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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Set of three

She pulls the white envelope out of her backpack on the walk home from the school bus. Look she says. She flaps the envelop in the air while I try to grab it. I herd the kids up the stairs and into the house while simultaneously peeking at the pictures stuck to the back of the envelope. Her first school pictures.

In each one she smiles. Wearing a white shirt against a blue background, we had forgotten it was picture day, she smiles. Each of her smiles are different.

In the first picture her smile is tentative. It looks a bit forced, as if she is unsure why she is sitting in the gym in front of a strange lady and being asked to smile. She relaxes in the second picture. Learning forward, she looks directly into the camera and smiles sweetly. In the third picture she sticks her neck out, tilting her head slightly to her left and the cheeky grin she wears on her face is mirrored in her eyes.

That's my girl.  

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


When she got off the bus there were no tears. I didn't cry she said. Yay I said. I wanted to ask more but she was distracted by the dogs waiting at the bus stop with us. She pet them and they licked her. Everyone was thrilled.

We walked home. I went to drop off the boy's push car on the porch and when she saw me she yelled. I want to go to the restaurant! she hollered. She had not forgotten the promise I had made her yesterday. No crying at school or on the bus and we can go to the diner for lunch I had told her, not really believing that the bribe I was offering would work.

It did.

The three of us sat in a booth. She ate her grilled cheese sandwich and he ate his mac and cheese. Much milk was spilt. A large tip was left for the server.

I cried in the playground she said to me on the way home. What? I asked. You cried before school started in the playground? Yes she said, happy to be truthful now that her stomach was full.

I didn't care. There may have been some tears, there may still be tears, but having her get off the bus with a smile instead of tears was worth the price of a grilled cheese sandwich.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Crying and throw up

The girl came home crying from school. She doesn't want to go. She wants to stay with us.

The crying started before she left her class. She cried on the bus. She cried in my arms.

I'm not scared of the bus she said I'm scared of school.

I feel caught between not knowing how to help her and like her difficulty adjusting is somehow my fault. Like we made some mistake along the way raising her. And then I think, is this really such a big deal? Aren't all kids having trouble adjusting to school for the first time?

She was fine this afternoon. Happy. Her normal self. Which was a good thing because her brother suddenly got sick and spent the afternoon throwing up.

Tomorrow we will wake up and do it all again.

Sunday, September 26, 2010


On Friday I cut the kids' hair. That's right. I didn't take them to have their haircut, I did it myself. Last time we went to a hair salon and there were too many tears.

Don't look so worried! It turned out great. I trimmed the girl's bangs and took a few inches off the bottom. She asked for the same haircut as her brother but I said no.

What to see what the boy looks like with his new haircut? I blogged about opening Salon Mom over at Kids in the Capital.

I may even starting taking clients. Anyone want me to cut their kids' hair?

Saturday, September 25, 2010


Dinner was done and the girl was clamoring for one of the cupcakes we had baked on Friday in an attempt to be celebratory. As I struggled to hold her off until everyone else was done eating and convince her that asking every minute wouldn't make the cupcake appear faster, I had the idea to suggest we do the homework sent home by her teacher in the middle of last week. She loved the idea. As only someone who has never before done homework can.

I found the sheet of questions and we all sat together at the table. The husband finished eating. The boy yelled until I got him his own pen and sheet of paper on which he proceeded to scribble his own "homework". Meanwhile the girl and I worked through the questions together.

She started by writing her name at the top of the page. True to her sense of self, she wrote out her nickname instead of her full name. We talked about why the husband and I choose that name for her. I wrote down the reasons and then she read it back to me, repeating the sentences I had read to her only moments before.

We need a picture of when you were a baby I said. I'll draw one she said yanking the paper from me. We can use a photo I said. That excited her even more.

I found one of her early baby albums and she and I flipped through it. Every few pages the boy would lean over, point to the baby in the picture and yell Me! He didn't appreciate being corrected.

The girl and I settled on a photo and she helped me tape it to the bottom of the page. Her work done she went off to play and I tucked the sheet into her backpack for her teacher to find on Monday morning.

Thursday, September 23, 2010


Yesterday was my birthday. It was a very unbirthday.

I was still feeling sad about Odin.
I was dealing with some personal stress. For some reason I haven't been dealing well with any kind of stress these past few weeks.
I was sick with a stomach bug and my appetite was gone. It really isn't a birthday unless there is a cupcake. Soup doesn't cut it.

I try not to have high expectations about my birthday. In the past I have always ended up feeling disappointed. Now all I expect is a few well wishes and a card from the kids. My kids (well really the husband) made me lovely cards. I had lots of well wishes. Thank you.

