Monthly Archives: June 2013

Twelve — This time For Real!

Tonight was Eli’s preschool commencement ceremony. He and Arlo decided a while back they were both wearing shirts and ties and have been practising wearing their nice clothes around the house, which resulted in many hilarious shots of dirty children in mis-buttoned white dress shirts and clip-on ties lounging on the couch watching Spongebob. Kind of like a flash forward to their eventual frat house.

So tonight was the night! Eli came downstairs in his graduation outfit: cleanish blue pants, socks, white shirt and burgundy tie with white polka dots. “Nice outfit,” I said. “Yes!” he said, “It’s my graduation! I’m going to DO IT this time!”

Note: he has not tried to graduate before.

First we saw a slideshow set to music. The mere idea of the slideshow set to music reduces me to a snivelling mess so it’s a good thing I was in the front row and no one but SA on my right and my dad on my left could see my glassy eyes.

Then the children came out and sang a selection of songs. Eli was in the front and sang and performed beautifully. Not surprising. At the end, after each child received a diploma, the MC said a few words about how wonderful the teachers are (they really are) and how much support they give to the “little ones.” Eli’s pal in the back row said something and then I heard Eli say, “YEAH. WE’RE NOT LITTLE.” And he shook his fist. There was almost an on-stage revolt, but the teachers got it all calmed down. Still, if you need a charismatic child for your protest rally, I can hook you up.

Last, of course, there was cake.

"I want my cupcake, where is my cupcake, you can take my picture if you give me my cupcake."

“I want my cupcake, where is my cupcake, you can take my picture if you give me my cupcake.”

Eleven — Market

Today was the first day of the New Westminster Summer Farmers Market. We have been going to this market for years, I want to say four years, but I would have to really think about it. Anyway. It is in the parking lot behind City Hall, Thursdays between 3 and 7 pm and there are several traditions involved:

1. Kettle corn must be purchased
2. and immediately consumed.
3. Sometimes lemonade too.
4. Face painting?
5. Buy stuff, run into people we know, play in the trees, use the port-o-let, go home.

I used to try and put the kids off from eating the kettle corn first — oh hey, let’s choose some strawberries! And check out the fiddler! — all the while they’d be somewhere behind me, tearing the bag open, refusing to share it, yelling at each other, being annoying. This year I gave it up. Here is your giant bag of kettle corn, go sit under that tree, I’m going shopping.

Today they were so stunned by my about-face, they sat quietly and didn’t even ask about lemonade. So I rewarded them with chocolate cats. “Are these handmade?” asked Arlo. “Yes,” I replied. Soon he will be ready for Portlandia.

They didn’t ask about face paint either, which is kind of happy and kind of sad. Sad, because now they’re old and face paint is done. Well, technically, Eli has never asked about face paint, but Arlo always does. It’s his First Market Day Tradition and he forgot. Sunrise, sunset.

Happy: because I didn’t have to wait in line for face paint and because I could spend the money I would have spent on face paint on strawberries, radishes, and perogies.

Sadly, we were there too early to see anyone we knew. Then Arlo climbed a tree, so far up “I can see the top of the telephone pole!” and then he used the port-o-let and it was pronounced The Most Roomiest Port-o-let Ever. I told him we’d send a card to the RCFM and let them know.

It gave me a funny feeling in my stomach.

It gave me a funny feeling in my stomach.

And then we went home.

Ten — You Have to Cover Your Butt with Something

Summer has sort of arrived and I have Pants Issues.

In warm weather, I like short pants. Not shorts, never shorts unless I am running recreationally. And not SKORTS because I just have a thing against skorts. I trace it back to my adolescence when I was shopping for a cute skirt and all the skirts I thought were cute actually had shorts attached. It was the betrayal that stayed with me, not any actual objection to skorts, per se.

Well except for the word SKORT, which I hate.

Skirts are OK, but I don’t feel I have the right blend of semi-dressy-casual shirts to go with skirts. A skirt feels dressier than pants, it just does. It feels like it would necessitate a lifestyle change. I would love the perfect casual skirt that I could wear with my assortment of knit, various coloured, v-neck t-shirts. Anyone have one?

