Tuesday, 30 December 2014

The Theory of Relativity

(Alternate title:  Pride and Guilt, all rolled into one.  As usual.)             

The kidlets have had some good adventures over the holidays.  Possibly most exciting, they’ve been going on individual sleepovers at Grandma and Grandpa’s house – meaning one child gets prime one-on-one time with my parents, and our house gets 33% more sanity for one night and one day!

Ailsa was the first to be invited.  Being a stereotypical Middle Child,* Mom and Dad thought that she would appreciate the individual attention and the prestige of being First.  Surprising everyone, she declined.  She thought it would be more fun to go there with Vaughn and Tamsin.  Even when Grandma called her and invited her especially, she simply said, “No,” then handed the phone to Vaughn, so he could go instead.  He packed his backpack, and, with his beloved, bedraggled blankie in tow, we drove three kids out to the country for the annual tree-decorating… then left with just two little girls.  Snif.  Who knows what Vaughn got up to (video games and a movie, apparently), but I was able to sleep in till 8:12 (I knew he was the early bird!!!) the next morning, and take the girls swimming (“kimming,” as Tamsin calls it).  It was almost relaxing.**  Vaughn returned just before bedtime, full of smiles and stories, and Ailsa was suddenly eager to go.

But!  Because she had declined, she was bumped to the end of the line.  Actually, she was bumped for more practical reasons – with just two …um….functional kids, and me at work, Chris could have a relatively easier day.  So little Tamsin Toonamint the Two-Year-Old was invited.  She helped me pack her bag, and to the sound of sobs from her brother and sister (who suddenly decided that they love her, and wailing, thrust stuffed kitties into her arms), she marched out the door with my parents, proud and not even caring that we were all sad to see her go, the wretched little ingrate.  I called just after her bedtime to see if my poor little girl had cried too much for me.  “Not at all,” Mom reported.  Humph.  The next morning, at work, she had the nerve to call me and coach Tamsin to happily say, “Good morning Mommy!”, and then Mom told me that she had slept in till 8:30.  Hubba-whaaa?  She also sent some photos of Tamsin not crying for her mommy:  Tamsin smiling in front of the tree, Tamsin helping with the dishes, Tamsin sweeping the floor, Tamsin helping Grandpa light the woodstove… waitaminute… she’s never that helpful at home…

But the whole point of this story is the relatively easy part.  I worked (a nice, quiet day at the office, where I was appallingly productive, could actually think things through, and even cleaned off my desk a little), then was picked up by Chris and the kids to go look at the Christmas lights downtown and eat some delicious Indian food.  It was still light out at 4:15, so we decided to have an early dinner at the East India Company.  The decor is stunning, the buffet plentiful, the food spicy-yet-delicious…and it’s in the Entertainment book, too.  Vaughn and Ailsa were perfect little dinner companions – they got to drink ice water out of actual wine glasses! – and not only did they love to explore the carved walls, sculptures, and wall hangings, but they also couldn’t stop unconsciously shimmying to the traditional music, which was awesome.  Right before we left, a big group came in, and one of the kids, who was about 10, with almost black hair, and the same long eyelashes and dark eyes that Vaughn has, looked around and said something quietly about the decorations.  His uncle said, loud enough for us to hear, “It’s not weird.  It’s your culture.”  Hilarious.

We then ran down Elgin street, all the way to Confederation Park, to play tag among the brightly-lit trees.  We then crossed the street to City Hall, to watch the lights around the Rink of Dreams change colour and the skaters skate, then walked behind the Courthouse, climbed on the monuments, and had a boys-against-girls race back to the car.  It was SO cold.  And also, the girls won.

It was such a fun, active, pleasant night…well, relatively, anyway.  I couldn’t quash the feeling that we were somehow betraying Tamsin by having such a nice time together, that we almost certainly wouldn’t have had without a considerable amount of hassle:  a snowsuit, a stroller, a high chair…  We drove home, hoping to get there before her triumphant return; when she arrived five minutes later, Miss Tamsin strolled in all cool as a cucumber, and not nearly as excited to see us as we were to see her.  Turns out that when they got close to the city, she started asking in panicked tones, “Ganma house?  Ganpa house?” – I guess she had more fun there than she does at home.  Humph again.

Ailsa’s turn is next, in a week or two.  Whatever will can we do without her?



*  I don’t believe in birth order theory, but if I did, Ailsa fits the description exactly.

**  My own theory of relativity involves activities that used to be impossible to manage with one or two children that are now laughingly easy because we have the perspective of life with three kids.***  Note that Einstein, who also (probably) had three kids, never had to take them all swimming at the same time, because one was put up for adoption he was smart.   

***  Which is impossible, even if you're a genius.

Monday, 27 October 2014

Autumn Awesome

There is apparently something extremely interesting happening over there.
There has been so much to share, but so little time at the end of each day to share it.  After a fun summer, the kids are in full autumn rhythm, including back to school and back to daycare, and after a year (and more), it's back to work for both Chris and I... at cool new jobs, and in the same city, of all places!

Waiting for the schoolbus, in First Day of School finery.
Early September, the Big Kids went to school!  Vaughn is now in Senior Kindergarten, a seasoned pro who can tell us all everything we need to know about school, buses, routines, and rules.  Ailsa, new to Junior Kindergarten, didn't even spare me a backwards glance on her way into the school.  Ok, maybe one, but that's only because I followed the bus to school, crying really loudly.

Tamsin was only slightly less upset than I, because she didn't get to go on the schoolbus.  Now that she has a fun place to go (daycare) with "Dabby", Rosie (the kitty), and two little friends, she doesn't mind at all.

At the end of the day, Vaughn and Ailsa got off the bus with great big smiles on their faces, ready to jumpstart new careers as Sears catalogue models.
Instead of doing the whole "Gatineau Hills" experience (we didn't want to fight the crowds), we instead took advantage of the most perfect Sunday ever to drive down the street to the Rockliffe Parkway.  Although we didn't end up where I was picturing, we still had a great hike and explored some random old architecture left over from the Public Library.
Ailsa the Adventurous was the first up on the pillar.

Tamsin's a big girl too!  She insisted on "up".

No Great Canadian fall day would be complete without Timmy's.  (Elizabeth agrees)

Now, how do I get down?

These moments are so rare - it's not every day that everyone smiles at the same time, or even that we have time to go someplace together instead of running errands or cleaning the house.  When I'm being pulled in three different directions at the same time, or on the lucky occasions that I get one-on-one time, I try to take photos and videos so that one day, when I have time, I can actually enjoy these too-fleeting memories of the kids' childhood.

