Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Educational Opportunities with Gore

After this morning's ketchup incident I decided it was time to get out of the house, so my offspring and I took a walk to the library.  On the way home, two large crows blocked our path.  The birds were so enormous, in fact, that William first identified them as "a dog or a cat".  It looked as though they were enjoying some kind of snack, but at a distance I couldn't tell what it was.  Since we were by a school, I thought it might be someone's recess snack.

The crows flew away as we approached and I realized that the snack was something a little more gruesome.  It was some sort of rodent; a rat, I think, more specifically half a rat.  The hind legs and tail were basically intact, though not much else was.  Intestines were strewn about the the side walk, some bunched up, some stretched out, culminating in an unidentifiable organ that I guess must have been the animal's stomach. 

My immediate instinct was to usher the kids along, but it was too late.  William had seen it and he was fascinated.  We've talked before about how food goes from our stomachs to our intestines before turning into poop, so it was quite the educational opportunity to have that concept illustrated so graphically across the concrete.

"I thought the birds were eating something but they just killed a mouse," said William.
"The mouse was probably already dead," I explained. "Those birds eat dead animals that they find."
"So how did it die?"
"I don't know," said I, racking my brain for a non-scary method of death.  "Maybe a cat killed it.  Or maybe it died of old age."
"Or maybe it was from the olden days and then it died," William added.
"Well, mice and rats don't live that long, only a year or two."
"It was from the olden days, that's probably what happened."
"Probably," I agreed.

The topic was revisited later on in the walk, and we began discussing the animals that humans eat for food.  William already knew that pork came from pigs and beef came from cows.  Now that he'd actually seen an animal being eaten, though, he grasped the concept at a whole new level.  His face held a look of horrid fascination.


On the train table.

In the drawer of of the train trable.

Covering Jadzia's block puzzle.

All over Jadzia and William.

My two-year old can now reach the fridge. Yippee!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Getting My To-Do List Done (Hey, it's exciting to me!)

So I told myself I would blog every day, or at least every other day, except maybe not on the weekend...... Anyway now it's been three days and nothing from me.  Don't worry, I'm okay (although my snowman has melted).

I have been keeping up with my writing goal of 500 (or more) words a day, which is good because I'm on book #2.   This one is set on an alien planet with a matriarchal society.  The lizard-like people have three genders: women , nursemen (who raise the children), and nestmen (who cook, clean, and protect the family).   Also, through the magic of made-up genetics, the story features a human hybrid.  The characters all have to overcome rigid and conflicting gender roles to find their places in society.  It should be a pretty good read once I'm all done.

I got my first rejection from an agent this week.  I'm going to go ahead and call that a good thing too.  She got back to me much faster that I expected and besides, only real writers get rejections. 

Today I also:
Filled and emptied the dishwasher.
Put away some laundry.
Read a lecture for my Defeating Self-Defeating Behaviours course.
Had a Skype meeting with some of my writer friends who are taking the course too.
Sent another query.
Exchanged a recently purchased copy of "UP" at FutureShop (the blu-ray disc was missing).
Bought a few necessities (bread, milk, snacks) at the grocery store.
Cashed some cheques at the bank.
Made some delicious oatmeal, raison, chocolate chip muffins.

BTW:  Nothing to do with anything, but if you haven't seen it yet, the video below is pretty great.  About halfway through I realized the guy is actually singing, not lip-syncing, which makes it all the more awesome.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Snow Man Snow!

My one regret about winter was that there was never any snowman snow.  It was either too cold for the powdery stuff to stick together, or so warm that everything melted and it started to rain.  Well this afternoon I looked out the window and saw the sunshine and the snow, and I thought: could it be?  I opened the side door and grabbed a handful to test.  The snow packed together perfectly in my hands. Huzzah!

So on this beautiful "spring" day, my children and I got all dressed up in our winter duds and headed into the front yard  where we built a snowman.  By "we" I of course mean me and by "snowman" I mean snow toddler, since my creation was about the same height as Jadzia.  Here's a pic that William took to commemorate the occassion:

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


Yesterday was borderline no-jacket weather, so this morning when I opened the blinds an saw everything covered with the fluffy white stuff, I had the same wtf response as I'm sure everyone else did.  I just bought a bike, for Spock's sake.  I've always secretly believed that I could control the weather by preparing myself for the opposite.  Like, when I get around to purchasing hats and mitts, I'm pretty much guaranteed an unseasonably warm winter.  I buy a bike and of course it snows.  I think I'm going to go out and get a raincoat and galoshes.

Not to say I didn't see this as an opportunity.  I immediately wrote "tobogganning" on my to-do list and went with the kids right after breakfast.

