Tuesday, 29 August 2006

little stuff

I love the very small things that the kids see. Tiny things that pull me out of the routine of hurry-up-finish-your-toast-we-need-to-GO and give me a sudden moment to have conversations where all of a sudden they become people! with opinions! and not cattle to be herded to the carseats.
Teaching moments, I think they're called. Quick little things that I'm not always ready for.
The funny thing is that my kids always seem to be teaching me.

Cass is afraid of spiders. Not in a shrieking and running away sort of way, but in a fascinated/repulsed ewww sense. I am ambivalent about many bugs (the exceptions being house flies, june bugs and deer ticks*) and we've talked about how spiders homes are outside, and they eat other bugs, and it's not a good idea to crush them, etc. So for him to stop and eye a mist-outlined web and then to call it 'pretty' was a new thing. He found a dead dragonfly on the ground underneath, and decided it must have been eaten by the spider. He had an entire elaborate story spinning out when Rosey walked up and touched a single strand. Bewildered when it stuck to her finger, she decided that it was time to get into the car.
Teaching moment over. See? A fleeting thing.

The whole way into town Cass recited snatches of the Spider and the Fly.

* Seriously? Y'all don't hate house flies? Do you KNOW what they carry around on their feet? June bugs are just big and noisy and scary when they whomp! against the screens, and deer ticks? Revolting.

Monday, 28 August 2006

stuff that won't make a full post

Sorry I've been so quiet lately - but really, there hasn't been much to tell.
So - you guessed it folks, it's a bullet post!

  • I've been reading a bunch of books lately about small-town girls growing up poor in the South. I can't understand why this resonates with me - my mother is from Kentucky, but she grew up in the city and had a fairly affluent upbringing. A yearning for the old, old days? I wonder.
  • Have you ever seen something odd on a picture and then whenever you see the picture you can't help seeing whatever it was? I took this picture: (it may help to click on it so it gets bigger)

and I see a gargoyle face on the left branch. See?

and now I can't not see it.
  • I need to get a picture of Rosey in her Crocs - she loves her 'pink shoes' and has actually taken them to bed with her a few times.
  • It was Bear's birthday on Saturday - not a lot of celebrating, since there were various and sundry errands to be run and people to help out, so hopefully next week I can steal him for some couple time. (And, damn it, I want to eat somewhere without a kids menu!!)
  • I'm still trying to think of a crafty thing for the kids to do for Christmas presents - Cass is old enough now that he likes to make things for people. We have a few ideas but since I don't sew we're always looking.

Hopefully tomorrow will bring better blog fodder!

Friday, 25 August 2006

a lake ten miles long

Today we were up early, dressed and out the door, and did a few errands - then Bear had an idea - let's go for a picnic!

So we went to Ten-Mile Lake.

Gorgeous, no? The wind was a bit chill in the shade so the kids didn't run around as much as they wanted to, but we all ate and talked and relaxed for a bit. Cass saw some squirrels and R fell off the picnic table (and came up smiling) - all in all a good outing!

There was one curvy tree near our picnic table that looked like a woman fixing her hair, ready to stride forward into the party.

A pretty spot and one we'll come back to, I'm sure - I'd love to take the family swimming there.

After that, we took the long, scenic way home and went along a few of those rutted old roads that don't seem to lead anywhere...and discovered a huge patch of blackberries. The plan for tomorrow is to come back and pick enough for some jam....hopefully the boy and girl won't eat them all!
They were very enthusiastic about 'sampling' today.

So what are your plans this weekend?

Thursday, 24 August 2006

the luck, she is holding

The Blazer is having some gas gauge issues. It's up, it's down...you can watch the little needle hop and skip all over the register as it merrily lies about how much gas is in the vehicle.

Can you see where this is going?

This morning on my way to work, I ran out of gas.


It happened in the best way possible.

I had already dropped off the kids at the babysitter.

