Sunday, August 30, 2009


The kids left Thursday evening. It is real. They're gone. For 10 days.

Maybe about a year ago, my dad made an offhand comment about how they were looking forward to when the kids would be old enough to take camping. I said "sounds like a great plan" and put it on the back shelf of my brain to be accessed in about 15 or 30 years. You know, just before they start dating.

Late spring, they called and said "we have to book camp sites, can they come?" Ga?

They are camping. Real full-on camping. Not the kind of camping we did Back In The Day, where you load up as much beer and hard liquor into your car as you can, and fill the leftover space with steak and if there's any space left over after THAT, you put a tent and maybe a sleeping bag in. And the sleeping bag was the cheapest thing they could legally call a sleeping bag available at Canadian Tire that you picked up on your way out of town. And the tent was something your *real* camping parents had handed down to you that had been used possibly in the second world war (not IN the war, because then it would be full of bullet holes, but in the TIME of the war). And you hope that you remembered to locate all the poles after last year, because something way back in the annals of what passes for memory you seem to recall *really* needing a marshmallow roasting stick on your last night and you also happened to be using your parents' station wagon last year (i.e. much more room for the beer). Also, it was the only time you could feel justified eating Alphagetti. Because that shit is gross except when "camping".

That's a very accurate description of the kind of camping they are NOT doing. They ARE taking their gear (Real Gear, see above) and going to a camp ground that only has access by bus. That is, you park, load up your Real Gear and ride the bus to the site in the middle of the mountains.

As their departure date grew closer, and we realized we'd be childless for 10 days, we were both riding a very exciting - and excruciating - roller coaster of emotions. After they left, I have myself masked any emotional response - appropriate or otherwise - through other means:

Off on this adventure is Grandma & Grandpa, three aunties and one "Skunkle" (my kids decided that he would not get full "Uncle" privileges until he made an honest woman of her). Nine of them off in two cars with walkie-talkies between them.

They called this evening - night 3 - they sound wonderful. They're having the time of their lives. They had in their voices, the exactly perfect mix of not missing us, but being really happy to tell us of their days adventures.

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Monday, August 24, 2009

Harmzie's Hierarchy of Needs

Air -- Homeostasis -- Coffee -- Water -- Food -- Shelter -- Emotional Well-Being HooHa -- Some other crap that I probably need, but you know, requires effort...

We had another thunderstorm this morning. It has gotten to the point that people don't even complain about the weather any more. And we're Canadian. It's an obligation in our Constitution (except for Quebec, they don't have to complain about the weather because they haven't adopted the constitution because the meaning got lost in translation and they thought it meant that they had to give *control* of the weather over to the Belgians and they traditionally hate the Belgians, so there was some trust issues and we had a rally and stormed Montreal with a giant Canadian flag and I'm not sure how the Belgians factored in, except that they make good waffles, but I've heard Quebeckers hate waffles, so maybe THAT was the problem)

So we had another thunderstorm this morning, and as I was in the shower, the lights flickered and I thought "crap, I haven't made coffee yet". If the power goes off, I can't make it. AT ALL. I comforted myself with the fact that I could get coffee at work. Crappy coffee, but beggars can't be choosers. Unless the power is out everywhere. Well, what about Tim Horton's? IF THE POWER'S OUT EVERYWHERE I CAN'T GET COFFEE ANYWHERE!!! Mofo. I'm hyperventilating in the shower (good for the breathing channels, not so good for the BRAIN)

And then I wished I had put the kettle on (we make one cup at a time, with boiled water from the kettle) *before* getting in to the shower, but I have an irrational fear of house fires, and I can't purposely turn on an appliance that could burst into flames and then get into the shower where I can't hear or smell anything and ignore it for 45 10 minutes. Then I thought that I should have anyway, since the two kids who sleep upstairs were at grandma & grandpa's house for the night, Max had gone to the gym early, and I could easily grab the third kid whose is on the main floor and get out in time. Since I *could* save my kid, I *should* have taken the risk that I would have to run outside naked to make my coffee, I thought. Especially since there's a robe in here. Continue hyperventilating.

So then I started thinking about how they made coffee in the OLDEN DAYS. But then realized that the microwave needed power too... KIDDING! I know that they didn't have microwaves in the olden days. They would have had to have rubbed two cows together. Not having two cows, I started grasping at ideas. Something. Anything. A pot [check]. And a fire. Fire. Candle? Lighter? That would take a long time. So then I figured I could use the propane torch from the garage and boil a pot of water. Having thusly saved the morning (should the power have failed), I was able to calmly complete my shower with a normal rate of breathing, get out and - very quickly - turn on the kettle. I even stopped long enough to put the robe on. [You're welcome, neighbours]

In mostly unrelated news, when I got to work I discovered that everyone was in a panic because there was no coffee. The operation of the entire department was halted as all resources were directed at rectifying the situation. KIDDING AGAIN! Everyone was fine. They just did their work really, really lethargically until the caffeine epi-pens were brought in.

