Thursday, August 30, 2007

Bye Bye MeeMee

Well, today was Swee'pea's last day with MeeMee, our daycare provider. He didn't really know it though. I haven't taken any steps to explain to him that he won't be coming back to MeeMee's, at least not regularly. When I picked him up, MeeMee had packed all his belongings, his oversized orange tie-dye pillow and stuffed buffalo and blanket, which I'd thought might help the sleep situation when he first began, his change of clothes, which I'd completely forgotten even existed and probably doesn't even fit anymore, his box of wipes and extra diapers. When he saw the pillow, he looked perplexed, and said MeeMeein a way that was both a question -- why is that coming with us? -- and an imperative -- that belongs at MeeMee's -- at once.

It wasn't an easy parting for MeeMee or I. Swee'pea was his usual happy self (apart from his momentary confusion about the pillow), giving her a big hug and happily repeating his singsong, "Bah bah," down the street. I did tell him before we left that next week he would be going to a school with his friend J, the one we visited the other day, but I really don't think he gets it, and that makes me sad.

I gave MeeMee a framed enlargement of this picture of her daughter, which I took at a party she threw early in the summer. I think she liked it.

sage redux

When we left, both MeeMee's eyes and mine were shiny and bright with the tears that spilled out once we were a safe distance away. I knew if we stayed any longer, we'd both be blubbering messes, and we really don't need that. Still, I'm really really sad that she won't be in Swee'pea's life in the same way and that he'll probably miss her but not in a way that he will be able to understand or articulate.

* * *

I thought making the daycare decision would make me feel better, and it has a bit, but not really. I don't feel really great about the place; it is the best of the limited options available. That said, I remember when MeeMee first told me she wouldn't be doing daycare anymore, it was one of the mornings when we were feverishly painting, and I walked home thinking about how we couldn't possibly go with another home care situation, that she had ruined us for anybody else, and also that I would prefer to avoid the risk of my daycare provider going back to school again; that Swee'pea was old enough now to handle the activity of a centre, and I was ready for the controlled environment. So I am reminded that this will be ok. And I have a feeling that Swee'pea is mostly a pretty adaptable little kid who will probably enjoy the centre as much as he enjoyed MeeMee's.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Finally! A gardenerd post...

on woodies! Tempted?

Read on at mommyblogstoronto...

(And look! A post by a man who wears kilts to thrill the ladies at Hot and Bothered.)


Many, many thanks for your kind words on my last post... I am feeling better emotionally, although I have a nasty cold. On the plus side, though, yesterday I stayed home from work, took Swee'pea to daycare, and spent the day sleeping and watching hgtv on demand for free. It was good.

And thank you for your input on the daycare question. I went for another visit to the daycare centre today and have officially signed up Swee'pea. He starts next week. It was good to hear your good experiences with daycare centres, and gave me the confidence to feel good about this decision.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

midnight poem

It's midnight. After a long and exhausting week. But I'm so depleted I can't sleep. This is the only solitude I seem able to gather around me. Once again it is Swee'pea's (lack of) sleep that has put me over the edge and made me question my sanity.

I've been trying to hold the pity party at bay, trying to keep it contained. It seems everybody's dealing with illness and impending or recent loss, and my problems mostly feel pretty small compared to those. Still, we're dealing with a lot of change and uncertainty and we have no back-up, no-one to bring Swee'pea to when I'm at my wit's end of a long day and Sugar D still isn't home, no family to babysit while Sugar D and try to re-connect on a date (we've been out alone together twice since Swee'pea was born, each time for only 2 hours; once this past July and the first time for our anniversary last August).

I've taken a relatively large amount of time to myself today, a bubble bath with the first Harry Potter (yes I'm ridiculously late to that party), an evening walk in the park, where the low sun glowed through green leaves, striping the park acid while salsa dancers pulsated to the latin beats in the gazebo. But when I got home with Stomp the Yard for more me time, Swee'pea was wide awake. Determined to bring my plans to fruition, I spent the next two hours trying to get him back to sleep, walking with him, lying in bed with him, crying with him. He finally fell asleep after a couple of emotional eruptions (mine) arond 10:30. I was too upset to concentrate on Stomp the Yard and have just been working on a wallowing playlist.

Woops... I hear him calling for me again. Oh, he stopped. I am really struggling with being the only caregiver all week long except for an hour or two after dinner, and even then he often only lets me put him to sleep. And I feel selfish because I know Sugar D's not having an easy time either. But I'm just totally. tapped. out.

