Wednesday, December 31, 2008

... and a Happy New Year

I don't think I am alone in reaching the 31st of December and thinking "another year gone - where did it go?"

I know that it happens same day every year, but somehow I get through Christmas and then find myself up against a Whole New Year! And they seem to be coming faster and faster - remember when as a child how a year seemed to take forever? It seems to me that we were just doing that whole turn of the millenium thing, and yet here we are going into 2009.

I know too many people who are anxious to see the tail end of 2008. For many it has been a difficult year. For me personally it has been easier in many ways than the few that came before it. Not perfect but easier.

I am going to try to slow down for a few minutes today to think about where we were this time last year and where we are now. And where I want to be this time next year. 

And then I'm going to (another) hockey game. (World Juniors are in Ottawa this week - we won tickets to yesterdays game and then realizing there were still tickets available bought some for today and Sunday... oi!)

I wish you and yours all the best for 2009 - that it will be the year you want it to be. 

Saturday, December 20, 2008

from a 4 year-old persepective

"Mama - for Christmas I want a penguin."

"Oh? I thought you had a few penguin doodoos already. Do you really need another?"

"No Mama, a Real Live Penguin. It can live in the backyard in the winter and we can go tobogganing with it and it won't! NEED! a! TOBOGGAN!!"

"And MAMA!!! In the summer it can live in the fridge. We'll feed it fish and keep it cool!"

"Um... where would our food go if the penguin is in there? I don't think it's such a good idea to put it in the fridge."

"Yes Mama IT IS! Our own PENGUIN!!" (hysterical laughter, she's giddy, positively GIDDY thinking she's negotiated her own pet penguin).

"I don't think we're allowed to own a penguin in this neighborhood Julia. I think there's a law about that." (Throwing in a law here or there keeps my sanity, because I mean really, you can't argue with the police).

"Oh." Slightly crestfallen. 

"I want a Real Live Gingerbread Boy then! REAL LIVE!"

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Snow Day!

Well hello and welcome to the Great White North.

We've had snow, freezing rain, more snow and I think, if you can believe it, we are getting more snow today.

The good news is, my (wonderful, bright, smart, intelligent ) husband had the foresight to buy a snow blower this year. A few weeks ago I would have told you that he had strong armed me into the purchase by marching me into the snow blower showroom when we had exactly 22 minutes to look & purchase before Julia's ballet class and she was SQUIRMY, so I admitted defeat and we came out significantly poorer than we had gone in.

Today? Today I tell you that the man is a genius with only my best intentions at heart.

I spent over an hour outside this morning clearing the snow, freezing rain and more snow off the cars. And using the snow blower. And trying to get my car back off the street into the driveway.

I think I may have led the neighbours to believe I drive like Daisy Duke. Nothing a little foot on the gas can't solve right? And the donut I nearly pulled? I don't do that kind of thing with the kids in the car.

Okay, maybe I do drive like one of the Dukes.

There were no school buses. Our city buses went on strike this morning. The police are advising you not to go out if you don't have to. The boy was still asleep at 8:30.

And so I made the executive decision that despite the fact that we live only 2km from the school (which of course was open) that today was a snow day for this family. 

Now to get baking Christmas cookies!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Double points for not cursing out loud

Tomorrow is Stuart's 7th birthday.

I have been in the kitchen pretty much non-stop for 5 hours. I have baked and iced (with help from two monkeys) 72 mini cupcakes. I have made 6 minute chocolate cake (which takes much longer than 6 minutes, especially if made with the loving help of a 4 year old). I made dinner (really!).

But most noteworthy is the two cans of sweetened condensed milk I boiled for 3 hours. Because Stuart claims he remembers the icing on his 1st birthday cake - which was made by my South African neighbour in Luxembourg (who moved away a year later).

Can I tell you that boiling those cans scared the bejeebies out of me? That I sent same South African friend who knows how to do this (because for the love of Pete could we not have some concensus on how to do this on the internet) on Facebook to describe my terror. And that fate must have been on my side because not only did she get the message (she is rarely on Facebook) but her husband actually had my cell number and she called to walk me through it.

(Aside: The only excuse I have for the icing is that I was completely and totally PMSing when we were talking about it the other night and I was ready to go to the store, buy some condensed milk and make it on the spot (even though it was after 9 on a Sunday night). So agreeing to make it 4 days later didn't seem like a completely idiotic thing to do.)

And in all of this nothing was burnt, no heads exploded, no children went hungry and there was minimal shrieking (okay, that "For Christ's sake SIT DOWN" might not have been necessary, but hey, who's perfect?). There was a very minimal amount of alcohol consumed (who had time for a corkscrew I ask you. It had to be a shot of port that was open in the fridge. I'd never make a very good rubbie).

I thought all had gone pretty well until I was testing the water in the pot with the cans to see if it was cool. And got a look at the expiration dates on the bottom of the cans.

February 10 2008.

F*** me.

Really, I am laughing.

And my husband is going to have a wicked laugh when he gets home. If he dares.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Well helloooo!

So - I messed up NaBloPoMo. Oooops. I realized that I was starting to just grumble about things and you know what? That is so not what I want to do - at least not on a daily basis.

I am trying to get myself in order... me, my house, my kids. I've been complaining to just about everyone who will listen (and some who were obviously trying not to) about the state of my house, getting my kids out of the house in the morning, and in general a lot of put-upon SAHM stuff. Sheeesh. I am fortunate enough to be able to stay home for now and I am whining about it. How spoiled does that make me sound.

So... until I have something to say that is actually worth saying I might not be around here much. I am going to spend some time trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up (employment looming on the grade 1 horizon - only 21 months to go) and get our lives in order. I've signed off on facebook for a while and am even trying to curtail my Etsy viewing.

I was actually going to try and cut out the internet altogether for 2 weeks but that's just crazy talk.

I will of course be dropping by my favorite blogs. I mean really, there's only so much house organizing/future figuring out/making time for myself I can do.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Missing day

I didn't get here yesterday - I realized at about 11:30 as I was trying to drift off to sleep and decided that I wasn't getting out of bed.

My little family made it back safe and sound from Grandma & Grandpa's house, despite the snow that caught them off guard at the beginning of the journey. They were full of tales of time spent with their cousins - Shae especially, who is only a few months younger than Julia, spent the entire weekend with them. It was nice to hear their stories and see their huge grins.

Of course some of that didn't last long - they both came home a little under the weather (and are both home today) and by bedtime there were tears and whining.

I have to admit that I got frustrated - I had heard all about how wonderfully they behaved all weekend, how they were polite, didn't fight in the car, ate without having to be fed (I know, someone shoot me now), didn't whine, didn't cry... and they come home to bicker, whine, pout and cry (not to mention sneeze horrible stuff on me, but that is not really their fault).

My guilty thoughts were "They weren't gone long enough." to "My first weekend alone in 7 years and I spent the whole time sorting out this house for you to come home and be like this?" and some other places we need not go.

I felt horrible at my thoughts - I was supposed to have missed them like crazy and I didn't. Bad mother. I admit that when Julia flew through the door with a huge grin on her face and threw herself at my legs my heart sang. But until that moment I was fine.

Perhaps absence only makes the heart grow fonder if you don't spend 6+ hours cleaning up what your son refers to as a bedroom - and it was a mess the two of them created. I spent at least an hour picking teeny tiny elastics off the floor and hundreds of tiny stickers. I sorted and put away - where things belonged. I pulled dirty clothes out of the backs of drawers full of stuffed animals. I... oh I should stop there before I make it sound worse than maybe it was. Some of it had been building since we moved in 3 months ago, some of it had been in the week before when I flatly refused to clean his room.

He came home to a clean room - my wonderful organized friend Natalie called mid-afternoon and offered to help me move the furniture around. A whole new clean room. And what did I get out of it? A nonchalant "Thanks Mama."

Oh boy, is November a glass is half empty kind of month for me or what???

I am trying to figure out where to go from here. I did not give up working to be the cleaning lady. I was just up there with he-who-is-too-sick-for-school-but-not-too-sick-to take-out-stuff making him put stuff away. There were already socks under the bed and his NHL hockey pucks all over the floor.

And so now I am the nagging cleaning lady. This is why I didn't post yesterday. Grumble grumble grumble.

we'll try this again tomorrow.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

uh, yeah - what she said

How many times do you start a sentence with "This blog I read..."

Tonight I am giving you options.

Option 1
I can rant and rave about the woman my grandfather has been married to for the last 28 years who told him he was looking for attention when he asked her to call and ambulance when he was having a heart attack.

Option 2
Go visit Nora because what she had to say today about sisterhood - show me where to sign up (though I guess it would be easier of transcontinental flights were not involved).

I'm figuring you're taking Option 2 (really, I would).

Speaking of sisterhood I had a bit today - my bff (I'm just trying to feel young, but we have been friends for over 30 years) came round and we tackle the basement (got most of the play area done!!), scarfed down chinese food (that made us both come out in red spots... hmmm) and drank wine while watching Matthew McConaughey remove his shirt several times (Fool's Gold). Some pretty good sisterhood I do believe.

And while I am sending you elsewhere to see people check out Angie's Cat Engineer video at All A Dither. What is it about cat videos that makes me laugh?

And thus I conclude posting when I normally wouldn't. Goodnight.

Friday, November 14, 2008

do you hear that?

Listen really hard... do you hear it?

No, not the cat howling.

You don't hear it? The SILENCE I mean.

I am home alone. All alone. Marc took the kids to his parents for a long weekend and I didn't go. I am... alone.

This is the first time since Stuart was born that I have spent a night alone in my own home. In fact, I think it may be the first time since June 2000 that I have been completely and totally alone in my own home overnight.

Weird. In a good way I think.

My weekend was supposed to look like this:

Friday - pack hubby and kids in car and then spend rest of day cleaning house from top to bottom. Collapse in self-content heap around dinner time with a glass of wine and a chick-flick. (I like my cleaning from time to time.)

