Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Yosemite Sparky

Q posted this over at Simply Put, and it made me laugh - so I stole it! :-)

One of the residents of our home is Sparky, a long-haired guinea pig. He bears a striking resemblance to a certain Looney Tunes character. Separated at birth? You be the judge!

Monday, January 30, 2006

Hockey Fever Continues

It's ongoing in Mary's kitchen, the endless hockey game, only it's achieving a new level of sophistication. Perhaps because daddy has been taking Darcy to see high school hockey games, but Darcy has learned to body check. Yes. He does it very well, too. Not only has he learned how, but he knows when to do it. It's quite impressive, really. This afternoon, Darcy and George were scooting after the puck (a.k.a. a wooden block). Displaying a novel degree of authenticity, they were both in pursuit of the same puck. As you know from previous posts on the subject, there are generally multiple pucks in our games, the ice littered with at least one per player, very often more. Today, however, two boys, one puck. How sophisticated! But then, it gets even better. George makes it to the puck, which has lodged against the boards, first. George angles himself so as to shoot the puck out into centre ice, when Darcy approaches from his left, and, leading with his shoulder, checks George back a pace and gains control of the puck! It was decisive, it was neat, it was efficient - it was really, really good! Really! I was so impressed. George was less so. "Daaarcy!" Darcy is too busy racing the puck across the ice to answer. George is not letting this go. He "skates" up behind Darcy, and I'm wondering: are we going to get still another level of authenticity? Is there about to be a brawl on the ice? "Darcy! Darcy, you has to say sorry!" The tears glimmer on his lashes as he holds up his middle finger. "You hurted me!" I consider intervening with the harsh truth that in a real game the play does not stop so someone can say sorry for a bo-bo on a finger, but I'm curious to see how Darcy decides to handle it. He's perfectly capable of saying just exactly that. Nope. Authenticity has its place and all, but George is his friend, and Darcy is a gentle-spirited little guy (with the makings of a great athlete, I might add). Play stops while Darcy kisses George's finger better. "All better?" George smiles. And the game commences once more.

Sunday, January 29, 2006


Saturday, January 28, 2006

Fatherly Love

Warm and conjugal, my sweetie and I bask lazily in a Saturday morning no-need-to-get-up. I've had my shower, but I'm taking a few more minutes to relax slowly into the day. Shrieks of fake operatic ululating pulsate through the floorboards from the living room below. Seems his youngest, a ten-year-old boy, is awake and greeting the dawn. "Well, I think I'll just get up now," I grin at the paternal progenitor of the ululator below. "Feel free," he offers, loving father that he is, "to stuff a sock down his throat when you get there."

Friday, January 27, 2006

Life Lessons from the Sims

Darcy and George play the Sims with Emma. Darcy's character in the game - whose name is "Darcy", if you can believe the coincidence!! - has become an adult. "Darcy, do you want your guy to get married?" Emma asks. "Yeah." "Who do you want to marry?" "George!" George is all in agreement. The game, of course, allows same-sex unions, but, sadly for the boys, they have made themselves brothers in the game. Emma breaks the news, so Darcy, ever-adaptable, picks a local female to marry. "Will you want to have a baby, now you're married?" Emma asks. "Yes! And I want the baby to grow in my tummy!" Even the inclusive Sims doesn't allow for this. "Sorry, Darcy." Emma breaks the sad news. "Only girls can grow babies." Emma told me about this exchange later. "He was really disappointed mum! Isn't that so cuuute?"

Thursday, January 26, 2006


"Arthur, it's time for me to make lunch. You need to pick up those blocks now so I can move in the kitchen. Pick up the blocks, please." "Why?" "No, not 'why'. When I say 'Pick up the blocks', you say 'Okay, Mary'." "Why?" "Par.Don Meeee?" "Ahhh... Okay." "Okay, Mary." "Okay, Mary." We're on our way...

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Pint-size Political Pundits

George and Darcy are chatting in the kitchen. Then George's voice changes, his eyes twinkle. "Stephen Harper," he intones, his voice rich with portent and mischief. Darcy picks up on the tone of naughtiness, and joins in. "Steeephen Haaarperrr." Back and forth they go, each imitating the other. "Stephen Harper." Giggle, giggle. "Stephen Harper!" Giggle, snort, chortle. I have to ask, but I don't want to lead with my questions. We'll make it open-ended. "So who's Stephen Harper?" I ask, light and casual. They look up at me. "I dunno," says Darcy. "He's the man in the song," explains George. "A song on television?" I haven't heard any jingles about our man Steve, but I don't watch a lot of television. "No." I know they've just heard the name. It's been everywhere these last few weeks, along with Paul Martin's (his picture's on the right) and Jack Layton's (he's the one on the left). But what does it mean to these two? I want to know, so I set them up. "Is Stephen Harper a good guy or a bad guy?" (Which would be the question of the hour for Canadians.) George and Darcy have none of the doubts or hesistation of many Canadians. Their answers ring clear, firm, and confident. "Bad guy!" affirms George. "Good guy!" declares Darcy. "Bad guy!" bellows the loose-canon voter, Arthur, who until this moment had paid not a moment's attention to the debate. I think they're representative of the general populace.

Because it's all about Labels, right?

George scrambles out of his chair so as to get his coat on. The woman at the next table in the coffee shop starts to make small talk as I assist the children into their coats, hats, mittens, scarves, etc, etc,etc. "Those are nice overalls you have there." George looks down at his blue corduroy tummy. "They have a pocket for my lego guy," he says, indicating the bib pocket. "Do you know what kind of overalls they are?" she asks. "Blue!" George knows all his colours, basic shapes, the numerals from 0 - 9, the days of the week, a lot of letters, and can count to twenty-nine. He is proud to display his prowess. "Yes, they are blue. But that's not all. Those are OshKosh overalls," she says, pointing to the label on the bib. "See these words? They say 'OshKosh'." George looks down. "Those words?" "Yup. They say 'OshKosh'. Can you say 'OshKosh'?" Oh, save me. Can you say brand-conscious? Happily by then we're ready to leave. George is directed to say goodbye to the nice lady. (Quick, George! Say goodbye quick! Before she says anything even sillier.) And we wonder why kids care about this stuff so early...

