Thursday, May 31, 2007

Dishwasher Disaster

For a number of years, I prided myself in being able to "fix" my own appliances whenever they were uncooperative. I'd whip out my Reader's Digest "How To Repair..." manual, read over whatever chapter was pertinent to the disaster at hand, grab my toolbox, and TA-DAAHH!! It appeared that the Goddess' luck triumphed over skill... for awhile.

That luck apparently ran out a few years ago, just after Child Number Three (and all of her laundry) appeared on the family scene. One awful day, my washing machine "KA-CHUNKED" to a standstill, and all of the dirty water within leaked out the bottom, completely flooding my laundry room floor. I stood in disbelief for a moment, three crying children at my feet, then officially surrendered and reached for my Yellow Pages.

Enter Kurt, from Oh's Appliance Repair.

Kurt, in my mind today, is right up there with Mr. Clean in the lineup of Top Ten Household Deities. We've been through a lot together. Washing machine floods. Smoking clothes dryers. Microwaves spitting venom. Total freeze-ups of refrigerator units. And today, Kurt spent nearly two frustrating hours fixing my dishwasher.

Last weekend, as you might remember, was the big Third Birthday Party. It was quite the shin-dig, with little people screamin' all over the house and garden, scattering toys and all manner of food particles in their wake. It was a serious challenge to keep up with them-- the dishwasher was loaded, run, and unloaded no less than three times in the duration, and on that last, fatal load... a tiny, pink Arco-Roc juice glass was apparently perilously mis-loaded in the top rack.

Remember Arco-Roc? The "indestructible" glass material, marketed towards housewives that needed product durability, but didn't want to sink to the level of purchasing Tupperware? Well, my mother was One Of Those Housewives. She gifted me an entire set. Turns out, Arco-Roc is NOT indestructible-- just about, but not quite. The trade off IS, that when it DOES destruct, it does so in an explosive fashion, not unlike a fluorescent tube lightbulb.

So, this little Arco-Roc juice glass shattered in the final load of dishwashing, and the tiny, razor-like particles produced in the accident had to be meticulously picked out of the machine by me later that night, using a long pair of tweezers... the painstaking process took until about two o'clock in the morning.

I honestly thought I had gotten it all. I swear to God. I even used a flashlight.

But, the next day, no sooner had I turned on the dishwasher, TERRIBLE GRINDING SOUNDS ensued... And I knew that I was in deep, deep trouble. Because the only thing that my kids produce on a massive scale, besides laundry... are dirty dishes.

Kurt arrived this morning, early for the appointment we had set. Good thing, too, because it took him the first half hour to pick MORE glass out of the food grinder of the dishwasher, once he had taken the whole thing apart. He figured that that was it, put the sucker back together again, and pushed the "start" button, to show me the miracle he had wrought.

More monster noises ensued from the machine.

Kurt rolled up his sleeves again.

This time, I asked if he could SHOW me how to take the dishwasher apart. Smiling, he replied NO, because he figured that if he showed me the tricks of the trade, he'd be out of a job (suffice to say that since the birth of Child Number Three and the vaporization of all my "spare time" during which I used to try to fix things, Kurt has been put on the speed-dial of our telephone).

I got to hold the flashlight.

This time, he was able to remove about half a dozen juice-box straws from the mechanism BELOW the food grinder. He solemnly handed them to me. I laughed nervously, as he put everything back together a second time.

And yet, the sounds of a gargoyle being slowly strangled rang out, as soon as the dishwasher was turned on.

Round three. This time, he went venturing into the dishwasher pump. As he struggled with his ratchet tool, I jokingly asked him what the weirdest thing he had ever pulled out of a dishwasher was.

Kurt: (holding up a tiny, white object between his thumb and first finger) Well, I'd say that THIS pretty much tops the list.

It was a human tooth. A baby molar, if you all must know.

I was dumbstruck. Dumbstruck and MORTIFIED. Dumbstruck, mortified with MORE than a touch of cold, blinding panic mixed in... because discarded body parts are NEVER good things to let tradespeople discover in the bowels of your major household appliances.

Kurt just about bust a gut laughing at the look on my face. Between his guffaws, he put the machine back together one last time, and promised not to sick the authorities on me. I paid his bill, saw him to the door, and he saluted me on the way out with a jaunty call of, "See ya next time!!"

Oh. My. God.

Somewhere in my memory there is a vague recollection of one of Child Number One's baby teeth going missing before the Tooth Fairy got a chance to get her little mitts on it... I'm pretty sure we had to write a note, explaining the situation. What MUST have happened was, the tooth was put up for safe-keeping in a Very Special Place until bedtime... and that Special Place was so Special, WE forgot where it was.

I WONDER... if perhaps, it was plonked into a little pink Arco-Roc juice glass, and inadvertently shoved to the back of the kitchen cabinet??

Talk about something coming back to bite you...

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

"Emily Yeung" has driven me to...

Extra-large gin and tonic, heavy on the Bombay Gin, light on the tonic, with a slice of lime.


WHO did it??!!

Drat that Emily Yeung.

You know that spunky, sparky little girl on Treehouse TV-- the one in the orange shirt, always trying out funky new activities, and as precocious as the day is long?

Yeah, her.

Well, I'm here to tell you that she's living a double life, people. And the other half of that cute-as-a-button little twerp is wreaking havoc right here in my house.

It's hard to believe, actually. I mean, come ON. Filming that series must take up the majority of her time. There would hardly be any spare moments for academic study (not that she needs any-- she clearly knows it all), or even for sitting in front of the mirror at night, jamming her fingers into those mega-dimples of hers, just to make sure she never misplaces them...

But, there MUST be more than 24 hours in a day for Emily Yeung, there just has to be-- otherwise she would NEVER have the time to get up to the kinds of mischief I am assured she does, right here under my own roof, on a daily basis. Sometimes SEVERAL times a day, in fact.

