Thursday, April 29, 2010

The bear that got fixed.

Following on from the incident in the bear store, I took Harry home, all new paws and smiles.

This is Harry, after his operation.

Unfortunately I don't have a before picture because it was just too humiliating to reveal his true state on the Interwebs I forgot to take one. Ahem.

Anyway. He looks okay, right?

Not bad?


Harry, upon inspection, was met with the following words.









So we took Harry, and tossed him in the garbage.

The end.

Just kidding.

We set him aside for a few hours and later, when the storm had died down and Matthew was being tucked into bed, he nonchalantly asked us...

"Harry's been to doctor today?"

"Yes, that's right. And he's all better now. No more owies." We replied.

"Okay." He said, and snuggled down with his beloved old bear.

Moral of the story? If it ain't broke, or even if it is broke, don't bloody well fix it - just leave it the hell alone.
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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The strange incident of the bear in the bear store.

"Can you fix my bear?" I asked the woman in the stuff-a-bear store, hopefully, and a bit desperately. I had about one hour to get the bear stuffed, sewn up, and restored to his usual place on my son's bed before he returned home.

I looked around the store to see walls of miniature outfits, shoes, accessories. All for bears. It was a sparkly, multi-coloured universe for bears. There was even a bear wardrobe - for the bear clothes.

"Maybe! Can I see him?" She asked. I detected a patronizing tone in her voice. Perhaps she wondered if I was a crazy bear lady. My hair was a little wild from the weather outside that day.

"Okay, but I'm warning you, he's in bad shape." I said, jokingly.

Her eyes widened as I slowly pulled the bedraggled, chewed bear from the plastic carrier bag.

"Oh my! Poor bear!" She said, with real, honest sympathy. I'm not sure whether the sympathy was for the bear, or me. Maybe she suspected I - the crazy bear lady - had done something to the bear. Maybe I'd gnawed its paws off in a rage or taken the scissors to them.

"It's my son's bear." I said, quickly.

"Oh. Okay, give me five minutes. I'll see what I can do."

I wandered off for five minutes.

Poor old Harry. Harry, the Steiff bear, purchase and lovingly sent across the Atlantic ocean in a brown paper parcel by my brother when Matthew was born, has become the bear to end all bears. To my son, he's like the superbear of all time.

And because of all the love and attention Harry has received, he's acquired the look of an eighty year-old war hero who's been through some really rough times.

You may remember the time I attempted to repair Harry. Alas, my sewing skills aren't fit for a turkey, let alone a bear.

Five minutes later, I returned to find the woman sitting by the bear-stuffing machine, studiously hunched over Harry, poking a needle and thread into his arms and legs. Not wanting to bother her, I continued perusing the store. There were cell phones for bears, hockey kits, sun glasses, musical instruments, even underwear.

"How old is your son?" She asked me.

"Almost three."

"Oh, well then maybe," She said sincerely "'s time he retired the bear?"

I stared blankly for a moment, then laughed.

"No. No no no no. No. Really? No. There's no way. I mean it's like his favourite thing in the world. He's never without it. It was hard enough getting it away from him today."

The woman was not laughing.

Clearly, I had failed to see the seriousness of the situation.

"Yes, but, at some point, he's going to have to let it go."

"Why?" I asked, suddenly worried the fate of my son's bear was hanging delicately between this woman and her needle.

"Well, he just won't last at this rate."

"I think hell might freeze over before my son will give up that bear."

There was a pause while the I thought about grabbing Harry and making a run for it.

"You know what I'd recommend?" She asked, with a solution on the tip of her tongue. "You should bring your son in here and get a replacement bear for him."

I had to suppress a snort. Replacement bear? Complete insanity!

"Yeah. See. I don't think he'd go for that." I said.

"I tell you what: you bring your son in, find a replacement bear, and we'll put Harry in the new bear."

Long pause, while I considered her suggestion.

"You mean like, you want to take Harry and put him in a new bear, and my son could still take him out whenever he wanted?"

"No, I mean we'd sew the new bear up with Harry inside. So that way, your son can say goodbye to him, but know he's still there."


Still there?.......

I had visions of Matthew watching Harry get stuffed into a strange bear along with a bunch of stuffing and sewn up. It would be like a scene from a horror movie - you know, the kind where someone accidentally gets burried in a coffin or crushed in a garbage truck that kind of thing.