Saturday - Get up and start organizing basement (getting rid of last boxes from move), creating playroom for kids. Saturday afternoon bff comes over to help/get me back on track. Dinner with bff, then head out to see a band (not sure want to do this, but bff asked).

Sunday - sleep in. Try out new yoga place in the Glebe at 9:30. Have a latte and wander through the Glebe to the knitting store if weather nice. Come home, wax legs, knit, read, relax.

But, as I was typing my cryptic post about wanting something and then not being sure I wanted it (I was feeling funny about the 3 most important people in my life driving 750km without me), my mother was leaving me a message. Asking me to call so she could tell me that my grandfather was in the hospital after having a heart attack.

He is stable, and for a 91 year old man who just had a heart attack he's not in bad shape at all. I got in the car this morning and drove to Montreal. My mum and I spent 3 hours at the hospital, got him moved (finally! After 36 hours!) from Emergency to a room. Then I went to Zara and H&M (I needed a little retail therapy - I am not good in hospitals) and had dinner with my stepdad at the "chicken coop" before pulling Marc's old dresser out of my parents basement and into my car, trying to sort through/get rid of some of the boxes we still have stored there from when we moved to Europe and then I drove the 170km home. When I left at 8:45pm I had some questions about my sanity to be turning down my parents offer of a comfy bed and a yoga class in the morning, but I wanted to - um, well - sleep in my house alone.

Which I will go and do now because man, am I rambling or what?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Sounded like a good idea at the time

Ever think you want something - really really want something? And then you find a way to get it and then you're all kinda "hmmm, well maybe not?"

That's where I am today. Thinking that by this time tomorrow I will feel like a fish out of water.

And this is my 202nd post! It's taken me forever to get here ;-)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

running out of titles

I was going to post a frivolous post on competitive play dates - Julia had a little friend over today and I dropped into Michaels after the grocery store to pick up a craft. It seems like there is almost as much pressure these days on play dates as there is for birthdays.

But I came home and checked a few blogs and my facebook and decided that my world has really gotten small. Friends having scary tests, high school acquaintances passing away.

A boy (well no longer a boy, but how I will remember him) named Emru has passed away. He has been very ill, and received a bone marrow transplant recently.

Life can be so short. RIP Emru.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


Last year on Remembrance Day I was surprised that there was so much going on at Stu's school - all I really remember of Remembrance Day when I was in school was a minute of silence. Ours always seemed to be in the library where we were supposed to be silent anyways.

At the school they have an assembly - actually 2, one for Primary classes (1-3) and one for Junior (4-6). The kindergartens did their own, not wanting to discuss war apparently.

I always get a bit weepy over things like the national anthem or Remembrance Day or anything of that ilk. This morning I was moved to watery eyes by my friend Jenny's Grade 1 class reciting a poem (to the beat of Frere Jacques) that was so simple and plainly put that it was beautiful.

When Marc and I were first in Luxembourg, we went to Ypres (or Ieper) in western Belgium one weekend to meet my aunt and uncle who were there to see their goddaughter who was there on a one year work term. I knew very little about the area, only that it was, so to speak "in Flanders Fields". Coming into town on the train we saw fields covered in white grave markers.

While touring the town - a beautiful town that was completely destroyed in the first world war and rebuilt to look exactly the same - we had the opportunity to explore the Menin Gate, a memorial to the missing soldiers of the first World War who have no grave. The number of names on the monument, and not to mention in the cemetery attached to it was - I don't know what word to use to describe it. Row after row of names, row after row of grave markers. All I can say is that we were in awe, aware of how many had died for our freedom today.

We were even more awestruck that night when we rushed through the dark streets back to the Menin Gate to hear the last post being played at 8:00 pm. I was struck by how many people were there - young, middle-aged and old - oh some so old that you thought their frail limbs would collapse under them before the final notes from the trumpet faded away. It was a cold rainy night in February and there were still people there, not tourists (except us) but people who lived in the town. People who could still remember the war years - perhaps not the first war, but the second. The ceremony has taken place every night - with the exception of it being moved to the UK during the German occupation of the WWII - since 1928. Amazing.

So I am glad our school goes all out. We live in a very culturally diverse neighborhood with many first generation Canadians. It's good for us to remember who we are and how we want Canadians to be viewed in the world, and above all how lucky we are to have the freedom we do today.

Lest we forget.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Not much to say

So... I haven't got much to say today. The weather is dreary and cold and a few snowflakes fell during my walk this morning.

I have a headache behind my eyes - the kind that makes my eyes hurt and looking at the monitor feel like looking into a fluorescent bulb. One of THOSE headaches as I call them, the ones where you go for weeks on end and then end up in an ENT's office and he tells you you have a rare sinus infection, the one that actually presses onto your optic nerve. But that was 2005 and this is 2008 and fingers crossed I am wrong.

Stu and I are going to the chiropractor tonight - our first visit. I saw an osteopath in Luxembourg but no one since we've been home. I have been telling Marc that I fantasize about a small Asian woman walking on my spine so I guess I am pretty tight.

And I am nowhere near as miserable as this post sounds. You know, this post I wouldn't post if it weren't NaBloPoMo and I don't like to quit. I am surprisingly unmiserable, just not really all that here.

I've had that line from the Robert Frost poem running through my head all afternoon...

And miles to go before I sleep, and miles to go before I sleep.

Tomorrow is a whole new day! I may complain about Julia's teacher! I may give you my opinion on Ottawa drivers (probably not a post for all eyes, it won't have a G rating).

Sunday, November 09, 2008

it would make my naturopath's head explode but it was yummy

Here's what I made for dinner tonight:

Baked ham with a brown sugar beer glaze.

1 fully cooked ham, about 3 to 4 pounds
1 cup beer

Beer Glaze
1 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon flour
1 Tbsp dijon mustard
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
beer to make a smooth paste

Place ham in uncovered roasting pan. Pour 1 cup of beer over the ham; bake at 350° for 1 hour; baste with drippings every 15 minutes.
Combine ingredients for beer glaze.
Remove ham from oven and score diagonally in a criss-cross fashion.
Spread with beer glaze.
Roast for 30 to 45 minutes longer, or until well glazed and cooked through.

I know - SUGAR and BEER and HAM - oh my! (you have to do that in a Lion and Tigers and Bears Oh my! voice - just in case you didn't.)

My naturopath's head would explode. But my kids ate without being coaxed (well except for the whole piece of broccoli thing that we evil parents do) so MY head is still intact.

Far more important - no?

Saturday, November 08, 2008


We just finished watching the Hall of Fame/Remembrance Day Ceremony at the beginning of the Habs vs. Leafs game.

I am sniffly. Seeing the Hall of Famers and the Veterans. Hearing Revelry on the bagpipes (I mean, who doesn't get sniffly at bagpipe music??) and the reading of In Flanders Fields Gaye Stewart who left the Leafs to go to War in 1943.

All pretty emotional stuff.

And for those who have not yet heard it - the new Hockey Night in Canada theme song? OUCH. First time I've sat through it. And the last. The CBC were really out to lunch the day they didn't want to pay that little old lady for the original song.

Hey! Kerry Fisher is still reffing - I thought he was long gone. He now wears a helmet. I wonder if it's nearly as tough as his hairspray was.

I must now return to my seat - my sassy-mouthed 6 year old Leafs fan and I have some trash talking to do - and I almost missed the first fight of the game!!

Go HABS Go!!!

Friday, November 07, 2008

it takes all kinds I suppose

I admit it, I am not a huge dog person.

I do like dogs, really. Just not enough to own one (oh the work).

I have this little Etsy addiction (ahem, my husband would say, LITTLE addiction?) Last night when I couldn't sleep I was checking out Etsy and this popped up in the recently listed items.

Excuse me? A dog paw knit from someone else's dog fur? And look - a photo of said dogs, just in case you, oh I don't know, wanted to imagine them while hugging your dog paw?

I shudder.

To each their own.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

I'm going in

To the fridge. To clean it. And I am scared.

I am the grandchild of a depression era grandmother. Nothing was EVER thrown away. Wrapping paper reused (very environmental). Milk bags in our boots to keep our feet dry (very uncomfortable). Ever last smidge of batter scraped from baking bowls (very disappointing).

I can't bear to throw away leftovers. It seems such a waste - and I really intend to use them, the very next day. Really I do.

Except I am terrible at doing that. And they end up in the fridge for... well a while. Till you can't get other stuff in there. Or get other stuff out. And my charming habit of storing them in dishes (trying to avoid prolonged contact with plastic) means you have no clue what surprise awaits you.

The other night I dreamt that my lovely friend Natalie came to my house when I wasn't here and surprised me by making me dinner. My lovely, organized, tidy, on top of everything friend Natalie. And in my dream my first thought was "Oh Lord, she saw my fridge".

Definitely time to clean it out.

If I don't post tomorrow please send someone to look for me.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

a possible explanation of why I no longer survive adult conversation

On the way home from the Kindergarten Bus this morning.

"knock knock!"

"who's there?"


"banana who?"

"banana house!!!"

"knock knock Mama!"

"who's there?"


"banana who?"

"banana school bus!!!!"

"knock knock!"

"who's there?"


"banana who?"

"banana KIDS!!!!!!!!!!" (apparently this one was particularly funny...?)

"knock knock!"

