Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Karen vs the Dandelions (Part Two)

The Lawn Ownership Experiment continues.

Since the last chicane, I have even had compliments on the above-mentioned lawn, in that it was green and suspiciously free of dandelions. I am proud to report that the Army of Dandelion Invaders has been, if not eradicated, then quite squelched and maybe a little bit humbled, too. Last night, during inspection,* I found only three wee little dandelings trying to muster up strength from their wimpy little roots, but hah! I snatched them free and threw them into the composter.

I then stood proud, surveying that which I have tended, 'ere these many weeks...and noticed another foe. There's some kind of little creeping vine (called, I believe, Creeping Jenny), which was beautiful in my front garden, all walled in and contained. But I'm guessing that one of the workmen, while transporting plants from the front yard to the back, dropped a small little tendril -- just one! -- and created my new obsession. Now, let's just say first that I enjoy Jennies of all kinds. I find them to be delightful creatures, in general, but this particular Jenny has to go.

I first noticed it by my side deck - just a few little vines infiltrating the grass. I pulled at one, and it came out, root and all (I think?), leaving a slightly bald patch. And then I saw more. And more. And more. "This is not an effective use of your time," I was informed by a random husband (who shall remain unnamed), as I squatted down and pulled one vine after another out with my bare hands. For an hour. The problem with these pretty little vines is that if you leave one -- just one -- behind, it will spread and take over the entire planet,** choking out your grass and leaving unsightly patches of dirt. So, any time spent plucking is wasted unless I get every last one. Which, I admit, causes me to look a wee bit insane, especially since I keep finding more and more, while squatting down, muttering to myself. I found another large invasion of it beside my vegetable garden. Grrr.

And after a bit of internet research, the prognosis is glum: the scorched earth/clean slate is the most recommended, with dumping vast amounts of chemicals ("natural" or not) a second-best choice. The physical/organic way will take more time, more work, and more of my sanity away, but I'm committed. I'll keep pulling these things out, consarn it! And then I will topsoil and reseed and fertilize*** and blather about it to anyone who will listen! And then I will have a drink.

*Aside: uniform for lawn inspection last night was a nice tie-back work top, ugly beige shorts, pink happy bunny ankle socks (with little happy bunny pom poms), and black sneakers. No, it did not add to my appearance of being sane.

** Oo, fun! The Dictionary.com word of the day is "pullulate". How appropriate!

***Also, I will water it. I discovered that simply "waiting for rain" doesn't keep a lawn green. Vaughn and Ailsa, naturally, are delighted with the sprinkler and the hose.

Superwoman? Where?

...and on the 6th day, she barfed.

Friday, 17 June 2011

Superwoman, Day 4

In all the excitement of Chris being away, starting my new job, wrangling two kids to daycare and back, and house and yard maintenance, I happily added hosting a houseguest whilst caring for a sick kid.

Day 1: As you can imagine, the "new job" bit was a crazy addition to the daily routine (what? no naps?), and the heat wave added a new level of challenge, so when I actually got both kids (dressed and presentable) and myself (quite well put together, if I do say so myself) out of the door and to daycare by 7:59, I was very proud. I got to work by 8:25, and spent the day training, meeting people, writing down everything I heard, getting my building pass,* more training... and was totally drained.

So, by the time I walked the 20 minutes to the daycare, picked up a feverish Ailsa and a cranky, un-napped Vaughn, it was a bit too much. Ailsa had had her 12-month immunizations last week, and I knew this was an expected fever, so I wasn't too worried. She drank lots of milk and water, took bonus cuddles, and went to bed early. Vaughn, however, pushed every button I had (and some new ones, too), and got to go to bed early, too.

As for me, turns out that when I spend a whole day "learning" in the heat, I get migraines. Huh. So, I cleaned the bathroom and kitchen, went to bed early, hoped for the best, and promised to be a better mommy tomorrow.

Day 2: Ailsa wasn't too warm, so off we went to daycare, then to work. A morning full of meetings (trying to understand acronyms and context...ow...), a nice walk to City Hall for the NPSW barbecue, and then another afternoon of process and procedure (and copious note-taking), and I dragged myself through the hazy heat to pick up two kids, one of whom was burning up again.

Ailsa actually fell asleep at the dinner table, and they were both bathed and put down before 7:30. I then did another load of laundry, mowed the lawn, baked a cake, watered the plants, and swept and mopped. Superwoman was in bed by 11:38. Yo.

...but I awoke at 1:40, to the sound of voices. This is not unusual, as my across-the-street neighbours tend to drink a lot and then wax poetic profane on their front porch till the wee hours or till someone calls the police. I peeked out of my window, and there were actually a few guys sitting on what's left of my front lawn, with beer, pizza, and funny cigarettes. Swell. Being cranky, exhausted, and in a nightshirt, I decided that the effort it would take to put on my housecoat, go downstairs, turn off the alarm and open the door to tell them off would not be worth it, especially since, despite my crankiness, the combination of my size and my ducky housecoat is probably not the effective deterrent I'd want.

I drifted in and out of sleep, till my next-door neighbour appeared and told them off, but good. She used her parenting skills to get them to leave. "I'm calling the police in 5...4...3..." - they mouthed back at her, but I was fully awake by now, and had 9-1-1 already on the line, which I informed them through the front window. The police came by less than 2 minutes later.

Ailsa woke up a few times, fussing, sweaty, hot.

Day 3: At 7 am, her fever was still reading 100 under her arm, so I called work, apologized for a poor first-week impression, and took Vaughn to daycare, bringing Feverish Jr home with me. She conked out while I was talking to Telehealth, and napped for a good two hours. During this nap, I cleaned the bathroom again (how are there so many hand- and footprints everywhere again so soon?), and Dave showed up.