The engine cut out in the middle of the big blue bridge,(see below) thereby allowing the car to coast down the decline and turn nicely into an empty parking lot, not die in the middle of morning-rush-to-work traffic.

The relative who rescued me (i.e. brought the gas can) was headed that way already, so he didn't have to make an extra trip. And he was sweet about it.

I cleaned out the car while I waited.
Holy cow, who on earth bought all these toys?

And, finally, I was an hour late for work, which meant I worked through my lunch hour. No sweat, since today was incredibly busy and I would have done that anyway...

All in all, a very lucky thing. Not too shabby at all.

Today's adventure has made us cautious about taking the highways, so the Discovery Centre will wait until next weekend. This weekend there's lots to do, so I'm sure we'll be busy....

Oh, and the car goes in on Tuesday. 'Cause I don't want to push my luck.

Wednesday, 23 August 2006

looking for tips

This Friday, Bear and I are going to take the kidlets out and do something fun.

Our proposed plan is to:
Dress, water and feed them and have them in the car by nine-ish a.m.
Drive awhile.
Get breakfast somewhere on the way
(Sigh. Probably the McDonalds with the Playground. But if it helps them burn off energy, great!)
Take Mopsy and Cottontail to the Discovery Centre. (Where B and I will have fun too.)

When we went to go play in H'fax we try to do something fun for the kids. Last summer we went on a Hopper tour -
very, very cool and very fun to go on with a four year old. Oh, and we saw Theodore Tugboat.

(RA, does Stella watch Theodore? I know it's still on KCTS out your way. Margaret? Josi?)

While I will try to make sure they don't sit in the car for over an hour and DO drink lots of water, is there anything anyone can tell me about traveling with two kids? Last time we took the Girl on a long trip she was still a baby and could be pacified not given to screaming unrelentingly if bored or tired or just angry that we won't unleash her from her torture device. Unlike now. She's bigger, has more lung power, and is not shy about letting us feel the wrath.

This is only an hour and a half trip (or so - if I drive, we'll get there faster!) so I'm not expecting Armageddon, but any tips or tricks would be nice.

Monday, 21 August 2006

pissy day at work

I can't talk about specifics, because that would be breaking confidentiality.

In brief -

Just because you are decades older than I am
(and a angry, bitter person to boot)
does NOT mean you can scream in my ear
and expect the entire office to jump through hoops
so you can get your way (again.)

Really - grow up.

My phone has a disconnect button too.

I may be younger, but I have better manners.

Sunday, 20 August 2006

meme sunday

from Vickee, who took them from Kim:

Cruel :: Don't Be
Jive :: Talkin'
Weak :: ness (In a moment of)
Understand :: I Don't
Bum :: Wiggle your
Stairs :: ways to Heaven
Tone :: Loc
Quickly :: Doubletime
Moment :: For Just a
Beating :: Heart

I've got music on the brain.

Saturday, 19 August 2006

the awful truth

I'm wholly sick of barbecued food.

B, being B, loves him some fire. And it's better if the fire cooks stuff, see?
And for the first part of summer, it was all good.

Yummy steaks and chops and potatoes and corn and chicken and ribs and mushrooms and kabobs and grilled zucchini. Lovely stuff.

Now I think I will scream and do the leaping, stomping dance of unhappiness if one more baked potato is slid onto my plate. I can handle the fresh corn (insert mmmmm sound here) and zucchini, heck, even the mushrooms and grilled red pepper sound good.

But PLEASE! No more fire-charred hunks of sauce-smeared meat.
No more! Uncle! Uncle, I say!

It's almost enough to make me want plain chicken.

(So, anyone have any great recipes for new marinade/sauces? 'Cause grilling season is far from over, and I will lose my shit lose my mind go completely crazed if presented with any more (twitch!) red (twitch!) barbecue sauce (twitch twitch!) out of the bottle.)

Help me.

Thursday, 17 August 2006

double shift

Today I worked at my job, and now I'm doing the manse bit.

This left Bear at home at the mercy of the Terrible Two.

