A small gesture

This is the story about a girl, a loud, smart, driven girl. She was not bossy, she was a natural leader. She was not a cry baby, but she owned her emotions. When she walked into a room, she turned heads, mostly because she usually tripped or walked into the door frame and swore loudly, but that is beside the point.

She was not perfect, she had no fashion sense (seriously, as a teenager she wore her fathers 30 year old clothes, which ironically were in better shape than anything she had bought), she had little control over her personality flaws (I consider the compulsive need to correct imprecise statements a personality flaw) and interpersonal communication was a skill learned later than the average girl.

But, she worked hard, and put all her energy, thoughts and time into growing her mind, scholastically, emotionally, and creatively. As soon as she saw her own reflection, she would disappear into a story in her head and act out a scene of grave importance, it didn’t matter that it was dinner time and her family was staring at her blankly. (FYI – kids who do this are super cute…except when it is bed time or when trying to go anywhere on time).

This girl grew into a woman. A loud (yes, still loud), clumsy (it actually got worse) and extremely principled (no…not stubborn, principled) woman.

The woman moved to France and in doing so was forced to learn a new skill; the ability to survive in an environment where she was first and foremost a woman, a characteristic that redefined all of her other qualities in the eyes of those around her.

As luck would have it though, she met a French man, the perfect man for her. He was a man who liked to cook delicious food, a man who did laundry and dishes, a man who loved to spend time with his children. This man is probably the reason the woman did not end up in prison for inflicting violence on the ass-backwards sexist dillholes she encountered on a near daily basis or against the kind-hearted lovely gentlemen who were never properly educated to see a woman as an equal.

This woman tried for years to move the world around her in a direction where she could just be herself, and failed miserably on many occasions. But she never gave up hope and never stopped trying. She changed tactics, perhaps learned to be more discreet and less bulldozer-y, but she never gave up.

Then one day, she tried again, she dove down deep inside her to build up the courage to say something that might cause ripples. She asked quite simply to be treated equally to all the men around her; she asked for a handshake; she asked to avoid the physical invasion of her personal space that is the custom in France, “the bise”.

She asked quite simply for the right to choose those with whom she was intimate rather than have intimacy forced upon her. She asked to not start the day, the meeting, or whatever with being reminded that she was different, not equal, separate, apart.

In the grand scheme of things, she asked for something that has absolutely no cost, but provides infinite value. She asked for something small, inconsequential really, and this tiny infinitesimal request was met with shock. SHOCK?!?! Not shock because the gentleman suddenly came to the life altering realisation that OF COURSE setting women apart and invading their personal space in a professional environment could potentially make a woman feel uncomfortable. It was more closer to shock that a woman could dare to break protocol, shock that in civil society a woman could dare to challenge centuries old etiquette.

After the stunned silence, the moment passed and life went on..possibly more easily because while this woman may be a woman, she was also a Canadian, and they know nothing of etiquette.


Thank goodness my children’s care givers don’t speak English

Spring holidays were over this morning and they went out in style. When I left the house at 7:50, both kids were barely awake and both were still in their pyjamas (knowing they need to leave the house at roughly 8:10).

My kids spent last week with their father visiting their grandparents, which was pretty much a complete and total holiday for me. I had forgotten what it was like to only have to care for myself. I could take a shower without any kids telling me they want food…now, and I could go to bed at night without fear of a little voice waking me up at 3 am because she can’t find her soother in her bed (in fairness to the cute voice, it had fallen out of the bed and I didn’t find it myself until the sun was up). I got up 30 minutes later and drank my coffee sitting down; I could watch the entire set of Harry Potter movies in a single week, because I didn’t have to wait for the kids to be in bed before starting it; I was able to paint the terrace furniture without fear of having paint on child hands and therefore all over the couch, wall, beds, counters etc.

That said, I was quite glad to have their voices fill the apartment again. I was thrilled to get cuddles and kisses. In particularly I was happy to hear my daughters voice. She is learning new words and new phrases at an alarming rate and in the four days that she was gone, I felt that she grew by months.

She also insists on singing her whole life. Sometimes she sings actual songs, like the alphabet song (emenelopy), or some random French song she heard once at a play group. Sometimes she just sings her life, such as “I’m sitting on the toilet and my underwear is pink”.

Yesterday, she suddenly started singing “I’m freaky baby, yes yes” and I am pretty sure my eyes popped out of my head. Naturally she noticed this reaction, I wasn’t quick enough to control my face, so she sang it over and over again trying to get another reaction. I held it together, I didn’t react again until she started the highly inappropriate dance moves, then I burst out laughing. I managed to convince the kids I was laughing at something completely unrelated that I saw out the window; my son was most unhappy he missed seeing whatever was so funny and went on about it for like 15 minutes.

