Sunday, November 30, 2008

Too Close for Comfort

"Man shot in Halifax 3rd target of gun violence this month"

You can read the full story here.

This happened down the street from my house. Not on my street, but the connecting street. The one we walk along to take Liam to school.

Liam and I were on the bus heading for skating when we heard sirens and saw police cars racing in the opposite direction that we were going. I never have believed that they were heading to my neighbourhood.

I've lived in some bad neighbourhoods in my time, all of them in Toronto. One of the appeals of Halifax when we first moved here was the lack of violence. Most days the headline story of the local paper was about which celebrity yacht was moored downtown, or who had won the local fiddling contest. Violence was rare. Now it seems that it is occurring more and more frequently.

We are not packing up and moving. I still feel safe walking down the street, but I am sure that I will be much more aware of my surroundings, of who else is walking nearby, of how far I am from a friendly household or the school at any given time.

It's a sad world that we live in today, one with far too much violence. Violence that never solves anything any way.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Love Thursday

This is an oldie but a goodie. Liam would have been about 3 years old when I took these shots one night after his bath.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Role Reversal

Most couples have some form of division of labour. Whether they are the anal types who have lists and divide the work load of life exactly in half, or if certain jobs just seem to fall to certain people by default, the work gets done.

Hilary and I are no different. We don't have lists, but after almost 15 years together we have discovered that our labour division falls pretty neatly into two categories:


It sounds like an odd division, but for us it works. Let me give you some examples:

Hilary is IN: grocery shopping, cooking, feeding the cats... all things that go IN
Andy is OUT: garbage, cat litter, puke cleaner-upper.... all things that go OUT

Hilary also has allergies, so I get most things OUTside - Grass cutting, shoveling, leaf raking, so she gets things INside - laundry, cleaning the bathroom.

Our other division of labour divides into DELICATE and NOT DELICATE. Hilary is DELICATE so she can paint trim, wrap presents, sew - all things that require a fine, delicate touch. I am NOT DELICATE so I get to paint big open spaces, hammer things, move heavy objects - all things that don't require me to be DELICATE. So Hilary makes Liam's costumes as needed and I built the deck.

Tonight though we are having a role reversal. Our friend Mark is over installing our dishwasher. Normally I would be the one helping, holding things, using the drill, measuring. I enjoy these activities even if I'm not very good at them. I wouldn't say that Hilary enjoys them. Yet there she is! Using Mark's drill, feeding electrical wire through the wall, dashing out to the hardware store with him for missing supplies. She seems to be in her element! My days as home repair chick may be numbered (and that's okay!)


Dear Anonymous commenter from West Palm Beach, Florida.

I'm very sorry that you never learned to spell in English . No, I'm not commenting on your excessive use of the letter S. Many people use this technique while typing to give the reader a sense of how they want the word to sound..... drawn out in this case, with emphasis on the plural. Your spelling mistake is in the derogatory term that you left in my comments. Faggot has 2 Gs and an O in it. Faget is not actually a word.

English can be a very complicated language to learn. Here is an overview of Hard and Soft sounds for the letter G:

Hard and Soft Sounds for ‘G’

The Pronunciation of ‘G’ generally depends upon the letter following it.
General Rules
  • If the following letter is ‘E’, ‘I’ or ‘Y’, the pronunciation is said to be “soft”.
  • If the following letter is anything else - including a space - the pronunciation is termed “hard”.
  • A soft ‘G’ is pronounced ‘j’ as in general, giant, gymnastic, large, energy, intelligible, changing
  • A hard ‘G’ is pronounced ‘g’ as in golf, pig, running, great, gum, fragrant, grasp, glut, progress, faggot

I'm also very sorry that your Google search for "Bullying Days" brought you to my "Anti-Bullying days" entry. You were obviously looking for a site that was for and not against bullying.

Better luck next time.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Love Thursday

We are plagued with a virus at my house today, but here are 5 things that I have loved this week:

1) My dentist!