Which leads us to pants, my summer bottom covering of choice. I used to have linen capri pants and I loved them and they’re gone. LETTING IT GO. Recent years have found me in an assortment of light cotton beige pants and last year I decided I will no longer be buying beige pants because they match my skin and that freaks me out when I look at myself in a full length mirror.

After some browsing, last year I bought a pair of grey, cotton capris at MEC and they were awesome — an investment at $40 but I do tend to keep pants for years and years if I love them — and I was happy to find them in the summer box this year and happy to wear them, exactly twice, before they got washed with lip balm or something oily and now they have a giant oily patch on the left front pocket. It looks like I peed on myself, basically. So even though I Shopped for Pants just last summer, now I have to do it again (although a friend tells me I can get an oil stain out of cotton by rubbing eucalyptus into it? I will try this) and lo, I am cranky.

The other day I stopped at Reitmans (apostrophe? No apostrophe? Don’t care enough to google) and tried on what I thought were going to be the perfect blue plaid pants — oh, I am such a sucker for plaid. I tried one size and it felt too big but the smaller size felt too small so I went with the bigger.

I bought them, yes I did, and when I got them home, realized that they are just too big. I look like a clown in them. Reitmans just always seems like a good idea and then it isn’t; the pants I like have no pockets and the sizing is messed up. I should just not go in there. But now I have to go back and return the pants.

Meanwhile it’s HOT out and #whine.

Pants, man. Pants.


(I don’t remember when I first knew I loved the number nine but I think it was in elementary school. Even now, seeing the word “nine” makes me happy.)

The weather is splendid and SA and I sat out on our porch this evening and talked like people do. We live in a townhouse, with a ‘privacy hedge’ that might sometimes feel too thin but tonight it was just right. The clouds looked like 6-packs of abs, do you know those clouds? Rippled? And it was cool outside, cooler than inside, but now it’s nicer inside than out.

There is a lot to be said for partnering with someone who has the opposite modus operandi than you. I explained to SA tonight how I realized recently that one of the keys to our successful (12 years!) relationship is: he is a problem-solver and I am a problem-preventer. At first he didn’t believe me and then I explained it some more, with different metaphors and examples, and then he believed me. Then he said “it must be hard for you.” “No harder than it is for you,” I said.

Seeing someone else’s world view is always hard. Being in a long-term relationship means accepting someone as he is, accepting that you are different from him, and accepting that the two of you together make an engine. One part gasoline, one part spark.*

*no science involved in this post.

Eight — A Place I Don’t Need to Go Again.

From an e-mail I received today:

“There is no better time time to book your Mackinaw City vacation at AAA’s highest rated properties at great discounted early bird rates. These prices will not stay like this for long so be sure to book your reservations now to enjoy these special savings! We guaranteee the lowest rates on the internet for Mackinaw City Hotels!”

Last summer when we were in Ontario for three weeks, SA and I decided to leave the children with their grandparents and travel to Mackinaw City, MI, for some Adult R&R. We reserved a room at the Travelodge and refused to be saddened by the cheaper and dirtier than usual bedspread, the stains on the wall and carpet, the lack of (advertised!) wi-fi, and the proximity of the balcony to the next room’s balcony. (hint: it was about from heretohere.)

We put on clean clothes and walked down to downtown Mackinaw City, drank some cheap American beer and ate four pounds of fish and chips even though we ordered a plate to share (if you order a plate to share, they give you a ‘bit extra’ and charge you $2 for sharing it, resulting in still nearly a pound of fish and chips between us OHMIGOD I WASN’T THAT HUNGRY THAT’S WHY I ORDERED ONE PLATE NOT TWO JESUS) and walked around looking at the tourists who went into the t-shirt shops, bought shirts that said “Mackinaw City: Where Bros Go To Get it ON” and then wore them around the city while they looked for fudge.