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Fun with People

I have a friend, oh, who we'll call Sean, who’s a brilliant patent agent/intellectual property guy.*

We’re getting T-shirts made for our ball hockey team (the Retired Superheroes), and I designed the logo with the Superman S on it. "Sean" told me that he couldn’t order it or ship it because it was a copyrighted image, and his IP business just couldn’t do it in good faith, as his company's name was on it as our sponsor. So I put stars around it. Then I sent it to him again with a balloon covering one of the edges. Then I put it on a pink background. For someone that’s known me, literally, my entire life, he was surprisingly frustrated in his explanations of why it still was copyrighted. So I added glitter.

People are fun.

* despite being a total idiot. My favourite idiot, but still.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Making mountains out of anthills

We have an ant problem.

 I had a bad day when I was weeding the garden before I planted in June.* I dug up approximately six gazillion ant eggs and baby ants, which creeped me right out. Luckily, I was wearing gloves. And I had a shovel, a bucket, and a burning hot driveway. A small bit of me felt bad, but the rest just felt twitchy, itchy, and ready to stop weeding for at least the rest of the day.

Our clothesline, which I love, goes from our deck to a post in the back corner of our yard, just in front of our big boulder, which I call Pride Rock. There's a gorgeous lilac tree that's grown up around the post, and it is home to -- and I'm just estimating, here -- another four gazillion ants. They are super lucky to have our clothesline, which doubles as an Ant Highway between the tree and our deck. It's great, because not only can they have fun while I'm hanging/taking down the laundry (if you pluck the line at just the right time, the ants go ptoink, off into the air somewhere) (it's super fun!) (I should find a hobby), but also, at least 5 of the little buggers smuggle themselves into the house in the laundry basket, little stowaways inside wee little sockies and cute little shirts.

 Somehow, the bathroom has become the place to be, for ants. Five or six, everytime you go in. Oddly, five or six DIE everytime we go in. But there are always five or six more.

Imagine my .... there are no words for this one, actually ... when the kids hopped into the tub last night with their awesome new bath toys (coconut shells), and Vaughn saved a bathtub ant from drowning, and decided that he would play with him for the entire bath. Ant-thony** even had a little coconut boat! Vaughn was so gentle, letting him swim for a bit, letting him rest for a bit.

After everyone was clean and fresh, Vaughn gently placed his coconut shell on the edge of the tub. "Anty needs a rest." Naturally, I thought it was a euphemism for "I played with my ant to death". But nope, Anty was just ... resting... I could almost see him panting, in fact. 

"Mommy, can you sew Anty a blanket?" Um....no.

I talked him down to a small piece of toilet paper, carefully draped over the poor thing. (Swimming is hard work.) "Mommy, can you take him downstairs with you and watch him till you go to bed? What time do ants get up? Maybe I'll get up early tomorrow when he gets up and we can have breakfast together."

I quickly assured him that I was not going to babysit the damn ant. But that he'd have a good night sleep, and that, if he wasn't there in the morning, he'd be off doing other ant-ctivities (see what I did there?).

It is to my credit that I didn't pith the damn ant. I did check on him before I went to bed, and he had already recovered from what was probably the most exciting bath of his life, and wandered off to god knows where (not the Ant Highway; catapulty clothesline rides don't start till 9 am. Everyone knows that). Vaughn was quite complacent this morning. "He's probably with his mom and dad."

 So, to sum up, the moral of the story is: the boy needs a dog. Stat.

 * I was a little late.
 ** I tried, but it didn't catch on. Neither did Ant Tracey or ... nope, that's all I had. It was Anty, of course.

Thursday, 31 July 2014

Regrets? I've had a few...

Alternate title: A Year in Review

Disclaimer: There is a seriously self-congratulatory tone to most of this one, but if you bear with me, there may be lessons learned and some self-recrimination too. See if you can hold on long enough to get to that part.

With Chris being home again, I suddenly realized that my year of hell freedom was over, and all the things that I could have or should have done, could now (probably) never happen.

Oddly enough, the ones that spring to mind are as follows:
Now I can't buy a box of Pot of Gold and eat the entire thing, while watching tv. ...actually, insert "tube of cookie dough" or "tub of Haagen Dazs" for "Pot of Gold", and I think that's about it.

Over the year* -- and here's where I pat my own back and toot my own horn -- I managed to keep all three kids alive, which, given their penchant for danger and adventure (and often, their screamy and disreputable behaviour), deserves, if not a trophy, then at least my own talk show and also an island, as a reward. I managed to get one kid off to school for the first time, and returned to work (part time). I developed and implemented a pretty fancy cleaning schedule that has kept my house cleaner than it has ever been before (not without thanks to our amazing nanny), and that I'm still loosely adhering to. The kids got attention (even bad attention is good attention, right?), outings, restaurant meals every second week, activities like gymnastics, soccer and dance, and no communicable diseases. The were clean, dressed, fed (very healthily!), and although are not yet the super-polite, incredibly respectful little beings that I'm trying to force them to be, at least haven't bitten anyone in public. Yet.

I have taught BodyAttack, faithfully, every Saturday morning, so I must have maintained some kind of fitness level, despite not being able to get to the gym more than one other time a week, ever. This can probably be explained by the 10,000 pushup/burpee/situp challenge, which NO, I still haven't finished, but I swear that I will. I also completed all levels of Dance Central 1 and 2 on our XBox, which kept me entertained for a few months, and I'm happy to say that my infatuation with Angel, my CGI Dance Central boyfriend**, has subsided since Chris' return. I also played ball hockey almost every Thursday night. The few times that no babysitters were available, well, I have to admit that the ensuing disappointment translated into wrath, landing squarely on the heads of three little hufflings. I mean, it's my One Night Out where I get to be a fun person again, not just a mom, not just a coworker, and if you take that away, I get cwanky.

The lawn has lots more weeds than usual (but still not a lot, unless you count the side yard, which I don't), and has only been fertilized once so far. The garden has two surviving bean plants (damn squirrels), several lush beet plants, lots of leafy spinach plants, and not one carrot. Not one! My tomato plant yielded one beautiful tomato, but was eaten by -- you guessed it -- the damn squirrels.

Around the house, the basement is 99.5% finished, with the last LAST last step being to finish painting/carpeting the basement stairs (they're (somewhat badly) primed, but look pretty good as is, considering that they're basement stairs). Over the year, I painted lots of trim and shelving. I had the main floor and stairways painted by professionals. I've reorganized the living room, and set up a lovely deck lounge. I even fashioned a very nice canopy out of fade-resistant material, to lessen the heat from the sun beating down on the deck, through the plexiglass roof on the pergola. I bought, built, and (mostly) installed an awesome new headboard that makes our bedroom almost look like grownups might sleep there.