It all started when Child Number Three began to speak in full sentences. No sooner had she learned to RESPOND to questions, the questions that other family members ASKED most frequently seemed to begin with the same word: WHO.

"WHO took my toothbrush and dropped it in the toilet??!!"

"WHO drew on my barbie doll's face with red marker??!!"

"WHO emptied the sugar bowl onto the kitchen floor??!!"

"WHO buggered up my computer????!!!!!!"

Well, the answer to ALL of these questions and MORE was simple, according to my youngest daughter:

"Maybe E'mmy Yeung did it!!"

Child Number Three began making this prophetic statement initially with a look of innocent, wide-eyed wonder on her face... as though she could hardly believe that her televisual heroine could transcend the Treehouse Channel and take time out of her busy life to terrorize our home. But, as time went by, and Emily was named as the main suspect for more and more criminal activity around here, Wee Three's accompanying facial expression changed to one of deep seriousness. Her verdict was made with concentrated certainty. Most recently, she has begun slowly shaking her curly little head as she says the words, as though she is imagining the terrible fate that Emily would have to endure, should she ever be caught in the act by me, Mother Of All Mothers and Domestic Goddess.

Emily Yeung was going to catch it in the neck if she was ever caught pilfering chocolate chips, and then wiping the residual hand-stickiness on the white wainscoting in the hallway. She was going to be sent packing if she was discovered fingerpainting with leftover hotdog mustard on the kitchen floor. The police might have to be called if she were found to be stirring the cat's litterbox with a wooden spoon. And as for adventures with mud and the garden hose in the newly manicured garden?? Forget about it. It would be GAME OVER for Emily.

I wish I could catch her in the act. Just once. Then there would be considerably fewer "WHO??" questions around here, and more WHATs, instead... As in, "WHAT AM I GOING TO DO ABOUT THIS KID??!!"

I've got a pretty good idea WHAT, too. For starters, I'd glue the little culprit's behind to a time-out chair for so long, she'd miss at least a month or two of taping that television show of hers.

Come on, nobody'd really miss her.

Especially since I've got another little girl, recently turned three, who would just LOVE to be her understudy for awhile....

In the Most Delightful Way...

Overheard this afternoon, in accompaniment to a Mary Poppins video:

Child Number Three: (singing her little heart out) 'Spoonful of sugar helps the ELEPHANTS go DOWN!

Monday, May 28, 2007

Who's your favourite??!!

Overheard after dinner this evening: Three girlies and their Dad.

Child Number Three: I wuv you, Daddy.

Father: Aaaawwww... You're officially my FAVOURITE CHILD.

Child Number One: I love you, too, Daddy... AND... I'll rub your feet for you!!

Father: Wow!! New favourite child!! YOU win!!

Child Number Two: (clearly revolted) Eeeewwww!! I'm sure glad I'M not your favourite...

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Happy Birthday, Wee Three...

"A daughter is the happy memories of the past, the joyful moments of the present, and the hope and promise of the future."

Child Number Three: (sleepily) Dis was the bestest birfday I NEVER had!!!

Friday, May 25, 2007

Strawberry Strychnine...

Tomorrow is Child Number Three's third birthday!!

It's so hard for me to get my head around the fact that the little critter is growing up so fast; that the time has gone by SO quickly.

Although she is very tiny of stature, my youngest child has no problem articulating her wants and needs, loudly and clearly, whenever she wants or needs something. Today, while we were preparing for her party, which will be held on Saturday afternoon, she came to a decision on the theme she would like.

Guess what it is?

"Stwabewwy Showt-cake!!"

That's Strawberry Shortcake, for all of you out there who don't speak pre-schooleeze.

The kicker is, the one thing in this life that I am absolutely, deathly allergic to is strawberries. Strawberry Shortcake, in spite of all her annoying cuteness, might as well be the Grim Reaper, or the Angel of Death to me.

But, it's what she wants, people, so what else can I do? I dutifully set off to our fabulous local dollar store, where we purchased hats, plates, cups, banners, blowers, napkins-- you name it!!-- all adorned with the mug of this deadly little dolly.

Oh, well. It could be worse. If she had chosen a "Barney" theme, I would have perished instantaneously from a fatal brain aneurysm brought on by severe loathing. At least with Strawberry Shortcake, there's always an Epipen around to save me.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Tumble-down trauma...

We were running late yesterday at lunchtime, and hurried out to the car in order to pick up Child Number Two at kindergarten.

"Don't run in your crocs-- they're still a little too big for you!!" I hollered after Child Number Three, who was barrelling top-speed down the path towards the driveway.

Too late.

She tripped, and neatly face-planted onto the pavement, scraping up her poor little hands and knees.

As we were already late, and the kindergarten teacher firmly frowns upon parents who are so much as one nano-second tardy for pick-up time, I cuddled the still-weeping two-year-old into her carseat, cleaned her scrapes with a couple of diaper wipes, and promised band-aids once we returned home with her sister.

Child Number Two was FULL of sympathy when she heard of the accident, held her sister's hand and made soothing promises of TLC all the way home in the car. She promised to dab on the Polysporin and bandage the knees herself (boy, that kid is great in a crisis, so long as she isn't actually the CAUSE for a change). Child Number Three immediately calmed right down, satisfied that she would be extremely well cared for and coddled for the remainder of the afternoon.

As we were going through the door and heading towards the kitchen, Child Number Two requested the massive first aid kit that I keep up on a high shelf. I handed her the box, and told her to be careful...

Child Number Two: (awed by the responsibility) Wow!! Look at ME!! It's like... I'm her personal VETERINARIAN, or something!!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Ready and Waiting...

Child Number Two, age six, has her very first loose tooth!!

The great discovery was made on the patio, after school, while she was eating a popsicle... She felt something "weird" in her mouth, reached in, gave a wiggle... and sure enough, one of those little choppers wiggled back.

Ecstatic, she immediately insisted on calling her father at the office... And bless him, he extricated himself from an important meeting to congratulate her. The telephone was then handed to me.

