08 December 2008

Boyfriends and Girlfriends

Bella had a boyfriend. He lasted all of three days.

On Friday, this boy arrived at school as a new student. Early Monday, they became boyfriend and girlfriend. On Wednesday they broke up.

For three whole days she was in boyfriend bliss and Bubaloo was horribly upset by the injustice of it all. His sister liked a boy, a person she knew nothing about, and somehow managed to call him “boyfriend.”

Since September, Bubaloo has been pining for a girl. She first dated one of the Justins in his class. When they broke up, he was too shy to make a move, so she’s now the girlfriend of one of the Austins.

Bubaloo knows everything about this girl. He knows her favourite colour. He knows what games she likes to play. He knows what she likes about school. But most of all he knows her favourite snack is Golden Oreo Cakesters.

While this girl is still entangled in a grade school relationship with one of the Austins, Bubaloo let it slip to this girl that he has a crush on her. He really likes her. A lot. And today he’s putting a plan in action to win her affection through food.

I wish I could tell you that he came up with this plan himself. I wish I could tell you that he begged and he pleaded this weekend to make it happen. But I can’t.

It was Wifey who planted the seed that Bubaloo should try to woo her with Golden Oreo Cakesters. She came back from the grocery store with this treat and promptly packed him two in his lunch today. She’s given the explicit instruction that one is for him and one for her.

Admittedly, while I’ve not been active in the hatching of this diabolical plan, I’ve been pretty complicit as I’ve chosen take the path of amusement rather than one of intervention.

We the parents are heavily involved in a scheme to break up two kids so that our little one can have a girlfriend. He’ll either come home with a phone number or a black eye tonight.

Update: Bubaloo gave her the treat. In return he got her phone number with a note that says "call me cutey," only cutey is spelled as culy. She's still dating one of the Austins. When he called her tonight he wasn't allow to speak to her. Her mother says she's grounded.

29 November 2008

Saturday Night

It's Saturday night and I'm curled up on the couch with Wifey. The kids are tucked in. I'm waiting for the chai tea to finish brewing.

In my lap, I'm reading a book on planned giving. It's less of a book and more of a tome. One that could hold a small child down in a wind storm. It's all about wills, bequests, taxation benefits and so on.

Our mutual silence is punctuated with questions like, "Who do you want to leave the dining room table to?" and "How much do you think we're going to need in life insurance to cover the kids if we die?" and "I want to leave some money to charity X, you good with that?"

As I'm learning about how to help people leave their own legacy through a charitable gift, we're getting ready to create our long overdue wills. Once we get the insurance in place, the massive paperwork we've been slowly picking through will finally be complete.

In Wifey's lap she's reading a stack of articles from the Harvard Business Review and some other magazines on human resources management. My favourite so far was the sarcastic article on the symptoms of a bad boss.

It's Saturday night. This is comfortable. I don't think I've ever felt more grown-up in my entire life.

19 November 2008

Sticky Fingers

Bubaloo has a little problem with sticky fingers. Sticky in as much as he often finds himself attracted to objects that don't belong to him. Things somehow find their way into his backpack, pockets and eventually our home.

We've moved from the inconsequential collecting of bottle caps and garbage off the street to more meaningful things that actually belong to someone and have been intentionally taken.

To keep this stealing phase under control, or in the least to preserve our sanity, we have him on pocket check. This means every time he enters and exits the house we search him.

You'd think that pocket check would become a deterrent to the thieving and the ensuing consequence, but what we're finding out is that they inspire innovation.

The first couple of times, it was easy to spot the toy, candy or DS game that wasn't his. These items were just casually tossed into his bag. He then switched up his modus operandi by sneaking non-food items into his lunch bag.

Next he embarked on the confusion tactic. This is where he'd pack so many toys to take to school every day so that we couldn't possibly keep track of what was his and what wasn't. Quickly, he was limited to a maximum of three things.

Then he decided to use the class auction that happens every Friday as a cover to bring things home that weren't his. All of his "big bucks" would be used to buy chocolate bars, pop and toys and he'd weave us an elaborate tale. We uncovered that, too, and now communicate with his teacher's through the trusty agenda to find out what he acutally won at auction.

Another time he tried to take the contraband out of the house by shoving it up his jacket sleeve. He's also tired to covertly hide a toy within a toy. And just the other day he realized that I wasn't regularly checking the side pockets of his backpack so he stashed two full handfulls of halloween candy in there. I only caught him this time because I heard the crinkling of candy wrappers.

While it's kind of exhauting having to do all of this busting, now it's starting to be a detective game for me. It's a challenge to try to think like a 10 year-old-boy. I'm consistently amazed at how clever and innovative he is. I'd be even more so impressed if he'd use his brain for good!