I didn't drink very much (considering), because you can't probably shouldn't just drink a whole bottle of red wine by yourself while watching tv, folding laundry and doing burpees. I didn't often buy white wine, which can be put back in the fridge, so I'd save my red for when Chris was home, since it's never as good the next day. (Alone, doing burpees.) I had two perfect, beautiful, memorable meals: one was a lunch at Chez Lucien, the other was a four-course dinner at le Nordik. Both involved wine, and both were tables for one.

The inital transition when he left was hard. The kids were sad, there were too many changes, and too many things that I was solely responsible for. But I feel pretty good about how I rallied. I'm pretty sure that, even though I didn't come out of it with a(nother) Masters Degree (kaff), I learned even more than Chris did. I learned that I can be happily alone without being lonely. That I can do the impossible, and sustain it for months. This new transition, of having Daddy around, underfoot, interfering in Mommy's Way, is, in a way, even harder.

Looking ahead, I almost feel that I have to convince myself that it is good to have him back. Because now I can slack off on the housework a bit (and only be fully responsible for laundering kids' clothes and diapers). I don't have to plan everything to the nth degree, because I have someone to help. I can actually leave the house in the evening to go for a run or to the gym***, or pick up an extra class here and there. I got a haircut for the first time in 17 months. I went to le Nordik for a day of reward. There's someone in my bed at night and when I wake up.

But now there's someone in my bed at night and when I wake up. This impacts important activities like tossing and turning, turning on lights in the morning, snacking while reading, and/or doing my nails in bed. There's someone underfoot, helping me to make breakfast, lunch, or dinner. There's someone helping with the housework, meaning that the onus isn't solely on me, meaning that maybe the cleaning schedule has sort of fallen by the wayside. There's someone who wants a say (!!!) in what we do, where we go, what we eat, what we watch. After a year of autonomy and complete control, I have to compromise.****

So, for the next little while, I'll continue to try to find balance (the balance that I haven't had in a year, aside from Thursday nights), try to appreciate the extra set of hands, the opportunity to actually play with the kids again, instead of always multi-tasking, and maybe even get to sleep in once in a while. And maybe I'll even go out and buy myself some good drugstore bonbons and eat them all in one sitting, hiding in the basement. But probably not.

* *It was actually 11 months, but I deserve credit for at least a year.
** Chris wants me to point out that Angel is not only CGI (and therefore not real), but also gay. No he isn't.
*** This may actually happen! It hasn't yet, but it totally could.
**** Sucks.

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Behold! The beautiful Hufflings

Lettuce not speak of behaviour, of whininess, or of bad moods.  Lettuce just gaze upon x-treme cuteness.

Kitty nose and whiskers?  Check.  Tiara?  Check.  Freezie?  Tamsin's life is complete.

Also sporting nose-and-whiskers (different day) (it happens quite often), Ailsa creates a beaded necklace.

Vaughn's Handsome Shirt and his lego:  two reasons to smile!

Rarely seen in the wild, we were lucky to capture a hug of hufflings on film.

Best Bath Ever.  (note that a shower was required for actual "cleaning")

Monday, 16 June 2014

Time to rethink my life

I have decided that I need to seriously debate the wisdom of maintaining my current course in life versus becoming, oh, a crack addict.

The Things I Need To Focus On As a Working Mom
  1. Getting everyone up by 7.
  2. Putting a nice, healthy breakfast on the table.
  3. Hurrying everyone through breakfast.
  4. Making sure that two kids are dressed and beds are made; dressing the little one.
  5. Teeth brushing for four people.
  6. Getting out the door with two balanced lunches, rain gear, and a water bottle, to get to the school bus stop by 7:45.
  7. On the days that I'm at home, planning activities for the day, such as The Gym!  Costco!  The Pet Store!  Reading!  Hygiene! Math and Language Skills!  (this was all done today)
  8. On the days that I'm at work, being as productive as possible in 15 hours a week, to ensure that my boss doesn't pull the plug on my amazing flexible schedule.
  9. Keeping the yard neat, garden weeded, and plants (somewhat) alive.
  10. Coordinating babysitting and nannying.
  11. Staying calm, setting a good example, and teaching important lessons like, "Why whacking your sister(s) with a stick is not a good idea:  Three part series".
  12. Always remembering sunscreen and sunhats.  For everyone.
  13. Making dinner that is healthy and semi-edible while three maniacs scream around underfoot, to eat by 6 pm.
  14. Bathing (tonight with homemade bath paint!), readying for bed, and sedating (just kidding!  ha ha!) the kids by 7:30  (ha ha... ha...kaff).
  15. Cleaning the house from top to bottom, reshelving books, organizing toys, and getting meals prepared for the next day.
  16. Finding a nanny for the summer.  In the next two weeks.  After scrambling to fill in the time between now and the end of June for the next two weeks.
  17. Maybe showering and/or styling my hair for the next day.  Maybe.
  18. Getting to bed before 11 midnight 1 am.

The Things I Need To Focus On As A Crack Addict
  1. Getting more crack.


Sunday, 15 June 2014

Original Thought

Hey, remember how enthused and appreciative I felt towards Google the other day?

I’m not sure that I feel awesome that Google is fostering a global connectedness to all other human beings, or not, but the other day,  I decided to look up a question that had sort of bothered me since I added an oral rinse to my dental regime.

For those who don’t know about my amazing teeth, they have always been crooked, crowded, snaggly, but cavity-free.  Cleanings took half the time of mere mortals, and in my twenties, my every-five-year dentist habit was met with disapproval, but a grudging, “you have good teeth”.  Apparently, I have been overconfident, though, as my last trip to the dentist was terrible.  The cleaning took forever.  It hurt.  And they found two occlusions.  Now, to be fair, an occlusion is just a pre-cavity (so my record stands!), but they booked me for fillings.  I showed up, ready and a little nervous, and they offered me the needle.  

"Um, do I have to?" I asked.  "I don’t like needles."

"You know what?" he said, “It’s just a small one.  You probably don’t need freezing.”


OH MY GAAAAAAAAAHHHHSHHHHH.  (the sound of me trying to yell with three hands in my mouth.)  Apparently, I do TOO need freezing.  And also, apparently, Marathon Man made far too big of an impact on me, as that’s all I could think about, despite trying to visualize nice rippling brooks over smooth river stones.*  I was tense, sweaty, and it took 40 minutes to do, since they had to keep stopping so I could start breathing/stop whimpering again.  No good. 

“We’ll book another appointment for the other one.” 


Two weeks later, I show up, already shaking and panicky.  I asked for the Mouth Needle this time.  

“It’s just a small one.  You probably don’t need—"

“Give me the damn needle!!!!”

Without living through it again, my hands were clenched together, my eyes were closed, and I held an isometric glute contraction for a full 15 minutes.  Then….

“All done.”

One eye slowly opened, then the other.

“That’s it?”

