Monthly Archives: August 2013


Summer is ovvvvvver guys, over. OVER. This is it. School kind of* starts on Tuesday.



* Tuesday is a 45 minute day and Eli doesn’t start at all until September 9th

To celebrate, today we did many fun things: we spent the whole day with two of Arlo and Eli’s closest friends, went swimming (indoors, because it was cold and rainy), had Happy Meals at the World’s Loudest McDonald’s, Eli ate his first tooth, and then we played in the playground.

Swimming was great! The kids practised jumping off the diving board and I got stuck in the pool.

My wrist has been sore if I try to put my weight on my hand. I forgot this and tried to climb out of the pool by pushing myself out on my hands? You know how you do? Hands on the pool deck and .. push yourself out? Except then my wrist gave out and to compensate I twisted my hip or something and gave myself a weird thigh cramp. So there I was, helplessly hanging on to the edge of the pool, unable to climb out, going “ow, ow, ow” while my kid is applying a life jacket and preparing to dive in. This toddler girl was on the ladder and I needed the ladder and she stared at me while I said “ow ow ow” and of course this paralyzed her so she wouldn’t move and I couldn’t get out until she moved but she was scared to move.

This is the good wrist, but it looks much like the bad one.

This is the good wrist, but it looks much like the bad one.

Spoiler: I got out of the pool.

The World’s Loudest McDonald’s was one of those ones where there’s an indoor playground but it’s in a room and people eat in the room with the playground and there were children screaming, like, the kind of screaming where you turn around with your eyes all wild, looking for the person who made THAT NOISE so you can pull out their tongue and barbecue it while they watch. When we entered the room, a man who was leaving muttered, “NOW you’re in for it,” at me, so that was accurate foreshadowing.

Arlo + hexbug on his eye.

Arlo + hexbug on his eye.

While we were eating, Eli mentioned that he’d bit his tooth and it really hurt. I thought nothing of it, this is after all a child who once described the symptoms of hand, foot and mouth virus as “my throat intestines hurt.” Shortly before he wanted to go join the screaming screamathon in the scream pit, I noticed a giant bloody hole in his mouth and yes, he had in fact lost and eaten his first tooth.

"My mouth feels weird."

“My mouth feels weird.”

The weird thing is that even though he’s five and a half (roughly) and the same age Arlo was when he lost his first tooth, Eli is totally NOT OLD ENOUGH to lose a tooth. Nuh uh.

There was not enough playing and way too much screaming so we left the WLMcD’s and went to the school playground by our house, where the children started to show signs of exhaustion but continued to run around some and then at 4 pm we came home.

I am so tired. But in the best way. Good summer, y’all.

End of summer portrait, boys having traded clothes.

End of summer portrait, boys having traded clothes.

Seventy-Three — Two Very Bad Songs of Summer (And One Good)

This summer has had a third theme: pop music.

The children have become addicted to the local hit station, Sonic Hits. All today’s hits, all the time. You know this station, even if not biblically. It plays the same fourteen songs all day every day and there is a morning show with features like “I read it on the Internet!” and “celebrity babies are so cute!”

I like pop music. I have liked it since I was a kid and listened to LG73 (Morning show: The LG Morning Zoo!). I won’t get into a dissertation on Today’s Pop Hits and How Shitty They Are because do you remember the Payolas? Falco? but there are some recent Pop Hits that when they come on the radio in the car I stab at the preset buttons so fast my finger goes right through the dashboard and I burn myself on the engine and it’s WORTH IT because I just can’t hear [that piece of poo] one more time.

They’re not the songs you think, though! I mean, yes I am not a fan of Blurred Lines though I acknowledge how catchy the tune, and yes, the Miley Cyrus song was very puzzling because I had no idea who it was singing it and was sure I had to be wrong when I heard the DJ say Miley Cyrus and then I looked up the video for the song, like an idiot, and now I’m blind (touch typing for the winnnnnz!).

But! My least favourite pop song of the summer is actually The Other Side by Jason Derulo.