Except me, who had already had my coffee. Swish.

[note to self (and Max if you catch this): We're out of cream. Do not want to repeat tomorrow]

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Thursday, August 20, 2009

For all the good this does...

I was thinking about medical research today.

Not in the usual way that people think about medical research - as in "I sure hope they cure Cancer and Diabetes and Multiple Sclerosis soon" (I do think about that, but not this time). I was thinking about the medical leaps of faith, the paradigm shifts (I know, I hate that overused office politicos term, but it fits).

Picture it - in a lab, way back when:

"Hey, Dr Carter, you know, I was just sitting there staring into my coffee and started thinking."

"Oh? About what?"

"Well, we know that the very sensitive tissues within the nose and mouth and eyes - the 'mucous membranes' absorb things at a much faster rate than the tougher dermal layers in other areas of the body?"

"uh huhhhh. What about it"

"Wouldn't it stand to reason that ALL mucous membranes act in this way?"

"Sure, I suppose"

"So, what if we take a medication we need to administer and apply it rectally."

"Um... what?"

"Physically place the medication within the patient's rectum for quick dissolution"

"Are you saying we should shove pills up his ass?"

"Well, that's pretty crude, but yes, I suppose"


"--- ga!"

"No, really. Don't you think that we'd be able to get quick absorption of pain relief medication or .."

"Well maybe, but STOP! Eww! Just eww! Come on, dude. What is wrong with you?"

"Well, can't we at least do a clinical trial?"

"Awww, come on... You're not going to make me put this before the medical ethics board, are you?"

"Yes. Here, I've already drawn up the proposal."

"Awww, duuuude."

"Just find out what they think"

Two weeks later

"So? What did they say?"

"Well, I presented it to them and most of them started out with a revulsion (although two of them had kind of a creepy grin). They listened intently and then dismissed me to discuss amongst themselves..."

"And what was their conclusion?"

"They said we could go ahead with the trial on one condition..."

"Which is?"

"The one who came up with the idea must NOT be involved in the study in any way."

[in case you were wondering WHY my mind went there - don't. But if you still are, I overheard someone alluding to the joke that ends "for all the good this does, I may as well be shoving them up my ass" That's my story and I'm sticking to it.]

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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Raggedy Ann

So, I check out of rehab, all refreshed, ready to start anew, and I run across an old friend: "Hey! I love your blog! But I haven't heard much from you recently! What's up?"

"Uh... blog?" I look into it. Apparently that was some bender.

Inappropriate, insensitive comments about rehab and blog-writing benders aside, I've been busy. Not insanely busy, but a combination of just too busy to stay up that extra mrffmrff minutes to pull something out of my ass craft anything worth sharing, crossed with extreme mild dissatisfaction with several previous posts, plus intimidation at others' brilliance. That's my story and I'm sticking to it [I think I just discovered my new tagline].

Country Girl to the rescue! When Miss Rougeneck beckons, you listen*.

I've been instructed as follows:

  • Open your first photo folder.

  • Scroll down to the 10th photo**.

  • Post that photo and story on your blog.

  • Tag five others (or more) friends to do the same.
*Also, this is just as good a place to jump back in with my mindless drivel as anywhere.

When I was a child I had a Raggedy Ann doll, made for me by my Dad's aunt. I don't remember many of my childhood toys, but I remember this one because of a bizarre incident indicative of another time.

When I was four, my family (extended, I think there were five or six adults plus me) had travelled to Guatemala (drove, in a van, through the US and Mexico). I think for several weeks. We stayed at an A-frame cottage of sorts. This cottage was a short walk (I'll guess about five to ten minutes?) on a single path to a beach with spectacular sunsets. Nearly every night that we stayed there, some combination of people would walk out to the beach for the view. One particular night, I (remember, four) had decided NOT to join the beach contingent and stayed with folks at the cottage. Then I changed my mind and headed out for the beach. By myself(here's where the whole "different time" thing comes in, I'll assume).