“That’s it.”

“That was… (long pause)… fine.”  And I meant it.  No pain, at all.  Even the needle part was fine.  What a nice dentist!  From all the tensing and worrying, though, I was super-shaky, and had to sit in my car for 10 minutes before I could drive.

But I digress.  Two (not really) cavities, two stressful chair sessions, and you-bet-I’m-buying-an-oral-rinse, so that I can add to my regime of flossing, brushing, and having Good Teeth.

Which brings me, finally, to Google.  I started to type a question about the aforementioned oral rinse.  I noticed that, when I spit, there are lots of blue... things... that come out.  So, I started typing, "what is the blue stuff that I spit out when I use mouthwash?" and the darn thing auto-completed it for me!  Not on the first word, but still.  

I'm torn between being reassured that there are millions of others is at least one other person out there who has the same questions, the same inquiries, the same concerns... and being slightly depressed that there is nothing that I can come up with that somebody else in the world (actually, in the English-speaking, computer-accessible world) hasn't already asked.  I tried.

In fact, without even trying, I read this the other day:

"Uniqueness, when it comes to human experience, is a fiction we tell ourselves. Maybe in combination the elements of your life amount to something one-of-a-kind, but you can be pretty sure that each of the elements is something someone has owned, done, claimed, crowed about before. So you can drive yourself bonkers trying to hunt down elements that are at least unique to your FB feed, or you can decide that your experience has value in its value to you." - Carolyn Hax

Again, reassuring that I'm not alone, but great, even my unique thoughts about uniqueness have already been uniquely thought and written about.  So, never mind, I guess?

Bleah.  Pass the floss.

* Come to think of it, the laughing brook thingy didn’t work during labour either.  Maybe my choice of visualization is the problem.

Sunday, 25 May 2014

We're baaaaack...

It's amazing how quickly one's perspective shifts when one realizes that what one didn't really want in the first place is now gone forever.

This can be applied to all sorts of things (not just dating, ha ha), but for me, it was Google maps.  At first, I thought it was sort of creepy, but then the magic truck* drove by again, taking new pictures, and little V and I were lost to the mists of time... until yesterday!

About a week ago, Alert Reader TP#2 sent me the following:
Google (GOOG) has updated its Street View feature so users can now travel back through time and see how places have changed since the mapping service launched in 2007. Users will be able to click on a new clock icon in the corner of the screen when using Street View, which enables anyone to explore roads and areas almost anywhere in the world. Clicking this new icon will then allow users to move a scrollbar, changing the year and even season of the area or building they are currently looking at to see how it has changed over time. (Bloomberg)
My immediate thought was, I can see my picnic with Vaughn again!

I rushed (by typing in a url, of course) on over to Google Maps, put the little man in front of Saamis Rotary park, and ... there it was, with the new splash pad.  No little V.  No picnic.  I remember how hard I had tried to do some kind of screen capture on the image** when I first saw it.

I remember the first time I noticed it was gone.

Then, two days ago, my dad sent me a link to some items that he's posted on kijiji -- that I accommodatingly store in my garage (since nobody in their right mind would drive out to North Gower for a gently-used telescope) -- with the link to my address on Maps.

"What are the chances," he asked, "that both your mother and I were at your house that day?"

Parked in my driveway is their white car.  Parked in front of the house is their minivan.  Judging by the "landscaping" (loose term) of the front yard, I guessed that the magic truck drove by sometime over the summer of 2012, when I was on bedrest, Chris was in the Hat, my dad was in full basement renovation/sawdust creation mode, and my mom had moved in to help out, despite my fervent, repeated, and desperate assurances that, really, I was fine, and I didn't need to suddenly live with both of my parents again.  So, to answer his question, the chances were great.  It would have been much harder to have found a time that I was alone.  Blessedly alone...

I kid, I kid.


Yesterday, I went to find something else on Google Maps, and I got a new screen.  And a little clock in the corner.  I caught my breath, zoomed in to Medicine Hat, then to my old park, and clicked on the clock icon, and ... there we were.  Vaughn was wearing the full-sleeved blue bib that now belongs to Tamsin and his little brown hat, and I had on my teal v-neck tee, that I still own.***  According to the date stamp, it was September 2009.  He would have been 8 months old, and I would have been -- just slightly -- pregnant with Ailsa, though I had probably just found out.

It's amazing how nostalgic I can feel for a time which was incredibly difficult (or so I thought at the time -- life has since taught me differently!); with Chris was travelling a lot, I was overwhelmed and dreading the return to work... and probably feeling nauseous.  (Just) one little one underfoot, who was going to be going to daycare, and how-could-I-leave-him!  I was probably wrestling him to stay still on our Elvis picnic blanket while we ate our snack, and wished that I had remembered to bring wipes or diapers or any of the trappings that weigh down my giant purse now.  But how sad I felt when I thought that precious moment was gone.  And how I ached to see it again.

Thanks, Google.  You rock.

* I'm assuming it's a magic truck.  I mean, it apparently drives up every freaking street in the world and takes panoramic images that they can splice together into a website (portal?), which some people (nerds) might call technology, but to me, is pure magic.  Also, if you zoom in, you'll see that I'm looking directly at it... but I didn't see it... so I'm updating its status now to an invisible magic truck.  Whoa.

** I, like, right-clicked at least four times.

*** I still have -- and wear -- that shirt.  It contributes to my inner monologue when I'm walking downtown and I see a panhandler, and I can itemize every article of clothing I have on, how much it cost, and how long ago.  My recent record:  blouse ($5.99, Value Village, 2010), pants ($19.99, Sirens, 2000)****, shoes ($49, Winners, 2008).

****  Lettuce take note:  this marks the first occasion where I've asterisked out of another footnote.  I'm not sure if that's an accomplishment or not.  But anyway, those 14-year-old pants (shiny grey, straight-leg jean cut) still look brand new.  Stop judging.

Saturday, 24 May 2014

School Fair!

Vaughn's school had its May Fair today!

First stop:  face painting.  The lineup was long, but luckily, there were friends and a playground to frisk about in while I waited in line.  The wait was worth it.

Tiger, tiger!
The happiest skeleton on the block

Tamsin refused service.

THEN, it started to rain!  Luckily, we were prepared with hats (to protect painted faces, of course), raincoats, and freezies.

Tamsin, though enjoying her little freezie, was not really amused.
The Three Musketeers waited out the downpour under some shelter.
The sun came out shortly, and we bought tickets for some games.  More lineups, but luckily, there was more fun to be had:  we made friends with a basenji (note:  we need a basenji), fished in the fishpond, did some beanbag tosses, then threw a bunch of stuff at a bunch of other stuff.
Vaughn has decided that he needs a nerf crossbow.  Awesome.

