Thursday, December 24, 2015

Popularity of Toys

Here comes Christmas, which means a few new toys for the kids.

I wonder how popular the items we picked this year will be. Apparently the magnetic tiles we got are played with every day by kids of bloggers everywhere. We got a gym mat from IKEA so the kids can wrassle and do somersaults. Their aunt got them another room of furniture for the dollhouse that the kids use as a parking garage half the time, but should enjoy anyway because the set has a toilet. The cars can sit on the potty. 

Whichever toys prove to be popular long-term, guaranteed they'll be a hit at the exact same time with both kids, escalating into an all-out "I have it first, I need this all to myself right now" brawl. Then left alone to gather dust until the next time one of them shows interest. No one wanted it ten minutes before, or ten minutes after, but in that moment, it's life-or-death. That's how it goes with any of the toys (or ice cream scoop, or magnifying glass, or the claw clips that both boys want to put on their wrists ASAP). 

Merry Christmas 2015, from me, Hubs and the Brobeans !

Thursday, December 10, 2015


It's been awhile since I sat down to draw a cartoon. Since the move, my tablet's been in bubble wrap until now. 

One of the things I like about our new neighbourhood is all the walking and bike paths. I love walking and have always walked on my own or with company for exercise or pure enjoyment.

I also like taking the kids for walks, too. With kids, though, I don't know if I can really call them "walks". It's more moseying standing by that same section of curb or puddle or sewer drain forever. I can see the seasons change around me.

What's in that sewer drain, anyway? Well, first you have to yell "hello" in it, then note the water and whatever else is floating down there, then ask how you get down there, then try to fit a limb in there, then try to put leaves in it, then look at your leaves down there, then look for branches to stuff in... then after being discouraged from stuffing branches in the drain, we move on to shuffling sideways along the curb and finding small chunks of it that came off, many of which I'm asked to hold onto, and so on.

It's pretty cute for a while, conjuring up those memes about childhood and parenting that keep showing up in my newsfeed; you know, those ones with a stock photo of a kid blowing bubbles or dancing in a sunset with text that reminds you to savour these moments and let them be children because one day they'll be gone and you'll be a lonely sad sack of a human being.

Luckily for us, we're homeschooling this year (Big Bro is technically JK age), so we do have the time to savour and cherish and all that stuff. After a while, though, I don't know how else to marvel over an endless "fishing" expedition that involves sticks in a water-filled pothole.

They're having fun, at least. Being kids and such. As long as I stop expecting to get exercise or a change of scenery, it'll be fine. It's the journey anyway, right? Even if it's only to the next driveway. I think there was a meme about that, too.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Fall Decor

In the effort to keep things minimal while we've been trying to keep our house looking show-ready, I didn't do any of my usual fall decorating this year. Other years, this usually includes a runner with spider-web motif, metallic pumpkin, and the clichéd decorative farmers-markety gourds. Faux-fall foliage wreath on the door, that sort of stuff.

Thankfully, the kids took care of fall decor this year.. and I didn't even have to ask!

Fall means apple picking, which means many apples with one bite out of them left to oxidize in random spots around the house (windowsills, steps, amongst Lego...). The kids love apples, but they either forget about them easily or don't like apples with bites out of them.

"Wait. before you take another one, where's the apple you were eating?"

We'll find it later, when it's then too brown and therefore even more inedible.

So that's been our fall decor this year. It's a good look.

Coincidentally, as I drew this, Little Bro came up to see what I was up to and climbed up on my lap, chewing on yet another apple.

He watches me draw the apple's brown patches and says, "crunch crunch... dat apple doesn't look berry good."

Then he hops down and leaves his own apple sitting by me on the desk. I'm looking at it right now.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Smells like Thanksgiving

Sometimes, when the kids are sitting with me watching videos, reading a book or chatting about life, I find myself giving their heads a sniff. Just like when they were tiny babies.

Maybe it's one of those endorphin or oxytocin things, but it's mostly a habit that lets me "take in the moment", so to speak, so I can remember later how small they once were and bask in how thankful I am to have these little guys in my life.

(Of course, I have other people I am also thankful for... Hubs, my parents, my siblings, friends... but I generally don't sniff their heads.)

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Extreme Home Staging : Parent Version

We've sold a house before, but we didn't have two kids under five the last time.

Preparing the house didn't involve washing chalk off the exterior last time, for starters.