Now I am dusting myself off from yesterday and trying to fix a smile firmly in place. The sadness and stress and stomach bug are all still there. But today I will try a little bit harder. And if I have learnt anything in my now thirty-four years, life is all about trying.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


It's been almost a year since we last saw him. He ran out the door, under my mother-in-law's car and down the street. Into the night.

We brought Odin home from the Humane Society back in 2003. We thought our other cat Princess (named by the Humane Society where we found her) would like some company. She didn't. She hated Odin. She hated him like she was a cool teenage girl and he was an annoying younger brother. She hissed at him, she swatted him, she ran away from him.

He loved her. Her intense and constant dislike for Odin never swayed his love for her. He always went back for more, as if he was convinced that this time she would finally play with him. Finally love him.

Odin was the perfect cat for kids. He was interested in the new baby we brought home four years ago. He would sit next to me while I nursed the girl. He would lay nearby on the floor while she rolled around. He would let her chase him when she learnt to crawl.

A favorite activity for both of them was for the girl to launch herself onto his back and squish him into the ground. She would lay her whole body over him while he purred happily. The boy did this too. He just didn't get the chance to do it for very long.

Odin was always an outdoor cat until he met us. He was found out in the countryside and from the beginning he tried as hard as he could to be outside. He would run through our legs when we opened the door. He would scratch at the windows. He would cry at the door.

When the boy was born we were too tired to fight him anymore. We got him a collar, made sure his shots were up to date and opened the door to his freedom.

The husband looked for Odin for weeks after he disappeared. He made trips to the Humane Society, even though our cat had a tracking chip and they would have our information if he was brought there. The husband put up posters around the neighbourhood. He went on long walks looking for any sign of Odin.

I liked to think that Odin had wandered too far away from home and couldn't find his way back. A lovely family with lots of kids found him and fell so deeply in love with his crazy spirit that they couldn't bare to give him up. So he stayed there, curled up on a warm lap.

As I left the house this morning in the pouring rain to walk to the bus stop and pick up the girl after Kindergarten I was told that one of our neighbours' cat had been found. We call him The Friendly Grey Cat because, well, he is grey and friendly. The cat had been missing for a few weeks. We heard the news. We saw the posters.

His people found him at the Human Society. His leg was damaged and he had to undergo surgery. His leg fur was rubbed raw and maggots had infected the wound when the Humane Society had found him abandoned on the street. He had wandered into someones animals traps. He had been wounded and those people with the traps, people the neighbours have identified and whose house I can see from my window, moved him and left him. They left him on the street to die.

Is that what happened to Odin? Was he hurt and wounded only meters from our backdoor? Did the people with the traps find him and move him somewhere far away from us? Did they leave him on the street to die?

I can't stop thinking about him. In my heart I know this is what happened. It sounds like truth to me.  

Monday, September 20, 2010

Gabba Go Gabba

When the balloons fell from the ceiling she rushed for them. Out of her seat, past me and down the aisle. I paused for a moment and then headed after her, worried that she would be lost in the crowd of small children and not be able to find her way back to me. For a few moments I couldn't see her through the darkness. Then she straightened up clutching a blue balloon.

We went back to our seats but that didn't last long. No longer afraid of the noise and crowd, no longer nervous about the brightly coloured costumed dancers on the stage, she tore out of her seat once the bubbled filled the air. Up to the front of the stage she went. To the area that would be a mosh pit if the kids were only ten years older.

She and I sat up by the stage for the rest of the show. She sat on the ground cross legged and tilted her head straight back so she could see the dancers. When it was time to sing the goodbye song she cried. Sitting in my lap she cried because she didn't want the concert to end.

I won tickets to the concert from Bunch. Thank you.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Dress up

What's this she asks me picking the small container off my dresser table. It's lipstick I tell her. And then I tell her what lipstick is.

I don't dress up much. My daily uniform is one of functionality. I wear clothes that don't show the sand I sit in everyday at the park. Clothes that don't show the snot wiped on me when they lean in for a hug. Clothes that withstand spilt tomato sauce and yogurt.

As I rushed about my bedroom trying to find clothes dressy enough for my short appearance on television I let her play with the lipstick. She watched herself in the mirror while she used the stick to apply the coloured gloss to her lips. She applied some to my lips. And the area surrounding my mouth. She painted some on her brothers lips.

Not on your cheeks I said. Not on your brother's arms I said. Not on your legs I said. Finally when I found myself saying not on your feet I took the lipstick away. Thankfully, I had picked out an outfit by then.

