Thursday, July 31, 2008

Open adoption

I've been thinking about open adoption a lot lately. What it means to the adoptive parents, to the first parents but especially to the adoptee.

Recently there has been another situation where adoptive parents have closed an open adoption for no apparent reason. The first mother is not a physical threat, she doesn't show up high, she isn't stealing from them. And even if she was, that wouldn't be grounds to close an adoption, at least in my opinion. Find a safe way to have contact, get a mediator, meet in public places. Sure! all good things to do, because yes, safety should come first. But you can still have safety and maintain an open adoption.

As an adoptive parent I cannot fathom having to look Liam in the eye one day and say "Yes, we had contact with your first family, but we decided it wasn't healthy for you, so we packed up and moved, didn't tell them where we went and stopped sending them pictures and updates." I suppose that the type of people who do close adoptions like this are also likely to be the type of people that can lie to their child too, so maybe they won't have this problem.

At a personal level I am dealing with the opposite problem. It is "K" who has chosen to "close" Liam's adoption. I'm not sure if I can even label the adoption as ever having been open. Yes, we all know each other's names (first and last), we've shared addresses and phone numbers and there was a time when the adults chatted fairly regularly with each other. But "K" and Liam have never met. Not when he was born and not since. He's seen pictures, even has one of her up in his bedroom. But does that really make an adoption "open"?

Open adoption is such a mine-field of emotions for everyone involved, that it's really hard to know what the right thing to do is. Liam is currently oblivious to "K" not being in his life, mainly because she never has been. But the time is coming, and soon, that he is going to question why that is. Why do we have a picture but we can't meet her? Whey do we send letters and cards and gifts but we never hear back? Why do "C" and "J" live with her and I don't?

When this time comes, I am going to have to pick sides. Obviously I will pick Liam's. As much as I would like to protect "K" from hurt, my first priority is to Liam. And if getting him what he needs hurts her in the process.... well, I'll deal with that as best as I can at the time.

My biggest fear is that one day it will be too much for her, and she will be the one to pack up and move and not tell us where. And I wil have to look Liam in the eye and try to tell him why. Why her feelings were more important to her then his. Why she could walk away. Why it hurts so much to be rejected by your own mother.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

A day spent

scrapbooking! 8 pages done, many more to go!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Soccer Update

I am so disappointed in myself.

As nervous as I was, I *knew* that I could do it and do a good job.

We got there early, got everything set up and waited for the folks to arrive. 2 dads introduced themselves and said that they had offered to help out but had never heard back from the coach. I said that I had offered to run things, but would be appreciative of any help they wanted to offer.

The Mr. "I'm a big man and I know everything" took over. He's the kind of sports dad that you dread having on your kids team. Pushes his kid hard, is bossy and loud and has the most obnoxious little snot of a kid. He's one step shy of the line of berating his kid and being cruel, but I suspect as the kid gets older and into more "organized" sports that the line will be long gone.

I stayed on the field and helped, but from the get go he was running the show. And really I wouldn't have cared, except that Liam cared. He knew that Mama was supposed to in charge and he didn't understand why I wasn't and why he had to listen to this man.

And that is why I'm disappointed. I didn't have it in me to stand up to this guy and show Liam the type of leadership that I want him to have one day.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Soccer Anxiety

This is my anxiety, not Liam's.

Liam's team has 13 4,5 and 6 year olds and only one parent volunteer coach (who happens to be my boss!) The very first week all the parents sat off to the side chit-chatting watching this poor man try to corral the kids into line ups, counting them off into 2 groups and just generally trying to keep order while teaching them how to dribble a ball with their feet. I am not the type of person to just sit by when someone is floundering, especially when my kid is one of the ones wandering about trying to figure out what's going on. So I got up and offered to help out.

Needless to say, I've been "helping" every week since.

The last 20 minutes each week is spent playing a game against another team. Each team is split in half and plays against half of another team who shares this same field. That means that our coach stays with one half and I take the other half over to play their game. I have fun, the kids listen to me, and I get to play with Liam, which he thinks is great!

The coach announced a couple of weeks ago that he was going on vacation soon and needed some parents to step up and run things so that the kids didn't miss out on a week. Surprise, surprise... NO ONE volunteered. Coach has taken to making his version of "pretty eyes" (do men not realize that they just can't do this effectively? The first time he did it I thought he had a sty) at me at work, hinting at how great I would be.

I have relented with "If you can't get ANYONE else, I'll do it". He leaves for vacation today, and nope, he doesn't have anyone else.

The anxiety is kicking in.

