It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Light of Mystery

Exhibit A: Dog. Mellow dog with light.

The light is a flattened sphere of plastic, inside of which is an LED bulb that cycles through a few colours when it’s turned on. It is not habitually turned on while in the house. This is for evening and pre-dawn walks, when it’s useful to be able to find one’s dog in a good-sized off-leash dog park.

Question: Why is Indie’s light on? Clearly she can’t manage it. It’s so stiff I have to use both hands and press like crazy with two thumbs to turn it on. This is simply not happening by accident. An idle knock into a piece of furniture would not do it. Even if she rolled on it, or scratched it, that thing wouldn’t turn on.


Exhibit B: Two dogs. Mellow dogs, on bench. Mellow, un-lit dogs.

But wait…

and a closer look…

Chomp. Click. We have RED.

And green.

And blue. Mystery solved.

Well, all except for the “why is my small dog so weird?“, which will likely remain unsolved.

March 29, 2012 Posted by | my kids, random and odd | , , , | 5 Comments

Germs? Pah!

Rory likes to feed the dogs. He’ll feed them until he has no food left in his bowl. Then he cries. “Hey! Someone took all my food! Where did my food go? I’M HUNGRY AND I HAVE NO FOOD!!!”

Originally, I decided to let natural consequences play out. Of course, I warned him of the consequences first. But then I just stood back and let nature take its course. If he feeds the dogs and then has no food, well, he’ll be hungry, won’t he? And hunger will be the negative consequence of his poor decision that will teach him NOT to feed his lunch to the dogs, right?

Um, not so far. I would expect a lessons like this to take three to five days, max. Food-related lessons don’t take long! Certainly not for a kid who loves his food as much as Rory. But this one? Well, Rory LOOOOOVES feeding the dogs. Loves it. It brings him great, great pleasure. Pleasure that far, far outweighs any niggling concerns re: feeding his own self.

So these days the dogs are crated during lunch. It’s just simpler that way. I don’t want the dogs learning to beg at the table any more than I want Rory going hungry every day.

Today, however, I forgot. I was sitting across the table from Rory. The table hid Indie, who was sitting hopefully (and very politely) beside his tray. I didn’t see her, that is, until Rory held a piece of pasta over the side of his tray. Suddenly there was a nose there. The nose did not snatch the food out of Rory’s hand, but only licked, gently and thoroughly cleaning all traces of sauce off the pasta.

I rose quickly from my chair. “Indie! House!” Indie, radiating ‘oh, I’m a bad doggie’, slunk to her crate. I approach Rory, intending to dispense with the squeaky-clean pasta. “And Rory, you monkey. Do not feed the dog!” I’m rounding the corner of the table, my hand moving to take the pasta from him, and


into the mouth it goes. I stop dead. “Oh, Rory. YUK.”

He looks at me.

And swallows.

I’ve seen this sort of thing before. I know it’s not life-threatening. It probably doesn’t need to skeeve me out the way it does. But… if you own a dog, you know the sorts of places that tongue gets, and…


Just, eewww…

February 1, 2011 Posted by | eeewww, food, health and safety, Rory, the dog | , , , | 4 Comments

Bah, humbug

I love walking the dog. The early morning sunshine, slanting through the trees by the river, the dew on the green grass, the birds chirping, the other dogs bouncing across the field.

It makes me hum with peace and contentment.


This week, I’ve had to add to that list, “the whine of the toddler”. Damn it. There’s a dad who takes advantage of the morning dog-walk to take his baby and toddler for a walk, too. It would be heart-warming if the toddler didn’t whine, whine, whine, whine, whine. Everything that comes out of that boy’s mouth is a grating whinge.

People think I’m a patient person, and I suppose I am in some ways… but not this time. I have zip patience for this, because it’s so unnecessary. And besides, the kid is noise-polluting my zen. I daydream, every time, about approaching the dad. “You know, you can train them out of that. You don’t have to listen to that every minute of the day.”

I think he’s so used to hearing it that he doesn’t even hear it any more. But I do.

It’s time to change the time of my morning walk. I want my peace and serenity back. Dopey kid. Dopier dad.

Grump, grump, grump…

August 10, 2010 Posted by | parenting, whining | , , , , , | 5 Comments

It’s that 1% that gets you

The husband is out of town for a few days this week, and thus I am a single doggy parent. The teens? They are not so much work.

Teens certainly don’t have me out the door at six for a 45-minute walk before my first clients arrive. Not that my first clients arrive at 6:45. I know there are caregivers out there who start at 6:30 or even earlier, God love’em, but I’m not of their ilk. I am a morning person: this is why I like to savour some of it for myself.

Walking the dog is, in fact, 99% pure pleasure, particularly on a morning when the mist is rising off the plate-glass river, the swans regal as they drift by, the air a caressing blanket, soft, warm, fresh. The dog neither drifts nor caresses. She bounds, leaping with the pure joy of being alive — and then freezing, stock-still, as she spots a squirrel. She lives in never-dying hope of catching one of those things.

(It will never, ever die now that she actually has caught one of those things. Thankfully, not on my watch.)