I used to be deathly afraid of dentists and them of me. Why were they scared of me? One tried to do a root canal once on a badly infected tooth. It was so infected that the freezing wouldn't take. He proceeded with the root canal anyway. I punched him in the nose. Apparently word of that type of behaviour travels quickly through dentist circles. Luckily for me it hadn't made it's way to Halifax by the time I moved here. Dr. Blanchard accepted my fears and worked with me instead of against me. I know longer require prescription doping just to be able to walk through the front door. He is such an amazing dentist that I refer anyone who is remotely scared or nervous to him. Apparently I have referred so many people to him that he wanted to give a little back to me. I needed to have custom bite plates made last month and was going to square away the bill on my visit yesterday. Turns out that they are "complimentary" for all my referrals. Cool!

2) Being a part of Liam's school.

Liam's school is A.MA.Z.I.N.G. no doubt about it. But what I love this week? That all the families are part of the school. It's little things... like the email today from another mom offering to bake a cake for Liam's teacher next week on her birthday. Her birthday is the same day as the school Fair, so all the parents will be there to help celebrate. the parent support committee working together this weekend to bundle 3000+ Art cards into packs of 10 and everyone bringing stuff and turning it into a potluck. the Admin assistant calling me for help with Excel. It is truly a community.

3) Couch cushions that can be washed.

Not usually something that you LOVE, until your kid has puked on them 4 times before noon.

4) Fast acting Children's Advil.

The puking is in cahoots with a fever, so fast acting anything that makes Liam feel better is getting my love today!

5) Cinnamon Buns, tea and left overs from the freezer!

'nough said!

Friday, November 14, 2008

What's in a name?

Mama, Mama, MAMA, MaaaaaaaaaaaMaaaaaaaa, Mama, MaMa, MAMAMAMAMAMAMA


Some days I just want to change my name, lock myself in the bathroom with a good book and a bottle of wine.

Wait a minute..... I've already changed my name once since becoming a parent. I haven't always been Mama.

One of the added layers of being a same-sex couple is deciding on names. Like all couples we obviously had to decide what to name the baby. But we also had to pick who's last name he would have. Most un-married straight couples give the kids the father's last name. After all, we still live in a very patriarchal society. Our family only has matriarchs though, so what to do? Our solution was simple. Pick out a name for a boy and a name for a girl and give each one the last name that sounded best with it. So if the baby's a boy he would get my last name and a girl would get Hilary's. As you all know Liam is very much a boy, so he got my last name.

The next name decision we had to make was what this kid would call us. Hilary was steadfast in her desire to be called Mummy. Not Mommy. Mummy. It's what she called her Mum, and what her Mum called her Mum and so on. I grew up calling my mother Mom, or Maman since I was being raised to speak French as well. But Mommy and Mummy sounded so close to each other that I thought it would be confusing. So we searched and searched and searched. We looked into other languages and other cultures, but nothing really jumped out at me.

Until Hilary suggested Mimsy.

I tried it on and took it for a spin. Yeah.... I liked that.

And so Liam came home to Mummy and Mimsy.

From the get-go no one else liked it. Friends snickered, older relatives couldn't pronounce it or remember it. I stuck to my guns though! I was Mimsy! For our first Christmas as parents Hilary bought me a set of engraved napkin rings. Mummy, Mimsy, Liam and Guest. The scrapbook contains a page entitled "Mummy, Mimsy and Me". I was determined that this name would stick and people would just get used to it in time.

Then Liam started to talk. I don't know exactly how the transformation started. If you told him "take this to Mimsy" he would go to me. He could point to Mimsy in pictures, he knew the difference between Mummy and Mimsy. I kept a list of his first 100 words, and it shows that on June 27, 2004, just weeks before his 2nd birthday, he started to say "Mimi" for Mimsy. Then in September of that year there is a notation that he started calling me Mama. Today he has no memory of ever calling me Mimsy and thinks it's pretty weird.