I was sure I'd get a call at work that someone had thrown up or split their head open or I-can't-find-the-eye-drops - not because he's a lousy father (he's not) but because when the children play with B they are full of joy and in their shrieking happiness (We're playing games with Daddy!) are more liable to do things like leap off couches or run full-tilt into doors or spend hours hiding all the silverware for pirate treasures. More accidents tend to happen.

But things have been good on the home front. I called home a little while ago to talk to the kids before it got too late and Cass was almost incoherent, he was so thrilled that not only had Bear 'fixed' his ride-in car so now it goes faster

(note to self: Must ask B what, exactly, he did, because I am a suspicious old thang, and having my son tell me how he 'whooshs' around now worries me)

and played ball with him in the side yard, now Daddy was taking lots of little cars upstairs for his bath, and camping is tomorrow and....and...I think at this point he was so excited only dogs could hear him anymore and he slung the phone back at B and scampered off.

R fought off the evil pink eye (one goopy eye two days ago, two goopy eyes last night at midnight when she woke up but no goop this morning) and has been asserting her individuality by changing clothes. Her father said there has been a veritable fashion parade going on with Miss Posey today. He oohed and ahhhed over at least six outfits R tossed on and even found her some hairbands to match a few. (Sssh - he likes to act like a tough guy, but Little Girl can wrap him around her finger just by batting her eyes.)

And by now they must be in their little beds.

He'll be in bed by the time I get home too, I'm sure. All the ball-playing and hair brushing and diaper changing and clothes washing and feeding and baths for both will have tired him out.

Thanks, honey.

Wednesday, 16 August 2006

damn and blast

You would think with the mountains of paper that B has squirreled away (in the most unlikely places!) that if we needed something, we could find it.

But no.

Now my house needs a good sorting...

I digress. It's B's birthday next week, and I have the perfect idea for a present for him. It's perfect. And I'd be getting a deal, too, he would never think I would get this for him, and he'd love it.

Now if I could just find that stupid paperwork....

This weekend: the Boy runs off to camp, and the Girl-Child and I will probably go shopping.
Y'know, for a birthday gift.

Monday, 14 August 2006

gender confusion

I asked if she needed to use the potty before her bath and she nodded, then yanked down her diaper, lifted the lid, faced the toilet, grabbed her crotch, and peed all over the floor.

Think she's seen B and C go one too many times?

She was perfectly willing to sit on the seat to wipe, though, giggling and proud of herself.

"Potty, Mama! Potty!" She even clapped her hands when she was done.


Friday, 11 August 2006

a nice night

Tonight R wanted to sit and listen to bedtime stories too - we read and she curled up in Cass's bed and almost fell asleep. Then my boy asked if I'd sing to him.

He doesn't do that much anymore. He and Rosey each had two special songs when they were babies - Cassidy's lullabies were "Dream A Little Dream Of Me" and "Baby Mine", and Rosemary had a shortened version of "My Funny Valentine" and "Go To Sleep."

So I sang, and they watched me, eyes shining in the half-light, and it was an all-encompassing I-would-do-anything-for-these-kids moment. The kind that makes your throat ache and the heart pound.

They are so beautiful. And I am so lucky.
Tonight, all is right in the world.

Go to sleep, my baby,
Close your pretty eyes
Angels dance before you
Peeping at you darling, from the skies
Great big moon is shining, high up in the night
It's time to go to sleep, my pretty one,
Go to sleep

Wednesday, 9 August 2006

playing around

Yesterday was warm and sunny and we got out to play despite warnings of thunderstorms. The kids wanted to play in the pool but it wasn't set up, so we started filling it while they rustled toys and things to play with. C threaded the hose through the (adjustable height) basketball hoop, snd hey presto! a waterfall.

So there was a lot of this:

and some of this:

And then finally it was time to get out and snuggle with Papa.

