Josée in Ottawa

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I’m sitting on the couch in the living room, working on my laptop. Bonhomme sidles over. He’s got his Pokemon Go book in his hands; it’s his latest obsession. “Mummy?” He’s almost eight but the way he says it brings me back to when he was four, five. He puts his hand on my knee and waits until I look up. “What’s up?” I ask him. “I know which Pokemon I want to catch next…”

He’s got my attention and he’s off, talking about his favourite thing ever. As he talks he puts down his book and clears away the papers that are beside me on the couch. I close my laptop. He sits in the newly cleared spot and scootches over a millimetre at a time until he can’t get any closer. I interject the occasional “Uh huh…” or “Hmmmm.” He leans his head on my arm, still talking.

I’ll listen as long as he wants.




Hubby, aka “The Yes Man”

yeah yeah yeah by Tim Snell (Flickr Creative Commons)

yeah yeah yeah by Tim Snell (Flickr Creative Commons)

When the kids stay home from school because they’re sick, we follow one simple rule: They must nap in the afternoon. Knowing this, they usually think twice about pulling the “I don’t feel well” card unless it’s really true. B.G. stayed home from school with Hubby last week, and when I got home and mentioned The Rule, she let it slip that “Daddy didn’t make me take a nap”.  Hubby exclaimed, “Hey, you weren’t supposed to tell mommy!”

A few days later when I was out of earshot she told him, “When I want something, I ask you. You’re the Yes Man.”

Such wisdom at such a young age. I can’t decide whether to be amused that she’s figured this out, or upset that this makes me “The No Mommy” by default. Either way, Hubby’s in trouble now.

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Fools Rush In

Fighting Meerkats by tkspencer

Fighting Meerkats by tkspencer (Flickr Creative Commons)

I’m doing the dishes and the kids are upstairs. They’re quiet for a few minutes and then it starts – I can hear them talking and though I can’t make out the words, I can tell that they’re bickering. The volume rises. B.G. yells “GET OUT!” A door slams. Bonhomme starts wailing and yelling “Let me in!” I drop the cup I’m holding into the sudsy water and prepare to dry my hands. If the past few days have been any indication, things are about to go from bad to worse. Yet I hesitate. I’m a big fan of parenting guru Alyson Shafer, and she is a big fan of letting kids work things out on their own. Plus, after a rough few weeks dealing with illness and weather and much fighting between the “worst little brother ever” and his “bum-butt” of a big sister, the last thing I feel like doing is heading up there and trying to sort things out. I hold my breath.

A bit more yelling. The volume is lower. A door closes then opens. Some fast talk. Something heavy and hard falls to the floor. Silence.

Has one knocked the other out?

I’m about to head upstairs when I hear the stampede on the steps. They’re coming down, both of them. No blood. No tears. Phew.

“We figured out how to share”, Bonhomme announces proudly. B.G. pipes up, “We both wanted to play with the magnet set, so we decided to separate the pieces into two piles and each take half.”

Amazing. I beam at them. “Wow, you guys are great at figuring out how to solve problems! You both wanted the magnet set and you decided to split it up and each take half! I’m so proud of you!” Reinforce, reinforce, reinforce. I bring up the wonderful sharing at least two more times. I make sure to mention what they did and how proud I am of their sharing to Hubby, within earshot of the kids.

Then I make a mental note of this moment to help get me through the next inevitable fight. I’m not so delusional as to think that it will always end this well. But I must admit that having it turn out like this every know and then – it sure helps.


I Think We Just Had The Perfect Day. Huh.

And it happened completely by accident. Many, if not most, of our family outings turn out more like this.

It’s a rule that you can’t plan a perfect day, it just has to happen on its own. We didn’t have any plans today, so there were no expectations. We lazed about all morning, and then decided to take a bike ride along the Rideau River. B.G. is finally able to ride at a reasonable speed, and Bonhomme is still light enough to be pulled in the Chariot trailer, so this is the first summer that we can all ride together. We packed a snack and headed out.

It was quite a sight to see B.G. happily pedalling hard to keep up with Hubby, her skirt fluttering out behind her. (My tomboy princess loves her dresses and skirts. No shorts or jeans for this girl, no siree. Sigh.) B.G. absolutely loves riding her bike and didn’t complain once about being tired (I’ll be diplomatic here and just say that she was uncharacteristically bubbly). Bonhomme, snug in the Chariot with his juice and snack, had no reason to complain either.

We made it all the way from Strathcona Park to the Rideau Falls, where we stopped for a rest:




We saw the royal swans and a few of their friends along the way (note the black bird sitting on the rock in the upper right-hand corner of the photo – a cormorant?):



We had such a great time that I would have called it a perfect day even if the fun had ended there, but we happened upon a police training exercise later in the day:



Bonhomme was in heaven. Hubby was admiring the  bikes (I could read his mind; he’ll get a bike over my dead body!) and I didn’t mind the view one little bit either. 🙂

And then, my favourite event of the summer, Fortissimo on Parliament Hill:







Today the fantasy and the reality were one.

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Summer Fun, Family Style.