The Other Side is a really embarrassing song about a guy and a girl who are friends and he wants something more and so does she. The song takes place on their SEX DATE WHEN THE SEX IS GOING TO HAPPEN. Right there. We’re right there with Jason and his date, as he gives her the step by step:

1. We’ll just get drunk. Disturb the peace (for the longest, I thought that line was “disrupt the bass”)
2. You’ll run your hands all over me
3. And then you’ll bite your lip, whisper and say, “we’re going all the way.”
4. Tonight! Kiss me like it’s do or die! Sparks fly like the fourth of July! I see that sexy look in your eye! Take me to the OTHER SIDE!

Fine. It’s a fine sentiment, I guess. But he’s got this crazy falsetto and he’s just so damned excited about this date and the sex he’s going to be having REAL SOON NOW and listening to him trill up the scale and down again makes me just want to take him aside (not to “the other side,” but aside) and say, “Jason. Be cool. You’re going to scare her.” Like, how long has it BEEN, Jason? I’m thinking years.

Also, the following line: “I know you’re nervous / so just sit back and let me drive”? Ick, and reminds me of my least favourite song of the spring, which I thought was also by Jason Derulo but is in fact by Hedley. “Kiss You Inside Out.”

I became aware of this song when my kids were walking around on the playground saying “shut your mouth and close your eyes” and I thought, what a rude thing to say! and then I heard the song where the line came from. This one is less embarrassing and more about questionable seduction techniques. Observe:

I don’t know if you´re ready to go
Where I’m willing to take you girl
I will feel every inch of your skin
And you know I can rock your world
Imma be the calm in the storm you´re looking for
I’ll be the shipwreck that takes you down
I don´t mind if you lie in my bed
We can stay here forever now.

Ouuu oohhh
Turn off the lights
Take off your clothes
Turn on the stereo
Ouuu oohhh
Give up the fight
I´m in control
Why don´t you let it go.

Maybe I don’t WANT TO let it go, Mr. Hedley, Sirs. Maybe you referring to yourself as a shipwreck is all the information I need to make my decision re: doing you, which is NO, which means NO by the way.

On the bright side, listening to bad pop music in the car means lots of great conversations with the kids about sex, partying, and consent. Talk early, talk frankly, talk often, right? And as a bonus, because so much of today’s pop music is total shite, when you hear a good song it’s REALLY GOOD.

Seventy-Two — Please Don’t Make This Blog Into a Film

This summer has had a couple of themes. Swimming was one theme. You might have noticed it? Let us not talk about swimming again until next year. Amen.

Another theme has been Diary of a Wimpy Kid. These books, which are written in diary style and comic font and have lots of pictures, have completely consumed my kids for months. Arlo was bringing them home from the school library last year, but not really reading them, but this summer he started really reading them. Like, fast. Like, we were at the public library every few days picking up another one in the series. Then he started over again with the first one.

Of course if one child has [anything] the other child has to have one too, which is why we’ve had two library copies of every Wimpy Kid book in the series kicking around the house all summer long. Ask me about my fines!

We still read to the kids, of course, even though they can read to themselves just fine, so bedtime or chilling out time means I get to hear Diary read out loud, or read it myself. It’s not my favourite book, but it makes Saint Aardvark laugh for real sometimes so he gets to read it, if at all possible.*

And then the kids re-discovered that there are three Wimpy Kid movies on Netflix so one of those movies has been in constant play during screen time for a week now and I’m getting to that saturation point I remember so fondly from their toddler days, when I would find myself analyzing the motivation of the blue Wiggle or the psychological makeup of Caillou.

To that end, the things I have observed this summer about the Wimpy Kid and the reason I will not be sad when we move on to a new obsession:

1. Greg Heffley (the Wimpy Kid whose diary we are reading) is a self-centred jerk and it’s amazing he has even one friend.
2. Everyone is EITHER mean OR gets made fun of.
3. Older brother (Roderick) is mean AND rude AND stupid (but I do love him in the films, he is adorable)
4. Adults are ALWAYS idiots.
5. Girls are EITHER horrible or unattainable goddesses.