We've been looking to move to a place that has, among other things, an outdoor space that's more conducive to being outside-- especially for the kids. When we bought our current townhouse, we were DINKs and said, "Ah, there are parks everywhere, the yard's not important." Silly DINK selves didn't consider we'd have toddlers hanging off the doorknob to get outside at 6 a.m. when it's pitch black out and we're still in our jammies, barely started on our coffee. Or rowdy kids at 4:30 who could stand to run around a bit while we're making supper. Ain't nobody going to a park ten minutes before supper.

So we found a spot in an older area of our 'burb that's closer to the city and the river and has bike paths and trees and all that naturey stuff.

Now, the challenge is selling our current house. It's a nice house, but it's been buried under a life with little kids. Plus, the teacher in me puts stuff all over the walls, like songs and calendars and word walls. It looked like a preschool threw up in here.

I suppose it's not a look that would make buyers come through and sigh, "Ooh, I could see myself drinking my coffee in here". So we had to get rid of a lot of stuff and get the blue tack off the walls.

So now, after much pitching and archiving and storing stuff at a friend's house, it looks like a very beige doctor's office waiting room:

Thing is, when you stage a house, it can't just be clean and uncluttered. Maybe people have seen one too many episodes of Love it or List It or Property Brothers, but standards are high. It can't look like any biological beings, let alone kids, live there. Some staging rules include:

  • No personal photos: it makes people think of it as your house, not their future house.
  • No filing in view: it makes people think of their own filing to be done.
  • No kid stuff (booster seats, toys, etc.): it makes people think of *shudder* KIDS.

That means a lot of the things we use every day get pitched into storage before viewings. Big Bro doesn't understand the psychology of house staging:

"Why do we have to put the toaster away?"
"Because people won't think we have much counter space if we leave it out."
"Why can't they just know it's got space and they can put away their toaster if they want?"

Big Bro has obviously not seen enough HGTV.

"That's just not how people's minds work," I tell him.

I understand that, to an extent.The last time we were house-shopping, we viewed a house with a huge Tony Soprano poster in the living room. I couldn't quite get that "I could see us living here!" feeling with James Gandolfini scowling at us, even though, rationally, I knew he didn't come with the house.

Staging it is, then. We're up to the challenge. Fresh fruit and flowers and white spa towels to sell not just a house, but a dream. Aren't we encouraged to bake something too? Maybe for the next showing I'll pick up some Cinnabon and set it in front of a fan. It's the smell of domestic bliss!

But it's enough of a challenge to keep a house clean to your own standards with kids, let alone staging standards. Buyers want bright and airy; buyers want spa-like bathrooms; buyers want a relaxing retreat.

Now, a house with small kids might say many things: "fun"... "happy"... "lively"... but it definitely does NOT say "spa" or "retreat".

And so, with viewing appointments popping up with only a few hours' notice, I'm required to be pretty uptight about silly stuff I normally wouldn't give a crap about:

Messing up vacuum lines. Seriously. What a sad state of affairs. Stupid beige plush carpet.

Thank goodness it's summer and we can at least take the kids out of the house as much as possible.

We have a few months yet, but hopefully someone buys it soon. Then we can relax a bit and actually have bath mats and trash cans again. And the kids can go back to leaving fingerprints and eating green apples with wild abandon.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Do it Again!

Sometimes I'll say or do something cool or funny for the kids, like giving them flips or blasting them with my hairdryer or reading The Book With No Pictures. Just a one-time thing for fun. ONE-TIME. We all have a little laugh, then we move on, or at least that's what I imagine.

I should know better. If it's fun enough, it'll never be just once. The kids will want it again and again until it's long past excessive. I'll be all, "Oh, ha ha, no, that was it, just once!" or "Maybe we can open and close the garage some more later," or "if I spin you again, I'll throw up," but that doesn't get me off the hook.

Take, for instance, this recent time I thought I'd amuse my friend's kid with a one-time bit of silliness:

I never learn. If the material is any good, there'll no moving on.


PS: The Book With No Pictures is great fun, but it does involve pleading for the kids to not make you read it again, which guarantees that they will. Over and over. So if you go there, get ready to say a whole lot of "BA-DOONGY FACE!"

Saturday, August 08, 2015

Summer Boredom?

August already! So, has the infamous "Summer Boredom" set in?

I know it applies to school-aged kids, but I still see it in my newsfeed often. What do do when the kids complain that they're bored while home for the summer?

My kids are only 2.5 and 4, but I wanted to offer you some tips that work wonders with them to get them motivated and inspired (whether or not it was my intent).


