Tag Archives: shopping

In No Particular Order

I saw a crow eating a dead pigeon while I was walking through downtown this afternoon.

A man walking the other direction on the sidewalk, who saw the crow eating the pigeon at the same time as me, met my eyes and we both affected a wide-eyed horror face, and then we both looked at the tour bus that was stopped for the light, but none of the tourists looked out their windows to see the bird carnage.

I continued eating my most delicious falafel sandwich as though I was a crow and my delicious falafel was my pigeon.

When I got back to the office and told my co-worker, let’s call her Laughing Elder, about the birds, she told me about once seeing an eagle steal the food of a crane and the crane losing its mind with anger.

Last night I started reading “H is for Hawk” and it is exactly as good as all the reviews say it is.

Last night I also bought two Foo Fighters albums and finally indulged my love of All Things Rock and Grohl. Yes, I just said that. You are embarrassed for me. I hate puns. Unless I am making them.

I feel like I should be embarrassed for loving the Foo Fighters as much as I do. Yet, they write the songs that make me pound the table and bang my head while keening to the sound of perfect harmonies, so I guess I will not apologize. Also, Dave Grohl is an excellent writer and drummer, and shouty in all the right places.

That was the first song I heard this morning on my music player on the way to work and yes, I was a little overtired and happy that it’s Friday, but it was more than that. The song in my headphones at 7 am on 8th ave waiting for the bus made me darn near euphoric. I thought I might cry, vomit, become hysterical, and pass out on the sidewalk.

(It is possible I could use a good night’s sleep.)

Things have been at a low ebb for a few weeks; the evening sportsball activities are taking their toll and Eli in particular, being of a slightly dramatic persuasion, has a tendency to complain that he is tired, has only ever been tired, and will continue to be tired until his dying breath. Which will be tired.

Wednesdays are our busiest evenings; baseball starts at 5:45-6, then Arlo does soccer at 7 at a different park, and we don’t get home and into bed (the kids that is) until at least 8:30, sometimes closer to 9. Then up for Thursday at 6:30.

Wednesday I picked up the kids at daycare at 5, as usual.

Eli: Ohhhhh I am so tired.
Me: Gosh you do sound tired.
Eli: I think I should skip baseball practice.
Me: Oh yeah?
Eli: I’m too tired. I just..I just…
Me: We’ll see.

It should be noted that wednesdays are my busiest day at work. On Wednesdays roughly 80% of my day is on my feet, and 60% of my day is talking to clients, and the rest is either going to the bathroom or taking public transit, where I am also standing. Wait, no, I sit down in the bathroom. But stand on public transit. So I was tired too. I did not want to take him to baseball. I wanted to change into sweatpants and drink wine and drool myself to sleep.

Arlo: ..and I don’t have my shin pads.
Me: Hm?
Arlo: Remember I had to have my shin pads or I couldn’t go back to soccer? And I looked for them but I didn’t find them.
Me: Did you look *everywhere*?
Arlo: I think so.
Me: (suspects not)
Arlo: ..anyway I might find them. But if I don’t, we can go shopping.
Me: Pardon?
Arlo: For black pants and a white shirt.
Me: Pardon?
Arlo: Tomorrow is the May Day assembly at school. So we need black pants and a white shirt.
Me: Not for the assembly, surely. For the actual ceremony, next week…
Arlo: My teacher said for tomorrow.
Me: (plots teacher’s demise)
Arlo: So…we can go shopping if we don’t go to soccer.

Yes. Doesn’t that sound fun? Car, mall, kid, evening. No sweat pants. No wine. No drooling. I am DELIGHTED with this counter-proposal, and yet there is SOMETHING missing. What could it be. Could it be..that if I’m not GOING OUT I don’t want to GO OUT.

On we walked, Arlo bouncing along, Eli slouching.

At home, I made them grilled cheese sandwiches and thought about it. It wasn’t a baseball game, just a practice. Was it absolutely necessary that we go? Would it injure anyone’s character? I decided no and texted the team to let them know we wouldn’t be coming. I texted one of the parents from Arlo’s class and asked about the dress clothes for the Thursday assembly. She replied yes, and lol, and ha ha. I looked for Arlo’s shin pads and did not find them. I considered that he might have hidden them, but remembered that he loves soccer. Decided to cancel soccer too. Went to the mall and bought black jeans and a white collared polo shirt and was happy that we have two incomes right now so I could just go to H&M and buy the kid clothes and not worry about it.

