Saturday, 29 July 2006

the 3-D effect

Most of the screens in the upstairs windows have some sort of hole in them this summer.

We've never caught either of the kids really poking at the screens - no pushing fingers through, no bashing at them, no flinging toys. Rosey does some banging on them when she wants someone's attention outside (and is mystified that our neighbor doesn't respond) but it wasn't us, so it must be the kids, right?

I wasn't too bothered. Replacing screens is not terribly difficult or time-consuming, and actually on The Big List Of Projects To Do (the upstairs screens are probably twenty years old) so we had a few talks to the boy (who denied it) and the girl (who hadn't a clue what we were talking about) and forgot the whole thing.

But it appears we have been blaming the wrong people (??) for the destruction.

Yesterday afternoon, I was outside blowing bubbles with C and R and heard a rrrrrrip! noise.

Now where did that come from? And why is the cat miaowing.....


Bad, bad kitty.

Friday, 28 July 2006

sleep baby sleep

Cass slept through the night at six weeks.

It was a very good thing that he did, as I was insane with new Mom jitters, and while it didn't mean I got to sleep any more (I was too busy going into the nursery at fifteen minute intervals to stand and watch his chest go up and down) it did mean time that I wasn't sobbing and trying to figure out what he wanted.

He's always been a good sleeper.

However, lately he's been having nightmares that wake him up and send him padding down the hall to ask if he can sleep with me. Most of the time Bear or I go back and sit with him in his room for awhile - he gets into his bed and we talk about his dream and how it was just a dream and that he'll only have good dreams the rest of the night.

Sometimes, the woebegone little face gets the best of me and he piles in, happy as all get-out, and we have whispered conversations about the cats and his stuffed dogs (Beau and Charlie, whom are usually brought along, shared out, and tucked in too) and then his eyes go slowly heavy and he'll yawn and settle himself.

(and memories of nights in the nursery, rocking and watching him fall asleep come flooding back)

And I fall to sleep smiling, clutching a stuffed animal and remembering how it felt when the world fell asleep on my lap.

Thursday, 27 July 2006

this old house

The manse I work in is located on a bright and sunny side street. It is a large home, built many years and ministers ago - four bedrooms, large windows, and an open and inviting floor plan. I love this house.

I've been told that one of the ministers who lived here had nine children. Eleven people in a house with only one bathroom! Maybe they had bladders of steel. The kitchen is large and the dining room huge - I can see them now - all the heads bent over their plates as their father led the blessing.

The house sits at the top of a hill overlooking the town below - it's near enough to the playground and the ball fields that I can hear the kids playing, and far enough away so that there's no danger of having the windows shattered by any errant foul balls. There's a shaded back yard with gone-wild roses slowly climbing a rock wall, and giant trees for playing under.

There's even a small cold cellar, tucked to one side of the basement. It's easy to picture rows upon rows of canning jars and pickling barrels - it's like a step back in time.

A fabulous heavy old bannister leads the way upstairs. The floors have been carpeted, but I'm fairly certain if the padding was pulled back, there would be gorgeous old wood floors, waiting to have a gleam put to them.

The atmosphere is hushed and peaceful - it's hard to imagine feeling anything but serenity in here - it's almost like the feel of a good library.

It has been empty now for almost a year, and will be empty for awhile longer, as the new minister will be driving in from her home in Shelbourne county and not living here.

The manse seems to yearn for company, for some new ideas to be bandied about within its walls, for doors to be slammed, windows to be opened, for people to fix dinners and laugh together over doing the dishes.

Did I mention I love this old house?

Wednesday, 26 July 2006

bits and bytes

I could never, ever be an Early Childhood Development Worker. I love my children. I like small groups of kids. Having to face clamouring hordes of ankle-biters day after day, explaining how the pudding today is for painting not eating, and the soapy water basin is (today only!) for playing in?

I'd rather have a root canal James Frey style. (fakey James Frey style.)


Yesterday I took the kidlets back to the pirate park, watching for suspicious damp patches of sand and keeping a jaded eye out for other families. R is 21 months. Are they supposed to be doing this?

Because she scared the heck out of me.
She was perfectly happy, scampering up and sliding down, while I was awash in visions of cut lips and screaming. It's not so fun watching them grow up.


Speaking of growing up, we were in another park a few days ago and there were two girls there, eight and nine, swinging and talking loudly about tampons.

And while I was pondering what (if anything) I knew about tampons at the age of nine, one of them called C that 'weird boy' while he was playing King of the Mountain.
And he heard her.
And was upset.