Now, yes, I know, it’s not written for me any more than Pokemon and Beyblades were written for me. Broad brushes painting tired stereotypes are not the worst thing to find splashing around on your face, right? The series begins with Greg starting middle school — grade six — so I get that it’s reflecting a reality, that of the self-absorbed, insecure, cut-throat pre-teens and teens that populate such places. But is it really that bad? Or are we making it worse by creating this fictional reality for kids to find their reflections in?

You see what I mean about the analysis. Clearly it is time for summer vacation to end and for the real world of school to start up again. After repeated viewings of Diary I have to remind myself that my kids are only going into grade two and kindergarten, not middle school, and that they are not, overall, big jerks. And… breathe.

* He is, however, increasingly irritated by Eli making him start reading at the same place every night. Eli seems to love the first forty pages of the first book and SA just can’t seem to get past it. Poor guy. I’d offer to help, but I’m not going to.**

** THAT right there is Wimpy Kid behavior. Oh god. I’m going down with the ship.

Seventy-One — Shoes

Look at this shoe. Is it not the most adorable, bright, fun-looking shoe you have ever seen?

Bloo shoo.

Bloo shoo.

No, it’s not mine. It’s Arlo’s. THIS is my shoe:

"Does this shoe come in 'cute'?"

“Does this shoe come in ‘cute’?”

Maybe I like the blue ones so much because they are the size of my big toe? Anyway!

Traditionally I buy cheap runners for my kids. I don’t want to spend adult shoe prices for kids’ shoes, so I don’t. But they are getting bigger and more active and harder on their shoes. Now that I’m pondering spending cheap shoes x 3 per year maybe the good quality shoes are a better idea? Hm.

So today I bought the awesome running shoes for Arlo.

“I love them, but,” he said, “I don’t know how to tie laces.”

“That’s OK,” I said, “we have those curly no-tie lace thingees. And anyway, maybe it’s time you learned to tie laces?”

He looked skeptical.

When we got home I found the curly no-tie lace thingees and at great expense to my knuckles and fingertips, threaded one through the eyelets of the shoe. It looks awful; the laces are black and the shoes are neon. Just dumb. This is dumb, I thought. Everyone learns to tie a shoe some time. The entire world is not made of VELCRO. Why, back in my day you had to tie a shoe before you could start kindergarten! Dude is going into grade two!

Being a modern parent, I googled “teach kid tie shoe” and that’s how I came to “The Magic Fingers Technique.” Apparently it’s a way to learn to tie your shoes in FIVE MINUTES! Well! I thought. Here we go. Saaaaved by the Internet. I watched the video, a little six year old girl tying a shoe. I watched it all slowed down. I tried it. I totally failed to tie the shoelace.

What? The heck?

I watched the video again, paused it, went slow. Great news! I have a missing part of my brain. It’s the part that lets me interpret “put your thumb and first finger in front of lace.”

I tried it five times and it didn’t work. So I tried tying a shoelace very slowly, the regular loop, thread, pull way, just to make sure I can still do it, and I can. Whew. The plan now is to a) try it my way first and then b) show him the video and see if he perhaps has the part of my brain I am missing. It would explain a lot.

Do you have thoughts or tips on shoe tying? Are your kids eighteen years old and still have no idea how to tie? Or did you teach them at age 3? Let me know!

Seventy — On Teaching

As the second week of the second set of swimming lessons draws to a close, I’ve been paying attention to the way my kids learn with different teachers.

Arlo’s last session was taught by a young man. He was a great teacher; enthusiastic with high-fives, in control of his class, able to see one person’s progress even as he was facing a different direction helping another kid float. When Arlo got the same teacher for his next session, we were all happy. The next day we were sad because that teacher was very sick and couldn’t return to teaching. Arlo’s class got a female teacher. She is very nice and competent (and perky!) as well but a little out of her league with a class of five, four of whom are boys, one of whom likes to cannonball and another of whom swims sideways.