Last night when I went to bed, Swee'pea was already in his crib (finally! I think that was the only night this week that he went to sleep before us), and a distant storm was passing by. The thunder rumbled benignly with almost as much rhythm and reliability as ocean waves, and I savoured the sounds while I waited for my mind to quiet. I felt cocooned in a lullabye. I noticed how the strobes of lightning penetrated my closed eyelids, and thought about the word strobe. I enjoyed the feeling of no chubby hands or feet scrabbling against my belly, no softly-haired head on my shoulder, nothing but the cool cotton sheet resting like air on my skin.

Then Swee'pea woke up. He fell back to sleep fairly quickly once he joined us, but I was back to curling myself around him, not altogether comfortable. I woke up this morning thinking about how much more easily I fall asleep when he's in bed with us than when he's in his crib and I have an expanse of bed around me, but how much more rested I feel in the morning if he hasn't spent the entire night with us.

The other night I was also on the edge, more likely over the edge. I complained to Sugar D about how hard everything felt and why can't Swee'pea just sleep for God's sake?!? and I need some space, some escape. He broke in to ask me why I want a second child if it's so hard. And that felt like a low blow somehow, like dirty pool. I started to attempt an answer, but I couldn't, and I just told him his timing was really unfair and he agreed. But the question lingers in my mind.

Tonight the three of us laid in bed, Sugar D too depleted to respond to my railing, and I felt so alone crammed into that bed. I cried and I couldn't keep my tears to myself. I made those wimpy crying noises and my body shook, and then Swee'pea started making the same noises, starting with the same sniffles and quick, sharp intakes of breath. This crying was much different from his earlier screams and wails, and when I looked at him he was watching me with big, scared eyes, unsure what to make of his weeping mother. His weeping overtook him and he hugged me and I tried to tell him it was ok, that I was just sad and it didn't have to be scary but I couldn't get the words out. He settled down, and eventually slept, but it took a long time and I just laid there, rigid, feeling trapped and horrified at feeling trapped and shitty for taking it out on Sugar D yet again.

Here's part of a poem my coworker shared with me recently, a poem that spoke to me immediately and has haunted me since. It seems particulary apt tonight.

I know
you are reading this poem through your failing sight, the thick
lens enlarging these letters beyond all meaning yet you read on
because even the alphabet is precious.
I know you are reading this poem as you pace beside the stove
warming milk, a crying child on your shoulder, a book in your
because life is short and you too are thirsty.
I know you are reading this poem which is not in your language
guessing at some words while others keep you reading
and I want to know which words they are.
I know you are reading this poem listening for something, torn
between bitterness and hope
turning back once again to the task you cannot refuse.
I know you are reading this poem because there is nothing else
left to read
there where you have landed, stripped as you are.

Adrienne Rich, from an Atlas of the Difficult World

I'd still love to hear your comments on my daycare situation.

Friday, August 24, 2007

the great childcare debate

Our deadline for new daycare is fast approaching, and we still haven't decided. We've visited to home care providers and one centre. The first home care provider I've pretty much written off. The kids watch Dora every morning at 10 and the woman drives them around in her minivan. Not that there's anything wrong with Dora, per se, I just don't really see the point of scheduling a child's day around it; there's just so much else to do.

Which leaves one other home care provider and the centre. And neither of them really jumped out at me as the right place. Why can't things just stay the same?!?

The Centre


  • walking distance to our house - although I will have the car again in September, being a one-car family, this will likely come in handy at least once or twice
  • everything is formalized and documented (e.g. the kids don't go outside if the temperature is over 34 degrees, with or without the humidex, or under minus 13, with or without the windchill -- sorry I don't know the conversion for Americans, except to say really really hot and really cold)
  • monthly menu plans so if we don't want him to eat something, we can send him with something else that day
  • daily reports on his diaper action, eating, sleeping and activities for the day
  • structured routine with lots of outdoor time, arts and crafts, and singing/circle time; I will always know where he is and what he's doing at any point in the day
  • no worries about the care provider going back to school or having a dentist appointment
  • the director's been there for 20 years and most of the staff have been there for 10+ years
  • long hours of operation so if one day I have to work late, I'm not totally screwed
  • the two boys that he's currently in daycare with are going there, and one will even be in the same group of toddlers
  • I think the sleeping arrangement would suit Swee'pea better than a home care environment, that seeing all those kids around him sleeping will help him sleep


  • no green space and no trees outside; just a parking lot with not much shade
  • no flexibility to change my days or add a day here or there
  • not super-great food and won't easily accommodate vegetarianism; that said, we aren't planning to raise Swee'pea vegetarian, but hot dogs creep me out and I don't want him having meat every day
  • it was really loud when we visited and they have up to 50 kids (only 10 toddlers), although Swee'pea seemed totally unfazed when we visited

