Monday, 27 July 2015


There is something so unnatural to me about the way humans live in the rich and developed nations. Me, for example. I arise at a ridiculous hour, rush to a sterile office, and sit on my ample behind all day, staring at a screen. And for what - so I can move a raw material from A to B, so that people in far-flung places can manufacture an unnecessary and ecologically damaging - if convenient - product? I think many of us have lost all meaning in our work. I know I need a career change.

Maybe that's why I love vacations so much - it is a time to leave the inanity of everyday tasks behind and just live. I don't mean the kind where you hop on a plane and rush off to another city to file through museums and . Nope, I'm talking about the kind where you slap on the sunscreen and slap at the mosquitoes while attempting not to spill your sangria on your four year old.

A few weeks ago, S and I loaded up kids, beach toys, and not nearly enough snacks and made our annual trip to a little cottage resort on a little lake in Ontario. (Okay, we've only gone twice. But that is half of the years that Pickle has been alive, so it counts.) I seriously LOVE this place. The cottages are (mostly) ant-free, the beach is sandy, and the water is warm and shallow. There are always about four thousand other kids around, and they run free all day like little wild animals.


Well, I guess there was some supervision.

beach fun!

On one slightly rainy day, we took the kids back to the Bonnechere Caves. Pickle has been talking all year about how he wanted to go back and see the whirlpool and the bats. There is no actual whirlpool, and there are no bats (at least, not at this time of year), but his imagination is so vivid that when we visited last year, he took in every word of the guide's recounting of how the caves were discovered. He's now pretty much convinced that he was present for the whole thing.

Bonnechere Caves - secret passageways and alien eggs
Fast friendships are made, and seven year old-sized crushes are developed. No phones, TVs, or computers intrude on family time, and even cell service is spotty. Everyone is so friendly, and relaxed, and in a sharing and giving kind of headspace. A week there always restores my faith in humans. This year we met an especially lovely family with children ages 2, 4, and 8, and had a blast sharing food, drink, childminding and memory-making. I didn't want to leave.

Then, on our way home, we stopped in a sweet little town and found this scary spiked-skull church.

Vacations are awesome.

Friday, 10 July 2015

Fantastic Friday Fotos

at the street fair
Can I just say I love vacation? And I get to go one next week, and sit on a beach by a lake, with a book. There might be sangria involved. And possibly a mojito. Or two.

In the meantime, a recap of events from the last month or so - they say a picture is worth a thousand words, so here are some - which I am terrible at posting, so if there are any BloggerGenuis people out there, drop me a (life)line.

someone graduated daycare...
and someone passed her swimming level after only 7 tries
Someone was so tired, he slept like a baby. Okay, two someones.

gigantic  pirate ship being built as a climbing gym at the Old Port. It looks ah-maay-zing!

 Facepaint! Always a favourite around here.

 Jazzfest! Hanging out, catching some live music, chowing down the Chinese buns. Being mortally offended that the fountains are not working and therefore cannot be run through, and tearfully insisting to be taken to the swimming pool.


Thursday, 9 July 2015

Exit Stage Left

 “If you're being bombarded with information, the act of looking for patterns – not necessarily finding them – is what going to give you psychic refuge, a sense of sanctuary.” 
― Douglas Copeland

Decisions decisions…elusive decisions. I hate making them. S is no better at it, and if there were an international procrastination Olympics , we’d take gold in Fence-Sitting.  (And a silver in Retirement Planning. Possibly in Photo-Organizing as well. Hell, we’d OWN that Olympics. And now I want someone to plan one, just not me, because it wouldn’t take place until 2050.)

 If  every exit is an entrance somewhere else, as Tom Stoppard would have it, then an exit means a closed door behind me. Making an entrance elsewhere  and I might never get a chance to walk through any of those other doors I can see off down the corridor. I am much better at thinking about making decisions. I can spend many soothing hours weighing risks, making lists, MS Excel-ing my brainwaves into an alpha-state somnolence. Which is stupid, because not deciding anything is itself a paralysis, a fence. But stepping through that door? Uh uh. No thank you.  I'll just stand out here and ring the door bell, thanks. Maybe peek through the windows.