We tried to go see a reptile display, but they had already packed up.  Our last stop was the balloon animal stand, where the amazing Sandra made the kids a sword, a monkey, and a teddy bear.  
Tamsin was a little confused by this...thing...

All in all, a good day at the fair.

Thursday, 15 May 2014

Never a dull moment

Another season of Karen vs. the Lawn has begun.

So far this year, I have raked, top-dressed and overseeded the front and back yard,  half-heartedly pulled up some weeds (which I was hoping were very lush, strong little grasslings but am starting to suspect are an army of maple trees), and watched anxiously for signs of buds on my crocuses (2 flowers from 7 plants), tulips (3 for 5), and daffodils (0 for 2).  The score so far:  my hosta is just starting to peek out of the earth, in tightly-furled purple points, but other perennials, like my hydrangea, are barely putting out tiny green buds.  The lilac turned into a lush, green tree sometime in the past week, and the peonies, echinacea, and bleeding hearts are already battling over which one gets to escape their little fenced-off area and overrun my yard.  (Answer:  none of the above.  The rhubarb has exploded into two giant ... red and green things ... and one smaller one.)  (Make up your own descriptor, please.)  Of the three "perennial" plants that I planted in late summer -- and even covered with protective cones, only one is showing signs of life.

We went to the New Edinburgh plant sale last weekend, and picked up some geraniums (coral and red; Ailsa's choice) for our front door hanging basket, and a flat of daisies, which are cheerful and easy to grow.  I also transplanted two shrubs of unknown type from small pots into my driveway planters - we'll see what they do with more space and some proper care, and once I figure out what they like, may well transplant them in the fall.

It's like this every spring.  So much green!  So much hope!  My garden patch is in desperate need of weeding, but I'll let it remain Vaughn's construction site for another week, at which time I can prepare the soil to receive, then kill, those hopeful little seeds.

But back to the lawn.  I am still determined to have a beautiful lawn.  To that end, I decided at the end of last year, that it was Time to Sharpen the Mower Blades.  I would go to Lee Valley, buy the kit, figure out how to do it and... was quickly talked out of it by my father-in-law.  "Why don't you find some travelling knife sharpener who will do it for you?"  I immediately saw the benefits:  after all, I had memories of the knife sharpener driving down our street as a child, and I could relive that.  I'd be saving time, effort, and probably several pints of blood and a few fingers.  Sold!

Surprisingly (to me, anyway), there is only one company in Ottawa that does mobile lawn mower sharpening.  I called the number on the website, and spoke to an actual person, who was also the owner and entire staff.  For $34, he would pick up my lawn mower, bring it back to his shop (his shoppe?), sharpen it, and return it a week later.  If I wanted it back within 48 hours, I'd have to drop it off and pick it up myself.  And it would cost $25, before tax.

"For an extra $5, essentially, it's worth the mobile service."

I agreed.

The directions were simple:  tape a post-dated cheque for $34 to my little push mower, leave it out of the garage (but not out in front where it would wander away*), and ... wait for it to be returned next Wednesday.  I put the cheque in a baggie, in case of rain, and then decided that my lawn would be a jungle by next week, so I mowed it quickly, cheque-in-baggie already attached to the handle and flapping jauntily in the sun.

We went to pick Vaughn up at school at 3 pm.  When we came home, the lawnmower was gone, and a receipt was in my mailbox.  What an awesome business, I thought.

Either that, or I just paid someone $34 to steal my lawnmower.

* see also, Vanier-is-up-and-coming

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Thanks.... I think...

Sunday:  smoothies and toast, groceries and the park.

A nice, simple day, and if I'm lucky, I get to nap too.

The kids and I love our local grocery store.  The days that they're super-good, they get to go to the child minding upstairs at the gym, and the days that they're not, they get to shop with me, eating samples of cheese, and conning the deli ladies out of ham and the bakery ladies out of cookies.  It's a win/win!

The bakery lady is lovely.  We talk all the time, with or without the kids in tow.  The deli ladies are always smiling and friendly (and sometimes give giant free samples), and there's one particularly amazing cashier who shares in the kids' joys and tells her own stories.  When she recently welcomed her first, long-awaited grandchild, she handed me her phone, full of pictures of the wee girl in Sweden.  She was so happy that I cried.

But back to the bakery lady.  She's a mom, too, and likes that I make the kids ask (loudly and politely) for their cookie, and that they bellow "THANK YOU!" when she hands it over.  She's friendly and funny, and the other day, she hit me with the best back-handed compliment that I've gotten in a long time.

"You look really good," she said, "for a mom of three."

"Um, thanks?"

"No, I mean, most women with three kids look TERRIBLE.  Really tired and, just, HORRIBLE."

"Ok, um..."

"I mean, you look tired, but not HORRIBLE."

And on top of that, "Tamsin's" cookie, which I usually get to eat most of, was eaten in full by the varmint.  Humph.

It got better later:  we went to the park after dinner.  Vaughn took the hockey sticks, Ailsa pulled Tamsin in the wagon, and we stopped on the way to visit with a nice doggie.  The owner looked at them, then at me.

"Beautiful children.  Are they all yours?"

"Yes, thank you!"

"All three?  But you're so young."

There "may" have been a strut the rest of the way to the park.  And back.

She's obviously a ninja

Look at this sweet thing, quietly admiring the flowers I got for my birthday (Thanks, TP#1!).  Our little Tamsin is walking, dancing, talking (new favourites include "cookie", "cracker", "juice", "Vaaaa" and "Ail-la") (awwww!), and has the dubious distinction of being the first Huffling to require safety latches on cupboards. 

Wait!  Where did you get that marker???

For some reason, the other two had no interest in all the drawers that could catch little fingers, the cupboards that contain chemicals and danger, or even the cabinet which she was standing in front of last week when Grandma found her with a bottle of rum in her quick little hands.  The upside?  We now have safety latches.  The downside?  It now takes a few extra seconds for Grandma to get to the rum.

Today, she climbed down the basement stairs and was playing quietly by herself while I read a story to the other two.  (Tamsin, not Grandma.)  After a while, I thought I should probably check on her, because although the playroom is safe and there's nothing she could get into OH MY GOD.

I decided that I would deal with it later, and brought her upstairs.  Vaughn ran down there just after dinner, and wailed his way back upstairs, refusing to use that bathroom.  True, it sort of looks like a gas station bathroom, but it's clean, I swear.

Thursday, 3 April 2014

So THAT's why the snail was free

Alternate title:  Never Always Look a Gift-Snail in the... Mouth?

The damn snail just had babies.

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Sunday Funday

(Alternate title:  Free snails!)

Quick update on a fun day today:  We woke up to see a TON more snow.  Boo, hiss, etc.