Monday, January 23, 2006

Election Day, the Sign Mans, and my Dessert

It's Election Day here in Canada, and for the first time in years, I went to cast my ballot without my little parade of toddlers. Generally I hit the polling station in the morning, in part to avoid any congestion that may occur in the busier after-work hours, but mostly because I like the idea of taking the tots along, exposing them to this aspect of being a grown-up. It's the teacher in me, don't you know. Today I didn't. Today I went after work hours, so that I could be chauffeured to and from - taking the car, when the polling station is six blocks from my home! I'm mortified. What kind of a fat-ass wuss am I morphing into?? I'm also incapable of walking six blocks, so I can swallow my moral outrage at using a car for a six-block outing. It's embarrassing, true; it's also merely necessary. A canvasser for one of the parties came to the door earlier today, "getting the vote out". I assured her of my intention to go to the polls this evening, and she gave me a little bookmark with the candidate's picture and the address of our polling station. Just so's I'd know who to vote for and how to get there. Six blocks from my home. The tots were interested. "Dat's the man on the signs on the lawns!" Darcy exclaimed. "Why did the lady give you the sign man's picture?" I explained that today all the grown-ups would be deciding who got to be the boss of the country. This was one of the men who wanted to help. He didn't want to be the boss, but he wanted to be one of the boss's helpers. I'm talking to three-year-olds: it pays to keep it simple. "Don't we have a boss already?" George asks. It would be clever George who thinks of this. "Well, yes, we do." (I will suffer no snide remarks about Mr. Martin's efficacy or lack thereof in the position; fact is, at least technically, he is the boss.) "We do, but now it's time for someone else to get a chance. Even the boss of the country has to take turns." This they understand, and it's on to more pressing matters, like can Zach eat the Smartie that rolled under the potty and looks just the teeniest bit damp. They took a vote, and Zach ate the Smartie. A few years back, less experienced and more eager to enrich, I attempted a more detailed explanation. "Say that your mummy said you could have either a brownie or some ice cream for dessert, but you all had to have the same thing." I explained to little Kaleb, then four years old. "So everyone in the family would get to say what they wanted. That's voting. Each person would be voting for the dessert they want. Whichever dessert had more people wanting it, that's what everyone would eat." He seemed to grasp this, and then I very skilfully made the connection between voting for something like dessert and voting for leadership of the country. We all troop into the polling station, I take my ballot, mark it, drop it in the box, then back out into the sunshine we go. (Because generally we are sensible in this country and do NOT hold elections in the WINTER!) "Did we voted?" Kaleb asks. "Yes, we did." He scrutinizes my face carefully, puzzlement all over his. "So, when do we get the dessert?" So this evening I went and cast my ballot. In another hour I'll turn on the television and start watching the returns. And maybe, if I'm lucky, I'll get the dessert I wanted.

Eating Green, the Devious Way

Very few parents of toddlers manage to avoid the struggle over Green Things. Food fads are very common and idiosyncratic at this age, but the loathing of vegetables is almost universal. What's a parent to do? There are a number of ways to get vegetables into your children. We can classify these into two approaches: the Devious, and the Direct. This post deals with the Devious. Under the Devious, first and foremost: GOOD MODELLING. 1. Good Modelling. This one is of critical importance. You will be far less likely to get your tot to eat healthful meals if you don't. So, suck it up and eat your beans! For the sake of your child's long-term good health, you can make this change in your patterns. And hey, it'll be good for you, too! I know a mother who hates vegetables, and who, quite literally, never eats them. Her two daughters - surprise! - never do, either. I am appalled, and predict a life of constipation followed by colon cancer for the entire lot of them. 2. When the kids cluster round your feet as you prepare dinner, claiming to be STARRRRVING!, give them vegetables. Take the cooked sprig of cauliflower from the pot, run it under cold water to cool it, and hand it to your child. So what if that means they've eaten all their cauliflower before dinner starts? They've eaten all their cauliflower!! 3. Vary the presentation. Make cucumber flowers by dragging a fork down the outside to make grooves, then slicing it. Put peanut butter or cheese in the celery. Make roses from the radishes, little people from mushrooms. Be imaginative. 4. Dip them. Some kids would eat styrofoam if they could dip it. Besides the traditional sour cream option, there's ranch dressing, yoghurt (seems weird, I know, but some kids like it), or melted cheese. 5. Frozen veggies. Many toddlers LOVE frozen peas, corn niblets, and tiny cubes of frozen carrots. I often give them out for snacks. 6. Hide them. I've been known to put smooshed peas or flattened cauliflower UNDER the cheese on a grilled cheese sandwich. Really. 7. Camouflage them. Pureed, vegetables can go a lot of places: in the lasagna, in the mac and cheese, in soups. I routinely use pureed squash to thicken and sweeten soups and stews. Pureed squash makes chicken noodle soup taste really good to most kids. Just don't tell them it's in there... (Word to the wise from one who knows: don't use spinach for this. It turns the broth an unbelievable emerald green, that simply can't be explained away.) Those are all options in the Devious category, ways to sneak vegetables into your child without the direct confrontation. But wouldn't it be nice to just be able to set a meal in front of your child, and have it get eaten without fuss? I bet you get tired of this song-and-dance routine some days, jumping through hoops provided by someone who only reaches mid-thigh! Don't you look forward to the day when a piece of broccoli is just another item on the plate, not an invitation to bedlam and domestic upheaval? It can happen! It won't happen by Devious means, however. To achieve that goal, my friends, you will have to employ the Direct Method. Next installment (when I finish writing it): The Direct Method. ~~~~~~~~~~~~ © 2006, Mary P

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Progress Report

This morning I put on my own socks!!! This afternoon, I sat, on a stool, for twelve minutes!! I am so excited.

Romantic Meme

Queen Bee tagged me on Thursday. Here we go! 1. The tagged victim has to come up with 8 different points of their perfect lover. 2. Need to mention the sex of the target. 3. Tag 8 victims to join this game & leave a comment on their comments saying they’ve been tagged. 4. If tagged the 2nd time, there’s no need to post again. Sex: male Eight characteristics of my perfect lover. (Not that I believe such a thing exists...) Let me think. Physical characteristics are generally unimportant. I tend to particularly love the aspects of my special man because they're particular to him. So if he's my height, I love that I can make eye contact with him; if he were tall, I'd love that I fit so neatly under his arm. I actively love attributes that are not in the "good looking" category - a particular stoop of the shoulders, say, or a bit of a round tummy - because they are "him". Except weight: He doesn't have to be buff and hollywood perfect, (I'm certainly not!), but obesity is a huge turn-off. 1. Conversation, for me, is the life-blood of a relationship. He must, must, must be able to converse. This means talking and listening, sharing ideas, building concepts together. I see conversation as a shared creative act, not a mere matter of taking anecdotal turns. This also means he must be at least as intelligent as me. 2. Be emotionally aware and able to speak intelligently of his feelings. (For many years I thought this was simply fantasy, something I could only get from female friends. To my utter delight, I have discovered that there is one such man on the planet!) 3. Be able to disagree respectfully. He must believe, as I do, that conflicts, handled properly, are portals to a closer relationship. 4. Be capable of nurturing. (Me, children, fuzzy bunnies...) Not that I need or want a daddy instead of a partner, but everyone likes to be nurtured from time to time. 5. Be respectful of me and my strengths. Be aware of my weaknesses without contempt. 6. Be able to laugh at himself. 7. Love me to distraction. 8. Be able and willing to hold his own in a conflict when needful, but deplore violence. You know what? I've found all these. All in the same man! Took me twelve years in an increasingly bad marriage, and a little exploration along the way, but I've landed with the perfect man for me. I am so lucky. As for who I'll tag, I'll do this the way I always do these things: if you want to do this one, just let me know in the comments section, and we'll all troop over to your place and check it out!

