My husband is a rock star


Not a real rock star, of course. But he rocks more than the other husbands and that makes him a rock star. Photo credit to my two oldest (and apparently talented) children, who are not supposed to touch the D90 under pain of death. You are so busted.

12-ish years ago, we bought a canoe at Canadian Tire. We used it a couple of times to go camping. In fact, my last memory of using the canoe was at Silver Lake. I peed on a stick that morning and found out we were expecting Marie. My last memory of the canoe is therefore tinged with morning sickness. With 4 then 5 children, activities like camping took a sabbatical and the canoe sat — or rather lied — unused in three consecutive backyards. Until now.

The pond
Tall grass

When the children saw the pond behind our rental house they immediately thought of great canoeing adventures. When their dad asked where he should set-up the trampoline in the backyard, David’s answer was immediate:

On the island! This way it will be double the fun!

Trampo-freaks entertaining the neighbourhood
Trampoline Island

(it has not occurred to my little country bumpkin that the patch of grass behind our patio door is our only backyard. The pond belongs to the Crown according to the developer and the developer according to the City.)

Cloudscape
Plane

Last weekend, my husband took the children for a turn in the canoe. The pond is a rainwater catchment area landscaped to serve as a recreational path and  bird sanctuary. The children returned from their expedition with tales of seeing Aaron-the-Heron (and his partner-in-majestic-flight Erin-the-Heron) up real close and meeting a little water mammal in the cracks of the man-made retaining wall. My husband was proud to be fit enough to portage his vehicle to and from the pond. I never had any doubts.

Our teenage daughter and son ran around the pond taking pictures of the expedition laughing as they heard kids yelling from their backyards: “They have a CANOE!!” Meanwhile I could just imagine the exasperated look on their parents’ faces. “Two years doing just fine telling the kids we weren’t allowed on the pond, and they move with their 8 kids and A CANOE… There goes the neighbourhood!”

Since September we have not taken nearly enough time to pause and spend time doing something cool with the children. This little expedition around our suburban paradise reminded me just how simple building memories can be. In a large family, all too often the heroism is not in the endless march of chores but in being able to stop long enough to do something else.

Fermeture


La transaction de vente de notre maison est complétée, les fonds sont dans notre compte bancaire, les serrures ont été changées. Nous avons rencontré notre avocat ce matin pour aposer notre autographe sur les lignes appropriées. Mon mari a remarqué en entrant dans le bureau avec Sarah et les jumeaux:

À chaque fois qu’on vient ici on a un bébé différent!

C’est vrai que nous avons accueilli au moins un enfant dans toutes les maisons que nous avons habitées (incluant notre premier appartement et les quartiers militaires). Notre fils de 6 ans s’amuse à dire à qui veut bien l’entendre que nous allons avoir un bébé dans cette nouvelle maison. Il ne faudrait surtout pas briser le charme…

En s’assoyant, notre avocat nous a demandé: “Pourquoi vous déménagez dans une maison louée?” et nous lui avons répondu: “Parceque nous voulons faire construire une maison sur mesure.” Il a éclaté de rire en se frottant les mains et s’est exclamé: “Quelqu’un dans le bureau me doit $5!!” Puis il nous a expliqué:

On se demandait pourquoi vous vendiez pour déménager en location. Puis tout d’un coup ça m’est venu pendant que je lisait Barbapapa à mes enfants. Ils vont se faire construire sur mesure!

Nous avons bien rit et j’ai répondu: “Exactement! Mais je promets de ne pas le faire en versant du plastique fondu sur les petits.”

Barbapapa était une de mes histoires préférée quand j’étais petite et c’est aujourd’hui celle de Sarah et David. Mais c’est quand même en cherchant les images pour cette publication que j’ai réalisé à quel point la vie nous faisait prendre des virages aussi surprenants que prévisibles. Dans La maison de Barbapapa, Barbapapa, Barbamama et les 7 Barbabébés décident de partir à la campagne se trouver un petit coin de paradis après avoir essayé en vain de s’établir en ville. Et c’est avec leur bébé sur le dos qu’ils partent à la recherche de leur chez-soi.