Arlo has the right kind of body for H&M, spaghetti-like. The clothes fit him and we moved on quickly. I got to my sweatpants, my wine, and my drool. As Arlo himself is fond of remarking, it was not the end of the world.

Plus he is cute.



Eli got a cheese hat from his uncle who drives a truck and was in Wisconsin.



Efficiency is everything on weekends. I know the last post had a link about how to have a proper day off and that’s nice but right now we need to get shit done on weekends. If we get our shit done, we can relax.

Right now, 3:30 pm, is the relaxing time because we already: got groceries, bought sports equipment for the children, did laundry, made more granola for the week, tidied the kitchen, took down the garbage, showered and etc. The kids of course know not much of this other than we make them do stuff to feel part of the efficiency wheel. I don’t want them to feel left out.

This morning they were dragging their feet when we wanted to Get Going and after asking nicely several times, I said look, do you think I would PREFER to be going to a giant used sports equipment sale on a Saturday morning? That is NOT what I would prefer. I am doing it because YOU want to play baseball and soccer and so you need four thousand items and that is why I am MAKING you brush your teeth at 9 am on a Saturday, so we can get the groceries before the crowds arrive, and get the sporting goods, and get HOME in time for your friend to come over, which I ALSO arranged for you, so the LEAST you can do is cooperate.

They brushed their teeth.

I came downstairs with mad eyebrows and SA said, are they being assholes? and I said no, I am, but I feel pretty good about it.

Because by 12 pm we were home and had lunch and all the sporting goods we need (seriously; a jock strap? A helmet? I doubt very much anyone aged 7 … well, maybe. There are wunderkinds of all kinds I know) and could get ready to play the rest of the day away. I even made brownies. I even let them have some of the brownies. I’m not heartless.

My body is also, I think, trying to be efficient, by compressing what used to be five days of bleeding per month into one and one half days of bleeding. Though I am certain my hormones do not read this blog I still wish to say it: Body, this plan is flawed.

Now I must go eat some iron.


Overall I am not fussy about my appearance. Sometimes I think I am and then I meet people who spend much more time on personal grooming than I do and I realize I am quite low maintenance. This is fine if you always spend your time with small children and other parents of small children. Standards are low. (Maybe that’s why I stayed home so long? No, it isn’t.) Eventually you, I mean I, might have to go work in an office with people who dress properly and you/I have to wear something.

Ugh, wearing something. Not that I’d rather go to work naked because think of the germs. Also, I’m frequently cold when fully clothed so nudity in March is not for me. But figuring out what to wear vis a vis the weather, the office functions (client day or no client day), my personal style, age, and preferences, and ugh. It’s 5:45 am. Can’t I just wear my bathrobe?

I like looking nice, by my own admittedly low standards, so I’m not going to be that person who just commits to jeans and a sweatshirt and flips the bird at the boss. And I like clothes. I like having choices of clothes to wear. I like wearing clothes that make me feel comfortable, and confident, and competent. To that end, I have been doing some shopping for pants-that-aren’t-jeans-and-made-more-recently-than-2010 and have run into a predictible pants obstacle.

There is always something disagreeable about the year’s fashion choices and I had decided to embrace it rather than be mad at it. Approaching pants-shopping like “Wow, all these great pants!” instead of “Geez all the pants are stupid this year.” But there is a pant trend this year that involves pants stopping just above your ankle and I just can’t get behind it. Cropped pants that hit at the calf or just below the knee, OK. But pants that hit just above the ankle just look like they’re the wrong length. Maybe it’s because I’m tall and I’ve already spent many years dealing with “R” length pants that look too short and make me look ill-kitted. I’m not keen to look like I had a growth spurt at age 41.

There are also floral pallazo pants available for purchase this season. Seriously, a lot of them. So maybe I *could* get away with pyjamas at work?

Yeah. Bathrobe, I think. I could be The Lady Dude.