So, he marched up to her and said (loudly to cut through the tampon talk)
"Why do you say I'm weird?"
And she fluttered and stammered and avoided my eye (I was busy giving the Death Glare) and finally croaked out that he was playing in the dirt.
And, Lord love him, Cass looked at her and said
"Do you want to play?"
and when she said no (with much giggling)
he said
"I'm asking because it's nice to ask. It's not nice to call people names."
And marched off.

I bought him an ice cream on the way home. Because it is nice to ask.

Monday, 24 July 2006

salsa baby

When I was pregnant with Cass, I ate ice cream. Loads of it. And the kid has a sweet tooth the size of Brooklyn.

With Rosey, I never wanted sweet - only hot and spicy. Thai, Mexican, Japanese, Indian - whatever I could chomp.

And today, Sweet Miss R took a spoon and dipped it into the jar of salsa sitting on the table and slurped it off.


("Another one with the iron stomach" Bear groaned.)

Score one for the picante side.

Sunday, 23 July 2006

the bed

When I first moved here, the house was empty, except for a creaky bed and two chipped glasses in the pantry. For a week, we had everything I brought with me (dining room table and chairs, two dressers, a glorious old cabinet, tons of books, my grandmothers china, and some odds and ends.) and nothing else.

(But hey! We could sit on the floor and look at the china!)

Our first big purchase for the house was our bed. It has a high, plain headboard, curved gently,softly, not too frou-frou, not too austere, just...right. I like to think someday one of our children will take it with them somewhere and start their new lives with it.

I have always loved good linens. I usually mix ours up so that there's an unifying color but a riot of different flowers and patterns - some are new and some are passed on by my mother, my grandmother, my great aunt, even a lone pillowcase from the first 'grown-up' set I demanded when I was young and tired of cartoon animals and Holly Hobbie sets.

Quilt or comforter, it changes according to my mood and the weather.

Lately* it's been something I found on E-bay - a utility quilt (I assume that means that quilts of this type were made to not be for best, but instead things like picnics and tossing around Pa's shoulders on his way out to the barn, but I don't know if that means they're made a special way or with a certain fabric.) made with large patches of small patterned fabrics, and then curiously, some large jungle lions and a stop and go signpost. I wish I knew the story behind it - I thought at first it must be an unfinished project that someone's daughter or niece had taken over, but the stitching is fine and uniform and it doesn't look like the strange bits had been added later.

I think this is part of the reason I love quilts and weavings - there's always a reason behind every stitch placed, every piece chosen.

The quilt is a lightweight cover, good for those nights when the air conditioning has been on too long and the room is a bit nippy. (My side is closest to the vent.)

So it's not a showplace bed. It would never be on a magazine cover or foofed up like a catalog. Somedays, it doesn't even get made. But I love it, the quirkiness of it, the way all the different linens say home and family and good memories to me, and I love sinking down into it at the end of a long day.

*Yes, yes, it's July and hotter than heck...B and I both like to burrow and sleep under the weight of heavy blankets and the a/c is set on perma-chill.

Friday, 21 July 2006

waiting for Beryl

We're supposed to get hit with the tail of Beryl tonight - a crapload of wind and some rain.

This makes shopping and errands fun - along with the 'Chicken Little' shoppers (The sky is falling! Quick, buy every can of soup the store has!) and the Duck and Cover boys at the hardware store (Ayup. Gonna have a little wind. Better tie down the tractor.) the bank's computer system went out and we were back in the land of it-takes-twenty-five-minutes-to-make-a-withdrawal.

Since we couldn't stock up on soup (I kid!) we drove over to a local produce stand and bought some really nice corn and blueberries, dodging comments about why on earth we were out - didn't we know there was a storm a'coming?

The weather was grey but not nasty yet. We took the scenic route back and watched the rain come in over the ocean. By the time we got home it was drumming rain and blowing hard - and it's been doing that pretty constantly since then. The power has flickered a few times, but nothing more than a blip - hardly worth noting.
THAT'S IT? That was the storm? It looks like Beryl decided to unleash her (dying) wrath on Newfoundland and pass over Nova S - the night tonight is rain drizzled and chilly, but hardly worth a cart full of Campbell's creamed whatever.

Besides, what does one DO with that much soup?

Wednesday, 19 July 2006

spam, spam, everywhere a spam*


From: "Isabel Cooper"
Subject: No place like home disembowel

You can bet I was in a hurry to read this e-mail. After that subject line, what were they selling - ginsu knives?