In the end, I tried to ignore it, cursed Pitbull under my breathe and thanked the heavens that my children’s care givers don’t understand English.

ASIDE: I also learned I need to pay much closer attention to all media that reach my children, radio, iPads, T.V., everything.

Living with a three year old again

After one year, one month, two weeks and one day, I am living with a three year old again. I am also starting to remember what living with a three year old was like the first time around and what motivated me to start venting on the internet nearly two years ago.

Three year olds love random, useless controversy

While sitting in the car going who knows where, a police car drove by us. The 3 year old said (This isn’t verbatim, because it is translated, but it gives the gist of it), “Oh look, a police car, it says pinponpinponpinpon.”

The five year old replied, “No it doesn’t, it says weeooweeoooweeooweeoo”

The three year old disagreed and the two of them had a very heated argument that lasted quite awhile and consisted of mostly very annoying and very loud noises.

While the five year old is going through an I-always-need-to-be-right phase, the three year old is just stirring the pot to piss off her brother and get him all worked up.

Three year olds are stubborn

We came back from Canada on Saturday; the travel and trip were without incident, but naturally the jet lag is less than stellar. We are coping better than usual, but are still insanely tired. The kids have been having frequent crying fits and mild melt downs. Last night the three year old wanted grape juice at dinner, I wanted her to have water. She cried, she screamed, she tried to convince me to change my mind (apparently 30 year olds…okay fine 35 year olds are stubborn too). Finally I asked her if she wanted to go lie in her bed; it wasn’t a threat or punishment, she just really likes to go to bed. Thrice during our trip in Canada she put herself to bed because she was tired. She accepted my offer to go to bed, and promptly fell asleep.

This morning she woke up in great spirits with a great big huge grin across her face. She walked right up to me and said, “I’m drinky, can I have some grape juice please?” (that was verbatim, the kid loves to speak English now after two weeks with the anglophones – especially the super cute anglos who say drinky).

Three year olds mix up language in the greatest ways

The three year olds favourite expression right now is “I love you flat out” (translated), basically, she loves me as fast as she can. Which is pretty fricking cute.

When we got to my dads house, I pulled out a bin of My Little Ponies, which are the shit right now in our house. The three year old rummaged through the bin, ignoring the ponies and pulled out two Barbies from the bottom. She then spent the remainder of our trip in Canada carrying them around everywhere with her calling them her “bandits”.

Three year olds are awesome

The three year old is full of life and energy, she already knows how to charm the wits out of any adult, and she is so much fun. She speaks, with excellent sentences filled with French and English. She expresses herself strongly and is not afraid to show her emotions with all the energy with which she feels them.

She is bright and curious, adores her big brother and is very into cuddling.

She also sleeps through the night (score), she can feed herself and only like 30% ends up all over her face and in her lap. She can dress herself and only gets stuck in her clothes like half the time. She can entertain herself for extended periods of time (score score score) and can sit to watch an entire movie (extra score when on an airplane).

All in all, I’m not afraid of the next year of living with this three year old and I can’t wait to see what she will be in 365 days.

FYI, we are okay

So, I just want to give a shout out to all those back home (which is kind of weird to say given that I am currently in my native land) to let you know, we made it okay. Sorry I haven’t emailed, texted, face booked or anything. To ask your forgiveness, please find below a non personal group post to catch you up on our holidays.

The kids survived the 18 hours of traveling wonderfully, and even got a few compliments from other tired travellers who were surprised that our children didn’t scream for 8 straight hours. Squishy did lose it while we were waiting for our car at the rental counter. She totally freaked out and the only thing that could calm her down was for her to sit in her car seat, that was sitting on the floor, strapped in,  and covered with her blanket.

I am also proud to say that I only had one meltdown myself, it was in traffic leaving the airport in Ottawa. Seriously, after being up for nearly 20 hours straight, the last thing you want to do is sit in traffic. In fact, I never like traffic, it is a stupid concept, whomever invented it should be shot. Okay, okay, I know no one invented it, but whomever decided to keep building houses and offices, BUT, not to build new roads should never ever be allowed in office again. Also, people who don’t get actively involved in politics and/or vote regularly, probably shouldn’t be allowed an opinion.

So, we have been enjoying a lovely Canadian autumn with blue skies, leaves of all colours and about 10 degrees less than what we are accustomed to. We have generally been doing a whole lot of nothing, which is exactly what I was hoping for. We get up slowly, and we watch a little TV, by the way, my mom has now got us hooked on Homeland which I totally recommend, we play outside, we wander about and just generally “chill”, at times in all possible meanings of the word.

