Sunday, 30 April 2006

haunting me

First off, this is not a funny or even a very nice post. It's actually gruesome.

It's amazing what haunts us. For me, it's a remembered horror - a news item splashed all over Canada (although probably not in the States) that made a few days' headlines and then faded away, replaced with more noteworthy things. I'm not really sure why this stayed with me, really - but I flash back to it every once in awhile, and it makes me sad and angry all over again.

The story, (relived in small detail here: Calgary Post) goes like this -

A 23 year old mom of two (Dominick, 15 months, and Gemini, 3 months) decides she's had it with being a mom all the time (she wants to party!) and leaves her kids in cribs overnight with a couple of bottles. She gets back and discovers they're fine, and the next time she's asked to go away for the weekend, she goes. And leaves her children behind. She puts bottles in their cribs, kisses them both goodbye, and goes out for nearly five days. When she returns to find them both dead, she wraps the baby up in a plastic bag and either puts her in a dumpster or slides her into the river - she doesn't remember. Her son she leaves in the apartment. She moves out a few days later and her son's body is found lying on the floor, surrounded by toys.

The neighbor downstairs remembers hearing the babies screaming and crying for days until the apartment went quiet, but didn't check.

I know this is horrible. Most if not all of the people who read this blog are parents or are trying to become parents, and I'm sorry for this picture in your head.

I wish I could get it out too.

This morning, we were out of milk and smallgirl wasn't happy with anything else. She kicked and screamed and flung herself on the floor until the store opened and we could give her the moojuice. I watched her writhing around, hungry, tearstained, and red faced, and I hoped - I hoped that woman hears her babies screaming every day for the rest of her life.

Friday, 28 April 2006

10 jobs I'd really, really like

swiped from blackbird, and joke, and vickee....

1. Museum curator (at the Smithsonian would be my first pick, but I'd love the small places too) Wouldn't you love to pick through all the items and know bits and pieces about all the ...well... bits and pieces?

2. (Up-scale) Diner owner. Great coffee, soup and pie of the day, napkin dispensers and a honest-to-god soda fountain. Kick ass malts and shakes and homemade pasta. The smell of bread baking and an off the wall dessert scribbled up on a blackboard on the wall.

3. Forensic anthropologist. I thought bones were cool before CSI.

4. Bookshop owner. Cheap books, but cozy and intimate. An area for poetry nights and author readings. Perhaps not coffee, but tea and cake.

5. Philanthropist. To give money to small and worthy causes, or support people to achieve their dreams - how fufilling!

6. Paleontologist - I want to dig the dinosaur bones!

7. Park Ranger - outdoors all the time, working with nature. Aaah.

8. Veterinarian (or working with a shelter) - I would love to train animals to work with the elderly in a nursing home. Maybe when the kidlets are older.

9. Pilot - this is a childhood dream - flying is such an exciting thing.

10. Diver. Warm water, gorgeous colors, new discoveries.

Thursday, 27 April 2006

quick question

WHY is it that when I mess up typing the word-verification for a post, the new word verification is twice as long and in a harder-to-read font??

And why oh why doesn't Blogger spell check recognize the word Blogger??

Tuesday, 25 April 2006

out in the side-yard

The colors are changing,

the old old apple trees are starting again with new shoots,

the pine is luridly green and beckoning - so soft to touch!

things are taking root and growing in surprising places

and all the trees are sending out new buds, pointing at the warming sun.

Welcome to Spring.