No one would hear the screams.

There would be years of therapy to recover from the trauma of such an event.

I looked back to the woman, realizing there was no winning this conversation.

"I think that's a great idea." I said.

Then I took the bear with new feet and hands, thanked the woman, and left.

To be continued.....
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Monday, April 26, 2010

The most expensive babysitter in the world.

There are two things that suck about doing a practicum when you're not twenty and you have kids: 1 - you don't get paid for it, and 2 - you have to pay for childcare for the days you work at the non-paying job. Which, hello? Sucks.

Except, I love my practicum. So I'll stop whining about it now.

Lucky for me, my mother-in-law offered to watch the boys one day a week, and then, through a friend, I found a great dayhome willing to take the boys the other day.


Only problem is, there's really no room for maneuver. If one of the arrangements falls through, I'm stuck. At a push I could beg a friend and offer them money / babysitting / blood - anything, if they'd do it. But most of them have kids too, so it's not an easy request nor one I'd resort to lightly.

During one of our weekly phone chats, I mentioned to my Mum (in England) that my dayhome was closing for a week at the end of May, and that I was trying to figure out alternative arrangements.

A few days later, she called me to suggest she come for a visit the last week in May. She'd been intending to plan a trip to Canada to visit me and the kids anyway, and in doing so could also cover the childcare situation.

Which.... YAY!

It's been about a year since I last saw my Mum. A whole year. So yes, I'm thrilled, ecstatic. She's coming.

Now I need to start cleaning the house...
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Sunday, April 25, 2010

Crocodiles don't have this problem.

It's around this time of year I begin to care about the dry, flaky skin on my body that I've been trying, successfully, to ignore. Six months of Canadian winter will suck every last drop of moisture from your skin and leave you with a shell that's as dry as a desert. And (ahem) if you've been sloppy about taking care of your skin (ahem), then you might be in dire need of help around now.

Before kids, when there was this magical disposable income thingy, and this magical spare time thingy, I used to invest in beautifying my body for summer. Visions of bare arms and legs had me rushing to the beauty counter - splurging on pricey, cucumber-scented, technologically-advanced miracle stuff that was going to turn me into a glowing goddess by the time sandals and backless tops were on show. There's no way of telling whether these utter waste of money products worked. But they made me feel better.

It was around this time of year that bottles, tubes and jars of body scrubs, creams, face creams with SPF (Clinique City Block was a favourite) began appearing on my bathroom shelf like the the world was running out of them. I'd get a pedicure, and treat myself some new pants, sandals and t-shirts. Okay, basically a whole new summer wardrobe. It was all just part of the summer ritual of preparing for the exposure of skin previously unseen for long, cold months.

Now, with less money and less time to lounge around the bathroom slathering myself in expensive body creams, I'm more about drug store purchases than beauty counter purchases. DIY pedicures over salon pedicures. Etc.

And, as I've discovered, there are quite a few good beautifying products on the market that don't require a second job. Like, Neutrogena's Body Clear Body Scrub. It retails at around $10 and does a pretty good job at sloughing off rough, dry skin.

Then there are body butters. I learned, while reading up on oils and lotions for my massage therapy studies, that body butters are one of the best ways to hydrate dry skin. Body Shop sells some good ones, and there are lots in the stores too. I'm addicted to the stuff. It is going to save my legs and make them smooth and buff, just in time for summer. Whoo.

Of course, the one really good secret for improving the appearance of one's skin is, um, exercise. Which, is - you know - free! Yeah. So. About that race I signed up for.... Let's not ruin this with talk of exercise, okay?

What are your summer beautifying secrets?

None of the products or brands mentioned in this post were paid for in any way. These are simply my own opinions.
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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The feisty one.

There are bite marks on the top of the baby gate in the kitchen, where he clings on, feet poking through the bars, dangling and gnawing like a beaver while I prepare dinner.


The sub woofer in the living room has bite marks on it too, though I've no idea how or when they got there. (questions regarding what the hell a sub woofer is should be directed to my husband)


I watch as he wraps his jaw around the stone bird bath in the garden, grinding his teeth across the rough surface like it's a popsicle.

Nothing is out of his biting range - even my arm, which, until a week ago, displayed two tiny little vampire marks.


He pulls this face at me - this sneaky, cheeky, dare-me-to-do-it face, as he tiptoes over to the vacuum plug in the wall socket, tentatively placing his hand on it and shooting me a wicked grin.


