Tag Archives: pals


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.

Fifty-Two — Complicated

Arlo came running in the house, letting the screen door slam behind him.

“Can I watch TV, or is it too early. I’m just asking,” he said. The words came out in one breath. He fell onto the couch and stared at the ceiling.
“It’s too early,” I said. “What happened outside?”

He heaved a sigh.

“Well, Neighbour Friend is acting weird again. He’s doing that thing where he runs away from me and hides. He knows I hate that.”
“Right,” I said.
“We were just sitting there, and playing video games and then he just got up and ran off. I don’t know where he went. It was like he wanted to get away from us.”
“Where’s Eli?” I asked.
“I don’t know.”
“Is he sitting on the stairs, waiting for Neighbour Friend to come back?” Because that’s where he usually sits.
“Yeah I guess so.”

A great quiet followed.

I think of Arlo as an introverted kid. He’s friendly, polite, and slow to warm to strangers. He will retreat to his corner of the room if he’s uncomfortable, he has a good sense of his own limits. He doesn’t like tag, water fights, or being run away from.

But Neighbour Friend is his own category. He gets overstimulated, can’t stand it, and takes off. Usually to somewhere he knows my kids can’t follow. They love him so, they’ll eat him up, you see. They worship him. Eli more so. Arlo did two years ago but now he’s wiser. He knows the love is not always reciprocated.

“You know, when I go to parties,” I said to Arlo, “I often decide to go home and then I just leave.”
“Without saying goodbye?” he asked.
“Kind of,” I said. “I say goodbye if people are paying attention but if they’re not, I just go.”
He looked at me quizzically. “Why?”
I thought about it. I’ve thought about this a lot.
“I don’t know,” I said. “I think because sometimes goodbyes take a long time. People don’t want to let you leave, they want to keep chatting, they want to make plans for next time. Sometimes it all just takes too long, and when I decide I want to go, I want to go.”
Arlo nodded.
“Maybe that’s what Neighbour Friend is like,” I said. “Maybe he just needs to go, right away. You know he’ll be back.”
More nodding.

Twenty minutes later, Eli came in, slamming the door behind him.
After another fifteen, Neighbour Friend came in too, and all was well for one more day.

Forty-Five — Lost in the Cul De Sac

I don’t know, you guys. My brain is all jiggy from watching movies. Our camping weekend wore me out so much I had to watch The Hunger Games last night, but not the whole thing because I was tired. We finished watching it tonight and then started Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. One of those movies was good and the other, not so good.

I wouldn’t still be up this late, but I slept until 8:00 this morning for the first time since I think the last time I had the flu. It was disorienting. I spent most of the day being confused and feeling crappy and the rest feeling better but really awake. So I’m awake, it’s 10:18 pm and listening to SA talk to his friend on the phone. His friend is from Florida! And flew to Seattle and drove to see us. That is a long way. He is lost in the cul de sac, as happens. So I guess, thank you Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, for keeping me up long enough to meet Andy.

The Big Four-Oh

Hi, this is my fortieth post. I want you to know that I just spent two minutes staring at the letters “for” and wanting to type “tiest” at the end. Fortiest. It’s the FORTIEST!

Today I got the day off because Saint Aardvark is having a vacation, and it’s coming from inside the house! How splendid. After a week of summer vacation and two birthday celebrations for Arlo and a heat wave and some other stuff, it sure was nice to have a day off with no small children grappling at my flesh or talking to me.

First, I slept in until 7. Well, first I woke up at 5 but I managed to suffocate myself back to sleep until 7. By suffocate I mean put a pillow on my head just hard enough to shut out the world but not hard enough to actually suffocate. Obvs.

Then, I had a blueberry banana smoothie and some coffee and wrote in my morning journal out on the porch.

The kids and SA left for a trip uptown to the library and park. I ate some cereal.

Deciding to pack as much stuff into one day as possible, I decided to go for a run. I nearly expired from the heat. It is not that hot and it was only 9:30 and I don’t run that far — roughly 5 km — but I got really overheated anyway. I stood stock still under the cold spray of the shower when I got home, and it was so good I might have cried. The run was also good. I get a bit squirrely if I don’t get my exercise for a week.