How many more weeks of summer do we have? Whatever it is, it's not enough.


taken from Just Jump In:

You Are a Purple Flower
A purple flower tends to represent success, grace, and elegance.
At times, you are faithful like a violet.
And other times, you represent luxury, like a wisteria.
And more than you wish, you find yourself heartbroken like a lilac.

Tuesday, 8 August 2006

watermelon pickles

We had watermelon today for snack.

I was cutting it up, admiring the colors of it and breathing in that impossible-to-fabricate scent (Anything watermelon-flavored is horrid. Remember Hubba-Bubba? And schnapps? Bleurgh.) and as I was cutting the last off the rind I remembered the last time I had watermelon pickles.

It was a long weekend - July 4th, possibly? - and my two best friends from high school and I decided to get out of town. I was probably nineteen or twenty, so this is some years back. We decided to go to Louisville. Now, Kentucky was a reasonably far piece away from where we were in Michigan, but it was drivable, and I had relatives there we could stay with and we! were! hitting! the road!

The drive down was a blast. We sang along with the radio, bitched about our boyfriends (or lack of) successfully read maps and didn't get lost.

But as we approached Louisville something burrowed at me. I had forgotten something. What was it? I had my wallet, my clothes, my drivers license. We had a place to....stay...I hadn't called my grandparents before we left. Crap. We pulled over at a roadside rest and I 'phoned. They weren't home. It was getting pretty late, so the only thing I could think of was that they were visiting my aunt and her family in Pennsylvania.

In which case...yeah. Tremendous planning, Jess. We started pooling our money for a hotel, and quickly decided if one of us didn't eat and we coasted down all the hills on the way home, we'd be okay.

But wait! There was someone else in L'ville! I had forgotten my godmother!

Now, not too many people would be impressed with a ten pm phone call announcing three people inviting themselves to stay. Looking back on it, I'm horrified at the sheer gall of it. (I really did have manners. Just...not...when I was with my friends, apparently.) But R, my godmother, sounded thrilled we were in town, and laughed when I begged beds.

"Of course you must come." She gave us directions (and there's a whole 'nother story about how we got lost, asked directions at a gas station on the wrong side of town and had some man lick the windshield while one of my friends tried to think how she could use a Diet Coke as a weapon and the other dived for the backseat.) and we finally made it there.

Every light in the house was on. She and her mother (Mrs.H) welcomed us, offered us juice and fruit, and gave us each lovely breezy rooms. We all promised long catching-up chats the next morning, and went off to our beds.

The next morning, when my friends and I straggled downstairs, Mrs. H was reading the paper, a selection of jams and jellies spread out in front of her. When my friend told her she usually didn't eat breakfast, Mrs. H was dismayed.
"No, dear, you must always have a little something. Sit, and read, drink some coffee, and nibble something."

There was fresh hot toast and bagels. On the table were peach preserves, watermelon pickles, gooseberry jam, apple butter and all sorts of things I wasn't familar with. We sat drinking out of china cups and had leisurely breakfasts that trip with Mrs. H. We'd tell her what we were going to do and she'd smile and ask questions and pass out sections of the paper and make us sit and relax before we ran out the door.

Y'know, that weekend we did a lot. I have pictures of us at Churchill Downs, the Louisville Zoo, and a hockey game...but I think my favorite memory of that flying three-day trip was the breakfasts, where Mrs H would make us slow down and start the day properly.

Watermelon Pickles

4 qt Prepared watermelon rind
2 tb Salt
4 c White vinegar
8 c Sugar
3 Cinnamon sticks; broken
1 tb Whole cloves
1 1" piece gingerroot (opt.)
To prepare watermelon rind, cut rind into 2- x 1-inch pieces. Trim green skin and pink flesh from rind. Place prepared rind in large kettle and add salt and enough boiling water to cover. Simmer until tender. Drain and chill rind in very cold water at least 1 hour or overnight in refrigerator. Combine vinegar, sugar and mixture of cinnamon, cloves and gingerroot tied in cheesecloth. Bring to boil and boil 5 minutes. Drain watermelon rind and add to syrup. Simmer until rind becomes translucent, about 10 minutes. Remove and discard spices. Pack rind and syrup into hot sterilized quart jars, leaving 1/4-inch head space. Adjust lids and process in boiling water bath 20 minutes.