I only went down the hill three times.  Once, all by myself because neither of my offspring wanted to go.  Instead, they attempted to navigate the slippery playground equipment wearing snowpants and boots. Eventually William fell and got snow all inside his jacket.  After that he was too cold and we had to go home. But not before Jadzia had herself a wee snack.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

New Furnace Day!!!!

If a picture is worth a thousand words then a video is probably worth a million.  So here's the longest blog entry I've ever done.

Here's a video blog I recorded with the kids as the furnace gang was finishing up the install:

And here are some before and during shots:

And here's a tour of my house now that I filmed featuring my new furnace and air conditioning system:
So there you have it.  Two million three thousand and eighty-two words, including this sentence.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Best Backyardigans Episode Ever

It's about time this catchy musical children's show did a Star Trek spoof.  In this episode, Tasha, Austin and Uniqua are intergallactive garbage collectors flying around in an Enterprise-like ship made of  two trash cans and a trashlid.  On the way, they battle "Moosicans", basically Klingons with Moose antlers (played by Pablo and Tyrone).  If you don't know what I'm talking about, here's a taste:

I think I might make that song my new theme music.  And here's a diddy from the Moosicans:

See what I mean?  This show is made of awesome.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

New bike!

I have hereby thwarted criminal attempts to keep me off the sidewalks by purchasing a gorgeous 7-speed berry-coloured bicycle.  The kids rode trikes around the store while I chose.  It had to be pretty, yet strong enough to pull a giant stroller. I even got some pink and white tassles for extra girliness.

We had lunch at the Mandarin across the parking lot from the bike store, then it was time for my bike's maiden voyage (because the thing wasn't going to fit in a car full of kids).  Anyway the ride was fabulous, smooth and easy to pedal.  Brant Street is still a killer, but even though I haven't biked since November, I barely broke a sweat.  (Though that could be because it's still a little cold out).  Thank goodness I had a buffet lunch to give me energy!

Keep my hand-me-down teal bike, Hooligans!  If you want this one, you will have to brave the obstacle course that is my backyard.  I will not leave it out front. At least, not right away.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

No Snakes in Ireland; No Phone at Jen's House

It all started yesterday when I called Chapters. We left a toy there and I wanted to see if they had found it. Only they couldn't hear me. "What? You want a monster truck book?" Several calls to several different people revealed that either a) I had turned into a robot, or b) there was something wrong with my connection.

Then the internet started acting buggy. Pages were slow to upload, then stopped loading all together. Skype was impossible. The only thing that seemed to work was texting, so I spent the better part of yesterday and today troubleshooting the problem with my overworked husband. By "troubleshooting" I mean I complained relentlessly while he answered with the occassional "OK".

I don't make a great many calls during the day, but knowing I couldn't sent me into a frenzy. Just as I was thinking "What if something happened? I can't call 911!" William ran into the room with his face covered in blood.  It was only a cut lip, and as usual my son refused all forms of first aid.  He also claimed he "didn't know" what happened.  Jadzia also has a small cut on her chin.  I've tried to puzzle out in my head what event could've caused both injuries without success.  Things happen when kids don't have computer games to play.

Adam has been working late the last couple days, so I've skipped my usual elaborate dinner meals in favor of quick snacks that the kids actually eat.  Yesterday I made Zoodles and today I made "pizza" (which in this context means ketchup and melted cheese on a tortilla).  Adam called Cogeco on his cellphone when he got home yesterday at ten pm.  They are sending a technician tomorrow between 8:30 am and 5 pm.  They call this an appointment, but everyone else knows that appointment times are more specific.  Listing ones office hours is not the same thing as scheduling an appointment.

Today I fiddled with wires until I managed to get my internet running, but the phone wouldn't even pretend to work for most of the day.  Then as I was grating cheese onto a ketchuppy tortilla, the phone startled me by ringing.  It was a robot from Cogeco confirming our "appointment".  Now Adam gave Cogeco his cell phone number, clearly telling the service rep that our phone DOES NOT WORK, and yet the robot called the home phone.  Luckily, I didn't have to say anything to respond to the automated message, I just pressed 1.  Humans still can't understand me, but robots don't seem to have any trouble.

Cogeco loves to brag about its awards for customer service.  I'm thinking they must have bribed the judges with free cable.  I'm not going to hold my breath on the technician either (and not just because I can't hold my breath for eight and a half hours). Once when I didn't answer the buzzer quick enough, they left us without phone and internet for a month.

Now the kids are in bed and my husband is still not home and chatting at friends on the phone is impossible.  I wish I was out celebrating the lack of snakes in Ireland.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

For the Love of Sugar

Today my friend Cara and I enjoyed the maple syrup festival at Bronte Creek.  We ate maple sugar candies, maple toffee and pancakes with maple syrup.  In case that wasn't enough sugar, William drank the leftover maple syrup.  Yum!