I dressed up on Friday. I wore a black skirt and red top. I wore stocking. I dug some coloured lip balm out of an old purse. I did something to my hair that might be considered a style. I put on my new birthday earrings from my mother-in-law.

People noticed. My sister noticed the earrings when she watched the YouTube video. Friends said I looked nice. It was nice to hear.

When another birthday package arrived later that day from my dad and stepmom I put on the pink pearl necklace contained inside right away. I wore it with my new earrings and my semi-styled hair. I wore it with my grey yoga pants and blue long sleeve t-shirt. I wore it even as the girl tugged on it and the boy grabbed at my earrings. I wore it to the park while I sat in the sand and build castle after castle.

Friday, September 17, 2010


When I started blogging I surprised myself.

I am a pretty private person. I keep things to myself. I am careful, cautious, sometimes reluctant about sharing bits of myself.

Then I started blogging. I wrote out my feeling and thoughts, sometimes writing things I wouldn't tell my friends. I convinced myself that I was blogging about the kids, not about me. But really, it was both.

I started blogging anonymously. No first name for me, the husband or the kids. I felt safe hiding behind a picture of the boy's ten toes. No one would know it was me.

I am realizing anonymity only lasts so long. Bit by bit I have been outing myself. First meeting some other local bloggers in person, joining Twitter and going to meetups, watching my social circle of local bloggers expand, launching a parenting blog with a friend and writing for it, attending a blogging conference. Every time I introduce myself and say my real name I out myself.

Today we went on television to talk about Kids in the Capital. The host said my name, the camera filmed me, the clip is on Youtube. There is no going back. I am out. 

It feels weird. A bit strange. But also good.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Day one

We had to wake her up. She was still sleeping when 6:30am rolled around. We opened the door to her room and in the three of us traipsed. The boy climbed up beside her into her bed and called her name. Where is she going today? we asked him while we tried hard to wake her. School! he said.

Dressed and finished eating breakfast, we all headed out the door. Her new shoes were on her feet. Her new backpack was on her back. I made her stand on the front porch and took picture after picture. She even let her brother stand beside her. Some of the time.

We were at the bus stop early, so afraid were we of being late. She watched for the bus while trying to keep warm. It is cold at 7:30am on a September morning. It is only going to get colder.

Before the bus arrived our neighbours showed up. An older girl, a Third Grader!, said she would look after my girl. They would sit beside each other on the bus. She would show my girl where to go once they got to the school. The youngest of three, I couldn't help but notice a slightly smug smile on the face of the third grader. She was the one with all the experience now.

Finally the bus arrived. The girl walked straight for the open door of the long yellow bus. I called to the bus driver and introduced the girl. The husband called too, mentioning the grade and school the girl was going to. Just in case. Just to make sure the girl was expected.

I quickly called the girl to me for a kiss and then she was up the stairs, no looking back. I waited for the door to close and the bus to pull away. Instead it sat there. I could see the girl standing in the aisle, looking around. The husband and I resisted the urge to rush in and find out what was wrong. We stood watching. When our third grade friend had finally managed to move kids around enough so that she and the girl could have a seat to themselves, the door closed and they were gone.

No tears from me. I felt pride. I felt awe. I wondered what she would do and who she would be with. But no tears. At least not from me.

The boy cried. He cried and cried. Tears streaked his face. He howled after the bus left, so overcome with sorrow that he wasn't on it. Me bus! he yelled. Into the house we went, me still clutching a crying child. Distractions were found. Snacks were supplied. He calmed down.

Until I uploaded and watched the video I took of her getting on the bus. Then the tears were back. Bus! he wailed. When you are four, I said. When you are four you can take the bus. Those words are cold comfort to a two year old.

And so the morning passed.

It was a strange morning. Strange for it to be just the two of us again after the girl was home from preschool all summer. Strange not to have her with me as we walked the aisles of the grocery store. Strange that the boy fell asleep on our walk to the park and spent the next hour sleeping in his stroller while I sat beside him in a coffee shop staring off into space.

I was early for the school bus drop off. The boy and I sat for a long time waiting for the bus. It caused some halfhearted howls from him, but they were weaker then the ones earlier that morning. I think he was anxious to see his sister.

When a small school bus, a bus I had earlier seen drive down the street at the end of the road where I was waiting, stopped at the corner I panicked and ran towards it. I almost left the boy where he sat, but remembered to grab the stroller at the last minute. The driver had some words for me but I am new to this I said and didn't realize that the bus had a different drop off and pick up spot. And really, it didn't matter. Because here she was walking off the bus.