Father: So!! Big news!!

Mother: Yessiree, she's been waiting for this for a LONG time.

Father: She seems awfully excited.

Mother: Well, COME ON, Dad, there's CASH involved, here.

Father: Yeah. She apparently figures that thirty-five dollars would be a fair trade... She mentioned that she still owes you five dollars, though, so she said that she'll settle for thirty.

Mother: (spluttering) THIRTY DOLLARS??!! (Recovering from initial shock) Interesting how she's choosing to negotiate with YOU. Shouldn't she be writing to the TOOTH FAIRY about all this??!

Well, that Tooth Fairy had better be made of tough stuff if she's planning on entering into negotiations with Child Number Two, that's all I can say. And it wouldn't hurt if she was made of money, as well...

Monday, May 21, 2007

Sunday, May 20, 2007

First things, first...

No sooner had I dragged our bags across the threshold of my childhood home, my own children dropped everything and headed back out to the car.

Child Number One: C'MON, MUM!! First things, first!! YOU know where you want to go!!

Child Number Two: (pumping the air with her little fists) Yeah, Mum!! Hurry up!! YOU KNOW THE DRILL!!

Child Number Three: CHOCK-LIT SHOP!!! CHOCK-LIT SHOP!!!

Yes, The Quest was on... for Chocolate Barr's.

Chocolate Barr's is, bar none, the best chocolate in the entire universe. Mr. Barr was trained by another great Canadian chocolate maker, Mr. Rheo Thompson himself, and three years ago set up his own business, using the wonderful original recipes he had learned at Rheo's side.

This ain't just any chocolate, people. This is the kind of hand-dipped perfection that makes you want to collapse on the floor and roll around for awhile, it tastes so incredibly good. It's what my husband calls "food sex".

The girls and I stormed Chocolate Barr's and left with enormous shopping bags full of treats... Mint Melties (my favourites), chocolate covered sponge toffee (for Child Number One), chocolate covered pretzels (for Child Number Two), chocolate on a stick (for the amazingly messy Child Number Three... ANYTHING to keep her hands out of it). Best of all, we bought a bag of "Mistakes". I LOVE the bags of "imperfect" chocolates, which they sell at a discount simply because they look a little funny. Funny, because they seem pretty darned perfect to ME...

Our tradition once we have left the shop is to collapse on the nearest park bench and TUCK IN. Which we did. We didn't stop eating until Child Number One announced that she was beginning to feel "profoundly unwell"...

Sticky, on a sugar high, and immensely happy, we headed back to the car.

Mother: (slightly worried about the upholstery) Everybody feeling okay for the drive back to the house?

Child Number One: (clearly recovered) Oh, YES, Mummy... NOW can we go to the Chuck Wagon for those really good FRENCH FRIES??!

Ooouufff... It's great to be Home.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Heaven. I'm Home.

The girlies and I have returned to my roots... We are spending the weekend in my parents' house, which is the same house in which I spent my entire childhood. Mum and Dad are in Europe, and a few days ago I received a phonecall from one of their neighbours... it seems that a storm passed through town on Tuesday, badly damaging the trees and disrupting electricity on the street. So, we're here to help with the clean-up, but mostly to enjoy a quiet weekend in this beautiful town, in the house that I know by heart.

I think I'm probably one of few people who spent their whole childhood in just one place... Most of my friends cannot believe that my mother and father have been in the same house for over forty years. I guess it's part of the "small town" thing, and also has a great deal to do with the fact that my father's line of work (medicine) did not necessitate hauling the family from pillar-to-post for the sake of forwarding his career.

For this, I am incredibly grateful. Although I do confess to strange pangs of nerves, and even the occasional unpleasant childhood "flashback" as I drive through the city limits each time I visit (not often enough, according to my mother, and I confess that it's true), it never fails that the initial unpleasant feelings give way to a sense of deep peace as I step over the threshold of the house where I grew up.

Child Number One: (smiling and sniffing) I love Gramma and Grampa's house. It smells nice.

Child Number Two: Yup. It feels like they're still here. Whaddaya think it smells like?

Mother: (closing her eyes) It smells like Home.

It's wonderful to be back. We miss The Folks, but actually, it's more relaxing to be on our own... to do what we like WHEN we like, make messes, and not worry about the stress we might be causing them... My kids are playing with the same toys I played with as a child, I've been stopped on the street to chat with people who have known me since I was "this high!", and I've been wandering through all my old stomping grounds... the parks, the schools, the church where my husband and I were married...

My parents have been nurturing an enormous garden here for nearly half a century, and it's just beginning to bloom. This morning, I'm going to mow the lawns, do a little pruning and weeding, and watch the Two Year Old ride in circles on the tricycle that I used to peddle around the patio. It's weird to see history repeating itself, but also strangely reassuring. I'm so grateful to have this house to come home to, and parents who are able to continue to maintain and enjoy the place where they have spent nearly all of their married life.

Not very many people are this lucky. But I'm deeply thankful that we are.

A Royal Announcement

Ladies and Gentlemen, my I present my newest favourite online comic strip:

The New Adventures of Queen Victoria

I am a comic-a-holic. I subscribe to MANY online comic websites, and can't start my morning until I've got my coffee AND my comics in front of me... My "favourites" list is crammed full of more comic sites than blog sites, and I even have some of them emailed to me... It's a sickness, I know.

Whilst surfing those sites, I found Queen Victoria. Maybe it's just my own British, Fawlty-Towers-esque family background coming into play, but I can tell you that I haven't laughed this hard in a VERY long time.

This weekend, which is Victoria Day holiday weekend, The New Adventures of Queen Victoria will begin publishing daily on I highly recommend beginning your day with five minutes of laughter-- it helps to take the "edge" off of the getting-the-kids-out-the-door-on-time routine!

God Save The New Adventures of Queen Victoria!

FINALLY, my university education in British History is coming in handy... My parents will be SO thrilled...