He screams in protest at being told "no", arching his lips into a wail and throwing the nearest thing across the room in a rage. Three seconds later he's gurgling, laughing and rolling around the floor as his brother tickles him.


As he tries to climb into the water table, hoisting himself up with one leg, ready and eager to lunge in head first, I jump out my chair and race across the lawn to lift him back down.

His brother looks up from the sand box and says.

"Dude. You gotta learn to welax."

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Monday, April 19, 2010

Potty Training. Round 2.

We tried to potty train our toddler (now a pre-schooler) last September. Despite my enthusiastic endeavours involving a water bottle strapped to a stuffed rabbit, several desert-sized treats and a new set of Disney underwear - the attempt fell flat on its face.

After that, basically, we forgot about it - pretended the issue had gone away. For six months we mumbled in hushed, unpromising voices about getting around to toilet training at some point in the future. Soon. Very soon. By the time he's three. Probably.

But soon is, um, here.

So, in a half-baked effort to revitalize the potty training effort, we've been gearing up in small steps. For instance, we've watched the Elmo Potty Time movie. About five times. Because anything that Matthew likes, that suggests that potty training is a good thing, is a good thing.

So we watched. And watched again. And we sung the "Potty Time" song. Over and over until one night I went to bed humming it and J gave me the same disapproving look as the time I tried seductive pirate talk at bed time.

And afterward, I spoke to him in a tone the denoted the seriousness of the situation: "So, Matthew, you know, Elmo isn't a baby any more. He's a big boy! And you know what big boys do? They pee and poop in the potty. They don't use diapers any more! Isn't that great?"

My pep talk was met with stony silence and a look of repugnance.

"And you know what, Matthew? You're not a baby, any more. You are a big boy. And so, that means it's time to throw away your diapers and use the potty! Yaaay!"

Silence. Then.

"No Mama, I'm not a big boy. I'm a small boy. I'm no throw away my diapers!"

And with that, he was gone in the direction of shiny toy trucks.

Not to be deterred, we kept on with our efforts: bringing out the fun underpants; showing him the brilliant amazing potty; talking about how some of his friends use the potty.

Still, no signs of hope.

Nevertheless, it has to be done soon. Actually, by September, to be precise, when he starts pre-school. My new plan involves summer days outdoors in the garden (where accidents don't matter), popsicles in abundance, and, most importantly, a case of wine for the evenings after.
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Thursday, April 15, 2010

Oven I cleaned you recently?

Me: So... I was thinking, we might need to buy a new oven.

J: Oh, really. Pause during which realization occurs. Wait, what? We need a new oven? What's wrong with the one we have?

Me: Um. It's kind of, like, you know, broken.

J: You're kidding?

Me: No. Can you believe that shit? Shaking head profusely and assuming a look of complete exasperation at ridiculous oven.

J: But... uh... didn't you just cook dinner in it tonight?

Me: Uh, yeah, it just broke. As I was making dinner.

J: Blank stare: combination of confusion and suspicion.

Me: What! What! Oh. Okay. If you must know, it needs to be cleaned, and since neither of us are prepared to do it, and since it's pretty old anyway, I thought we should just... buy a new one.

J: Blank stare: suspicion is turned to calm disbelief.

Me: If you think about it, it's really not an unreasonable idea. Not really. I mean, if you think really hard about it. We could get a really pretty shiny one?

Me: Or! Hey! I've just had a great idea! I'm away at classes this weekend.... You could tackle it....

Me: Big optimistic grin.

Me: Or we could just get a new one. Ooh. This one! Researching online despite being ignored. Think of all the amazing things I could cook in this!

Maybe one day...
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Monday, April 12, 2010

The joy of temporary aloneness.

One of the hardest things about being a parent, for me, has been the loss of alone time. Even as a very sociable person who can spend hours with friends, family, or any random person who crosses my doorstep, talking about everything from the weather to the state of current affairs, I need alone time. In an ideal world, I'd spend two hours out of every day, completely alone.

It's become my biggest fantasy: two hours a day, alone.

What would you do with two hours alone? I can think of ten million ways to pass the time: I'd read magazines; I'd organize my cooking folder with the loose pages falling out everywhere; I'd meditate; I'd lie down and nap; I'd paint my toe nails. Etc.