Alas, another poorly spelled missive about refinaaancing, mortgagee, and my creedit. Caash out if I qualify! (And how does someone misspell cash and not qualify?)

No, thanks, really. I'll stick to the knives.

*Do this, don't do that, can't you read the spam?
Admit it, you'll be singing it all day too.

Tuesday, 18 July 2006

night owl

The last few weeks have been like boot camp for the boy.

He's been running, jumping, swimming, bike riding, ball kicking, swinging, kite flying and doing calisthenics.

No, he hasn't been invited to join the army.*

This new regimen of all action! all the time! is a last-ditch effort by Bear and I before we break down and start writing to boarding schools in the Northern Territories. (And his father won't let me go all Monks of New Skete and run him behind the car.)

Cass, you see, has decided that he need never sleep again.
And we are strenously protesting, hence the go baby go! marathon of sports and play.

So far, it's worked reasonably well. So today, there was a lot of running and jumping, and then a lot of this:

And we went for a walk. And then he showed me how he can snorkel in the tub. And then bed. Three stories, a pee, a drink of water, lots of kisses, his nightlight on, his fan going. Beau and Charlie snuggled in. Prayers.

Ahhhh, I think, exhaling. There is silence. Girlie is sacked out, boyo is headed off to dreamland. Mentally high-fiving myself, I flip on the taps for a shower.

But I'm wrong.


I'm decidedly too old for this.

* PLEASE click on that link if you have kids. PLEASE. Incredibly scary stuff.

Monday, 17 July 2006

first time

Today was a banner day.

Today, my daughter asked for shoosh* with her pankikk** and talked about the yion*** and wanted her bunny and for me to weed buks! weed buks!****, and then tonight? As I was switching on her fan and making sure her bunny garden was complete?

Mama? Mama! Mama!
Hmm, Peaches?
Mama, Dawuvoo. Dawuvoo, Mama.
(choking up) I love you too, Rosey Posey.

My heart - I think it has wings tonight.

****read books

Sunday, 16 July 2006

a funny, two good, and a bad

This morning at breakfast, we were all discussing our days when Rosey reached out, gathered everyone's' plates up and stacked them. We were all impressed. Her father was bursting-at-the-seams-proudly telling me that she was such a smart cookie that we should be looking for a college for her now....when she picked up the top plate, tipped it towards her mouth, and licked all the ketchup right off.

Did you know there are sites that let you create crossword puzzles? Huzzah!

I've also started getting gardening catalogs in the mail for fall bulbs - I want to do a huge spray of pink and white parrot tulips outside and to the right of the house, and I think I'll be plotting out where that goes tonight! This is, of course, provided the deer don't eat everything I plant again - I gave up having a vegetable garden because they ate everything. I rounded the corner of the house one morning to discover a deer standing there cockily with a zucchini in his mouth, looking all the world like a big fat cigar. I'm surprised they weren't knocking on the windows, asking us to pass out the salt and pepper. But! Gardening catalogs! A good thing!

And speaking of R, I realized this weekend that we have a far bit to go. She knows many more words but uses almost none of them unless coaxed (and by coaxed I mean urged to repeat until we get tired) - I went too far today and she had a tantrum. I think she scared herself, too. She's begun to shriek when she doesn't get what she wants - not an annoying sound at all, why?? - I'm really afraid her frustration levels are just going to continue to climb.

It all started with juice. I just wanted her to say juice - something she's done before, easily, but I guess at that moment she didn't want to? Couldn't remember how? And I pressed too hard and then we were locked into it, and she was wailing and I was clutching the damned sippy-cup like a lifeline....not one of my most stellar parenting moments. In the midst of it I figured out I was looking for a 'Helen Keller moment' where she would just...get it. And I should have more patience than that.

Thursday, 13 July 2006

the meme of five

stolen from blackbird...

5 things in my closet

a domed glass cake set
unity candle from our wedding
three pair of black heels
a crib bumper set
a set of windowblinds

5 things in my fridge

three heads of garlic
pitcher of iced tea
limes and lemons
lemon frizzante
fish sauce

5 things in my car

childs size wooden chair missing a seat
three packages of gum and one of mints
approximately 6.47 in small change in the ashtray
cell phone cord

5 things in my purse

more gum
library card
spare diaper
an unopened MacDonalds toy (for emergencies)

Wednesday, 12 July 2006


The scene: A sunlit room full of colorful toys. A strawberry blond little boy busily plays a fishing game, while a dainty doe-eyed little girl watches him and stirs rice at the sand table with her hands. A baby lies asleep in his mothers arms. A curly-headed girl flies from one end of the room to the other, pausing to thrust toys at assorted grownups as she races by. At the easel, a brunette draws steadily with chalk.