Friday, May 18, 2007

Victoria Day... Getting Away

Well, we're doing it again, folks!

We're packing up the girlies and heading off to my childhood home for the Victoria Day Weekend. Lots to do around here before we set off... I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

It's Allergy Season Again!!!

This morning before setting off to school, I was frantically trying to catch up on emails and downing my second cup of coffee when Child Number Two appeared at my elbow.

Child Number Two: (snuffling) Bubby, by eyes are all itchy, and by nozzles are stuffed up. Can I hab by bedicine?

Mother: Your NOSTRILS are stuffed up, not nozzles. We are not a garden hose. Come on, I'll get you some Claritin...

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Two Year Old Terrorist...

It's been a BUSY day around here... but no one has been more busy than the resident Two Year Old, let me tell you.

She made her rounds of the puddle-splashing circuit on her way to and from school. She attempted to "share" her chocolate chip cookie snack with our two guinea pigs. She ate her alphabet soup, letter by letter, with her fingers at lunchtime. She pilfered her older sister's makeup bag, twisted up all the lip glosses, and then jammed the tops back on, just to see what would happen. She sneaked into the bathroom, turned on the faucets, and tried to make "boats" out of individual squares of toilet paper... which, of course, sank, clogged the drain, and overflowed the sink by the time she was discovered. She "flew" her toy bunny rabbit over the banister in the upstairs hallway, knocking a Chinese lamp off of a table on the main floor. For her final act this afternoon, she found three contrabanned markers, and drew a large "mural" on the wall.

Tonight, she accidentally-on-purpose tipped over her "goodnight" glass of milk onto the kitchen table and began to "finger paint" with it...

Child Number Three: (Innocently, hoping cuteness will diffuse Mother's Reaction) I fink I needs a BABY SIPPY CUP...

Mother: (Through clenched teeth) YOU, my little friend, need a TRANQUILIZER DART.

Head vs. Heart

Yesterday, I somehow managed to use my pent-up negative energy (stemming from the general ickiness I feel just before an upcoming thunderstorm) for "good". Well, I know in my HEAD that it was "good", but my heart hasn't quite figured this out yet.

After eleven years of raising small children, I have finally given in to what my BRAIN has known for two years, and have rounded up all of our baby equipment, ready to tote it off to the re-sale shop. It's all sitting in the trunk of the loser cruiser, right now. Just waiting for the final drive to Hand-Me-Downs.

Here's the thing: for some reason, the act of releasing all of the things I have lovingly collected over the past decade feels like MORE of a closure to the decision my husband and I made a few years ago than any medical intervention could.

Why is that??!!

And what's more, why is the act of getting rid of the baby stuff so gut-wrenching for me??!!

It's just STUFF, after all. All replaceable, should the need ever arise (and both my head--and my husband-- assure me that it WON'T).

Why can't I stand the thought of parting with things that we are DONE with?

Well, of course, the obvious reason is the memories associated with it all. I can still picture my first-born nestled into the infant sling. My second-born wailing away in the swing, while I frantically attempted to throw ingredients together for dinner. My last-born staring wide-eyed at me as I gently shook rattles to entertain her.

But, I have kept one small box of the "important" stuff... the favourite rattles, tiny books and dolls that my girls might like to have for their own children someday...

It's the "heart" response I'm having trouble with, clearly. I love babies, and no matter how sleep-deprived and blues-y I may have felt when each of my three girls were born, the baby-hood experiences in no way diminished the feelings I had of absolute, besotted, infant-adoration. Each time was the best time of my life.

My heart is finally clueing-in today that this part of my life as a mother is over.

And the heart is not happy about it.

Not. At. All.

My head knows that it's time to be done, though. My head knows that while the capacity to love grows each time a new baby is born, the ability to spend quality time with each child-- to give the very BEST of yourself to each child-- diminishes a little bit. I absolutely know that I am at the point where I have some balance in our family. The girlies are getting a little bigger, and a little more independent. And I'm FINALLY becoming able to make sure that each of them gets an equal part of me.

My head also knows that we have simply GOT to get the baby stuff out of here, or this house is going to explode. Growing girls need more grown-up things. And the more they grow, the less space we seem to have around here.

My husband wisely says that I need to learn to look at situations like this as POSITIVE change. He says that the world is finally starting to open up to us again, now that the family is complete, and the girls are becoming old enough for us to give them new experiences, take them to explore new places, and do more things.

He also says that I should be feeling happy to be "getting my life back" a little.

Well, I suppose all that's true. But today, I don't feel happy. Today, I feel strangely mournful, even though I know we have made the right decision, a decision that I am not going to regret.

Because for more than a decade, these little girls HAVE been my life. And I love my life. I just don't want it to.. slip through my fingers... QUITE so quickly....

Arrrgggghhh.... Okay, I'm trying...

And now, the weather forecast, brought to you by the Domestic Goddess:

Goddess: (cheerily, whilst holding a large ice pack to forehead and generally looking like Death Warmed-Over) Well, we've had a DOOZIE of a low pressure system move through the area, producing thunder and lightning storms, hail the size of golf balls, and killer headaches for all the women within a reasonable radius of the storm centre!! Today's outlook, more of the same, everybody, so get set for waves of migraine-related nausea, irritability brought on by whiny, bored children, and exhaustion due to the wiping up of muddy footprints trekked all over the house.

This report has been brought to you by the friendly, God-sent people at Advil.

Monday, May 14, 2007

All Systems Go for Monday Morning...

This morning, Child Number Two, aged six, straggled down to breakfast later than usual. After a very full weekend, which included her very first sleep-over and a LOT of swimming in the newly-filled pool, she was clearly exhausted.

I watched her oddly subdued behavior as she struggled through her honey nut cheerios, leaving more than half a bowl uneaten when she asked to be excused. I was downright worried when I did not hear the usual strains of bickering upstairs at the time when she is usually voraciously annoying her older sister.