And so it went all the way home from the bus. There were banana roads, banana rocks, banana leaves, banana cars... and even, as we reached the front door, banana GROWN UPS (cue furious laughter and mother wondering if the joke is on her... since I am now feeling a little bananas myself).

~~~ congrats to all my American friends whose candidate won ~~~

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

I predict strange speak for the rest of the week

We are going to see Robert Munsch this evening. Robert Munsch - in person! The kids are a little cuckoo for cocoapuffs over the whole thing.

There has been much talk of favorite Robert Munsch stories the last week or so. The two CDs in the car have been played ad nauseam (I actually had to google how to spell that. Sheeeesh).

I'm hoping for a few of the big ones tonight - I personally love "UGLY". Julia thinks maybe Mud Puddle is her favorite. Stu's jury is still out.

Marc is somewhat bewildered by the fact he is attending.

I just hope that we can all talk like normal people sometime soon, and not in that Robert Munsch sing-song of quiet, LOUD, quiet, LOUD that has me turning the volume up and down every 30 seconds on the car radio.

I'll let you know if "I'll love you forever" moves me to tears or not. I still find it a bit creepy - woman driving across town with a ladder and scaling the wall of her (GROWN) son's house to rock him back and forth, back and forth... sounds like she needs some therapy.

Do you think I feel that way because my mother-in-law sent Stu the book?

Monday, November 03, 2008

And I am not alone

In fact I was #9872 to enroll apparently.

There are some lovely ladies who have also signed up for NaBloPoMo...

There is Nora over at Whopping Cornbread.

Mrs. G over at Derfwad Manor.

And while I am not sure if she's in on NaBloPoMo you have to go and visit Kate at Katydidnot.

And while I am handing out recommendations I have to steer you towards Melanie over at Beanpaste. LOOK at those Halloween costumes people! And she has an ETSY store (Etsy Etsy Etsy, I love Etsy).

And as if blogging every day for a month is not enough, Lisa at Mama Milton (the first blog I check every day) and Kim at Temporary Insanity have signed up for NaNoWriMo as well. Don't quote me but I think that means they have to submit 1667 words a day towards their novels.

That's some pretty good reading.

And now I am going to cross my fingers that my links work and head over to Old Navy to see if they have sweatpants for boys verging on 7. But the sweatpants thing is a post on it's own.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

And I am already late

So - this year I actually signed up for Nablopomo. Instead of just posting for a month like I did last year.

Except that I am a day late. How unusual for me to be late for anything.

I'm giving you a moment to stop snickering.

So I will be here every day until the end of the month. No clue what I will write about EVERY DAY, but maybe it will get some of those post ideas that never make it to the light of day.

And maybe I'll have some room in my brain at the end of the month to remember what I need at the grocery store.


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Um, hello? Is this Siberia?

Tonight's forecast... 15-20 cm of SNOW.


This is just wrong.

The kids are thrilled, they want to Trick or Treat in the snow. They have no clue.

Monday, October 27, 2008

The elephant in the room

My father passed away two years ago today.

I have no idea where I am going with this post. I think I am trying to find some kind of peace with my father, with his life, with myself... I don't know what I am looking for.

I was in Montreal when my dad died - I had seen him 4 days before, after not seeing him for close to 2 years. The decline in his health was unmistakable. I didn't know what to say or think, I sort of filed all the feelings inside me, waiting to get back to Luxembourg to deal with them.

I was home alone that trip, and not in a good place. I was working too much under a great deal of stress, Marc was travelling frequently (too much in my mind), the kids were at a new daycare and not doing well - they were unhappy and sick. We'd been badly hit by rising mortgage rates. Everything seemed wrong. I had said to our minister that I felt like I was running on empty. I had nothing left to give anyone.

So my dad's death was not something I was at all prepared to deal with - I know, when are you ever really prepared to deal with a death, but I was particularly low.

I am ashamed to admit that I think about my dad more since his death than in the last few years of his life. It's as if him passing away has opened some great Pandora's box and things in my life that were so neatly labelled for years became ambiguous.

My father was an alcoholic. He had a bad drinking problem - he was never violent, but he was neglectful. And absent. It was easy to label him a bad father. And I know that he was not a good father. But since he died I have been able to see other things - that he was not a happy person. That as much as he hurt me and others that he hurt himself far far more. We all survived his drinking - he did not.

The need to protect myself and my family from my father was gone once he was gone. I remember my first visit to Canada with Stuart. He was 3 1/2 months old. He was colicky, I was exhausted and had just been diagnosed with post-partum depression (which they don't seem to treat in Luxembourg when you are nursing). I know that I had taken my baby out to my grandparents and my father was there. I know I did this, but I can't remember it, no matter how hard I have tried this morning. What I do remember is the second time my father saw Stuart a few days later.

He engineered a meeting - calling my mother's house, insisting I had to meet my aunt who had just flown in from Vancouver. I said no. He badgered. I gave in eventually. When we got to the MacDonalds where we were meeting it took all of about 30 seconds to realize he'd been drinking (though he would swear up and down later that he hadn't). And that day I went right back to needing to protect myself and my baby from his drinking.

Since his death I have wondered if maybe I took it too far. Is this what guilt makes you do? I saw him whenever we were home, sent cards, most years called for his birthday. I know now how every photo I would send was treasured, every card. It would have cost nothing to me to send more, yet I didn't. Maybe it felt like giving him false hope. Maybe I was so overwhelmed with my life that I was already not doing enough for the other people in my life who I had much easier relationships with.

Seeing my dad's house 2 years ago was a shock. I had not stepped inside for close to 22 years. And I could see the disrepair, the neglect, the clutter. My father did not know how to care for himself. He did not respect himself enough to take care of himself. I found receipts for anti-depressants. It should have been obvious to me that he was depressed - who wouldn't be living his life - but it still surprised me.

I have wavered dangerously close to absolving my father of any wrong doing. Of casting him in the role of victim. He grew up in a home that is purported to be perfect, the family a loving one that most people would want to be part of. I know now, with all the wisdom of age, how disfunctional it was (then again who have a fully functional family?). I have found excuses for him. Imagined pain he must have felt. Blamed things on others.

But at the end of the day, my father had choices to make in life and he made them. I don't like the choices he made. I miss him. I miss the little girl who thought her daddy was the most wonderful man in the world. I see Julia looking at Marc with such adoration and I em envious.

I said I don't know where I am going with this post. Maybe I am just trying to put some of it down in words so that I can find a way to reconcile some of these conflicting feelings.

And perhaps put the man to rest finally.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

I'd like to think I'd spend the money in better ways

Yesterday I went and carried out my civic duty by voting in the federal election.

Deciding who to vote for took some time - I have typically always voted one way, but did not like the party leader. I was not convinced that the party in power really should hold a majority. And to be blunt, no one was out there telling me WHY I should vote for them. No, instead of telling me what they would do for me, there was a lot of mud slinging and telling me what was wrong with their opponents.

I have to make it very clear that I am not a politico. I usually have a basic grasp of things, like to think I am making a somewhat educated decision, but I did not follow the campaign day by day (though I know a little too much about Sarah Palin just from the trash talking magazines at the grocery checkout). I admit that I fell asleep in the Stu's bed the night of the big debate. Oooops.

But I did try and think through my decision. And you know what? I don't think there was really much need for an election. Apparently other Canadians didn't either as Harper is returning to office with a minority again.

In the end I decided to vote locally. As in look at the candidates in our riding and figure out who I thought would best represent our interests. We had three strong candidates in this riding - even the Green Party candidate had some great credentials behind him (I was impressed that he founded monthly dinners between Jews and Arabs a few years ago to try and forge a trail for peace in their countries).

And so off I went yesterday to my polling station to vote. There were 6 candidates on the ballot. Six. I really need to figure exactly what a Libertarian advocates. Apparently ours is "the Rad Man" because he repairs radiators. Hmmmm.

I am not impressed with this election. I don't see why it was necessary. I realize I am probably not sophisticated enough to get why Harper, only 2 years into a term decided that he wanted a majority. Really - I think he could have tried to prove himself a little longer. I understand that he could get more done (jury is out on if that is a good thing) with a majority. In a world where things can turn on a dime (the economy Mr Harper!) I think that the money spent on the election could have been put to much better use.

Imagine what it could have done for our failing medical system - imagine that much money going towards Canadians health.

But I voted because I think you have to vote. We are so fortunate to live in a country where we get a vote, and that vote is ours to cast without strings attached, you can post signs on your lawn showing your support for a candidate without fearing repercussions. The man who rented out our house is from Saudi Arabia and he could not get over a candidate coming into mosque (not interrupting religious proceedings) to ASK for his vote. In his country you have a vote - but you are told who to vote for or it brings unrest to your region.

We take a lot for granted with this freedom of ours. But I don't think we should celebrate it by calling elections that aren't needed Mr. Harper.

Now go play nicely with the Opposition please and see what you can do about our greenhouse emissions or the healthcare issue.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Primal Scream Yoga

I've signed up for a yoga class at the community centre. I continue to have faith (?) that I will find a class there that will be what I am looking for - though the first two really did not do much for me.

The first was taught by a woman who I would later see on the soccer pitch during Stu's games. Shall we say her instructional voice was the same for her yoga class as it was for 6 & 7 year olds playing. One night when her team was playing on the field next to us I said to Marc, "That's my yoga teacher." to which he replied something like "Good God, no wonder you don't want to go!" The woman didn't believe in Savasana. There was no relaxation in her class. I felt there was no "soul" to it.

I thought I had struck gold with the second class. A teeny tiny black woman named Jackie (I mention the black thing because she would go all in the hood sometimes on us) who came in talking about chakras. Okay, here's some "soul" I thought. (note: I am not sure about all this chakra stuff, but I figure someone who does was at least worth listening to. I am a great fan of people being impassioned about things). Yeah, well. She was a doll. Really. But after a few weeks I got tired of having to holler out "yes!" to the question "isn't this YUMMY?!?!?!" after being in plank position for what seemed like 10 minutes (apparently it was three). I came out of the classes completely and totally physically drained. And it really wasn't yummy.