I am a very shy person, who doesn't like to be the spot light or center of attention. The idea of being on the field, organizing the kids and all the parents watching me is WIGGING me OUT! To the point that it is keeping me up at night, causing my heart to race and making me feel panicky. The practical side of me tries to tell me that it's no different then what I've been doing every week. That's not really helping though.

I also don't deal well with going to new places for the first time. I need to arrive WAY early, scope it out and get comfortable. If it rains tomorrow, we play at a different field that has astro-turf. We've had 2 rain dates so far, but we've chosen not to go. I won't have that luxury tomorrow if I'm coaching the team. And I won't be able to get there early, as I'll be heading there straight from work. Just the thought of having to take a different bus is making me all clammy right now.

Here's hoping that it doesn't rain so that I only have one stressor to deal with. And if you don't hear from me for for a few days, it's because I've spontaneously combusted.

Another good reason to have kids

you get to buy the toys and games you always wanted when you were little, but your parents would never buy for you!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Friday Five!

My friend Heather has tagged me in her Friday Five:

1) Where do you belong?
I belong at home, on my couch watching TV

2) What do you carry?

A big stick and some attitude.

3) What do you know?

It all of course!

4) What is strange to you?

Penises... I just don't get them!

5) Where are you going?

To hell in a handbasket

So give it a go and link back to us with your answers!

Liam's eye doctor appointment

This isn't a picture of Liam's eyeball, but the doctor did take one just like it yesterday. Liam was fascinated by it. He has now decided that he wants to be an eye doctor when he grows up. And not just because of the cool chair that goes up and down.

This year's appointment was much more successful and less traumatic for everyone. Last year Liam had to have eye drops for the first time ever and he F.R.E.A.K.E.D. out! It took Hilary, me and the Doctor to hold him down, wrench his eyelids apart and try to get a minuscule amount of the drop actually near his eyeball. Not only did he not need drops this year, he didn't seem to be scarred by last years visit either. He walked in like a pro, hopped up on the chair and quizzed the Dr. about every machine and button in the room.

He also got to use the grown up letter charts this year instead of the pictures for the little kids. He was quite proud of this fact too.

His left eye continues to be weak. He had Scarlet Fever in April 2007 and during the fever stage his left eye turned in so that he was looking at the side of his nose. It corrected itself after a couple of hours, but ever since then he can make it do that on his own. It grosses me out!! I have eyeball issues (stuff for another phobia post!) and we have worked with him all year to ensure that he doesn't do it and cause more muscle damage.

So we left yesterday with a new, stronger prescription. We weren't surprised by this, as the Dr. didn't give him the full prescription last year. They like to start kids off with a less intense prescription because they are more likely to wear the glasses and keep them on in the beginning with it's all new and their world suddenly looks very different.

Since Liam went through 4 sets of frames from September to November last year (his record was 3 days!) we are going to see about just getting new lenses for his current pair of gold frames. They are very robust and he's been wearing them for almost 8 months now. We do have a second pair that he can wear while they are getting fixed.

And we will be back to see the eye doctor in another year to see how much his eye sight changes again.

We now have silence

I called Iris yesterday for what will be the last time for awhile. Today is Madelaine's last day at work, as she has been laid off after 20+ years at this job.

The call was bitter-sweet. The sweet part was that we have really reached a level of comfort with each other. We can chitchat and joke and there are no uncomfortable silences or underlying tones that leaves the listener wondering what is being implied. It is finally like talking to family.
Comfortable, familiar, enjoyable.

The bitter part was knowing that this is our last communication until Madelaine is working or out of the house job hunting. Since she plans to take a month off to just relax before even starting to look, it will be at least September before I hear from Iris again.

The good news is that Iris is doing well health wise, and has pretty much fully recovered from her operation. The Dr did tell her that she has a hernia and some artery problems in her stomach that they want to do more tests for, but she doesn't see that happening until the new year. And yet, she is still 78 years old. Not that 78 is OLD, but when you aren't in great health to start with, it starts to be cause for concern. Especially for me, when I can't just call her up and see how she's doing.

The hardest part of the call yesterday was when she wished me a Happy Birthday. My birthday's not till mid-August, but she doesn't expect that we'll be able to talk around then, or even that she'll be able to send an email. I only found Iris 7 years ago, so I haven't had a lot of "Happy Birthday's" from her. One of my most treasured possessions is the birthday card she sent me the year after I found her, the card that says "Happy Birthday Daughter" on the front.