When the older sister arrived downstairs with her backpack a good five minutes early, hair and teeth brushed and face shining, I questioned her as to Child Number Two's general well-being...

Mother: Hey, you look great! Listen, I'm worried about your sister. She's just WAAYY too quiet this morning. You think she'll be okay at school today?

Child Number One: Well, if it makes you feel any better, she just walked into my bedroom a minute ago and called me a hu-normous stinky poo-poo head.

Mother: Oh, well, then. She MUST be okay. Thanks for the info.

Child Number One: No problem.

Thank God. It's business as usual around here...

Saturday, May 12, 2007

The Great Mother

Mother's Day should come more often.

I'm not talking about the overly commercialized, sugary sweet, flower-filled consumer extravaganza that North American Mother's Day has become.

I'm talking about a day that comes around more regularly... say, every couple of months, where mothers and their children take time out, and make an extra special effort to appreciate and enjoy one another.

I love Mother's Day. I love that the kids make an effort to do something nice to make me happy. Their hand made cards, macaroni necklaces, and decorated picture frames are treasures that I value more highly than diamonds. I love that they are at home with me, with no interruptions from playdates and extra curricular activities. A stroll around the pond, then pushing my girlies on the swings at the park is a more appealling adventure to me than a grand tour of Europe. It's an opportunity for me to deliberately try to cement in my long-term memory the delightful little people that my three children truly are.

Little girls are little for such a terribly short period of time... Today, I'm going to savour every minute of it.

On Motherhood...

Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.
--Elizabeth Stone

Friday, May 11, 2007

The Princess of Dairy Queen

Today was a BIG day for the resident two-year-old.

After taking part in the fundraising walk for our local hospital, I treated her to a Dairy Queen ice cream cone. She likes the chocolate dipped kind. Actually, she usually just picks off the chocolate, and lets her old mum finish the rest... Except for the cone part. She likes the cone, too. Let's just say that if it weren't for the ice cream, she'd really enjoy the Dairy Queen Experience.

TODAY, however, she ate the whole ice cream cone. Right down to the very last drip. It was VERY impressive, considering that the thing had been nearly as tall as she was...

Mother: Well! You didn't enjoy THAT at all, did you??!!

Child Number Three: Yup!! None for you, Mum!!

Thank God... because bathing suit season is just around the corner...

Let All The Women Say:


Thursday, May 10, 2007

Gonna getcha...

By one o'clock this afternoon, Child Number Three had blown through her THIRD outfit. Yes, folks, the two year old can turn on the garden hose all by herself, now! You should have SEEN the enormous mud puddles she produced today. Annoyingly, she HATES the feeling of damp clothes against her skin, and protests loudly until she is completely cleaned and dried... only to sneak back to the hose for more.

Well, by one o'clock, The Goddess had had enough. Mt. Washmore was nearly touching the ceiling of the laundry room as it was. The Puddle Producer had to be stopped.

Mother: (looking kid straight in the eye) Okay, these are the LAST CLEAN CLOTHES. You go near that hose again, kiddo, and I'm gonna squash you like a bug!! GOT IT??!!

Child Number Three: (smiling sweetly) Nope!!

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Found today

Look what Child Number One found today!!

I have been searching my whole life for one of these... and have never actually SEEN one, let alone found one myself. Child Number One was strolling on the field at her school during recess today, looked down, and... there it was, looking up at her.

She asked me if this means that she will have a wish granted. I told her that she should look at it as what I like to call a "God Wink"... and it means that she is very, very special.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Bought today

Today, after a long discussion about garden pest control with my friend Bill from Sheridan Nurseries, I found myself bringing home a Praying Mantis egg case.

Am I nuts??!!

I am not a bug person. I am a bug SPRAY person. Forget the "Off", bring on the "F-Off", I always say.

So why on earth have I brought home a tiny brown pod that I have been assured will eventually hatch up to 400 of these creepy crawly green things??!

Well, because Bill from Sheridan Nurseries says that hatching them will be an excellent scientific experience for my children to witness.

I'm all over that.

But, most importantly, Bill assured me that Praying Mantes are the ultimate garden predator. These little feckers annihilate aphids, beetles, flies, mosquitoes, moths, caterpillars, and just about any other pesky bug they can catch. They've got Serious Attitude, and I have to admit that I respect that in an insect.

Apparently, The Hatching will occur by June, and once I've got a couple of hundred creepy little critters in the bug case I blew twelve bucks on at Toys'r'Us, I can release them into my garden. They are apparently very territorial, and will stick around (forgive the pun) long enough to reproduce, and protect my precious plants from all oncoming enemies (I'm assuming, so long as said enemies are not larger than the Praying Mantis itself).

Hey, if they're game, I'm game.

Now I'll just have to work on my involuntary reaction to SWAT all things small and crawly that come at me whilst in the great outdoors...

New Mantra:

Buuuuugggggsssss are beauuuuuuutiful... Buuuuggggssss are beauuuuuuutiful... Buuuggg....


You think it'll work??!!

The Tinkerbelle Tree

Today, I spent a very pleasant morning strolling around my favourite nursery, looking for the newest addition to our garden.

Every year, I try and add one tree to our large lot... We have an older property, and were told when we first moved here that the basic plantings were original to the house. The real estate agent wasn't fibbing, either-- we had enormous, overgrown juniper bushes, wild and tangled half-dead purple-leaf sandcherry trees, out-of-control yews... Over the past few years, as my children have gotten a little bigger and able to amuse themselves while I work, I have taken on the Hurculean task of taming it all. At first, gardening seemed like just one long slog, a nasty chore. But as I ripped things out, got sight of some soil, and began churning it up... my love of gardening slowly began to grow.

It started, of course, from the fact that there's nothing like a little destruction to alleviate pent-up frustrations. And boy, was I frustrated... I had just given birth to my third child, my husband had started his own company, and it felt like we had more duties, responsibilities and expenses than we knew how to handle.