I am thinking of swithching back, even just for a day, so that when the Mama, mama, MAMAs start up again I can ignore it without guilt.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Love Thursday

A boy, his blanket and his tiger!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Remberance Day

In Flanders Fields By: Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD
(1872-1918) Canadian Army

IN FLANDERS FIELDS the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Waging battle

in the living room! (Good guys on the left, bad guys on the right)

Sunday, November 9, 2008


Hilary recently bought me a new book Chicken Soup for the Adopted Soul. We've read other Chicken Soup books and have enjoyed them, even though a lot of the stories are steeped in Christian beliefs which we don't share. I always enjoy reading stories of adoption, in fact, I spend way too much time reading blogs and participating in forums on that very topic. After all, I've been an adoptee for 38 years and an adoptive parent for 6, so it's a topic very near and dear to me.

So far I've enjoyed the stories I've read. I've cried a few times, laughed out loud and connected with some of the story tellers. Unfortunately, like most anything to do with adoption, there is no where near enough representation of First Mothers and Fathers. The general public wants to hear the warm and fuzzy side of adoption, not the heart break and agony side. Which really does a disservice to all. One third of every adoption story is missing if the first parents side isn't included.

I almost didn't start reading the book. I was stuck on the very first paragraph of the introduction. The presumptuousness of the person who wrote the intro nearly pushed me over the edge! How dare s/he (the introduction isn't credited to someone specific) make a blanket statement about "the universal belief of every adoptive parent."

I've heard this "universal belief" spouted by other adoptive parents. Generally from ones who see adoption as a means to form their family with little or no regard for the other people affected by the adoption. Like their own child. People who forget that this cute little baby they are cuddling will one day grow up and ask the difficult questions.

So what was this opening paragraph you ask?

Every time, I declare, "I don't know why he was conceived in another womb or
born in another land, but I know with all my heart that God created him to be
ours." Reading the 3,000+ stories submitted for Chicken Soup for the Adopted
taught me that this is not just my conviction, but the universal belief of every adoptive parent.

To believe that the God you worship would purposefully chose to allow a woman to get pregnant JUST so that she can relinquish her child and endure lifetime of pain all in order for some other person to adopt the child is not a something that I can remotely understand. If your God is all powerful and in charge, why not just place the kid with the adoptive family in the first place? Why allow infertility and unplanned pregnancy?

And if you do believe this, please don't declare it as the "universal belief" of every adoptive parent. I certainly don't believe it. Most adoptive parents I know don't believe it - even the Christian ones.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

on being a landlord

When I was little, like most kids, I had a list of things that I wanted to be when I grew up. It was an ever changing list from truck driver to veterinarian and doctor to garbage person. But the one thing that never, EVER changed was the one thing that I did not want to be.

A landlord.

In the late 1950s, my father, who was in construction, bought a piece of farm land and built 4 6-plex apartment buildings on it. He moved into one of the apartments and that is where he brought his new wife in 1965 to start their marriage off. And it was the home they brought me to in 1970. We lived there till I was 6 when we moved to their dream home that they built themselves (without blue prints I might add!).

Memories of my childhood often revolve around these 24 units and all that they entailed. Weekly jobs like cutting the grass and taking out the garbage; shoveling the walks in the winter; emptying the washing machine of change (that one was my favorite job! I think I learned to count and most of my basic math by sorting nickels, dimes and quarters into coin rollers). At one end of the buildings there was a convenience store. At the opposite end a bus stop. The space in between seemed to be just enough for people to finish a chocolate bar or bag of chips and ditch the wrapper on our lawn. One of my first jobs as a kid was to pick up the garbage.

By no means was I a victim of slave labour. I'm sure my jobs and chores did not add up to more then other kids my age. But I resented that I had to clean up after other people. It's one thing for a kid to keep their own room clean, it's a whole new ball game to clean up garbage.

My parents had the worst jobs however. Cleaning out apartments between tenants. From my perspective it was fun and exciting! I got to run around an empty apartment and I had a lawn chair and portable black and white TV that my parents brought along to keep me occupied. We never had cable ourselves, but most of the tenants did. And most cable companies don't bother to shut off the feed until they know for sure that the next tenant doesn't want cable. So I had access to the magical world of television on the first of every month.