1. Gather toys for consignment or donation:

You've never seen a more intriguing treasure chest than the box of toys I foolishly thought the kids had long outgrown.  The bumbo was in our living room, actively used and fought over, for a good week. Panicked negotiations ensued over stacking rings. Big Bro rescued a cloth tunnel the other day because he was "still using it, but kept forgetting to use it".

2. Try to go somewhere.

Something about seeing your mother try to get you and your brother organized to get out the door must spark some creativity in the kids, because it's always when they're starting these major projects and elaborate games (well, then and bedtime). Then I feel like a heel for dragging them away, except only a few minutes ago they were rolling around in front of Peppa Pig and head-butting each other.

3. Clean up for company.

Hmm. There's Mama doing her Flight-of-the-Bumblebee tidy in anticipation of guests. Reminds me! Time to make a big mountain of crap in the living room or pull out all the pots and pans for God knows what. My favourite is the whole-roll-of-masking-tape track around the house that goes up the wall and seals the fridge shut. No offering the guests something to eat, either, I guess.

So, there you go. Three foolproof ways to get your kids bursting with creative ideas. You're welcome.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Ego Boost

With small kids, I don't always have the time to fix myself up each day.

That, and it's not too motivating (or practical) to put on the face and flat-iron the hair for a day of horsing around at the playground or digging at the beach. But I do try to be presentable in public.

There are those days, though, that I dub "run into someone I haven't seen in years" days (Murphy's Law. You know what I'm talkin' about. "JANET! You look... busy."). Those days I scare myself with a haggard close-up when I discover I've left the camera in selfie mode. The days I'd half-expect expect Stacy and Clinton to ambush me in the mall and chew me out over my dishevelled ponytail and overstuffed pockets, if What Not to Wear was still on (I loved that show. I'd still never wear a blazer for grocery shopping, but I loved the ideas).

On those days, I'm ever grateful I have some innocently honest children who don't hesitate to give me their observant commentary to boost my ego.

These are the sweet times when they rub your legs or scrutinize a spot on your arm with a look of "what the hell is THAT".

Yeah. This from the people who wear crocs on the wrong feet over footie jammies and keep a sticker on their foreheads all day. Thanks, guys.

Friday, July 03, 2015

Closet Door Slams and Donkey Slams

So we spent Friday at the emergency department at CHEO. Little Bro had his finger slammed in a closet door, and there was much bleeding and freaking out. Long story short, he needed stitches, and the finger is fractured.

His big brother did it, but it might not be what you think. Big Bro was trying to get away from a little sibling who was full of beans and gleefully trying to pinch him or poke his eye or who knows what, and I didn't step in fast enough. Big Bro runs into the closet to escape and throws the sliding door closed, and voilà, an emergency trip to CHEO.

The paramedic asked, "who's taking it worse, him or Mom?" ... it's true, I was a wreck. It was so upsetting to see his tiny finger mangled, and to see my sweet boy endure frightening stitches and x-rays and not understand what was happening or why I wasn't rescuing him from it all. I just wanted to wrap him up and hug him forever.

The very next day, he's back to chasing his brother for funsies again. So he hasn't learned a thing. Just today, I heard myself saying, "No donkey slams! [Big Bro] said no!" As if he was doing it because he thought he had consent...

(FYI, Donkey Slams are apparently whacking your brother with a plastic donkey while yelling "DONKEY SLAM!".)

Yes, younger siblings can be pretty feisty at times. Big Bro is not the only big sibling in my circle that ended up with an enthusiastic Mike-Tysonesque bite mark from a wrassling session gone wrong.

I can even still see my own little 6-year-old sister stomping off to the shed in her Garfield nightie to get the axe to teach us a lesson (in her defense, we were giving her a hard time). She couldn't lift the axe, so she brought in the saw instead. Ah. Childhood.

The boys are quite fond of each other, and Little Bro is sweet and affectionate. It's just that he's two, and very much so, and lives life with feeling. So we're working on reading cues and knowing when to rein in the shenaningans. Hint: Brother screaming "AGH! DON'T! PINCH! MEEEE!" is one example of such a cue.

I got Karen Katz's No Biting! from the library. I liked it in my teaching days for how it redirects many hurtful behaviours. For instance, you can't hit your mom, but if you're in a hitting mood, you could hit a drum! What about kicking? Not the dog, but go nuts with a ball! Spitting? Sure... when you brush your teeth. (Obviously not an in-depth read on how to deal with feelings, but it's a good start)

Little Bro loves that book and asks for it often, predicting all the appropriate answers.

(Note his bandaged finger)

Trampolines are apparently okay hilarious to bite also...

