It’s Not All Mary Poppins

I have a story to tell

A wedding story…  In pictures, mostly.

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My eldest child, my older daughter, was married last month. Isn’t she lovely? This is at the house, getting ready. A good 90% of everything was hand-made, hand-crafted, DIY. Her dress and headpiece were purchased. (Dress from Mod Cloth; fascinator, I don’t know.) But guess who did her own flowers??

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Groom-to-be sneaks a kiss. Aaawww…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABrother of the bride helps with the bride’s bouquet.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASister and maid of honour… (Who is, in fact, practicing keeping the shoes on her feet, despite their passionate wish to be free!)

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Dad of bride, who officiated, catches a quiet moment before we depart for the park. (All those boxes in the background? MAWR WEDDING STUFF!!!)OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The venue. Isn’t it pretty? OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
The screen of pretty red flowers, made by the bride. So effective!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMaid of honour, best man and groom arrive with more wedding stuff. It was cloudy and threatening rain in the morning, but by the time the wedding happened (mid-afternoon), the sun had come out. Also, whereas it had been a sticky 38C earlier in the week, it was a lovely 24 on the day. Perfect!

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe processional. The maid of honour, ring bearer and flower girl have all arrived. Now it’s just my baby, all grown up and on her way to her new life. I love this picture. A short walk, but possibly the most important one of her life!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHere comes the bride!

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The happy couple, post-kiss!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The signing of the register. There were some legal loops here, because of course Dad isn’t really licensed to perform wedding in Missouri. So they were married at the court house the day before; the ceremony was for family, friends and celebration! To make it more official-like, Dad brought his Marriage Registry from Ontario.

Guess what? The Signing of the Register is not part of weddings in Missouri. Certainly nobody here but the Canadians knew what the heck was going on. Here, the bride is saying to the bemused among the guests, “It’s a Canadian thing!”

It’s also a darned good photo op, which even the bemused quickly realized. (The bride, groom, maid of honour and best man all sign.)

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The whole fan-dambly. That’s me on the left, in the flowered dress, the brother, groom and bride, sister, and my wonderful husband.

wedding family

Happy Wedding, Happy Marriage!

It was a great day.

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October 15, 2014 Posted by | Canada, my kids, parenting | , | 13 Comments

Breastfeeding Women: Brave New Mavericks or Just Another Mother?

On my post with the pro-breastfeeding video, Zoe commented that she’d “never seen anyone turn a hair” at the sight of a breastfeeding woman in the city of Norwich where she lives. (Or the city closest to where she lives? Where do you live, Zoe?)

I was struck by that, because you know that? I haven’t, either. Well, not when I was nursing my own children. This is even more striking, perhaps, when you understand that my eldest is 28. She was breastfed till she was over a year old. In all that time, as a stay-at-home mother, I took her wherever I went and nursed her when she needed. Restaurants, libraries, bus stops, church (and no, I didn’t necessarily go down to the nursery, which was often too full of distractions and noise), coffee shops, malls… Everywhere. I never once took her to a public toilet to nurse, either. Ick. My two younger children are almost-25 and 20. They, too, were nursed till they were a little over a year old. They, too, went everywhere with me, feeding as required.

And in all that time, I never had one negative remark. I did have a few positive ones.

— From a very elderly woman in the church I was attending at the time, when I slipped into a pew at the back of the sanctuary to nurse, a lovely frail lady who tottered back to keep me company. “It’s so nice to see young mothers feeding their own babies again! I always thought it was such a shame when those ridiculous doctors convinced all those poor women that those concoctions in bottles were better than what God had given us to feed our babies.” If she was 80-something then, and had fed her babies when she was in her twenties, she was talking about the 1920’s. History, right there in the pew beside me!

— From the woman in the seat beside me on a trans-Atlantic flight. My eldest was 9 months old, and I was nursing her during the ascent to assist with the popping of her teeny eardrums. “Oh, such a smart idea. She’ll be so much happier.” (Turns out she was a pediatric nurse at Sick Kids in Toronto, and her lovely husband an Anglican priest.)