The Home Care

  • the woman is really warm and nice
  • she speaks Spanish to the kids
  • not many kids
  • feeds good, homemade food although still a fair amount of meat (no beef though)
  • not much tv and not as part of the routine, just occasionally
  • good yard with lots to play on outside (although not as nice as his current daycare)
  • recommended by a friend with similar values who loves her


  • charges full-time prices for part-time care; although I'd hate to choose the cheapest care for my child because it's the cheapest, I can't afford full-time fees on a part-time salary
  • didn't talk a lot about her daily routine or activities; I wasn't sold on what I was getting for the increased fees
  • when I told her about Swee'pea's sleep challenges* and asked how she would handle it, she said, "I can't make him sleep," which isn't the answer I was looking for. I was looking for someone with lots of ideas and flexibility to try new things. She did, however, suggest he could sleep on the couch, which is fine with me, and I think Swee'pea would go for that
  • inconvenient location that requires driving and is farther than my work
Bubandpie's insightful comment on home vs. centre continues to ring in my ears. This is the sentence that produced that familiar "Yes! Yes ! Yes! What she said!" reaction:

I am a passionate advocate for available, affordable, high-quality day-care. But what I have always loved about home-care is that a home is a place where one can productively do nothing.

All of this just makes me love the daycare provider we're losing, the one Swee'pea has just started calling MeeMee in the most adorable way, more. Why oh why can't things just stay the same?!?

So what would you do?

* I never blogged about this, but when Swee'pea started daycare, his care provider had no problem rocking him to sleep, but she couldn't put him down. He kept waking up and crying every single time. She nearly quit, but we talked and brainstormed and she eventually put him in the jogging stroller, rocks the stroller and sings to him, and he sleeps fine. But I think it will an issue all over again, especially in another home care situation.

Thursday, August 23, 2007


My good friend, Banana, has just given me two very very early birthday gifts.

1) a lazy man's toilet paper roll holder... and not just any roll holder, this one also includes an easy peasy storage spot for an extra roll. And, because she knows me so well, she's included installation.

2) a ticket to the So You Think You Can Dance show in Syracuse, NY at the end of September, including a girls only ROAD TRIP! And now that they've said Hok (and Jesus too I think) will be included on the tour, I am a happy woman.

So... anybody know what's in Syracuse (Toronto was already sold out)?

PS My thighs are sore. I am getting sick of the Very Big Hill I have to ride up three days a week.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

of anniversaries and other abstractions

Hey, apparently today is my wedding anniversary. I thought it was tomorrow but I guess I lost track of the dates. I was reminded when I got home this afternoon to a card from my mother-in-law, followed up with a phone call, and a voice message from my mother to wish us Happy Anniversary!

Yes, three years ago today, we formalized our partnership in front of many loved ones with wine and beautiful words that have been uttered by thousands (millions?) before us, in a field of goldenrod and New England aster. We ate a curry buffet and carrot cake, and watched beautiful belly dancers shimmy and undulate just for us. Eight years ago today, Sugar D nervously pulled a tiny scrap of paper out of his breast pocket and passed it to me over the counter of a chain photography shop. But you've heard all that before.

Obviously, we have no plans to celebrate today. Between one thing and another (and another and another) our heads are just not together enough to enlist a babysitter and think about going to a place we'd want to go. My mother-in-law did offer to babysit for us, but we won't be taking her up on it. I remember right after Swee'pea was born, I asked Sugar D how he felt about his mum babysitting our new family member, and he thought maybe when Swee'pea was a teenager. Maybe I shouldn't blog this but I need to get it off my chest. I was writing about my mother-in-law in these posts. And much of what has been stressing us out over the last several weeks has had to do with her (on top of all the other stuff I've blogged about).

She's being evicted at the end of the month but isn't looking for a new place to live because she's expecting to be appointed as G0vern0r Gener@l any day now, and that job comes with housing (R1deau Ha11). Yep, any day now, a black stretch limo will show up at her door and a man in a cap will put her belongings (already packed for weeks in anticipation) in the trunk and drive her off into the sunset of our capital city.

So there... it's out there now. My mil is nuts, really and truly. (That bit will likely self-destruct... I'm too chicken to leave it up.)

