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.