Today is Monday. It is also October 20th, which is Eli’s half-birthday. He reminded me of this on our walk to school this morning. He also reminded me yesterday. He suggested that something special we could do together would be: he could play with his friend, the neighbour, while I made him a half birthday cake?

He really is the sweetest. He knows I prefer to bake alone.

For a half birthday cake I made a lemon loaf because I like lemons and I couldn’t muster the enthusiasm for a full cake with icing and bullshit. I’m getting over a bad cold with sinus involvement and my patience is wire thin. Every twenty minutes I have to either breathe steam or drink hot tea. And two days ago the kettle broke, so we had to get a new kettle but that was just foreshadowing.

I have a recipe for lemon loaf — or several, don’t we all? — but I looked online and found Ina Garten’s lemon loaf recipe. The recipe yielded two loaves, so I had to cut the recipe in half and isn’t that just apropriate. Because it’s a half-birthday, you see. Which isn’t even real but hey I guess it is now. I just made it real, with cake.

Before I made the cake I had some lunch and before I had lunch I set some chips on fire in the toaster oven and had to pull the tray out, the Katniss-at-the-Capitol-flaming-tray and throw it out our front door onto the stone part of the patio, where the chips turned to char and the flames crackled until I stopped shaking enough to pour a watering can full of water on them. Hisssssssss.

Toaster ovens, man. Saint Aardvark has gone to get another one now because he fears the giant flames might have hurt the element. He might be right. Our last toaster oven, which I believe died this calendar year, had an element that melted in the middle, through no fault of mine.

When I first moved out on my own, back in 1993, someone gave me a toaster oven for a housewarming present and I swear I had that thing until 2005 at least. Its replacement lasted five years, *its* replacement lasted one and now we have killed two in one year. I mean. I’d just get a toaster but we are addicted to frozen hashbrown patty things, Eli and I, and to heat up the whole oven just to do one, or even three, hashbrown patty(s) seems absurd.

Before I set the chips on fire I walked uptown and back to get some exercise that was non-exertive, and to buy some cotton swabs at the drugstore. I went to the new drugstore, the REXALL, which has escalators and really good lime and salt and pepper flavoured peanuts. I took the escalator up to find the vitamins and then scoured each and every aisle looking for cotton swabs.

Have you ever noticed that every drugstore keeps their cotton swabs somewhere different? London Drugs keeps theirs at the end of the hair products aisle. Shoppers Drug Mart keeps theirs in the baby aisle. I think Superstore keeps theirs in the makeup. At Rexall, I checked all the aisles, even found a hairbrush I didn’t realize I needed, and then resorted to asking the pharmacist, who didn’t know. I ventured down feminine hygiene, and noticed something that was not cotton swabs.

It was called a LadyCare Device and it was on the shelf next to the Diva Cups. I looked at it. It looked like a plastic purple heart, about the size of a pendant. Was it a sex toy? No. Was it a menstrual product? No. It is a magnet that you put in your underwear to control your menopause symptoms. $45.

The cotton swabs were at the end of the baby aisle. I know I went down the baby aisle before but I must not have been paying attention, uninterested as I am in the topic of baby care.

The other day I ate a lot of pasta or something and I got the bloaty stomach that comes from carbs + cheese and Eli patted me on the belly and said, “What a fat belly! Are you making another baby in there?” No. No I am not.

He’s a lovely child; articulate, great sense of humour, good hearted, fantastic facial expressions. Six-and-a-half today.

Here’s a photo from his first half-birthday, in 2008:


NB: this was one of a series and he has the same expression in each.

Last week I copied a recipe for something from the Internet into our recipe notebook. Eli said, “I’m going to write a recipe too.” He thought for a minute and then wrote the following:


So! If you need to make your own, that’s how you do it. (pls note: 61 degrees F.)

August 1

Today was my final day off without children until school starts sometime in the fall. It is now four-ish PM. At five I will go across the street to pick up the kids, who have been enjoying a water and sun-soaked day at the daycare. I saw them earlier, as I snuck home from my hair appointment, they were frolicking in the grass, shirts off, while one of the daycare workers sprayed a hose in the air.