This morning, however, has to be the best attempt at smuggling yet.

He wanted to take his iPod to school and I said no. He tried to whine, negotiatiate, and talk me to an alternate decision. But I did not break. There was going to be no iPod leaving the house. Call my motivations self-centred. I certainly did not want to have to deal with the child who would be hysterically upset when it was lost or stolen - and I think the liklihood of that was pretty high.

Just as I was about to start his pocket check, I asked him to produce his iPod.

He couldn't. He told me it was in his room. He told me it had fallen behind his dresser. There were a couple of other tall tales woven in there. I told him that he had to put it in my hand, and warned him that he had better not make me late for work.

I sent him up to his room to find his iPod while I started to check his backpack.

Quickly he came back down the stairs to confess. He let me know that he had lied and wanted to take responsibility. Indeed, the iPod was not in his room. He had put it in a little bag that holds his shark tooth in one of the pockets of his backpack.

I pulled it out. Only the earphones weren't there.

When I inquried as to their whereabouts, he gave me a little sheepish grin.

He took off his shoe, stuck his hand all the way to the toe and pulled out the earphones. They had been squished in there with his stinky sock resting on top.

Now, I'm having to re-think pocket check. Growing and innovating alongside my child. I never imagined that SHOES would be part of my daily checklist.

12 November 2008

My Kid Takes the City Bus to School

I grew up in suburbia. In a small town north of Toronto. It wasn't until Grade 9, when I was 14 or so, that a yellow school bus was no longer provided. Well to be truthful, I lived 3 blocks from my grade school and had to walk, but that's not the point.

According to the Ottawa Carleton District School Board, when you are in grade 7 and live less than 3.0 kms from the school, transportation will no longer be provided for you. That means that this past September our daughter needed to take OC Transpo back and forth from school every day.

Now remember, this is a child who has memory challenges, regularly gets seriously disoriented in our own neighbourhood and loves to talk to strangers. The first two, we were pretty confident that we could develop strategies for. It was the "talking to strangers" that had us concerned.

This is the same child that locked herself out of the house last summer and instead of waiting for us to return in a short time, knocked on a complete stranger's door and went into his house. The only reason we knew she was there because when we were walking up the street we saw her backpack on his stoop.

On the transportation front, I can appreciate that we live in a city, and that mass transit is somewhat of a luxury. This is in the sense that my kid won't have to walk 2.7 kms to school each day and we're saving some tax dollars by not having a yellow school bus.

But, we DO live in a city and we don't exactly live in the nicest part of the city. We live in Overbook on the cusp of Vanier and she now goes to York Street Public School.

The very things we try to protect our children from, like dirty needles on front lawns and prostitution, were addressed the very first city transit trial run we took with her before school. I'm not so worried about her exposure to such issues, I just don't trust her judgment not to pick up a used needle up to throw out or to ask someone directly what they're doing standing on a street corner. No amount of street proofing has been effective with her. Social cues and street smarts just aren't her strength.

We've done what we can do, not without a hefty dose of questioning and parental guilt, but we've done that best that we can and we have to let her go, learn and make her own mistakes.

When Bella came to show me the photos on her camera, she got to a series of images of people sitting on the bus. I asked who her friends were. "I dunno. They're not my friends," she said. When I probed further, I discovered she knew nothing about these people. They were just random people on the bus.

I then proceeded to warn her about taking photos of strangers without permission and how that could get her into big trouble. She quickly cut me off.

In the belitting matter-of-fact voice that 13-year-olds use with an annoying frequency, she let me know that she wasn't stupid enough to take a photo without permission. In fact, very smartly and smugly, she let me know that she had asked for permission.

To which I replied, "Isn't one of the first rules of taking the bus that you don't talk to anyone, especially strangers?"

It only then dawned on her. She had taken random photos of... g-a-s-p ...strangers! And just because she talked to them to take their photo didn't make them any less strange!

Sometimes I just want to hit my head against a brick wall.

On the other hand, I can just picture the scene unfolding on the bus of some little kid asking randoms to take their photo. I mean, what would you say to that? How bizarre!

My kid behaves on the bus like one of the people we warn her about.

17 October 2008

Paper Identification

Last night I went to the post office to pick up the munchkin’s passports. After months of struggling with various government offices to get the adoption paperwork and birth certificates in order, and then gathering all the items and signatures for the passports, we finally submitted the applications earlier this month.

Timing is of the essence here as we’re now booked on an out of country vacation this Christmas…only the kids are not yet aware of the impending adventure. So last night when I returned from the post office I was very excited to show the kids their very official travel documents.