Sunday, 23 April 2006

next year I'm renewing early


  • 12:01 a.m. The telephone shocks me awake. It's my brother, calling to wish me a happy birthday. "I wanted to be first!" he says. I mumble something (Mwahhhh?) and hang up.
  • 12:09 I wake up, realize what I did, and call him back. He's used to this sort of thing.
  • 12:19 Hang up, pass out again. The sleep of the angels and all that.
  • 6:32 A small boy weight leaps on the bed. "It's your birthday!!"
  • 8:30 Work. I am surprised with a rose and a very nice cake from some of the staff, and a pumpkin cheesecake (with a Kahlua sauce on top, got a recipe Joke??) from my boss and the supervisors. Sweet heaven, was that good!
  • 4:30 I speed out the door, snatch children from the sitter, and drive like a demon forty minutes to B'water. (closest town with a RMV) Once there, I grab kids, toys, and my purse and sprint in the building. Where at least sixty people are. Okay, in for the duration. Car keys to R and two trucks to C, and while they're occupied I do rapid math in my head and figure out there are 38 numbers to be called before mine. Gonna be a while.
  • 4:49 The duration turns out to be nineteen minutes long. Some other little boy has stepped on R's foot, taken my car keys, and run off, C in hot pursuit. R is screaming holy hell and just over her yells I can hear C demanding the keys back. I glare in the other childs direction and am shocked to see him hit C. Remembering to snatch up the howling baby, I get to the rowing boys as the other mom does - she mumbles something about how her boy loves keys and I shoot back that my boy loves not to be punched....and R is still screaming. Giving her back the keys has no effect. She is well and truly pissed. I glance up at the neon numbers, which haven't changed. We're out of here.
  • Back in the car, tuck kids in seats, find a sippy for one and some gum for the other, and speed home, having a highly unsatisfactory conversation with Bear at the same time. He thinks I should stay in B'water and he'll come get the kids. I nix that, since I can't imagine what I would do with them for half an hour until he arrived. Home again, home again, jiggety jig!
  • 5:20 Pull up the same time Bear does. Herd children into house, cast longing look at Chinese food Bear has with him, kiss B and back in the car.
  • 5:30 My cell rings. It's B, and he has taken a crumpled bit of paper from babygirl's hot little paw - it's my number! Too far to look back now.
  • 5:43 Back at the RMV. The crowd, if anything, has grown. My new number slides out of the machine at the same time the woman behind the counter bellows my old number. Sigh. I take out the only book I had sloshing around in the car and discover it's a cookbook. America's Test Kitchen. I dive in.
  • 8:00 pm The ladies at the RMV lock the doors to prevent anyone new from entering. The throng is beginning to thin. The seats next to me are both full. Both of my neighbors are reading over my shoulders and talking about what they're reading. Glad they could make friends.
  • 9:04 pm I step up, pay my fee, take the Worst Drivers License Picture In The History Of Ever, and
  • FREE!!!!
  • 9:30 pm The kids are still up (Daddy is easier to con out of a 7:30 bedtime) and we have cake and I scarf down (cold) (soggy) Chinese food. The kids are taken off and I sit, my whole body humming in the quiet kitchen, thinking....Isn't there something else I have to do??

Oh, that's right. I have to find the ten year calendar and write down the month before my drivers license expires. How early can I renew?

Saturday, 22 April 2006

out of towner

I've been in Canada five years. It's amazing how many things I've assimilated and take for granted.

I can read scatterings of French now, since so much of it is posted everywhere. I convert the Celsius scale into Farenheit, and kilometres into miles. But I do it automatically, and it doesn't trip me up.

I know what a serviette and a chesterfield are, call the lunch meal 'dinner' , and have given up completely on understanding their political system.

I also have the blessing of socialized medicine. Yes, there are some things really, really wrong with it and the waiting lists for some things are horrendous BUT at any time I can go to my doctor or any emergency room and have really good health care. We do have secondary insurance (through B's work) and that covers things like dental and co-pay on medicines, but even if I was stone broke, this wouldn't hamper me getting help.

I've started to forget how it was before I moved here. Which is why things like this make me so angry.

A friend of mine in one of the southern states went to her emergency room with crazily-high blood pressure and crippling back pain. Her blood pressure was so high she was immediately taken in. Everyone was concerned and caring, until they found out that my friend doesn't have health insurance. At that point they told her they thought she had a ruptured disk, but that they couldn't do an MRI or any tests on it because she didn't have health insurance. There was no question of payments or any billing procedure, no sliding scale or referral to a free clinic, nothing.
They sent her home with a couple of pain-relievers and told her to take ibuprophen and put a bag of frozen peas on it.

A bag of frozen peas.

I love my homeland. But Canada's health system (as creaky and overburdened as it is) is worlds better than a bag of frozen vegetables and an aspirin.

Friday, 21 April 2006

Tuesday, 18 April 2006

sharing lunch

It was an interesting morning today.

Work was busy when I got there and I dove full-tilt into the morning melee without doing the decompressing ten minutes that I'm used to (How was your weekend? Oh, and did you see there's a new House on tonight?) and subsequently, didn't really chat with any of my co-workers. I had completely forgotten about it when noon came around and I went to heat my lunch up. I talked with one of the field workers* for a moment, then opened a magazine and dug in. Ah, bliss. I had completely forgotten she was there when she cleared her throat. 'Uh, Jess?'
I put down the magazine. 'Sorry - that was rude of me! What can I do for you?'
She scooted her chair a little closer. She looked fascinated. 'What are you eating?'