In other news, Slouching Mom named me as a Creative Blogger. I would have mentioned it sooner, except that I found out when I was at my parents (I think I've mentioned their internet connection before? The one that's so slow it's backwards?) and I couldn't bear to fight with their computer to post about it. I may have been low-key about notifying you all, but it lifted my spirits in a big way. I've been feeling a bit discouraged about my blogging and photography lately, probably in large part because I haven't had the time and/or energy I'd like to be able to devote to them. So I was pretty stoked to discover that Slouching Mom feels I qualify for this award:

The Creative Blogger Award is meant for those who bring unique and creative elements to their blogs. For those who incorporate art, music, creative writing, photos, and other beautiful visual effects into their website. For those who put a unique spin on things and come up with new ideas. This award is for the artsy, the funky, the inventor, and even the rebel. This award is for those creative individuals who stand out from the crowd.

So, thanks Slouching Mom!!

And now, to pass it on. Although I've had to reduce my bloglines subscriptions in the interest of maintaining my sanity, I have way too many folks to choose from. But here goes...

The artsy*: The Silent K, who's going through a difficult time and handling it with grace and staying grounded through it all.

The funky*: Who else but K-girl? Every time I click over from bloglines, I never know what I'm gonna get.

The inventor*: Why, Beck, of course. She's always sharing her tips for kids' birthday parties, gluten-free recipe adaptations and other delicious creations, and her husband's talents for building fantastic things for their kids.

The rebel*: This one's trickier, but I think I'll name Mad. She always offers me a perspective I haven't considered before, a way of looking at things that doesn't come naturally to me but makes so much sense and carries much truth. I've said it before in comments at her place, but she makes me a better person.

And because Slouching Mom likes my pics, here's another one, continuing my latest photographic obsession with canoes. (And hey, if anyone ever wants to buy one of my prints, you need only ask -- and yes, Sage, I've got you on my list of prints to make. I haven't forgotten.)


*(I hate to label people because we are all so much more than single word could ever convey, but using these categories helped me focus my selection.)

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Last night we found ourselves driving south in the moments right before twilight. The setting sun was to our right, a blaze of irridescent fuschia streaking up from the horizon fading as we drove. Above and ahead of us the sky was gray, nearly colourless, as if the glory in the west had bled the rest of the sky of its colour, gravity and the sun pulling it to the other side of the earth. As the sunset faded to a silvery orange, the indigo grew up from the east, deepening the sky above us with night until eventually it consumed the final faint residue of day in the west. It is reassuring to be reminded of the earth's orbit and constant rotation; it is good to remember that I am not the centre of the universe, as much as it may feel like it.

* * *

In other news, Swee'pea appears to be categorizing people along lines of gender and age. Either that, or my interpretation of his language is. He's been calling his Grandpa Bapa for quite a while, and I was kind of embarrassed when he started exclaiming, "Bapa!" at every tall, gray-haired man wearing a hat and glasses he encountered. Surely he knew what his Bapa looked like?

Lately, though, I've noticed him exclaiming, "Mama!" when we encounter a young woman and, "Dada!" when we encounter a youngish man. I KNOW he knows those people aren't really his Mama and Dada, so it's begun to dawn on me that perhaps he's just noticing that they are people that bear some resemblance to us. He's been obsessed with babies, but now I've noticed he exclaims, "Bebe!" when we see anyone under about 12 years old.

I'm not sure what all this means in the grand scheme of things, but I find it fascinating.

* * *

We went to see my brand new nephew this weekend, and the sight of Sugar D holding a brand new baby again set my ovaries atwitchin'. But only for a moment. He's just SO tiny and fragile and wobbly that I felt nervous again. I think maybe a newborn has to be my newborn to make me feel all in love. When we arrived he was sleeping all by himself, just sleeping, and I remembered how Swee'pea NEVER slept by himself at that age (in fact, it's still a relatively rare occurence). I have always thought it was because Swee'pea was a natural-born lousy sleeper who needed physical closeness. But now I'm not so sure. I wonder if it's because after his distress during my labour and all that fear for his life we just couldn't leave him be; we couldn't trust him to just live, his little chest rising and falling, without our constant watchfulness.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

first blood

I probably should have kept my head down.


Swee'pea dropped a pot lid on his foot, shortly before we had to go to the doctor's for his 18-month shots. He cried and kicked his foot and I felt utterly powerless. He'd settle down, then cry some more and look accusingly at his foot. It seems better now.

Got home from the doctor's just in time to get bad news from South Africa. Sugar D's Uncle R died this morning, suddenly. He was the one I grumped about smoking in the house with Swee'pea and who got held up multiple times in Mozambique, the youngest brother who lived with Sugar D's granny. He was 58. I never imagined that this past January would be the last time we would see him.

roger 252

I'm really quite sad about his passing, and for the changes in Granny's life his loss will bring. She has now outlived two of her four children, a fact I cannot comprehend or contemplate. Luckily, there is still one brother in Cape Town who will care for her.