As an adoptee birthday's have always been hard. Even if it's just a subconcious reaction to the fact that this is the anniversary of the day you were seperated from your mother. So hearing from Iris these past few years has been wonderful. Knowing again this year that I won't hear from her sucks.
So for now I entertain my little fantasy that Iris tells Madelaine everything, it goes well, and the next chapter of my adoption journey beginins "Reunion with a 1/2 sister".

Thursday, July 24, 2008


I have always had trouble remembering peoples names. I was at my last job for more then 10 years, and even on the day I left I still didn't know peoples names, people that I spoke with every day. I spend a lot of my time at my current job nodding and smiling and making idle chit-chat with people that seem to know me, but I have no clue who they are.

I'm just as bad with actors and characters. So bad that I can forget which character is which while watching the show. Then I just frustrate Hilary with weird questions like "Didn't he die just after the opening scene?" To which she replies "no, that was the blond woman who died, this is the red-headed cop who is investigating," Right... gotcha. Needless to say I am often very lost during movies.

And yet I have this uncanny ability to remember all 100+ names of Liam's stuffed animals. I can tell the difference between his 5 tigers: Tickles who was Tammy's that she gave him the day he was born, Ralphie who goes everywhere with us (and really is just another member of the family), baby Ralphie, Ralph, little Ralphie -- Okay, maybe the tigers are a bad example, since there seems to be some sort of George Foreman thing going on. But show me a stuffed Toucan and I can shout out Snap, or a bear from Build-a-Bear and I know that it's Benjamin, a stuffed Bulldog is Buster and on an on. I can even remember which car is Tex and which one is Leakless from the movie Cars.

I don't even try anymore to remember my on-line friends real names, unless their forum name is something really simple like Jensboys. Of course if we were to meet in real life I would end up calling her Jensboys!! I even have family members whose names I don't remember. Granted I have 50+ cousins on my father's side, so it is a lot to keep track of, but still, I really should be able to keep family names in my head!

Any great suggestions on remembering names, or understanding why I can remember stuffies and not real people?

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Woefully behind!

I started scrap booking when Liam was 9 months old. Actually, that's not entirely true. I made my parents a scrapbook for there 20th wedding anniversary before I had ever heard of scrap booking, or there were entire stores dedicated to the craft.

While Liam was little it was a lot easier to find an hour or two of uninterrupted time that I could haul out all of my stuff and churn out a page or two.

And then he stopped napping.

One of the hardest parts of scrap booking is staying organized (and/or actually getting digital pictures printed off!). Being a bit of an Excel geek, I of course made myself an Excel file - complete with colour coding! It lets me plan which pages will be next to each other, which layouts will require 2 pages so that they get placed in the right place and helps me to see the progress I've made.

Lately, I haven't made any progress! As you can see from my chart below I have 68 pages planned to do, dating back as far as Halloween 2006! I have 5 fully completed books and #6 which is half done. I like to do things in chronological order, as it's easier to keep organized, but I do occasionally jump around, which is another advantage of the Excel file.

I do however, have a scrap booking extravaganza planned! Hilary and Liam are going to BC to visit her family in August, leaving me home ALONE for 8 whole days. 8 days were I can have all of my scrap booking doodads laid out on the dinning room table without having to clean them up every night, 8 days were I will have nothing to do in the evenings and 2 of those days are a Saturday and Sunday!

Also, my mom just gave me 284 12x12 pieces of printed paper. Yup, 284!!! A friend of hers had been making up scrap booking kits and selling them at local craft shows. They weren't doing well and decided to call it quites and got rid of all of their stuff. So they gave Mom a bunch to give to me!! Not only are there 12x12 pages, but borders, embellishments, stickers and card stock.

I think I can do 68 pages in 8 days. What do you think?

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Summer Camp Update

As we embark on the third week of summer camp, I thought I would take a few moments to reflect on how it's going.

Originally Liam was only going to attend 3 weeks of camp, every other week. Then I stumbled across a "Y" camp program that not only still had spots but was only $25.00 a WEEK! The camp runs from 8:30-5:00 and we found out the first week that they also include lunch! The "Y" is located in the North End of Halifax which has been linked with crime and violence and is mainly low-income housing, thus the low rates to attend. We checked at sign up, letting them know that we do not live in that area and we are not a low-income family, but they said everyone was welcome. So he is spending his alternate weeks at the "Y". Neither Hilary nor I have any fears or concerns of the neighbourhood. The "Y" is next door to the libary and an RCMP station and there is a nursing home across the street. Not exactly gang-warfare type turf, especially in the middle of the day. It may be that since we have lived in 2 of the worst neighbourhoods in Toronto that the bad side of Halifax doesn't really seem all that bad to us.