Is there a Katz book that colourfully illustrates that you can't belt your brother with a bus just because you named him "drum"?

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Touchy Feely

Kids learn a lot about their world by touching. Poking, turning things around in their hands, squishing, squeezing, shaking, seeing how far something can twist or pull before-- oops.

I mean, that's why you see so many Sensory Bin ideas  on Pinterest. Young kids love to touch stuff.

It's true, and it's a wonderful thing. But sometimes it feels like you've taken an octopus to the restaurant.

Reaching limbs everywhere. So much tactile learning in a toddler's reach radius. Restaurants, earring displays, produce pyramids... It's irresistible. Touch touch touch. No Impulse Buy rack goes unfondled if they have something to say about it.

It doesn't always stop with toddlerhood, either. but we went to the National Gallery a while back on a Family Pass. I think it's great for kids to experience all sorts of places in the city. Naturally, as good citizens, we also need to observe the required respectful behaviour. When it comes to the art gallery and all of their irreplaceable works on display, Just Looking with Eyes is a big part of it.

Actually, Just Looking with Eyes is pretty much all of it. That's a lot to ask of a four-year-old in a place full of colourful, shiny, textured, dangly stuff. Big Bro didn't find it easy.

And he did.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

TBT: Engagement

It was my anniversary last weekend; well, mine and Hubs'. Six years and counting. So I thought I'd share this blast from the past that feels like both yesterday and a lifetime ago.

At our wedding reception, we featured a framed cartoon (drawn old-school, with a felt pen and markers on real paper) featuring the story of our engagement. Yes, we even had a cartoon at our wedding. Hubs was familiar with having a starring role in my work by then.

We'd been an item for a year at that point and were spending the weekend at a gorgeous spot in Wakefield, Quebec. Hubs suggested that, since dinner wasn't for a while yet, we should go check out the falls and take pictures.

Lovely idea, I thought. Let me get my camera (back when we took a separate camera)! Of course, I get there and am all overcome by the majesty and get in full-on picture-taking mode. Go figure. But Hubs had other plans and I was not making it easy.

What I MEANT by "are you serious?" was "is this wonderful moment really happening right now? Am I really seeing what I think I'm seeing?" not like, "ugh, seriously?" but he likes to give me a ribbing about it, retelling it like I practically booted him over the falls. But, I mean, it DID kind of come out of nowhere, like "hey, that sure is a lot of water-POW! RING IN YOUR FACE".

It was very sweet though. Ironically, I didn't think to get a picture of us then.

So anyway, there you have it. I ended up finding a bit of cartoon material there, too, even in one of my best memories.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Michel Lauzière at the Children's Festival

Earlier in the Spring, I was contacted by the Ottawa International Children's Festival and invited to take my family to a show of our choice in exchange for cartooning about our experience. How's that for an awesome deal? I was honoured and psyched all at once.

In case you aren't familiar with it (and I wasn't, before this year), The Children's Festival is a yearly outdoor celebration of "the best in live performing arts for children," featuring world-class performers as well as a variety of on-site activities for kids and families. Man, Ottawa's such a great city for raising kids, isn't it?

We went early in the day so we could check out the goings-on around the grounds before the show. I was most excited to see the Luminarium (an inflated world of light and colour!) and the Instrument Petting Zoo. I'm all about any exposure the boys can get to musical instruments. I took mental notes for activities I know the Brobeans will appreciate when they're older, too.  

When picking a show, it wasn't easy to decide which performance would be best to see with my two boys under 5. There were many options suitable for younger kids, including theatre and acrobatics combined with live music. Luckily, the festival's website included videos for many of the performers, so we could get a sense of what they would be like. I wanted a show with lots of visuals for the kids (and for cartoon material, natch). In the end, we decided on Michel Lauzière, the Master of Unusual Comedy. *I* was excited to see it. Never mind the kids.

We were one of the first in the circus tent, which meant we got some nice third-row-centre seats on the bleachers. Great seats for viewing, not-so-great seats for getting out of there if one of the kids doesn't make it, we realized as the venue filled to capacity. Uh oh. Before the show, they were starting to get restless:

This wasn't looking good. (what is it with this kid losing footwear out in public?). 

But, once Mr. Lauzière came onstage and showed us his Dishophone-- a big rack full of various mugs, plates and bowls-- and started playing a tune on it with a wooden spoon, the kids perked up like meerkats. 

What a great show! Lauzière has performed all over the world, in many languages at that, and is truly a world-class performer. Not only is he engaging with the kids, he's an incredibly talented inventor, musician and comedian.