It strikes me that Uncle R was a risk-taker who lived a wild and, at times, fast life. I suppose it is fitting that he died the same way, as shocking as it may be for the rest of us. I was so pleased when he gave us his pencil drawing of a shack in Khayalitcha before we left, and of course now it just means so much more.

Roger 256

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

more fragments

I'm cautiously optimistic that soon I may be able to poke my head up and look around. In the meantime, I offer a few more fragments...

more good things:

  1. pale gold sunbeams escaping through an arc of glowing pink gaps in silvery blue clouds this morning; it made me stop my bicycle and just look for a few seconds before continuing on my way over the covered bridge
  2. the begging bear in front of the art gallery glammed out in a royal purple blazer and matching feather boa, further accessorized with a big gold pimpin' necklace
  3. having a real lead on possible daycare for September -- stay tuned for more next week
  4. three nights of SYTYCD this week!

not so good things:

  1. the woman selling rose of sharon babies (many, many babies), which I've read are invasive and threatening some native plant communities, at the farmer's market last weekend (that said, they are not on the Ontario Society for Ecological Restoration's list of most dangerous invasives)
  2. Pasha getting voted off SYTYCD
  3. getting left in the dust of some super-powered go-go-gadget cyclist hopped up on coke going up the Big Hill
  4. scary youtube video of Arcade Fire performing with David Bowie, who apparently had the same plastic surgeon as Burt Reynolds and Patrick Swayze *shudders*

more fragments

I'm cautiously optimistic that soon I may be able to poke my head up and look around soon. In the meantime, I offer a few more fragments...

more good things:

  1. pale gold sunbeams escaping through an arc of glowing pink gaps in silvery blue clouds this morning; it made me stop my bicycle and just look for a few seconds before continuing on my way over the covered bridge
  2. the begging bear in front of the art gallery glammed out in a royal purple blazer and matching feather boa, further accessorized with a big gold pimpin' necklace
  3. having a real lead on possible daycare for September -- stay tuned for more next week
  4. three nights of SYTYCD this week!

not so good things:

  1. the woman selling rose of sharon babies (many, many babies), which I've read are invasive and threatening some native plant communities, at the farmer's market last weekend (that said, they are not on the Ontario Society for Ecological Restoration's list of most dangerous invasives)
  2. Pasha getting voted off SYTYCD
  3. getting left in the dust of some super-powered go-go-gadget cyclist hopped up on coke going up the Big Hill

Monday, August 13, 2007

taking stock

Edited: Listen to that beautiful and haunting song here... and really, why don't you just read the post again with the song playing in the background.

Good Things:

  1. hearing a mysterious and haunting song and being able to identify it (eventually) and listen to it again and again, making it a soundtrack for my own melancholy: "Cars and Telephones" by Arcade Fire* (interestingly it's a song that's never actually been released on an album; they recorded it as a demo in 2001 and somehow it made its way onto the web and has become a favourite -- the band was reportedly surprised when fans started requesting it live)

  2. two male goldfinches bouncing on sunflowers in front of a red brick wall

  3. coming upon a wedding reception outside our local riverside tearoom where a bride lifts her big white skirt to reveal ruby shoes picking their way across the gravel driveway and her bridesmaids, in simple black dresses and also wearing ruby shoes, place small, tasteful bunches of red roses on black tables

  4. the orange, black and white underside of a monarch's wings lit by low morning sunlight against the azure sky

  5. the word azure

  6. the morning air nipping my bare arms like fresh wet dew while the sun warms my back

  7. smelling freshly mown grass instead of car exhaust on the way to work

  8. being woken from a dream in which my first boyfriend is weather-stripping the window of my teenage bedroom (at my dad's request) while I pretend to sleep. I tell him coyly, "I hope you can still get in..." and then I'm woken by my husband kissing me goodbye in our dark bedroom, me in our bed, while a faint morning light peeks through the window. It takes me a minute to situate myself.