Yes, it is hot here. Super hot. So hot. I am not complaining because it is beautiful to feel the sun on your skin and the ache of the burn on the backs of your knees where the sunscreen sweated off and the trickle of sweat that starts in the middle of your head and slowly makes its way under your t-shirt, through your bra and all the way down to your butt crack, where it meets a friend and they conspire to make you look like you peed in your pants, giggling all the while the way sweat does.

Whoops, got away from myself there.

One of the things I’ve been doing this summer is running. I am doing this half-marathon training which makes me go running four times a week, roughly double my previous running time/distance/etc. There is no wimping out because there is a group and I am a people pleaser.

Actually I go even without the group. The running is wonderful. I love it. I am happier on the days I run than I am on the days I do not run.

Also, there have been consequences.

Consequence 1: I am faster and have better stamina!
Consequence 2: New calf muscles, I am getting those.
Consequence 3: I am always sweating. All the time. Always. I start sweating when I put on my clothes, I sweat some more when I run and then I sweat for an hour afterwards and then it’s thirty degrees celsius in my house so I sweat until the next day, while applying ice packs to my various pulse points. Sweat sweat sweaty McSweatserson.

You know what is bullshit when you are hot and sweaty and exercising a lot? ANYTHING EXTRA TO CARRY AROUND. My shorts are lightweight. My tank top is made of wicking whatever. My shoes weigh an ounce or something. The heaviest thing I am carrying is my FUCKING LONG ASS HAIR. (actually it might be my feet, but.)

Oh hi I am super happy about how I look and feel right now, can you tell?

Oh hi I am super happy about how I look and feel right now, can you tell?

So today I got it cut. Ahhhhhhhh haircut. Major, huge haircut. The kind of haircut where you run it under a tap and then shake it and get on with your life. I am a happy happy person. I was going to cut it all, shave it up the back and leave a little poof ball on top like a demented giant poodle, but my lovely hair stylist convinced me to leave it a little wild around the top because my hair likes to be wild. Fine. Okay.

HEY now I am jaunty and smiling!

HEY now I am jaunty and smiling!

I also bought one of those belts with the water bottles to put around my waist for the longer runs. We are currently a third of the way through the half-marathon training and summer shows no signs of stopping in its tracks and raining on me so I require a hydration solution.

Top tip: water belts can be purchased at a discount at Winners. I saw these FuelBelts at … oh somewhere, for $50 and at Winners they were $25. (but they were in the MEN’s department. Don’t stop looking if you don’t see them in the women’s department.) Second top tip: you can get decent quality exercise clothing — technical stuff — at Value Village. Sniff before you buy, wash in hot, and then proceed to soak it with your sweaty sweat and make it your own.

Budget conscious running tips from a 40 year old woman who sweats a lot. There must be a market for this. Yeah. Well, happy August, anyway! Here is a picture of Eli picking raspberries and making his best ham-like face.


And, because if Arlo was reading this (and he will be, someday) he would say, “Why isn’t there a picture of ME?” I add a picture of Arlo looking like a very short seventeen year old. There. It’s fair. *wipes brow*


Ninety-Two — The Day He Had Popcorn Chicken

Today is a Pro D day. No school for anybody. I arranged to have the day off. We stayed in our pyjamas, played some Minecraft (the kids) and wrote in our journals (me) and drank coffee (me again) and then we played Angry Birds the Physical Game where you make towers and then launch plastic birds via catapult. We listened to music and looked at books. We made a card for Arlo’s friend whose birthday party was today, and then we got ready and left the house. At TEN FIFTEEN AM. Sigh. So awesome.

The amount of time we have hasn’t changed. There are still 24 hours in a day, but something about the way the days are configured makes it feel like less. There are days when it feels like I’m hurrying all the time, days when the hours fly by. There hasn’t been a day in a long time where I looked at the clock and said, “Oh, is it ONLY X:OO?” Lately, it’s always later than I think, which leads to that sinking feeling, that “Where is it all going?” panic.

It’s all connected — seasons changing, fog rolling in, general malaise.