Lauzière has MacGyvered crazy instruments out of household items, and he plays them-- and not like the lame-o coffee-can drums or shakers I've made at home. Better than that. He wears his instruments. He plays them by shooting them with water pistols, by blowing plastic darts through a tube or by just moving around with flair.

I tell you, you haven't lived until you've heard the Peter Gunn theme played with a turkey baster, plastic spoons, and a peanut butter jar being beaten by a shoelace on a rotating machine (aptly named the "toc-toc", if I recall). 

Click to Enlarge

The show was almost an hour long, and though my kids were up and down at times in their seats (sorry, kid in front of us, that my toddler kept attempting to rub your head) they were captivated nearly the whole time, which says a lot for 2- and 4- year-olds.

In fact, all the kids (and adults) in the audience were laughing, clapping along and interacting with Mr. Lauzière right up to the finale. I was hoping he would bring out the suit of horns I'd seen in the videos (AKA the Hornophone), and I wasn't disappointed. I'd see this show without kids. 

As an aside, I'd like to apologize to Mr. Lauzière: remember that toddler that briefly burst into tears during your 12 p.m. Tuesday show when you took out your broom-and-ketchup-bottle instrument? Yeah. That was mine. He'd gotten his leg stuck somehow when I was too busy being enthralled by the performance. It wasn't about the music, I swear. 

When we got home, Big Bro was all inspired musically. He treated his parents to his own one-man music show, complete with myriad shakers and bells and TWO (count 'em) kazoos.

It was... um... also good. I think I got a nosebleed.

Afterward, I encouraged him for some reason by taping a bunch of the instruments to his arms and legs, so we had our own little Master of Unusual Comedy in our living room. It was unusual, alright. If you saw a kid out on a balance bike Tuesday night with maracas and a tambourine masking-taped to his leg, that was also mine, and it was homage to the memorable performance of Michel Lauzière. 

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

BOLO 2015, and Big Bro's Interpretation of the Reading

What a great night it was at Blog Out Loud 2015. Tears and belly laughs all in the same hour, and wit like you wouldn't believe-- or maybe you would, if you are familiar with this year's bloggers. I was proud to be among such a great bunch of storytellers for the second year in a row. Check out the recap of the posts if you missed it. I hope to go back again!

Hello as well to any new readers. Thanks for stopping by, and I hope you'll stick around. Follow Cartoon-Coloured Glasses on Twitter! I'm up to 50-some followers (woot! only 306,950-odd to go and I'm caught up with the Honest Toddler).

Yesterday, I was going over my reading for BOLO; namely, last November's post, The Time We Lost a Shoe at IKEA. I was showing Big Bro my depictions of the story in which he proudly starred. One of my biggest fans, he enjoyed seeing the events unfold in cartoon form almost as much as he seemed to in person. Several times. "I wanna see where you go 'ARRGH' again!"

He then surprised me with his own version of the same event, which he had drawn for me to colour. With permission, I'm sharing his work of art with a  few explanatory notes for you.

I'm impressed. He got all the sound effects, including the "dun dun dun" --you know, that music they make for an unpleasant surprise or reveal-- to go along with my discovering the lost shoe (did you know you can find that sound just by Googling "dun dun dun"?). He also got the "Arrrgh" on my part as we charged through the advancing crowd.

I don't know if I should be encouraging him... I just might be the subject of his own cartoons one day. But if he is one day lucky enough to be presenting as a cartoon blogger at BOLO in future years, you can say you saw it here first.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Knock, Knock


My older son loves jokes, as I've written about before, so I had the bright idea to introduce him to knock-knock jokes. Against my better judgment, we got a book of (the lamest ever) knock-knock jokes from the library and had a good time going through those. Groaners aplenty. Preschoolers don't always get the word play/double meanings yet, but the lead-up to a punchline is exciting. Who cares if said punchline makes sense or even has anything to do with the original question.

His favourite are the "Interrupting [insert animal here]" ones.

For you sheltered folks out there who have managed to live this long without experiencing one, here is an example of how the "Interrupting animal" knock-knock joke goes:

A: Knock knock.
B: Who's there?
A: Interrupting Cow.
B: Interrupting c--
(Pause for laughter)

At first, delivery was a bit of a challenge. It was a big panic for Big Bro to get the punchline out in time so that there was actually an interruption.