She bounces into the long grass on the verge of the river, chomping madly. I do not know why some mornings are grass mornings, why the One Thing in the World she craves more than anything else is salad, plucked fresh from the riverbank, dressed with dew.

I particularly do not know this five minutes later, when we arrive at the racing-around-the-field-with-other-dogs part of our outing, and she bombs into the middle of the field … and horks the whole thing up again.

Well, not quite the whole thing. The rest she saved for the dining room. An moist heap of pureed greens, a long greenish puddle oozing away from it on one side, along the nothing-is-100%-true-in-a-century-old-house floor.

As I said, 99% pure pleasure.

August 11, 2009 Posted by | random and odd | , , , , | 4 Comments

It pays to have connections…

Two strollers, one teenager, five children, and a bookstore! Whee!

We went looking for a couple of copies of Ish, by Peter Reynolds, a book I adore, to be given as gifts. But let two bibliophiles (and five trainee bibliophiles) enter a bookstore, and you’re not going to exit with a mere two books!


We picked up a few other books, and then, when we were at the till the owner (a friend and mother of a former daycare tot) dashed into the back room. Seems that sometimes books are deemed too damaged for sale… but they can be given away!

We scored two brand-new books. One was DOG, a push-pull book with a teeny-weeny tear on the cover, and one push-pull tab that neither pushed nor pulled. It’s not one I’d have chosen — dog-lover though I am, it’s more than I’d usually pay for a gimmick book that, despite my best efforts, will almost surely be broken even further in short order. However, I am a dog-lover, the book is cute as can be, and I’m delighted to have it.

DOG(Especially that page with the dog peeing on the tree. Ha!)

The other? As far as I can make out, the ONLY thing wrong with it was that it was bent in a rather dramatic curve. An hour later, with a little reverse-bending and strategic flattening, and it is… absolutely perfect.

And it is the cutest thing you’ve ever seen. Stick, by Steve Breen, an utterly delightful book about an independent frogling and his amazing adventures, beautifully illustrated.

STICKThe pictures are fun — I laughed out loud at the expression on the woman’s face when the frog-stuck-to-a-dragonfly whizzed through her livingroom — and the whole book so delightfully playful that I was more than happy to read it three times in succession, a treat demanded by children who fell in love with “the funny frog” within the first two pages of the first reading.

I love this book! I’d have paid the $8.50 ($6.99 US) without hesitation. To score such a terrific book for free???

It made my day. Totally.


August 6, 2009 Posted by | books, outings | , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Oh, the Carnage

We’ve been away for a few days, the husband and me. We left the dog at home in the care of my younger two kids (19 and 15). Yes, I do leave my teenagers alone in the house.

It is still standing, there is no line of irate neighbours awaiting our return, nor is there any evidence of riotous partying. You thought when I said “carnage”, I was going to tell tales of riotous bad behaviour on the part of my adolescent offspring, didn’t you? Nope.

Remember all my wittering on about “we’re not raising children, we’re raising adults“? And my further witterings about “risk, risk-taking, teaching them to manage risk“? I live by all that stuff with my own kids.

Any signs of riotousness?

Well, there were three clean wine glasses in the drying rack. There was, however, only one empty wine bottle in the recycle bin. (Yes, I looked. I was curious. Moreover, I am willing to take risks and give my children ever-growing freedoms, but I’m not stupid.)

Adam is of age (19 is of age in this province). Even if Emma joined him and a friend in a single bottle of wine, that’s not adequate to get anyone drunk. But I doubt she did. She doesn’t care for red wine. So two of-age young adults shared one bottle of wine. In two and a half days.

Would anyone even blink if two thirty-somethings did that? It looks like unexceptional adult behaviour from where I stand.

They did the dishes before I returned. And tidied the living room, put out the trash, wiped down the dining room table, and, I’m guessing by the contents of the fridge, prepared healthy meals, and further judging by the lack of crumbs, swept the kitchen floor. The did not wipe down the stove top or the counters. (Sticky, much?) Adam also did a load of his own laundry.

So, yes. Teens alone in a house for three days. And it was fine. Well, the kids did just fine, anyway.

The dog, however, she did… um… a little less well. The husband and I, you see, we are her pack. He does the morning walk, I do the evening. I feed her, he gives her his breakfast toast crusts. She sleeps on the floor at the foot of our bed. Now, husband travels routinely, so, though the dog spends a part of each day gazing longingly out the window and sniffing at his shoes, she’s used to his vanishment and reappearances. The kids and the dog get on just fine, they play with her, they routinely take her on her short before-bed “pee walk”, but it’s we adults who anchor her doggy world.

So when the both of us leave? When the routines are upset by a teen who, finding himself hauled out of bed at the ungodly hour of SEVEN A.M., and wanting to return to it as quickly as possible, makes the customarily hour-long walk a mere 15-minute farcical shadow of its stress-relieving self? When a night passes, and we’re NOT THERE? (Even though Emma did sleep in our bed so as to keep Indie company.) When, moreover, she* managed to ingest some Christmas candy and had the inevitable barfing/farting/squits? And we were still NOT THERE???