So I figured third time's a charm and signed up for a new course called Meditative Yoga. I figured there's at least be some savasana right?

The first class was two weeks ago. It was fine. The teacher is a lovely woman named Jade, who seemed very soft spoken, busy setting a soothing atmosphere in class. She is Polish and has a lilting voice that is at the same time nasal, if that makes any sense. She informed us that she would talk a bit in the first few weeks of our classes in order to guide us, but that as we neared the end we would be mostly practicing in a quiet room. Fine. Her voice was a little like catching a sweater on a nail at times, but overall not bad. She played a meditational cd for the last 15 minutes that was rather soothing, even if I am not all that in to that type of thing. I left quite calm.

I missed the second week because Marc was away.

Last night I went, prepared to relax.

She began by having us lie in Savasana (yeah! my favorite pose) and talked to us about centering our minds and our breath. No biggie, maybe not everyone has done yogic breathing, I would want it explained to me if I hadn't. Right? Yes, but not for 35 MINUTES. Honestly, the woman didn't stop talking for 35 minutes. 35 I tell you. I wondered how she wasn't keeling over, because she certainly couldn't have been taking her deep yogic breaths, or even shallow rapid ones. She went on and on and on and on and on... and then on some more. Her voice got louder and louder and louder, her harsh pronunciation of some words feeling like nails on a blackboard. She spent so much time telling us how to pay attention to our breath that I couldn't even hear myself breathing. At one point I gave up, opened my eyes and watched her for a few minutes, standing with her eyes closed, swaying and "instructing" us. At various points I toyed with the idea of leaving, blocking my ears (I kinda did, it didn't work) or screaming out "BE QUIET!" at the top of my lungs (okay, so maybe what I was thinking of screaming wasn't so polite).

Honestly, if I had to hear her holler "feel your deeeeeeeeeeeep, smooooooooooooooooth, LOVVVVVVVVVING breath calm your body" I would have had to toss my water bottle at her head.

After that we had to do some stretching "with loving awareness" and loving something else and find our place in the universe where we were at one with ourselves and therefore at one with her. Whatever.

Then came a tape of affirmations. The theme was affirmations and we were supposed to find one to use. The ones we listened to and were supposed to repeat to ourselves? Yeah, not for me. Things like "I feel good health, happiness and financial benefit flowing into me." Huh? Financial benefit?

The last 15 minutes were another meditation cd. It was better than the rest of the class (at least he talked in a calm soothing voice) but even at that the swami on the cd had a little too much to say.

It's bad to leave yoga more stressed out than when you went in, right?
Yeah, I figured as much.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Dear Luxembourg

I miss you.

Miss you miss you miss you.

The weather here is grey and rainy today. Feels like I should be able to walk in to town to Table du Pain and have a Lait Russe (I had one in the comfort of my own home thanks to the coffee machine from heaven, but it's just not the same).

Stu picked out - by chance - the movie George and the Dragon this weekend (I actually have yet to finish it) and there are scenes in the castle that made me think "That looks like Vianden Castle" and then thought how ridiculous that was. Only it wasn't, because sure enough at the end of the movie some of it has been shot in Luxembourg. And the interview with James Purefoy has a beautiful shot of the castle behind him. Marc and I both sighed, knowing exactly where he was standing. The last time we were there was with Catherine, Neil and their boys and it was a perfect day. (and I still need to send her the photos... ooops!)

It's been a lot of little things lately. My friend Anneli sent us the poster from this year's Schueberfouer, since it was the first year we were missing it. The last day we were in Luxembourg we went to the Schueberfouer with friends. The poster was such a sweet gesture, one that made me feel very homesick.

Ridiculous things like having to have my first physical here - I had no idea if I had to disrobe, fought with the paper gown they gave me. It was fine, but I have been to Dr. S for so many years that it felt so... weird.

I try not to talk about how much I miss Luxembourg. I honestly didn't expect coming home to be this hard. I love being here, being near family, having a great support network... but I still have moments where I wonder what we did moving home. Canada was always going to be here, but Luxembourg is no longer an option for us.

I decided that I would like to make Boxemännercher for Klee'schen this year (the 6th of December when Saint-Nicholas - called Klee'schen comes). I found a site with several Luxembourgish recipes. Just reading the word Gromperekichelcher (potato fritters) made me long for the Place d'Armes and the little butcher shop that used to sell them with compote (apple sauce). I even miss the Mousel Cantine... oh and the Pyg... and Pucci's... and the Bistro down the road... and Swagat... and and and... And that's just the food. I won't even go on about the people I miss.

I have no clue where I am going with this post. I don't suppose there is much to make me miss Luxembourg less. And maybe that's okay. But today it is making me feel a little blue.

But I think I will be making Boxemännercher this year.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Oh the guilt

Marc has been gone for going on 7 nights now. (yes, another Marc-is-away-I-can't-deal-with-the-kids post. I'm tired of them too. Sigh).

We haven't done too badly all in all. Considering that both kids (and me too) were sick when he left and the kids still are. We're working through entry to JK (not going so well? who knows? She sure is acting up) and the return of what I will politely refer to as Homework Hell.

Both kids have been pushing buttons for the last few days. They want their dad, I understand. My painting marathon in the basement with our friend J last week didn't help. I get it. It didn't really help me either, but we now have an area of the basement that is finished and - after a long month without - a television set up.

Stu is vacillating between acting grown up and understanding a few things (his favourite words these days seem to be "I see your point") and outright "let's see how long it takes for her to blow" button pushing. He's fresher than wet paint some days. And as clingy as a toddler.

I am not fond of the parenting I have done tonight - the no nonsense voice, the forced do-over of some homework he really did poorly, the taking away of his books finally when I was putting Julia down and instead of memorizing his "comptine" he was doing some kind of acrobatics that had the light fixtures in the den shaking. I feel like a big meanie, cold and distant, speaking in a monotone and emotionless voice telling him what is and isn't acceptable.

The alternative? Shouting at him, which I am really trying hard not to do. Telling him how sleeping with him and his sister has left me exhausted to the point where I could sit down and cry. As these are not appropriate options I go into Robo-Mom. I hate it.

His room is a disaster. My mother was here last week and cleaned it up for him. Seriously, she did. And it's as bad today. Last week she talked to him about what would happen if he kept it like that. He said Mum would get a garbage bag and toss stuff. But (he whispered confidentially) Mum won't really do that - she just says she will.

I decided that tomorrow was the day, I was going to clean anything on the floor out. I didn't warn him - apparently I am full of empty threats.

So what is he doing now? Without being asked? Cleaning his room. I can't see any progress to be honest, but there's lots of noise. He's asking me to go up and sit with him. I can tell he's overwhelmed (you would be too by the mess) but I don't think I should go up there just now. I am giving him 5 more minutes and it's bedtime.

See - I have to stop doing all this for him. Because he's not learning. And it's not doing either of us any good. I fear I am in the early stages of helicopter parenting.

But the guilt I feel at not helping when he is overwhelmed... the guilt at the thought of him trying to clean up when I am intending to confiscate the toys tomorrow... UGH.

Who knew parenting would be so much fun.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

off the top of my head...

Since I am so scattered these days...

Dear father of two beautiful little girls who couldn't have been more than 3 and 5 years old,

I try not to judge other people's parenting. Really, I try. And it's great to spend time with your girls. Movies are great. However I don't think that Batman the Dark Knight was quite the film for them. When the big one pulled her coat over her head and wouldn't come out? When the little one curled up in your lap, hid her face and was shaking? SIGNS THAT YOU SHOULD LEAVE.
Good luck with all the nightmares they will have in the next little while. You're welcome that I managed not to come over and ask if you were in your right mind (which I probably would have done if I hadn't had to keep hiding with my head between my knees, fingers in ears loudly chewing M&M's in order to drown out scary bits. Yes, I am a wuss.)

the woman at the end of the row glaring at you

Dear (Cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs) Junior Kindergarten Teacher,

I am glad to see that you are taking Kindergarten seriously. But um - maybe a bit too seriously? It's Kindergarten, not Boot Camp. It's supposed to be FUN. Just in case you aren't aware, the kids are 3 and 4 years old. Sitting still for extended periods of time is not easy for them. Standing in a perfect line is not easy for them. Glue sticks? Also not so easy. Snack? Pretty important, let's not have it as a random variable in the morning equation (in case you hadn't heard, the rest of the school has moved to a balanced school day in order to make sure the kids are eating more often to help them learn).
As for your subtle (as a brick through a window) requests for volunteers in the class... really, parents who work aren't going to suddenly have time to volunteer because you make them feel guilty. Parents who do volunteer don't need to be given 7000 tasks at once. Your statements that you need at least 2 mothers a morning in the class room or you can't cope make us nervous.

Parent Volunteer #4 (the one who will undoubtedly smell like Irish Coffee on Tuesday mornings when she is at school)

Dear Cans of Paint in my Basement,

Can we strike a deal? Can you manage to get yourself up on the walls? Because- while I am blessed to have a friend who is determined to get the basement finished before Marc gets back and I am very thankful for said friend - I am tired. Tired tired tired of this house and it not being finished.
So let's try and pitch in okay?

the woman covered in paint

And now I must go. Because Julia is shrieking at Stu. And there is homework to be done. Homework, the joy of homework.

Friday, September 12, 2008

what to call it

I've had a post kicking around all week about how Julia was starting Kindergarten today. She had her first (and only) day of staggered entry and will start going every morning with a full class on Monday.

Somehow I didn't manage to put into words how I feel about her going. There's a certain amount of "I can't believe my BABY is this big!" to conversations involving whether or not we should try for number 3 because suddenly Julia seems so big. (Conversations is overstated. It's more me saying "Maybe we should have another baby." and Marc looking at me in abject terror before putting his hand to my forehead to see if I am feverish).

All in all it went pretty well. She asked that I drive her rather than going on the bus. She stayed by my side in the playground but seemed to want to play (bad bad mother that I am, I was chatting with the other parents I know, the guilt, I should have been right by her side). She went in quietly and easily, gave me a big kiss. Neither of us cried.