But, as I had really only made 5 snowmen this year, and all of them were about 12 inches high, I decided that maybe, just maybe, winter was waiting for me to make a nice, big snowman before it went away for, oh, 4 months or so.

Tamsin was still napping, so out we went.  I made the bottom, Vaughn rolled the middle, and Ailsa made the head.  We all gathered pinecones for the eyes and smile, and Ailsa had the honour of stabbing it in the face with a carrot poking the nose in.  Tadah!  Below, the kids pose, proudly, with their creation.

I went inside, brought Tamsin down for her snack, and made a tasty cilantro soup while the kids continued to frolic with their frosty new friend.  A while later, I called them in. 

"Where's the snowman?" I asked.  He wasn't standing where I had left him.

They pretended not to hear me.

(Did anyone else get cold chills?)

As for the aforementioned snail, Scuba Gooding, Jr. (the second) has been creating algae in his tank lately.  We went to St. Laurent to pick up something to help that this morning, and the woman at the pet store recommended a plectra.  "But we're out, so how about a snail?"

We picked out a snail, which the kids immediately christened "Snaily", and I reached for my wallet... uh oh.  She slid the water-filled bag towards me and said, "Pay me later.  I trust you."

DING DING DING - free snails at St. Laurent!

Just kidding.  We drove home, I got my wallet, and we went back.  She actually looked surprised when I showed up with the $3.50.

"What happens if he doesn't make it?" I asked.  "Is there a 7-day guarantee on snails?"

"No," she said.  "But if he doesn't live for a full week, your next one is 50% off."


So, Scuba now has an Odd-Couple-esque sidekick, who is a compulsive cleaner... now that he's come out of his shell, if you will.  He didn't move for a nervewracking 7 hours, and I was all set to go pick out a $1.75 replacement in the morning, but he's up and running like a Dyson.

I managed to talk the kids out of "Snaily", but at a cost:  I present to you "Divey" the snail.  Last name:  Jones, of course.  Ba-dum.

Saturday, 29 March 2014

Fools and children

Well, it's my fault for being vain, I suppose.  My ego had a serious check yesterday when I was getting ready to go out for the day with Ailsa.

I put on my sunscreen first, and she ran over, asking for whiskers.  Whiskers are kind of a big deal in our house, and fairly often, one or all of the kids have them painted on their cheeks.  On extra-special days, they also have little red kitty noses.  (Perhaps this is why the littlest one meows so much.)  But I digress.

So, I'm pulling out the eyeshadow, and Ailsa asks me, "What is that for?"

"Well, Mommy is silly and vain, but I'll show you," I said, and decided to do one eye at a time, to show her the amazing and incredible transformation that makeup effects on me.

I started with a shimmery beige shadow, and closed one eye.

"Why does your eye go all scrinchy?"

"Um, I closed it, and it..."

"No, Mommy, it's still all scrinchy," which I sensed is a pre-schooler's word for wrinkled and/or crone-like.

Moving on.  I pulled out the accent colour for the crease, to increase definition and make my eyes look bigger.

"It still looks wrinkly."

Deep breath.  I grabbed a brown eyeliner.

"That makes your eye look dirty."

At this point, my fists are clenched.


"Can I have some?"

"No, it makes your eyelashes look all dark, and you already have lovely dark eyelashes."  I finished up the one eye and I looked at her.  "Can you see the difference between my two eyes?"

"No.  Can I have whiskers?"


Serves me right for thinking well of myself.  Sigh.

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Oh, blarg.

Last night, I went out to spend my four years of accumulated wealth /gift cards at lululemon (thanks, Ryan!)… it would have been amazing, but I had a bit of an existential crisis (only partially kickstarted by the unflattering lighting in the dressing room) and only bought a pair of comfy (yet awesome) pants (which need hemming but have a drawstring at the bottom), a top (still at store, getting hemmed so that it’s not a dress) and a $12 hairband… and I still have $78 left! 

Note: hairbands don’t work on me, as they always squick-ptoing off the back of my head, but this one held up for 130 burpees/pushups/and situps. 

Starting at 9:20 pm, after the shopping spree. 


Let’s start with that: for no good reason, I’m participating in a challenge to do 10,000 burpees, pushups and situps by May 12.  At the beginning, the math showed me that I would have to do 112/day to make it. Not bad, I thought. But when you factor in the “every day” part, it gets a lot harder, fast. Some days I only do 30. Some days I do 130 – depends on how I feel, where I am, and what I have going on. The math currently has me needing 116/day. I do try to make time, however, for the daily “I hate you” email to Sean, who laid down the challenge in the first place.  Needless to say, my gym time has been substantially reduced, as I need to also be able to teach my class without getting injured. 

Early observations, aside from “Sean Sucks,”* are that boy, 100 situps a day sure do make my abs look good.  If I keep this up after May 12, I’ll have a six-pack for the rest of my life!** Also, the burpees, even spaced out in increments of 10, 15, or 20, sure have an impact on my metabolism!  Unfortunately, the lack of extra weight training means that I feel slimmer, but not really tighter. Anyway, the takehome is that I am obviously insane, as there is really no reason to be doing this, and that Sean sucks. 

The rest of my annual crisis (which, if you know me, is late – it usually hits in February) consists of trying not to think about everything else that I am juggling right now.  A soul sucking job that is beneath me but that is wonderfully flexible and considerate of my fragile state.  A house that is aggressively entropic managing to stay clean and neat with the help of my Very Serious Scheduling and wonderful nanny.  Three children, whom I love and... love and love, despite the fact that they drive me crazy 95% of the time, and whom I feel so guilty for not being with all the time and also for not wanting to be with them most some of the time.  Not enough sleep, ever.  No time for just me, ever.  And, against all better judgement, I dyed my hair to "brighten it up".  To (probably misquote) Cathy Guisewite, "May I assume that I don't look like the woman on the box?"  No, no I don't.  Also, I have to take the car in for service.  I have to paint the basement stairs.  I have to keep clearing out the garage.  I have to post our condo on kijiji.  I have to do my nails.  I have to prepare for my Attack class.  I have to make healthy meals and pack lunches and drink more water and do laundry and be a grownup, when all I want to do is to go to bed for two weeks, and wake up to spring!  Preferably on a beach somewhere.  Drunk.

Chris and I had a text conversation this morning, in which I told him that I needed either a time machine or a limitless bank account to make me feel ok about the morning I'd had. 

Limitless? he asked.  Well, I need a personal assistant, a maid, a cook, all new clothes, a live-in nanny, plastic surgery, a chauffeur, and spa treatments.  And a pool boy.

And a pool?  he asked.

What?  Why would I need a pool?  

* My only consolation is that he is also in pushup hell. 

** Expectation that I will still do 100/day after May 12: zero. Expectation that I will do 20/day after May 12: also zero.