All smiles. 

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Saying what he wants to say

Two big bites he said to me as he walked into the kitchen. I stood at the stove, spooning risotto onto my plate  but I stopped and laughed as soon as I heard him. Words strung together so carefully in response to my request to eat his dinner. He let me know that he had eaten some. He was done. He wanted dessert.

While I sat across the table from him watching him eat a bowl of yogurt and frozen berries I thought about the words he has been saying. The way he has been saying them. One by one by one he has been stringing them into short sentences. He has been clearly pronouncing his sister's name. He has been saying what he wanted to say.

This morning at the grocery store I watched his sister play with the long packets of chewing gum hanging from a rack. Before I could say anything, the boy turned towards her from his seat at the front of the shopping cart. No no no he said wagging his finger at her. Just like I do.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Those days

You know those days where you wonder why you didn't just stay home? Those days where you push and push to get the kids out of the house but they resist you at every turn because, well, you are mean and make them put on shoes and sweaters. And then you manage to get them out out the house and in the stroller and to the library where you sign them up for their very own library card, because you are awesome like that. But then you didn't bring a book bag and the girl wants to carry all her books, in fact she insists on it, even though there are too many so they fall out of her arms onto the floor. So you help her pick them up and offer to carry some of them while she cries and cries at the injustice of her situation and because you aren't looking your two year old falls off the stool he is standing on to check out his books. He cries and cries. You persevere though and you get them out of the children's section only to remember that the elevator is broken and so you have to walk down a steep set of stairs with the both of them. But the girl cries and cries because she wanted to walk down the steep set of concrete steps first and you told her no while you imagining her falling down them in your head. So her books fall and she sits on the stairs and cries and yells at you and you listen as her voice echos through the quiet library. You bring out your sternest voice, one rarely heard, and threaten to leave the books at the library and carry her out of the building if she doesn't stop yelling and quiet down. And you mean it at the time but once the words are out of your mouth you realize that it is an empty threat because there is no way you can carry her, her brother, the snack bag, the diaper bag, three rain coats and the books that would need to be dropped into the return slot. She believes your threat though and so you manage to get the kids down the stairs and almost to the exit before she tries to test you on that "no talking" statement you made. You shush her while trying not to stare at all the people that are staring at you wondering why that mother can't control her cute but obviously badly behaved daughter.

You know those days? Sometimes I have to tell myself the day would have been even worse if we had stayed at home.

Friday, September 10, 2010


I think I was more nervous than you were. You made your name tag for your cubbie, four letters drawn along the line and then two squeezed in at the top of the page where there was space, and then ran off to play with the giant wooden dollhouse on the other side of the room. I sat in a little chair at a little table across from your dad and your new teacher and worried that she would like us.

I smiled like I was at a job interview. I said good things about you. I answered her questions. I drew a blank when she asked if we had questions for her. I attempted not to embarrass you or sabotage the rest of your school-life with a stupid remark. I marveled that this was the place, this was the room where you would be spending so much time over the next two years. With this person other than me.

I felt exhausted by the time we left your class. You asked if we could go and visit your old preschool, so we walked across the hall. You made a circuit of the room smiling at your old teachers and looking at what was so familiar to you only months ago. Your old teachers noticed how tall you are, how much older you look. I noticed that too. I looked around the preschool and could see how ready you are for kindergarten. With your new teacher.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Tomato soup

I made the soup while the boy napped and the girl watched a video. It was only 11 am but the boy was tired so I had tucked him into his bed earlier then usual. His sister, who had been clamouring moments before for me to take her to the park, grew excited when I mentioned it was nap time for her brother. Now? she asked as I changed his diaper. He should nap now she said, motivated not by kindness but thoughts of curling up on the couch with her favorite video.

I didn't have all the ingredients so I improvised a bit. I took pleasure in the chopping and the stirring and the smells that soon filled the kitchen. I looked forward to eating one of my favorite comfort foods from my childhood.

The soup was ready by the time the boy woke up. I filled two bowls covered in multicoloured hearts with hot soup for the kids. While the soup cooled I herded the kids to the table. With their bowls already on the table, I set mine down and a bag of store bought croutons next to it. I climbed over the back of my chair and squeezed myself between the table and the chair. Between the girl and the boy. There we sat, the three of us all squished together on the long side of our rectangular table.  Eating our tomato soup.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


Life is always changing. The only constant is change. I can fight it all I want, and I used to fight it hard and dirty, but it happens all the same. The change you want. The change you longed for. The change you dread.