Now, after much (MUCH) practice, he's an old pro at the "Interrupting animal" knock-knock jokes. Plus, he's expanded well beyond animals to any sort of inanimate object that apparently likes to bellow in people's faces for laughs. And his brother is getting into it too, busting a gut over random disruptive nouns.

Car rides are delightful. And by "delightful", I mean I wouldn't mind having one of those windows that go up between the passengers and the driver's seat like they have in limos. Get your knock-knocks out, boys, then I'll put the window back down and we can have a civilized conversation. 

And also, fellas, it would help to have an idea of what you're planning to say joke-wise before you get all mad that I'm not saying "Who's there" fast enough.

It's not deliberately obnoxious; they just think we enjoy the hilarity and the element of surprise (??) as much as they do. Which we do, to a point. You wouldn't think you'd ever have to set personal boundaries vis-a-vis knock-knock jokes, but here we are.

That brings us to the other day, when Big Bro asked me "is there such thing as a song that's an infinity minutes long?"

I had an internal debate about whether to introduce him to the Song that Never Ends,  à la Lamb Chop. The bane of every school bus driver's existence in my day.

After some thought, I decided that I didn't know of any such song. I'm sure Hubs is grateful for that.


Don't forget, Blog Out Loud Ottawa 2015 is this Tuesday, April 28th! Read about the interesting bloggers who will be presenting here. Check out this flattering write-up on Cartoon-Coloured Glasses here. Mugs, you say. Hmm...

Hope to see you there!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Picky Eater... Sometimes

I see a lot of articles about picky toddlers. They don't pertain to me, though, because I don't have one of those. In fact, there are only two things my toddler doesn't like:

1. Produce
2. Protein

OK, maybe there are a few other things.

Maybe he doesn't even have to be at the table: a cursory glance as he passes by is enough to deduce he doesn't like what's on offer.

I offer an array of options on his plate like the experts suggest, but he's not easily impressed. He brings to mind that Looney Tunes king who laments, "Every day the same thing: Variety."

I know one day all I'll see is his butt sticking out of the fridge, but for now I often wonder how he's still alive. I'd be starving! Maybe those granola-bar-in-carseat or smartie-in-dustpan finds are keeping him going. People would think I don't feed the guy.

Some days, no amount of ketchup or syrup or "shakey cheese" can give a dish appeal for our selective son. But, later in the same day, we can barely keep him from putting his face into his bubble bath and resurfacing with a sudsy tongue (because hilarious), or taking in full cheeks of pool water at the Preschool Swim. The Preschool Swim, where there are a good 30 families, with babies and toddlers in swim diapers, marinating in the same pool.  I think I'm insulted. But I may be on to something.


Two exciting upcoming events:

Blog Out Loud is back for 2015! Part of the Ottawa International Writers' Festival, it's an evening featuring bloggers (like me) who will read one of their best posts from the past year. It was a great show last year, with an awesome variety of contributors. This year, it's taking place at the Christ Church Cathedral, 414 Sparks Street in Ottawa, at 6:45 p.m. Hope to see you there!

The Ottawa International Childrens Festival is taking place May 4-13. The festival features award-wining theatre, dance, music and activities for children, youth and their families. I've been offered complimentary tickets to a show in exchange for writing/cartooning about my family's experience, and I can't wait! The show "Toutou" is already sold out, so we're going to check out Michel Lauziere, the "Master of Unusual Comedy," which will be just as fun for me as it will be for the kids (if not more), by the looks of the preview. More to come.

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

April Fool's

"Mama, I have a joke for you. I saw... a bunch of ghostses and T-Rexes. ... heh heh... APRIL FOOLS!"

Not bad for a four-year-old.

Anyone out there play pranks on their kids today? This year, I skipped all the "Best Pranks to Play on Your Kids" posts I saw in my news feed. Maybe in a few years. Although I'm sure they would've loved blue milk, now that I think of it.

My folks played some gags on my siblings and me over the years. My 6-year-old sister ended up with a rooster alarm clock that went off in her schoolbag. Genius (at least I think so; I didn't get a cock-a-doodle-doo blasting from MY schoolbag in the middle of class).

We used to play jokes on my parents, too, though. One year my brother and I thought it would be hilarious to swipe my dad's oats before we went to bed the eve of April Fool's. My dad, who has a bowl of oatmeal every morning without fail. If only we could see his face in the morning. This would be great.

I guess my dad didn't think so.

We were reminiscing about it this morning on Skype. Some things you just don't mess with, Dad said, not even on April Fool's Day. Draw the line at the rooster alarm clock.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Circadian Rhythms

Do you have kids with different circadian rhythms? It seems I have one "rooster" kid and one "owl" kid; in other words, one is a morning person and the other a night person. 