I distracted myself with a call to Stu's godmother who I don't talk to often enough. And my friend (our ex-neighbour) who's daughter will be in the same class (her daughter went yesterday and we had lunch with them afterwards). And then I went to get her (at 10:45 as instructed, only to be told by the Senior Kindergarten mothers that our teachers is out to lunch telling us that the bus comes at 10:45 so we have to be out there waiting at that time instead of at 11:00. 15 minutes in the pouring rain felt long this morning).

We'd done lots of little things this week to get ready for school. Made play dough for the class. Labelled all her things together. Practised putting on her knapsack. Got her snack box ready. On Wednesday we gave her and M (the ex-neighbour daughter) a Hello Kitty necklace that breaks in two and says Best Friends - 1/2 each for them going to kindergarten.

This morning she was up EARLY. And my child who routinely claims she can't get dressed herself managed (without being asked) to get herself dressed and her hair brushed (a small miracle. really). She's been missing nursery school. She was pumped to go.

So when she came out at 11:00 I wasn't quite ready for her little face to pucker, tears barely being held back. Apparently she did really well until about 10 minutes before the end of class, when suddenly she wasn't willing to do high fives and announced "I miss Mama!"

She claims she's not going back. That it was great, that she had a good time, she made a colourful raincloud, they learned French words she already knew (part of the 20 minutes a day of French)... it all comes out in a jumble. That snack was too fast. That she liked it but she misses Mama too much.

I wasn't expecting this from her, my second child, my independent young lady. The one who has so rarely cried when I leave somewhere.

There is no doubt that by Monday she will be raring to go. M will be there on Monday and she's so excited. But for today? It was nice to hear that she missed me.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Happy Bunny - one smart rabbit

Friday night Marc finally found the end of his rope and saw red about the contractor who seems to think he's being invited to join our family and move on in permanently.

Actually his helper - a 50-something man who wear shorts and muscle shirts and has been asking me to adopt him for several weeks now. Shudder with me people, shudder.

Anyhow! That is neither here nor there. Marc lost his patience - lost it I tell you. Those of you who have met Marc know that Marc losing his patience is not an every day thing (as opposed to his wife who can, at will, lose her patience every 10 minutes if required).

He came home from work, we talked about the deck - which looks amazing. The guy was so much much much better on Friday when he arrived - after Marc had gone out at 7 am to sort through the debris and clear it up a bit. He was quite civilized and proceeded to build the frame and the whole deck including 3 stairs by 4 pm. A 17'x 10' deck.

I don't know if it was the beauty of the deck or the heady aroma of cedar or the mere fact that someone got a job finished in our house, but when he went to have a look at our basement (he hadn't been down the night before - you know, what with me pitching a hissy/threatening bodily harm to the next contractor I saw when he walked in at 9:20 after a meeting with a client, ) he lost it.

There is absolutely no way at the pace that they are working (using term loosely) that they will be done that basement in one day. Or even one week.

He was threatening to fire him as he left for hockey. And when he came home later (much later) he told me that he'd put a stop payment on the last cheque we gave him. Woah.

I don't think the 6 or 7 unfinished coffees that had become science projects helped. They were all over the place (I foolishly presumed they were empty and I was still not pleased)

Today Marc the called contractor and left a message (when the only number we have - a cell number) saying that he is fired. We're not happy with how long he's taking to finish things or with the quality (my grout that needs to be re-done. Ugh.) and that he is being a slob in our house. To please come with is trailer tomorrow morning to pick up his stuff and that there was no need to re-enter our house.

And then we cleaned all his "stuff" out of our basement. And holy cow, there is so much room down there!!! He had about 6 huge boxes of garbage - end cuts of wood, more coffee cups, bits of insulation and who knows what else. We swept and then cleaned out room in the garage to put all his crap near the door.

I have a Happy Bunny calendar for 2008. I am a big Happy Bunny fan. And I haven't got my calendar up yet since I haven't had a kitchen that has been finished, so I hadn't seen September yet. So when I was checking out dates for Thanksgiving and flipped open to September, I howled as I read:

"Time to go now, gross people. You know who you are."

Happy Bunny prophecies? Could be.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

A First World problem or why I need to go to Home Depot U

The contractor that was supposed to be out of our house in 3 weeks is still here. We've just completed week 9 (YES! 9!!!) of his work on the house. On Monday we told him that we are completely and totally out of money (he's cost more than double the quote, all due to small additions we made to the work order that were only supposed to be one day things...) and that we could not pay him after today.

So what is happening? He's back on Monday. I am serious. We stood there and told him that we are out of cash (we had to have the car in the shop for a week after having it towed from Upper Canada Village 100 km away but that is another story - but anyhow, we told him it cost us a fortune to fix that we don't have) and that we can NOT pay him after this week.

As of Tuesday morning all he had left to do was 1/4 of the backsplash tiles & grout it and finish the drywall in the basement. Do you think it's finished? NO. NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO.

The backsplash that he quoted us as being 5 hours of work has taken him 3 f-ing days to do. And that included Marc and I scrubbing down the tiles (and various other parts of the kitchen) for 2 hours last night. I think he aimed the grout in the direction of the tiles and hoped for the best.

And how long can it take to hang about 200 square feet of drywall? Apparently more than 4 days. I almost cried when he took me down there as he was checking out at 4pm

He's a lovely person, a really Ottawa Valley boy, good-hearted but he talks a blue streak and never sticks to what he says. He talks in circles. And when you try and call him on it - as in "Hi, I took the kids away for 4 days so you could install my kitchen counters and do the backsplash and all you did was the counters, I was quite surprised." and he's bound to come back with something like "well I just got the counters in" and you say, yes, on Tuesday (please note he was saying to Marc every morning that the backsplash was going up) and he says something that makes it sound like you're the one who is delusional and unreasonable - even though what he said when you said you were going away so he could do the kitchen was "Great, that gives up plenty of time to get the kitchen all finished for you and most of the basement."

Did that last bit make any sense? See, he has my brain so addled that I can't even express myself anymore. My girlfriend Anne was over with her daughter this morning and after 2 1/2 hours of him and his (mostly useless unless throwing paint on the floor counts) helper she was going crazy. She couldn't get over how full of himself he is (her words) and how much time it takes him to explain that simplest thing (i.e. I should be able to re-wire the house based on the narrative about how badly the basement was wired.) And don't bother trying to cut him off, or re-route the conversation, it's not going to work (and I have years of customer service experience behind me, I am usually good at this kind of thing).


And as if that were not enough fun, the deck that we had ordered while we were still at the old house - the one that wasn't built and that they came to check out this yard for - should have been built yesterday and today. Well the installer threw a wobbly yesterday morning because we are in a townhouse and since the houses were built people put up fences that block the common area - and walked out. He was foul. Very unprofessional. Told me he wasn't removing my concrete steps because he was only being paid $25 to do it. I don't blame him, but seeing as it cost us $300 to have them removed I don't really think it was my issue - no? He finally came back but left before the wood was delivered - I had strict instructions to have them deliver it to the back. When the driver came he tried but his forklift wouldn't fit so he couldn't. When the installer came back this morning I was actually afraid of him, the rage he flew into... holy cow. I was thankful there was a house full of people (see? this morning I was actually happy the contractor was here). He was practically flinging the posts across the backyard and cursing and ... it was so unpleasant. There is a pile of rubble under where the deck will be that I am not happy about, and that my contractor (he who talks a lot and knows everything about anything) tells me will attract bees and build moisture (girl with mold allergy - me - not happy). Can you get hold of anyone at the deck company? OF COURSE NOT. Do they return your calls? NO.

I know these are totally insignificant things in the course of a lifetime, and that there are millions of people who would love to have my "problems". And I've really been working on not getting worked up over things, and being grateful for what I have instead of what I don't have (have I mentioned that the contractor won't have finished everything he was supposed to do by next week? That we're going to have to do it again? Which isn't terrible because at least we won't destroy the house doing it).

But right now? I feel like crying. Or rather I am imaging how a good cry would feel since I have not shed a tear since this whole thing began - a feat for the girl who cries when she is frustrated. Okay, I did shed a few tears (cried a river?) the day I left my little house for this one, but that was another thing all together.

So what to do? I've decided that I am going to become a fixture at Home Depot for their information session. I'm going to learn how to do EVERYTHING so I never ever EVER need to hire someone again.

Oh, and I'm going to try and ease up on the Indiana Popcorn I've been shoving down my throat for two days. Yeah, that's not going to help.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Guest post from the man who has to live with me

First of all, please permit me to tell you that I am the biggest fan of this blog. Of course this is a biased opinion as I am also Tracy's biggest fan but that is the case.

Today was interesting. Today was Stuart's first day of school. Today was the day that Tracy's head nearly exploded - before 9:00 AM. Or 0900 hours in military speak as today's school run felt like a military operation. So the man who has driven armoured personnel carriers and tanks (cool NATO job and all) was convinced that he was back in Europe and orders were being given. My darling bride exchanged her luluemon for fatigues and we had a mission: get Stuart on the bus; follow the bus; ensure he gets off the bus; find his classmates; keep it together.. Execute, execute, execute!!

Our son Stuart does not always take well to new situations - and sometimes not so well to familiar situations, so Tracy is often the only parent at the birthday party or the one with a new appendage in the form of a six year old. But today, on the day that it would not matter if a tear was shed or the two-minute hug was given, was not clinging or crying or acting out in any way. In fact, he had his own mission, perhaps a secret mission. He was growing up.

So what, he took the bus - more helicopter parenting, right? Well, hang on for a second. You see, Stuart is the boy who refused to take the bus last year. Would not get on - it never happened. He had just moved 6,000 km to a new country and was taking school in a new language, so give the kid a break. It has been a big adjustment for Stuart and Julia to adapt to Canada from the tiny European country where they born. But now, one-year later things are getting easier - not perfect, just easier.

