Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Curiosity and the cat...

Damn Facebook.

On Sunday morning I had a friend request from an old beau. One I haven't spoken to for oh - about 14 years.

He sent a message with it, saying that I look great and how glad he was to find me.

I was very hesitant to accept his request. This was not a great love of my life. I think we saw each other, quite casually, from New Years Eve (foolish, drunken party) until I moved to Ottawa in May of the same year. He was a friend of a friend, very sweet, very... intense.

Once I'd moved I was pretty much done with the whole thing - the fact that I was looking for jobs outside of Montreal is a strong indicator that I did not feel the relationship had much future.

Still, once I had moved he called regularly. One night when there was weird reception on my phone he accused me of having a party (I was asleep, and not sure why it was really any of his business). Then there was the letter sent by UPS (where he worked) to my office that as not even in an envelope inside the UPS envelope. A very personal letter that I was very embarrassed to have a co-worker read part of before realizing it was personal and passing it on to me (I bet she actually read the whole thing, but that's neither here nor there years later).

Then, the final correspondence, which must have been close to a year after I moved (I was going out with Marc by this time) was a card from BC, where he'd ended up. Basically it said that he was happy (no thanks to me) and that he thought I should know (was I supposed to swoon in regret?) and that I'd lost my chance (dang, I was almost ready to get on a plane to follow him and beg for another chance - NOT).

So you can understand my hesitation to accept the friend request. But being me, ever so polite me, I sent him a message. I seem to be incapable of ignoring people. I said I was married, we had two great kids and that we had just moved back to Canada and that I had seen some mutual friends of ours a couple of weeks ago.

He replied almost immediately. A huge long message. Gave me all his contact details, wanted me to MSN or get n touch with him on his cell, he's available almost all the time. Wanted to know if I had married the first boyfriend I'd had in Ottawa (warning bells - does he think he was jilted for Marc?). He's divorced, his two kids are out in BC so he's staying. They don't look much like him because they are 1/2 Chinese. He's in love with some girl from Japan who was over on a student visa but had to go back, he's going to see her but it's complicated with his job, she wants to come back... etc etc etc. Very him. VERY complicated.

So, idiot that I am, I let my curiosity get the better of me and accepted the friend request. I was curious to see what his kids looked like - I am weird that way, fascinated with people's kids.

That night something happened with the Japanese girl. Don't know what, I am not asking. But a couple of times a day he has a new status. Things like "XYZ is NOT happy right now, but worse situations than this have tried to kill him in the past". There's others, they don't need to appear here, and they all just ooze... negativity.

I know, I should just delete him (and I think I will), but I am so concerned with hurting people's feelings. I just don't need all the negative energy.

Some people are best left in the past.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008


School starts for Julia this fall. Junior Kindergarten, in a real school.

When we were moving back from Luxembourg I was quite adamant that Stu go to a French school. Unfortunately the Catholic board would not let us in which left us with the French Board. The French school for our area left me cold though - or rather their website did. It hadn't been updated for 3 years - and made reference to their goal (for the next 3 years) of getting their provincial scores up to the standard. Not great self promotion.

And so Stu ended up in the local public school, in the French Immersion programme. Overall we are very happy with the school. I am not convinced as to the consistent standard of French in the school (despite having a French Principal), but for now it's okay.

So I have to say I have been a little surprised at the reactions of some of the parents I have talked to about Junior Kindergarten - or rather French Immersion starting in Senior Kindergarten.

There are 4 "tracks" in our school board at the moment - English, Early French Immersion (starts in SK), Middle French Immersion (Grade 4 start) and Late French Immersion that starts in Grade 7.

Late French Immersion has been canned this year. They are going to accept kids for the next 2 years who missed Middle Immersion, and then it's done.

I've met several people who are putting their kids in an English stream. As in English with 20 minutes of French a day. They seem quite determined that this is in the best interests of their children, that starting with a new language a year after starting school is too difficult.

Now, it may just be that I went through the French Immersion system (without a year of JK to acclimatize me to school) in Qebec and think I turned out pretty well. Or that I lived in a country where kids learn 4 languages before they finish high school - and quite often have others at home. I'm not claiming they speak all perfectly, but I find this a wee bit short-sighted, this English only idea.

I admit - I have done no research on the effects of a second language at the age of 5. But what I have noticed since we've been home? Ottawa is really REALLY French now.

Ottawa, as our Nation's Capital, is home to most of the Federal Government. You can't throw a rock down the street without hitting a federal employee - they are the largest employer by far in this town. And as a county we have 2 official languages, French and English. So all those federal employees? Should be able to speak both.

I've heard lots of civil servants complaining (in the 8 months I've been home) about how they are getting passed over for jobs because they don't speak French. Or that they can't pass the French tests to get the right combination of letters on their profile. Since Marc's been working for DFAIT it seems like half the government is going off on intensive French training. Weeks on end (usually in Quebec City, that's rough) to perfect their French.

I've been thinking that given the need for French that by the time my kids are looking for employment they will need a 3rd language to set them apart. French won't be the bonus it was for me when I went out into the work force. I was all for Stu taking German lessons Saturday morning to hang on to any Germanic language structure he has in his head. He didn't see things quite the same way.

People are hesitant to put their kids in if they don't speak perfect French themselves. How will they help them learn? they say. Middle Immersion will be soon enough I am hearing.

This confuses me. They're worried about not being able to help their kids deal with learning French in Senior Kindergarten, when they're learning things like simple vocabulary and basic math. That stuff is just too hard.

No, it's a much better idea to start it when they are starting Grade 4. When they can help with homework - oh wait, probably not.

