It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Mother-Daughter Bonding

Over cars!


I am not a car girl. I appreciate a comfortable car. I will notice a pretty one on the street. But makes, models and specs? No idea, and no inclination to become more informed. Cars just don’t feature much in my world. I don’t even own one.

Both my girls, though, have gone through a phase in which they were quite taken by Volkswagon Beetles. Don’t ask me why. When she was sixteen or seventeen, Haley was very determined to have a whole fleet of them one day, in a rainbow of colours. Me, the non-car girl, could not see the point of that. I don’t even do that with teeny accessories, never mind something that would require extra acreage around my home. But, mostly, I just laughed fondly. It was never going to happen, and it made her happy to imagine it. No harm there. (These days, she owns one car. Not new. Not a Beetle.)

And now Emma is interested in Beetles. She likes Fiats, too, but Beetles, she declared yesterday, look much nicer than they used to. Have I seen them?

“Um… aren’t they sort of flatter than they used to be? The roof isn’t as rounded? Or is that the Bug?” And even as I spoke, I wondered if the Bug is really the same thing as the Beetle, just a different name? (Because I am Informed and Aware about cars. I know this stuff.)

She taps away at her iPhone, then shows me a few pictures. Oh, yeah. Much sleeker than the bulbous little fellas I remember.

And a decent amount of storage space, too! Ah, that German design.

Suddenly, Emma snorts and taps her screen again. “Hey, look at THIS!”

My snort is probably louder than hers. “Holy Hannah!” With advertising like that, no wonder my girls are Beetle fans. Going after the women’s market, are we, Volkswagon?

I put on cheesy car-salesman voice. “Just slide yerself onto that, little lady.”

“And then,” Emma adds, a wicked glint in her eyes, “shift it into drive!” Our laughter is distinctly un-ladylike.

My attention moves past the phallic-ly obvious to the hand brake.

“Oh my! And look at that! Ha! It just gets better and better.”

Emma looks at me, blankly.


Well, now. Her loving mother has sussed out a gap in her knowledge of Important Girl Stuff. I think we need to make a trip to Venus Envy, or at least visit the website. She’ll be thrilled, I know. That Mother-Daughter bonding? It just never ends.

May 30, 2012 Posted by | Mischief, my kids, Ottawa, sex | , , , , | 2 Comments

Lessons for her future?

Jazz has had a teeny accident. Not a real accident, you understand, more a matter of poor timing, and now there is a wee spot of pee on her padded cotton training pants. Her jeans are quite dry.

“Not to worry! Let’s just get you some dry panties from your bin.” Except, when we check, there are no dry panties. Some shirts, a couple pair of leggings, plenty of socks … but not one single pair of panties. Huh. There are several pair in Grace’s bin, but… no. While goodness knows we do a lot of clothes-sharing around here — toddlers make this necessary for about a gazillion different reasons — it’s crossing my personal comfort and hygiene zone to share panties. Ick.

“You’ll have to go without.” Going without is well within my comfort zone. The hygiene zone will be her parents’ problem when she gets home… (And Jazz’s parents? Very relaxed, about this as about most things. Bless their laid-back hearts.)

I drop the damp panties into a plastic bag, and turn to dress the girl. Except she’s wearing jeans.

“You know what, sweetie? It is not so comfortable to wear jeans without panties. How about you wear leggings, instead? They’re much comfier.”

As she wriggles happily into her leggings, I suddenly realize that I’m living up to my motto “We’re not raising children, we’re raising adults”. Because, you know, in all probability I’ve just given the girl her first lesson in going commando.

May 29, 2012 Posted by | Mischief | | 1 Comment

Menu Monday

Monday: Pork meatball banh mi (only mine was turkey, because that’s what we had), grated carrot salad, roasted asparagus and mushrooms

Tuesday: Falafels, tabouli

Wednesday: Macaroni and cheese (home-made, with minced broccoli and cauliflower in it)

Thursday: Chicken-ginger stew*, biscuits, cucumber salad

Friday: Tofu in peanut sauce, mixed cooked vegetables (we have carrots, there’ll probably be cauliflower and broccoli leftover from Wednesday.)