  9. the sweet sadness of watching my Grandma Ruth's old pink and mauve couch remain unwanted on our front lawn, and finally, putting it out of its cat-scratched misery at the dump

* I can't get you a youtube video right now, but I can give you the lyrics just to give you a sense:

I read the pages about me
In her autobiography
They were brief and to
the point
A flash, while you are getting dressed
A memory that needs to be repressed
I'll just wait until it's over
Since you've gone away
I never know just what to say
Since you've gone away
I never know just
what to say

Cause I like cars more than telephones
Your voice in my ear
makes me feel so alone
Tonight I'm gonna drive
The silver moon is
shining bright
Over the interstate
God saying hurry don't be late
Soon the sun will rise
That's when the romance dies
And I'm just tired of running around

I walked
To get the mail today
I guess
Your letter never came
I'll just
Check again tomorrow

A flash, while you are getting dressed
A memory that needs to be repressed
I'll just wait without saying a word
Since you've gone away
I never know just
what to say
Since you've gone away
I never know just what to say

Cause I like cars more than telephones
Your voice in my head makes me
feel so alone
Tonight I'm gonna drive
The silver moon is shining bright
Over the interstate
God saying hurry don't be late
Soon the sun will rise
That's when the romance dies
And I'm just tired of running around

But fuck it I love you even ifI'm gonna feel like shit
By the time I get
to you
Now the sky is turning blue
The stars they disappear
One by
one as the daylights nears
And yes you're in my head
But that doesn't
make you here
And I've lost all my friends
But you're the one I miss the
And now I'm almost there
Yeah I'm almost to the coast
And if I
had any notion
Of how I'm gonna drive my car across
the Atlantic Ocean,
I'd be fucking set.

Sunday, August 12, 2007



I recorded this tidbit way back when I lived in the house I biked past the other day.

A woman is walking down the street, a newspaper carrier bag slung over her shoulder, holding a little girl by the hand. She is telling a story:

"Once, when I was a little girl, I was being a little naughty. I was supposed to be selling cookies and there was this one house I was really curious about. So I went right up to the door and stuck my nose against the screen to see in. And you know what?"


"I didn't realize the screen was dirty and I got a really dirty nose."


Friday, August 10, 2007

It's a BOY!

I was going to throw myself a little pity party (and I may still do that later) but Swee'pea has a cousin to celebrate. My sister-in-law had her third child yesterday afternoon at around 4 pm, a boy born at home. Hurrah! Still waiting to hear his name, and considering their first went for at least a week or two without a name, I'm not holding my breath.

What surprises me is how much I already love this newest member of our family and I haven't even laid eyes on him. I can't wait to meet him. New babies rock!

Monday, August 06, 2007

Letter to Swee'pea: 18 Months

Dear Swee'pea,

Your name means helper in Hebrew, and you most certainly are. Here you are helping us pack for the cottage.

Today you are 18 months old. Since I last wrote, you have found a doll of your own. When we arrived at the cottage, you quickly discovered a cabbage patch doll, which you immediately hugged and cuddled, and the owner very kindly gave it to you. It's adorable to watch you play with your baby. You put her in the stroller, or lay her down on cushions, and give her sips of milk from your sippy cup.

toddler at the cottage
Swee'pea: the new high-speed edition

Nevertheless, your obsession with vehicles, the bigger and louder the better, remains untempered. When we're out on walks, every time you see one, you point and sing out, "Da-ah!" And if it's a REALLY big one, you'll make a sort of Beavis and Butthead kind of noise, "Oh ho wo!" You've also recently begun making that noise when you see very tall trees or smoke stacks. You love things that roar, like the blender, and now every time you see the blender you make the roaring sound it does. At the cottage, every time you heard a boat, long before we'd notice it, you'd exclaim, "Bo!" and run to the deck to see it.

Outside the national gallery in Ottawa.

You seem to have become more cautious in the last month. On the playground, you mostly wander around and pick up wood chips. You like to watch kids on the swings, but you want nothing to do with the swing yourself. Where you used to love the slides, giggling all the way down, now you have to be coaxed to go down, even on your dad's or my lap. Once coaxed, you enjoy it and giggle, but you won't want to do it again. I don't know if it's the static shocks that the slides can sometime generate or something else.

Never judge a man until you've walked a mile in his shoes. Here, you demonstrate your great empathy for your dada.

You are working on your eye teeth right now, which the doctor says are the most miserable to teeth to cut through. You are having trouble sleeping, had a fever for a few days during which one little fang came through, and are definitely irritable, though whether the result of teething pain or the sleeplessness, I don't know. Even at your most irritable though, you are still a joy, often hamming it up with funny faces and big smiles, or doing one of your huge whoopie cushion raspberries on one of us. That never fails to raise a laugh, and you relish it.


As your language and communication skills improve, your frustration level rises. Sometimes you will calm down if I explain that I understand what he wants I'm just not going to do it, but other times that just enrages you. You love to go outside, whether in the stroller or on foot. Yesterday you insisted on getting out of the stroller and walking for the first time. I believe this is the beginning of the end of our decently paced, productive walks to pick up milk and bread. Bring on the stopping every two feet for a new twig, leaf or crack in the sidewalk.

