Monthly archive for June 2015

Ottawa mini break

O Canada

O Canada

Greetings! I am writing to you from the first day back at work from vacation, which is always a bit of a letdown day, but it is sunny and warm outside and I am drinking a strawberry-basil smoothie (an odd but tasty flavour combination) and things don’t feel impossibly Mondayish. Our vacation, which might be more aptly called a “mini-break” to use British terminology, could not have been better timed, because the week before we left, the whole family came down with fifth disease. (We all managed to follow along okay, in spite of never having had diseases one through four.) Apparently this is something that most people get as kids, and for some reason is more unpleasant in adults — the kids were a little bit miserable, but Mike and I were a LOT miserable, suffering from joint pain and the worst headaches we’ve ever had. Every time I sneezed or coughed, I thought I was going to pass out from the pain. Two days before we were meant to leave for the week, Oliver managed to escape again (it sounds crazy, but we are pretty sure he opened the front door and let himself out while we were at the park, since neither of us remembered leaving the door ajar and it has the same kind of doorknob as the door to our basement, which he can operate on his own, in spite of having no opposable thumbs) so generally it was not the least stressful week on record.

Thankfully we were all feeling much better within a few days and our neighbour once again caught Oliver and returned him to us before we left for Ottawa, where Mike was attending a conference and I was reprising my favourite role: Conference Wife. I swam in the hotel pool, I ordered room service breakfast one morning, I explored Byward Market, I allowed people to call me Mrs. Mike’s-Last-Name without correcting them. On our last evening we partook of RibFest and lounged on the lawn at Parliament Hill for a while, and I got the same rush of patriotism and gratitude I feel every time I remember that we live in a country that is safe enough that people are allowed to play frisbee in front of our government buildings.

On our way home, we drove past signs for two local landmarks, the names of which were … not at all inviting: Hell Holes Nature Trails, and Salem Woods Trailer Park. Come for the ambiance, stay for the natural horrors and/or kidnapping! Survive one night and the next one is free!

Mants

Mants!

Mants!

Zach is obsessed with plants in a way that makes Mike and I hope he will eventually become a famous botanist capable of supporting his parents in their dotage, in order to make all of this feel worthwhile (his plant obsession, not parenting in general). He is relentless in a truly hilarious way. He doesn’t just insist on identifying every plant he sees (either by shrieking, “mant!”, “tree”, or “gass!” depending on what it is), he insists that you acknowledge it as well, and if you don’t, he will continue to shriek excitedly until you say, “Yes, Zach, that IS a mant! And what a beautiful mant it is! Why, I think there might even be one HUNDRED mants here! Can you even believe it? I, myself, cannot believe it.” He used to point at specific plants while in the car, but now he just waves his arm around indiscriminately while yelling “MANT!” as though to say, “Behold the splendour of nature! Mants, mants as far as the eye can see!” We live across the street from the park but it takes us 15 minutes to get to the playground equipment, because he insists on pointing out every tree we pass and going over to pet it and admire it.

We took him to Colour Paradise a few weeks ago, a giant greenhouse that is so filled with beautiful plants that it will even impress the non-plant-obsessed among you. I have never seen Zach’s eyes get so big. Every fifteen seconds for an hour, a gleeful shout of “MANT!” rang out throughout the greenhouse, followed by one of us responding, “Yes! I see that. What a beautiful mant it is.” It was like Disneyworld, combined with the zoo, combined with a birthday party — but much, much cheaper than any of those things.

I will admit I also found myself getting a little over-excited. I am really the only member of the family that really LOVES tomatoes, and I somehow purchased NINE tomato seedlings for our little veggie garden on the deck. I also bought two different kinds of mint, although I avoided the variety with the sign that said “AGGRESSIVE PLANT! Use caution!” which made me laugh and laugh, because even though I assume they were referring to mint’s tendency to spread and take over entire gardens, it made me picture an 80-foot tall mint shrubbery looming terrifyingly over the city, the foolish scientists who created it fleeing for their lives, deeply regretting the lack of caution employed in the creation of such a monster.

Speaking of monsters, I just noticed that Luna chewed through my computer cord (which I had tossed, unplugged, down at the end of the couch) while I thought she was chewing on a bone. My charge is at 39%, so I guess it’s a good thing I already got a bunch of work done today. I suppose I will have to go read a book out on the deck. The struggle is real, my friends.

Cats and dogs (and, to a lesser extent, butts)

Reunited and it feels so good!

Reunited and it feels so good!

The cat came back! Well, not so much “came back” as “lured into the basement by our neighbour and locked in their bathroom” but the results are the same! No more missing kitty. Ellie was, of course, completely thrilled by his return, although she seemed convinced that he spent his few days on the lam hanging out at the park (why wouldn’t he? it’s the funnest place on earth) rather than hiding under our neighbour’s shed. We had a talk about making sure the door is closed so he doesn’t get the chance to run away again, but I am pretty sure he has spent the last week packing up his belongings into a bindle on a stick and will be heading out to ride the rails at the first available opportunity, because we got a puppy.

Introducing Luna

Introducing Luna

Possibly (probably) (definitely) I am crazy, but you know the old story. You’re out walking in your neighbourhood, you run into a neighbour and her puppy, you admire the puppy, your kids pet the puppy, you ask the neighbour where she got the puppy (planning to file that information away for future reference), the neighbour says the family she got the puppy from happens to still have a few left, you make arrangements to go see the puppies, and BAM PUPPY IN YOUR HOUSE. It simply couldn’t be avoided. She is very sweet and cuddly and very soft and is pretty good with the housebreaking and the only real issue we have with her right now is that she got used to sleeping in a bed at her previous home and we’re trying to break her of that habit, which is going … not that well. (We’ll get there eventually. She’s getting used to her crate bit by bit.) In some ways it feels like adding to the chaos in our house might have been completely insane (two cats! a toddler! a 4-year-old!) but it mostly feels like a manageable increase in the amount of chaos, because our house is always a mess already and it’s summer so we can spend a lot of time outside and most of the time Luna isn’t even the most destructive member of our household (she chews on the corners of books but she doesn’t, for example, unplug her nightlight and throw it against the wall, where it shatters into a zillion pieces) (Zach no longer has nightlight access, in case you were wondering).

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Butts, a one-act play starring Ellie, age 4

“Ellie, you need to keep eating your supper.”
“But …”
“No buts!”
“Why did you say BUTTS?”
“I was just saying I want you to eat and not give me excuses.”
“But why did you say BUTTS?”
“Because when I told you to eat, you said but.”
“I wasn’t talking about BUTTS, though.”
“Just eat your supper.”