Convoitise


De biens jolies choses que je suis condamnée à convoiter…

J’évite d’aller chez Lululemon mais je m’y suis retrouvée par accident la semaine dernière avec mes filles. J’ai bien bavé sur le pullover rose et je me suis acheté deux paires de chaussettes sport. Deux paires de chaussettes, deux élastiques à cheveux: $58. J’évite d’aller chez Lululemon mais je m’y suis retrouvée par accident…

Comment ne pas avoir une bonne journée dans ce pullover rose nuage? Avant de recevoir la facture évidemment…

Un endroit que je n’évite pas mais qui me cause quand même des accès de convoitise est la nouvelle maison de ma soeur. Elle a choisi ma table de cuisine (une beauté dont je n’ai pas de photo):

Imaginez ce style en noyer… Mmmmm! Comment ne pas bien manger? Et si vous graduez aux chaises, le banc peut servir de table d’appoint derrière un divan par exemple ou dans l’entrée.

Mais lors de ma dernière visite, c’est la lampe au-dessus de la table en question qui m’a fait saliver:

Article de convoitise #2567
Non mais… Simple, élégant, versatile.

Et le dernier candidat dans la catégorie convoitise: l’écharpe porte-bébé Girasol. Admirez-moi cette beauté:

Écharpe Girasol via http://www.slingomama.nl

J’adore le “Double Rainbow” et avec une écharpe assez longue, je pourrais y mettre les deux bébés (un en avant, un en arrière). Mais j’ai déjà assez de moyens de transport pour les enfants!

Échantillon “Double Rainbow” via http://www.paxbaby.com

Et finalement, un dernier article de convoitise que je vais peut-être me procurer: le porte-bébé Bobo 3G. Avec 3 enfants de moins de 3 ans, j’en ai souvent un sur moi et deux en poussette. Cet été, nous allons sans doute faire beaucoup de promenades à pieds et puisque ma fille de 3 ans adore le sac-à-dos, j’aimerais en avoir un qui supporte son poids. Je suis tombée un peu par hasard sur le Boba 3G, chaudement recommandé peu importe le motif, avec l’appliqué “Tweet”:

L’appliqué “Tweet” est adorable. Je suis certaine que les petits zoizeaux rendent le bambino plus léger!
N’est-ce pas? Ça ne vous donne pas envie de vous promener avec un enfant de 15 kg sur le dos? Moi oui!

“Friendly message asking to keep toilet clean”


Believe it or not, someone came upon my blog while making a Google search on “friendly message asking to keep toilet clean”… No doubt because of my blogs on kids and chores. You can read it here.

As for the friendly message, the visitor to my blog has come and gone and probably won’t be back. But dirty toilets are a pet-peeve of mine. In fact, when people ask me what is my biggest challenge as a mother of young children they expect an answer like “the laundry”, “the groceries” or “remembering where I drove which child”. But really, my biggest challenge is public bathrooms, especially taking young children to public bathrooms. I. Hate. It. And God, knowing how much I always despised public bathrooms, “blessed” me with FIVE DAUGHTERS! Guys can just walk in a bathroom, unzip, empty their bladders touching nothing but their own private parts and walk away. But my husband can eat an entire restaurant meal without having to take anyone to a stinkin’ public bathroom. I was blessed with FIVE DAUGHTERS which means that I have visited just about every public bathroom in the Ottawa area and will continue to do so for another 10 years-ish. (Why 10 years? Because I don’t let my children go in public bathrooms alone. Yeah, I’m nuts, go read my post on Accidents.)

Someone overhearing me in the next stall would hear things like “don’t touch anything! No, no, don’t put your hands on the seat, put your hands on my knees and don’t touch anything. No you can’t flush, let me flush with my foot… Nooooo, don’t touch the door! Now let’s wash our hands… Don’t touch the soap dispenser, everybody who touches it has dirty hands (duh…). Don’t touch the taps, I’ll turn them on with my elbows. Just let me wash and dry your hands and run away from here. Noooo, don’t touch the door!! Here, have some Purell… more… more…” I don’t know if you can be friendly with people who leave their urine or sanitary products behind. I would just write:

What makes you think I want to sit in your urine?

Is that friendly enough? Because that’s what I wonder sometimes.

Random Bullets


  • It’s really nice when sports teams offer to pack your groceries at Superstore as a fundraiser, especially since the cashiers are not always helpful. But somebody should tell them not to pack heavy items on top of the bananas. Or the brie.
  • I must be Superwoman. I saw an ad for Canesten, the yeast infection treatment. It ends like this “… so when it’s your turn to do the carpool, you can!” Really? Who write these ads? Don Draper? Because let’s agree that a yeast infection is a real pain in the — ahem — ladyparts. But it’s not exactly an incapacitating condition.
  • Lucas’ pajamas — size 0-3 months — have anti-skid appliques at the bottom of the feet. Where do you think he’s going fast?