And on the topic of fudge, of course we promised to bring the kids some, it was the only way we could convince them that their grandparents would NOT kill them in their sleep if we went away for two days — hey, they are fine grandparents, but apparently the kids are attached to us, whatevs — so on our second day away we went first to Fudge Brothers or suchlike, for a 1/4 lb of fudge and then to a Candy And Fudge Emporium Extraordinaire Est. 1921 where I tried to buy a bag of candy corn from a salesgirl who was a) from an Eastern European country and b) worked on commission.

Salesgirl: HI!
Me: Hi, I would like just a small bag of…
Salesgirl: Two bags for $5! Three bags for $7!
Me: No, that’s OK, I just want one small–
Salesgirl: Ohhhhh, NOBODY buys small bag. Everyone gets big bag! Big bag is $10, or two for $15!
Me: I just have two kids. Two small kids. I only need a small bag of candy corn.
Salesgirl: I don’t sell ANY small bags. All day. No small bags.
Me: Well, I want this one.
Salesgirl: Fine. $3.
Me: Here you go!
Salesgirl: Fine.
Me: Thanks a lot!
Salesgirl: Fine.

The kids ate two bites of fudge, half the candy corn, and forgot about the rest.

So no, Tourism Michigan, we have no need of Mackinaw City this year.

Although I just remembered the $30 gummy bear the size of an actual bear. I might need to go back for that, someday.

My feet, straining to be free of their Travelodge prison; Mackinaw City, MI, 2012

My feet, straining to be free of their Travelodge prison; Mackinac City, MI, 2012

Seven — And Counting

It became clear to me when I looked over the past few days’ posts that I can’t count properly or use consistent spelling (numerals or words? PICK ONE) and should be shut out of the Internet entirely. Post 4 was titled with a 3. Post 6 was titled with a 7. This post, which is number 7, is titled Seven. Onward!


From age six to seven, Arlo has seemed mentally scatterbrained, like a squirrel chasing many different sorts of nut. He’s been pulled in many simultaneous directions; to anger, hysteria, meanness, sweetness. Sometimes all in an hour. In this way, six has not been very different from four or five, as ages go.

In the last month, though, I’ve noticed a change. He is focused now, but not on anything I can see. He seems perpetually like he’s coming down with a cold; unsmiling, staring off into space. I have been asking him if he’s OK, if everything is all right, apparently too much because he’s got a new habit of prefacing his statements with “everything is fine…”

Don’t panic. MOM.

There is a series of books about child development, year by year, by Drs. Ames and Ilg of the Gesell Institute. Each book has its own compelling title, like “Your Three Year Old: Friend or Enemy,” and contains plenty of comforting statements like “three year olds are the devil…they just are…don’t sweat it” (not an actual quotation) or “the average four year old wants to karate chop the universe six times per hour” (ditto).

I love these books so. I recommend them to people all the time. I read Your Two Year Old, Three Year Old, Four Year old and Five Year Old but recently realized that I skipped Six and now am approaching Seven, the title of which is “Your Seven-Year-Old: Life in a Minor Key.”

All I needed to see was the title and this:

“Your Seven-Year-Old is devoted to the delightful but often anxious and withdrawn child of Seven. Although any seven-year-old will have moments of exuberance, security, and happiness, in general this is an age of introspection. As it begins, parents and teachers may welcome the quiet after the tussles and tangles of Six. But once the child of Seven starts to withdraw it’s almost as though he doesn’t know where or when to stop.”

and I got it, bing, like a small, sharp rock to the forehead. It’s not that Arlo feels physically out of sorts, it’s that his emotional sands are shifting.

We went for a walk through the neighbourhood today, just the two of us, hand in hand, not talking about much. I developed a habit of talking a lot to my children when they were babies because it’s good for them (and they were my only company for a while) — and now I have to learn to shut up. I have no problem doing this with adults, letting there be silences and spaces in the conversation, but it’s hard to do with my kids. I want to know so much about them. I used to be their only theatre. The original TV.

I need to work on it, to let those spaces in the conversation go, let them expand like lungs full of breath. I’m trying. Be cool. Everything is fine.