We have been enjoying the preparations for a real Halloween, which even involved sewing a Halloween costume. I won’t pretend to be some super mom who makes costumes from scratch, I just had to replace a zipper on a sweet little tiger costume for Squishy.

I also had an interesting and unexpected surprise. My aunt decided a few months ago to stop colouring her hair and to go au naturale, and I decided shortly there after to do the same. It has been months of having a very distinct “bowl” sitting on my head where the real colour was coming in. Yesterday, I cut it all off, and for those of you who are in the know, no I didn’t do it myself this time, I had a professional take care of it, so both sides are once again the same length. So now, for the first time in years, I saw my reflection with my real hair colour, it was kind of weird. Also, my dads girlfriend looked at me and said “what happened?” with a look that really meant “did your head catch on fire?”, so be warned, it is short, and I expect all of you to lie to my face and tell me it looks terrific.

And that is about all, jet lag is happily behind us after kicking us in the ass for a solid three or four days, and the gods of shittiness decided to give Crazy and I a cold which made the jet lag all that more fun. So now we have a solid week of not wanting to murder each other before we do the 18 hours of traveling and jet lag all over again, yay!

Miss you, and see you all soon!

The Wonders of Technology?

I both love and hate technology. Because I live so far from my family, it is great to keep in touch so easily and so immediately. At the same time, I have the computer, a tablet, and a work smart phone, so I feel like I am always connected and at the beck and call of something or someone.

This week my email threw a temper tantrum and didn’t work for an entire day. I felt panic at first, but as the day went on, I became excessively productive and people were forced to, you know, speak to me with their voices. It was a nice change of pace. By the end of the day, I felt relief and almost calm. I was even a little disappointed when everything was back up and running.

As mentioned in a few previous posts, my boss now works in the Boston office, so technology has become our best friend to facilitate communication. We even have video conferencing software installed on all our computers. Yesterday we were having our weekly video conference with my boss located in Boston, and my colleague who is located at the desk next to mine. She was working from home and for the first time all three of us had to connect to the conference independently (usually she and I sit next to each other and share a screen, which allowed for redundancy, that is to say, if hers didn’t work, we could try mine). Naturally, my connection didn’t work, and naturally I’m not tech savvy enough to start clicking on menus and configurations to fix it all by myself. After approximately 10 and a half seconds I gave up and called my boss on the good old telephone who put me on loud speaker so my colleague who was about 5 km from my location could hear me…via Boston.

While I was incredibly annoyed with my unsuccessful attempt to join the video conference, I was thinking about it afterwards and just how amazing it was.  My colleague and I were having a discussion in real time, with no perceptible delay with our voices traveling across the ocean and back. Whether you love or hate technology, you have to acknowledge it is pretty freaking amazing (when it works).

Stuff my dad writes

So I got this email from my dad today:

“I’ve recently discovered that since adopting my time saving, quick button pressing procedure on the microwave I have been gaining weight. So in an effort to remain healthy I have reverted to the multiple hand moving method. I tell you this as a caution that if you do/did follow my lead, you do so at your own peril. You may save time now but your life could be considerably shortened.”

Emails like this are why I love my dad. First, this email came with the subject line “Christmas exchange” because my dad has never actually sent/started/written an email, he has only ever replied to them. Sometimes I wonder if he knows where the “new” button is on his email application or if he would ever write me again if I were to change my email account and text him the new address.

Second, I may be his daughter but after 34 years of existence, I am never quite sure he is kidding, which makes me laugh more.

Third, this email refers to item number 13 of this post. My father has been proclaiming for years (yes, years) that he is saving so much time by microwaving things for 33 seconds instead of 30, because he moves his fingers less–this time saving action was also originally communicated to me in a similar type of email.

Fourth, I know that one of his other time saving techniques is to copy and paste the same email to all his kids rather than write each of us individualized emails, so I know brother and sister bear have got it too and we can collectively laugh about it the next time we are together.

Finally, I think my dad has a long distance instinct, he knows when these are the exact kind of emails I need.

So if you read this dad (which would only happen if he finds an old email where I have provided him the link because I am not sure he is an avid user of bookmarks either) please don’t ever change.



Not my best day

It is one of those days where I just can’t get my shit together. I have both kids all day by myself, which is not the best when I am so scattered. Hubby is away on business, he left this morning at 6 a.m. and will be back sometime tonight after we are in bed, or at least by then I hope we will all be in bed, but the way things are going I might very well be asleep while Crazy is jumping on my bed beside me.