Seriously, this kid leaves the wall with the group every time and ends up at 90 degrees from where he started. Woe betide anyone who swims in a straight line near him because they are getting run. the hell. over.

Arlo’s progress has been pretty good, but not fantastic in this second session. That’s OK. He’s still swimming and it’s a great twenty-five minutes.

Also can I just say: it has rained ONCE in four weeks of outdoor swimming lessons, which is like some kind of west coast miracle.

Eli’s last session was taught by the perky young woman who is now Arlo’s teacher. He did not submerge and therefore he did not pass. This session, Eli’s teacher is a different young woman. (She has fluorescent orange fingernails. You can see them from twenty feet away.) Eli spent all last week not submerging and playing with a rubber duck. This week, a new teacher joined the old teacher (so now there is an amazing 1:1 ratio of student to teacher) and the new teacher is a guy. Eli loves this guy. I kind of do, too. Today, three days after being taught by this guy, Eli submerged. Repeatedly.

So “good” teachers are the right teachers for a kid at any given moment in that kid’s development and that’s both impossible to predict, I think, and should serve to take the pressure off teachers to be amazing, life-altering, etc. Swim or school or music teachers. Any kind. You teach to the best of your ability and kids learn to the best of their abilities and if you’re lucky you make a love connection and if not it’s just a meh sort of time and if you’re really incompatible, well, don’t worry, it’ll be over soon.

I’m holding tight to this feeling as we approach another elementary school year. I hear a lot from other worried parents about this teacher that teacher which teacher. I think I know which teacher would be right for Eli. But in three weeks he’ll be a different kid again and I might be totally wrong. Time to let Big School swoop him up, tuck him in its fragrant armpit and help him decide what and who he wants to become.

Relinquishing control to other teachers,* some of the time. That’s what it’s all about.

*unless they’re really awful.

Sixty-Nine — Next

Further to yesterday’s post about my state of decrepitude, I have sketched out a plan of action.

1. Eat all the pineapple. Body wisdom.

2. No more alcohol. Last night I did not have my customary evening glass of wine because I still felt nauseated and worn out. This morning I woke up feeling not only not-nauseated but very much like a merry ray of sunshine. Could the merry ray of sunshine be related to the lack of wine? Well, they do rhyme. Only one way to find out.

If I’m going to stop drinking alcohol I will need to do it entirely. I recently implemented weekday limits of one glass of wine because if I have two glasses it will sometimes lead to three and three is too many for a weeknight. But even with the one glass maximum last week I was feeling crummy in the morning. I don’t want to feel crummy.

My relationship with alcohol is not an addiction, but it is a habit. And breaking a habit is hard. *fidgets* It’s helpful to replace with another habit, like pineapple consumption! Or going for walks. Or yoga, or cheese popcorn, or writing your feelings down in your internet diary. Hi!

3. Maybe limited coffee too? This morning, after waking up feeling great, I had some coffee and the nausea came back. Seems a clear message, though a deeply sad one because I love coffee and when I don’t drink it I get headaches. But on the other hand, nausea. The headaches will pass and the nausea does not appear to be passing.

No booze, no coffee. You guys, in the words of that Wonderpet duck, THIS IS SEWIOUS!


We have a solid bedtime routine at our house. We have messed up in many, many ways but not bedtime.

At 7 pm we go upstairs. (yes there are exceptions) Sometimes bath, sometimes shower, then toothbrushing, pyjamas, a story each, and goodnight. Door is shut between 7:30 and 7:45. On weeknights I’m in the habit of handing this duty over to SA, since he gets home from work between 6 and 6:30 and doesn’t get nearly as much quality time with the children as I. (Lightbulb: maybe that’s why the bedtime routine is so great, because I’m not responsible for it? Moving on.) I will occasionally help out if bedtime is going sideways with wrestling, shouting, butt-smacking, etc. but generally I stay out of the way downstairs reading or breathing deeply or washing dishes or whatever.