But every so often, doors open in front of you whether you will or no, and something pushes you through. First, circumstances led us to decide  to move back to western Canada . Having got that far, we needed to pick an actual destination.  No problem! Easy peasy lemon-squeezy! After all, there aren’t actually that many cities to choose from out west. Somewhere not too far from family, said S. There must be a Costco, said I. S wanted a  decent economy. I wanted decent restaurants and a French Immersion school. S insisted on a shorter commute and lower housing prices. You’re darn right, I agreed, because if it’s somewhere with a high cost of living and a long commute, I am staying put right here, where I'm happy.

So we made our checklists, perused the maps, and googled extensively. After many hours of debate and discussion, we stuck a pin in map and called it good came to a well-thought through and reasoned answer. In late August, we will arrive at our new home; a place where we can grow fruit in the summer and ski in the winter,  send the kids to école, and still get to Costco in about 15 minutes.

I just have to buy a Vietnamese cookbook and I’m all set.

Wednesday, 8 July 2015


Footie! Soccer! Football! Whatever you call it, my kids love it. To watch it, anyway, playing it is a bit more problematic, as Pickle doesn't understand the rules and Panda doesn't like all those people crowding her, and would rather sit and investigate the ants in the astroturf* than fight for the ball.

 Every year, the school board here gives parents a chance to buy reduced rate tickets to a pro match. Last year, my kids were a bit put off by all the noise and bustle, and Pickle begged to leave before it was over. But this year,  they loved it. The excitement, the hotdogs, the cheering, the hotdogs, the people-watching, the hotdogs, the stamping of the feet to encourage the team; it all entranced them. (Hotdogs may or may not have had a lot to do with that.) 

And we won too!

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Tuesday, 7 July 2015

...Catching up to myself

Oh wow.
I really didn’t mean to take such a long break from blogging, but life has been more insane than I expected. Like, newborn-baby-in-the-house insane, but without the baby part.  Still, there have been many late nights, an abundance of tears, and a whole tonne of poop to get through (luckily, the metaphorical kind.)

But  of course there were bright spots as well, one of them being our tenth wedding anniversary. We got away for the weekend, sans kids.
That bears repeating.  We, who in seven entire years have never  been away overnight and out of the house together and without kids,  went away for the weekend.  I love my kids, but I could have happily stayed away for a week.

We didn’t go anywhere too fancy; we just rented a hotel in Kingston, (Ontario, not Jamaica. Unfortunately.) Kingston is a picturesque town, which served as the first capital of Canada and was home to John A McDonald, the first Prime Minister of Canada.  It also has the distinction of having no less that NINE ‘correctional facilities’ in the area, seven of which are within the city limits. (Yep, that’s right, we went to Canada’s jail capital for our anniversary. ) There is also a large military base there, and I can’t help but think that maybe the two things are related – insurance in case of chaos, as it were.

View from hotel
Old church buildings
It was delightful. We had grown up talks that (mostly) did not revolve around bodily functions or who was in whose personal breathing space; we investigated the local pubs and walked for hours, sightseeing and shopping in little boutiques without breaking even one piece of merchandise. We may have indulged in few too many glasses of wine and beer and slept late in the morning, but I’ll never tell.

We checked out the pharmacy which doubles as a museum of things pharmacological, and wandered the flea market. I found this, which anyone in who has been in the former Soviet bloc will recognize.

A Trabant! And with shinier paint that the ones I remember, which were matte off white/grey/cream and looked like they were made of paper maché (it was actually a plastic). It had a 2 stroke engine. 

The perfect weekend- at least, right up until I suddenly developed a horrible cold that I later learned (once my son had contracted it from me) was actually viral pneumonia. But I sucked back the cough syrup, popped a few Advil, put down the wineglass and we STILL had fun. It was entirely rejuvenating, and I needed the break to fortify my temper and equilibrium against the next few weeks.

Friday, 1 May 2015

April in Pictures

With cross country moves to plan and extra duties at work (as colleagues quite rightly jump from a sinking ship), kids activities to attend and packing to accomplish, time is at a premium around here. They say pictures are worth a thousand words, so here goes!