I visited a friend for 11 am. We caught up on our lives and our children’s lives and she made us salads from her garden’s lettuce and topped them with hard boiled eggs and Swiss cheese. Then we went out to a nearby coffee shop to have a writing date. This friend and I get together periodically and the math goes: one hour of talking to fifteen minutes of writing, but the fifteen minutes makes us feel incredibly proficient and good about ourselves, so it counts for twice as long. I declare it.

I had an Earl Grey tea and she had an iced tea that was the colour of Hawaiian Punch.

At 2:30 I drove myself home in the car. It was hot like an oven so I drove fast to cool off. When I walked in the house, Eli shouted, “You’re HOME!” and ran over to hug me. “I am going to have some apple juice!” he announced. I believe these two statements are unrelated but you never know.

The rest of the afternoon was lazy and ended with barbecued chicken and corn on the cob (the children still don’t like corn on the cob, in case you’re keeping track. Apparently it’s “too sweet with a weird taste” [that’s Arlo; Eli won’t try it {sigh}]) and leftover birthday party cupcakes for dessert.

Now I hear bagpipes through my living room window — they practise in the Justice Institute across the street — and SA has gone to a mountain with his telescope to look at the night sky. I’m having wine, the cat is next to me on the couch, and now you know: the rest of the story.


I ran into a high school friend today. I recognized her because she and I are facebook friends, and because when you look at someone for five years, you get pretty familiar with her face. She had her three year old with her, I had my two with me. We chatted very briefly about things — I know most of what’s going on with her because, again, we are facebook friends — and then moved on.

Later I got a message from her, telling me it was great to see me!!!!! and she hoped I would have a great summer!!!! and I scanned the message and then debated replying and then replied, to be polite, and then I looked at it again and realized that the first sentence ended in five exclamation marks and the second ended with four.

I want to know, now, how people go from one exclamation mark to five. If one exclamation mark is intended to indicate a level of excitement slightly greater than you would get from simply ending the sentence, then surely two would be enough to indicate that you are excited beyond that first flush of excitement. And if two says you are beyond excited, does three say you are over the moon with delight? And then, four. Four exclamation marks, to me, says you are making a joke about how many exclamation marks you are using.

But five. You went all the way to five exclamation marks. Just because we ran into each other at the mall.

I’m not being as snarky as you might think, here. I honestly want to know a) how she decided to go to five exclamation marks and b) why she stopped there. Once you’re at five, why not six? Eight? Nine? Nine is my favourite number, I would pick nine.

This is what a sentence looks like with nine exclamation marks at the end!!!!!!!!!

There is no way to ask the question that doesn’t result in a de-friending, and I don’t want to de-friend, so I won’t ask, but I will continue to wonder.


I was reading NurtureShock last week, approximately six years behind everyone else, and something stuck out for me. The concept of praise.

I am a praiser and a praisee. I don’t think I’m a praise junkie exactly but there are things I do more for the praise and recognition than for the joy of them. (What kinds of things? Um, I can’t think of any offhand, but I’m sure there’s something.)

The research says –I am too lazy to cite here– that when we praise for ability instead of effort, what we get is children who only feel successful as long as they are praised, or until their ability ceases to exist. If we praise for effort, we get children who want to make an effort because the reward is the same; whatever that effort’s reward would have been anyway.

So “you’re so smart” is not as effective as “I like how you tried the question over and over until you found the answer.”

It makes sense. Even as an adult, what can you say to a compliment like “You’re so tall! I wish I was tall!” Yep. Tall. I had nothing to do with it.

Yesterday I opened up this comment page and found I had been comment-bombed by Allison. Allison, who is witty and compassionate and a true blue internet friend that I hope to meet someday. She went back and read something like fourteen posts and left comments on them, many of which had no previous comments at all, and it was this warm blanket of happiness around my shoulders when I saw it. “Oh someone is reading,” I thought, “someone IS reading. Someone is CARING. Someone likes what I say.”

Now, I said I would write 100 blog posts in 100 days and I missed one day I think so far but I never said I would stop if no one commented. I love comments, we all love comments, but I find it hard to find the time to comment on all the blogs I used to read / still read. I get it. It’s part of the give and take of blogging; we write for ourselves and others and we read to connect with those others and some days there just isn’t time to write and read and comment and make dinner.