Digging helped. Every night after dinner, once the two eldest children were safely in bed, I would hand the baby over to my husband as he walked in the door, put on my grubbies and grab a gardening fork. By the time the sun set and I could no longer see what I was digging, I was filthy and sore... but strangely serene. Digging became "me time", when I could think my own thoughts, get a little exercise, and enjoy the satisfaction that I was in the process of creating something beautiful.

Once the beds were dug and an enormous bag of topsoil had been worked in, I realized that there wasn't much more that I would be able to do without the aid of... Power Tools.

My gardening obsession reached a whole new level once I embraced the world of power tools. The electric hedge trimmer, the gas powered weed whacker... But what I REALLY needed was a chain saw. Not a BIG chain saw, I told my husband, just a little one-- tiny, really. Just enough power to start hacking out the nastiest of the junipers, and the weirdest, deadest sandcherry trees...

My request (as a Mother's Day gift, actually) was firmly denied. My husband knows me too well-- he was convinced, after seeing the enormous bags of clippings I had produced with the hedge trimmer one particular week, that if I were ever to get my hands on even the smallest chain saw whilst on one of my pms benders, I could do serious damage not only to myself, but also to other people. As in, loved ones. Specifically, himself.

So, I approached my father for support. He is the ultimate gadget collector-- if there's a weird appliance on the market, he's either bought it, or is in the process of phoning around to all the merchants within a reasonable radius of his home to find out who's got it for sale for the least amount of money.

He was nearly apoplectic in his response. No chain saw for HIS daughter, No Sir. Being a physician, he tried to scare me off by telling tales of re-attaching severed body parts.


So, I started collecting hand saws instead. I'm a right sight for the neighbours to see, sallying forth, loaded with lethal-looking weapons of mass destruction... It sometimes takes hours and hours, but slowly I've sawed most of the Major Uglies out of the garden. Then, instead of hauling the roots out with a wynch, I drill a few holes in the stump with my new friend, the cordless power drill, and inject a stump-rotting solution. After one winter, the area is ready for new planting.

But back to the tree. Today, I felt our garden was ready for a new tree to take the place of an unfortunate sandcherry I attacked last spring. Above, you can see a picture of what I chose. It's called a "Tinkerbelle" Dwarf Lilac... As my good friend, Bill from Sheridan Nurseries, steered me around the tree lot, I caught sight of the beautiful lilacs, full of buds, just about ready to bloom. This colour was the prettiest, and when I saw "Tinkerbelle" on the tag, I knew it was the tree for us. The girlies are delighted with it. I've put it right next to the bed where all our lillies of the valley and violets come up in spring. It's going to smell heavenly out there next year. I can just see the little girls playing on a blanket spread out on the grass...

The kiss of the sun for pardon,
The song of the birds for mirth,--
One is nearer God's heart in a garden
Than anywhere else on earth.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Oh, yeah...

The weather is grand, the kids are home, we're frolicking in the garden all day... The laundry is nearly done, the house is clean enough, and there's steak to barbeque for dinner...

Does life get any better than this?!


We love you, Ferris!!

The Goddess Declares...


"Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it."

Ferris Bueller, you're my hero...

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Bought today... Souveniers from Ottawa

Well, some buy little Canadian Flag Pins, some bring home incredible amounts of Maple Syrup... You'd think that I'd at least have visited the Tulip Festival Tent and purchased samples of my favourite bulbs...

But, NO. Hey, I gotta be me, people!

Here's what I bought:

Mister Rogers In Your Pocket Keychain... this thing is The Bomb-- it stops my kids dead in their tracks!! Especially useful in potential tantrum situations...

It says six different things:

* Please won't you be my neighbor?
* Discovering truth will make me free.
* I like you just the way you are.
* I think I'll make a snappy new day .
* It's a beautiful day in this neighborhood; A beautiful day for a neighbor.
* Do you ever talk about love with somebody you care for? I hope you do.

Poor old Fred is probably rolling over in his grave, but we love it for all the RIGHT reasons...

And, here is my new t-shirt (approved by my husband):

Not far off, let me tell you, after five hours in the car with three kids...

We're home, everybody, now someone make Mummy a martini!! Or two, or three...

Saturday, May 5, 2007

The Famous Five... Plus Three

Today, we again ventured up to Parliament Hill. I wanted to show my girls one monument in particular... the wonderful statues of The Famous Five. It was hard to explain to my three daughters that less than one hundred years ago in this country, women were not considered "persons" in the eyes of the law. They were absolutely incredulous when I explained to them that this meant that women used to have limited opportunities and rights, and were considered inferior to men.

Father: (JOKING) Yeah, THOSE were the days...

Child Number One: (NOT JOKING) Well, Dad, without women there would BE NO MEN.

Together, we read the plaque that lists the names Emily Murphy, Henrietta Muir Edwards, Louise McKinney, Nellie McClung and Irene Parlby, and describes how on Oct. 18, 1929, they won a landmark court ruling that recognized women as "persons", allowing women to sit the Senate.

I lined the girls up in front of the statue and took a photo of all of them-- the Famous Five, along with My Three... girls whom I hope will always appreciate the many rights and freedoms that they enjoy. Girls who, I'm sure, will live rich, full lives and achieve their individual potentials because of it.

Thank you, Emily, Henrietta, Louise, Nellie and Irene, from My Three Girls and Me.

Friday, May 4, 2007

Peace Tower Tale...

Tonight, after we had finished dinner, we strolled down towards the Parliament Buildings. We wanted to see the Hill in all its glory, in the evening twilight.

As we walked up the steps towards the base of the Peace Tower, I pointed up above the ornately carved front archway, and tried to direct the children's attention to all of the gargoyles... My favourite section of the Tower is just above the arch, underneath the huge window, where there is a magnificent beaver, fiercely bearing his front teeth, and holding a shield.

