the specific post and the link to the originating blog? I cannot. It was Russian or Czech or something, I recall, but just can’t find it.

I tried making a circular wreath. It didn’t work. Well, it was fine if what I was after was a flat ring of flowers, but I wanted more depth than that, like on the original. However, the original crafted used a three-dimensional wreath form as its base, whereas all I had was cardboard. Flat, flat, flatness.

But if I wanted depth, surely I could make that happen with what I had? Which was cardboard, masking tape, and all my egg-carton flowers…

This is what I came up with. Next time, I’d make the semi-circular arcs wider. The flowers are a bit compressed, which makes them more likely to pop off, since they’re sort of pushing each other… Still, it worked!

I opted for a three-colour theme: yellow, pink, turquoise. The yellow and pink are made by mixing a small dot (half-teaspoon, maybe?) of yellow and red, respectively, into two or three tablespoons of white. I used a mix of acrylic and tempera, because that’s what I had. The turquoise is straight tempera.

I did not do this all in one sitting, because, though I was enthused about the project, enough to keep me at it, I found it quite frankly tedious. So on one day I cut out a dozen flowers of one style, then half a dozen of another style another day.

It took two or three days to paint them all, for similar reasons… (Emily helped!)

And then an hour with a glue-gun to assemble!

A hole for the ribbon toward the top.

And there you go! A floral spring door wreath thing!

April 11, 2011 Posted by | crafts | , , | 2 Comments


…keeps parking their stroller in my garden. Okay, not entirely in the garden, just half of it. One wheel stays in my drive. The other laps over into the garden.


And every day when I take the tots out, I shift it further back with all the other strollers. And every day I say to myself, “I need to find out whose stroller that is.” (No, I do not know which of the multiple strollers in my driveway belong to which family. Even though I stand out there and watch them load their children into them most days. Yes, I’m that absent-minded.) So every day I tell myself to take note of whose stroller that is. And every day…

I forget.

Of course I do.

(I’ve told you about how absent-minded I am? I must have. Not that I can recall, but I think I almost certainly have.)

But I need to remember so I can tell whoever it is to knock it the heck off.

This evening. I’ll do it this evening! Because my bulbs, people! Take pity on the poor sprouting bulbs!

(And even as I promise myself to remember, even as I attempt to beat my poor frail memory into something approximating working order… in the back of my mind, I’m thinking…

“I should have to tell someone this?”)

April 8, 2011 Posted by | Peeve me | 5 Comments

Rainy Day Craft, with Potatoes

Yesterday was a very rainy day. Had everyone come equipped for it, we might have gone outside, but instead we indulged in a little rainy crafting. Some turquoise paint splooshed into a foam tray, some umbrella-shaped pieces of scrap paper, and a few potato stamps…

a few toddlers…

and ta-dah! A wall full of umbrellas!

The potato stamps were a bit fiddly to cut out. Normally I use a cookie cutter to get the shape on the potato, but lacking raindrop-shaped cutters, I had to do it with a paring knife. The results were a tad primitive, but given that none of the children has the coordination to make a nice, clean print anyway, the results are always a bit primitive…

April 7, 2011 Posted by | crafts | , , , , , | 1 Comment

I’m not sure this is what they mean by life drawing…

Welcome Spring at your home with this quick and easy spring-time craft! We call it “dancing flowers”.
1. Washable markers in assorted spring-time colours

2. Assorted toddlers
(Sorry, no pictures of these. You’ll have to find your own.)

Important: Each toddler must have one (1) belly-button

1. Have toddler lie on their back on the floor. Locate belly-button.

2. Using belly-button as your centre, quickly sketch flower. (Speed is essential, as bellies (and belly-buttons) tend to become highly blurry jiggly when tickled sketched.)

Continue until all available belly-buttons have been floral-ized.

Welcome Spring! Let the dancing commence!!

April 6, 2011 Posted by | crafts | , , , | 2 Comments