Saturday, January 21, 2006

While I Was Researching...

Picture me industriously preparing a couple of posts on how to get your toddlers to eat vegetables. It's by way of a public service, don't you know. I was googling for pictures to accompany the text, make it bright and yummy. Have you ever noticed how, when you're researching one thing, you tend to pick up odd bits of information on peripherally related topics along the way? Take baby carrots, for example. Have you ever wondered where they come from? I mean, I've grown carrots, and I've never produced weeny little stumpy baby carrots. Even if the soil's not prepared properly and you get short ones, they're never that small! So where do these things come from? It's a puzzler, no doubt.

Well, puzzle no more, because I have found the solution! . . . . . . . .
And that, my friends, was post number four hundred! Well worth the wait, I'm sure.

(If you click on the picture, it will take you to the website where I found it, which has about a gazillion vegetable recipes.)


Went to bed, there was moderate snow out there. Woke up this morning to an exuberance of snow. Look at this! Look right... Look left... Gorgeous, isn't it? What the pictures don't show is how heavily it's still coming down, though it's suggested by the mistiness in the distance, which is not mist, but merely billions of fine flakes. Here's a better indicator: See these steps?

We shovelled them an hour ago. (Er, that would be the Royal "We", and Q is a prince!)

What's Up With Me this Week, Anyway?

For those of you who are wondering what has become of me this week: I am continuing to keep up my space here, obviously, though much of what you've read in recent days was written long ago. I am not, however, managing my usual rounds of visits to see all you nice people. Here's the explanation, which I'm hoping will be simply information and not a whine! I have, it turns out, a "bulging disk". Well, that's what the physiotherapist called it; she makes a distinction between bulging and herniated, but not all experts do. You can call it bulging, you can call it herniated - point is, it hurts! This accounts for the lower back pain and the greatly restricted movements. (I can't put on my own socks! Thank you, Q, for saving me from barefoot frozen feet...) The disk is impinging on the sciatic nerve, which accounts for the pain down my right leg. I cannot sit for more than a few minutes. I cannot stand still for long, either. I can walk, though gimpily, with the right leg dragging a bit, but not far before the leg pains start. What I can do - and the physiotherapist has even presribed it - is lay on my tummy on the floor. The exercises she's given me afford me about half an hour of pain-free living. A sound investment of 20 minutes, I figure. So the last couple of days have comprised of 20 minutes of exercise followed by 30 minutes or so of upright living. Part of the "exercise" is simply to prop myself up on my elbows and let my back droop. Guess what? I can TYPE while I do that!! Oh, happy day! Oh, how I love my laptop! Without it I'd be bereft of blogging, and though I've also consumed a fair number of books this week (finished Quirky Kids, Susan!), one does value a bit of variety. How have I done this with the tots about? Well, I haven't. I took Thursday and Friday off sick, and will return to the fray on Monday. I have lined up backup for the mornings of next week. My son, Adam, who is having exams, graciously offered - offered! what a lovely boy - to help out. A friend will help one day, and Emma will get to stay home from school one day. I'm hoping that by the following week I will be able to work on my own. Keep your fingers crossed for me!

Friday, January 20, 2006

Map Yourself!

There. It's done. See the link in the sidebar, under my profile and above my Philosophy of Childcare? It's ready and waiting. Go on - stick your pin in my map!

Anybody Interested?

An Alert Reader (Dave Barry isn't the only one who has them, evidently) has Alerted me to Frappr. It's a site that hosts groups, and is an interesting idea in its own right. My Alert Reader suggests that were I to open a Frappr account, we could all use the map function, to show our global locale, pinpoint commenters geographically. He further comments that no other bloggers are doing it yet, but it could become wildly popular - and then WE could take pride in knowing we'd started the Next Big Thing! I think it's a cool idea. What do you think, oh loyal readers? If I open a Frappr account, would you enjoy sticking your pin in the map? You don't have to identify your street address - though it seems it's possible for some areas! - but just your city, or perhaps even just your state or county or province (or whatever the equivalent is in your country). Check out the link, look at the map option, which would be the only aspect of the Frappr services I'd be using, at least to start, and tell me what you think. Shall we do it?

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Ain't We Got Fun?

Arthur is cheerleading. "Are we goin-na puh-lay?!?" Great enthusiasm. George, Darcy, and Zach pick up on his tone.


"Are we goin-na fun-to-have??!?"


"Are we goin-na laugh and jump?!??!?"


The crowd is sufficiently revved. Arthur smiles upon them.

"Well, here you GOOOOoooo!"

And into each waiting hand he deposits a tiny piece of cold cooked green bean. ???? (Do. Not. Ask. Me.)

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

I Think I Liked Poo Better

Remember how fixated we all were on poo not that long ago? I'm a little nervous we've found a new focus for our prurient inclinations, and I'm hoping it doesn't stick around as long as the poo did. So to speak. George is singing. "Yankee Doodle went to town, A riding on his pony. Stuck his penis in his hat, And called it macaroni!" To which Darcy responds: "Stick your penis up your NOSE!" BWAH-hahahahahahahahahahaha!!! And thus begins the life-long fascination...

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Work-Related Accident, Update

Apparently my ruse of not telling the parents has proven futile, at least in the case of Arthur's parents. Well, I had told Arthur's dad, who has had a few back problems of his own, and he'd given me the name of a physiotherapist, though not, as it happens, the one I actually saw. As I'm waving Arthur goodbye, a neighbour calls out from his porch to ask how I'm doing. "Not so great. Had a work-related accident." "Oh, yes?" "Tripped over a baby gate." We all laugh. Ho, ho, ho. I am so funny. Arthur's mum looks up at me. "Is this the cleaned-up version?" "Nope. That's what happened." "Because Arthur's been telling us you tripped over the baby." Well, thanks a helluva lot, Arthur. "No, I did not. He trips over the baby. I do not." More laughter. Ho, ho, ho bloody ho... Glad we sorted that out...