*If you follow that link, you’ll see the recipe is for soup, not stew. My lovely husband is not a fan of soups, however delicious, but he does like stew. It’s a texture thing, and you know, though I do love soup, I get the texture thing. Happily, it’s a pretty simple thing to turn a soup into a stew: thicken the broth and toss in more stuff to bite on, and there you go! I often thicken broth with pureed squash or (less often) potato, or occasionally, for a protein punch, pureed chick peas, but this time I’ll just use flour, since I don’t want to change the taste of the soup that much. (Never made it before; want to know what it tastes like before I really alter it!)

May 28, 2012 Posted by | food, health and safety | , , | Leave a comment

Mary vs the Birds: A Reprieve

I learned something new about birds this morning. My earplugs were in, the fan was on, but all experience indicated that despite my preparations I would be woken at the butt-crack of dawn by joyously demented birds singing the praise of the pearl-grey dawn. Which is happening, in these parts, at four a.m.


Even for early-bird me — the irony of that descriptor just hit me as I typed it. Seems I am a laggard early bird, grousing at the end of the line, all the keener birds chittering gaily ahead. Let’s try that again: Even for early riser me, four ghastly ay em is the middle of the night. I do not care if the sky is glowing over there in the east. I do not care that the sun’s pearly fingers are caressing the fading edges of night. I do not care about any of that glorious, pre-dawn shit. I would like to stay asleep for another hour. That’s all I ask. Just another hour. Five is a perfectly acceptable wake-time.

(And for all of you rearing back in horror, you can at least concede that I’m not asking a whole lot. I’m not asking that they hold off for three or four hours. Just one. A mere 60 minutes.)

So this morning I wake — on my own! feeling ready to be awake!! — open an eye and peer at the clock, and find …

It’s 5:06. Whee! And no birds sang.

Whyever not? It’s silent out there. Not one single peep. In fact, it’s strangely, unnaturally still out there. I really don’t believe in that precise an answer to prayer. Even assuming I would pester the almighty with demands for something so incontenstibly against nature and so purely selfish. Which I didn’t. So. It’s not an answer to prayer. (Even though YES!! It IS!!!)

I savour the treat of waking on my own clock for three more minutes or so (normally I leap out of bed when my eyelids flutter delicately open) and then …

a long, loud rumble of thunder.

Well. What do you know? I should probably know this from my camping days. Guess I’d forgotten.

The Dawn Chorus cancels the show for thunder.

Let’s hear it for a long, thunderous summer.

May 25, 2012 Posted by | Canada | , , , | Leave a comment

Mary vs The Birds (The birds are winning)

Ah spring. Or maybe it’s early summer now. We’ve certainly had summer-hot days already, though yesterday was a gentle 23 degrees with lots of cloud. Definitely more spring than summer.

(PERFECT weather, I was informed that morning, just PERFECT! Perfect for running a half-marathon, that is. If one cares to do such thing. This was Ottawa’s Race Weekend. Ten thousand runners in the 5k, another ten thousand in the 10k. Those races were on Saturday. The half and full marathon were on Sunday. I’m assuming another ten thousand for each of them.

Good thing we never drive downtown. I’m sure the traffic was a MESS.)

And with the rising temperatures, and oh! the bliss! the lengthening days, come green grass, flowers, and birds. The swans are back on the river! (Possibly for the last year, unless some generous person will donate the $350,000 it takes to keep them each year. I will miss them, particularly the delicate black ones. Any of you know anyone with a spare $350k kicking around?)

The birds. Songbirds, chirping away. Delicate twitterings, liquid warblings, cheerful chirps. I’m a morning person, pretty much up with the birds, and to be woken to the dawn chorus flowing through my bedroom window is quite the treat.

Well, was. Last week, I noticed that it’s crept earlier. I routinely wake at five or five-thirty, no alarm necessary. To be rising to consciousness with the rising tide of birdsong? Lovely.