I handed Bubaloo his, and he got all excited about the pages and the possibilities of collecting stamps one day. I handed Bella hers. She opened it up to see the face of a young boy sporting a mod-hawk by the name of Samuel.

We’re now in the possession of a very official travel document that doesn’t belong to us. Passport Canada sent us the wrong passport and somewhere in the world a stranger is holding our daughter’s passport.

Now getting this sorted out doesn’t seem like it’s going to be a walk in the park. Calling Passport Canada only has resulted in us getting re-directed to having to show up at the office. The only result of this is more paperwork.

Like in high school, where I didn’t like science labs because lab = lab report, I’m beginning to develop this equation: children = horrid amounts of paperwork + bureaucratic headache inducing snafus. To date, we have yet to have a single piece of official documentation be issued successfully.

05 October 2008

Not 'Yer Grandfather's Stew

Since she first moved in with us, Bella has always talked about her favourite meal. Stew. Not just any stew, but the stew her Grandfather used to make her. This is the kind of food that foodies love best because it's a meal tied to memories.

The thing is I hate stew. For the same associative memories that make Bella love it, I cannot stand it. The smell, the taste and most of all the texture. It's just not a meal that I've brought myself to make for her in the past year and a half.

But on Saturday morning as I meandered over to Loblaws, there, in the meat cooler was a package of stewing beef with a bright pink label marking it 50% off. While I love the Saturday morning meat sale - there's nothing like getting more meat for your family and making that dollar spread further - this stewing beef called to me. I could take advantage of the great price and do something nice for my daughter at the same time. The generosity of a cheapskate!

I talked proudly about the stew I was going to make just for her. I searched the internet for a great recipe. I even came in early from planting bulbs so I could brown the beef for the stew. When I realized we were out of bread I even adorned the best puppy dog eyes so that Wifey would quickly run to the store to grab some.

I made the stew with love and three hours later dished it out for the dinner table.

The look on her face said it all. She wasn't impressed with my efforts. Not one bit. We probed about what the problem was couched only in the guilt of "look at all the effort I went to for you" that a parent could muster.

She then spilled all her disappointment. "The stew my Grandfather used to make was white," she said. The bowl that we'd assembled for her contained a brown stew. As she ate it, it also turned out that she didn't like the potatoes. Or the stew sauce. Or the beef.

In the end I'd venture to guess that what her Grandfather used to make her wasn't stew at all. The lesson I get from this is that frugally motivated kindness will give you a karmic kick in the ass every time.

01 October 2008

The Edu-muh-cation of RKW

Last night around the kitchen table, Wifey was telling her favourite joke. "Pass the honey...honey. Pass the sugar...sugar. Pass the tea...bag." I groan. This kids think it's hilarious. Wifey thinks she's a comedian.

After pleading courses of "tell it again, Mommy!" Wifey acquiesced and told it with a newfie twist.

At the end of the joke, Bella asked what a newfie was, and we responded that it was someone from Newfoundland.

To keep her on the toes of her geography skills, we asked her to tell us where Newfoundland is.

Bella: It's east, east of here. I'm sure.

Mommies: Good job sweetie!

Bella: I read in a book once that it's close to Australia.

Mommies: Um, no. I think you might be confusing Newfoundland with New Zealand.

And then, she tried to argue with us about the location of this Canadian province. Unless there's be some sudden tectonic plate shifts we don't know about, I'm pretty sure that when I woke up this morning Newfoundland was a couple of thousand kilometers to the east, not tens of thousands of kilometers.

26 September 2008

Mental Health Days

When I was younger, I was good at taking a day for myself when I needed it. I can recall in high school, at least once a semester, I'd tell my Mom that I just wasn't going to go to school cause I needed just one day to do nothing before I'd jump back into the swing of things.

This is one of the things my Mom has always admired about me, according to her. I never really got that - why people have such a hard time saying time out for 24 hours.

Ten years later, I get it. Because I secretly was planning my "sick day" since the beginning of week.

So I did it. I called in sick. And, I'm not even sick. But, the guilt. Oh, the crushing guilt.

Despite the fact that I'm "sick" to my colleagues and staff, I'm still working. I've taken a couple of phone calls. I took a meeting. I talked with a client. I mean really people, I'm "sick." What if I really were sick? This really isn't helping me trying to convince myself that the world-won't-stop-without-me and dispelling the being-out-of-the-office-for-one-day-will-cause-irreparable-harm complex.

What this does for me, however, is create a nice illustrative commentary on the state of the organizational culture at my office. There really is no such thing as a holiday. We've actually all started to differentiate between a "I'm not in the office holiday, but I'll still do whatever you need me to do" and "I'm really off and you can't reach me no matter what" types of vacations.