Where's the Glamour? I Demand Glamour!

The elderly man in the waiting room at the physiotherapist's this afternoon watched as I gingerly eased myself into the chair and sighed my way slowly down to my bootlaces. "Done your back in, have you?" His voice is sympathetic, a fellow-sufferer. "Yes, it seems I have." Maintaining the perfect posture I have practiced all week, I walk across the room then place my boots on the mat by dint of doing very deep knee-bends while keeping that back very, very straight. When I get as low as my quaking thighs will allow, which is far lower than I could a week ago, (this would be my silver lining) I drop the boots from my fingertips. Two points for a straight landing. I am getting very good at this. "A sports injury, was it?" Well. What a wonderful old fellow he is, yes he is. Sports injury? Uh-huh. Young and spry, I am. The only reason I'm moving like a woman of eighty-two is that little incident I had while pole-vaulting last weekend. Yes, indeed. I like this. I like this man. This kind and perceptive man. He returns my smile, probably a bit bemused by its enthusiasm. Sadly, honesty compels me to disillusion him. "Nothing so glamourous, no. In fact, I tripped over the baby gate while carrying a basket of laundry." He winces appreciatively, and so do I. He's thinking of the pain. I'm thinking of the lack of cachet. Baby gates and laundry baskets are not in the same league as "sports injury". The sad truth is that in my line of work, stubbing your toes and bruising your shins on a baby gate as your legs stop dead in the kitchen, followed by wrenching your lower back as your torso plunges into the dining room, your body coming to an abrupt and muscle-searing stop when your arms slam the laundry basket down onto the dining room floor, while your butt forms the dramatic apex of your not-so-graceful descent in the air over said baby gate -- the pathetic truth is that in my line of work, this ridiculous event constitutes a work-related injury. But if anyone asks, it was the pole-vaulting.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Zach Tries it on for Size

We have our juice - lots and lots of pee-producing liquids! We have our airplanes for potty play, and a teddy for company. We have a book. We have a co-operative kid, and Smarties to encourage co-operation. What we don't have yet is any pee. But, I must say this again: we have a co-operative kid! So far, so good!

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Don't Mess With Momma Bear

While paying for the gas she'd just pumped into her car, a mother in Everett, Washington, was horrified to see a man get into her unlocked car - which had her eight-year-old daughter in the back. "He could have my car," said Ms. Trapp, "Just not my daughter." He didn't get either. Five-foot-five Ms. Trapp, fuelled by the desperate adrenaline of a mother whose child is in peril, hauled that six-foot man right out of her car. The would-be thief called her crazy. While I couldn't say for sure what I'd do in that situation unless I were to find myself in it, I bet the mom saw it more like this: which is crazier -- to take a risk to save my child, or to stand back while she's stolen away? Me, I think it's crazy to get between momma bear and her baby.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

But where does it come from?

You recall that I met with some parents before Christmas to discuss their child's excessive anxiety, and how we might deal with it. The conversation went reasonably well, all in all. At the beginning of the conversation, I gave them examples of this trait, so they could understand what was causing me concern. With only the one child, they have little basis of comparison that would give them some level of objectivity. They have no larger perspective on their child. To them, their child is normal. He has his little idiosyncracies - who doesn't? - but he's what little boys are like, right? Well, not entirely, no. So I gave them examples. When this happens, I said, he responds thus and so, whereas a more standard response would be this or that. The parents liked the examples, started providing some of their own. They seemed to accept my suggestion that their child is overly anxious, but the focus of the examples they provided, while entirely predictable, was misguided: rather than seeking to develop responses to the anxiety, they were seeking causes for it. "I think it started back when we were doing renovations on the house," mom told me. "I was leaving the house with our son, and he looked up and saw the workmen tearing up the roof. He was only two, and he was certain that the men were taking his house apart so they could steal his toys. No matter what I said, he just couldn't shake that idea, and ever since then, it's been a total downhill slope." So mom attributes his current anxiety levels to that pivotal event, which took place a year and a half ago. Dad had other ideas, and threw out another possibility. "When [this other scenario] happened, he was so worried. He fretted and fretted and fretted over it." Dad described how they'd responded. If they'd responded a different way, he said, their son would have turned out differently. This is very common thinking. My child is a certain way. It must have to do with me. It must have to do with an event. It has to be attributable to something! No, it doesn't. In cases of great trauma, yes, but in the average run-of-the-mill this and that of life, it doesn't have to be attibutable to anything at all. Think about it: Their two-year-old saw some workmen on their roof. For just about any other child, that would be a positive event. How interesting! How exciting! Can I hammer, too, mom?? For their child, however, it was a source of anxiety. Why? "Your boy is anxious," I said to these kind and concerned folks, "because he is anxious. A different child would have seen those men on the roof and responded in a different way. Your boy responded with anxiety because he is that kind of kid. He is who he is." The issue, of course, is not how did he get this way, but what do we do with the boy that he is? How do we help him cope with his issues? I firmly believe the kids we get are the luck of the genetic draw. You can modify a negative trait, you can encourage a positive one, you can give tools to strengthen weaknesses and tools to foster strengths, but in the normal range of family events, you do not cause a child to be anything other than what he is. (This does not excuse all those parents whose children's horrific manners and gross social misdemeanors are caused by weak parental guidance. Those children are fairly easy to pick out, though, because when with another, firmly authoritative adult, they can and do behave appropriately. If a child is a screaming, manipulative terror only with a specific person, the problem probably does lie with something that person is, or is not, doing.) An anxious child does not need to be taught or provoked into anxiety: that is their innate way of responding. Anxiety is their default response to the events and people around them. I think dad had caught this concept by the end of our evening, and was seeking with me ways to help their son. Mom, an anxious person herself, had not yet made this mental leap. Her desire, naturally enough, is to prevent her son from feeling bad. Thus, she wants to protect him from worrisome stimuli - except, for this child, the whole word is worrisome! I have a little concern for the boy. If mom continues to try to structure his entire world so that he need never worry, she is only exacerbating the problem. Instead of teaching him to deal with the anxiety that is innate to him, she tries to eliminate external triggers for it. Ironically, her conviction that his anxiety has an external source will inevitably make him even more a prisoner to his fears than he already is. My comfort comes in my conviction that I am only the first in what will eventually be a long line of concerned people. I hope that, in time, she will realize she must, for her son's sake, develop other ways of helping him, ways that will strengthen him to help himself. Because it's part of who he is.

(Click on the picture to take you to the source of the picture, taken by Geoff Scheer/Pioneer Press.)