So we (read Tracy) had geared up big-time for the first day of school, first day on the bus and first day where she was not needed. Stop. She was needed but it was subtle. There was no huge production, there was no negotiation, and there was no scene. He proceeded like it was perfectly normal to get on the bus for the first time, like the big boy he is, find his seat and wave at his Mum - who by the way had run around the bus to ensure that he was OK. She is so cute.

Now we had a NEW mission. You see, Tracy was determined to follow the bus to ensure that everything was OK because "we do not know this Sue person and if she can drive that bus..."

Roger that.

After a highly successful insertion of Stuart into the yellow and black vehicle (school bus), we (Julia and I) snapped to it ensuring that we were fastened into the chase car. There is no question who is driving. Just ask our neighbours who cannot believe that no matter how many minutes earlier they leave, Tracy always arrives first.

We have now arrived at school in advance of the bus. No surprise here - author's chiropractic appointment put to good use today. New mission - find the boy. Divide the squad - Julia and I were instructed to search the grounds while Tracy would do a reckie around the front of the schoolyard. With no communication gear - Tracy's cell phone without charge - Julia and I soon spot Stuart and Tracy walking together around the back of the school. After a few minutes, the bell rings and Stuart gives his Mum, sister and Dad a hug, then proceeds quietly and orderly into school. Mission completed but not the mission we had planned.

You see, today Tracy's head did not nearly explode. There was no collateral damage. She planned for the worst and was pleasantly surprised with how easy it went.

I was not surprised - sure, I did not know that it would be today but I knew that for all of the effort and the determination that she puts into parenting - she would get through to him. He would get it. He would know that he does not need to test her boundaries all the time to know that she is there. She is always there for him, supporting him when he needs it. Today he tested his new wings and soared. So did she.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Nobody told me there'd be days like these

Tomorrow my boy starts Grade 2. And he has decided that he is taking the school bus to school.


First of all - Grade 2 sounds so BIG. Not like Grade 1 where they are just out of Kindergarten and still really babies. So how did he get old enough, big enough, grown up enough to go to Grade 2? Could someone please explain (I know, those of you with older children can shake your heads, just like I will in a couple of years).

And the whole bus thing - excuse me??? This is the kid that flatly refused - REFUSED - to take the bus last year. In Luxembourg there is no school bus (well unless you are the child of a Eurocrat and go to the European School - please read that with a snotty tone). Considering that buses were a whole new thing for him, I didn't push. Ahem. Well not much. There were mornings where it was snowing like crazy and driving was awful and he took 300 years to put his snowsuit on (well, that's how long it seemed to take) that I wished he would take the bus. Mornings I threatened that he would have to start taking the bus, that I wasn't going to drive like a madwoman to school to get there before the bell. (oh man, I am not painting a pretty picture of mornings in our house).

And now? Yeah, he's taking the bus tomorrow. On the first day of school. Without Mama. And Mama wants to cry.

Oh I know, I should be so proud of him (and I am acting all proud). My best friend who has known me since before I even started Grade 2 told me to stop being so silly today. Those weren't her exact words, but I got the message. I mean her kids are both in high school as of tomorrow and I am freaking out about Grade 2?

Apparently I didn't give Stu any warning about the move to a Balanced School Day this year. Meaning that there is no long lunch break for him to come home a couple of days a week for lunch. So when I was explaining to him that there would be two long recesses and he has food that he can eat at either, he wigged out on me. The tears. The recriminations. I even started to doubt whether or not I had told him about it (I did, but man, obviously not enough).

I know that my behaviour (borderline hysteria anyone?) is all symptomatic of a broader issue that involves Julia starting kindergarten next week (another one who wants to take the bus, sheeeesh). And of my babies growing up. And how it's all gone too fast and how I didn't give Stu going to Precoce full-time in Luxembourg 3 years ago and I sure didn't think much about him going to Spillschoul and the caregiver the year after and holy cow - look at all the opportunities I missed to scrutinize my parenting ;-)

Sigh. I never knew it could be this hard (and yes, maybe I need to go back to work so I am not so obsessed with my children).

In the end we decided that I will meet him at school when he gets off the bus to walk into the school yard and find his new teacher. Because it turns out he does need me there after all.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Really and truly

My name is Tracy and I am never moving again.



12 times in 23 years and that's that.

Let's hope the neighborhood doesn't go to seed.

Because I'm gonna be the little old lady hobbling up the same front steps FOREVER.

Although if the contractor doesn't stop touching up the #&%^&*&^#($^(*^(#*^$)^)@#^%)^#%)*^ paint and start finishing some other stuff I am going to club him like a seal and then I will have to spend the rest of my days in jail.

I hear you can pack pretty light for lifetime imprisonment.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

standard issue king size beds

They need to start giving out King sized beds to anyone with a child. Okay, maybe to anyone with more than one child.

This morning Stu arrived in our bed at 4 something. Julia followed at 5:50. When the cat showed up too Marc escaped (with a huff and a puff) to Stu's room. It was actually an improvement on the last couple of nights.

I love them all. I understand their need for reassurance this week. But I need to get more than 3 hours sleep without someone on me, nudging me, or not being able to move my limbs in my bed. Ditto on the 5:40 am proclamations of "Mama!!! I have a joke for you!!!"

(the non exhausted cranky part of me - who is pretty small right now... hello? non cranky part? You in there? - feels pretty special that they all think I can make things better when I feel like my head is going to explode.)

I need a Timmy's run. They need to start delivering. Or hooking up an IV to my bedroom.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

steam to spare?


I am running out of steam. 3 sleeps until the move. We are mostly packed. I think. Sort of. Not so much. This is what happens when you move 2 blocks away is that there are a lot of things that don't need to be well packed and you think you are doing okay and then you open your storage room and wow, look at all that stuff.

My house that was supposed to be painted and new kitchen counter and backsplash installed and basement ceiling finished etc etc in 2 weeks (yes I thought it was very optimistic) is on week 5 of work. And my counters, the ones my contractor seemed to find me stressed about 2 weeks ago (since they were only supposed to take 2 weeks to arrive - I didn't ask until we were at 3 weeks... that's relaxed for me!!) are in Home Depot terminology "Back Ordered" with no idea on potential arrival time. I have a dismantled basement ceiling and for some reason seem to be getting 4 coats of paint of the walls? And ceilings? I've now hit the "just finish it" stage. Fini. Basta.

I've taken measures (WHEN is the world going to listen to me when I suggest in a nice, polite CALM- really it was calm - voice that we follow up) to get us countertops in 10-14 days - or rather I've made the calls and the contractor is insisting on placing the order.

I may follow up with the counter place this afternoon. I'm not taking any more chances. I am approaching KATN Mode (kick ass take names). Marc loves this mode (as long as it's not his ass of course...)

Marc is down with a bad bad bad case of a stomach bug that has put him out of commission for the last 2 days. Poor guy, new job and moving. But this type of things is quite common for us.

It would help if the tenants weren't moving in the day after we move out. But such is life.

I have no clue where I am going with this post. To bed is not an option, thought the grey, rainy Luxembourg-like weather is conducive to afternoon napping. Unfortunately my kids are not of the same opinion.

This time next week this will all be over. Yeah!

Friday, August 01, 2008


A year ago today men arrived at my house and began "packing" our belongings for our move from Luxembourg back to Canada.

I use the word "packing" lightly, as it was (I hope) one of the worst packing jobs ever. After 3 days I thought the hell was over and boarded the plane to visit friends in Stockholm with happy thoughts of vacations.

Of course that came back to bite me in the bum a month later when the container arrived and the real hell began. (I have to admit, I hadn't been impressed with the packing and feared the arrival, but denial was a better vacation companion than worry). I failed to see logic in most of the packing - bubble wrap around quilts, but picture frames tossed into boxes? Our laptop unceremoniously tossed in the top of a box that wasn't even marked fragile?

The "day-helper" that the movers hired on this end didn't help - he stunk of stale cigarettes and looked like he was sporting a bad hangover. And he kept hollering at me. Ugh. I don't do drunks well (and yes, I can confirm that my drunkdar is usually about 99.8% accurate).

I have moved a lot in my life. At least I think it's a lot. My parents split up shortly before my 15th birthday and I have moved 12 times since then. My poor kids are on their 3rd move each at the tender ages of 4 and 6.

So you'd think that I would be a pro at this by now, right?

I used to be. I used to rock at moving. 2 moves ago I had charts and rooms numbered and lists. Seriously.

This time? I can't get going. This week was supposed to be my "big" packing week, and I have got very little accomplished. And the sitter is leaving in 10 minutes to go on vacation until after we move.

I could blame a lot of things, trouble getting boxes (I know, sad, so sad), to the teeny tiny-ness of this house which really isn't conducive to boxes. Or that the contractors who are doing a great job at our new house have not yet got to a stage where we can put too much in the house (which would facilitate things, as it would mean not tripping over boxes) and that the carpets are only being laid next Wednesday.

But what I really think is : you only get so much moving mo-jo in your life and I've used mine up.

And now I will go and find a rock to crawl under - if I can even get out of the house in the mess I've made.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

And then I hit her

So I haven't found to post lately - I've had a few doozies in my head, one of which I will still have to post because 10 days later an article in the Citizen is really really REALLY irking me.

But this morning I did something I have never done before. I rear-ended someone.

It was at a nasty intersection, and some WALNUT (Stuart overheard me saying something far less - um - polite when I got cut off once and thought I said Walnut so we're gonna stick with that one) ran a yellow that was so far gone it had to be red. So the woman in the minivan ahead of me slammed on her brakes and BOOM - I hit her.

And you know what? She was SO NICE about it. SO SO SO NICE. There was nothing more than a tiny scratch on her bumper and she was like "Whatever, no biggie." Then I worried because of course as I was getting out of the car I noticed little people heads in the back (way back, like last row back) and I thought "Oh CRAP, I've hit a car with kids in it. Those poor kids!"

Anyhow, in the end she went and opened her door so I could see with my own eyes that the kids were fine, and I apologized to them. Apparently last year they had an accident with a transport and wrote their car off, so she figured this wouldn't scar them at all.