Children One and Three both quickly caught sight of him, and laughed delightedly. Child Number Two, however, appeared to be unable to follow the direction in which my finger was pointing.

After a good five minutes of trying, I became exasperated, positioned her head, and pointed upwards once more.

Mother: LOOK. Look UP THERE. THERE!! The beaver!! And his teeth!! Holding the shield!! THERE!!!

Child Number Two: (enormously disappointed) Oh, THAT. I thought you meant a REAL beaver...

Thank goodness she later spotted REAL groundhogs cavorting all over the Hill's front lawns, or the evening would have apparently been a COMPLETE dead loss...

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Anaphylactic Antics

On all of our long car trips in this country, the resounding cry between my husband and myself has always been, "Thank God for Tim-Jeezely-Hortons!!"

Let's face it. There are uppers in that coffee. It is simply not possible that a couple of large double-doubles and a walnut crunch should be enough sustenance to fuel a man to drive from Vancouver to Edmonton, practically non-stop, in under twelve hours... which, not too many years ago, my husband did. Yes, Tim's is the driver's best friend, without a doubt, and a good thing, too-- there are plenty of kilometers to cover in this great stretch of a country of ours.

Today, we faced the drive to Ottawa with great fortitude, and with faith that Tim's would, once again, see us through. Tim would help make the unbearable five hour journey with children, bearable. Oh, yes, the girlies love Tim, too-- they all have, right from an early age. One of Child Number One's very first requests was for a "Horton", which was her way of asking for a timbit... Child Number Three has coined the term "fuffin" for this miniature delicacy.

So, when the cries from the back seat became more than the adults could bear this afternoon, my husband and I began looking for the familiar red-and-white road signs that would guide us to Horton Heaven.

We ordered, among other items, a box of 20 assorted timbits, which was attacked by the children with their usual ferocious glee. Once the kids had had their fill, I chose one of the remaining bits from the bottom of the box-- sour cream glazed are my favourites.

It wasn't till I'd put the timbit into my mouth and chewed a few times that a strange taste sensation hit me... Something tasted not quite "vanilla", but rather... fruity. My mind clicked-- and the panic hit me.

I couldn't keep chewing... I had to get the taste out of my mouth... because the one thing I am deathly allergic to is the common strawberry. All red berries, actually. I'm not talking just-a-few-hives allergic, people, I'm talking about emergency-tracheotomy allergic. I shouted to my eldest daughter to run to the car for my medicine, and was luckily able to get it into my system before any symptoms of serious reaction started. Thank heavens, the worst that happened was a headache and a wicked case of heartburn. I'm a little itchy this evening, but I'm just so happy to be sitting in a hotel and not a hospital room, I am putting up with the scratching without any complaints!!

My question is, when the hell did Tim decide to start sneaking red berries into the sour cream timbits?! Nobody told ME about it, I have never heard of such a thing. I know to stay away from what Child Number Two calls the "squeezy" variety of timbit-- you know, the ones with the fruity jam inside them... I won't go into why she calls them "squeezy" tonight. But, nobody warned me that my favourite variety might be booby-trapped.

I am an Adult. I take responsibility for my own allergy. I don't go charging into restaurants like a maniac waving a medic-alert bracelet, but couldn't Tim's have WARNED US that their strawberry season had started early this year??! Or were they just too overwhelmed with promoting their Triple Chocolate Sensation campaign?

Well, it was an eventful way to start off the "holiday weekend", that's for sure. Nothing like a good panic to give you a little cardio workout and raise the ol' blood pressure a bit...

Oh, well. The hotel is lovely, the kids are all asleep (for now), and we're anticipating a good day at the Tulip Festival on Friday.

And Tim? Hope you don't mind, buddy, but we'll be finding another place to have lunch tomorrow.

Tiptoe-ing off to Ottawa

Well, we're going to brave another family holiday, folks... We're packing up the kids and heading to Ottawa to see the Tulip Festival this weekend.

Anyone out there who has ever travelled with small children knows that vacations are not exactly RESTFUL for the adults of the group... but that is certainly not to say that, overall, it is not an enjoyable experience. That is, for NORMAL families.

Our family holidays are never "normal". They are, to put it mildly and politely, slightly more challenging than the average. In fact, I am absolutely dumbfounded that I am feeling brave enough to embark on this trip, after what happened last time...

In my family, it seems that it is impossible for us to go away for a "vacation" without something going terribly, horribly wrong while we are gone. Usually the wrong has to do with health... In March, we attempted to go to Florida for ten days, where, on the second day, my husband suffered an acute kidney stone attack (actually, there is no such thing as a NON-acute kidney stone attack, as it turns out). After $5000 worth of treatment, he was discharged from hospital. The pain he endured made it necesary for him to be looped on Vicodin for the entire trip, and he recovered just in time for the plane ride home. After nine days of nursing the invalid, while at the same time single-handedly steering my kids through every major attraction, Disney and otherwise, it was ME who needed the narcotics, let me assure you.

The "holiday" before that, we stayed at a swanky resort in Northern Ontario, where the entire family succumbed to a gastrointestinal bug that made the Norwalk Virus look like mild indigestion. We suffered four days, saw a brief window in the barfing, loaded everyone into the car, and shot for home. It took nearly three weeks to get over the bug entirely. Naturally, WHO do you think wound up being sickest... luckily, after everyone else had recovered enough to get up off of the bathroom floor?! The Goddess Was DOWN, people, and it wasn't pretty, let me tell you...

I won't go on about our family holiday history, you wouldn't believe it if I told you. Suffice it to say, if there are germs, we get them. If there are riots, we land right in the middle of them. We've been through almost every possible disastrous situation you can imagine... and actually, I am hard pressed to anticipate any new possibilities... I could write one of those "How To Survive" manuals, and instruct people how to do it all, WITH KIDS.

I'm scared, friends... terrified of what this little jaunt to the Nation's Capital will bring... Will it be an asthma attack of epic proportions, brought on by the tulip pollen? Will we be stampeded by anti-Harper demonstrations? Will the hotel have burned to the ground by the time we enter the city limits?? Will we even MAKE IT to the city limits??!!