This week I was sick, too, so I spent three days feeling awful, two days working and feeling less awful, all those days feeling like I’d never get caught up on MY TIME MY TIME. I was sick enough that I couldn’t even make a convincing argument for doing anything. I just wanted to sit around, go to bed early, sleep longer. I still do, actually. My sinuses feel weird. I’m suspicious.

This morning, we dropped Arlo at the birthday party at a lazer tag place and then Eli and I went on to Superstore to buy Halloween candy and a few groceries. I offered to buy Eli lunch at the mall and he chose his favourite food court food: KFC popcorn chicken and fries. I had amazing fried rice and stir-fried vegetables and ginger pork. So salty. Salty enough that my eyes started to itch. Fast food, huh? Salty.

We did some walking around the mall, as I am on my annual fruitless quest for a jacket. We went into a store and the sales girl said, “Is there something in particular you are looking for?” Ordinarily I would say no thank you but the way she asked, it sounded like she really wanted to know, and since there is something in particular I am looking for, I said, “I want a jacket, but not a cropped denim jacket. And not a moto jacket. And not a parka. And I don’t need a fur-lined hood, even if it’s fake fur. And no belts. And no quilting.”

(She was very sorry she had asked. She will likely be revising her question to the standard, “Let me know if I can help you find something today.”)

Eli is super helpful as a shopper’s assistant because he knows I hate fake pockets. He went through all the jackets and tested them out.

“FAKE POCKETS,” he announced whenever he found some. “HOW LAME IS THAT.”

He got a few laughs and I could browse unmolested. Wins all over.

I realized as we walked that I hadn’t hung out with Eli at the mall (or anywhere, really) in a very long time. We used to go all the time, on the days he wasn’t in preschool, or on sick days. Just walking around like all the other people who need a place to walk around inside. Standing in the toy aisle, looking at toys. It’s been months since I hung out in a toy aisle.

(The toys haven’t changed much.)

As we made our way back to the car to go pick up Arlo, I noticed Eli still had the paper bag the popcorn chicken had been in.

“Should we look for a garbage can?” I asked.

“No, I’m keeping it,” he said. “It’s my precious memory of the day I had popcorn chicken.”

(awwww, right? Awww.)

More to the point, it was evidence to show his brother.

“What? You had POPCORN CHICKEN?” Arlo sputtered.


“Well…I guess I did get to play lazer tag and eat pizza and cheezies and cake.”

I didn’t have to say a word. They are self-parenting. It feels like I’ve done enough work for now. I plan to drink tea and lounge on the couch resting my eyes and sinuses for the rest of the day.

Sixty-Three — Method & Madness

Aaaaand the sunny days just keeeeep on coming here on the West Coast. /radioDJvoice. I heard a radio commercial this morning for a certain online travel agency, the thrust of which commercial was: “We’ve got great specials on getaways! Get the summer you deserve!” Hey did you by any chance make your ad somewhere outside of BC? Or do you think people want to go to tornado country on vacation? Because here, it’s been the most amazing summer ever and why the hell should I pay to go somewhere else? I pay enough to live here!

Ba—-dump. I’m here all month. The veal is nasty but try the linguine.

Skippadeedoodah! Summertime!

Skippadeedoodah! Summertime!

Today we went to the beach. Arlo can now do somersaults under the water. Eli practised floating. It was a good time. Then we left and because it is Thursday, we needed to get some groceries on our way home. Milk, apples, bananas, something for dinner. I saw a Thrifty Foods by the side of the road and stopped in.

The parking lot was underground (yay!) but also had all the outflow (?) from the building’s air conditioning blowing into it (boo) so it was hot like a furnace. We walked up the stairs and found the bank machine and then the grocery store.

The kids claimed not to be hungry or thirsty, and yet they acted like horrible brats the whole time I was shopping. Just horrible. The horrible that only their minder is annoyed by; nothing anyone else would have noticed. They bickered and punched each other while I picked out apples. They tattled on each other in horrible whiny voices while I debated buns or loaf. I asked them nicely to cut it out. They looked at me seriously like they’d heard me and then proceeded to keep horribleing it up.

Not the look I'm going for, son.

Not the look I’m going for, son.