As I work on effectively praising my children so they don’t give up when faced with algebra someday, I’m trying to also be more conscious of how I talk to myself, and how I rally my internal support system. without waiting for someone to tell me I’m great, they like me, they approve.

So: no comments! I want to keep going without your support!

(Just kidding. But no pressure. Not that you were feeling any, probably. It’s the end of June and we’re all tired. I know.)

(As you were)

(Happy Wednesday)

Twenty-Seven — Why Are We Here?

Ginger is doing a weekly prompted bloggity thingeroo .. you can participate too, if you want! I am going to answer both prompts because the first one is a very short answer.

Prompt one: Why did you start blogging?
A: I started blogging because I wanted people to read my words.

Prompt two: What is the best decision you ever made?

So much waffling. What IS the best decision I ever made? Moving to this townhouse, to the city of New Westminster, which seemed like an OK decision at the time, actually turned out to be a great decision. Having children was a pretty good decision, but I’m not sure it was the best ever. Career-wise, there haven’t been many great decisions, other than quitting the job with the creepy boss.

I think the best decision I EVER made was to move out on my own when I was 19.

It was 1993 and I had just finished my second year of university. I lived in Burnaby and went to school at UBC, so my bus trip was an hour each way. I spent a lot of time on the bus, scribbling in my journal or listening to my big, yellow Walkman and staring out the window at Hastings, Granville, Broadway, 10th Ave.

I was starting to really resent my overprotective father. While I was in high school, I complained bitterly but never really rebelled against the house rules. But when I got to UBC and started meeting new people, people I hadn’t known for five or ten years already, people who listened to grunge and electronica and folk music instead of top 40, people who wore cut off jeans, tights, combat boots, people who dyed their hair and pierced their faces and had tattoos and wrote poetry and made films…well, I desperately wanted to be a part of it. That life. The life that started with me being able to stay out past 10 pm.

In June, 1993, I blew away all the treaty negotiations. I decided it would be a good idea to celebrate writing my last exam of the year by drinking a lot of vodka and grapefruit juice in Stanley Park with my friend. Obliteratedly drunk I arrived home well before curfew but that didn’t matter as much as the fact that I was dropped off by a strange man in a pickup truck who had rescued my friend and me from the railroad tracks below Gastown. Apparently we had been wandering on and off the tracks, my friend had a hammer, and the guy with the truck –Bill, I think?– took pity on us and drove us home.

Whooee! was I in trouble. And rightly so. I had to go to my brand new part-time job at the cheese shop the next day with a wicked hangover and that was nearly punishment enough. As part of the fallout from the “discussion” that ensued, I declared that I would move out of the house that summer and get my own place. Dad said, “No you can’t.” Having a bit more than a little of his stubborn blood in my own veins, that was all I needed to hear.

In mid-July, my friend Joanna and I moved into our two-bedroom suite in a house at Main and 22nd Street. A month later, Sarah joined us and we were an amazingly big-haired trio of roommates for a year, after which we went through roommates and new apartments for a few years before settling down with our significant others, to whom we are all now married.

When I moved out I didn’t have any real plan, other than I would work at my job selling cheese and pay my rent and tuition and for food and drinks. Jobs came and went, tuition got paid, albeit more slowly than it had when Dad was paying it, and it took me an extra couple of years to get the credits to graduate, but I did. Eventually.

I learned how to survive; how to cook, clean, give notice on an apartment, quit a job, look for a new one, accept the kindness of strangers, be good to my friends, manage money (eventually..this was a very steep learning curve), maintain the relationships I needed to maintain and release the rest.

What I experienced living on my own made me into the person I am today; someone who understands that ordinary people make mistakes and deserve forgiveness and second, third, fourth chances, myself included. Someone who isn’t scared of smelly people, who sees something interesting in every conversation. Someone who has at least seen how the other half lives and knows how close she came to that poverty line, how close she was to crossing it.

I was young and stupid and lucky. I could easily have ended up on the other side of that line. If my parents hadn’t forgiven me, mellowed, held their tongues, invited me for dinner every few weeks, helped me move. If my friends hadn’t lent me money or fed me booze when I needed it, if, to start with, I hadn’t been young and white and educated, with all the privilege that those afford a person.