I was chatting with another mom about her new baby when I realized R was very quiet over at the drawing corner. I leaned out and saw her rummaging through the easel pocket - okay, she was busy. I looked away to accept and make thankful noises over a toy given to me, and looked back to see Morticia Addams staring back at me.

Remember the smelly markers? Remember how much fun they were?

Unbeknownst to me, they apparently taste good too. Rosey had (almost perfectly) colored her lips with dark blue, and then grown tired and sucked on the end.

It was at that point they decided to take pictures of the kids. Rosey smiled really big when it was her turn, exposing her blue teeth and gums to the world.

(And no, I didn't have a camera. I am, however, going to be getting copies of the ones the playgroup leaders took, so perhaps I'll be able to post those.)

After that, there was painting with pudding! (And R kept shooting me looks - you want me to what with this stuff? But but but it's pudding??)

Circle time wasn't the greatest - Chickie is not used to being hemmed in and sitting still for ten-fifteen minutes? I was joking, right?

But playing outdoors on the push-cars made up for all of it.

Tomorrow I'm taking my camera, and a change of clothes.

Tuesday, 11 July 2006


Things I miss, in no particular order:

  • Good and Plentys
  • Target (Wal-Mart is not.the.same)
  • Regular green money
  • Altoids cinnamon mints (for some freaky reason, they don't sell the cinnamon here. )
  • JCPenney
  • good catalogs (slim pickings)
  • sausage (yes, there's sausage over here, but the ratio to meat/filler is wrong and patties are harder than hen's teeth to come across)
  • NPR. I saw the Prairie Home Companion TV special yesterday, and bawled.
  • All Things Considered. (For a long time I wanted to talk like they do when I grew up.)
  • yes, pedestrian, and yes, nasty, but I miss Slurpees. There are Slushies here, which are not the same, are full of ice, and fruit flavored. Adding rum to one on a hot hot day is....disgusting.
  • Most of all, I miss the attitude of the States. That slightly cocky, swagger-a-little, go-get-'em mentality. Canadians are a stalwart people - a bright brave and true nation, but not given to the self-importance Americans carry themselves with.
  • Aveda. E-baying shampoo and makeup is getting ridiculous.
  • Yellow squash. Can't get it, can't buy it, and the closest I can come to it in the gardening catalogs is yellow zucchini, which is not the same.
  • voting
  • the Fourth of July hullabaloo. It seems so wrong not to have it.
  • people who knew me when I was growing up

and finally, if someone would like to put my family in a box and head it my way? Much obliged.

Monday, 10 July 2006

a bootiful day in the neighborhood

First, we went to the park, which I love for this:

and is popular with the kids because you can see this across the river:

(God bless big trucks. I can drink coffee while they ooh! their hearts out.)

Then onto the playground, where there were slides to conquer:

and tunnels to explore.

And now, naps. Aaaaah.

Sunday, 9 July 2006

struggling to understand

I was tucked up with Harry (Potter, that is) when Bear came to bed.

House rules: The last adult to hit the bed checks on both the chicklets and leaves the bedroom doors open. (Miss Ears-Like-A-Bat is usually dead to the world by then, and that way blah blah blah air circulation etc)

I was flipping my light out when B came back in, grabbed a flashlight, and left again, saying "I think Rosey tossed up."

He was back in a minute. Clicking his flashlight off, he sat on the bed. "Yup, she threw up. It's in her hair."

And sat on the bed. And sat on the bed. A beat. He raised his eyes to mine. "She's all dirty, Jess."

It was a few seconds before I could wrap my head around the fact that he had seen that she was laying in her own vomitus and had come back to tell me. And now wanted me to clean her up.

B is historically bad with vomit. I understand that, although I'd be lying if I said I was okay with it.

By the time I woke Rosey up, bathed and changed her, stripped and remade her bad, he was snoring. Snoring.

R is a real Daddy's Girl, though, so she took care of that. B woke up suddenly, with one of R's fingers stuck up his nose, his snurfs and snorts delighting her into giggles. He took her downstairs and gave her some (watered-down) 7-up and rocked her for a bit.

While I went to bed.

Yesterday, before all this sicky stuff started:

All hail the frog princess!
(And I know web safety protocol frowns upon full-face photos of the kids for security reasons. She looks nothing like this.Weird angle, goggles compressing face, etc.)