The first week at the "Y" the theme was nutrition. The kids made healthy snacks like muffins and fruit salad, but they also got to go swimming, play basketball and do arts and crafts. His other two weeks with them will be Basketball and Soccer.

His other camp is run through our city's Recreation department. It's called Wet 'N' Wild. They have swimming lessons every morning, and a variety of activities throughout the day. Last week they visited a fire station, the library and spent the afternoon at the beach.

Other then being exhausted, Liam is having a great time! We have no kids in our neighbourhood to play with so it was looking like it was going to be a very long and boring summer. Now he gets his fill of playing all day long, Hilary can work as many hours as she wants and everyone is happy.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Forgotten farm stories

My friend Heather just shared a long lost memory from her childhood that involves sheep. Check it out, but be warned, it's not for the easily squeamish.

Neither is this post!

Reading Heather's story made me think of several stories from my own childhood, most of which help to explain why I become a vegetarian at 12. I am no longer vegetarian but that is mainly because I don't do the shopping or the cooking at home. Left to my own devices I wouldn't choose to eat meat. I can and do eat it now, thanks in no small part to Hilary being such a fabulous cook!

I grew up on a farm, but my parents were not farmers. They rented the land to a local farmer who put crops in every year. We had a barn and a huge garden and when I was older I had horses so I had a lot of "farm" experience as a kid.

First story:

One year for Easter my Grandparents bought me a cute little bunny. We lived on a farm, we had lots of room, it seemed like a great idea. What my grandparents and I didn't know was that my father saw this the perfect opportunity to raise a rabbit for Thanksgiving dinner. Yup, he killed my pet and served it up for supper.

Second story:

Our farm had 20 acres of bush with a small pond. It was a great place for a tomboy like me to play; climbing trees, making mud pies, catching frogs. My father has always liked to tease - which more often then not was just mean and not funny at all (probably because I was the subject of most of his teasing). He also likes to try and shock people by doing bizarre things. So one day while I was out catching frogs, my parents were also in the bush and had a camp fire going. I was very proud of my frog collection (I would have been 7-8) and took them over to show to my parents. My father decided that since we are French and French people eat frog legs that we should have frog legs for lunch. I thought he was teasing and got upset that he was teasing me like that. If it had stopped at the teasing I probably wouldn't be quite so scarred. Yup, he got out his pocket knife, hacked off the legs and roasted them on an open fire.

Third story:

We were coming home from somewhere and drove up to the garage in the truck. Sunning itself in front of the garage was a very large groundhog. Now groundhogs are very desctructive and cause a lot of damage on farms, so I understood the need to trap them and rid the farm of them. My father could not miss out on the opportunity to kill one, so he stopped the truck, grabbed a shovel from the back and bopped it over the head, killing it. I hear you saying "That's not such a bad story in light of the others". Well, it doesn't end there. Remember how I said that my father likes to do bizarre things to shock people? He figured that we had never had groundhog before so why not have that for dinner? And they did. I'm pretty sure that I refused to eat that night (and many other nights for that matter.)

Those are the main "my father ate gross things" stories from my childhood that have scarred me for life. I'm sure there are many others but they are probably best left buried!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Fear of Water

Aquaphobia is an abnormal and persistent fear of water. Aquaphobia is a specific phobia that involves a level of fear that is beyond the patient's control or that may interfere with daily life.People suffer aquaphobia in many ways and may experience it even though they realize the water in an ocean, a river, or even a bathtub poses no imminent threat. They may avoid such activities as boating and swimming, or they may avoid swimming in the deep ocean despite having mastered basic swimming skills. This anxiety commonly extends to getting wet or splashed with water when it is unexpected, or being pushed or thrown into a body of water.

I wouldn't say that I have a PHOBIA exactly. My fear of water doesn't interfere with my daily life. If I had chosen a career as a life guard, then maybe it would. But I have this fear of water you see, so being a life guard never even entered into the possible list of career choices. My specific fear of water is water splashing in my face, or having to put my face in water (bobbing for apples is out as an activity too - maybe this does interfere more then I thought!)

At a daily level, the only time that this fear manifests itself is in the shower. But I've been showering for awhile now so I have conquered how to do it (and wash my hair) without a single drop of water getting on my face. So I can hop into the shower with nary a concern. I don't wear make up or any other product on my face so I simply just don't wash it. I have a great complexion so that must be working okay.