Now you have to understand I bring leftovers a lot. They're quick, easy, and right there, so I didn't even have to look down to inform her what I had. 'Leftover homemade macaroni and cheese with ham. But I didn't have macaroni, so I made it with spaghetti.'

She nodded. 'But that doesn't have any cheese on it.'

I watched her carefully as I explained. 'No, it doesn't. You see, my son wasn't feeling well last night and the only thing he would eat was toast and the bits of cheese he could pick off the top of his pasta. My husband was alarmed at the thought of him starving to death during the night, so he gave him two pieces to pick the top off of. So we had lots of that left over.'

She didn't appear to think I was a raving loon. 'Won't you get hungry?'

I expanded on the rest of my (suddenly pitiful looking) lunch. 'Nah, I have two (snack sized) boxes of raisins, an apple and some cookies.'

Her eyebrows shot up as she studied my cookies, each broken into at least three pieces. I tried to act nonchalant as I turned the apple so she couldn't see the old bite already taken out of it.

Suddenly, she smiled. 'It's hard, working and having two small ones, isn't it?'

I agreed. 'Yes, especially when they won't eat anything in the morning until three seconds before you have to run out the door.' (Hence the apple bite mark and the crumbled cookies, although I didn't elaborate.)

I also didn't mention that the raisin boxes were each half-full. (Mommmy...I'm doooone.)

At least the tea was hot, and all mine.

*No, no, field as in 'working outside of the office', not 'working out in the field'

Sunday, 16 April 2006


My father in law is a pack rat. Bear comes by it honestly.

A few months ago, FIL handed me a plastic bag and told me he found something for the girl. Inside was a princess dress, shimmery satin and lace and tulle - a bit yellowed and aged, but simply beautiful. It had been in one of the outbuildings, waiting for a little girl to dance while wearing it.

I did research on the net. I searched for gentle stain removers. I finally found one on the Everyday Cheapskate website which advocated a lot of water, a small amount of bleach and dishwasher detergent - and swish and swish and swish. Three times I put it through that treatment.

It came out perfectly. The spots, the stains, the age marks.

My sister in law saw it at our house, and recognized it. It turns out Miss Posey's dress was hers.

Thirty five years later, my daughter got to be a princess too.

Saturday, 15 April 2006

hip hoppity

Dear kids:

Happy Easter! Please enjoy the treats I left you. Your Mama says you've been good all year.
Thanks for the carrots! They make me hop better.

E. Bunny

P.S. Your Dad wanted me to ask if it would be possible to wash the carrots you leave out for me next year?

Friday, 14 April 2006

i, meme

I AM: pretty happy.
I WANT: To learn how to do something wonderful this summer.
I WISH: I could make decent coffee.
I HATE: Okra, changing the cat box and when people don't wipe their kids' faces.
I MISS: My brother
I FEAR: Failing.
I HEAR: Blessed silence. R is sleeping.
I WONDER: How my mom is.
I REGRET: Moving away. I like my life now but I wish it was closer to my family.
I AM NOT: Graceful or dainty.
I DANCE: With the kids.
I SING: All of the time.
I CRY: When I am moved.
I AM NOT ALWAYS: Funny or nice.
I MAKE WITH MY HANDS: Gestures. Bread. Shadow animals on the walls.
I WRITE: A lot more on here than on paper.
I CONFUSE: my husband.
I NEED: Toothpaste and avocados.
I SHOULD: Start exercising more.
I START: to say what I mean a lot.
I FINISH: Few of my projects.
I TAG: All y'all. Why not??

Thursday, 13 April 2006

hush my mouth

The church office is a large room connected to the manse, which is big and old and gorgeous and empty, since the last minister headed out. It's full of old woodwork, big windows, a really lovely sunny kitchen and a three room basement. The yard has big maple trees in it and the livingroom window overlooks a lily bed. I love that house. I've gotten used to being there by myself - the grumblings and creakings of the house settling itself to sleep don't bother me anymore, and except for the occasional schoolchild raising money knocking on the door, it's a quiet and peaceful place to work.