William's favourite part of the day was the tractor ride to and from the pancake house.  That, and playing with his friend Leyla, who he's still excited to hang out with even after all these years. Jadzia enjoyed climbing the bleachers and wandering as far as she could away from the grown-ups.  Also the pigs.

Below is a shot of William hanging the sap bucket during the educational portion of the trip. Leyla drilled the hole; they make an excellent team.

Monday, March 14, 2011

William does Magic

Today was camp day at Ikea.  My friend Columbia and I enjoyed a magic show, free lunch, and face painting.  The kids had fun too!

Both William and his friend Zoe, got to be assistants for the magician.  Zoe helped with a card trick and William did this:
Afterwards, William tried to replicate the trick by squishing a tiny stuffed animal in his fist.  When it didn't work, he concluded that the trick had to be done with "magic things."

If you're curious what the kids' facepaint is supposed to represent, William is obviously Spiderman, Zoe is a rainbow kitty, and Jadzia is a duck.  The last one was my fault.  I suggested several animals to her, but once she heard "duck" she was stuck on it.  The clown who did the make-up said it was the first duck she had ever done.  Jadzia was delighted to quack quack around the store, almost making up for the fact that she is too young for the Ikea ballroom.

When we go to Ikea, we spend a ridiculously long time.  The food is cheap and the kids are entertained, so the only real reason to leave is that it's time to go home and make dinner.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

William is a Heavy Sleeper

At first we tried to discourage Jadzia from climbing on and playing with her unconscious brother, but it soon became clear that he wasn't waking up for anything.
I managed to catch this on video before my card ran out of memory:
  Reminds me of this video from last year:

Saturday, March 12, 2011

"Just do a summary of the day"

My husband has decided that I should do a blog post every day like Natalie and I have been neglecting my blog of late, so I'm going to try.  So my to-do list will now include:

editing my book
querying that book to agents and/or publishers
outlining the next book
looking after the offspring
doing some minor household chores (only enough to ensure that everyone is fed and clothed)
and...wait for it...writing a blog post every day

So a summary of the day:

First the furnace guy (whose name is Terry) came over and crunched some numbers and got us to sign stuff.  Highly exciting.

Next we decided to see a movie with the kids.  Rango was out, and it isn't every day that there's a flick appropriate for the kids is in theatres.  Not that I'd say that Rango was completely appropriate, but they weren't bored.  You've probably seen the preview, Johnny Depp is a chameleon who winds up in the desert in a western town populated by various desert creatures, lots of gun fighting and stuff you'd expect from a western along with some stuff you'd never expect like a lizard with breasts and hair.  It was a good movie, with spectacularly detailed animation.  William says his favourite part was "all the guns."  My favourite part was the rattlesnake who had a gun built into his tail.

I lost the battle for popcorn soon after we arrived at the theatre, we had just had lunch and I thought snacks weren't necessary, but it became immediately obvious that both kids were going to freak out otherwise.  William also whined that the movie wasn't 3D. Who are these spoiled children?

Anyway, when we got home Morty the Jackapoo went crazy as usual and I felt sort of guilty that I hadn't walked him for a few days.  William screamed halfway to the park.  First because he didn't want to go and then because I wouldn't put his mittens on him (he fought me when I tried).  I can never get him to do any anger-coping deep-breathing techniques they teach us at the Early Years, but they help me all right.  When we finally got to the playground, both kids had fun playing on the swings and stomping around in the icy muck.  Although poor Jadzia fell in the frigid water at least three times.  Finally her pants were so soaked we had to go home.

Then Adam organized the crawlspace in preparation for the upcoming furnacing, while I made a dinner consisting of shrimp, green beans, and leftover spaghetti.  The kids went to bed early, it being daylight savings time and all, and I read the end of the book I was reading, Boneshaker by Cherie Priest, which I'm going to go ahead and recommend.  It's a steam punk, which I'm normally not that into, but it has strong characters, particularly female characters, and it has zombies (but not cheesey zombies) and is generally a fun read.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have just enough time before bed to watch an episode or two of the Big Bang Theory.

Friday, March 11, 2011

The Great Furnace Search

When we moved in 3 years ago, I noticed a service sticker on the large metal box in the basement which was dated 1978.  It still works, but I have to assume that there have been some advances in heating and cooling since Trudeau was prime minister.  For this and other reasons too boring to get into, Adam and I have decided to upgrade our furnace and air conditioner.

So anyway, we had four companies come in to do an estimate.  That means four different people came into our home, looked at our furnace, pitched, told us that we had to act quickly to take advantage of government rebates, and left.  Noone seemed excessively slimey, or gave us wildly exorbitant prices.

I started to write a more detailed account of each visit, but the result was too tedious for words.  I sucked too much of our time on this endeavour, and I don't want to waste yours.   One would say that their products were the best, and another would say that all furnaces are the same and it's the installation that matters.  One would talk more about warranties and another would blather on about how long they'd been in business. 