I've always been a morning person, myself; at the age of three, I'd be up having porridge with my dad before sunrise, and retiring for my nap by the time my friend woke up and came calling.

I'm still a morning person, but I consider "morning" seven o'clock. Little Bro considers it five freakin' thirty. He's not only awake, but ready to do a 100 burpees and seal the driveway. I barely have time to put socks on, because there's breakfast to be had. Trucks to line up. Couch cushions to hide under. Songs to be swung by the arms to. 

Meanwhile, almost three hours later, Big Bro oozes out of bed and downstairs like cold molasses. It can take a good 10 minutes of sitting on the stairs to process reality before he's ready to even think about eating. 

And when he does get to the table, Little Bro is ready to take a break and join his brother, tucking into his 'Phase 2' bowl of Shreddies. 

The good part of this is that I get a few hours one-on-one with each son during the day (Big Bro's time being during Little Bro's afternoon nap, of course).

The down side of this is that it's a looong day, and I have a kid full of beans at each end of it. Big Bro, the only night owl in the family, comes to life as the sun goes down, pogo-ing around the upstairs hall. 

The other not-so-good part of this is that this is me at either end of the day:

All I can say is, it's a good thing I love their company so much. 

Tuesday, March 03, 2015


Three years ago, I wrote this sappy post about Big Bro turning one year old.  If you do the math, that means my big boy is about to turn four.

In my post of 2012, I mentioned the feelings of sentimentality mixed with looking forward to and enjoying what each new age has to offer. That could mean simultaneously being delighted to be done with diapers (for one kid, anyway) but also not being able to be in the room when we sell the Jolly Jumper. *sniff*

Big Bro was an adorable baby, an old soul if there is such a thing (mostly because he seemed to be so over that whole baby talk and silly songs thing right from the start). I'm seeing more facets of his personality as he gets older, and he's more delightful all the time. He's funny, patient, creative, thoughtful and silly, still with a bit of that contemplative 'old man' quality at times. He's endlessly curious in a contagious way, my kid who likes GeoPuzzles and cheese equally.

Now that he's out of toddlerhood, I must say it's nice that we can go out for hot chocolate together without my worrying that he'll a) pitch it on the floor (at least on purpose) or b) freak out to "get down" after two minutes.

In fact, we can now have some great chats at the table. He can now entertain us with his confusing hilarious jokes, or I can learn how his stuffed monkey was in his stuffed sheep's belly, even though the monkey is older, and he's a decillion years old. We can discuss thought-provoking hypotheticals over dinner, such as what would happen if your skin fell off. I knew once he started talking he'd have interesting things to say.

So while I am enjoying each new phase in life with my sons, there are admittedly moments where I feel a little sappy about the whole thing. Like when I look at the little Sorels on the boot mat and envision the enormous boots that'll be there one day (you know, that day when they'll be going through loaves of bread in one sitting).

One recent bedtime, while cuddling with my firstborn and reflecting on his upcoming birthday, I had a wave of such sentimentality wash over me. I felt like reminding him just how important he was to me.

OK, I mean, I wasn't expecting something profound; just maybe an acknowledgement remotely related to what I said.

Well. Anyway. I'm sure he knows.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Nooo, Don't Lick That

Parents of very young kids: Do you ever feel that your grand efforts to avoid the winter illnesses are exercises in futility?

Yeah, me too, sometimes.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Throwback Thursday: Even Before Kids...

This is a birthday card I drew about five years ago for a longtime friend of mine, illustrating how NOT party animals we were now that we were in our thirties. Excited as we'd been about seeing the band Signal Hill again at our local pub on Friday night, we realized the idea of a productive Saturday was more appealing than sticking around for the second set-- whether or not we'd yet heard Barrett's Privateers.

And we didn't even have kids yet!

Fast forward to just a few years back: a few of us had a "Girls' Night Out", but we only got going once the kids were in bed. We commented on how LATE we were going out.

It was eight o'clock.

It was still DAYLIGHT. Look out, Ottawa, wild ones on the town! 

I was never that crazy, I'll admit, but once upon a time, going out at 10:30 was so early, we felt we had to explain our reasoning, as the strobe lights illuminated an otherwise empty room and dance floor-- it was so we could be sure to get a table!