Monday, 7 August 2006


Yesterday, at the stroke of midnight, (such Cinderella timing!)
Julia of Bedhead fame had her baby girl.


A charlotte in the cooking world is an extravagant dessert - ladyfingers soaked in cognac or coffee liquor, piled high with Bavarian Cream, chocolate mousse, coffee mousse, ice cream, or pastry cream. Repeat until the serving dish is full.

Layers and layers of yummy goodness. As a baby is.

Welcome to the world, Charlotte Jane.

We are so glad you've come!

Saturday, 5 August 2006

chapter books

We read the Magic Finger tonight.

I loved Dahl, both the adult and childrens' books, so when C pounced on them I was thrilled. (And, honestly, the possibility of not reading Grover Sleeps Over for the seventy-eleventh time? Priceless.) I got them out of my room and put them in his bookcase, and he touched the covers and looked at the illustrations and was wowed that he was big enough now to read chapter books.

He helped me out by saying what the first letter was on each page.

The story grabbed him quickly and soon he was turning the pages, asking questions and gaping at the illustrations. (Bless you, Quentin Blake!) He didn't want to finish it another night (What will happen to the duck-people?) so we read the whole thing and now he's in bed, re-telling bits of it to the cat between huge yawns.

I always thought books were magical. I was one of those kids who spent afternoons in the library, curled up on the musty corduroy floor cushions, reading three books at once and pestering the librarians for more.

I'm thrilled he loves them too.

Friday, 4 August 2006

cannot tell a lie

This morning, Bear went to his Dad's house and cut down an old apple tree.

Papa, usually the epitome of stoic upbringing, had some suspicious wetness in his eyes when she finally groaned and fell - this was a tree he watched all four of his children play on and around, and where he spent time watching his wife garden and fuss and plan out where all her plants and flowers would go.

There'd been talk about getting rid of the old tree for years, but the actual act was much more memory-evoking that anyone had planned for.

After it fell, we found remnants of an ancient crumbling birdhouse and Bear showed us where he would climb up the trunk and hide from his brother and sisters - his own private space, with only the rustling leaves as company.

The core of the tree was rotten. The next big storm probably would have pushed it onto the house.
B cut so it would fall into the yard and not destroy anything, and now there is only a stump, cut at a good height so Papa can sit if he wants a seat outside.

A seat, to sit and dream of people both near and far.

I think he'll like that.

Wednesday, 2 August 2006

and the times I've done this are haunting me now

I just took this off It's Not All Mary Poppins:


my brain is melting

It's hot. Hot hot hot hot hot hot.

The entire province (except for the lucky cliff dwellers of Cape Breton) is under a "Stay inside or you'll cook" warning. Despite some spectacular thunder and lightning last night, the air is still muggy and oppressively, angrily hot. (30's but feels like 40's - that's 108F.)

Playgroup this morning was chaotic - the little ones wanted nothing of circle or craft time, they wanted their swim-suits, pronto. Once those were on, there was a general stampede out the door and some jockeying for pool position (R tussled with one boy over whom was going down the pool slide first) and soon all the children were wet and happy.

Unfortunately, Mommies weren't allowed slushy drinks, and the kiddy pools weren't really big enough for us to dunk in too, so we stood around, sweating and eyeing our kids, unsuccessfully trying to think of some way to accidentally fall in.

After playgroup was over (and, my God, the howling when the two-minute warning time was issued - they were not interested in coming out of the water at all) I stuffed my (vehemently protesting) daughter into her hot car seat and drove across town, where I sold her for a slushy drink and a sun umbrella.**
I would have bargained for more but it was too hot.
And my brain was melting.

** Oh, okay, thrust her at her babysitter and raced away to get a frozen coffee - call it what you will...

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 ...