So, I'm going to enjoy the rest of my personal mental health day. I'm going to catch up on TV I missed this week. I'm going to enjoy my new blog layout. And, I'm not going to answer the phone again.

01 June 2008

Queer Parenting is Radical

One of the things we told our adoption worker early in our process is that the kids we adopted would have to be more than okay with us being queer. They'd have to have enough comfort to be part of the queer community because we're "out-out." We're active, involved and engaged, and our kids would become part of that world.

Parenting hasn't lessened our activism, but it has been thought provoking and challenged assumptions within both the LGBTQ and straight communities.

Back in February I did an interview about the new statutory holiday - Family Day - and how the LGBTQ community should/should not embrace it for a local queer publication. When the reporter kept on pushing on the angle around how my family differed and didn't emulate heterosexual models of families, I stated, "Being a queer parent in still a radical notion - for both the queer and mainstream communities." He nearly dropped the phone.

We live in the nation's capital and this is a notoriously conservative community. It's a city dominated by public servants. It's quiet, sleepy, and still has a small town feel to it.

The LGBTQ community here is also unique. It's not a very out and visible community. We have a quasi gay village. Our queer organizations struggle, flounder, and often fail. The LGBTQ community is dominated by gay men - from bars to services. There's limited space for women and trans folk. The space for families, up until the last few years, has been even more limited.

When we became parents of two children, we knew handfuls of other families in the LGBTQ community. Most queer parents are focused on being parents. That means taking our kids to school, swim lessons or gymnastics, and coordinating family vacations. It's dealing with tempertantrums and helping our kids become responsible adults. As parents, what we do is more around what our kids need than our identities. And, more often than not, being queer becomes secondary to our identities as "mom" or "dad."

When we became parents of our two children, very few of our queer friends could understand why we wanted children. For some of them, it was because we were young. For some of them, they were concerned about how we'd change as people with kids. But for many of our friends, they just didn't get why when everything in our lives was so anti-mainstream by virtue of our identities, that by choice we emulated and embraced the values of the heterosexual world. We got married, bought a house, and had kids. Exactly in that order. Essentially, we were accused of being sell-outs. We were accused of trying to embrace this otherness, that we were attempting to 'straighten out' who we were by becoming mommies.

So when you ask me why I think queer parenting is 'radical' this is why. As a lesbian, I've stood on the outside of the straight world, and now as a lesbian parent, I'm being forced to stand on the outside of the queer community. We challenge the conventions of communities we have a stake in when we choose to have kids. By being queer, and being parents, we've challenged institutional heterosexism. By being queer, and being parents, we've challenged notions of what it means to be queer.

The thing is, as a queer parent, I'm more out than I've ever been. I'm outed daily by my kids in every single thing that I do. I'm outed by virtue of having kids.

When I have to fill out a school registration form or enroll the kids in an activity, we write both of our names as the parents. When we're at a restaurant and the server asks how we'd like the bill split, we get a confused look when we say its all together and the kids are calling each of us Mom. When a co-worker asks what the my kids' father's name is or when a coach tells my kid to practice soccer at home with his dad to only get a funny look - I'm suddenly outed. From grocery shopping to clothes shopping, you're always out when you're a queer parent. You're always visible. And, you're always visibly queer.

Being queer and being a parent is what it is. Kids don't make you less gay. If anything you're gayer because you're conscious of that gayness every single day. You're conscious of suddenly not really fitting in to any community - except for the one of other queer parents.

31 May 2008

Counter Surfing

Our dog Gus has an issue. Well, to be honest, he has multiple issues. Notably, these involve barking, jumping on people and counter surfing. The first two behaviours are a little scary for people who aren't familiar with Gus. He's a 70lb dog with made up of black lab, german shepherd and border collie. Getting greeted at the door by a dog who simulaneously barks at you like he wants to tear you apart and kiss you silly is quite an odd experience.

But, most of all, he's become more than the occasional counter surfer of late. It started off with an item here and an item there every few months. Sausages that had just been drained sitting in the collanadar in the sink. The toppings off half a pizza mysteriously disappear by the time you walk back from the dining room to set the table. A sandwich from the table is no longer there. The motto in our house is that if you leave it unattended it's your loss. (Note: I'm too busy trying to deal with my kids behaviours and be a parent to even begin to attend to the dog!)

Only now, Gus has found a new source of human food. Leftovers from Bubaloo's back pack.