Nothing particularly bad happened, and in the great grand scheme of crappy-ass days, I fully recognize that this one doesn’t even register a blip on the radar, but still, this is not my favourite day. I am tired, which these days the last four years is the norm and doesn’t really add anything to the story, but it is always worth mentioning. I have also developed a cold, which again, is more of a mild inconvenience than a life altering event, but I have been in good health for so long now that I had forgotten how crappy it was to feel crappy. Thank you short memory, even though you are also the reason that I was contemplating a third pregnancy/child because you had helped me forget how ridiculously traumatic child birth is (sorry E, but you are going to find out soon enough), luckily I wrote that shit down last time.

Anyway, head cold, and in case it wasn’t perfectly clear, incapable of focusing on a single subject for more than ten seconds.

Crazy wandered into my room and woke me up a little after seven, and thus the day began. So far so good, just a little pressure behind the eyes and ears, a nose full of unpleasantness, and my whole body felt like my muscles had disintegrated over night, but at least the little ones slept in longer than the sun.

Around 9:30 a.m. I worked up the courage for outing number 1, Crazy was promised a treat for good behaviour, so we made our way to the toy store. I took advantage of the promised gift to stop for gas and shoes (two stops, I do not buy my shoes at the gas station). After all, my kids will behave like angels if they know a reward is just minutes away.

Once I had bought myself a new purse (there were no shoes I liked), we proceeded to spend an hour in the toy store while Crazy scrutinized every toy on every shelf in every aisle, and Squishy picked up toys at random and headed for the exit. Finally, Crazy picked a remote controlled train and Squishy narrowed it down to Barbapapa figurines.

Back at home, we got the toys out of their wrappings in a little under 45 minutes which was a new record for removing the unnecessary packaging found on children’s toys. We put new batteries in and surprise, the train didn’t work. Poor Crazy was so disappointed and so was I because I knew I would have to take them back to the freaking toy store.

I barely scraped together lunch and put Squishy down for a nap before falling onto the couch and trying to rest while Crazy was jumping, rolling, flipping, and just generally being crazy. Squishy normally sleeps three hours in the afternoon, which is just awesome, but today being today, she only slept 45 minutes.

Once everyone was awake and dressed again, back to the toy store we went. After yet another hour of scrutinizing and randomly grabbing and running, we came out with a non battery operated toy that was sure to work. All of this after the store manager “verified” that the toy really didn’t work.  I fully understand this is procedure, but it did make me feel a little bit like I was too stupid to put batteries in a plastic toy.

So once back at home, I decided what the kids really needed to tire themselves out and therefore ensure they would go to sleep at a decent time that night was some fresh air. Crazy wanted to ride his bike.  So I got it out of the garage, Squishy decided she wanted her scooter, so I got that out of the garage, then Crazy saw Squishy with her scooter and decided he no longer wanted his bike and wanted his scooter instead. I put the bike back and got his scooter, then I managed to find both helmets and chased down the kids to put them on their heads.  We were approximately 20 m from the front door when Squishy decided she was done with the scooter, so I carried hers for the last 500 m to the park.  The 500 m took a grand total of 20 minutes between the stops to look at rocks, the random deciding to sit down and play with garbage or whatever fun things may cross the mind of an almost 2 year old.

Once we got there, we headed for the slide, this is when disaster struck. Two little girls came to the park with of all things…their chihuahua. This would, of course, be no big deal for any other family, but Crazy, as crazy as he might be, has a pathological fear of dogs, and cats, and I discovered yesterday turtles as well, basically anything non human that moves.  So Crazy was frozen with fear at the sight of this rat-sized dog in a t-shirt (I think the attempt to dress it like a human also added to the inexplicable phobia).  I told him to play on the slide because there was no way this little ankle-biter could make it up there to get him, boy was I wrong. Crazy climbed up the ladder stairs to the slide, and little dog followed him right up, walked past him, and slid down the slide.  I was in hysterics laughing at the sight of this dog sliding down a slide, until I realized that my son was paralyzed with fear. I helped guide the poor dear back into my arms and we decided to leave about 7 minutes after we got there.

Of course neither child wanted to ride their scooters anymore or wear their helmets, so I clumsily picked up both scooters, both helmets, and the back pack full of snacks and changes of clothes and we started on our way to the empty tennis courts so that kids could run/roll around freely without the threat of cars or wild mini-animals.  So it was on our way that Hubby decided to call, here I was arms full, shins sore from the scooters banging into them and the phone ringing.  I barely made it to the tennis court before dropping everything and sitting on the ground to bitch and complain to my husband. Oddly enough, I totally broke down in that phone call, and sweet as he was, he burst out laughing, and somehow that made it all better.  In that ten minutes while the kids chased each other around the net–I am still not sure exactly who was chasing whom–I totally broke down, picked up the broken pieces, and for the first time all day I got my shit together.  Who knew that all I needed was for someone to laugh at me.

UPDATE: This is not an open invitation for you (and you know who you are) to kick me when I am down.