I know, my opinion is weighted by my bilingualism. It's "easy" for me. But why is it easy for me? Because I started to learn French before I realized that school can be hard.

It just seems to me that this attitude, in this pretty little small minded town, is indicative of some of what is wrong in this country.

Come on people, it's a language.

Okay, here's me, getting off my soap box now.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

6th sense

Julia has had all day to go to the bathroom. It is now 12:48 and she has been up for 5 1/2 hours.

But she has chosen now, now when we need to leave for nursery school and an appointment for me (I rarely have appointments) to do her business.

I am down here typing instead of hovering, instead of giving her some sort of complex about the toilet.

Because I am frustrated. It's been one of those mornings, the ones where getting her anywhere is like dragging a small (or not so small) dog on a leash when it doesn't want to go for a walk.

And the talking. The TALKING. Non stop. Sans cesse! Elle n'arrete pas!!

Her beautiful little voice? Is making me crazy today.

Maybe it's because she's barking orders at me and demanding every second of my attention.

And now that I have vented I will go upstairs and be sweet, loving, nurturing... and try to get her off the toilet.

How glamorous my life has become ;-)

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Happy Birthday to me

I should be asleep (as it is after midnight) but I find that birthdays get you thinking.

Thinking about life, where you are, where you were this time last year, the year before, 5 years ago.

Last year? Marc was in Seville and the kids and I had a lovely evening on the terrasse of the Pizza Hut on Route d'Arlon. It was unseasonably hot and I was in a sleeveless dress. My good friend Edith came over afterwards and we sat out on the huge balcony off our bedroom and drank wine. It was a good birthday, with the exception of the absent husband.

2 years ago? Hmmm. Not so clear (terrible I know, it was a stressful time at work).

3 years ago? My mum was over and Marc and I went - sans enfants for the first time since Stu was born - for an overnight trip to Troyes in the Champagne region. Stayed in a beautiful old hotel, visited some champagne cellars, stumbled upon Rembrant's studio (at his summer house) quite by chance.

4 years ago we did the mailrun up to the base at GK to get the mail. I was 8 months pregnant with Julia and thought I would never get out of the car by the end of the trip.

5 years ago we had the best aupair in the world living with us.

6 years ago? I took my friend Jenny to Belgium to sign the plans for her new house while her husband was out of town. Then we went to Puccinella's for lunch. The house turned out amazing.

7 years ago? In Vienna, suffering from morning sickness and very disappointed that it was snowing on Easter weekend. If you haven't heard it already ask Marc sometime about our asparagus risotto incident.

8 years ago I was in Amsterdam, staying in a sweet little hotel and crying in my wine at an Irish pub (they really are everywhere) because I was turning 30 and I had no job, no friends and it wasn't exactly where I thought I would be in life. The move to Luxembourg was a little hard on me. Of course looking back now I see how foolish I was, so free. What I wouldn't give today for 2 nights in Amsterdam with Marc, some croquettes and a couple of dishes of poffertjes!

Today (or rather yesterday, since I am being nocturnal)was good. My mum came on Tuesday. The morning started with Marc wishing me Happy Birthday and me burying my head under the pillow (my body seems to think I am on pacific time). Stu then came bounding up the stairs to give me my present. We got up, got ready. Julia was fast asleep but came thumping down the stairs and demanded "What time is it??" (she was still half asleep) and when she found out it was morning grinned and thrust my present at me.

I got some lovely gifts - another Tudor book to fuel my obsession, some great paper goods to help make keeping track of those household jobs easier (poor Marc!), an adorable raincoat, and... a pink iPod.

My mum and I spent some lovely time in the Glebe in the sun, and tomorrow we are heading to the Canal Ritz (thanks to my stepdad) to have a girlie lunch while Stu is at school and Jools has a playdate - so we're stretching things out.

And now I have 2 minutes of battery on this laptop so I must stop rambling...

Monday, April 14, 2008

Spring has sprung

Saturday Marc went out to pick up a new barbecue. It's very handsome (far too masculine to be pretty) and I am suitably intimidated by it.

He is out there now, grilling up some steak for us, burgers for the kids A whole other post would be "How the barbecue got my kids to eat!!" because last night for dinner? Stuart had two hamburgers, Julia a whole one. Thick ones to boot. Seriously. I sense a lot of grilling in our lives.

The barbecue is still in the garage as the backyard is still under about 4 feet of snow. But he's out there in the driveway, kids playing on the snow banks.

Ah there's nothing like the smell of sweet spring... barbecues...

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

A-ha moment

Overheard in our house this evening:

Me: "Harumph umph urgle schnoo"

Marc: "Julia, why is your Groovy Girl in Mummy's face? She can't talk."

Julia: "Because she LOVES Mama SOOOOOO MUCH. She's giving her kisses. Mama, I love you, kiss kiss kiss."

Me: "I'm going to have an extra large uterus installed. With doors" (hand gesture to indicate doors swinging freely) "so they can climb back in whenever they want. I give up."

Marc: "Kind of like a Kangaroo pouch?"

Me: "That's IT! Our children are marsupials!!!"

I am so glad they love me. Really. I'm just a little concerned some days that they will smother me (literally) in my sleep.

Monday, April 07, 2008

he said/she said

I have a happy post in my head. About Spring, and friends, and family.

But it can't get to you, can't get out of my head, because I am busying listening to the duelling offspring that are my adored babies.

She said she doesn't love me...

He said I can't go in his room...

All in a pitch that is making neighbourhood dogs curl up under a large piece of furniture and whimper.

I have had a few days lately when I've thought "I can't do this." The whole stay at home mother thing.

Not that I have delusions that they wouldn't do it if I worked.

I just wouldn't have to hear it all the live long day.