See, we ask our kids to pack their own lunches for school each day. Then we do a lunch check to ensure it meets our expectations. Sometimes they just tell us that they've got a main lunch item, like a sandwich or dinner leftovers, one fruit, one veggie and something else. Sometimes they make a song about what's in their lunch, or do a little dance. We try to make it fun. Some days it's more of a struggle than others, especially with Bubaloo around the need to have some sort of veggie in his lunch.

By packing his own lunch, he gets to eat the veggie of his choosing. We've tried taking him to the grocery store and letting him pick out items of his choice so there's lots of options to pack. When we discovered he liked V8 we stocked up on that (he liked it until he realized that we also liked him to drink it). Basically, he likes baby carrots, baby carrots or more baby carrots. And, that is the veggie he chooses to pack every day.

Only, he doesn't like the baby carrots anymore. He hasn't quite outright said it as he continues to pack them all the time. But, we find with increasing frequency that they come home in his lunch box each day. Or they fall to the bottom of his backpack to be discovered weeks later. He's also put them in the drawer beside his bed and other interesting places in his room. I'd like to think that with some of his food issues that he's hording carrots, but I know that's not the case. He's hiding them because he doesn't want us to know he's not eating them. Why he just doesn't bury them in the garbage can underneath things is beyond me.

The dog increasingly is fascinated by the contents of Bubaloo's backpack. I'm getting a little bit more frightened. Gus barks at it, noses it, knocks it off its perch in the hallway all in attempt to get at its contents.

Yesterday, the dog got his victory. And yet I'm not so sure it was his first. I came home to find the dog with a saran wrap package of very dry, old baby carrots in his mouth. It was the size of a softball - a week worth of carrots I'm sure.

The dog had hit the jackpot and there was no way he was giving up his bounty. I tried to be the owner and command the dog to give them to me. Then I tried to take it out of his mouth. He growled. He then tried to run away. Finally, I just had to wrestle them away from him and ran to the garbage can keeping my gag reflex under control.

This morning when I saw the dog lying in the hallway stalking Bubaloo's sealed lunch bag, I knew better than to find out what was so tempting. I called Bubaloo to deal with it and deal with he did. Goodbye yucky stinky sandwich from Monday's lunch.

Gus 0. Mommy 1.

18 May 2008

Green Thumb Sunday - Garden of Scent

One of the things that struck me about many Green Thumb Sunday posts is that people tend to show off each of their wonderful plants, but shy away from showing off how all of the plantings work together. Our front garden is a disastrous work in progress. And, here it is.

view of the garden

Many of its faults are hidden from this angle. What I do enjoy is that the purple leaf sandcherry (top left) starts to bloom as the flowers fall off the forsythia (mostly cropped out of the right). I spent part of the day yesterday pruning the forsythia back. I went a little harder on one side than I had originally intended and I hope it comes back.

These green and white tulips appeared this past week. We can't remember whether they came with the house or if we planted them last year. We definitely need to plant some tulips in the back and some pink and purple ones in the front.

white and green tulip

Wifey Wifey loves lilies and she came home with these a few weeks ago. They're fire red and light up the garden. They also have a light, lovely fragrance.


Our house was without a lilac bush and the lilac evokes spring as a child for me. This was added to the garden last spring. I brought home a Charles Joly lilac, instead of the dwarf Korean as intended. On the label, I was attracted to the deep-wine burgundy blooms. Two years in a row, I've gotten a light purple. The smell is wonderful, and I do enjoy it, but I do wonder what it is.

scent of lilac

These are the lovely fragrant jonquil daffodils.

I read somewhere that inter-planting daffodils and blue grape hyacinths was a complimentary colour pairing. So I tried it. It does photograph well, I just don't like it all that much in the garden. Perhaps it will need to be moved to a new home.

scented daffodils

Last, but not least, these marmalade coral bells are a thing of wonder. I love the way they catch the light and change in the light. They seem to dance.

coral bells

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Gardeners, plant and nature lovers can join in Green Thumb Sunday every week. Visit As the Garden Grows for more information.

11 May 2008

Green Thumb Sunday - For Mothers

It turns out one of the reasons Wifey was inclined to agree to the purchase of our sinking-money-pit house with too much garden for non-gardeners was the bird bath on the front lawn. Only when we took possession of the house and moved in, the previous owners had taken the bird bath with them.

We've now become gardeners over the past two years and Wifey has talked a lot about the missing bird bath. The stone where it sat surrounded by sedum has remained firmly planted, yet empty, in the front garden. This Mother's Day we treated ourselves to a short road trip to K & B Concrete Lawn Ornaments and came home with this.

bird bath

Not much to report on the new blooming front. There's lots preparing to bloom, but not quite there yet. New this week, is the bleeding heart.

bleeding heart

And, the trilliums. Only one of three has yet to appear in this part of the garden. Five more on the other side have just broken through the hard crust of the soil. This one has been putting on a solid show for about two weeks. I'm also happy that we inherited these trilliums with the house as the $9.99/root cost a the garden centre for this native plant gave me temporary sticker shock.