You seem quite interested in maintaining order, which must be some kind of throwback: there's now way you got that from me or your dad. If we leave the gate at the bottom of the stairs or the door to the kitchen open, you are quick to remedy the situation. You spend hours tucking little toys, washclothes, diapers, what have you, in little gaps and crevices. This is only a problem when you tuck the remote control away, and we can't find it until we start looking at the room from your perspective. With the air conditioning on, you've become fascinated with the vents and the cool air that blows out of them. The other day we sat and cooled our feet down on them, and the next day I noticed you'd lined up a bunch of toys across the vent, to cool them down I guess.


Ok, so you had some help spelling out your first initial... note the calamine lotion on your cheek from all the mozzie bites...

We painted the dining room a couple of weeks ago, and turned a tall bookcase on its side to keep you from going in while the paint dried. I didn't pay too much attention to the bookcase until the next day when we went to put it upright and I discovered you'd parked all your vehicles, your bus, your VW car, your train and your digger, all lined up facing the same direction, evenly spaced from one another just like a real parking lot. It seems that no detail is too minute to escape your notice. Your grandma came over this morning while we were out for a walk, and I didn't think she'd arrived yet, but you immediately caught sight of her hat and purse on the dining room table, and announced, "Mama!" which is your word for both Grandma and Mama.

They say that kids should have 18 words by 18 months, and I've been looking forward to this milestone for a long time, wondering if you would meet it. Your vocabulary seems to have exploded in the last week or so, but if someone had asked me a few weeks ago, I'm pretty sure I could have come up with nearly 18 words you use regularly. In the last couple of days, you have started referring to your soother as dewdew -- or maybe I've only just cottoned on. It seems that having a name for your dewdew has unleashed an even stronger addiction and I think we will soon enforce a sleep-only policy on it. All day now, you say, "Dew dew" with such an adorably plaintive note (NOT whining) and irresistable pursing of your lips that I give in. But not for long.

The other night I went to a party with childless people. I left relatively early, knowing you would have me up with the sun the next day, and said as much to the host. He said something about kids being a full-time job, and I felt the need to set the record straight. Yes, having a child is more work than I could ever have imagined but it's more everything in both volume and intensity: more love, more joy, more laughter, more tears, more fear, more anger, more wonder (forgive me: I've probably said this all before here, but it continues to amaze me). It's not a simple equation to draw, and probably not worth trying to explain it to anyone who doesn't have kids, but every once in a while I must at least attempt to convey a tiny bit of the wondrousness of our lives with you.

Discovering chalk outside the national gallery

Love Mum

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Sin's kitsch and tell

Because Mad asked...

kitsch and tell 1

My pink plastic hen. It's actually a planter, I think, but I use it to store tapes. My friends gave it to me at my 21 and a quarter surprise birthday party.

kitsch and tell 2

The bowl was either a birthday or housewarming gift a few years ago from a friend with a great understanding of my taste. Yes, we use it to hold sweet potatoes, onions, ginger and garlic. The drink mixer thing was just given to us recently by my parents.

kitsch and tell 3

And the penultimate... my Grandma Ruth's lady heads, one of which I use an icon on flickr, and a painted wooden spoon my Grandpa got when he went to Russia (USSR? I can't remember now). I seem to recall he got kicked off the trip for helping a Russian leave the country or some such thing.

purple city

Last night I was invited to a party while Sugar D stayed home with a feverish, teething and hopefully sleeping Swee'pea. It was hosted by some old friends that I really only see a couple of times a year anymore -- in a good year. In my head, I think of them as my bohemian single friends, although they're in relationships, and labelling is stupid. But anyways, two of them live in a lovely little house with a gorgeous backyard, and they'd strung up all kinds of funky, coloured little lights. It felt so festive and summery and good.

Since we've started thinking about moving and I've been poring over the mls, I've been thinking a lot about how much I've changed in the four years since we bought our house. Four years ago, I was embarrassed to be buying a house, and bought the ugliest, cheapest one we could find that would allow us to walk downtown and the park and me to work. Each house we looked at, I would imagine having a party that included those single bohemian friends, and whether I would be embarrassed by how nice the house was. Looking back, I realize we bought our house because it felt comfortable: it was the kind of divey student house I was used to. Now, those same friends own a house much nicer and more expensive than ours with a kitchen and bathroom that make me drool, and my other friend (one of my partners in crime with the Trucker Hat Caper of 98) has just purchased a house with her partner, twice the size AND price of ours... it's funny how things work out.