    Lucas, going places fast with anti-skid sleepwear!
  • Summer dresses are out in force on clothes racks and I love dresses. As I stroll through the shopping malls — well, more like the Joe Fresh aisle at Superstore — I have to keep reminding myself that summer dresses are totally inappropriate for nursing mothers. And once again this year I will give it a pass. Unless I decide to forgo my abhorrence to spend more than $49.99 on a piece of clothing and give this Boob dress a try (for $135… not gonna happen, but it was nice thinking about it!):
  • My children had a blast the other day when one asked:

Did you know that there are 200 fingers and toes in our family?

Big families are so cool!!

Accidents


Avec l’âge, je deviens de moins en moins capable de faire abstraction des mauvaises nouvelles qui arrivent ailleurs, à d’autres. C’est ainsi que j’ai perdu plusieurs nuits de sommeil à réfléchir au meurtre de Tori Stafford, dont le procès se déroule présentement en Ontario. Tori, l’horreur de ses derniers moments, l’existence dans ce monde d’une méchanceté et d’une perversion qui n’est assouvie que par la torture et la destruction d’une vie innocente, fauchée pour n’avoir qu’été au mauvais endroit au mauvais moment. On cherche une cause, une raison, quelque chose à quoi s’accrocher pour se convaincre que ça n’arrive qu’aux autres, pour vivre nos vies en paix sans porter le poids du danger qui nous guette. Des dérangés qui s’en prennent aux enfants, il y en a toujours eu. C’est lorsqu’on pense qu’il y en aura toujours que notre gorge se serre.

On dit qu’on ne peut pas vivre dans la peur, que les risques sont bas, que ces drames arrivent rarement. Mais qui veut être une statistique? Ça leur fait quoi aux parents de Tori de savoir que leurs chances de perdre leur enfant étaient basses, relativement parlant? Sur son site web Free-Range Kids, Lenore Skenazy recommande de chercher “à qui la peur profite” et pointe les cotes d’écoute, les tirages. Mais ça leur fait quoi aux parents de Cédrika de savoir que les média aiment les mauvaises nouvelles? Que la peur vend?

Je n’achète pas la peur pour la peur. Je n’ai pas peur d’avoir peur. J’ai peur pour mes enfants. Mes enfants. Pas les enfants des autres. Mes enfants. Ceux que j’ai mis au monde. Ceux qui pourraient partir à l’école, un matin bien ordinaire, pour ne jamais revenir. Je lis la série accidents de Pierre Foglia dans La Presse (Les bons vivants, L’annonce faite aux parents, Shaun avait bu et Quelle plaie les mamans trop prudentes) et j’accroche toujours sur la notion d’accident. Qu’on ne peut pas tout prévenir. Vraiment? Combien d’accidents le sont vraiment?

Ce n’est pas le destin qui a tué ces gens-là. C’est la vitesse, ou l’alcool, ou la drogue, ou les trois en même temps. Mais le plus grave est ailleurs. En se tuant, ces gens-là ont tué des innocents qui allaient au cinéma ou chez grand-papa, ou qui faisaient un tour de machine, comme on dit, ou un tour de vélo, ou de moto, et ces innocents-là non plus, ce n’est pas le destin qui les a tués. C’est un petit con soûl qui allait trop vite.

Avec l’âge, je deviens de plus en plus sensible à notre grande vulnérabilité envers la méchanceté et la stupidité d’autrui. Je n’ai pas peur de gros méchant loup qui m’attend au tournant, j’ai peur de l’idiot qui s’en vient à contresens de l’autre côté de la côte, du pervers criminel qui a décidé que cette journée serait la bonne. J’ai peur de la journée qui commence comme toutes les autres et qui se termine par un appel de la police.

Appelez-moi mère poule. Je préfère vivre avec l’inquiétude qu’avec le regret.

Friday’s Mixed Nuts


1 one new English word I learned this week: distaff. In French, the word for distaff (“quenouille”)  is also used to describe the pollen-holding part of the reed (“roseau”) as in “Holy Cow there’s a lot of pollen in a distaff!”