Over in the veggie garden, the peas have started to sprout.


green thumb sunday

Gardeners, plant and nature lovers can join in Green Thumb Sunday every week. Visit As the Garden Grows for more information.

06 May 2008

Notes on Parenting

Tonight, my friend called and asked how things were going with the kids. While this was one of the first undisturbed phone conversations I've ever had with anyone (you know this all too well - your family ignores you for hours on end and as soon as the phone rings and you're conversing with someone everyone suddenly desperately needs to talk to you or you become more popular than ever imagined), it wasn't quite private and I couldn't get into all of the trials and tribulations of being a Mom to Bella and Bubaloo.

Wifey is away on business. That means I'm solo parenting. She's been travelling a lot in the past few months and now I'm beginning to dread her departures because all of the intense emotions come out to play when she leaves town. It's like how the wheels on your shopping cart freeze and you get thrown backward with quite some force just as you're trying to push the cart ahead. Totally unexpected. Throws you off. And, it takes a bit of time to figure out what is wrong.

Bubaloo's has some significant meltdowns which after hours of negotiation and talking can be boiled down to one single, heart-wrenching question - "Why couldn't my birth mom get the money to keep me?"

He knows that Wifey and I both have jobs, and it seems quite easy, he just doesn't understand why if a person we claims loves him so much wasn't able to do such a simple thing as getting a job that paid enough money so he could have a warm place to sleep at night and food other than cereal and peanut butter sandwiches. Actually, given that he doesn't quite grasp accountability and responsibility, he doesn't really get why there wasn't a job that paid enough ready and waiting for his birth mom to fill, but that's a whole different issue.

Poverty and addiction are complex issues. Putting them into 10-year-old speak, what to say and not to say, isn't really the part of parenting I enjoy.

Bella's spending a lot of time not acknowledging how she really feels that her classmates don't like her. Given some of her well developed control issues, a penchant for being bossy and a love of tattle telling, it's not surprising that peer relationships aren't quite her forte.

While her brother was in meltdown mode in his bedroom, she sat at the dinner table and denied that it had any impact on her. When we finally got to the point where she could admit that it hurt, why she liked to be overly bossy and tattle tell, and perhaps other ways that could make her a better friend, we got somewhere. She spent some tearful time on my lap.

I'd been home from work for less than an hour, had somehow managed to get a meal on the table, and had yet to recover from my day at work before I have to be a full on solo parent.

These were the things I didn't get to tell my friend today.

Instead, what I got to tell her about was the 'why questions' I used to ask my children to understand, and why I've given up on asking why. I no longer ask why because I never get an answer that makes any rational sense.

The responses I get to 'why questions' don't make sense to me. It surely doesn't make sense to me as it's getting explained in the present moment. I'm not even sure it made sense at the time. But someone, at some time, must of thought it made sense because they chose to do it anyway.

I'd like to ask why, but I know better not to, how the new coffee table that's part of the backyard furniture set got caked with mud and dirt. All of the furniture is under a covered patio, so I know it didn't fall from the sky. The coffee table itself is a good 5-7 feet from the garden, and it's behind a low rock wall, so I know the wind didn't pick up some loose dirt and drop it on the table. I don't really know what kind of art one would do with mud that would involve it being caked and pressed into the wicker. I'm not sure what kind of experiment could be conducted with mud that would explode and cover a table with mud.

I'd like to ask why. But I know better not to.

I'd also like to ask why if one were to do something that would so obviously not be okay, why one wouldn't be industrious enough to try to cover their tracks - at least a little bit - in the first place. Does anyone really think I'm going to question the WHO in this situation?

I'd like to ask why, but I know better not to, what one thought would happen when slime thrown 10ft into the air hit the ceiling? What about experimenting with something easy to reach like the floor or the walls, or better yet, what about OUTSIDE on the driveway (wait, I know why outside wouldn't be good - the slime would get dirty). I'd like to know who thought mass producing slime in a can to market to children was a good idea in the first place. I'd like to know which parent (ahem, it wasn't me) bought the slime into the house to begin with. And, I'd like to know how the slime got out of the garbage can when the parent who neither brought it into the house nor wanted it in the house disposed of the toxic green goo.

I'd like to ask why. And, I'd like a better answer than, "I wanted to see what would happen." I'd also like someone to haul the ladder out of the garage, climb up it, wipe the slime off of the ceiling and then repaint it when it stains like I'm sure it has.