Saturday, 8 July 2006


Most of the year, I think I could be a vegetarian. I love me some vegetables - souped, stewed, baked, broiled (witness the addiction to rosemary garlic potatoes) fricaseed or raw. I could be a happy convert, living off the land, discussing quinoa and fiddleheads, apple squash and creeping thyme.


That would all come to a screeching halt the first day of grilling season.

Bear (the barbecue master) grilled porterhouses tonight.

And all my dreams of living simply, more earth-centered-ly?
Vanished at the first sniff.

Yes, Virgina, it really is summer now.

Friday, 7 July 2006

hoofbeats in the library

Our library has just started carrying a huge amount of children's movies for a two week borrowing time.

Bear saw this for the first time today. Faced with a wealth of primary color boxes and Disney cartoons, he first called for reinforcements (me) then began trying to figure out which movies we didn't own/hadn't seen yet.
I was too busy hunting around the Young Adult section for the last remaining copy of the latest Harry Potter (I can't be the last person in the world to read this, can I?) to give him all my attention, but managed to convey in grunts and nods that Cass had seen The Little Toaster and the Great Panda Adventure, and we owned Napoleon, but he hadn't watched An American Tail - and then Bear saw it and he wasn't listening anymore.

He looked lit up from inside. "Did you see what they have?" he asked, almost with awe.

Letting go of my private image of a nice quiet couples movie night (New and Improved, Now with footrubs and popcorn!) I sighed. I should have known he'd spot it.

The back wall of the library is now taken up with films. An entire ten foot section is dedicated to western movies. Bear, who is a closet Wayne fan, was in hog heaven.

Thank God I found some books. I predict a whole lotta galloping horses in the livingroom the next few days.

Wednesday, 5 July 2006

hide and seek again

Is he looking for me?


Thanks to a plethora of chicken recipes, my family is sated and groaning. Bear is delighted we have a new 'normal chicken' recipe.

However, the real habit-forming item seems to be the rosemary-garlic potatoes.

Even the baby gets excited when she smells them cooking, and the boy cleans his plate and asks for more.

I'm not complaining, because I love these things too, but whooo - you just don't expect garlic breath from a 20 month old!!
(As my father in law said after getting an enthusiastic kiss from herself:
"What have you been feeding this child??)

Basic recipe:

Wash potatoes. (I use either Idahos or Yukon Golds) Quarter the long way so you get those nice long thick pieces. Toss on cookie sheet with a couple of tablespoons of EVOO and some salt. Cook at 400 degrees for about twenty minutes (or until they look slightly puffed and golden.) Meanwhile, make a slurry of EVOO, two or three pressed (or minced) garlic cloves, more salt and some rosemary. Pour over potatoes on cookie sheet and toss again, bake until they are nice and brown and you can't wait any longer.

Your breath will stink but your tastebuds? Oh so happy.

Monday, 3 July 2006

stolen goods

lifted from pea soup:

(grandfather/grandmother on your father's side, your favorite sweet/lolly):

Alice Toffee - either a movie star or that odd girl who used to eat paste and chew on the end of her braids, remember her?

(first initial of first name followed by "izzle", first two or three letters of your last name followed by "dizzle"):

Jizzle Vandizzle - I think I pizzled in me pants....

(favourite color, favourite animal):

cerulean cat - 'and all places are alike to me.' (Who knows that?)

(first 3 letters of your name- last 3 letters of mother's maiden name, first 3 letters of your pet's name repeated twice):

Jesuhl Chuchu
- and anyone with that handle would be the one who dies in the first battle scene

("The", your favourite color, the automobile you drive):

The Blue Blazer - Ridding the world of crime, one gas tank full after another

Sunday, 2 July 2006

holy sweet jesus

Rosey had a spectacular nosebleed out on our walk today.

There are moments with your kids where you're pretty sure your heart has stopped.

R said Mama? and held up her little red-streaked hands so I could see.

She was very quiet about it - thank god she didn't start crying and wailing or else we'd still be out there - just smeared her little gory paws all over her dress and sniffed a lot. We were farther away than we usually are, and I had nothing to wipe her face with, so it was as fast as a trip back as I could manage with my bad knee.

I've been teaching Cass how to use my camera - so today he took his first portrait of his sister. She's looking bloody and thoughtful...

Maybe not the one I'll put in the album??

And here I thought this was going to be a lazy, run-of-the-mill Sunday.....

Saturday, 1 July 2006


I took about a hundred names off my facebook friend list tonight. Really, it went surprisingly quickly, with only a few 'who was this ag...