Even though I don’t help out with bedtime, I feel like I should stay home until bedtime is done, like I could help at any minute! If needed! I am available! But last night we needed milk. Bah, I thought. I’m not needed. I’m going now because then I’ll be back sooner. The kids were hyped up, bopping around the bathroom, washing their feet with their toothbrushes, that sort of thing. “Buh bye!” I said cheerfully and went to Safeway.

When I got back, SA said, “After you left, they settled right down. It’s like they only act up when you’re around!” Well.

Tonight I had planned to walk up to the library after they were in bed and then because SA wanted to go out later I decided to go before. Once again, I put my shoes on and left the house before they were in bed and when I returned forty-five minutes later, SA just looked at me and said, “You need to do this every night. Because seriously they are SO MUCH BETTER when you’re out.”


I guess I don’t blame them. If I was my kids and had just spent twelve hours with me, I would want me to get out of the house too. Or something like that. Maybe they want me to get out of their space as badly as I want them to go to bed. Think of that.

Two old habits for one new is a good start.

Sixty-Eight — My Body’s Nobody’s Body But Mine

My body used to make sense. I would get hungry and give it food, nothing too fussy, occasional cravings, and then I would digest the food and then I would excrete the food. I would go to sleep when I was tired and wake up when I was still tired because you can never get enough sleep, but that’s normal, right? Alarm clocks: scourge of our natural time rhythms.

Once a month my period would come. Once a year I would get a cold or something worse like a sinus infection but it would go away.

This was before kids. Kids changed my body, of course. Growing a human being in your body and then birthing it can wreak a bit of havoc on systems digestive, reproductive, endocrine and others I am not familiar enough with to list here. There was the usual post-partum stuff; hair shedding and period cycle getting weird and never sleeping and wanting to yell at everyone. All of that resolved a few months (nearly a year actually) after I weaned Eli and I was..back to normal. Or so I thought.

I developed a headache that lasted three weeks. I started to get terrible PMS. I never had PMS before but I started having PMS that made me feel downright medicatable, but only for three days a month. Then there was the feeling-like-I’m-going-to-vomit-nope-not-vomiting thing, which I had years ago, and last year, and this year, and which went away two months ago and came back this week, and now I’m thinking well, that’s just part of me I guess. I’m nauseous. I eat candied ginger for breakfast. Hardcore.

Sometime last year the depressive PMS turned into weird-sleep PMS. In the five or so nights before my period starts, I sleep like crap — hot and cold and restless. I prefer this to the depressive sort of PMS but still.

My hair is half white and half not-white and the white hairs stand up all over my head in this sort of halo formation. That’s a polite way of putting it that also makes me sound angelic, which I am not. This is a perfectly reasonable thing for my hair to do, incidentally, so I hesitate to list it here because I do understand it, but I also think it helps paint a picture.

Emotionally I feel great! Physically I feel like one of those one-man bands with all the instruments playing a different song.

Oh, and my wrist hurts. Carpal tunnel from all the writing by hand and night-time fist-clenching.

Today I ate some fresh pineapple and all I want is pineapple now. I’m afraid I’ll turn into a toddler; nothing but fresh pineapple and then no more fresh pineapple ever. I just cut up my first fresh pineapple and ate a piece before stashing it in a container in the fridge. The flavour is still at the back of my throat; acid and sweet. It was just the right fleshy texture. Maybe a fresh pineapple a day will cure me of all this weirdness.

Or, more likely, it’s that I’ve been over-exposed to Spongebob Squarepants. (he lives in a pineapple under the sea, you know.) Time for a cleanse.

Sixty-Seven — Low Pressure

Our west coast world is cool and damp and smells of wet leaves and fur. When it doesn’t rain for months and months we forget we live in a rain forest and we get used to the smell of sunny summer. Sun smells like heat, of course, but more than that it’s the smell of everything and everyone, all the open windows letting out fabric softener, shampoo, coffee, toast. We are aware of each other when it’s hot. It’s harder to hide in your house-cave — although it would be more practical.