With Telehealth's blessing, I loaded Ailsa into the stroller with a lot of milk and water and some good snacks, and we walked to Parliament Hill, through the Market, and all about. Boy, was it hot, but Ailsa was cheerfully lazy, and Dave was a trooper. I created crazy blisters with such a long hot walk in flip flops, but there was nothing to be done about that.

We got back by 3, and Ailsa had a short nap while I prepped my class and Dave watched golf... which made me nap, too. Luckily, Ailsa woke me up in time to go pick up Vaughn. SO, I convinced Dave that she'd be fine with him for 15 minutes, dashed out in my blistered feet to pick up Vaughn, jog-and-strollered him home, just in time to see that our fearless babysitter was already there.

You see, I teach on Thursdays, and when Chris is away, I need to hire a babysitter for the 2 hours that I'll be out of the house. Dave had recommended that he not be the one to babysit them, and I thought I should probably listen to him. So I dashed out again, leaving behind me probably the Most Awkward Situation Ever, taught my class, picked up some bananas, and got home again. Dave was just leaving for a friend's place for the night, so I sponged down the sticky kids, popped them into bed, had a shower, and ate leftover pizza before...oh who knows what I did last night. It probably involved the Mentalist. Oh, and a load of diapers to be washed and folded.

Day 4 (today): I awoke perkily at 5:55; Ailsa was allowed to go to daycare, it was a Friday, Chris was coming home tomorrow, and Vaughn came in to tell me that he had thrown up on his bed.


I called the office (to recap: in 4 days of "work", I have used up 2 of my 5 Family days), gave a thousand apologies for missing my last opportunity for the handover from the woman who I'm replacing, and mopped up Vaughn's bed again.

Ailsa, feeling fine, went to daycare. The Amazing Amanda came to my house to pick her up. The woman is an angel. Pukeasaurus Rex has thrown up 7 times today, but luckily (hardy har), it's been mostly on textiles: the shag rug in his room, his bed, his pillow, the carpeted stairs; twice into a bowl; and once into his v-tech piano. Awesome.

He's still oddly perky between barfs. He's hungry, he's thirsty, he wants to play outside, he wants to show me his jumps. Then, suddenly, bleaaahhhh...followed by a little self-pity, then hey! He wants Cheerios!

The day isn't over yet, but as long as Ailsa avoids getting this bug, I have hope that everything will be fine. I've enlisted Dave to be the Designated Barbecuer, and I have some nice cold cider calling my name.

Superwoman, out.

* sob! they took away my beautiful ID card and gave me...well, if I can scan it in, I will.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Bitter Dream, they called her...

I had a terrible dream last night.

No, nothing had happened to my family or to my health. I wasn't being chased by a wolf, a witch, or a shark. It was much more normal, and I think that's why it's stuck with me.

I was at a class reunion, with all the people I went to university.

"What do you do?" I heard, over and over again.


I was unemployed.* Stuck between the end of my maternity leave and the offer/selection of one of the many, many AS 01 opportunities being thrust on me daily, due to the fantastic priority consideration I get for being spousally relocated.

In English, this means that, because Chris took a job in Ottawa, I am being considered for any and all jobs which I am entitled to.

In reality, this means that, every day, I get 3 to 5 requests for my resume from people that want to hire me as an AS 01. And it means that I am "not entitled" to a promotion.

No, not because I have a science degree. And not because I have training and experience and aptitude and skills far above my substantive level, which all of my managers have commented on. Mostly because, here in the Public Service world, you don't get promoted based on merit.

But all this to say, bitterly, that it was a very awkward dream, in which I was trying to explain to my other science-y graduates that I'm currently unemployed but hoping to get a decent low-level administrative job (12 years or so after university) soon... without crying.

Happier aside: I was watching Bob the Builder the other night (of course), and wondered why it seems so weird to me that there's a talking scarecrow on it... but somehow the talking mixer/loader/roller/crane/digger/tractor seem normal. Huh.

* But today, I started my New Job! An AS 01! At DRDC! Just feet away from Chris' cubicle! Am I using enough exclamation points to convincingly convey my enthusiasm?!!!

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Princess for a Day

The GrumbleBunny has survived a whole year!

(Yay for us! For all of you keeping track at home, that's two for two!)

We celebrated this momentous occasion with some low-key festivities in the backyard... but no birthday backyard barbecue is complete without a princess dress, am I wrong? (Thanks, Aunt Lorraine and Uncle Mal!)

The forecast threatened rain for the whole week prior, but Mother Nature came through for us with a bright, warm, sunny day! Huzzah for good weather! And huzzah for the party people in my backyard, instead of inside my house!

Grandpa dazzled the young'uns with bubbles.

This is a shot of the backyard - we're happy to report that as a backyard, it does the trick. Some nice shady spots under the tree and on the side deck kept mature folk cool, and the (dandelion-free) grass in the middle was great for running, chasing, trucking, and kicking. You can sort of see Chris barbecuing on the deck (bright orange shirt). And note, of course, the gorgeous "fence", designed to keep little people out of foundation excavations.

The garden, at the right of the picture, is currently sprouting beans, beets, and peas, as well as two pots of chives. The carrots, however, are being finicky. Massive rhubarbs can be seen off to the bottom right. Now that I have a recipe for rhubarb cake, they might be brought down to a reasonable size.

And FINALLY, it was time for cake. Ailsa, who did not know what she'd been missing for the past 12 months, didn't quite get it. AND THEN...

Sure, she might LOOK like she likes it, but does she really?

Ah. Apparently, she does.

At the end of it all, with everyone else gone home and Vaughn napping, the birthday girl helped me "put away" the contents of the cooler. Alberta girls like Alberta beer, it seems.

One more gorgeous shot of our little big girl. Daddy wants a shotgun for Father's Day.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011