Living with a 6 year old however has opened up many more opportunities for me to get my face wet. Babies splash when they are in the tub. When they get older they splash on purpose. It was inevitable that water guns would become a part of our outdoor toy selection. I do my best to not let my fear overcome me and stop me from having fun with Liam, because after all, water guns and splashing can be fun! I even took Liam to his mother/child swim classes starting at 9 months old in a hope that I could get over my fear. That didn't work out so well. And as a result, Liam didn't like the water very much either. Since he's been taking swimming lessons on his own, he has overcome that so it doesn't look like my fear has rubbed off on him.

I'm not 100% sure where this fear came from, but I have my suspicions. I have a very vivid memory of being at my Aunt and Uncle's house one summer when I was quite young - maybe 5-6 and someone threw me in the pool, knowing that I couldn't swim. And of everyone standing around the pool laughing while I struggled and panicked before someone finally rescued me. Now neither of my parents remember this (or are willing to admit that they remember it) but that could be because they were all DRUNK at the time which is why they all thought this would be a hilarious idea in the first place!

So there you go, I've shared 2 of my phobias, anyone else have any they want to share?

Wednesday, July 16, 2008




to put off doing (something unpleasant or burdensome) until a future time; esp., to postpone (such actions) habitually

I am normally not a procrastinator. If something needs to be done, I like to do it now otherwise it nags at me until I get to it. I don't let my inbox go above 10, I clear my sent items as soon as I send something, I put stuff away when I'm done with it (Hilary can stop rolling her eyes now - Yes I put it away, No it's not usually where it's supposed to go, but that's another post!). I return phone calls right away.

Yet, I cannot get myself to put pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard, and write an update letter to "K". It's not because it is unpleasant or burdensome like the definition implies. It's not that I don't have anything to write about. Liam provides us with at least one funny anecdotal story a day and he has hit a few note worthy milestones of late.

It is the fear of the unknown. "K" stopped communicating with us 6 months ago and I don't know why. Did I say or do something that hurt her? Is her grief too much for her to bear right now so she is protecting herself? Does she feel that everyone would be better off if this was a closed adoption? Will an update letter help her or hurt her?

How do you write a letter to someone when you don't know where their head and heart is? Do I address her silence? Do I acknowledge her grief? Or do I just gaily forge ahead with how amazing, happy and healthy Liam is, focusing the entire letter just on him?

Hilary and I made a commitment when we adopted Liam that we would keep "K" updated with a minimum of 2 letters a year. And we faithfully did that, even thought for the first 3 years they just sat in a box at the agency as we did not know how to contact her. And then we did find an email and our contact was much more relaxed and chatty. So we didn't need to do bi-annual updates since we were chatting real time about day to day stuff.

Now we are back to needing to send them and it's hard.

Monday, July 14, 2008

The Flume Ride

I don't know which demented person invented this ride from H E Double Hockey Sticks, but I'm sure they are having a great laugh at all of us folks who ride it for the first time!

I should have known from the moment we got to the gate that it was wrong. You have to walk across a moving platform to get to the log, which never stops moving. Yes, alright, it's going VERY slow, but it is still moving. Then I realized that unlike every other carnival ride possible, there was no seat belt, no shoulder strap, no bar that came down and crushed your pelvis ensuring that you did not fall out.

How do you not fall out when you go careening down the very steep hill you ask? You brace your feet. Oh, and there is a metal bar down the sides of the log to hold onto. However, since the logs keep going around and around, they are always wet. So the metal bar? Very slippery and not much help.

Now Hilary had been talking up this ride to Liam all week. It was cool, it was AMAZING, it was the best thing ever! And SHE was going to take him on it. This was a major to-do, since Hilary gets car sick when I back up in a parking lot and sea sick on the boat museum that has been anchored at the dock so long that the barnacles have cemented it to the ocean floor. The reason she agreed to take Liam on it is that I have a major fear of water, especially water that splashes in my face. So when we got to the park this was of course the first ride Liam wanted to check out. Hilary took one look at it and said "That looks an awful lot more like a roller coaster then I remember, I can't go on that!" Since this was Liam's big birthday weekend celebration, I couldn't disappoint him now could I? So off we went, with me sucking up my water fear as best I could.

So Liam and I navigated the moving platform, I got in, braced my feet and helped him in. Oh Oh!! He's too short to brace his feet against anything. I guess that is why you have to be 48 inches tall to ride on this alone. But the signs and the attendants all said that at 44 inches he was fine to ride it as long as an adult was with him. I always assumed that these warnings were more based on age and maturity, where the adult makes sure the kid doesn't freak out and keeps their arms inside the ride or what have you. I didn't think it was so that the adult could become a human seat belt, the only thing holding the child in the moving log as it hurtled down the hill!