Friday, January 13, 2006

It's Possible to be Too Cute

On our way to the coffee shop this morning, we come to an intersection. Although the light is green for us, there is a car approaching. What with the three toddlers, the baby and the stroller, I opt to let him finish his right turn before proceeding. Except that he stops in front of us. Right over the crosswalk. Hellllooo? Oh, no, I'm wrong. He's not stopping, exactly, he's just moving really, really, reaaalllly slowly. By the time he clears the sidewalk, the light has changed, and there I am, stuck. Now I have to wait for the next light. Why? Well, because he and the wife were too busy waving at all the cute little kiddies to LET US CROSS THE DAMNED STREET, don't you know!

Thursday, January 12, 2006

This Pic's for Lisa the Lurker from Louisiana

Because she said she liked the pictures of snow! See? It pays to dlurk, once in a while...

Ho, ho, ho

The boys are playing Santa. A chair is the sleigh, various toys are, well, toys, and a set of blocks laid out in a line extending from the front of the chair are reindeer. Right now they're arguing about who gets to fly down the chimney into Bethlehem and give baby Jesus his presents. (Yes, I know it's January, but Christmas is a pretty intense holiday, you know? It takes a kid a few weeks to work it through.) I'll bet baby Jesus will be thrilled with his gifts, though: from his infant perspective, a block, a toy airplane, and a red crayon have got to kick the prosaic ass of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006


Having a boatload of children in this house, your standard Brita pitcher is wholly inadequate, and so we have one of these babies: In the summer it sits on a shelf in the fridge, but as I don't much care for cold water in the winter, right now it sits on the kitchen counter. This is the side view. That dark blue thing on the left of the picture is the flange of the spigot on the front of it. The nice thing about this model, the thing, besides its large capacity, that makes it better for a large family than their pitchers, is that you can pour water into the reservoir at the top, and be able to get yourself a glass of water at the same time. With the pitchers, you have to wait for it to stop filtering before you can pour. Enough of the informercial. (If you're interested in knowing more, the picture is a link to the Brita people.) So, as I said, this sits on the counter, totally ignored by all the tots. All except Arthur. Mechanically inclined, gizmo-obsessed Arthur. Arthur, who puts inappropriate things in his mouth, who drools pretty much non-stop, who licks his nose. And, when not doing any of these bodily-fluid-y things, Arthur picks his nose. A lot. Till it bleeds, in fact. Arthur washes his hands a lot. He isn't generally allowed in my lap for a snuggle with washing his hands. Arthur also washes his hands before helping to set the table - which he loves to do, being a cheerful and social little dude. Arthur is not allowed to handle anything that might come in contact with anyone else's hands or face, because Arthur's hands have almost certainly been somewhere moist and germ-ridden only moments before. Adam comes out of the kitchen, looking a bit green. "Mom? Hey, Mom, we need to move the Brita. Arthur's been touching it." Okay. We're careful about Arthur's hands, and I'll steer him away from it, but I don't see how touching the outside of the Brita is really a problem. I'll just wipe it down with some disinfectant. "No, mom. He's not touching the outside. He's been sticking his finger right up the spigot!!" Now that's a truly disconcerting image. It's a small, moist opening. Arthur's small, slimy finger probably fits up that spigot just as neatly as it does up his nose... Adam drops to his knees and bends his six-foot body over so he can peer up into the spout. "Awww, man! Do you suppose there's boogers in there? That is so gross, mom." An even worse thought occurs to him: "How long has he been doing that, and we didn't know?" Is there a disinfectant you can swallow?

Tuesday, January 10, 2006


Over the past month, baby Nigel and I have developed a predictable food ritual. He sits in his high chair, a handy IKEA item, essentially a bucket on legs. It can be pulled up to the table when he feeds himself, or which can be placed in front of me when I'm feeding him. Appropriately bibbed, he sits up tall, alert, ready, and eager for his lunch. The first spoonful starts the ritual. Thereafter he signals his readiness for the next by swinging his chubby legs like mad, while gripping the front of the chair. The legs-swinging is joined by chair-smacking as the spoon nears his open mouth. His mouth, which is, what with all the swinging and smacking going on, bouncing and bobbing all over the place, a small and eminently miss-able target. Not wanting to smear his bean goop from cheek to earhole, I place one hand atop his head to steady and still, and in goes the spoon. Thus the procedure is as follows:

Legs swing; Spoon approaches; Arms wave; Hand on head; Successful deposit; Boy becomes still while ingesting; Legs swing.
Swing, spoon, wave-hand-food; swing, spoon, wave-hand-food; swing, spoon... you get the pattern. Today I made a discovery. The boy was bibbed and seated, primed and ready, when the cat - that endlessly fascinatiing feline - meandered through the dining room. No amount of spoon-waving and you-hooing was sufficient to attract his attention, so I placed my hand gently atop his head to turn his face spoonward. His eyes never leaving the cat - and why can't that dratted animal hurry himself once in a while, anyway? - Nigel's mouth opened. I take my hand away. His mouth closes. Put it back. His mouth opens. Hand on - mouth open; hand off - mouth closed. Open, close, open, close. Ladies and gentlemen, we have behavioural conditioning. What do you want to bet he salivates when I put my hand on his head?

National De-Lurking Week

I've been reading about this here and there, but it was at Grumppopotamus that I found this picture, and had to join in just so I could post it!

Isn't that a great picture??
Do I have lurkers? If you're out there, pop in and say "hello", and then you can sneak away again. I won't ask again for another whole year.