Our parish has been without a minister for some months now, and the search is on for a suitable replacement. Meetings have been held in each of the churches and in the manse to discuss what the next move will be - a full-time minister? A part-time? Shall we share one with a neighboring community?

Tonight when I first got there there was a full meeting going on in the dining room - candidates being mentioned and suggestions being made. I closed the connecting door, flipped the radio on low, and only heard mumbles for about an hour, when the meeting broke up. Everyone left out the front door except one of the women who came in to give me a brief synopsis and to talk about what she needed for the Easter service.

But soon, the house was quiet again. I finished the first batch of Easter bulletins (the communion service) and began running through the second, non-communion group.
While those were going through the copier I began working on the computer, typing out and formatting the Sunrise Service bulletin. Of course, halfway through creating them, the computer froze and I had to begin again.

Stupid computer. I started again. This time it only let me get through the first page before flashing bright blue 'SYSTEM UNSTABLE' - this screen dictates that there will be at least a ten minute wait while the computer hems and haws and smoothes its ruffled skirts and decides whether it wants to play nice or not. This time it did...for a little while. Then SYSTEM ERRORS began popping up like bad habits and the whole thing went to hell.

I'm afraid I got a bit vocal at that point. Pointing my finger at it, I discussed its parentage at length and was stabbing the reset button when I heard a chair fall over out in the kitchen. Seconds later, the door opened. 'Everything okay in here?'

Well, shit. It appears I turned the air blue in front of two Council members and the Treasurer.

I think I fell off the short list to be asked to teach Sunday school.

They are, however, taking the computer in to be fixed.

Tuesday, 11 April 2006

hair wars

I have a feeling my childrens hair is going to be a sore spot between my husband's family and myself. After bangsgate, I'm not worried at all that Bear will (EVER) pick up a pair of scissors (EVER) but I have qualms that C will come home with a Marine 'do.

C likes to go with his grandfather to get his haircut. He likes the 'big boy' feel of going out alone with his Papa - and they always visit people and hit the McNugget store, so it's a fun day for the boy. Papa uses a barber, as most men of his age do - it's a small shop, with two chairs and a decidedly older clientele. I'm not sure if it's the smell of the hair tonic or the ride he gets in the old pump chair, but C loves it.
I'm a bit leery of the ancient barber, though - his hands shake and the clippers he uses are bigger than my boys' head. One split-second twist of the head (which C is prone to do) and oops - there went the side of his hair. The only salvage method? Why, shave 'er down, folks!

That, coupled with the strangeness of R's growing-out bangs (thanks to her Dad) means I get a few questions about their hair. I'm thinking of taking smallgirl to my hairdresser and seeing if she freaks out or not - maybe a bob? Do they do bobs anymore?? I've resigned myself that R's bangs are never going to catch up to the rest of her hair - so what do I do now?

I know. It could be worse. They could have no hair. Of course, with the threat of the buzzcut hanging in the air for boyo, that might be a possibility.

Saturday, 8 April 2006

why don't they have classes on parenting?

I was reading Wordgirl's post on her handbag and it struck me how different being a mom of one is than a mom of two. (She's a mom of three, bless her, she just started me thinking.)

Things are different.
Yes, there's another person in the house and the dynamic has changed and it's weird and wonderful and crazy most days, but what I want to address is the changes in me, in my parenting.
Things are different.

When C was a baby, I obsessed night and day about what he ate, how much he ate, how many dirty diapers he had. If he slept too long, I worried we were over-stimulating him. If he cried too long, I was waiting at the pediatrician's office, armed with Dr. Google's latest words of wisdom regarding colic. My husband slept for the first four months with a pillow over his head, trying to drown out the wind-tunnel effect of the baby monitor on high. (Luke? I am your father.)
I was unceasingly watchful, usually upset, and scared to death.

Everything was hard. The breastfeeding debacle. Putting him to bed. (How on earth was I supposed to leave my baby in a room by himself and not rock him to sleep?) Teaching my husband everything he needed to know, because he wasn't doing it my way (read: the right way, according to me) and worrying that we were going to permanently screw up his teeth because we let him have a pacifier.

Separation anxiety. Starting solid food. Picking out the stroller. It was all trial by fire, and the flames were hot.