This past New Year's Eve, we had a nice dinner with friends and kids, and we  all packed it in and went home around 8. I'm not sure if I'll ever see midnight on purpose again, especially given that we were apparently already like this before having kids as an excuse. Before the prospect of well-rested tykes raring to go before 7 a.m. threatened us. I appreciated sleep even before I knew what it was to go without it for months. 

So, there you have it. Can't totally blame the kids. I relate to that Friends episode where the guys all try to be party animals, and halfway through the night, they just notice how loud the music was and how tired they are, and just want to have hot water with lemon for their strained voices and call it a night.

Anyway, Happy Throwback Thursday. I must be off, or else I won't be able to fit in an episode of our latest Netflix show before our 9:30 bedtime. 

"Y'know what? We're not sad, we're not sad, we're just not 21 anymore. Y'know? I'm 29 years old, dammit, and I want to sit in a comfortable chair, and watch television, and go to bed at a reasonable hour!" -Chandler (Friends)

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Fitting In the Fitness

So, who out there resolved to be more physically active in 2015?

Though I rarely actually get to sit down in the run of a day, being active is something I'm always working on, specifically incorporating it into everyday life. Be healthy for myself, and for the family. Have more energy to do 20 reps of "Grand Old Duke of York" with a 25-lb. kid who doesn't tire of said game.

It's not easy in the winter, though. A few things can sabotage one's efforts:

- Insanely cold temperatures that limit outdoor activity to pulling muscles while ripping off a kid's coat and chucking him in the car seat as fast as possible
-Insanely cold temperatures and early darkness that tip the scales in favour of wrapping up like a burrito on the couch instead of, say, taking a bike ride to the playground
-Someone getting sick every week (see my post on The Endless Snot-Filled Winter from last January)

But, where there's a will, there's a way. So how do you do it?

Myself, each week I try to fit in a few 20-minute sessions on our elliptical machine in the evening, while the kids have some dad-and-sons time upstairs. Perfect.

In theory.

Aw. They just love their Mama so much. So much! And I love them too! If they'd just give me a few measly minutes to do some arm blasts, they could see some better hugs and higher-quality airplane rides the rest of the day instead of a mom sprawled bone-tired on the living room floor (although that can be fun for driving dinkies on...).

Well, anyway, it's more fun when physical activity is done as a family. Include the kids in on the fun! So, how about going to an indoor playgym (that doesn't have one of those lame age limits or "no adults on the trampolines" rules)?

Disclaimer: You will likely end up with one of the above-mentioned "sick every week" sicknesses afterward.

What about at home? How about a dance party, or maybe do some family yoga. The kids love doing yoga with me. Ever tried yoga with a toddler? I recommend it. Here are some basic poses to get you started.

 Here's to active living in 2015, however you fit it in!

Friday, January 09, 2015

If It Can Be Done, They'll Do It

The kids got a trampoline for Christmas- One of those little ones with the handle. I remember last year's stir-crazy January vividly and thought the kids would enjoy a trampoline to play with on the days it was too Polar Vortexy outside (such as this past week).

I couldn't get over the amount of warnings that came with this little 3-foot bouncy toy! Between the manual and the tags on the trampoline, I think about every possible behaviour or situation that could lead to any sort of unpleasantness was listed (and forbidden). Lots of exclamation marks and stick guys with red slashes through it.

Wear socks. One at a time. Humans only. Stay in the middle. Bounce on feet only. Get on and off calmly. Nothing in pockets. No food or drink. No sharp objects. Don't jump high. In fact, don't jump at all.

Good God, I thought to myself as I flipped through all the myriad admonitions, talk about taking all the fun out of it! Why don't we just envelop them in a blanket and helmet and sit on the trampoline quietly?! Why... IN MY DAY, they'd bring out the giant trampoline in gym class, and we'd flip on our necks willy-nilly with no nets and no padding over the pinchy pinchy springs, and someone would inevitably go leg-first through the gap... good kid fun! 

This is just a kiddie trampoline anyway. how wild can it get?

Then I was reminded how creative kids could get with even a little trampoline. OK, Little Tikes, I kind of see where you're coming from.

Far be it from a child to use a toy for what it was meant. If it can be done, they'll find a way to do it. Two at a time (or more!) is the only way to go, and why merely bounce when you can do headstands and chin-ups? How about jumping with all your toys around your feet to see if they'll bounce too? What about putting your hand on the surface when someone else is bouncing to see if they'll land on your hand (and then get all mad when they do)?

Good thing there's some common sense on our part as supervisors, at least, because I can't remember whether or not the safety booklet cautions against hanging upside down like a monkey from the handle. Maybe it needs to be added to the list.