If the groceries had been unnecessary, I would have left them right there and marched the kids back down to the hot car in the hotter parking lot but I really needed that pineapple and that hummus. Not to mention the milk & apples that make up 2/4 of the kids’ Food We Eat and Enjoy list. SO I SOLDIERED ON. I spoke sternly to them, which netted me more “oh yes, of course Mother, so sorry” looks. Surprisingly! they continued to be bratty.

I decided to ignore them, which worked for Arlo, who whispered to Eli, “Cut it out, now she’s mad,” (so stern voice = amused but no voice = mad? Good to know!) and they stopped for a minute but then resumed and by the time I got to the checkout I was ignoring them so hard it was like they were someone else’s children. Who them? The ones in green? Oh yeah, they’re mine I guess.

In SA's old glasses, your five year old can look like a hipster/old man!

In SA’s old glasses, your five year old can look like a hipster/old man!

The checkout girl was in her early 20s. Behind me and my Horribles in her line was a woman with two younger children, one of whom was wailing because he had to stop sucking the lid of the orange juice bottle long enough for the check out girl to scan it and now that aisle has been renamed The Birth Control Aisle.

When we got home and I had put the groceries away, I engaged the children in some role-playing.



“Imagine you had to do something you didn’t want to do,” I said to Arlo. “Imagine you had to take SPANISH lessons and you didn’t want to.”

“But I WOULD–”

“IMAGINE,” I snarled.

“Ok?” he said.

“And you didn’t want to go but you went anyway because I said you had to and then, while you were sitting in the class, trying to learn Spanish, I sat behind you with my mouth right at your ear, like this…” I got up and stood by his ear to demonstrate. He flinched.

“And then when the teacher talked,” I said, “I started talking, saying ‘hey have you learned any Spanish yet? Did you hear what she said? Are there tacos in this class? HAHAHAHAH I HATE TACOS BUT OH WELL I WILL EAT SOME do you know any Spanish yet? One time I learned Spanish and it was hard. Is this hard? Are you having fun? WELL ARE YOU?'”

Arlo had his hands over his ears at this point.

I walked back to my chair at the table.

“So,” I said, “do you think it would HARDER or EASIER to learn Spanish if I was there behind you talking and being annoying?”

“Harder,” he said.

“And that,” I said, “is what it’s like going grocery shopping with you two.”


“I don’t want to take you shopping, I know you don’t like it, but you like to eat, right?”


“If you like to eat, you have to buy groceries.”


Who me? Yes. I like to eat quite a bit.

Who me? Yes. I like to eat quite a bit.

I foster no illusions that it will change the way they behave the next time I take them grocery shopping. But it was SUPER FUN for me and made me feel better, and that’s nearly as good.

And can I just mention, sadly, that I don’t miss their babyhoods at all but I do miss being able to strap them the hell down in a cart or stroller so I can look at the ingredients list in peace. Amen. And cheers.

From the craft beer festival we went to in June.

From the craft beer festival we went to in June.

Fifty-Six — Cheap Sunglasses

I usually buy a new pair of cheap ($20 or less) sunglasses every summer. This is because I don’t take very good care of sunglasses; they get thrown in my bag or on top of my head or on the passenger seat of the car and the next thing you know, the arm is broken or they’re scratched.

Only recently, in the middle of Vancouver’s Sunniest Summer Ever (today is like day 33 without rain or something ridiculous like that) did I realize that I am halfway through a second year with my current sunglasses! They have served me well; they are kind of amber-tinted and very comfortable. But they are starting to lose the plastic coating on the bridge over my nose and I keep getting little flecks of brown plastic in my eyes and thinking they’re bugs.

Brown & Flecky.

Brown & Flecky.

Mildly irritating but not cause to go sunglass-shopping, per se. However yesterday we were at Winners to buy a birthday present for one of Eli’s friends and we passed the display of sunglasses, some of which were on clearance! so I tried a few pairs on.

Eli liked the bright pink ones, the cop ones, and the tortoiseshell ones. Arlo liked the black ones. The black ones were four dollars cheaper so I picked them and only when I got home realized they have five pink sparkly rhinestones on each side and a little pink heart at the end of one arm. All blinged out, that’s me. Betsey Johnson sunglasses, only $14.

Sparkle pony.