The reality never quite lives up to the fantasy, does it? You’ve planned a wonderful outing for the family. Lunch, snacks, and suntan lotion are ready to go. The car is full of gas, the route is laid out. You are going to have some FUN! The kids are excitedly running around gathering up hats and toys. It’s go time. And then…

And then it slowly starts to unravel. One child can’t find his favourite hat. The other can’t find her sunglasses. You find substitutes but there is a bit of grumbling. You’ve got them in the car; one decides they need to go potty one more time. Back in the car, you’re three blocks from home when you realize you forgot the bag containing lunch. An extra spin around the neighbourhood and this time you’re really on your way!

Fifteen minutes into an hour-long car ride one child won’t stop calling the other names and the other is screaming. You pretend they haven’t just had breakfast and raid your stash of snacks just to get ten minutes of peace. The child sitting behind you won’t stop kicking the back of your seat and you’re two kicks away from pulling over on the side of the highway and strangling both children right there.

After another potty break for the child who refused to go before you left and a Tim’s break for much needed coffee for the grown ups (and a box of Timbits to assure another ten minutes of quiet) you’ve arrived at your destination.

One child is thrilled to be there (a sentiment that lasts approximately five minutes until he realizes that you ran out of snacks during the car ride over and you refuse to pull out lunch since it’s only 9 a.m.) while the other proclaims that “this place is soooo boring” and wants to head home immediately. You plaster a smile on your face, grit your teeth and exclaim, “We are going to have so much FUN!”. You fail to notice that all the other parents are going through the same thing and assume that every other family on the beach is having a great time.

After an hour of listening to one child complain that they’re starving and the other complain of boredom, you decide that 10 a.m. is a perfectly acceptable lunch hour and set out the picnic. You’ve packed two ham sandwiches and two tuna sandwiches; both children want bologna. You eat the packed lunch and spend $34.50 on hot dogs and french fries for the kids; they eat approximately half a hotdog and six fries between them before declaring themselves full. Ten minutes later they spot another child eating an ice cream cone and act like they can’t live without having one too. You can’t live with the whining so you give in, handing over another $7.10 in the process.

Half an hour later one of the children is puking on the beach.

At least there’s plenty of sand around to cover it up.

By 11 a.m. everyone is cross and exhausted. You throw in the towel and head home. The car ride is eerily silent; the kids can sense that mom and dad are right on the edge. When you get home everyone gets sent to their respective rooms to decompress.

The next day the kids tell grandma about their outing and declare, “It was so much fun!!”

You know that you’ll do it all over again next year.


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Please Stop With the Bodily Fluids. Please.

Grass. Toilet. Garbage Can.

Grass. Toilet. Garbage Can.

**Warning, this post is all about puke.**

My kids are what I would call “surprise pukers”. There doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason to what sets them off, and there is very little warning that it’s about to happen. We recently had to train B.G. in what to do when she felt it coming on, because her default reaction was to come over to tell me all about how bad she felt, which led to a couple of incidents where I was left with puke literally soaking my pants and even my underwear. Yuckity-yuck-double-yuck. One of the incidents happened on the front porch of her friend’s house when we were dropping her off for a sleepover. – they had to hose down the porch. (“Really, she was fine five minutes ago. Guess we’ll be heading home… So sorry!”) I was so grateful that it didn’t happen inside the house five minutes after we’d driven off. The second pants-soaking incident was at a friend’s birthday party, where I vainly attempted to contain the disgusting waterfall in the plastic plate that held my supper. Not surprisingly this method was not effective.

If you think you’re going to be sick, we told her, find grass, a toilet, or a garbage can. DO NOT TELL MOMMY YOU’RE GOING TO BE SICK. Grass. Toilet. Garbage can.

Just a few days after the last B.G. incident, I was with Bonhomme at the Home Depot. He was sick in line at the cash, right as it was our turn to check out. I don’t know what the cashier thought when I asked her for a bag in case he was sick again, and then had her go ahead and ring my items through. Every time I leave the house now I have a couple of plastic bags hanging out of my pockets so that I can easily whip them out as needed.

How are the kids after these incidents, you ask? I might be a bit more sympathetic if they weren’t complaining about being hungry and wanting something to eat before I’ve even changed out of my vomit-covered pants.

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Until she was about five, B.G. would not wear her socks right-side-out. She insisted that the seams “hurt”. This drove me crazy. She had all sorts of adorable little girl socks with cute patterns and designs on them, but she would only wear them inside out. All you could see was the crappy side covered with thread.

Then one day I was cutting the tags out of some of my new shirts because I can’t stand the feeling of the tags against my skin – it hurts– and it hit me:




Explaining “Aunt Rose” to a Six-Year-Old in an Airport Bathroom



Any men reading may want to skip this post. 🙂

Soon B.G. and I will be travelling by plane to visit my sister. Of course it looks like my Impeccable Menstrual Timing (IMT – I coin the phrase!) will strike again. It will be difficult (well nigh impossible) for me to get into a bathroom stall without MiniMe, who doesn’t like to stand outside the stall by herself where strangers could possibly glance her way (oh the horror, shudder). I’ll have to get creative:

“Hey, that door looks loose. Can you please turn around and push on it and make sure that none of those scary strangers break in?”

“What’s that on the floor? NO, NO don’t touch it!!!”

“Is that an Air Canada sticker on the ceiling?”

The stalls are small and there is only so much to distract her.

Men never have to deal with stuff like this.