It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Menu Monday

Monday: Tabouli, devilled eggs

Tuesday: Spaghetti with meatless ‘meat’balls and eggplant-tomato sauce

Wednesday: Grilled cheese sandwiches, cooked carrot sticks

Thursday: Fish-spinach curry on rice

Friday: mashed potato pie with vegetable-lentil filling (Sort of like a reverse shepherd’s pie: the mashed potato is the crust at the bottom, the meat-vegetable filling on top. Only in this case, there’s no meat, but lentils.)

As ever, recipes are yours for the asking!

July 9, 2012 Posted by | food | | 1 Comment

Does she or doesn’t she?

“I stole your chair!” Jazz is triumphant, wickedly gleeful.

I have not been sitting in that chair for at least five minutes. At the moment I am sweeping the dining room floor. Clearly, the dogs are not on the job this morning. Too flayed by the heat, poor beasts, lying in panting heaps on the hardwood floor. I don’t need the chair, I don’t care that she’s in it … but I don’t have it in me to disappoint a child so cruelly.

“Well, love, I am sweeping the dining room, so I don’t need it.” Her face falls a bit. How mundane! How predictable! How boringly adult! But I know what I’m doing. “And that’s a good thing, because if I did need it, I would have to come right over there and drop you right on the floor — on your HEAD!” I make a cartoon-fearsome face.

Jazz pauses. Stands and peers at me, and uncertain smile on her face. You can see the thought bubble. “She’s joking, right? Is she joking?” I thought my mock-scary face would have conveyed the joke, but seems it was too subtle, because God knows, Mary is JUST the sort of woman who goes around dropping toddlers on their heads!

My laughter reassures her. “I’m teasing, lovie. I’m just being silly. I would never drop you on your head. Never, ever, ever!” The relief on her face, in her whole body, is palpable.

“You go on the chair, Rory! She won’t drop you on your head!” Now that she’s in on the joke, she has to share it. Gleeful laughter — perhaps slightly hysteria-tinged for Jazz — all round. Toddlers loooove ‘silly’. Heeheehee.

“No, I won’t. No dropping children on their heads. Why, I hardly ever even think about doing it. Hardly.” Making private jokes in the presence of small children, knowing that no one will get it but you, is one of the perks of working with small children, I figure.

Except …

there’s a scream of laughter from Grace.

And I wonder.

Is she just three beats behind the conversation? Entirely possible. Grace lives in a sweet and puffy little cloud-world of her own. Her voluntary visits with us here in our shared reality are intermittent. Generally, you have to call her name to switch her from her private, happy world to the one the rest of us are in.

But that laugh. Was so perfectly timed. Its tenor so perfectly suited to the irony of my comment.

Is it possible?

Did she get my joke?

Grace is one of those kids. One moment I think that, sweet as she is, she’s not the brightest crayon in the box — and that’s FINE! Popular opinion to the contrary, we are NOT all ‘exceptional’! It’s not an insult to be average. But then there are those moments where I’m almost convinced that the child is brilliant. Not just ‘average’, but brilliant. I feel a growing conviction that she’s not the space cadet she so often appears to be, she’s just working out the secrets of the universe. Those blue eyes are vague not because she’s vague, but because they’re focussed on wonders unimaginable …

Could be!
Who knows?

Only time will tell …

It’s stuff like this that keeps the job interesting.

July 6, 2012 Posted by | Grace, Jazz | , , | 2 Comments

Thoughttus Interruptus

I don’t really get a nap time any more. Daniel and Poppy nap, but Grace and Jazz don’t, generally. Still, we do have a Quiet Time, during which the big girls lay on cots, one in living room, one in kitchen. They don’t have to sleep, but they do have to Stay On The Cot … along with a pile of books, a dolly, a few puzzles, a container of blocks.

Really, what they’re getting is an hour of free play. They may not play together, mind you, because then they get loud. But they may play, with — bonus! — no tedious interruptions from me about tidying, putting things away, taking out only one book at a time. None of that stuff. In return for which, I also expect no interruptions from them of my precious quiet time.