On our daily walk, we picked a "quenouille" and my daughter asked if she could pick it apart. "Sure", I said,"Here's a bowl."
Aaaaaah.... Lesson learned (or rather "remembered from childhood")

2 two pet-peeves (bear with me, I don’t have many): TV doctors wearing scrubs and lab coats. Really? I didn’t realize that you had to be sterile to explain how the excretory system works to a camera. And Gmail.  I can’t understand how a web service with a user interface that is so counter-intuitive can make so much money. Oh, wait, that’s right, they’re not making money from the users of the interface, they’re merely selling access to their users to marketers. I’ve been trying to find an attachement for a couple of hours now, I think I clicked on just about every icon on my screen. User interfaces like this are why it’s so hard to teach my mother-in-law how to use her iPod. “Yes, I can see the pictures but I don’t know how to open just one.” “Touch it.” “Touch what?” “The picture” ” What do you mean??” “Just touch the picture you want to see Grandma!” “Aaaaaaah! So easy!” All this time spent trying to open a stupid attachement is giving me too much opportunity to notice the targeted ads on the sidebar. Hey marketers, tell your clients that when I see their ad as I’m reading a personal email on a related topic, I’m spooked. Not tempted to buy their products. Spooked. And considernig closing my Gmail account. This book The Daily You by Joseph Turow is next on my reading list.

3 three feet is how far my baby daughter throws up when she burps. I love babies but not the part where I walk through life stinking of sour milk.

Better out than in I always say!
Mom? Could you, uh, like, put down the camera and maybe clean me up? Maybe?

4 four crying out loud!    When they say you shouldn’t type anything into a computer (and especially online) you wouldn’t want read in a court of law, that’s what they meant: Ottawa jogger sues blind runners for crashing into her . See that last paragraph?

“We Googled her name to see who she was and it showed that she ran a race in April 2010, so if she was hurt so bad that she said she’s been unable to run, why is her name listed for running a 10-k months later?” Dunkerley asked.”

5 five… I don’t have a five… Except, wait, five fingers way up (as in “High Five” ) to all the moms out there on the “mommy track”. Earlier this week I was asked by a TV research assistant how I was balancing out work and family. I’m not, I said. “Balancing out” work and family is a game of fractions where what you give to one you don’t give to the other. The idea of balance or equilibrium means that you are somehow giving equal parts to both plates. I like my work but I don’t want work and family to balance. Family comes first and in my case, it means that I write MP correspondence part-time with a graduate degree in law. I will never fly in the Prime Minister’s plane but I will always be home in time to make a healthy diner for my family. So give me a high five if you’re with me on the mommy track, over-educated and under-employed, and not resenting the workplace for being different than the family place. ‘Cuz the workplace is missing something crucial and that’s my children.

Friday’s Mixed Nuts


Pour mes lecteurs francophones: “Friday’s Mixed Nuts” est un ramassis d’anecdotes et de faits divers rassemblés au cour de la semaine.

1 one vegetarian recipe my kids all love: blackbean quesadilla from Canadian Living.com I serve it with salsa, sour cream and guacamole. I always double the recipe and we eat the leftover filling by the spoonful. I also warm-up the leftovers in a pan, throw-in some cheese and top it with diced avocado. It’s a gazillion time better when the salsa was made with love by your own mother using your own homegrown tomatoes and jalapenos. A little jar of spicy summer heat in the dead of winter.

2 two blogs I found this week that inspired me: The Lucas Adventures (family with 4 children and a touching adoption story from Rwanda) and Crackers (a homemade food blog about eating well, something I try to do in part by growing my own tomatoes and having other people make the salsa — Merci Maman et Faustina!)

3 three sizes of black socks is how I deal with  the laundry for 20 feet (well 16 really since the twins don’t count yet). Large black socks for mom, dad and the two larger children, medium black socks for the two medium children and small black socks for the little boy. Clean socks live in a laundry basket and people play mix-and-match as required.

4 four kilometers is how far I ran on icy sidewalks with my dog and my jogging stroller. You can read about it in the Running Diaries’ First Run post.

5 five billion dollars is what Facebook will file to raise in its initial public offering (IPO).  According to the company, its revenue rose by 65% is 2011 from 3-ish million $ to 1 billion. Ever wondered what made Facebook so valuable? It depends who you ask. According to founder Mark Zuckerberg, it is seizing the opportunity to connect people and building the tools that enable these connections. Uh? Since I don’t pay a dime for connecting with my friends there has to be more: investors are not paid in “connections”. Mashable has the real story here. In case you were wondering, Facebook is a giant advertizing bucket. We users are not the clients, we are the product. That’s good to keep in mind as Facebook prepares to put your personal information on show whether you want it or not. Is this a big deal? It depends how you feel about online privacy. Still, you may want to read this before embracing the mandatory timeline.