Monday, January 09, 2006

The Truth will Out

A wail from the living room. "What's wrong, Zach?" More wailing. Now, Zach is perfectly capable of talking, but if he can get copious snuggling by increasing shrieking, that's what he'll do. Why talk if it decreases your snuggle time? I kneel in front of him, he makes a lunge for my lap, his wails increasing exponentially. "No snuggles, Zach. No snuggles until you use your words." I hold his shoulders, keeping him a foot away from me. "Are you sad, or are you hurt?" "Yeeeesss! I hurted!" Okay. Those are words. Loud words, but words. I draw him onto my lap. "Where does it hurt, sweetie?" He points into the next room where George and Arthur are playing with trucks. "Over dere! It hurted over dere!" "No, Zach. Not where did you get hurt. Where does it hurt on Zach?" "Over dere. Ar-ter hurted Zach!" Ah. Arthur, however, begs to differ. He looks up from his tow truck. "I din't hurted him!" I opt to ignore this for the moment. I'm more invested in seeing if I can get Zach to understand the question. I tap him on his sniffling, but otherwise unharmed nose. "Does it hurt on your nose?" I'm aiming for a "no" answer, the first in a series of "no's", so as to narrow the field and teach him the meaning of the question. "Yeah." Hmmm... Evidently, comprehension is not dawning. Any further questions will be pointless, except for my own amusement. Which is one of the perks of the job, after all. "Does it hurt on your ear?" "Yes." "Your elbow? Your knee? Your chin? Your toe?" "Yeah. Yes. Yes. Yeah." Apparently, this boy's entire body is one giant bo-bo. Zach is calm now, enjoying our back and forth, loving the little taps he's getting on elbow, knee, chin, and toe. Arthur, meantime, secure in the observation that Zach's accusation has passed unnoted, has drawn near. I continue to play the game. "Does your eye hurt?" I touch his face gently above his left eye. "Yeah!!" "Does your belly-button hurt?" I give it a poke through the bib of his brown courderoy overalls. Zach giggles, wriggles in my arms. His acute sense of the ridiculous has completely overcome the pain of the long-forgotten bo-bo. His giggles bubble out. "Yeah! My buddy-budn!" Arthur, now standing and leaning against my shoulder, huffs indignantly. "He doesn't gots a bo-bo on his belly-button," he declares scornfully. "I hit him onna bum!"

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Winter Vibes

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Who Knows You, Baby?

This piece was first posted on In The Trenches, on December 12, 2005.

Later this week I am scheduled to meet with the parents to discuss with them my concerns over their child’s excessive anxiety. Anxiety to the point where I think he may have an actual disorder. This is not a child who worries a bit about going to daycare, and misses mummy a little more than most. This is a child whose level of worry and whose practice of fixating on points of anxiety interferes with his ability to make friends, enjoy his surroundings, live his life. I think it needs to be explored by people more expert than me, so that, if experts deem it necessary, it can be dealt with before it becomes even more of a handicap. I am a little concerned about how it will go. I quite like mom. We have a good relationship. She been very open to my input on small daily events, even soliciting my advice on occasion. This, however, is not a small matter. Dad I have only met once, so I can’t gauge how he will respond. In all honesty, I think the anxiety issue probably comes from mom, but judging from what mom has told me of how they respond to their son’s emotions, they are both fostering his anxiousness. So, he gets it by nature and nurture. And so I am meeting with the parents to discuss how he’s managing at daycare. You know that truism, “You are the parent, you know your child best”? I’m kind of ambivalent about it. I have three children, 12, 16, and 20. One thing the years have shown me is that I do and I don’t know my child. I’ve watched my fourteen-year-old bring home new friends, and I’ve thought, “Why on earth is that kid one of my kid’s friends? They’re so different! What could they possibly have to connect them?” Then I’d watch, and in their interactions, I’d see an aspect of my child I’d never noticed before. Seems that friend knows my child, or a facet of my child, better than I. In fact, I like watching my kids with their friends for that very reason: I learn more about them, things I wouldn’t otherwise have experienced. It’s certainly true that we parents love our child best. If you have a gut instinct that’s telling you something about your child, it needs to be taken seriously. It’s also true that you know your child in his home environment. But do you know who he is at daycare? At school? In other environments with other people? If he behaves differently in these places, is it because he “can’t be himself” there, or because he’s being the rest of himself? The other thing about parents, is we generally have a pretty small sample size on which to base expectations and from which to make generalizations. Most families in our society have one or two children; three at the very most. Anything more than that is quite unusual. Many parents have had little experience with children before having their own. So, five years into this grand journey of parenting, you know one or maybe two children intimately. That’s a pretty small sampling. I strongly suspect that my daycare child’s parents have no idea there’s an issue. This is their only child. To them, he is normal. They have no real basis of comparison. Yes, he’s “a bit of a worry-wart”, mom tells me, but “all kids like their routines”, right? She doesn't know. My first child was colicky, screamed for hours and hours every evening, but, being a natural born optimist and having no prior experience with babies, I told people she “was a little fussy”. It wasn’t till my second came along that I fully realized she had been a heckuva lot more than “a little” fussy!! I didn’t know. I have the unenviable task of suggesting to them that he’s rather more than “a bit of a worry-wart” and that while children do like their routines, this particular boy’s need for it borders on obsessive. I will be the first person to suggest to them that their boy is not “normal”. When I tell them this, it will also be suggesting that they, as parents, do not in fact know their child best. What I’m hoping is that they will co-operate with me in some new patterns of interacting with their son. I’m hoping that they will be open to trying new approaches to his anxiety, approaches that ease rather than increase it. I’m hoping that they will be willing to take him to their doctor, even to make an appointment with a child and family therapist. But they may become angry and defensive. They may tell me that I’m wrong, that they know their child best, and there's nothing wrong. They may say nothing, and simply withdraw the child from my care. They may even tell me I’m worrying needlessly. Wouldn’t that be ironic... So, I take a deep breath and prepare myself to give some lovely, loving, kind and conscientious parents some unwelcome news. I hope it goes well.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Archaeology, toddler-style

Darcy discovers something hidden in the snow. A while later, Darcy collapses from the effort, but George continues bravely, while Arthur arrives with shovel to do the heavy lifting. Voila! How long has that been there???

Looking for Feedback

Andie D says that my post is way, way, way down on the screen. Are any of you experiencing similar problems?

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Warning: Not for the Faint of Heart - Updated with Link

Playdough is a favourite activity round here. We have a basket filled with playdough toys - rollers and cookie cutters, plastic knives and garlic presses, and within this sits a plastic container of playdough. We don't mess with those sissy teeny commercial pots, either. We make our playdough around here, and we make it in respectable quantities. Two cups at a time, generally, often a double batch for more. That's one substantial lump o'dough. The recipe I use is taken from the More With Less cookbook put out by the Mennonites. I'd give you all the publishing details, but my copy is so old and well-thumbed that its cover and initial pages have been loved right off it.

Mix together in bowl: 2 cups flour 2 tablespoons alum Heat to boiling: 1 1/2 cups water 1/2 cup salt 1 tablespoon oil food colouring Stir liquids into dry ingredients. Knead until smooth. (Since it will be HOT, I knead while wearing rubber gloves which I coat with a thin layer of vegetable oil to prevent sticking.) Store in an airtight container.
This stuff keeps for-EVER. Alum is a pickling spice, keeping things dry and preserved. Some people prefer not to use alum, in which case you may substitute cream of tartar, but I find it doesn't work as well. As long as we remember to keep the lid on when it's not in use, one batch can last several months. Unless, of course, someone decides to get even more creative than usual. No mere sausages and pancake sculpting for our mystery tot. Someone wanted dimension, someone wanted texture! Someone poked chick peas into the playdough:

How, Exactly?

