Tuesday, August 16, 2011

You forgot a step, mommy.

I knew that going away to work all day would cause Jacob to grow up faster than necessary.  He's now apparently taken the disciplining duties upon himself, even when he's the one being disciplined.

He was having a before-bed tantrum tonight, so I asked him if he needed a time out.  All signs pointed to yes, so I put him in his time-out spot (a corner in his bedroom), and left the room.  I failed, however, to fully close the door behind me - which is something that's always part of the time-out drill.  Rather than pop out from behind the door after 5 seconds as he usually does, he pushed his door closed gently, from inside his room.  When I peeked in, I saw that he had gone back to his time-out spot to mull everything over (which is the whole point!).  He stood there for as much time as he needed to think, and then his little hands appeared on the side of the door to pull it back open.  He gave me a hug and a kiss and announced, "sleep!"

Friday, July 08, 2011

Don't bother calling.

This is really interesting to me.  Nearly two years ago, I went out and bought a portable phone base and three handsets for our home.

One day last year, out of the blue, we noticed that one of our handsets was missing.  After weeks of searching and countless fruitless "paging" efforts (the phone eventually died in the crevasse that it fell into, I guess, rendering the page function useless), we gave up on it.  We were down to two handsets.  It was a bit of an adjustment for a while, but we got used to the idea of it and made do.  Frustrating, but not the biggest deal.  Our house isn't that big.

About 6 months ago, I noticed that finding one of the two phones when they were ringing was mysteriously more challenging. Somehow, they were "both" always upstairs when I was in the kitchen, or they were "both" in the bedroom when I was doing the dishes.  Eventually, I put two and two together (or not, as this case implies), and discovered that the reason it was so hard to find a ringing phone in the house was because there were no longer two handsets to choose from.  We were somehow down to one.  Again, paging was of no use this time, because evidently the phone was already dead when it disappeared.  All signs point to phone suicide.  Very strange.

 Living with one phone in the house was an adjustment to say the least.  So much so that Dave brought home a phone with a cord that would sit in the kitchen until our lost phones decided to come home.  This worked reasonably well for us for a while.

Yesterday evening the phone rang.  For once, Dave and I were sitting down together, taking it easy.  Would've been nice to be able to chat with whoever was calling on one of our portable phones.  We scoured the environs to no avail.  We both quietly realized that the phone-with-the-cord was the only ringing phone we could hear.  We looked at each other and knew.  They were all gone.

Now we are getting used to the realities of single phone-with-a-cord living.  I can't say that it's easy, but it puts things in perspective.  I can see what's important now and what isn't.  I do want you to know, though, that all those times that you call and it rings 5 times only to be followed by our voicemail, I'm actually home, running frantically to reach the one phone left in my house.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Chocolate Hazelnut Memories

I was looking through pictures just now, and came across my chocolate hazelnut torte (from Wanda's Pie in the Sky cookbook) that I totally forgot to blog about back when I made it a couple of months ago.  Take a look:

Chocolate Hazelnut Torte

If I could offer you a slice, I really would, if only to watch your reaction when tasting it.  It was truly over-the-top decadent.  See all those nuts clinging to the icing on the side (and perched on top)? Those aren't regular old hazelnuts, they are chunks of praline, which I baked the day before making the cake.

Hazelnut Praline

Making this dessert was not the easiest task I've taken on.  It was the product of an entire evening's work that made use of almost every single kitchen device and baking sheet that I own.  There might have also been a desperate trip to a bar at 11:30 p.m. upon discovering that I didn't actually have any Frangelico (a hazelnut liqueur) that was called for in the recipe.  The bartender looked at me like I was entirely out of my mind, and reminded me that it was illegal to leave a bar with alcohol.  I pulled out a tiny tupperware and whispered that nobody would ever know.  Shortly thereafter, I skulked out empty-handed, ashamed at the new low to which I descended in the name of baking.  In the end, I used Kahlua instead and it was delicious.

I think the best compliment I got was that it tasted "European".  For some reason, if I've made a dessert taste European, I feel like I've struck gold.  I also learned that shortly after my grandmother and uncle Peter arrived in Canada from the Soviet Union 30 years ago, they almost started a business of their own together whipping up tortes just like this.  Apparently, their version of the torte was so good, friends and neighbors were accosting them to make more for every possible occasion.  Soon, they were receiving orders from strangers, and making a nice buck in the process.  They even went so far as to negotiate a deal with a grocery store chain, which was more than happy to bring them on as clients... but they didn't have the means to invest in a large-scale bakery that would make the project worth their time.  Sad story.  I would have loved to have cake makers in the family.  That's one family business I would gladly take over in a second.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


Since becoming a one-income family, certain things have changed around our house.  Going out for dinner, for example, has become a lot more of a luxury (especially sushi… mmm sushi).  Clipping coupons is not unheard of, and I’ve memorized the schedule of low, medium, and peak hydro usage times for each season so as not to throw away dollars unnecessarily by doing laundry in the morning, for example, when I could just as easily do it at night.  There are other things, too, whose value I’ve been surprised to find myself questioning.  While nothing is too good for my baby, I can’t help but wonder if that “Twisting Tots” class at the local parenting centre is worth the steep price tag that comes with it.  Yes, Jacob would get to twist in the company of his little buddies, but can’t I just as easily set something like that up in my living room for free? All I would have to do is invite some of his friends over, turn on some kid-friendly tunes, and lead by example.  I’m learning the hard way that being lazy is not an option for the penny-pincher.