We got to the top of the first hill and I started to panic! I had my feet braced so hard that I was starting to get a charlie horse. I didn't think that my legs alone would keep us in this coffin sized piece of plastic, so I held onto the slippery bar with one hand, and grasped Liam around the waist with all my might with my other arm. At first he was telling me to let go, it was too tight but then we crested the top of the hill and he was silent - for a fraction of the second, and then the screaming started! I don't know who was louder, him or me.

He didn't fall out! Of course, we had no choice but to finish the ride, which luckily meant only one more hill. I wasn't as panicked the second time, but I know understand the expression "my heart was in my throat". We both put on a very brave front for Hilary when we got off, and claimed that it was too cold out to go again and get all wet, why don't we try some other rides instead?

Never again will I ride the flume ride!! And I suspect that Liam won't either.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

In a funk

I just can't seem to get out of this funk right now.

I know that it's from just getting back from vacation, having a house guest as soon as I got home (MIL was here for 3 days, which is great and I love my MIL, but after a vacation you just want to have some down time). It's been hot, so sleeping is rough and Liam just started summer camp this week so we have brand new early morning routines to sort out.

Added to all of this is work - my co-work is on vacation for 2 weeks so I'm picking up a lot of his work (and yes, he picked up mine while I was away, but my job is much more project oriented and not daily task oriented like his, so I'm getting the short end of the stick). Plus we are doing a major upgrade to our software in 2 weeks which is just adding more work right now.

The upside is that it's Liam's 6th birthday on Friday! I've taken the day off and we are heading to Upper Clements Park for the weekend, staying overnight in a hotel so that we can go to the park both days. We'll have cake and presents on Sunday after we get home. Liam has requested not to have a birthday party this year and to just celebrate with family, so we are doing just that!

While I am very excited by this weekend, it is also mixed with sadness for "K" and what she must be going through because of this date too. I need to write a letter to her and send her our biannual update. When we were in more frequent email/IM contact we had stopped sending updates, since we just shared things with her in real time. So this update is going to be even harder to write since we haven't heard from her in so long. It's hard to balance writing an update letter with being worried about hurting the person who will read it. I think I just need to take a few hours and sit down uninterrupted and write my heart out. At least it's an easy subject since Liam does so many funny and wonderful things, I always have a new story to tell.


Any anti-funk suggestions?

Monday, July 7, 2008

My son the activist

Liam has reached that milestone where he wants to save the earth, do the right thing and make sure that everyone else is doing it too.

He lectured (and I mean lectured - finger wagging, in-your-face- lectured) my father for 20 minutes during our recent visit. Grandpa's transgression? Riding a bike without a helmet. Liam's lecture included such gems as "your head isn't as hard as the rocks Grandpa, what if you fall?", "Do you know that you could DIE?", "Why do you think you should ride your bike without a helmet?"

He will point out drivers who don't come to a complete stop at stop signs, people who don't wear seat belts and cars that block pedestrian crossings.

He questions why people vandalise bus stops and wonders why they want to destroy things that aren't theirs.

He notices liter and wants to know why people are trying to destroy the earth (and this was before we saw Wall-E)

But his newest area of attack? SMOKERS! and unfortunately (or fortunately) Hilary falls into this category. While she only smokes 2-3 cigarettes a day, always outside, and always out of view of Liam, he is now aware of what she is doing when she "goes outside for a rest". And he is not happy about it! I'm trying my best to stay out of this one, letting Hilary defend herself to him on her own.

This should be interesting.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Our longest track yet!

Liam and I used to have these great episodes of engineering. We would get out all of his wooden train track and try to build the most complicated sets we could, using up all the pieces. If you've never built a train track before you should try it! it's not as easy as it looks to end up with all closed loops and nothing going off into no-man's land.

Liam has not been as interested in Thomas or train tracks lately. He's growing up you see and his world is now Hot Wheels (Beat That!), Bionicles and Transformers. The gentler, care free days of Thomas and Percy, where the worst "bad" guy is Deisel 10, are slipping away.

Yet sometimes it's nice to go back to the comfort of old familiar toys, characters that were with you for several years of your short life. And so it was that Liam asked today if we could build a track. Who could resist? We hauled everything downstairs and started brain storming. We decided to make the longest track ever - it runs the length of the living room, through the kitchen, up a step and turns around in the dinning room. There is also a branch line the runs through the hallway and into the spare room.

With only 5 days till he turns 6 I truly enjoyed this trip down memory lane.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Iris update

While I did not get to visit with Iris while I was in Ontario, I did get a phone call from her! During all the pre-operative stress that she was going through, she took the time to memorize my parents phone number and called me once she was out of surgery and in her own room. That really meant a lot to me!