"Hey, big M! How're you doing?" "Big M'? I'm about a foot shorter than him, and a solid five inches shorter than his wife. And I'm not short. Nor am I fat. Whatever: he's being playful; I match his tone. "Sick as a dog, TallDark Dad. I've been sick all vacation. It bites the big one." I laugh, ruefully, hoarsely. Laugh morphs into a hack. "So, are you open?" There are four toddlers in my home. I'm sure he can hear the rowdiness in the background. "Yup, I'm open!" "Well, we'll be round sometime." "Okay. I'll see you when I see you." "Okay. Take it easy, all right?" Ummm. Yeah. I'll do that...

It Gets Weirder

Different parent drops off son this morning, a child who wasn't here yesterday. "His mom is home today, but she's not feeling well, so we thought she needed the day off." Pause. I'm not quite sure how to respond to this: "I know just how she feels?" "Yeah, it's tough to care for a single child when you're sick?" "Yes, it sure is nice to have a day off when you're under the weather?" Anything I say will just sound catty. Dad turns to me. "Oh, and how are you this morning?" "Oh, about the same as yesterday." "Well, have a nice day."

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Quiet Time with Arthur

Arthur is a loud child. Despite his good intentions, his sheer ear-blasting, mind-numbing volume is probably the single thing about this rather challenging child that drains me the most. It's loud, and it's incessant. Without reprieve. There are moments in my day with Arthur that I physically crave silence. Just for a moment. Which is not entirely fair, since he does take a nap in the afternoon. The boy needs his sleep. For which I am supremely grateful. However, there are some days when even a lengthy nap is barely sufficient a reprieve to enable me to sooth my shattered nerves and face the remainder of the day after nap time. We have been successful in teaching him the difference between volume appropriate to a chat across a football field and that required to traverse one of my small rooms. When told to use his "inside voice", he now knows what an inside voice is. This is progress. However, he can't seem to maintain an inside voice for more than, oh, 47 seconds. This afternoon, with repeated reminders, Arthur has managed what for him is moderate volume. The children are seated around the table, colouring. For an astonishing few seconds, there is utter silence. The only sound to be heard is the scribble of crayons across papers. It is blissful. Silence. This simply never happens with Arthur in the house. I have time for one deep breath; after eight seconds the silence is broken by "...meenuh, meenuh, meenuhmeenuhmeenuhmeenuhmeenuhmeenuh meenuh..." ...uttered in a tone forced out through vocal cords stretched taught, a tone that rasps against the nerves, that crawls into your ear, tunnels through your eardrum, and slices into your brain, which it then beats to a whimpering pulp with a mallet. "meenuhmeenuhmeenuhmeenuhmeenuhmeenuhmeenuuhmeenuh" Arthur's head is bent over his work, he scribbles with focus and vigour. "meenuhmeenuhmeenuhmeenuhmeenuhmeenuhmeenuhmeenuh" This is Arthur's approximation of working quietly. "meenuhmeenuhmeenuhmeenuhmeenuhmeenuhmeenuhmeennuh" "Arthur, please stop making that noise." He stops, lifts his head, eyes wide and innocent. "I was just singing a song!" "No, that's not a song, my dear. That's just noise. Please stop making that noise." Head down, crayon resumes its frenetic passage over the paper. His voice, taut and raspy, emerges yet again from under his chaotic mop of hair. "Old MacDonald had a farm, with a moo-moo here, anna moo-moo there" Well...it is music, or a reasonable approximation thereof. "Old MacDonald had a farm, with a moo-moo here, anna moo-moo there" And the volume, for Arthur, is acceptable. "Old MacDonald had a farm, with a moo-moo here, anna moo-moo there" So I sigh and let it roll on. "Old MacDonald had a farm, with a moo-moo here, anna moo-moo there" Seems this Old MacDonald is a dairy farmer.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Back to Work... sigh

The kids are out of school here until Monday, but I'm back to work. Thankfully, I have only two children today: Arthur and Mia play quietly at my feet. (Arthur! Quietly! It's a Christmas Miracle!) The house has been blissfully quiet the last day or two. Just Emma and me. Adam is still with his dad, Q is off with his kids to their grandparents. It's been wonderful. Well, as wonderful as it can be when you're spending all night hacking because the moment you lie down your lungs decide they hate your throat and want to remove it from your body. When you're upright, there are occasional sneak attacks, when the hacking jolts through you without warning. As wonderful as possible given that you're producing snot at the rate of a gallon an hour, which is probably why your temperature hovers a couple of degrees above normal - all that manufacturing takes energy. I am not well. I am tired. My fever is, thankfully, gone now, but I'm still snotting and hacking and feeling generally gross. I'd call in sick, but I've just been off for ten days. I don't feel right about doing that, but my, how I wish I could! I know that I've worked when feeling about this draggy before, and it didn't really bother me; the reason I'm bothered now is that I DIDN'T GET MY HOLIDAY! I was too busy hacking snotting sniffling headaching croaking sweating shivering wheezing... I feel ripped off. This week, feeling like crap and dreading this first day back at work, I made a few business calls, and received a second. The calls I made were to inform the parents of the state of my health and let them decide whether to send their children. This is an indirect way of asking for a sick day when I feel it's just too much to ask for a sick day! I started with baby Nigel's family, figuring that they in particular might not want their 11-month-old exposed to my plague-ridden presence. Not entirely altruistic, but sincere. "Oh," says mom. "We thought you weren't open until Wednesday." At which point, one would expect her to say, "So, since we didn't even know you were open, we won't be sending either of the boys." One might expect that. I know I did. How about you? But does she?? NO! She says, "But since you're open, we might send George." Argh. That'll teach me to be semi-altruistic. Last Tuesday, back when I was also sick but had no idea I would still be in another week, I received a call from Darcy's dad. He wondered if he could send Darcy on Tuesday this week. This man is a teacher. He won't be going back to work till Monday, six days from now! Okay. I've been a stay-at-home parent -- hell, I AM one -- I know the joy of getting a day or two kid-free! I wouldn't have begrudged him a couple of days, but AN ENTIRE WEEK??? He wants me to work this week, caring for his child, so that he has an entire week to play? Did I mention that I'm already feeling ripped off on this whole holiday thing? I told him I wasn't open till tomorrow. (Yes, I lied. So sue me.) Yes, I know I'm open. Yes, I know this is my job, for which I get paid. However, I also have a paragraph in my Philosophy of Childcare, appended to my contract, a document which he has read and signed, which reads,

I am part of the team that works to see this child develop happily and fully. I view myself as an experienced, expert resource to the parents. However, I am not the child's primary caregiver. Whenever possible, parent and child need time together to be building that all-important bond. Each parent is their child's most important relationship.
This is not a ruse to weasel out of work. This is an attempt to help the families stay focussed on what they are, and what I am. Much as they may appreciate what I do for them, and of course I want them to feel this way!, I want them to understand that I am their back-up, not their replacement. I am not the child's parent. Although I am quite willing to support a parent in a well-deserved break from their child, I am not a third parent. As a general rule, if there's a parent available to care for the child, that is where the child should be. Can I go back to bed now?