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Saturday Night!!!!

Original post title:  "A is for Anal" - I figured that it might bring too many unsavouries (or expectations) to the post.

Guess what I did last night????

Well, being a (still) young, red-blooded Canadian woman, I poured a glass of wine, did 125 burpees, pushups and situps,* and alphabetized our cd collection!

Ever since I bought my first two cds (George Michael's Faith and Madonna's Like a Prayer, which I still own, thank you very much), I have kept them in alphabetical order.**  They're easy to find, easy to store, and... um, what else do you need?  I also have my recipe box alphabetized, and my spice rack, which we were given after stalking it on a house hunting trip.  And for which we played an exciting game of Spice Rack Idol (see ya, turmeric!).  Anyhoo.  For this activity in compulsivity, the main challenge was deciding on the taxonomy, or how exactly to structure the organization.  Naturally, I settled on four sections:  Artists/Bands by Basic Alphabet, Various Artists, Soundtracks and Kids' Music), and alphabetized within each.  For example, is Elton John's last name REALLY "John"?  What about Harvey Danger?  Bif Naked?***

Go ahead and judge me for that, and for this:  the unalphabetized "chaos" that was our cd collection has been driving me insane for three and a half years.  I think I would make a fascinating study:  I mean, not only am I anal enough to want my cds organized into a structured taxonomy, but I'm also lazy enough that I hadn't done it again since we unpacked in October 2010...AND obsessive enough that I would think, almost every day, "I really need to take the time to alphabetize those."  My eyes would drift to the bookcase nightly, thinking, "Maybe tomorrow," followed by, "Where did I put Peter and the Wolf?  If they were alphabetized, I'd know."  Shirley, some university psych department somewhere would want to study me in depth:  Effects of Extreme Procrastination on Severe Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.  Maybe all the OCD people out there (kaff - Tracey****) just need to procrastinate more.  I could teach them how.

Suffice it to say that I now have a quiet humming sound of self-satisfaction, which ends in a nice little sigh, every time I look at the bookcase.  I haven't done it yet, but I could just walk up to it and grab some Tom Petty.  Or Right Said Fred, for that matter.  Or Joni Mitchell.  Or Sisquo.  Anyway, it was quite disturbing nice to review the diversity of our combined collections, and to remember that Chris and I had only 5 cds in common when we got married:  Sam Roberts, Alanis Morissette, Jewel, Nathalie Imbruglia, and Live.  Some might call this a "sign".  I choose to call it "complementary interests with low chance of duplication".  In anything.

Geez.  What am I going to do with myself next weekend?

* With a (stupid) goal of 10,000 of each by May 12, for No Good Reason, and being on track to fail miserably, just kill me.  Kill me now.

** To be fair, I didn't really need to alphabetize them when I only had two.  But I did anyway.

*** In case you're also an alphabet nerd, my solution was J, D, and B, respectively.  See you at the support group.

**** Tracey is sooooo OCD that she calls it "CDO", because then it's alphabetical.  See?  I am comparatively normal.

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

The DG is overdoing it, but doesn't really have a choice right now

With the advent of my new life (single mom!*  part-time worker!), I now have the best situation possible in the worst situation ever this new challenging reality:  our nanny, who is wonderful, comes to my house at 7 am, and also manages to leave the house almost impeccable when she leaves at 4, despite caring for our two girls, an extra little one (nanny share!), and picking up Vaughn and the extra's big sister for a 15-minute spell at the end of the day.  I have no idea how she does this, but she does.

I have incorporated a new cleaning schedule for myself, as the old method of waiting till the entire house needed cleaning (and laundering) was causing too much procrastination and fleas stress.  So, if you've ever wondered how the Domestic Goddess spends her time "off" work (which I refer to as my vacation from home), with two little girls underfoot, and sometimes a schoolkid in the way too, I present you with:

The Domestic Goddess Gets Her Act in Gear
aka Scheduled Within an Inch of Her Life

Monday:  It's not just Monday Gum Day anymore, no!  It's Mopping Monday!  The entire house gets swept and mopped with the trusty bucket, and either Mr. Clean or my Vim Hardwood solution, on alternating weeks.  But yes, the kids are still allowed a stick of gum after their afterschool snack.

Tuesday:  Vacation.  Up at 6, out by 7, somehow washed and dressed and fed, also having made breakfast for the kidlets, at work by 7:30, home by 4.  Just in time to make dinner.  Yet still, it's a vacation.

Wednesday.  Why, it's Wacuuming Wednesday!  Or Vacuuming Vednesday!  Call it what you want!  Also includes dusting and sneezing.  Baseboards, tops of doors, corners, rugs, stairs, playmats in the basement, couches, behind the toilet, blinds, under beds... did I mention how many dustbunnies my tiny house can produce in a week?  A lot. Also, the kids have gymnastics at 4:30, and we eat at 6.  I am still amazed that this is (sometimes) possible, thanks to the magic of crockpottery and programmable ovens.  Or shawarma, whatever.

Thursday:  Vacation.  But at least it's Pizza Day at V's school, so my lunch-packing is less intensive,** and it's also tv night, so I get 30 minutes to myself in which to order (or "bake") pizza, as it's also Pizza Night.  And then I welcome the babysitter, as I have ball hockey in the evening.  Thursday is a Good Day.

Friday:  TGIBF!  Baffroom Friday, that is.  Bathrooms, mirrors, windows and surfaces, oh my.  But it also has the luck of being Overlap Day!  Our nanny arrives at 7:30, so I can take Vaughn to the bus stop.  I have an extra set of hands to watch the two littlest ones, which lets me take Ailsa to her dancing lady class (or out for some special one-on-one time), clean in peace, and I have even managed to take a few naps.  Heaven.

Saturday:  Fitness first:  I teach Attack at 9 am, which means getting the crew up and in the car, which is already running by 8:27 at the latest.  I drop them off at the gym daycare, be a superhero/rockstar for an hour, then shower, bundle them up (is it spring yet???), get back in the car and home for an early, quick lunch, then off to the rink for 11:45, enough time to tie skates on three of us (Tamsin stays home with a sitter, Grandma, or Daddy, when he's in town), do skating lessons for an hour, then home to naaaaap.  Saturday night, as always, is reserved for a movie, served with wine, cheeses, and grapes.

Sunday:  Nobody in the house may make a peep before 7:30 am.  One day, my kids are going to read this and either feel betrayed and furious or have their suspicions confirmed:  7:30 is whenever the hell I decide it is.  Chris and I sneak into their bedrooms on Saturday nights and set their clocks back accordingly.   But anyhoo, I digress.  Sundays are for raisin toast, smoothies, and groceries.  That is all I ever schedule for Sunday.  And, of course, it's the second tv night of the week.  Oh, blessed, blessed 30 minutes.  So quiet, so peaceful... oh god, I have to pack V's lunch tonight...