I was really getting into all of the wonders of the kid-brain when I was forced to end my phone conversation prematurely. I couldn't hear her over the barking dog who was sitting at the side door whining to go out. He was letting the whole house know that he had to pee.

Which led to my newest discovery that I'm the only person in my family who knows how to open a door.

27 April 2008

Green Thumb Sunday - Spring is Possibly Here

My body knows it's spring when I turn down the street heading towards home and I can see the yellow of the forsythia blooms. The forsythia, and this particular one, is perhaps my favourite spring shrub. Maybe because it's usually the only thing in bloom in my garden at this time. I love the way it seems to glow at night under street light. I love the way it looks at dusk after it rains.


Soon after the forsythia bloomed this week, the first batch of daffodils bloomed. These are my first daffodils ever. I can't even remember what kind they are, but I purchased a bunch in the fall. I'm enjoying them so much that I've made a mental note to ensure that more daffodils are on my fall purchase list.


And this is what the daffodils look like up close. Flecked with dirt.

daffodil up close

The first tulip of the year to bloom were these lovely red ones with great foliage. I have no idea what these are as we inherited them with the house.


The biggest disappointment of the year goes to the rock garden tulip - Tulipa violacea 'Pallida' - which was supposed to look like this. I splurged on three bulbs in the fall because these were supposed to be white tulips with blue centres. Only one has come up thus far and imagine my surprise/horror when the leaves unfurled this afternoon to reveal a yellow centre. I don't imagine the yellow will turn to blue. Right now, I just feel ripped off.

rock garden tulip

In the veggie garden, I have my very first shoot. Only peas and spinach are planted outside in the side garden right now. And, here is the spinach.


You have to love that tax refund season coincides with the start of gardening season.

We were at Home Depot last weekend to purchase the hedge pruners and a new composter. On a whim, we took a rest in a outdoor furniture set. Wifey was smitten.

To make sure she was truly in love, I made the whole family drive from store to store to try out and assess the style and comfort of various patio furniture. The winner was the first set we sat in and we welcomed it home this weekend. The only draw back was my naivety that this wouldn't have to be assembled with an allen key. But, it's together now and with all the crap hanging out back there it looks as if it has been ours for many a summer.

outdoor furniture

That funny paper lantern like thing to the upper left of the photo is a faux wasp nest. We've had really bad issues the past two summers, and in Wifey's course of research, this is supposed to fool the wasps into thinking other wasps have already built a nest in that particular place. I suppose it's better then Wifey running around the yard armed with the can of raid as she chases wasps around.

green thumb sunday

Gardeners, plant and nature lovers can join in Green Thumb Sunday every week. Visit As the Garden Grows for more information.

20 April 2008

Green Thumb Sunday

I finally decided to do it. I've joined Green Thumb Sunday as my obsession with working the soil is at an all time high this year.

As the sun kicked into high gear, the snow rapidly melted. The first bloom of the year goes to a little white crocus. It appeared this past Thursday.

crocus #1

As a joint Christmas gift, Wifey and I had Santa Claus (who we actually call Mommy Claus in our house) put a Nikon D40 under our tree. We purchased the lens the white crocus photo from a friend - I believe it's a macro lens. It takes pictures really close. The only problem is around the fact that you have to manually focus. You actually can only use manual focus. And, I've never been able to focus a camera.

Although, I have to say when I was with a photographer on a shoot for work a month ago and I was talking her through my issue she noted that it's nearly impossible to manually focus with a digital SLR. Thank made me feel a little bit better.

On to the only other thing blooming in our garden. More crocuses. Only these ones are purple.

purple crocuses

The unseasonably warm weather has given us a huge start on garden clean up. The front garden is raked and cut back. I purchased a hedge trimmer on Friday and cut the cedar hedges - when I wasn't looking, Wifey went and cut them again to "fix" my attempt.

We cleared out more junk left by the previous home owners.

And, my little man helped me dig in some organics to one of the raised beds and helped to install a trellis in preparation for the forthcoming sowing of peas.

little garden helper

You can see the butchered hedges in the background.

Today, it's off to fix the composting situation, perhaps purchase some comfy patio furniture and bikes for the kids.

green thumb sunday

14 April 2008

Career Change #1

I read somewhere, some time ago, that one can now expect to experience 7 or 8 different careers in a single lifetime.

I've been in marketing and communications for nearly 8 years. For most of those years, I've somehow managed to work at the manager/director level.