I need time on my own, like everyone does, like you do, because alone time does something good for the body and mind. There's something very healing about letting go of everything for a while, not having to answer to anyone, not being responsible for anyone.

It's draining to not have any time alone during the day. To always be "on". It's bloody exhausting. Especially for the stay-at-home parent, for whom there's really no opportunity to be alone - to step outside the office for a quick breath of air, or take an hour for lunch. Sometimes even two minutes in the bathroom is ambitious.

Last week I went to work for the first time in three years. I sat in the studio, alone for periods of time while my practicum boss attended to her clients, completely enraptured by the stillness of the space around me, taking in the faint music, the distant traffic outside, and my own breathing. It was heavenly.

I settled at a desk with my text books open in front of me, my note pad and pen and paper cup of coffee, and became absorbed in what I was doing, without interruption. I managed to get a load of work done - possibly more in those two hours of pure, focused attention, than I could get done in an entire day at home.

It's healthy to want to space, to need space.

It was terribly hard for me last week, dropping the kids off at their new dayhome for the first time, waving goodbye as my toddler cried and reached for me. I cried all the way back in the car after I left them. And after three years of being with them all the time, it's no surprise.

But when I was at work, doing my thing, I realized that this time, this space for me (even though, okay, it isn't really true alone time: that will come, one day) is so, so needed.
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Thursday, April 8, 2010

Critters in the pantry; sound judgment in the trash.

Very occasionally I'm filled with a surge of motivation to organize a corner of my house that has been long forgotten. Yesterday, it was the pantry. This pantry contains the dog food and recycling bins and has been sadly neglected for months.

As I began furiously attacking it, pulling everything out - plastic recycling bins, grocery bags, dog food - I discovered a bag right at the back - an old red tote containing dog toys. The next thing I saw was a swarm of tiny, tubular worm things. All over the bag. Bugs. Creepy, crawly, dead bug things.


I attempted to keep breathing, but for a moment I think all oxygen entering and leaving my body ceased, and then, finally, I let out a scream, or a squeal, or maybe something resembling a rodent being strangled. And then, as I felt cold sweaty panic rising up my entire being, I froze.

I hate maggots like an arachnophobe loathes tarantulas. Okay, maybe not that bad, but something like it. Something about the sight of the sneaky little critters makes my skin crawl. I quickly become itchy. I imagine they're all over me. I fear the worst.

But, despite my repulsion of the beasts, I decided I had to tackle them, there and then, because no one else was going to, dammit. I grabbed a garbage bag and begun to lob everything I could lay my hands on in there. I vowed to myself that not a single one of the eerie little bastards would be left by the time I was done. I was on a mission.

I threw out everything I could lay my hands on - the red tote, the dog toys, every container and bag in sight. As I tried to dispose of it all, some of the pesky fiends fell out onto the floor. Some of them became stuck to my socks. They attached to the sides of the garbage bag. They were fixed to everything with some kind of strange static.

I screamed.

My toddler tried to enter the room, interested in the commotion. I yelled for him to leave right away. Then I apologized, but told him to stay away for now.

I began having paranoid visions of maggots taking over the world, infesting my life, of them trying to eat me and kill me with their poisonous venom. (what? Maggots totally could have poisonous venom!)

I screamed. I stamped my feet. I took off my socks and threw them away as well.

I held my breath, not wanting to breathe in maggots. I threw everything out, then took the garbage bags to the back garden.

Then I vacuumed fiercely, probing every nook of the pantry with the nozzle.

When the frantic episode of cleaning and disinfecting was done, and all the nasty insects were gone, I sat, googling pictures of household pests. You know, just to torture myself further.

Then I perched on the sofa, frozen, itching and feeling queasy. I called J at work to confirm that maggots were not, in fact dangerous. You know, just in case.

After that, my day was basically ruined by the indelible image of the maggots. In my house.

Later that night we were sitting, watching telly and, out of the corner of my eye I glimpsed one - a tricky little bug, clinging to the side of the footstool.

"AAARRRRGGHHH!" I shrieked, waving my finger at the thing and inching into the back of the sofa.

"What? What the hell is wrong?" J asked, a little alarmed by my shrieking.

"It's a beast! A maggot! GET IT OUT!!!"

"What? This?" Jesse picked the devil thing off the footstool to inspect it.