This time, things seemed easier. We had most of the equipment we would need (carseat, crib and bedding) and knew exactly what we wanted to toss or buy others of. (Toss: Diaper Genie. Big bulky diaper changing table. Wet wipe warmer. Cumbersome stroller. The Little Einstein videos. [Why would I encourage my child to watch tv? Isn't there enough time for that?]
Buy: Umbrella stroller [the 15.00 ones you can buy at the mall. They fit in the car trunk even unfolded, which is great when you have a baby in arms.] Pack and Play. Expensive monitor.

Best of all, we knew. We knew the baby was going to get colds. That one-time blowout diapers didn't mean something dreadful. That putting the baby to bed in her crib was okay - she wasn't going to be scarred for life and have abandonment issues. That the solid-food/bottle-to-sippy-cup/pacifier/is the baby hitting her milestones whirl-a-round we'd been on with the first was slowing to a stop.

We had gained confidence. We had, as well as we could with a newborn and a three year old, gained sanity. I remember smiling blithely at Bear one day as he burped and changed Posey, enjoying the two of them, not frantically making sure he held her head the right way and how many ounces had she had?

Being a mom of two doesn't mean I'm all-knowing. No zen master here.
I just really wish someone had told me, while I was living those horrible, self doubting times of immersing myself into thoughts of what a bad mom I was if I______, that babies don't care if they are fed with the breast or a bottle, or have a pacifier or a thumb - they just want to be loved.

And new moms? Should trust themselves much more than they're allowed to.

Now why don't they have classes on that?

Friday, 7 April 2006


The week after the time-change is always crazy. The kids drag tail in the morning - which generally means I start out happy-morning,(Time to start the day, honey!) move to cajoling (Get a move on, okay?) and take a fast turn into full-out roar (Get. In. The. Car. NOW!!!)The highway is full of moms with lead-foots trying to make up that extra ten minutes spent hitting the snooze-button, barking at the kids strapped in their car seats, weaving in and out of lanes.

No amount of coffee is going to take this dragging feeling away - it's something I just have to get used to.

Nighttimes are difficult too - small people are exhausted and fussy from playing outside all day, but very aware that it's still light outside. This makes it VERY HARD TO COMPREHEND that it's bedtime, no matter if the usual ritual of bath, brush teeth, jammies, lotion, three stories, prayers and songs are completed.

Tonight I was so tired I fell asleep watching Postcards From Buster and woke to find my children had decided to mummify me with every blanket, towel and coat they could find. I'm still not sure if they were trying to tuck me in or bury me.

So...Friday night. Mediocre television. I'm in the midst of a semi-bad novel (I think library trip tomorrow!) Sounds like a popcorn and soda let's-check-the-movie-channels night.

As long as I can stay awake, that is!

Wednesday, 5 April 2006


My parents were English teachers while I was growing up. I had a healthy vocabulary of three syllable words by the time I was six, and loved to verbally 'show off'. This was great for impressing the grandparents and not so wonderful for school, although it helped me get into the best teachers' classes and earn the trust of the librarian, who pointed me in the direction of some of the classics.

I still don't understand why people don't get excited about words - the feel of them on your tongue and the way your story can change (either blossoming or bombing) with one well-placed descriptor. Language amazes me. I don't claim to have perfect English usage - ha! - I write the way I talk and like to think you can hear my funny accent in some of my posts, but I try. People who don't bother to find out different words for things are slightly suspicious in my book. If they won't make the effort to express themselves properly, what else are they lacking?

And sometimes it's just funny.

I was looking at plants yesterday (The garden centers are opening! Yay for that sign of Spring!) and had a ten minute conversation with a woman who has a whole backyard of pee-oh-nees. She was oblivious to my repeated (correct, by the way!) pronunciation of pee-a-knees. She kept shooting me strange looks and talking louder about her mis-named flowers, and I was smiling back and asking her questions about her pee-a-knees. When she left, she brushed by Bear and muttered something to her husband about 'People from Away sure talk funny.'

Yup, some of us do. And some of us carry Pocket Dictionaries in our purses. The next time we meet, wa-ha! She will learn how to say peony, damn it.

Sunday, 2 April 2006

9:47 a.m.

Mama? Did you know that my big brother is big enough to get stuff off the counters now?

You're joking, right? It's never too early for cookies.

Mama? Hand over the chocolate.

Yarn over and over

Someone, an old babysitter maybe, taught me to crochet when I was six. I remember making long braided loops of yarn and thinking how pretty ...