I’ve been going for a morning walk every day this week, before the kids get up. Rather, before the kids are allowed out of their room, since if I tried to do anything before they got up I would have to be out at 5:45. It’s light at 6:25 or whenever I make it out of the house but there aren’t any people around; some people wait at bus stops and plenty of cars are swooshing by, but mostly I just walk quietly past peoples’ closed doors. One morning I could hear a shower running and it struck me how intimate a sound that is. The water I’m listening to is hitting a naked body. Showers have a unique sound; not like rain or a running tap. The distance the water travels, the thickness of the drops, whether they cascade past or drip all over a person before they hit the shower floor; all of these make a difference to what you hear when you hear a shower.

It makes me feel fond of people, to hear a shower through an open bathroom window, and feeling fond of people is such a nice way to start the day.

Sixty-Six — A Rough and Tumble Alcoholic with A Heart of Gold, That’s Me

Ginger* asks: If you could be a TV character in real life, who would you be?

My first thought was Dominic DaVinci from DaVinci’s Inquest. I couldn’t quite figure out why, so I thought about some other characters, among them The Littlest Hobo, Amber from Parenthood, and Mrs. Roper from Three’s Company, but I’m going to stick with my first thought. They say your first thought is your best thought.

DaVinci’s Inquest was a Canadian drama that I loved for several years ( imdb says 1998 – 2005 and I believe them). I don’t know if any Americans have ever seen it. The character of Dominic DaVinci, a coroner in Vancouver, investigated deaths in the city and uncovered compelling stories about the dead people, along with their causes of death. Often there was a mystery, but not always. It followed a lot of real-life storylines like the tragedy of the missing and murdered women here in BC, (except I think in the show, the murders were solved faster than in real life.) DaVinci was a recovering alcoholic, a divorced father of one teenage girl, and he had this manner about him; it was love and realism and hubris in one grizzled, grey, Italian-Canadian package. He was smart and sarcastic and compassionate and flawed. The show was incredibly well-written.

He brooked no bullshit. It’s a trait I admire.

* (anyone can participate in Ginger’s Bring Back the Words weekly prompts. This means you! They are fun and informative! Check it out.)

Sixty-Five — Things I Saw

I take a two block walk to Safeway to buy milk. I pass a screaming infant in black stroller, hungry, freaking out, its minders chatting about frequency of screams, intent. I remember walking with baby Arlo, having to stop in the uptown park to feed him on a dirty, bird-pooped bench surrounded by old, leering men because he wouldn’t stop being hysterical and the need for him to stop being hysterical overrode my own need to not nurse my baby on a dirty, bird-pooped bench. My reward: he slept the rest of the walk home.

An old couple on a bench, slouching against each other, their feet touching.

Three young boys on bicycles, whipping wind behind them as they tear up the path around the park.

Teenage girls doing soccer drills, stepping like show horses around cones, passing the ball. Their pony-tails swish just like actual pony’s tails.

The air smells like barbecued things, lavender, cigarette and marijuana smoke. It’s the still, warm air of a summer evening before the sun goes down.

Two men do synchronized lunge-squats across the field, drop to their fists and do push-ups, then alternate squats–one up, one down, so they resemble those pop-up toys the kids used to play with.

A man and his dog, one of them bored, the other thrilled. A man and his gangly middle-school son. The son has a basketball, the man is distracted. A car pulls up and parks, the driver talks on the phone, blows smoke out his window, the engine is still running, the stereo is playing.

An SUV the size of a tank drives by, the small driver has big sunglasses and holds an iPhone aloft.

A different baby is taken out of its stroller, its screams muffled against an adult’s shoulder.

Milk, limes, cross the street again, around the park again, there are boys playing basketball, girls lying on the grass, knees bent, talking and texting, and then I’m home.