But last week, I was woken every morning at 4:30. Even by my early-riser standards, that’s extreme. I’m up with the birds. I’m not down with 4:30. There are limits. Later in the summer, when the nights get hot, we’ll put in our window AC unit, and over the steady roar of that cool-delivering wonder, I won’t hear anything. Truly, I hold off on the AC, not just for energy-conserving concerns, but because I prefer fresh air to circulated-through-humming-machine air.

So until it gets really stinking hot at night, the window is open all night. And all dawn.

The birds? This morning?



Actually, not really “birds”. Just one early-early bird, the little keener, right outside my bedroom window, with a lovely warbling — and extremely piercing — CHIRP-A-WARBLE-WARBLE-CHIRP! CHIRP!

I stared at the clock. I cannot get up now. I was up late last night. (Hey, 10:18 is too late when you’re up at 4-fking-30.) I will be utterly non-functional. Good lord. Must shut the window.

Easier said than done. Damn thing’s wedged shut in the humidity. Shaking it, wiggling it, hanging off it, nothing is shifting that thing. And meantime, our little keener bird warbles on. Loudly.

Matthew, hoping no doubt that his wife would stop assaulting the window and waking him up, suggested that I turn on the fan for white noise. Recognizing a good idea when I hear it — and the futility of further assaults on the window — I did just that.

That damned bird is louder than our fan.

So I pulled the pillow over my head.

I woke at 5:30.

MUCH more civilized.

May 24, 2012 Posted by | Ottawa | , , , | 1 Comment

Busy, busy

Sorry I’ve been awol this week. I have a project on the go which is eating into blogging time. Remember the bench that I covered?

Well, it worked for a couple of weeks, but I have dogs, you see. Two of them. Dogs who swim in the river pretty nearly daily. Dogs, who, despite my best rinsing-off efforts in the drive, track a lot of much into the house.

Dogs who really, really like that new bench.

Within a couple of weeks, it was clear that the cover would have to be washed two or three times a week to stay tolerable. Two or three times! Not only is that too much work, but the fabric wasn’t going to last more than a year with all that hard usage. It was a pretty sturdy cotton, but not up to that.


Off to the fabric store. I had in mind to get oilcloth or laminated cotton, so it could be wiped down, but that stuff is … plastic, really. Fine for tablecloths and bibs, but not so fine for sitting on, particularly not in shorts. Ouch.

Then I discovered this lovely sturdy fabric, designed for use on patio furniture. PERFECT! So I bought a length, recovered the bench cushion, and it looks really, really sharp. AND, it wipes clean with a damp cloth. PERFECT! AND, it feels like fabric, not plastic, when you sit on it. PERFECT!!

AND, now that the bench is permanently under the window, the curtains, which brush the floor, are nearly impossible to draw, and hang in big messy piles on the bench when you do manage to drag them together.

Not so perfect.

The solution, however, was obvious: take the curtains down, measure and cut a bit, then rehang them as blinds!!!

So. Busy, me. Busy, busy, busy. Just not so busy blogging. And yes, there will be pictures!!

May 23, 2012 Posted by | crafts | , , , | 3 Comments

Menu … Tuesday

Ah, what a lovely weekend! Glorious sun, warm to hot temperatures, the only rain happening Monday evening. Perfect.

And now here I am back, with this week’s lunches:

Tuesday: Ratatouille with ground walnuts

Wednesday: Lentil-beet salad

Thursday: Butter chicken, rice

Friday Southwestern bean salad

Some of you have wondered how I get the children to eat these things. Here’s the thing: I don’t. I don’t “get” the children to eat. I provide good, healthy, nourishing food. They can eat it, they can sit there and stare it down keep the rest of us company, or they can leave. This is not a punitive thing, unless they pitch a fit, in which case they go sit on the Quiet Stair until they stop. While the rest of us continue our meal.