While touring around Guatemala, I had noticed (or had pointed out to me) that the women often carried their babies on backs in a sling. So I had fashioned (or had fashioned for me) a little sling in which to carry my Raggedy Ann, and set out to the beach with my baby. On the way, a small group of kids saw me (little white blond girl - I was blond then, for real, too - all alone on her way to the beach. Stands out I guess) and started making fun of my contraption, to the point of picking at it such that my baby came out of it. I remember making it to the beach and being very upset about the whole situation. I think the adults tried to console me by telling me they were just jealous of my awesome get-up. I was four, but not stupid. I was far more sure they were offended that I was mocking their culture. True. That's what I thought.

That incident was probably the only reason I remembered that I had a Raggedy Ann doll (or that there was a beach within walking distance of the cabin), but fast forward to the birth of my first child and I decided that my new baby daughter should have a hand-made Raggedy Ann doll. Since the aunt in question had long since passed on, I decided to do it myself.

I diligently went out and shopped (new baby in my fancy new baby-bucket-seat and stroller) for the right pattern, and *exactly* perfect material for clothing and body parts. I cut it out and began by carefully embroidering the eyes, nose and mouth, as well as the "I LOVE YOU" on the heart. It was pain-staking, especially when she stayed bald for a good six months, as *every* *single* *hair* had to be stitched and tied. But finally, I was done. And I presented it to small Miss Norah. And she loved it.

The pattern said its size right on it. But 36" just sounds like a number until you put it up to a small child and realize that 36" is actually three feet tall.

No matter. She loved it. She liked to wrestle with it. It turned out to be not so much the cuddly, cart-your-baby-around type baby, more of a giant-ass, big sister with freaky eyes. And nose. And mouth. And eyebrows (under your eyes? seriously?)

I hesitated to post this one [I could have lied and posted the one of me finishing my first half marathon while four weeks pregnant, but there, I just told the story], as it has our ratty old couches in it, but it reminded me of that story too.

All we have left from this photo are the china cabinet, the Raggedy Ann doll (now! with more shredded eyes!), the black & white blanket and of course, the baby (now nine, so I guess we don't even have that any more [sigh])

My Tagees:

Stone Fox - pretty sure we were separated at birth, though mom must have had a pretty rough nine years of continued gestation. Unless we were both lied to. Which clearly we were if we were separated at birth. So it's totally possible. I'll take the high road and say I'm younger than my birth certificate says, ignoring the fact that it makes me a brilliant over-achieving child who would have had to have been in grade 3 at age uh... 18 months or something. We had nasty lying parents. It was a conspiracy I tells you.

Um... so where was I... oh yeah. Tagees!

Kyla Roma - because she rites real good-like about things and stuffs. I'd love to hear her craft a story about a random photo.

Juli Ryan - for that international flavour.

Planning Queen - Everybody needs a Planning Queen in their corner. Also international.

Wyliekat - bringing it back home. Wylie is the sane version of me.

Off minions! Report back with thine brilliance.

**seriously? Just pick a photo & tell a story. Like I'm going to audit your hard-drive or photo-server.

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Saturday, August 8, 2009

Denial. Not just a river in Egypt anymore

"...and that's why they have to work very hard to make sure people can't copy money."

"Mom, can we go out after breakfast and buy me a WebKinz?"


"It's been over a month since I got a new one. I really need a new one."

[pause & blank stare] "You have plenty of WebKinz" (like 50 or 200. I've lost count and just keep stepping on them wherever I go) "eat your breakfast."

[Breakfast is cleared, I'm doing (ahem) research on the computer]

"Mom? I'm going to go get dressed so that we can go shopping for my new WebKinz!"

"What? We're not--"

[flying up the stairs] "YAAAY! Going to get dressed now!"

"But... no"

"We're going!!! Yay! Hey, Stewie needs a new one too!"

"What? Hey! Stop it! We're not going anywhere"

[a little later]

"So are you going to get dressed so we can go?"

"I'm not going anywhere. No one said anything about going anywhere for WebKinz but you."

"Stewie said so too"

"Does Stewie have a drivers' license? Does he have a bank account?"

"No." [barely skipping a beat] "Dad? Are you ready to go?"

We're NOT going. I think.

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Monday, August 3, 2009

Where the World Came From - by Pepper

It all started with a little asteroid.

One day it stopped and then it got bigger and bigger and bigger.

Then there were eggs [what kind of eggs?] Animal eggs. The animals came out of the eggs. Then once the animals grew big enough, they made the people (PS: somehow).

Then the people that got made by the animals became builders. The builders built lots of buildings. Then the girls had babies, and so on and so on until it was a WORLD!