One day I held out my hand to change and said let's not fight anymore. Now I tolerate it, it tolerates me. I try to guide it, it lets me keep my illusions of control. Sometimes.

The heavy rain and the cool weather tonight has reminded me that change is coming. Change is happening. Some of it thrills me, like watching the girl pull on her big backpack so she can dance around the house in preparation for her first day of school. Her new shoes already worn in with trips to the park and runs down the sidewalk. I laugh when I see the boy put on that same bright pink backpack and I marvel that one day, soon enough, it will be his turn too.

You can't outrun change. Change is coming. Change is happening. The good. The bad. Sometimes I wonder if it is already here and I didn't even know it. 

Saturday, September 4, 2010


I never had a nickname. My name is short enough, only four letters, and doesn't lend itself easily to a nickname. Or so I would tell myself while secretly wanting one.

During my first pregnancy I thought a lot about names. I thought a lot about names that had commonly known nicknames. We didn't know if we were having a boy or a girl, but I was pretty sure I wanted my kid to have a nickname.

The girl was named in the hospital room. Thankfully she was a girl because we didn't have any boy names we liked. We hadn't settled on a girl's name, and the husband was ready to have a discussion, but I knew. And so I named her.

From the beginning it felt strange to call her by her name. It seemed so long for such a small child. When I would hold her in my arms I would call her everything but her name. Whispered terms of endearment. Laughing silly words. Always coming back to her nickname.

From the time she could talk she called herself by her nickname. She would speak about herself in the third person. She would introduce herself to others that way. When the girl was not yet two and she met another little girl with the same name, she just called her MoreNickname. She still calls her that.

The nickname was who the girl saw herself as being. It is who we see her as too. Until I want her to stop jumping on your brother and listen to me! Then I trot out her full name and repeat it loudly in my sternest voice.

The boy wasn't named when we left the hospital. Thinking, but not knowing, we would have another girl we had decided on a girl's name but not a boy's name. We discussed a few. We had a preference. It wasn't until we were home and the girl said her brother's name that we were sure.

The boy's name is longer then mine but shorter then the girl's. It has a common abbreviation that I love, despite the fact that it is also becoming a popular girl's name. To us the boy is both this full name and his nickname. He still doesn't call himself by either. He is just me.

I never had a nickname. I have one now. Another four letter word. A word that is shouted. A word that is filled with demands and pleading. A word that is shared with countless other. I love it.

Friday, September 3, 2010


Maybe it was the coffee. More likely it was the fact that the boy was in tears in my friend's arms as soon as I came back to the park from the coffee shop. I wiped his nose with a tissue and then took him from her. He cried as he rested his seat on my shoulder. Tears and shot streaked his face.

Ever since then I have felt jittery.

For a long time he wouldn't leave my arms. He clung to me. There were moments when he would be happily distracted and I could gulp a breath but then he would remember that I had left him or that he wasn't in my arms where by all rights he should be and he would start to cry again. I tried to comfort him. When I asked him where it hurt he said teeth as he pointed to his jaw.

So I walked with him in my arms while the lady from the community newspaper took our picture and I felt jittery. I felt embarrassed that I was the one with the crying child. I felt silly that all the other parents at the park saw me having my picture taken and I wondered if they wondered why. I felt strange talking about me.

When I saw the girl go to bite her friend because he wouldn't give her a fishing net they had found at the park and the boy started to cry as soon as I went to get her, I knew it was time to go. Time to be at home. It was better at home. The boy stopped crying and clinging. The girl played with her little friends.

Now there is a moment of silence for me. The boy is napping and the girl is watching a much anticipated video. And I still feel jittery.

Thursday, September 2, 2010


What I wish for you is happiness. May you find joy in your life. Be who you are and who you need to be. Chase your dreams and ignore the voices that will hold you back. Treat everyone with respect, but walk away from those that are not respectful to you. Listen so that you may learn and understand. Go and discover the life that is waiting for you.

All that I wish is that you always know I am here for you to come back to.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010


I ask him lots of things. What his name is. What he wants for a snack. What colours his shirt is. How old he is.

How old are you? I would say to him.

Three! he would say, drawing out the vowels.

No I would tell him. You aren't three. Your sister is there. How old are you?

Four he would tell me once his sister was four.

No I would reply. You aren't four. You are one!

Then he would hold up one finger just like he does when he wants to persuade us that more, more, one more minute.

When I asked him today how old he was he said Two! is a singsong voice. It's your birthday I told him.

Happy birthday.