(*Indie the dog, not Emma the 15-year-old human.)

It was just too much for a dog to stand. And how does our beloved canine deal with stress? Well, optimally, walking, but I doubt the kids (particularly Mr. Morning Slug who Didn’t Really Try, ahem) could have kept up to her need. Even though the compassionate Emma, seeing her anxiety, gave her an extra hour-long midday walk on Saturday. NOT ENOUGH!

Failing the healthful stress-release of hours and hours and hours of running?

She chews stuff.

Now, she wasn’t left alone much. There was usually someone (generally Emma) in the house. But Emma had a couple of obligations…

And the sock-monkey suffered.


Remember my Christmas sock-monkey, made for me by my beloved eldest?

Well, now she looks like this:


Severed limbs,

oozing stuffing,

eyeless faces…

It’s a sad and sorry sight.

One which will shortly be remedied. Haley learned to sew from me, after all.

And this morning? The dog got a two-hour run.

December 29, 2008 Posted by | health and safety, my kids, parenting, the dog | , , , , , | 7 Comments

My Christmas gift to you

Are you laughing? Good! That’s your present!
Merry Christmas!

via: Andrew Sullivan

December 25, 2008 Posted by | Christmas, random and odd | , , | 3 Comments

They call this “busy”

1084925_abstract_tree_2I sit at the dining table, chatting with Timmy. Across from me, suddenly, the lights on the Christmas tree go out.

How odd! Oh, but that’s okay. They just came back on.

They go out.
They come back on.
They go out.
They come back on.

I duck my head under the table. Baby Tyler sits on the floor, pressing the pretty red light on the power bar. On! Off! On! Off!

He catches my eye and gives me his full-voltage “I’m-a-charmer” smile. Isn’t that COOL, Mary???

I have a low, handmade babygate across the door to the kitchen. It is low enough that the three-year-olds can step over, but high enough to keep under-threes out. (Homemade, and very sturdy. I once tripped over it, carrying a basket of laundry. My back blew up. The gate held firm.)

I set the gate in place when the three-year-olds need a place to play with their non-baby-friendly toys. The one-year-olds sometimes stand at the gate and talk to their friends on the other side, but they do not cross the gate.

Until Tyler. Who made it across the gate, and into the kitchen. On his face. Ouch.

My iPod is snapped into its spot in the top of the amplifying unit, wafting Christmas music throughout. It only lasts a couple of hours, though. I need to put more music on there.

Except when I go to do that? It’s gone. Gone, gone, gone.

I know who I’m blaming, and I check in all the likely spots. “If I were a busy year-old boy, where would I drop an iPod?” Some of the possibilities are not heartening: down a heat vent, down the back of the couch. Maybe if I follow him around for a day?

The dog has a collar that lights up. (No, really. It has little LED lights on it, so that when we take her to the off-leash park after dark, we can find her. Little LED lights in red, white, yellow, and blue. Lights that blink. Blink in turn, round and round her collar. Red, white, yellow, blue, red, white, yellow, blue. The other dog owners are calling her “Disco Indie”. My husband bought it. Ahem.) It stays turned off in the house, obviously.

Only not these days. Every time I turn around, there is a blinking dog wandering about.

He obviously likes the dog. (A little background for you non-winter types, so I can finish this story: Tiny tot winter boots often have an elastic drawstring at the top, secured with a toggle, which enables a parent to snug the boot up to the child’s leg and prevent snow from getting in and soaking a small foot.)

He obviously likes the dog, I say — emulates her, in fact. Like the dog, Tyler is fascinated by the toggles on the boots. Like the dog, Tyler crawls around with the toggle clenched firmly between his teeth, the boot dangling below his chin, dragging on the floor as he goes.

Tyler’s Boot Relocation Service, I call it. I like it better than his iPod relocation service.

Despite my best efforts (and occasionally due to my lackadaisical ones), our small front hall, over-crowded as it is with winter footwear, is often awash in salty, gritty puddles.

Despite my best efforts (these efforts are never lackadaisical), Tyler will insist on exploring the front hall. Tyler crawls. At least once a week, I have to change him mid-morning because he has soaked up a puddle or three with the knees/shins of his pants. And his slippers. And sometimes, heaven help us, even his socks.

I work until 1:00 today, when I will feed the parents a civilized glass of mulled wine, prior to sending them off to their own festivities. And then, oh, the bliss! I will have a week and a half off. A week to decompress, to clean the house. (Really. It’s a treat to do that with no toddlers underfoot, undoing your work as you go.) A week to let down my guard, to relax the eternal vigilance that caring for Tyler requires.

And when I begin in the New Year, refreshed and invigorated, ready for the next few months of toddler delight and mayhem?

Tyler will be (I would bet good money on this)…

Tyler will be (it’s virtually assured)…

Tyler will be…


Heaven help me.

December 24, 2008 Posted by | Canada, Christmas, health and safety, individuality, Mischief, the dog, Tyler | , , , , , , , | 7 Comments