They are allowed to use the potty, but it’s carefully placed so as not to allow interaction between the two girls, and to be as boring as possible. No faking out Mary by asking to go to the potty when really you just want to whoop it up with the other gal, or to have a change of scene.

I expect an hour. I get an hour.


Today …

12:45 Quiet Time starts. Both girls on their cots, with their heaps o’entertainment mounded around them. I sit at computer to type long-overdue email.

12:48 Grace asks to pee. I don’t even look up. I’m looking for a word, it’s not quite coming, and this is a no-brainer. “No. You peed not four minutes ago.” I keep typing, leaving PUMPKIN in bold block caps where the missing word needs to go. It’ll come to me if I forget about it for a bit.

(This is a variant of a strategy I learned in teacher’s college for helping young readers develop fluency. Rather than stumble and stutter over each unrecognized word, have the child insert “pumpkin” and keep going. If the sentence still makes sense, you didn’t need that word. If it doesn’t make sense, you’ll have to stop and figure it out … but a lot of the time, you won’t need it! It’s great for reducing frustration and increasing success.)

My slightly different application is enormously helpful for the aphasic tendencies of the forgetful 50-something brain. Never mind that word! Just keep going, and get the thought down. Because we know, we tip-of-the-tonguers, we know that if we stop and stumble over the one particular word, we’ll forget what the rest of the sentence was supposed to be. This is a classic “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” scenario, which the PUMPKIN technique very cleverly sidesteps. Mwah-ha. Me so smart. (Forgetful, but smart.)

12:51 Aha! The word comes to me. I knew it would. I seek out my marker PUMPKIN. There it is! Just as I’m about to drop the correct word in, Jazz’s tower of blocks falls with a resounding crash, scaring the bejeezus out of me. I suggest that from here on she build walls, not towers.

That word? Is gone again. Damn.

12:59 Emma returns from class, chats for a few minutes.

1:12 I return to my email, still with its PUMPKIN poking out of the text. I manage another sentence before the dogs suddenly leap up from the depths of slumber and roar to the back of the house, Daisy barking, Indie yodelling, both tails wagging madly. (Indie’s part husky; she doesn’t often bark, but she does ululate. Most endearingly. And distractingly.) Something wonderful this way comes, evidently.

1:14 The dogs were right! Wonderful Husband enters the house, having cycled to the dentist and then downtown for a chiller. He hands me mine. Aaahhh… And of course, I have to at least talk to the man who brought me an unasked-for treat.

1:22 Grace asks to pee again. This time I give her the nod. I begin another sentence. The last one still has a PUMPKIN in it.

1:23:04 Daisy is on the dining room table! “DAISY! Get DOWN!”
1:23:15 Daisy is on the dining room table! “DAISY! Get DOWN!”
1:23:42 Daisy is on the dining room table! “DAISY! Get DOWN!”
1:24:03 Daisy is on the dining room table! “DAISY! Get DOWN!”

1:24:05 I go look at the dining room table. Wonderful Husband has left his fanny pack there. Which contains, as it always does, a small handful of dogs treats. I put them where they belong.

1:25 Jazz needs to pee.
1:27 Jazz has done enormous poo. I wipe her bottom, empty and rinse the potty, wash my hands. I return to my email. Reread and delete the prior sentence.

1:29 Put that sentence back in. Change three words.

1:31 The phone rings. I check the call display and ignore the telemarketer. Erase those last three words.

1:37 I have written three more sentences!!!

1:39 A knock at the door. Neighbour child has set up lemonade stand. I promise to bring the tots when they’ve woken from their naps. “Right now it’s Quiet Time,” I lie say, delusionally tell her hopeful face.

1:42 I delete half the previous sentence, replace it. Like that much better.

1:45 Quiet Time is over. I am out of time for this email, and it’ll do. I hit send.

“Okay girls, you can get up. Let’s put your toys away, and then we’ll go paint on the porch.”