And yet, I continue to Hope For The Best, whilst Bracing For The Worst... I find it nearly impossible to believe that the weather forecast is perfect, the hotel reservations are confirmed, the bags are nearly packed, and my husband has just gone out to clean the van and fill it with gasoline... We should be ready to leave as soon as we have sprung the kids from school at lunchtime.

Oh, Canada... I sure hope Ottawa will be able to handle us...

The life of today's modern woman...

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

I'm looking to see...

Child Number Three, aged two, raced up to me and clappped both of her little hands over my eyes.

"See DAT, Mum??!! LOOK!!"

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

It's May Day!!

It's May Day!!

Every May 1, I remember the year that I was six years old, and was in Cambridge, England with my father. He woke me very early that May morning, and we hurried through the mist, from my grandmother's enormous old house, down behind the university colleges, to the banks of the Cam.

There stood a large group of people, at the centre of which were the strangest looking group of men I had ever seen. They were dressed all in white, their shirts adorned with brightly coloured ribbons, and strands of jingle-bells tied round their legs. The ancient, bearded "ring-leader" of the group shouted a greeting, and a tiny squeeze-box began to play...

The Cambridge Morris Men sprung to life. It was one of the most strangely memorable points of my childhood-- standing there with my Dad, shivering in the cool morning dampness as the sun rose, watching the dancers leap and spin to the music. During some dances, they waved huge white handkerchiefs. In others, they weilded large wooden staffs, which they clapped together. All the while, everyone was whooping and cheering and singing, just for the sheer pleasure of being alive in Springtime.

"Awake, awake, my pretty prithy maid,
come out your drowsy dream,
And step into your dairy hold,
and fetch me a bowl of cream.
If not a bowl of cream, my dear,
a cup of meade to cheer,
For the Lord knows we shall meet again,
to go Maying another year.
A branch of May I brought you here,
while at your keep I stand,
'Tis but a sprout all budded out,
by the power of Our Lord's hand.
My song is done and I must be gone,
no longer may I stay,
God bless you all, the great and small,
and send you a joyous May."

Bangin' Out The Bard...

Okay, have you SEEN THIS?

Today on Yahoo's main page, I found an article, entitled "Video Game Aims to Hook Children on Shakespeare".

Ladies and Gentlemen, we have officially sunk to a whole new low.

Is this generation of youth so incredibly hooked on video games that we can think of no other way of introducing them to Shakespeare??! Holy shamoley, people, are we really that dense, not to mention completely unimaginative?! Do you HONESTLY think a game that will allow kids to shoot down enemy spaceships, if they type in a few choice words, will teach them APPRECIATION OF FINE LITERATURE? This is just pandering to children's addiction to mindless entertainment, with a little brainwashing thrown in for "good" measure. In being encouraged to spew out a few lines or a few facts, our children become no better than the machines that they are playing with.

Um, "Educational Professionals"? Even WITH the computerized weaponry, these kids are not going to discover any meaning, much less true pleasure in Shakespeare.

How about this? How about using the equivilent amount of the money you've just wasted to buy tickets for kids to go and SEE a good play, done live, right in front of them? Or, even better-- create a kit full of costumes, sets, props and a guide, so that the kids can put on the show themselves.

Shakespeare, and ANY play for that matter, is not simply text. It is not just Great Words. A play should be EXPERIENCED as theatre. And kids who have never experienced theatre need to be taught: they need to be taught what the play is about, and how to be a good audience member. They also need to be taught what goes on behind the scenes in the theatre, how a play is "worked up" and "put on". It is a fascinating, magical process... from both behind the curtain, and in front of it. Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, should have the right to enjoy experiencing it, whether it's at the front of a classroom with their peers playing the parts, or at one of the finest theatre spaces in the world, starring all of the greatest actors.

I admit that I am biased. I am a theatre maniac. My kids started being encouraged to dress up and make-believe for an audience (me) as soon as they were able to stand up. To us, the power of imagination is everything. We LOVE a good story, especially if we get to make it up ourselves, sometimes based upon ideas we get from a book.

The very first play my girls came to love was the one that first "hooked" me all those years ago. I read my children the Lamb's Tales version of "A Midsummer Night's Dream". Then, I played them the ballet music, and we picked out all the characters and plot developments in the sounds of the music. And then we made tiny pairs of "fairy wings" out of bent-up coathangers, old pink nylon stockings, and glitter glue. Soon, we had tiny, informal neighbourhood productions being performed in our basement, with all the girles and their friends taking part. They used their own words... and the plot was a little different every day... but it was a truly wonderful first experience for all of them. It was Magic. And it was one of the best damn productions of the play I have had the pleasure of watching ANYWHERE. They were in love with what they were doing, and it showed.

I'm sorry, but I don't believe for one single minute that it is all that difficult to help kids develop a love of Shakespeare. The single greatest thing about his plays are that they are timeless... You can take any single one of them, stage them in modern-day designs, and their messages are just as fascinating and thought-provoking for people today as they were all those years ago.

It's all in the approach the teacher takes. Teaching The Bard is not for Lazy Sissies.

Kids will NOT enjoy Shakespeare if they are simply being forced to read it, and memorize a famous speech or two. Teachers need to make the text appealling, and bring it to life... they need to carefully explain the poetic language while firmly keeping their eyes on the plot, and bring out the emotions and messages...

This is no easy task for educators. This is highly creative, hard work, not Coles Notes. Making ANYTHING fun for kids takes imagination and effort. So, why not exert a little into the teaching of poor old "Billy the Shake"? He's got it ALL-- he's funny, he's romantic, he's action-packed... What more could you want?!


When it comes to William Shakespeare, give the kids costumes, not computer games. Or it will be our children's imaginations that are ultimately shot down, not just a couple of alien spaceships.

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