For the most part, people ignored me when I fed my babies. Granted, that could have been the averted eyes of the squeamish … but I never got that impression. For the most part, I assumed people were just respecting my privacy.

Oh, wait! I’m wrong. I did have one negative response. When my son, Adam, my middle child, was five days old, we were visited in our home by good friends. When Adam cried, I made ready to nurse him. The husband of the couple made an exclamation of dismay. “You’re not going to do that here?!?”, he wailed.

I raised one eyebrow (I can do that) and nailed him with a steely glare. My tone was measured, but ironclad stern. “Byron. This is my home, and my baby is hungry. Yes, I’m going to ‘do that’ here. If you don’t like it, you can go out in the kitchen.”

Meantime, his wife, appalled, rolled her eyes at me as she smacked him in the arm. “BY-ron!!!” He glanced at my then-husband for male support, and found none. He was a great guy, Byron, and knew when to admit defeat. He grinned, heaved a giant mock-sigh. “Oh, all right. I guess I’m outnumbered.”

I fed my baby. Byron did not run cowering to the kitchen, and discovered being in the room with a breastfeeding baby wasn’t as horrific as he’d feared. (Three or so years later, when Byron’s first child was born, he was the strongest supporter of breastfeeding his wife could have asked for. I take some credit in turning that around.) 😀

Now, recall that all this was far closer to 30 years ago than 20. Three decades ago, pretty much, I nursed children in several cities in Ontario, with no backlash, no resistance, no negative comments whatsoever. Thirty years ago! Why, I wondered, this sudden flurry of defiantly pro-breastfeeding articles I’m seeing? As if women expect, as if they’ve actually been receiving, flack, push-back, disgust? I’m baffled.

The Canadian in me wants to suggests that it’s because breastfeeding is only just now being truly popularized in the (prudish) US, and so all these articles, posters, tweets and comments reflect American battles, battles largely won in Canada two and three decades ago. It could be that. Except that the video I posted was from Australia, of course. Hm. Is Australia equally prudish? I wouldn’t have thought so, but who knows?

Or was it that my experience wasn’t representative? I lived in urban Canada, in Ontario. Would I have experienced more revulsion had I been in rural Ontario? (Though that sweet little old pro-breastfeeding church lady? She was in Buffalo, New York, where I was living when my eldest was born.)

Or is it that there are pockets of prudery here and there, that people in those pockets post something on the internet, and the rest of us all read/watch what they’ve posted and come to believe it’s a bigger problem than it is? Because that happens. We know it does.

So, wanting to get to the bottom of it, I have a couple of questions. The first is for you currently (or recently) breastfeeding women.

1. How do most people respond to you? Positively? Negatively? Neutrally? (Not the outliers, now. The majority. I don’t want to hear about that one stinker every so often, and make him/her sound like they’re the norm. I’m interested in your everyday experience.) Though I admit I’m curious to know how frequently you encounter those stinkers, if you do.

2. How do you, breastfeeding or not, account for the sudden upsurge in defiant women demanding their right to … do something I thought was a non-issue 28 years ago?

I’m baffled. And curious.

February 27, 2014 Posted by | Canada, controversy, food, parenting | , , | 26 Comments

Spring is

Coming! Really! (Even though today it’s -11C with a windchill of -24. Blurgh.) But I have hard evidence! Look!

Two weeks ago:
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This week:
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See the difference? Two-metre snowbanks of clean, puffy snow, vs less than one metre of gritty snowbanks … and clear sidewalks!!

It’s coming, it’s coming!

March 14, 2013 Posted by | Canada, Ottawa, outings | , | Leave a comment

Spring is coming…

soonish…
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In the interests of full disclosure, though

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these pictures

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were taken

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two weeks ago.

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We’re getting there!

March 13, 2013 Posted by | Canada, Ottawa, outings | , , | 5 Comments

Cold. Cold, cold, cold

thermometerIt’s cold here this week. Nothing like you readers in the north experience, I know, but cold enough! (For you readers in the south who think I’m north? Noooooo. There’s whole lot of Canada north of Ottawa. Days like today I am very, very glad I don’t live there.)