I suppose that happens when you work in small-ish non-profits where you can easily expect to post the director title on your nameplate or email signature because you're the expert in the organization. Mostly you become the expert not because of this experience you've managed to amass over a number of years in your profession, but because you are the only person with any iota of knowledge on staff. You often work on a team of one, this one does include yourself, and there's no one to challenge your self-proclaimed expertness.

All of this to say, is that I'm thinking I might be due for a career shift.

One of my longtime dreams has been to work as an executive director of a small, non-profit organization. My organization of choice would be this one or this one. I'd even consider working for this one (which just posted for an ED but with the current family situation I felt I couldn't give it what it would need, so I opted not to apply), this one or this one (but who knows what I could ever do here).

I've been thinking that I'd like to work in camping. I could work here or here, but neither of these are based in Ottawa. I don't really think I'd like to work at the direct service delivery level. But I enjoy supervising staff and ensuring that the resources and systems to run and support the organization are in place.

Given my new interest in gardening, I'd love to work somewhere where I could acquire new knowledge like a sponge. I was thinking something like a gig at a garden centre or landscape company. Only, I don't think I'd be so good at the manual labour side of things. I'm good at coordinating and planning. I'd be good at cultivating customer relationships. And, I'm good at project management.

There's just so much that I'd like to do, I just don't know what it is that I want to do. All of these decisions need to keep in mind that I can't earn less than I earn right now - and now, I'm more underpaid than I've ever been.

I'm just tired of facing the same battles wherever I go.

It's exhausting having to create an argument and buy-in about why branding is important. I work in organizations with cultures that revolve around leaving everything till the last possible minute to get done. I hate that everyone thinks that the marketing cure-all is to simply create poster or that marketing begins one week before you launch a new program. I hate that no one realizes the amount of time it takes to craft text or design a project. The amount of review and revision that has to take place for 1 page to 20 page documents. I hate that I have to write/re-write everything produced. I hate that we never get past the we-have-to-market-right-now-or-it-will-all-be-over mentality that we never get to planning, strategic initiatives or simple communications with our members or staff. I hate that if no one can figure out where responsibility should go in the organization than it must be a marketing issue - from uniforms and signage to office supplies and mail.

Work makes me grumpy.

But most of all, I don't love it anymore. And that is a sign that I should start thinking about career #2. Suggestions? What would you do if you got to choose another career?

07 April 2008

Throwing Resolutions Out the Window

Nearly three and a half months ago I made a resolution. This is a resolution I made around the same time that the majority of humankind, or at least cultural artifacts like blogs and newspapers would have you believe that this is so, make personal pledges for the forthcoming year.

The year started off promising on certain fronts. One of those fronts where I didn’t quite achieve success was on the blog resolution. I had whole-heartedly resolved to blog at least once a week. Every Sunday night. I idealized the thought of curling up in our bed with a cup of tea, the laptop and just making some mundane event of my week amusing through words.

Well, the first week passed and I missed my Sunday writing window. I probably had a good reason that I could rationalize back then. Something like the first Sunday of the first complete week of the New Year would be when this commitment would begin. Then the second Sunday went by and I still hadn’t written anything. I probably came up with a pretty good reason as to why I couldn’t keep my resolution that week either. Then the third, fourth, fifth and so on Sundays went by.

A whole lot of Sundays, with no action, just left me feeling a little disenfranchised. And guilty. I like goals, because I like to achieve them. I don’t take them lightly. And, I’ve really not done so well on this one.

But, who cares? This is a blog after all. It’s not supposed to be a chore. It’s supposed to bring pleasure. I’ve forgiven myself and will be back to writing in keeping to whatever irregular schedule I should choose not to schedule. Things are much simpler that way. Write on impulse.

Life has been a little bit overwhelming. From Bubaloo painting the principal’s office with Elmer’s glue, to having Wifey need to put on my pants because I threw my back out, to the school suspensions, the over-the-top acting out, the loss of after school care, a car accident, the adoption finalization, discovering you don’t really like your children, to the mess of work, social workers judging your parenting skills, to it all. Life hasn’t been easy. It’s been a struggle. And, I’ve spent much of the last two months wondering what the hell I’d gotten myself into by becoming the adoptive mother of two children.

I felt trapped in the obligations of being a parent. Trapped in the obligation of having to pay a mortgage. Trapped in the need to have a job to pay the mortgage and put food on the table. Trapped in a job that’s not the job I initially signed up for. Trapped in the trappings of adulthood. Trapped in the life I created for myself. Trapped in the life I created with Wifey for the two of us.

Now, in this moment, I don’t feel so trapped. A little perspective shift reveals that these aren’t my burdens. They’re my gifts. I choose not to spend my time dwelling in the “what if” hypotheticals of different choices, as these are the choices I made, and will make peace with that.