7 Thoughts on June 1st *

I had forgotten how bad the song “My Humps” by the Black Eyed Peas is. It’s like a car crash in your Chardonnay. In the past year I’ve only been paying attention to Jeff Tweedy’s (of Wilco) renditions of BEP and I think I will go back to that existence because it’s way funnier. Here, go see it. Don’t watch the original afterwards. It will just make you sad for humanity all over again.

I feel this overwhelming solidarity whenever I see another woman my age with grey hair. I want to go fist-bump-five her.

We went to a parade today and it occurred to me that parades are like a very passive Halloween. Kids sit and watch people go by and some people come over and hand the kids candy. In Ontario, Arlo is quick to point out, they THROW candy at you. (we went to a tractor parade on his birthday in Ontario last year)(and it’s true. They did throw candy.) I guess this relates to the softness of the west coast in general.

June 1st is the beginning of the last month of school. Here is a funny post about that. Which you have probably already seen because it’s had 4,000 likes on facebook already.

It being June 1st also means Arlo’s 7th birthday is one month away. I want to embrace the idea of planning his birthday party and have it be the challenge mountain I overcome / climb for the month of June but I think it will probably end up more like me lying at the bottom of said challenge mountain in a pile of poison ivy, weeping. Metaphorically speaking.

I used to be ashamed of myself for going to bed so early. But now I just shrug because I love sleep and sleep loves me and we are going to be together forever and you can’t break us up, no never.

Today I found myself critiquing the parade we went to, compared to the parade we attended last weekend. This is the new thing I’m ashamed of myself about.

*edited to add that of course this is only post number 6 / 100 and I am so tired I titled it with a 7 by mistake.


Today Arlo had a friend come over after school, a nice kid that comes over a lot. First they all played outside because it was sunny, then they were inside, then outside again. And through it all: BICKERING. YELLING. CRYING. Someone’s feelings were hurt and then it was PAYBACK TIME and then the PAYBACK made the other kid’s feelings hurt and it was not at all manageable by them (sometimes it is!) so I had to keep stepping in. At first I was good.

“Sounds like you’re having some trouble,” I said calmly. I like to channel Clippy in these situations. How would CLIPPY phrase this, if god forbid he could talk. “Is there something I can help with?”
“Maybe it would help if you sat over there for a few minutes until you feel better.”

After continuous repetitions of this, there was a turning point. I went around the corner from good to slightly bad.

“You guys are too loud. TOO LOUD. Too loud. Stop it or you have to come inside.”
“I don’t care. I already warned you. I can hear you from inside the house and that’s too loud.”

After a while, the friend went home and it was just me and my kids again and we came inside to find it was 5:22 — the time of day when I make dinner and they watch some TV or have computer time.

“Are you going to be using your computer?” Arlo asked very politely. Sometimes if I am cooking something complicated (at the moment I am sauteeing onions, so can use my computer at the same time) (and drink a beer), I let them have computer time on my laptop.

“Yes,”I said. “I am.”

He sighed. He huffed.

“Why do you ALWAYS use your computer,” he said.

“Because it’s mine,” I answered. I looked down at the sidewalk and saw that the berries and leaves they had picked and scattered, which I had asked them first not to do and then to clean up, were still scattered all over the sidewalk.

“But why can’t you use it other times?” he said, “Like when Eli is at school?”

Oh! You mean the 2.5 hours, three times a week that I spend either cleaning, shopping or occasionally running? Sometimes all THREE? F WORD YOU, KID.

I did not say that. I took a deep breath and had a 50s housewife moment.

“I make your food,” I said, “I wash your clothes. I BUY your clothes. I clean up after you, I harass you to clean up after yourself, I read you stories, I take you places, I entertain and discipline your friends, I explain things to you all day long, I buy groceries, I plan meals, I wash dishes, I take down garbage, I remember the crackers your friend likes and buy them if I know he is coming over, I give you treats, I let you watch TV even when you’re nasty to me and it’s MY COMPUTER SO I GET TO USE IT WHENEVER I WANT.”

I could have gone all the way back to pushing him out of my vaginal canal but I might save that one for a rainy day. There’s bound to be a rainy day.