First, a trip to the cabane à sucre to see the maple syrup collected , and eat maple syrup candy. If you've never been, it basically consists of paying a set fee to sit in a huge room at a long table and  eat as many plates as possible of scrambled eggs, bacon, ham, cretons, pancakes, beans, back bacon, potatoes...well, you get the idea. Then you try to mitigate the arterial damage by chasing your kids as they run screeching on the playground, beg for face-painting, wagon, and pony rides; and terrorize the animals in the petting zoo. It's most fun in a large group, where you can chat with your girlfriends and let the men wrangle the kids.
Showing of the pace paintings, and S being silly on the wagon ride

It's playoff season! In my house, this means a lot of begging to stay up late to watch hockey, and then bombarding the adults with questions. "Who are the red guys? Who are the blue guys? Who's winning? What are the rules? What's that guy's name? How about that guy? Why did they stop playing? Is that guy a bad guy? What are the rules again?"  Usually, we make them a bowl of popcorn to keeps their mouths too busy to talk,  and then S escapes to the office while I try to explain offside rules to a four year old.  Of course watching leads to doing, so they put two Crazy Fort pieces together so they could whack a ball around. And since whacking a ball around leads to losing an eye to a pointy Crazy Fort piece, I broke down and bought them each a little hockey stick.

We also went to see "Home" in the theatre. They weren't too sure about the first part of the movie, but loved it once everyone made friends. Now Pickle wants to be a Boov. They had a blast playing in the arcade after the show - in fact, I think that is why they like going to the movies. I wish I'd taken a picture of them in the bumper cars, but I was too busy smashing into Panda and her friend G to get a good shot.

Panda Smashysmashy and Pickle riding the roller-coaster simulator

And this is Panda's drawing of a fly. It's so darn cute that I am half-considering getting it as a tattoo. 

And that's it. My April in pictures!

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Panda Plans

I have been having this conversation with my daughter a lot lately.

P: Mama, I want a sister. We don't have enough kids in our family. A's family [our dear friends] has three!
me: I'm not having another baby, honey.
P: Well, can't you just get a kid? Isn't there, like a place you can go to for one? Lots of kids don't have families you know. We could adopt!
me:'s not so simple....It's not like it's Target, sweetheart.
P: But--
me: I'll talk to Papa, okay?

She's had the same discussion with her father. I know, because one night S came rushing into the bedroom, adamantly wishing to know if I had promised Panda that we were going to get her a sister. (I hadn't.)

 The thing is, we've never mentioned adoption to our kids. I suppose they may overheard one of our late-night chats, but I think that Panda just has a heart as big as Ontario. She needs to help. She's fascinated with the idea of rescuing people/pets/random spiders. Also, she may or may not have watched 'Oliver and Company' on repeat once too many times on a long road trip. She is convinced that she needs a new sister exactly her age who loves Frozen as much as she does, who could be the Anna to her Elsa. Each time she brings it up I am treated to a righteous little lecture on how there are kids who need families because their mommies and daddies are mean, and like, pull their hair and stuff. And each time I try to explain that yes, there are kids whose mommies and daddies - for whatever reason- can't take care of them properly and keep them safe, it is true, but it is a loooong process to adopt a child, and anyway, does she realize she'd have to share her toys? And her brother?

But it doesn't put her off. She's determined. I'm worried that when we do finally tell them -we are holding off  in hopes of avoiding as long as possible the adoption version of the question "are we there yet?", incessantly repeated at regular intervals - anyway, I am worried that when we do finally tell them, she will think that we are doing it because she talked us into it. And if the transition is rough with the placement, or the kids fight a lot, I am worried that she will blame herself. 

Of course, she might just be mad at us, because are hoping to adopt someone a year or so younger than Pickle. Our daughter has never held the opinion that her executive powers should be less than that of adult, and  I can just hear her sighing deeply and patiently explaining to us that we were SUPPOSED to get a girl. Her age. Who likes Frozen. And then giving us that eyebrows-slightly-raised 'are we clear now?' look, and expecting that we'll obediently toddle off back to the placement worker and put in a request for a proper sister.

And if we ever decide on place to move to, and get through the application process in that new province... who knows? Maybe she'll get one. Is four that much more work than three?