And me? Well I'm looking at houses that cost more than I could even have imagined vomiting at four years ago, and I'm no longer ashamed at the thought of a finished house with a nice kitchen and all; I'm excited if it's even remotely in our price range.


After reminising about the Trucker Hat Caper and discovering in a wine haze that I barely knew anybody, I walked my friend home and then walked the rest of the way myself, probably not the most advised move. I went past the big cathedral on the hill no doubt shocked at the folks' debauchery on the streets below, past the big orange sodium lights where I played Purple City when I was a student (if you stare at the lights long enough, when you look up, the city looks purple); in fact I remember the first night I met one of my single bohemian friends -- a night much like last night but a touch warmer, the kind of summer night when you still don't need sleeves -- and we hung out on the front steps of the cathedral and looked at the downtown spread out below with the excitement of meeting a kindred spirit.

It's a strange thing to become a home-owning, cube-working, car-driving, married mother in the same city where you sowed your young wild oats. And strange to be assaulted with all these memories, all the time, as we consider leaving and the opportunities that could await us elsewhere.

A cop car sped by with its lights blazing, and I as I crossed the street after it, another one roaring in the same direction nearly mowed me down. I wondered where they were going in such a fury.

The downtown sidewalks were packed with drunk kids loitering and smoking. I felt pretty vulnerable because I was carrying my camera; I walked big and strong to compensate. At one point a man called out to me, "Hey Big Red!" I didn't respond but felt dismayed nonetheless at the resurrection of my high school nickname, especially since my hair, which was up, wasn't the big thing he was referring to.

It was a nice summer night, and every once in a while I'd hear a voice on the wind or see movement emerging from a shadow: people sitting randomly on dark patches of abandoned grass. The couples made sense to me, but I wondered about the few people I saw all by themselves, just sitting. Crossing the tracks and starting down my own dark road, I noticed a guy walking out to nothing but a stretch of rough grass next to an empty parking lot, and another guy wandering aimlessly who eventually just sat down on someone's lawn. It felt weird. I got my cell phone all set so I'd only have to hit send if something weird happened. I figured Sugar D wouldn't answer but at least they'd know where to look in the morning.

A third kid suddenly emerged from his grass seat in a shadow and walked towards me with a sandal dangling from each hand. I felt nervous as his bare feet clapped faster and faster on the pavement behind me. I hit send and listened to the ringing phone echo in my sleeping home, wondering what would happen next. He ran past me, stopped and turned around, cutting me off at the pass. I waited, tense, ready to fight or flee. He looked like a fresh faced farmboy, and being in the capital of postsecondary agricultural education in Ontario, he probably was. Slur slur slur... my friend ... Alex? he slurred.

"I saw a guy back there," I say, referring to another stranger just sitting by himself. I think they must have been tripping. The boy trailed away, finally harmless.

I got home safely to notice the neighbour's curtains open outside our kitchen and a big creepy looking doll suspended from the ceiling. I didn't need to see that.

Happily, Swee'pea's fever finally broke after two days.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

pleasure and pain

The one-year anniversary of my first blog post came and went a couple of days ago, unblogged. That anniversary doesn't really feel like the anniversary of my blog though, because my first several posts were things I'd already written, and I posted them before I'd ever read a blog or really understood what a blog was. It was more than a month before I got any readers and started to get a sense of what blogging was all about.

It didn't take me long to discover with some dismay that there are A LOT of really fantastic writers out here. I'd always thought I was a delicate, unique snowflake. Which brings me to the topic of today's post: one of the many brilliant writers I have had the pleasure (and pain) of discovering over the past year - Beck.

Original Perfect Post Awards – July 2007

It's perfect post time, and I had some great options this month. It was a tough call, but I nominate Beck's post, "Blood," for a perfect post award. I actually had a hard time deciding between that post and its follow-up because both generated a very high proportion of sharp intakes of breath in me at the beauty of Beck's language.

I can't even begin to paraphrase or deconstruct these posts; all I would end up doing is listing the brilliant turns of phrase that made me gasp... why don't you just go read both posts, if you haven't already.

Well, ok, just one quote, from the follow-up post:

"... worrying is my ancestral love language, the way that generations of women in my family have shown that they loved, love that manifests itself as warm sweaters and thermoses of soup and lectures..."

See? Beck really IS a delicate, unique snowflake, and she has the soul of a poet. She may not self-identify as a writer, but she sure as heck writes like one. And though she says that having children has derailed whatever creative process she might possess, I'm not buying it. The way she writes about motherhood is magic.

Check out more perfect posts at Suburban Turmoil and Petroville.