It’s not punitive because, unless the child’s being truly obnoxious about it (or maybe if I’m particularly hormonal) it doesn’t annoy me. (Let me clarify here: it will annoy me if I’m particularly hormonal; it is exceptionally rare that I get punitive about it … because I don’t have to. Worse, because it’s counter-productive.)

So what do I do?

I’ve said this before, but really, there’s nothing much more to explain. I let them choose to go hungry. That’s it, that’s all. That is how I “get” kids to eat. I let it be their choice. When I let them make that choice, instead of coaxing, coercing, and (worst of all!) offering alternates, they learn that eating is better than not-eating. Eventually, they even learn that food of all sorts is good!


May 22, 2012 Posted by | food | , , | 8 Comments

Happy Holiday Monday!

No post today. It’s Victoria Day, aka The May Long Weekend, and I am doing nothing more taxing than reading in the sun on my front porch.


May 21, 2012 Posted by | Canada | | Leave a comment

Why I Claim “Household Repair/Maintenance” on my income tax…

A rather non-descript photo of nothing in particular, I know. Part of the dog, a rather grubby window ledge, a bit of greenery obscured by the window’s screen. Not much there. Oh, and some crayons.

Let’s have a closer look at those crayons, shall we? Hmmm… Yes, they are on the other side of the screen.

There used to be a tiny nick in the screen. Then there was a small hole. Then the small hole got a bit larger. Now it seems the screen is developing a holey rash, a series of teeny holes spreading along the base of the window. A series of holes through which crayons can find their way between the screen and the window!

Can’t imagine how they get there. One of life’s little mysteries.

The real question is, do I replace the screen? Or do I assume any future screens will develop the same mystery rash? Do I block the holes with duct tape (oh, pretty! and so classy!) and hope that discourages the perpetrators so that a future screen will be protected?

Or do I just get used to crayons in my window?

And mosquitoes in my living room?


May 18, 2012 Posted by | Mischief | | 3 Comments

Poppy Sunshine

Poppy is the daycare’s current sunbeam. They are all cheery little things (though poor Jazz’s chronic sleep-deprivation has her less cheery than she would otherwise be, I’m sure). But Poppy?

Each morning arrival is greeting with great enthusiasm. Poppy races to the door from wherever she is, hollering their name in tones of rising joy. “DAN-ny! DAN-ny!!!” If she happens to be standing in the entry-way already, such that racing to the door is unnecessary, she expresses her uncontrollable delight by jumping up and down while clapping and calling their name. (Given that she learned to jump about, oh, fifteen minutes ago, this is pretty damned cute in its exuberant ineptness. She gives these little stompy hops, techinically a jump because both feet do indeed leave the ground at the same time, but mostly it’s a lurch from one foot to the other. She has all the physical dexterity of Lurch — a short, cuddly kewpie-doll Lurch. On speed.)

Any entry into a room is greeted with similar enthusiasm. Matthew (my wonderful husband) comes downstairs in the morning? “MAT-thew!!! Yay, Hello!!! MAT-thew!!”

I return from having had a quick pee. “MAR-yyyy!!!”

It extends to the other children’s accomplishments, as well. Someone manages to get their own coat on? One of the big kids uses the potty? Much rejoicing. Much rejoicing from Poppy, but her enthusiasm is contagious, and soon, everyone joins in. Clapping, cheering, dancing in the joy.

It’s quite wonderful, and it all comes down to Poppy. When I lost Emily, I lost a solid source of daycare sunshine. Seems I have her replacement.

Poppy eats everything she’s served, she loves the other children (even Daniel, whom she found a tad alarming at first, with good reason), she greets bedtime with calm good cheer. “Want a nap and a soother, Poppy?” “Yeah,” she nods.

There will be moods and squalls. There will be periods of resistance, rebellion, negativity. Of course there will. She’s two. But her default is Sunshine, so those things will be passing phases.

Poppy Sunshine. Welcome to Mary’s!

May 17, 2012 Posted by | Poppy, the cuteness! | , | 2 Comments