Monday, January 02, 2006

Snot Monster Subdued

This is the funniest thing I've seen in...um...about three days. But I see a lot of funny things! Check it out! It's a Snot Monster! You have such a way with the camera, Crayonz!


I've been tagged by weirdgirl. Here's the scoop: Remove the top blog from the following list and bump everyone up one place. Then add your blog to the bottom. The Queen of Spain Becky Childsplayx2 The Weirdgirl It's Not All Mary Poppins Select five people to play (entirely voluntary, of course) Andie D. Granny Angela Kimmyk Lorykc What were you doing ten years ago? I'm going to fudge this by a year or two, to hit an Important Crossroads in my life. Tennish years ago, I was newly single. My husband had moved out. I was on my own, with three small children, and a very modest income, read, under-the-poverty-line income. My response? Throw a party! The theme? "Break Free"! Guests were to bring a) alcohol for my empty liquor cabinet (that stuff is expensive); b) a tool for my non-existent tool-box (they all went with my ex); and/or c) money. I was on my own, I was finally, finally at peace. No more tension, no more anxiety, no more hostility and fear. It was wonderful. I now have an almost-ulcer that I attribute to those last, awful years, but my life now is peaceful, happy, autonomous, and filled with love. Much better! What were you doing one year ago? Again, a wee bit of temporal fudging. A year-ish ago, I'd just been evicted from my home of twelve years. Nothing we'd done: the landlord just wanted it for his son. We had, as per the letter of the law, 60 days to move out. I was in a complete panic. Here were my issues: we had no significant savings, and thus no down-payment. Our intention had always been to buy a house after the children had moved out. We have, between us, a boatload of children. Renting till they were out of the house so we could buy something smaller just made sense. So, no downpayment fund. I didn't see how we could buy a house. But if we rented? I run a daycare in the house. How many landlords would fall over themselves to offer their property to a woman whose livelihood results in battered homes? Furthermore, we HAD to stay in this neighbourhood, in order to keep my clients, but this is not an inexpensive neighbourhood. We were going to be out on the street! It had a happy ending. We did, miracle of miracles, find a house, a house that was, for me, love at first sight. A house in the right neighbourhood, and - here's the miraculous bit - selling for a full hundred thousand less than a comparable on one the same street. (It was because of the bathroom: hideous in shades of turquoise, and so small that I just don't know how I'd get to the toilet were I ever to become pregnant. Even the bathroom, for me, is in a "so ugly it's cute" category.) We saw the sign, we called ourselves an agent, we went in, we bought it. Pretty much just like that. There's a "no downpayment" option in Ontario, so that's what we did. Our savings covered the closing costs. Parental units kicked in a little more which helped with the moving expenses and sundry other "surprises" that inevitably happen. We did have it inspected, we did use a lawyer, we're not complete fools, but man, it was FAST! We were evicted April 28; on May 28 we were moving into our new home! It's probably a little too small for our current needs: this is one highly overpopulated home, but I love it. And in ten years, when all the children are out? It'll be perfect! Five snacks you enjoy. Miss Vicki's Lime and Black Pepper potato chips Miss Vicki's Salt and Vinegar potato chips Party Mix ummm... I think that's it. Though I like chocolate and liquorice allsorts, I don't snack much on them. To me, snack food is salty! Five songs to which you know all the lyrics. I know all the lyrics to about five hundred songs, including: 90% of everything the Beatles wrote. Those songs are just so sing-able! "Allelujah!" by Rufus Wainright; Most of the Wesley brother hymns; "You Can Leave Your Hat On" by Randy Newman; "Charmed Life" by Diana Krall. Five things you would do if you were a millionaire. Millionaire, as in a million-dollar annual income, or millionaire as in a one-time million in the bank, I wonder? Let's assume the former! 1. Pay off the mortgage. 2. Start all the renovations/improvements we've dreamed about. (No desire to move; I love my small house, and I love the neighbourhood, but it would be a much, much nicer small house if I had the money to spend on it!) 3. Quit my job: Write, travel. 4. Build a school in a third-world country every five years. 5. Sponsor more foster children. I considered paying all the kids' bills through university, but dismissed that as a bad idea. A little struggle is not a bad thing. Help them, yes. Enable them to live easy, own a car, not worry, even a little, about making ends meet? Not good for them. If they can accomplish this themselves, good for them, but to hand it to them without any effort on their parts would give them completely unrealistic expectations of the world to follow. And develop within them that much-dreaded "sense of entitlement" that so offends me. Five bad habits. 1. Chew my nails. Not consistently - right now they're not bad. But once in a while I go to town on them - ick. 2. Laziness. 3. Getting distracted in the middle of conversations. 4. Picking at the dead skin on my heels. I know - gross. 5. Chew on the inside of my cheek, particularly when reading. Which I do a lot. Lordy, some of those are gross. And I just admitted them to the Internet. I'm either brave or completely shameless! Five things you like doing. 1. Blogging! 2. Reading 3. Singing 4. Walking 5. Hanging out with my children. 6. Talking to my sweetie. 7. Ignoring directions. Five things you would never wear or buy again. Ummm... I've seen fashions come and go enough to know that something that looks truly goofy to me right now could very well come back, and I'll be wearing it again in ten years. So, clothing? Can't come up with much. 1. Capri pants. My backside does not appreciate them. 2. String bikinis! (This is Emma's suggestion, and she's right. Once upon a time, I looked damn fine in one. Now? Not so much.) 3. A car. If I had a choice, I'd go vehicle-free, renting when needful. Five favourite toys. 1. My laptop!! 2. My piano. 3. Our budgie. (Okay, so he's not a toy, but I find him amusing.) 4. The glue-gun 5. My sewing machine.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Good Manners 101

Attention, Parents!!!
"Get me some water," is abominably rude. Pour water on this child. "I want more water," is rude. Do not give water to this child. "I want more water, please." This is not polite. This is just an order with a please tacked on to soften the blow. Do NOT give water to this child. "I'm thirsty," is merely information. Do not give water until asked nicely. What are you, the maid? "May I have some water, please?" Ah... much better. This child may have some water. Thank you.