I called her today and she is recovering well. She had a lot of problems with throwing up after her surgery so she ended up staying in the hospital for 2 extra days. They did an epidural instead of a general anesthetic in part to avoid the throwing up issue, but also because she has some breathing problems. However, all is well now and she is on the mend.

My contact with her will become much more sporadic at the end of the month. Madelaine will be off work then (she has been laid off) so I won't be able to email. I can call if I use the code word "Andrea'" If Madelaine answers she will tell me I have the wrong number and if Iris answers but Madelaine is there, she will do the same thing.

The saga continues.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Today's the day....

that I'm back from vacation!

What a whirl-wind of 8 days that was! I'll be sure to post some updates (and pics!) soon.

Momof3 was the first one to identify the last round of "What am I?" Good job!!!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Happy Canada Day!

Our Canadian flag.

National Post
CREDIT: CanWest News Service

40 facts about our flag
It flies at the top of the Peace Tower on Parliament Hill and is sewn on the backpacks of globetrotting Canadians. It's wrapped around triumphant athletes and waved by children at Canada Day parades, coast to coast. It's on mugs, pins and car bumpers. In Canada and around the world, the National Flag is our collective nametag. This is Canada, it says, in beaming white and red. In honour, we have compiled 40 facts about what it is, where it came from and the hype that has sometimes followed it.

1. Feb. 15 1965: Canada's new red and white Maple Leaf flag was raised for the first time on Parliament Hill. Maurice Bourget, Speaker of the Senate, addressed the audience. "The flag is the symbol of the nation's unity, for it, beyond any doubt, represents all the citizens of Canada without distinction, language, belief or opinion."

2. The official name is the National Flag of Canada.

3. The flag at the Peace Tower flies 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It is changed on a daily basis, usually early in the morning and by a designated Parliament Hill building employee who receives training on how to perform the task.

4. Flags on the East and West Block are changed weekly.
5. Once a flag is drawn, it goes to the office of the Minister of Public Works and Government Services, before it is eventually distributed to people who have requested it.

6. Want one? You'll have to be patient. There is a 10-year waiting list to receive a flag that has flown on the Peace Tower. The wait is five years for a flag that has flown on the East or West Block. Anyone interested should put the request in writing and send it in: by mail to Public Works and Government Services Canada, Office of the Minister 18A1, Portage Place III, 11 Laurier St., Gatineau, Que., K1A 0S5; by fax to: (819) 953-1908 or by e-mail to Only one flag per household is allowed.

7. New flags are kept in the basement of Centre Block.

8. National Flag Day: Feb. 15

9. So far this year, the government has purchased 32,900 flags, to be distributed to the public and members of Parliament on days like National Flag Day and Canada Day.

10. The flags are supplied by two companies -- one in Toronto called Flying Colours International and another in St-Foy, Que., that goes by the name Drapeaux et Bannieres L'etendard Inc. Both contracts cost the government a total of $907,129.95.

11. It takes about a week, from start to finish, to make a batch of Canadian flags at Toronto's Flying Colours International. The company uses high tenacity nylon that is made in Kingston and woven into fabric in a Quebec factory. The fabric is stripped of oil before it is printed with a water-based dye.

12. The largest Canadian flag ever made, according to Flying Colours International, was recently unveiled at a football game in Hamilton, between the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and Toronto Argonauts. The flag was 38 metres by 76 metres, and required at least 80 pairs of hands to carry it on to the field. This flag will never fly -- it's too big -- but it will be brought on to the turf at Ivor Wynne Stadium, the Ticat's home base, for the start of every home game. A flag that size costs $15,000.

13. It doesn't get much smaller than the tiny plastic Canadian flag lapel pins that are often given away by the government. For decades they were made by a company in Toronto. In 2003, the government awarded the contracts to two importers who outsourced the job to China. When that news became public this year, the government promised to ensure that some flag pins are made in Canada.

14. The government gave away a million flags after the Quebec referendum. It was a plan hatched by Sheila Copps, then heritage minister, to promote national unity. The freebies ended up costing the government $15-million.

15. Bloc Quebecois MP Suzanne Tremblay was criticized in 1998 after complaining that too many Maple Leaf flags were displayed by the Canadian delegation at the Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan.

16. The Peace Tower flag is 2.25 metres by 4.5 metres.

17. The search for a new Canadian flag actually started in 1925 when a committee of the Privy Council began to research possible designs for a national flag. However, the work of the committee was never completed.