By the time we were getting back into our cars she was asking if I was okay (my hands were shaking when I gave her my number, just in case).

What a totally cool person. She could have been all "You hit my car you moron" but she was nice.

Imagine if EVERYONE tried to be nice? All the time?

(oh and for those of you who are familiar with my driving "skills" I really have never hit anyone before and NO I WAS NOT SPEEDING. For once.)

Monday, July 14, 2008

And the air goes out of the balloon like this... ppffffttttt... blah

Home again, home again...

The problem with nice weekends at the house of good friends is that you have to come back. Bleah.

We had an awesome weekend... we visited the Toronto Zoo, swam in the pool, hung out. The kids got along famously. The food was good. The weather was pretty decent. It was - dare I say it? - relaxing.

(BTW Cathie... we only had to go as far as Markham. Phew. I was still breathing and not in the fetal position rocking and moaning about how I am so thankful not to live in T.O.)

And now we are home. To tiles picked at the Whitby Home Depot that aren't what we want for the backsplash and they want to start it SOON. And Karate camp was a bit of a bust this morning. Julia wailed when I left. She NEVER wails. She was terrified.

So of course I cried in the car and was in a state visiting tile store trying to pick tiles that I have to commit to - for like eternity. Oh yes, ETERNITY. I take these things very seriously. And I am not convinced that I can make that kind of commitment to ... um tiles.

(Momentary pause while I try to get a grip).

Oh and. Yes. In a furniture store yesterday the salesman told me that I have a lovely family "and one on the way?"

Um, no... just a bad dress (that I will burn as soon as I can find where I've hid the matches). I knew I had gained weight, but to mistaken for pregnant? Ugh.

Monday. Gotta love it.

Friday, July 11, 2008

keys keys keys keys

We got the KEYS!! The KEYS!! To the new house!

We got them yesterday afternoon and spent the evening over there, having pizza with our neighbours (from this house).

Have I mentioned that I really like the house? Really really like it? It almost feels strange that it's ours. And that we're going to go and live there and potentially live in less cramped quarters (potentially since we always seem to find more stuff... it's like lint)

I've posted some pics on facebook for Cathie (and others of course, but I was trying to do right by Cathie). But I will have to tell you more later because we're supposed to be leaving for Toronto in an hour and I am not at all packed.

That and the fact that the kids are sitting next to me staring at me with huge puppy dog eyes because they want me attention.

Monday, July 07, 2008

further proof I must have been dropped on my head

Want to know what I did today? Really?

I held a birthday bash for a Webkinz red-eyed tree frog.


It involved having two little boys and the little girl next door over, running around filling water pistols (what are those things called? Brain melting...) 2 cakes shaped like the RETF's face (one for the afternoon, one for dinner), peanut butter cookies that were supposed to look like dragon flies (since when does Pillsbury not make sugar cookie dough? they were a hit and miss, mostly miss), a BBQ with our neighbours... and presents. One from the Stu and one from my amazing neighbour who took the time - despite having her interlock done today to pick out a gift and stuff (plastic) insects in a jar.

I am wiped out.

I hear you wondering why I did this. Because of a little boy who got his first Webkinz last October from his Godparents who are so in the know as to what is cool at school these days. That little Webkinz red-eyed tree frog helped him make friends when we moved here and he knew no one. He was in on things because he had that frog.

So back in January when I tacked up my HAPPY BUNNY calendar for 2008 I wasn't about to protest the inclusion of the frog's birthday for July 7th (for July Happy Bunny says, with a big smile, "Please Stop Existing. Thanks"). I think I made vaguely affirmative noises when barraged with party planning (come on, it was 6 months away. He's 6. He's not supposed to hang on to things that long).

Let's hope he remembers today. I certainly will.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Joyeuse Anniversaire

My Mum turned 65 yesterday. The last time I spent her birthday with her was the year that Stu was a baby and we were home. So in order to make up for lost time/celebrate an important birthday, we went away together. Just the two of us, to Vermont for 2 nights.

Can I preface the rest of the post by saying we had a great time. Great Time. (I'll probably mention it again).

The trip was a bit of a last minute thing, and when I tried to find somewhere to stay around Burlington, everything was fully booked. Crazy fully booked. Not sure if it had to do with the Vermont Quilt Exhibition - I mean I like quilts and all (and my mum quilts) but really? Are all that many people interested? Anyhow, after hours of trying to book somewhere to stay one kindly lady at a B&B suggested trying "up the mountain road" towards Stowe. So I took a look and in the end we stayed here in Waterbury about 40km out of Burlington. I am so glad that Burlington was fully booked because we loved the inn and plan to go back.

So on Thursday, after an afternoon of shopping in downtown Burlington we headed further down the I-89 to our Inn. Not sure where to have dinner we drove up the Stowe road and visited the Trapp Family Lodge. I'd love to tell you we had dinner there, but we hadn't booked 6 months in advance. That and the fact that my mum wasn't entirely convinced that I wouldn't break out in a chorus of "The hills are alive... with the Sound of Music... - I really have to rent that movie for the kids.) We ended up driving up and down the drag in Stowe and had dinner in a nice little place that had German wine (I know it's not cool, but I LOVE sweet German wine). On our way back down the hill we stopped at a small grocery store and I picked up two bottles of Riesling Spatlese, which I love. I will try and share them with someone. Really. I promise to try.

The impetus behind staying in Burlington (besides all the shopping I was envisioning doing) was the spa I had booked for us. I had found this place on the internet and thought it would be a nice gift. I had booked us in for two Mom's Day Out specials that included an hour long massage, a pedicure and a parafin hand treatment with a light lunch. Light they said - we had a chicken Caesar Salad that was big enough for 3. I announced to my mother the night before we were leaving what our package included - only to realize she'd never had a massage before and that it was sounding a little more intimidating than fun to her. Oooops. On Friday morning when the two masseuses came out to greet us in the "relaxation area" I was quite relieved that my mum had Inge, a very tall German lady in her late forties (I had the little chickie who was possibly pushing 23, but she did a good job).

When we stumbled out of the spa we hit some outlet malls - ones I hadn't been all that interested in going to, but still managed to find lots of things to buy (not usually a problem, me finding things to buy). We headed back to Waterbury for dinner and walked off our two glasses (each) of wine by hiking up and down Main Street for an hour or so (and yes, two glasses does us both in, like mother like daughter).

Yesterday we went in search of a drugstore - now maybe it's just me, but I have this ideal of American drugstores being a mecca for those of us who like... okay love... drugstores. Yeah. Hmmmm. Vermont is not so big on drugstores from what I can tell. And - there is no Target store. But these were small prices to pay for a lovely weekend in a beautiful state. I've found Ontario very flat (in more ways than one) since we've moved home, and the Green Mountains were a welcome change of scenery.

We headed home by way of the Champlain Islands that lie between Vermont and New York state. It was a beautiful drive. Bonus points to the very informative lady in the Vermont Tourism office just at the edge of New York state who steered us away from the border crossing on the I-87, and instead sent us through a tiny back road border crossing. Where we were through in approximately 47 seconds. And we were not searched, something of a miracle for me. Ever since a nasty altercation with a surly customs agent back in 1988 over a can of hairspray that was 3/4 empty, dented scratched and bearing not only French writing but a drugstore price tag from a Quebec chain ("If you don't have the bill for this I could impound your car!!" he shouted at me) I break into a sweat when nearing the border.

I realized a few things over the weekend. I miss Americans. We had so many American friends and co-workers in Luxmebourg. We were lucky enough to have base privileges at the US Air Force Base in Bittburg (and we quite often used those privileges on a rainy Sunday afternoon when nothing was open in Luxembourg). Americans are welcoming in a way that some Ontarians should take note of.

The other thing I really realized was how much I have missed my mum over the years. She was wonderful about coming to visit twice a year, but it was always like trying to squeeze 6 months into a 2 week time frame and we would all be exhausted by the end. Being home again gives me the chance to do things with her - fun like this weekend, or scary like her 2nd mammogram a couple of months ago - that I just couldn't do living in Europe.

So Happy Birthday Mum. It was a pleasure to spend it with you. I had a great time.

Friday, June 20, 2008

train of thought

This morning in the shower I was thinking about soccer last night, and then about how a little boy in Stu's class is called Shabaka (he was on the other team). And how that sounds a little too close to Chewbacca for me - started hoping that George Lucas doesn't release any other Star Wars movies until the child is too old or too big to be teased about being a Wookie.

From there my thoughts went something like this... Han Solo is Chewwie's buddy... Han Solo and Princess Leia... hmmm... what if Han hadn't been at the right place at the right time and let them hitch a ride on the Millenium Falcon? (Yes, I know way too much about Star Wars). Would he have even met Princess Leia? Was that his destiny? Would he have found someone else otherwise and never known that he was supposed to be with her?

And then - and then I thought: "Holy crap Trace, these are characters in a movie. Based a Long Long time ago - get a grip".

I should probably also note that my shower too a lot longer than usual because I kept confusing my conditioner and my shampoo. I think I'll blame it on my concern for intergalactic romance. Sheeeesh.

And we're not even into summer vacation yet. 3 1/2 school days and counting...

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Something to do when your life feels upside down..

We just signed an offer on a house. To buy a house. A new house. And move house.

Because I was so grounded - ya know? (not) So let's just go and make things more interesting.

Further proof that I must have been dropped on my head at some point? I think so.

And I would tell you about the house but - um - I feel a little too queasy right now.

Anyone seeing my brain (which may look really small, or more like half a brain) please return it to me...

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Tantrums - of the grown up kind

I've been on edge for a few days now. Snippy, testy, impatient. All traits I love in myself. No, not really.

I know that part of the problem is my hormones - I feel I am losing the battle to my PMDD the last few days. Not like I used to, but I thought it was getting better than this. I knew I was in trouble when I met a girlfriend for lunch the other day and when asked what I felt like eating replied with "A deep fried salt lick dipped in sugar and chocolate."

The huge change in pressure didn't help much either - I've been much better in the headache department since we got home, but I've realized that huge changes in pressure cause the injuries from my accident almost 4 years ago to act up. Until we finally got a big storm I ached from my head, through my ear and jaw all the way down the back of my neck. While I am so thankful that the damage wasn't worse, it's still is not fun. I was bear-like, snipping at Marc, at the kids.