And there you have it.  It's not unmanageable, as long as I stay on top of things... it's been 5 weeks of this schedule, and so far, the house is clean and presentable(ish), I haven't died from exhaustion, and the children haven't come down with rickets or ... well, rickets, anyway.  Unfortunately, they want an extra (vacation) day out of me at work.  Which impacts Baffroom Friday.  And Ailsa Time.  And, ultimately, ME time.

I think the real reason I wrote this down was to just confirm to myself that I am doing the impossible, but making it possible...as long as I don't think about it too much.  It becomes overwhelming at least 3 days a week (guess which ones?), but if I just follow The Plan, one day at a time, it's doable....but maybe it won't be if I add an extra day at the office, so seeing this in black and white will give me the backbone to stand up and say, "I can't," something that I don't like to say, ever.  Or maybe, most likely, I wrote it down so that when Fis asks me if I've renewed the plates/hung our degrees up/called the garage, I can just send him this link and say, WHAT DO YOU THINK?

*  No, he's just in Toronto.  We're still in the pool.
** Despite Fis' assertions that I'm paranoid, they totally judge you by the lunch your kid brings to school.

Friday, 14 February 2014

Mommy's nut butter.... you wouldn't like it

My wise friend Ali sent me this recently:

Wow, I replied.  I look amazingly lifelike as a Barbie.

I had a good thing going for about 2 years.  The kids had their peanut butter, and I would sometimes get Nutella, about which I'd say, "It's Mommy's nut butter... you wouldn't like it."  And they actually bought it!  Until they actually tasted it, one cursed day.  Oh well.  The truth had to come out sometime!

Here I am in Costco heaven. 

Nice pipes!
(I owe it to the Nutella...skim milk, hazelnuts...and only a hint of cocoa!)

 Fis said, "No."  


Note:  there is no point or real anecdote to this post.  I just really like Nutella.

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Vive le Quebec

Big day today:  I brought the three munchkins to the Snowflake Kingdom at Jacques Cartier park, in Hull.  We didn't bring our passports, but bravely drove the 6 minutes from our house, over the bridge, and found a nice, free parking spot just a short walk from the festivities.  

I didn't see the foreshadowing when I pulled up in a snowy (about 6 inches) section, behind a snowed-in car, backed up a bit to make sure I'd be able to get out, and a Jeep pulled up beside me.  A man jumped out, and said, "Are you stuck?"  And I smiled and said, "No.  I'm in a Volvo!"  He waved, said, "That's why I love my Jeep!"  We high-fived (ok, we didn't really, but it would have been totally appropriate), and off he went.  

I got the kids out, loaded up Miss Tamsin into her chariot (a wee little blue sled that had once belonged to the Vaughnster), and off we went.  

We go to the Snowflake Kingdom every year.  There's a small jungle gym, some ice slides, some Ice Hog mascots (really, they're Groundhogs wearing sweaters), some neat cultural stuff (native and Quebecois history), and, of course, la pièce de résistance, Beavertails.

This year was a bit more challenging, and not just because of the addition of a third small-but-big-and-heavy child, although she did leave me with one less hand to hold.  Chris doesn't usually come with, so it's a nice, laid-back, walk-around-and-see-stuff kind of outing.  We met up with a friend and her son, who was on a mission:  he wanted to find the skiing station.  I'd never heard of it, but was game... but wanted to See Stuff on the way to find it.  Like the Native woodworker and his snowshoes and sleds, which Vaughn and I questioned with interest (and his wolf pelts, too).  Like the snow artist intricately carving a massive, 2-story block of snow with what looked like a leaf-blower.  Like tubing down an ice slide, and then hauling the tubes back up the hill with kids inside them (hello, glutes!).  We did, finally, find the skiing display, which was only for 5 to 8 year-olds.  Resilient Ailsa took it very well - you can't fight age -- and we left Vaughn to wait with Amanda and Alex, and took Beavertail orders (it was getting on lunchtime, after all, and I hate lineups). We picked up some cinnamon sugar and Killaloe Sunrises, and went back to eat the treats together.  Their group was just about to go in, and as the boys started forward, the guide finally answered my repeated question:  How long will this take?

One hour.

Yikes.  Tamsin and Ailsa can be lovely and patient, but another hour?  With no real food?  Amanda amazingly offered to stay with the boys and bring Vaughn home later.  I'm pretty sure that I left a cloud of snow behind me as I dashed away.

Ailsa didn't want to go on any more ice slides (rats - I love those), but was keen on trying out the giant snow maze.  We bought tickets, and away we went... I expected a nice little walk together, still pulling Tamsin in the sled.  She handed the tickets to the lady, smiled at me, and ... ran as fast as she could!  "You can't follow me, Mommy!" she directed, and told me to turn down a different path.  The maze was well set up, so that you could always see the rest of the maze, so I wasn't worried about losing her, but it was very twisty and turny - each time I got close to an opening that would lead me to her, she'd laugh and run another way.  We spent about 10 minutes in there, before heading back out the way we came, but the woman pretended that we weren't allowed out.  "You have to find the exit!"  

Tamsin decided she'd had enough, and climbed out of the sled.  Ailsa climbed in.  I handed her my purse, picked up Tamsin, and ...ended up back where we started again.  I put Tamsin down, picked Ailsa up, and ... got turned around again!  Finally, we found our way out.  Ailsa gave the volunteer a great big high five, then turned to me.  "My legs hurt, Mommy."  

You and me both, kid.  

The walk back to the car wasn't too long, but we were cold and tired.  And then I saw our car.

The snow is a nice touch, n'est-ce pas?

The plow jerkface had come by in the 2 hours I was gone, pushed a million pounds of snow up over my bumper, and kept going.  I had left about a foot between me and the car in front of us, and ... well, that was my only hope.  I loaded the girls up, put the sled in the trunk (had to slide it in through the backseat, of course), and took a photo, mostly to show Chris, but now I'm thinking of filing a formal complaint with the city.  This can't be legal.  A family walked by, shaking their heads.  "Do you have a shovel?" they asked.  "No, but I'm borrowing that one" -- I indicated one leaning against a house close by -- "if I need to."  They gave me some encouragement and kept walking.  

I took a deep breath, got in the car, and shifted into reverse.  Nothing, as I expected.  I put it in drive, cranked the wheel, eased forward, and ... I moved!  I cranked the wheel the other way, backed up a little more, and then... I drove away.  Just like that.

About half a block away, the same family was still trudging to their car.  The father turned around and gave me a big thumbs up as I drove past.  I honked the horn, and shouted, "Woo-hoo!"

Vive le Volvo!