“Yay! Painting!” As they scramble off their cots and start putting books away, I give the sent email one more read-through.


But of course…

July 5, 2012 Posted by | the dark side | , , | 5 Comments

The Funky Goose?

I live near a river, one of two that run through or by Ottawa. (There is also a canal and a small lake. We don’t lack for pretty water in this city.) You can’t live that close to such natural beauty and not take daily advantage. I have to be pretty ill to not wander down to the river at least once in a day.

The river is beautiful, of course. In the summer, the sun dances diamonds on the surface. The reeds and trees frame it in lush shades of green. Birdsong, chirrups, cheeps, twitters and the croak of frogs. It’s also the home of all manner of wildlife. We’ve seen frogs and herons. (When the heron’s been effective, we’ve seen ex-frogs. Nature, red in tooth and claw.) Red-winged blackbirds, musk rats, carp, snapping turtles, sparrows, loons, mallards and little merganser ducks, white swans and black Australian swans, the occasional beaver, raccoons, a fox…

And, today, Canada Geese. Several families of them. Adults and goslings. Wild enough to be wary, tame enough to approach for the possibility of treats tossed their way.

The children are as drawn to the geese as the geese are drawn to them.

And then, starting with Poppy (in the middle), the children respond to this visitation of nature

with a … dance?

Toddlers are weird little critters. 😀

July 4, 2012 Posted by | Canada, Ottawa, outings | , | 3 Comments

Menu Tuesday

This past weekend was a long one here in Canada, so this is a shortened week. (Love that.)

Tuesday: Tofu-garlic linguini (from this year’s Milk calendar, except, lacking shrimp, I switched in fried tofu cubes instead)

Wednesday: Grilled bread salad (from Heidi Swanson’s Super Natural Every Day, though I don’t follow the recipe too precisely)

Thursday: Meatloaf, green salad

Friday: Lentil-dill salad. Veggie Venture is a terrific source for all manner of vegetable-strong (though not necessarily vegetarian) recipes. I love searching this site for a specific seasonal vegetable, to see what fun new thing I can do with it this time!

July 3, 2012 Posted by | food | , , , | Leave a comment

Happy Day-After-Canada-Day!

It’s Canada Day!! Well, yesterday was Canada Day, but as it fell on a Sunday, today is a day off. All the festivities were yesterday, and a nice quiet day today. No tots, and as I heard for days about planned trips to cottages, to grandparents, to play with cousins, I know they’re all having fun.

Me, I walked downtown and back — a smidge over 10k round trip, which I know thanks to this fun little website — to see The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. I am a huge Judi Dench fan, so anything with her in it is worth seeing. My husband had sent me a review some weeks back, and I’d made a mental note. (Which, to my intense surprise, I remembered!!) To his intense surprise, I suggested we go see it.

Why the surprise? I hate going to movies. It’s not that I don’t like movies, but that going to movies depresses me. It’s a daylight thing. You go in the daylight, you come out in the dark — that’s depressing! Hours of daylight lost. Hours. I cannot express how that very thought just sucks the joy right out of my soul. No point in suggesting a go to a late showing, so that I’m going into the theatre in the dark. I’d be asleep before the tedious trailers were done. (Assuming I could handle the volume. Why are theatre volumes set so LOUD? Good lord.)

But this was a holiday Monday! We could go in the middle of the day, so that we went in AND came out in daylight! AND I could see Judi Dench! (And Maggie Smith, another favourite.)

What a great movie. So glad I went. And we walked there and back, one of our favourite couple activities, because the whole time you walk, you talk, right? So an hour’s walk there (it was hot; we were in no hurry!), two hours in the movie, an hour’s walk back. A lovely half-day date for my sweetie and me. You know a movie’s good when you can spend an entire hour’s walk talking about it. And then some. It popped up from time to time over the course of the rest of the afternoon and evening.

I hope you had a good weekend, too.

July 2, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | 1 Comment