She asked me to send this out there (the Internets) to check it out. It sounds as good an explanation as I can provide. Does it check out?

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I am at a schwanky party at a stone castle on the Riviera. I've stepped out onto the terrace for some air (the inside air was getting a little weighty with pretension).

"You've never looked more beautiful" the voice behind me says (a fleeting thought doesn't disagree, as my dress cuts a perfect silhouette in the moonlight). I turn and gaze into his eyes and his arm gently slips around my waist and pulls me closer. I find myself fully lost in those eyes.

"MOOOOOMMMMM!!!" The shrill voice rips through the brisk night air. I ignore it. Probably someone else's mom.

"MOOOOOMMMMMMMYYY!!!" As the veil that was my happy place gets shredded into little wet bits, I catch a fleeting glimpse of my Danny heading off to catch the next most beautiful perfect silhouette. Likely one without a muffin-top too, fickle bastard. And I get up to tend to the offender.

I've done a lot of reading and observing, considering and ignoring, trial and error, laughing and no doubt shuddering on various parenting techniques, tricks, strategies philosophies and tips. Dealing with nightmares is the one thing that I have to say I've not really read much about, but actually reached my own conclusion, based a lot on things not specifically related to parenting. So it's probably wrong. But I've never claimed to be good at any of this. Read, consider, and let me know what you think of my approach.

Part I – The [ahem] "Science"

I took a "Leadership" course through work several years ago. Sounds very "Dilbert", but it was an excellent course on responsibility, delegation and a bunch of other corporate stuff. It was a brief, shining moment when I had some faith that my organization was heading in the right direction with something [ahem]. Throughout this course, the instructor spouted off several bits of wisdom that just made plain sense.

(1) We retain [The actual number is less relevant than the scale between them - I'm going to say -] 10% of what we hear, 50% of what we write down, and 80% of what we explain (either back or to someone else). Your brain puts information into different compartments depending upon what it's doing with it. Writing and explaining require more processing.

(2) Something bothering you? Talk it out! This was the "traditional" format for trauma counselling (talking dangerously close to out of my ass now). He stated that there has been growing evidence that making someone talk about a traumatic even can serve to only freeze the event in their memory, when their own coping mechanism may just be to suppress it. In such situations, “they” have found, the individual should actually dictate how they need to cope. Some people need to talk about stuff, others need not to. Or they do, but a little later (again, several years ago, this may be mainstream now. Or entirely shot down. I mention it because in my context, the basic notion still makes perfect sense to me)

Of course he provided references, but I didn't write them down... or recite them to someone else.

[if anyone locally ever has the chance to take anything with Linton Sellen, I recommend jumping at it]

Part II – The Personal Experience

Whenever I am awakened by a bad dream - it seems my conscience would prefer I waken and play-out the worst semi-consciously - I cannot go back to sleep until I fully waken myself and flush the images. Fully reconcile the logistics of yes-that-frightens-you-but-the-likelihood-of-the-earth-opening-up-and-swallowing-your-car-is-low-enough-that-you-do-not-have-to-have-an-escape-plan

On the flip-side, ever have an awesome/funny/interesting/bizarre dream and want to tell about it at breakfast or work later? Or when some seemingly random image reminds you of it?And all you can get out is: "it was really weird... there was.. something about... I was dating Tintin, and uh, Bea Arthur* was vacuuming my curtains, but it, uh made total sense in context and actually was, uh, I think a subconscious commentary on social justice in a world dominated by um... velociraptors... No, really. Don't walk away!"
The Actual Advice (disclaimer: don't take this advice without engaging your own brain. You do have one. I know because you've read this far!)

Based on the above (they relate! Shut up, they do!), I never, EVER prompt the offender child to recite what has caused the distress no matter how much I want to punish them for ruining my evening with Daniel Craig

-- Gently wake the child (not all the way). A hug and "Mom/Dad's here" to test the waters

-- Preferably get them to sit up to apply the hugs

-- Acceptable statements: "It's mom/dad/Aunt Fanny"; "You're safe, in your house"; "Mom & Dad are right here in our room" (maybe leave out any explanations for the noises that probably woke them up - now's probably not a good time for that)

-- If they want to talk about it, BY ALL MEANS! but reassure with every statement "you're here now"; "everything's alright" and such and such.
This has seems to work for my kids so far, but I haven't been faced with night terrors or any other really complex middle of the night issues. Tell me what you think of this approach.

My next bit of psychological parenting advice has to do with monsters. Stay tuned for more talking out of my ass!
*I really wanted to put the whole picture in here, but it's a very big image, so it's just linked

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