But underneath it I worry there is something more, some vague dissatisfaction that I can't completely shift.

I get frustrated with myself. I look at my life on paper and it's what I would put down as what I wanted given the choice in life. I have a wonderful husband (wonderful, not perfect. Not psychic either, which has made his life a little less enjoyable this week). I have two beautiful kids - even if they do seem to be little hellions lately, pushing all my buttons. I have a house we can afford, two cars that we can afford (though I had to have one towed this evening... another story). I have my health. I have friends. I have family near enough to see regularly. I have the privilege of staying home with my kids (thanks to Marc's new job).

Sounds like I should be content, doesn't it? I certainly think I should. And somehow, I am always finding something... something that feels like it's missing.

Last week we went to see a house. A house in this area (right school district) that was a single family we could afford (ish). They had done a lot of renovations - beautiful renovations. A huge master suite with a reading area (they'd knocked down a wall between a bedroom and the family room). But the basement was a fright, and a lot of the work was not at all well done (a basement bathroom with the electrical box next to the shower and no vent? Hello??). The roof looked like Farrah Fawcett's flippy hair in the 70's.

I've been thinking a lot about that house and why I thought it would make me happier than I am. I think it was the general idea of more space (though we would fill that too). But also this grown up area - a spot to call my own.

I love my kids. Really really love them. But it feels some (most?) days like there is nothing left for me - of me, of my home, of my life. I was always afraid to be a stay at home mother because I was afraid that I would disappear. And I think I am.

And who do I feel I take it out on? The kids. It's like a vicious circle - they need me so much that I feel the need to pull away, so they need me more.

This morning was a prime example... Julia (the sweet child who refused to eat her dinner last night) woke up at 5:45 am. She was STARVING (it's all or nothing with my girl). She was going full throttle. I was not caffeinated. Not a good combination.

By the time I got Marc up for pancakes at 8:45 I was being sarcastic. Wanting to run screaming for the hills (Stu woke up at 7:15 and was also go, go, go). The constant noise. Stu giving play by plays of every move of a handheld video game he borrowed from a friend. Julia speaking Ladybug (it involves a lot of loud noises made with a portion of your tongue stuck out of your mouth). I could honestly feel my blood pressure rising.

And then came my stellar mother moment of the month. I was making pancakes, and I had used spelt flour for the batter so they were a little runnier than usual. Two ran together. Marc called it a fish. So then Julia needed a fish. So I tried to make a fish. The conversation then went like this:

Me: Julia! I managed to make you a fish!!

Stu: What kind of fish Mum?

Me: Just a fish shape Stu.

Stu :Yeah but what kind of fish is it?

Me : just a plain fish Stu.

Stu: But what kind of fish Mum? Is it a goldfish?

Me : "It's just a f***ing fish Stuart!

I KNOW. Awful. Actually it was pretty funny. Marc tried not to laugh. Stu was pretty impressed with my vocabulary (don't you love how you try and teach them all this good stuff and it's the bad stuff that impresses them?). Julia just laughed because Mummy was almost doubled over. What a way to diffuse a tense situation. And then I apologized to the kids. For my potty mouth.

And as I ramble on and on in my free therapy hour here, I know it's obvious : I need more time for me, I need something to call my own. I just don't seem to be able to do it.

How do you do it?? Any advice? Because right now going back to work is sounding like a good way to get a little me time. Which I realize it really wouldn't.

Are there women who achieve some sort of balance?

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

home again, home again

Once upon a time there was a couple that had a tenth wedding anniversary. They left the kids with Nana (wonderful wonderful Nana) and went to Quebec City. For 3 nights. ALONE.

I could go on and on about how FANTASTIC our weekend was. And I hope that I will at some point in the very near future - while I still remember it all. The hotel, the restaurants, the caleche ride, the massage... all perfect.

Even the rain added a certain je ne sais quoi to the 3 days (though we weren't sad to see the sun came out).

When we got home the kids and Nana were out front with our neighbour and her daughter. She commented on how relaxed we looked. I felt relaxed.

I didn't tell her that I spent most of the weekend trying to convince Marc to move to Quebec City. It's so pretty, so charming... so european-ey.

The wine at dinner last night?? from LUXEMBOURG. No joke.

But for now I must go and watch Fifi and the Flower Tots with Julia. The kids were over the moon to see us. Or... are they always this... um... LOUD?

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

24.6 seconds of recent events

I have no time to blog. Really, none. I have all kinds of interesting things to post about (okay, only until I start typing and realize they're not so interesting) but no time to do so.

In fact, I am not entirely sure I am capable of completing a thought this week. My poor husband, who is now in his 3rd week of being home with me, is somewhat perplexed by my inability to focus on anything for for than 24.6 seconds.

He is, however, starting to comprehend that 24.6 seconds is about .356 of a second more than my children usually give me to think about anything.

Anyhow, I am - as per usual me-ness - digressing from my intended post. Because I can't type the little hobbled together bits in 24.6 seconds.

So - what I am trying to tell you is:

1) Marc got a job!!!! Woo Hoo! Yee Haw! Much cheering and jubilation. It is the job he wanted, the one he has been interviewing for since January (yes, JANUARY people!!). The one that took sooooooooooooo long to get through every step of the interview process for, the one that seemed to have another step every time we thought it was over. He has a letter and everything. With a signature. PHEW. And he starts 2 July, so we have a few more weeks before he starts.

I am so proud of him.

2) Friday is our 10th wedding anniversary. 10. Wow. So, in honour of such a momentous occasion, we are driving to Montreal on Saturday morning (early early early...), dropping the kids at my mum's and then hitting the road for Quebec City. Where we will spend 3 nights in a lovely little hotel and eat far too much food and hopefully drink even more wine. And I bet there will be lots of desert. Lots and lots of it.

This is where my short attention span is of benefit - if I could think about our trip for more than 24.6 seconds at a time I would be so excited nothing else would get done all day. Nothing.

So - on that note I am going to say goodnight. Because this post? Took way more than 24.6 seconds.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Did someone cut a few hours off the day?

Marc has now been off work for... um... 11 days.

I am loving having him home, I am thrilled with what we are getting done around the house, I am ecstatic at not having to do the school run every morning and sometimes waking up to a cup of Timmy's (French Vanilla, yum) on my night table some mornings.

Not to mention getting to hang out with my honey.

I am just trying to figure out where all the hours are going though - should my house not be tidier? Should dinner not be easier to make? Should there not be plenty of fresh fruit and veg in the fridge since I will have more time to do things like grocery shop?

Um, yeah. Not so much. My schedule? Gone right out the window. (I know - the thought that I had a schedule is hard to swallow - but really, I did...)

Oh well... this too shall pass, surely far sooner than I am ready...

Friday, May 16, 2008

Hello 4

(This post has been kicking around in my head for a few days... Julia turned 4 on Tuesday.)

Dear 4,

Nice to meet you - I actually planned to write this as an introduction letter for 3 to give you in the hand-over, but as usual I was behind schedule.

I've been thinking a lot this past week about 3... about how she was when she arrived a year ago and how she was as she was leaving. 3 had a huge year. We moved continents. She went to nursery school. She learned to stand up to her brother. She even went as far as learning how to aggravate him, which is not one of my favourite things about the past year.

They are teaching them sign language at 3's nursery school (she knew all the letters to T - that was last week's letter). She could sing the Hello song in English, French, Spanish and Korean. Yes, Korean. She even introduced her friends to the Hello song in Luxembourgish last week. They may call on you to help out with that 4.

3 learned to go to school and let Mama leave without crying. She learned how to go to friends' houses for playdates and let Mama leave without crying (at this point Mama was the one who sometimes felt like crying). She made a best friend who wasn't part of our family. She took swimming lessons and went to swimming camp over March break - alone. Without Mama, Dado or Stu.

3 liked to be carried. Liked to cuddle - something I am hoping that you do too 4, because cuddles are important. Mamas sometimes need their cuddles in the evening to make up for some of the ones we don't get during the day anymore because you are so busy out there exploring, learning, spreading your wings.

The day before you came 4 Dado built the bicycle that 3 thought you would need. It's a pink and blue and purple with white tires and training wheels. I thought it would take Dado a long time to build it, but it didn't, and 3 saw it in the driveway. She hopped right on and... off she went. As if she'd been doing it every day of her life.

That's when it really hit me that 3 was ready to go and that you, 4, were waiting in the wings to take her place. I have to admit that I felt a little weepy... 4 is so much closer to a big girl than 3, so much further from a baby. 3 was getting heavy enough that I sometimes had trouble carrying her. I am hoping to be able to carry you for a lot longer.

You'll be happy to know that 3 did a lot of work in the last couple of weeks on things like talking to people - friends of mine, other mothers at school. All of a sudden she had a voice and wanted to tell people things. I think she was shedding her shy exterior for you.

I watched 3 go to sleep for the last time and took her picture (yes, while she was sleeping, and yes, with a flash. She didn't move). I sat and watched her for a while, with her little body sprawled across the bed, her little cheeks flushed and mouth a little open. I could still see 2 and even a bit of 1 in her.

The next morning there YOU were! All bright-eyed and bushy tailed and "Hi! I'm FOUR!!!" You are a little larger than life at the moment. The excitement of being you, being 4!!! You talk as if there is an exclamation point after every word, you have had such a great few days.

I hope you enjoyed the barbecue we had on the evening after you arrived. Our neighbours, some of whom had not seen 3 much over the long cold winter commented on all the new stuff that you, 4, can do. Some of the things that I am still getting used to, now that you are here, 4.

It's going to be a big year for you. We have summer camp - this is the first summer, except for the one when 0 was around, that I will be home. I am looking forward to it (for the most part). You start soccer on Monday. You are almost finished nursery school, and you will have to say some goodbyes. You will go to swimming camp again, and karate camp.

And then in the fall you will start school. Real school, with big kids and all. You're going to take the bus and everything - something that really excited 3, and I am sure you will like too. Not sure if I will manage too well with it though.

I'm really glad you are here. You're really cool. Just remember that there's no rush to make room for 5 just yet - she won't be here for another year (no matter how many times you ask how many days until your birthday, it's still almost a year). Please enjoy being you, and let us enjoy you being exactly who you are - 4.

And remember - lots of cuddles. You're still my baby.

Lots of love,