"Nooooooo!" It was too much to bare. The touching, the examining, at close range.


"Get it out! Now!"



"This. This is a grain of rice."


"A grain of rice. From dinner."

"THAT IS A MAGGOT!" I yelled convincingly and promptly moved to the other side of the room.

"No. It's not a maggot. It's a grain of rice."


" Yes. Those "maggots" you saw earlier - did they look like this?"

"Exactly like that! Are you sure that's not a maggot?"

"They were white? This size? With ridges like this?"


"And none of them were moving?"


"Remember a week ago we had take-out sushi for dinner and we threw the containers in the recycling?"


"I think some of the rice must have fallen on the floor behind the recycling bin."


Some further examination of the grain of rice, and googling of pictures of real maggots confirmed that, yes okay, what I'd been throwing a screaming tantrum over were, in fact, grains of flipping rice.

Socks: gone. Dog toys: gone. Sanity: gone.
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Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Friendliness and the cynical parent.

My pre-schooler is showing signs of a very friendly personality. At the grocery store last weekend he waved cheerfully and yelled "hi" at the top of his voice to anyone we met in an aisle. He chatted tirelessly with the cashier, asking if she knew where the chocolate Easter eggs were.

This afternoon I caught him leaning out the open window (on the ground floor, don't worry), waving and yelling to someone across the street - a woman walking her dog. The woman had stopped to smile and wave back at him, perhaps not wanting to seem rude, perhaps a little embarrassed.

Wherever we are, he wants to talk to people. He talks all day long: to me, to the dog, to our next-door neighbours, the mail man, the guy at the grocery store, the old lady at the park - whoever happens to be there at the time.

Only a child, or the mentally unsound, could stop a complete stranger and start up a random conversation that begins with an anecdote about diggers, moves onto the airplane in the sky above, and promptly switches with extreme enthusiasm to the squirrel climbing the tree across the street.

It's too bad that, despite being utterly proud, my mind naturally swerves to the idea that his friendliness could, potentially, pose a risk to him, and that maybe I should reign in his outgoing personality a little.

It's a shame it has to be this way. If only I could guaruntee the world would respond in the kind, genuine way he believes it will. If only I could protect him forever.

We haven't had to tackle the issue of talking to strangers. We haven't needed to.

How and when did you tackle it?
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Monday, April 5, 2010

Mums could be surgeons.

By the time you've had a baby (or two), you've encountered enough bodily probing to last a life time. Especially during those last few weeks of pregnancy, when the doctors begin checking your cervix for dilation every few days, seeing whether the baby has "dropped" yet, feeling for its head, and generally poking around way too much.

The worst amount of prodding and poking occurs during labour and afterward. After you get over the initial outrage, you come around to the idea that basically you're a human lab rat and you're going to have to let the medical folks do what they need to do.

In my case this wasn't necessarily a bad thing - thanks to the poking and prodding from the medical folks, one doctor was able to unhook the umbilical cord from around my son's neck while I was in labour. While he was still in the womb. Ouch. But, thank goodness she did.

Then, as you enter motherhood, you realize that your old protests that never ever in a million years will you clear up anyone else's vomit or other bodily substance because that is just GROSS dude, is no longer valid because now it's simply part of your life.

And suddenly nothing bothers you any more.

A wounded soldier could turn up on your doorstep and ask you to clean up his open wound and sew him up and you'd fetch your sewing tools and do it without batting an eyelid.

I used to be squeamish. I loathed blood tests, injections, and any kind of medical exam. The pale green interior of a hospital and the chemical smell of it would make me want to sprint in any other direction. If I accidentally cut my finger, the sight of blood made me faint. Watching a medical drama with a surgeon cutting into someone on the operating table would have me hiding behind a cushion or switching channels.

Now? Nothing. Nada. Not even a little flinch of horror.

A year ago I went to my doctor to have a mole removed from my neck. I lay on the table and watched as she hovered above me and began carving into the skin around the mole, dabbing at the blood with cotton wool as it escaped. Five years ago I might have actually passed out or thrown up at the sight of the blood and the thought of what was going on. Instead I lay still, chatting casually about something irrelevant, fascinated in what she was doing.

And after a week spent playing nurse to a house of stomach flu victims (myself included), I've come to the conclusion that I have a stomach of steel. I simply must have. Because very few things body- or medical-related phase me any more.

Funny how things change.
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