Something else that’s become a luxury is free time.  Yes, Jacob naps for a couple of hours during the day, but that leaves me just enough time to clean up the disaster of all disasters on the main floor of the house, which was created approximately three minutes after Jacob woke up and which had to be stepped over while it grew cancerously in every room, threatening to either trip me or get stuck to me if I wasn’t careful.  My son has a sixth sense for being able to avoid the mess he creates while simultaneously adding to it.  I suppose I could leave the mess and play scrabble online until he wakes up (and I sometimes do), but those aren’t good days.  For so many reasons.

All of this then gets me thinking about the moms out there whose one income is a lot less ample than ours is.  And about those moms out there who are going at it alone, making free time a pipe dream about as likely as a winning lottery ticket.  I have the option of asking Dave to babysit if I want a night out with the girls.  I have the option of hiring a babysitter if there is something that urgently requires my attention outside of the house.  There are others who really aren’t so lucky.  When I wasn’t a parent, I had no idea how insanely expensive childcare is.  Now I get it.

Tracey Cairns (founder of WomenAide – a charity for women who have suffered spousal abuse) has thought about those moms too, and has created a website called www.sitswap.ca, designed to ease the stress associated with finding and paying for childcare.  Essentially, it’s a site that brings together like-minded moms from the neighbourhood so that they can become friends and ultimately swap childcare favours at no cost to each other whenever the need might arise.  It’s one of those ideas that I wish I thought of myself.  More than once, I’ve caught myself sitting on my couch wishing that there was someone out of my mom acquaintances that I wouldn’t feel awkward asking to watch Jacob for a couple of hours while I ….. (fill in the blank) this afternoon.  I know I would be happy to return the favour.   I, for one, am rooting for Tracey and sitswap.ca.  It’s about time there was a childcare option out there that was dependable and that didn’t cost a small fortune.  Sitswap.ca seems primed to change the landscape of childcare in our province.  I’m sure the rest of the provinces are next in line.  Kudos, Tracey! 

Friday, May 06, 2011


all of my plants died, except for one. They were all thriving, growing, looking relatively happy - and then I decided it was time to transplant them outdoors to do their thing on their own. You know, set down some roots, flower, all that good stuff. My green peas are looking pretty good. I'm holding out hope for them. Everything else curled up and died. Clearly I did something terribly wrong. Maybe I spread out my love too thinly. It probably would have been a good idea to maybe focus on one plant or two. It's like a first-time mom having octuplets without help of any kind and expecting everyone to be happy. It was too ambitious. It's ok. I went out and bought some more mature plants and planted those instead. Things are looking a lot better now. I'm already snacking on chives and arugula on a regular basis, which is all I really need to be happy.

Friday, April 01, 2011

Happy Spring

Hello! I've just about awoken for the year.  Today I heard a cardinal shouting at me from the tree in my neighbours' backyard, and if that's not the alarm clock that will get me out of hibernation, I don't know what is.  Seeing a couple of robins hop about in my yard is a close second, only because they do it rather quietly.

In anticipation of the end of the March that threatened never to end, I paid a visit yesterday to my gardening place and picked up twelve seed packets.  Today, I'm happy to say, I planted them all into little pots and am officially waiting for some green to poke through.  I tried this whole planting from seed thing once before, and it promised to be such an exciting experience.  It was a few years ago in a rental apartment that Dave and I were sharing.  I watched the little tendrils peak out and then curl beautifully open, and shoot up a little before dying a slow and ugly death.  I had three little pots and threw them all out before summer even began.  I'm really hoping this time it goes better - especially because I have twelve of them.  I watered the soil this time before planting my seeds (I forgot to do that last time - rookie mistake), but otherwise, I can't say that I've done anything differently.  Perhaps the little seeds are aware that I'm a mommy now and will feel safer in my care this time around.  Let's hope.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Stuff my son says

"Iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii rawawa"

(Translation: "I love you, mama")


I don't understand time.  Where is it always off to? How is it possible that my son is already a year and half old; walking, learning the alphabet, communicating his thoughts and feelings to me and everyone around him?

He likes music, that much is abundantly clear.  He knows what he wants to hear and definitely knows what he doesn't.  When a song comes on that doesn't jive with him, he will take matters into his own hands.  He'll walk right up to the stereo, reach up his little arm with his nimble little fingers, and simply turn it off.  Or sometimes, he'll even press 'next' and the offending tune will be removed and replaced with the one he was hoping for.  And then he'll dance.  I just sit there and stare when that happens, overwhelmed that my baby boy has somehow become both independent and tech savvy.

He is also computer literate - or at least he's getting there.

This morning, I found him sitting quietly on my bedroom floor, typing away on Dave's laptop, which he had somehow taken down from somewhere he shouldn't have been able to reach.  It was turned off, but he was hacking away at those keys like a pro.  Had it been on, he might have written something groundbreaking, but we'll never know, now will we.