Sparkle pony.

It occurred to me that I have this easy, easy life where I just walk into Winners and buy sunglasses. I have $14 to spare and I don’t wear prescription glasses every day. Some people wear glasses all the time (I bet a lot of you readers do) and can’t just waltz in and try on sunglasses, willy-nilly. The only thing that cramps my style, sunglass-wise, is that I have a large head and sometimes the glasses squeeze my head like a ripe orange. But usually not.

I do appreciate it. It’s a blessing to be able to buy a pair of cheap sunglasses every year. (And yeah, I suppose I could buy an expensive pair and just take care of them, but what if I didn’t? Then I’d have a scratched up pair of expensive glasses, and that would be way more sad because BETRAYAL OF SELF and also WASTE OF MONEY.)


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.


Reality has set in. The first half-day of summer vacation, it rained. The second we went to run errands. The three-day weekend involved two adults. Today, it was just me and two kids.

I had no plan for today. I thought about making a plan and then I thought, no, I will WING IT because people do, all the time, and nothing bad happens. Wrong! People do, all the time, and they suffer for it. Make no mistake. Learn from mine.

6:00 The kids are up.

6:30 I am up.

7:00 SA leaves for work.

8:00 The kids have finished breakfast and TV time and they go outside to sell rocks, a task which involves paper and pens and making signs and deciding on price points.

8:30 No customers. Sadness fills the land. They decide to make bookmarks instead. I try to help them make nice straight bookmarks but they are all about the speed. Eli scribbles madly on a bookmark. I am unjustly irritated by this. “What is that?” I ask. “It’s SPACE,” he says. Fine.

9:00 No customers. Sadness fills the land. They come inside and paint each others’ faces with face paint and then decide they will paint peoples’ faces instead of sell rocks.

The same problem occurs, namely that there are no customers. It is Tuesday. People are at work, on holiday, or our lovely retiree neighbours J & B, who have bought their share of rocks already and are no way in hell going to get their faces painted.

9:45 I offer to take the kids to the park. They decline, insisting they will wait for face paint customers.

I feel good about this, I guess, because they are self-amusing, so I can tidy the kitchen and read things and do laundry and not talk to anyone but I also feel out of sorts because we go out in the mornings, it’s what we do, and I feel like I can’t commit to anything unless the proper protocols have been observed which is why, in a nutshell, I cannot WING IT. There are protocols. If I start something, I will be interrupt–

10:00 We need a snack! (see?)

They eat a snack and then go back outside to wait for face paint customers.

10:30 I ask them when they might want to go out and get some apples. We are all out of apples. I have given up on the park but I will not relent on the apples. Eli says in 30 minutes. I take a shower.

11:00 Arlo decides he wants to go out after all! and spend some of his birthday money on a toy. He proposes Toys R Us. I counter-propose Superstore, since I can get apples there. We agree.

11:30 – 12:30 Superstore. I walk past the fitting room in the clothing section and hear two children fighting and their mother say “That is IT there are NO MORE CHANCES,” and I almost go over and knock on her door to tell her it will probably all be OK but I have to stop my children from hitting each other with clothes hangers.

Arlo buys a small gun that shoots darts. Eli brings $2 of his money to spend and while I appreciate that my children are careful shoppers seriously oh my god just buy something I am going to die here listening to Peter Cetera and other peoples’ children fighting in the fitting room. Eli buys two bottles of scented bubbles and is very happy with them so that’s a relief. No bubbles buyer’s remorse.

I buy apples.

3:00 We make an afternoon trip to the park across the street. We are so lucky to have a park across the street. If the park was further away I would *really* be annoyed that Arlo just sits there next to me the whole time we are there while Eli runs around playing, and then whines and complains when I say it is time to go. “I was having fun,” he insists. “It didn’t seem like it to me,” I insist back. “Next time just ask me,” he says. Oh you bet I will.

6:00 Dinner: barbecued chicken, couscous salad with broccoli. SA comes home and takes the kids over to the community centre for Arlo’s first karate class. At first I plan to go too and then I think better of it. If I’m going to survive this summer, I need to take whatever scraps of solitude I can.

(Don’t worry, tomorrow I have a plan.)