God watches over drunks and idiots; double-plus if you are both?

The most important thing I learned was that the real world is indeed a dangerous, wonderful place, and that I could handle it.

And the place where I hold all those lessons; the practical ones like how to budget and the people ones like how to talk to people on the bus, is the place I will draw from when my kids are out in the world and I’m scared for them. The world is a dangerous, wonderful place, and they can handle it.

Sixteen — That was Yesterday

Yesterday I had plans. All the plans. We had guests staying with us (hi mother and father and brother-in-law! hi!) so I made plans. Not because I don’t like my guests — I do! I like them! — but because their presence means SA has taken a week off work so the math is FIVE adults to ONE child (the other child being in school) and I decided the ONE child could make do with only FOUR adults to look after him for the day.

And apparently I was wrong because that child ate a triple chocolate muffin for lunch, washed down by chocolate milk THANKS, BEST UNCLE EVER.

So I took transit, went to Granville Island, had lunch, bought things, came home, ate dinner, and then went to book club because book club was meeting at the house two doors down from me and I couldn’t really say no, and then came home at ten and went to bed.

This morning I remembered I forgot to blog yesterday, which is hardly surprising given that I rarely do that much in a *week*. Transit AND lunch AND book club? Crazy madness.


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.

For Dinner…And Beyond!

This morning, pretty much as soon as I opened my eyes, I started craving lasagna. Probabaly because it’s November, traditional “put cheese on it and bake the shit out of it” month, and because it’s raining and dark and actually I don’t need an excuse to crave lasagna. I’m half Italian and lasagna is awesome.

The other day, my pal mentioned in passing that she was making The White House lasagna for her dinner.
What? I said. The what?
It’s the lasagna the Obamas eat, she explained.
Oh. Well then.

Hey, this pal is American. She knows her POTUS. Secret: until about two weeks ago I had no idea what POTUS and FLOTUS stood for. I just saw the letters float by on my computer screen all the time and was all “shrug, I guess the Americans need to care but I don’t.” (It’s President of the United States and First Lady of, in case you were also being willfully ignorant. You may arrive here ignorant but you will not leave the same way! Aha!)

So this morning, anyway, craving lasagna, USian election coming up real soon, I decided I would make a symbolic White House lasagna and then eat it instead of voting, since I can’t vote in the US election because I am Canadian. Although! I feel like I SHOULD be able to vote, given all the tweets and facebook posts, dear god in his heaven, can we give facebook back to the nerds now? and baloney I am forced to witness, not to mention how close I live to the border. I vote for more Costcos that sell booze, right on the border! And for a woman’s right to choose! OK. Booze and choose. The end.

We already had a shopping list two miles long (see? Miles. That’s a nod to you, USian friends, else I would have said kilometres) so I added the ingredients to it that I needed for White House Lasagna and then remembered that today is Farmers Market day in New Westminster. I wrote two separate lists: one for Superstore and one for the market.

Down at the market, I got apples (such glorious, marvellous apples) and garlic and eggs (eggs a full dollar and a half less than at Superstore I will have you know) and saw the happy people eating the delicious foods and then I went into the liquor store next to the Paddlewheeler Pub and bought two bottles of beer: a Farmhouse Saison because Saint Aardvark likes that one, and one called Hop Manna, which said it was an IPA and I will always buy an IPA I have not yet tried.

When I got to the till, the man who sold me the beer told me the Hop Manna is Kosher and I smiled because my friend who told me about the White House lasagna is Jewish (although she doesn’t like beer) and it felt like everything was coming together in a most promising way.*

Here is the lasagna link at Oprah.com because that link has the least pop-up bullshit associated with it.

* and then! I saw that the recipe is from a book called A White House Garden Cookbook, written by a woman whose first name is CLARA and that’s MY NAME. Seriously. The universe is aligning for some good right now. I can feel it. **

** Also, the book is supposed to help your children eat more healthily and Fresco just told me that the food smells delicious but it won’t taste delicious and he isn’t going to eat it. Dear Obamas: Do you have a room in your house for my stubborn, stubborn child. I would vote for you if I could and if you took him in for a year or two. XOXO.