18. Later, in 1946, a select parliamentary committee was appointed with a similar mandate, called for submissions and received more than 2,600 designs. Still, the House of Commons was never called upon to vote on a design.

19. Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson reignited the search for a new flag in 1964. By October a committee had shortlisted three possible designs -- a Red Ensign with the fleur-de-lys and the Union Jack, a design incorporating three red maple leaves, and a red flag with a single, stylized red maple leaf on a white square. (Mr. Pearson preferred a design with three red maple leaves between two blue borders.)

20. The combination of red, white and red first appeared in the General Service Medal issued by Queen Victoria.

21. The flag is red and white, the official colours of Canada as appointed by King George V in 1921, with a stylized 11-point red leaf in its centre. It is twice as long as it is wide.

22. It's not just any red. The printing ink colour is FIP red: General Printing Ink, No. 0-712; Inmont Canada Ltd., No. 4T51577; Monarch Inks, No. 62539/0; or Sinclair and Valentine, No. RL163929/0. The painting colours are FIP red No. 509-211 and white: 513-201.

23. Flag etiquette stipulates that when the National Flag of Canada is raised or lowered, or when it is carried in a parade or review, all present should face the flag, men should remove their hats and all should remain silent. Those in uniform should salute.

24. In 1999, a school board trustee at Winnipeg School Division No. 1 ordered all custodians to take better care of Canadian flags that fly over city schools after he found one crumpled up and tossed into a box of muddy boots. Mario Santos, who immigrated to Canada from Portugal in the 1960s, instructed custodians to raise the flag at 8:30 a.m., take it down at 3:30 p.m., and store it carefully and respectfully within the school.

25. The Trade Marks Act protects the National Flag of Canada against unauthorized use. Requests to use the flag should be made to the Department of Canadian Heritage. A sketch of the intended use must be submitted by fax. The flag cannot be defaced by way of printing or illustrations or masked by other objects.

26. It caused a stir in the 1992 World Series between the Toronto Blue Jays and the Atlanta Braves when the U.S. Marine Corps carried it upside down at the pre-game ceremony. The Jays won the game 5-4.

27. It caused another late last year, when Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Danny Williams ordered the flags lowered to protest an "unacceptable" offer from the federal government regarding off-shore royalties. "The Premier's actions are disrespectful of our most treasured national symbol," Prime Minister Paul Martin said.

28. But that wasn't the only time the flag was dragged into politics. The Mayor of Quebec City ordered the Canadian flag removed from atop City Hall after the failure of the Meech Lake accord. The flag would return in 1998.

29. The National Flag does not fly outside the Quebec legislature, unless there is a special federal ceremony.

30. In 2002, Quebec swimmer Jennifer Carroll waved the Quebec fleur-de-lys flag rather than the Maple Leaf while on the podium at the Commonwealth Games.

31. A Reform party motion to allow MPs to display the Canadian flag on their desks in Parliament was defeated in 1998, after dominating Commons debate for several weeks.

32. When provincial and territorial flags are flown with the National Flag of Canada, the order is based on the date of entry into Confederation of the provinces followed by the territories.

33. Flags are flown at the half-mast position as a sign of mourning. The flag is brought to the half-mast position by first raising it to the top of the mast then immediately lowering it slowly to the half-mast position.

34. If a flag is tattered and no longer suitable to fly, proper etiquette calls for a dignified destruction. The suggestion: burn it privately.

35. In 1999, students at the University of Brandon burned the Canadian flag to protest against Canadian troops in East Timor.

36. In 2001, then Quebec premier Bernard Landry compared the Canadian flag to "bits of red rag" used to provoke bulls.

37. The National Flag of Canada should always be flown on its own mast -- flag protocol dictating that it is improper to fly two or more flags on the same mast (eg. one beneath the other). Further, the following points should be kept in mind:

38. It should not be used as table/seat cover, as a masking for boxes or as a barrier on a dais or platform. Nothing should be pinned to or sewn on the National Flag of Canada. The National Flag of Canada should not be signed or marked in any way. (A border could be attached to the edge of the flag on which it would be acceptable to have signatures, leaving the flag itself untouched.)

39. Chris Hollingworth of St. Albert, Alta., refused to remove a Canadian flag from the window of his condo in 2001, after the building's manager called it "aesthetically unpleasing." Hollingworth had placed it there after the Sept. 11 attacks against the United States.

40. On the day he was sworn in as prime minister, Paul Martin clutched the Canadian flag that flew at half mast on the Peace Tower on Sept 14, 1992, the day his father died. Paul Martin Senior was a Cabinet minister in the Trudeau government.

© Global National 2007

Happy Canada Day!.