I woke this morning, checked my handy little Weather Network icon in my toolbar, and saw -29. Ick. Clicked on the icon to get the fuller story, and discovered that with a brisk wind out of the NW, it’s going to feel like -37. (That is -20F and -35F for you 19th-century holdouts to my south.)

Oh. My. Lord.

I’m wearing jeans, a tank top, a turtleneck and a big sweater. That’s fine for in the house. But now? I have to walk the dogs.

I have to go outside.

So the regular old jeans are switched out for the distinctly un-glam and boxy flannel-lined jeans. Under which go long johns. I have a down-filled jacket, but it stops at the hips. For today, I am snitching my daughter’s down-filled parka, which comes to the knees AND has a fur-lined hood. The scarf, wrapped as close to my nose as my damned glasses will allow. A hat for inside the hood. Leather mittens. Not gloves. Gloves are for spring and fall, and mild, mild winter days. Gloves are not for -29, -37 with windchill.

‘Damned’ glasses because the scarf can channel your exhalations upward, where all that hot, moist air immediately condenses on the glass, and, in these temperatures, just as immediately freezes. So you don’t just have a moment’s fog on your glasses, you have FROST. Which you have to scrape off. Scraping off means taking off your mittens, and you really, really don’t want to do that.

Whee. fun.

The dogs get walked. Indie, being part husky, doesn’t even feel the cold. She looooves the snow! She romps, she frolics, she rolls in the stuff. Daisy proffers me a dainty paw to de-ice at intervals, but she has no complaints, either. But this is a strictly business walk, girls. Once they’ve pooped, we head home. No 45 minute romp in the dog park this morning, my sweets. We were home in twenty. Boom, done.

And will the daycare children be going out, today?

I think not.

Instead, we will bake something. Stinking cold weather demands baking, I always figure.
We will read, we will do puzzles, we will colour, we will play dollies and trucks and blocks.

But these are toddlers, and toddlers need to burn off steam. So we will play popcorn and sleeping bunnies. We will build an obstacle course and let them climb and clamber and squirm over and under furniture. We will turn on the music and dance, dance, dance. I will put each of them on my knee for one bouncy game after another.

And … I take a deep, deep breath … Mary will relieve them of the “We WALK in the house. WALK!” for at least an hour today.

An hour of running. With five house-bound toddlers.

Hold me.

January 23, 2013 Posted by | Canada, Ottawa | , , , | 7 Comments

Winter Fun

Our theme this month is Winter. What will we be doing?

A fun sensory bin, with cotton balls and plastic ice chunks, some snowflakes, a couple of polar bears and a snowman.

Coloured ice cubes for outdoor building. (We did this today. It would have been better had my ice cube tray been nice and square, like the one pictured in that link, instead of with rounded corners. Still, the kids had fun!)

Indoor skating using big wooly socks over their own socks.

Edible snowballs, made with meringue. (Easy, tasty, and fun!)

Squirt bottles of coloured water for painting the snow.

Matching games using real mis-matched mittens on an indoor clothes line

Matching games using paper mittens and stickers

Pattern-making on paper scarves

Make snowballs from white socks stuffed with rice. Toss these into baskets and through holes in a box lid.

Sparkly white play dough

Polar bears made from salt dough

Ice candle-holders

Popsicle stick snowflakes

Paper doily stained glass

Stick the carrot on the snowman (like pin the tail on the donkey, only with carrots and snowmen)

String snowballs (Yes, those instructions make tree ornaments, but if you use white string and add some opalescent glitter, why, you’ve made pretty snowballs to hang around your winter-themed home!)

Linked snowman garlands

That’s not all of it. We’ll make more as we go along! Nor do I include everyday winter activities, like toboggan rides, digging, floundering, and otherwise messing about in the stuff.

January 8, 2013 Posted by | Canada, crafts | , , | 2 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

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.

Sigh.

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

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.

Aaahhh…

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

Why I Love Spring

I think the absolute best thing about living in a place that has seasons is the delight that comes with the changes. Spring is particularly wonderful, leaving the constraints of winter behind and moving into sunshine, colours, and warmth.

And dandelions.

May 16, 2012 Posted by | Canada, outings | , , | 2 Comments