In the end it was between two companies that we got a good feeling about (but who really knows). Anyway, they seemed like upstanding citizens and they both sold furnaces with fancy controls.  So we got them in and forced them to fight to the death.  It was hard work setting up the arena in the back yard, what with all the snow and mud.  Also finding a company that sells lirpas wasn't easy, but with such a big purchase we felt it was important to do our due diligence. One of the furnace salesmen injected himself with a trioxide compound to fake his own death.  I don't know why he did that, but it was good for us because nobody really died and there was no need to explain to the cops why there was corpse with a lirpa sticking out of his chest in our backyard. 

Anyway, the victor is coming in at 9 am tomorrow to begin the furnacing process.

Sunday, March 06, 2011


This is an all points bulletin!  Get out and enjoy the snow while you still can!  For that past few weeks, the marshmellow blanket of happiness disappeared to be replaced by a mucky icy mess.  But today winter has returned for a limited time only.  Seize the day, everyone!

Imagine my glee, when I woke this morning to find a thick layer of snow all over everything.  We wasted no time (well, we wasted a little time, we still have two kids) in getting all bundled and off to the tobogganing hill.  We over filled our sled, two adults and two children riding together.  Even Morty the Jackapoo got a chance to slide, though he mostly just chased us to the bottom. 

Jadzia gets the prize for eating the most snow.  And why not?  Freshly fallen and purely white, even I had to admit it looked appetizing (though I managed to resist the urge).

At home we enjoyed some hot chocolate made with real cocoa and milk (hot chocolate made with water is a crime against chocolate).

If you are looking for something to do today, do NOT go to an indoor playground, do NOT go shopping, do NOT go to church, and do NOT go to the library.  GO OUTSIDE.  The mucky muck will be back before you know it.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Brownies = Happiness

I have a friend who is a health nut.  She bakes muffins and brownies with little to no sugar and instead packs them full of things like chia seeds, hemp hearts, and spinach.  She loves "super foods" and is ruthless about packing as much nutrition in her diet as possible.   

This morning I was feeling less than super happy and needed some time to myself.  So I locked myself in my bedroom while my children screamed and the dog barked at the door.  I chatted on the phone, and cheered up a little, but found the ambient noise too distracting to fully relax.

I needed to get out of my rut.  So I opened the door and suggest to my offspring that we make brownies.  I thought of my health-nut friend as I handed the ingredients to my two helpers to bring to the table.  I opted for white flour instead of whole wheat, I used all my sugar and all my eggs.  Jadzia helped me crack the eggs.  William poured in ingredients and used the mixer.  They cleaned the bowl with their hands and tongues.

Now I know that baked goods are not a healthy way to get rid of a bad mood.  But I feel better, and I haven't even had a single brownie yet.  I can smell them now and I can hardly wait!

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

I've been a shut-in the last little while

a) I didn't have a car because my hubby's car had a broken wheel or something and making money is apparently more important than going on outtings with the kids and doing my own grocery shopping.
b) I was waiting for the good snow to come back so I could go tobogganing or build a snowman.  Or whatever.

The snow hasn't returned and has instead transformed into various piles of slush, and sheets of ice, and pits of mud.  Still the sun, and my furry houseguest (my parents' jackapoo Morty), motivated me to go outside this afternoon. 

It was too warm for snowpants, but the kids wore all their other winter paraphernalia.  Although Jadzia opted to wear William's old alligator galoshes instead of her pink winter boots.  When we arrived at the park near our house, we discovered that the playground structure was now standing in an iced-over muddy sink hole.  This did not stop my children from climbing and sliding.  Jadzia can now navigate that curved ladder without much hesitation. William was delighted at his new super power of breaking ice, and splashing in the frigid water. Of course I had to join in, just to show him that I was better at it, because I'm bigger.  

After pushing my offspring on the swings (William is too big for the baby swings *tear*) for a tediously long time, I suggested we explore the forest near the park.  Favourite quote of the day from William: "That's not a forest, it's just a bunch of trees."  Okay, so it's not algonquin park, not even enough cover for teenagers to smoke pot without getting caught, but I didn't expect my son to become so jaded so soon.  When we were in the trees, though, he decided that it was a forest after all.  He found a long stick and sword-fought the bushes in a distinctly boyish way, while Jadzia examined the different consistancies of mud.  We found squirrel tracks.  I lured them out of the mini-forest with the promise of a snack.

I did have a car today, but I didn't end up going anywhere until after my hubby came home and we went out for dinner to celebrate a friend's birthday (Happy Birthday Mark!).  On the way, the wheel made a funny noise.  It sounded like a drunken Nascar car and was so loud that we actually pulled over, but ultimately ignored until after dinner.  Now it's my car's turn for the shop.  Oh reliable transportation, if only I'd appreciated you when you were here.
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