My mother can tell stories of cleaning horror that would curl your toe hairs! One was so bad that I was sent to spend the weekend at my Godmother's as my Mom wouldn't even let me walk in the door. The tenants had been evicted for non-payment and they were not happy about it. They dead bolted the door and left through a window. Once my Dad was able to get in they were met with a horrible site! The people had poured a liter of milk on the shelves of the fridge, shut the door and unplugged it leaving a sour festering mess; they had taken the baby's poopy diapers and smeared the contents into every electrical outlet they could find; they overflowed the toilet and left a mountain of garbage.

The cleaning wasn't the only problem area. Drunk tenants banging on the door at all hours because they lost their keys, dealing with angry people over music played too loud, people breaking things, people refusing to pay their rent. My mother took one man to court over past due rent and garnished his wages. She walked to his job site every Friday for 4 years to collect $20 a week.

Domestic disputes were bad as well. The worst one involved an angry husband shooting his wife on the front lawn. She was only grazed by the bullet and managed to make it into the building where another tenant let her into his apartment and called the police.

Eventually my parents sold off the buildings and got out of the landlord business. And I swore that I would never again have anything to do with apartments beyond being a tenant myself.

As life would have it, it didn't quite work out that way.

3 years ago we had the opportunity to buy a house on our street. It was bigger, had a better yard, had many upgrades and was generally in better shape. We jumped at the chance. The only thing was that it had a basement apartment in it. And since it was a bigger house it came with a bigger mortgage and we would need the rent from the apartment in order to manage financially. I wasn't too worried. It was only 1 apartment after all, not 24. And we would be living right upstairs so we could keep a close eye on things.

So that September we bought the house, packed up our stuff and put ads out to find a potential renter. We live in a city with 3 major universities and several other post-secondary schools. There are lots of people looking for rentals in September. Unfortunately most of them were of a questionable character! The apartment is a one bedroom with a den. Perfect for a single person, maybe a couple. The previous tenant had been a single Mom and her 4 year old, so that size combo could work too. We had families with 6 people apply and who were indignant that we wouldn't even consider them. Smokers who felt that they should be able to smoke in the house. People with no visible means of income and ones that I would have been scared to have that close to my family.

We eventually lucked out when Dan applied. A nice young single man in his late 20's. Recently graduated from the school of Dentistry and working for a practice downtown. He was looking for his first post-university apartment, somewhere to hang his hat while he worked to pay off his student loans.

Dan has been a model tenant and has stayed with us for 3 years so far. True, on his 30th birthday he got drunk, took a cab home, lost his keys and thought that it would be a good idea to break a window in order to get in. The neighbours did catch one of his buddies peeing on the front lawn one Saturday night. And there was the time his buddy left a dog in the apartment while they went out and the dog howled non-stop for HOURS until we finally got hold of Dan on his cell phone and told him to come deal with it. All in all not too bad.

We've only had to replace the dryer and one light fixture, so our expenses so far have been minimal (Dan paid for the new window and to have the locks changed). Until this past week. Dan mentioned that the toilet had been clogging, but that he was able to plunge it successfully. A day or two later her mentioned that when he plunged it the last time that some dirty water backed up into his tub. So we called a plumber to come in and snake the line to the sewer before it got to bad. We were a day too late! Things got bad the night before the plumber was due to arrive. Dan could no longer flush and there was six inches of sewer water and all that that entails in his tub. $300 later the plumber had cleared the clog by having to take our toilet completely off and snaking it from there. So when I got home from work I had 2 poopy bathrooms to clean. While fishing out the chunky bits from Dan's tub I was reminded of my childhood plan to NEVER be a landlord!!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Table Presents

Table Presents is a family tradition that I married into when I shacked up with Hilary. I'm not 100% sure of the origin of the tradition but I'm guessing that it started for someone's birthday in an attempt to keep the non-birthday sibling happy with the idea that they weren't the one getting all the prettily wrapped boxes. Me, I was an only child so ALL the boxes were ALWAYS mine. Funny, I still don't share well......

Somewhere along the line Table Presents went from a birthday dinner tradition to a tradition for any occasion that involves a big family meal. In our household that includes Birthdays, Christmas Eve, Christmas Dinner, Easter, Thanskgiving and Anniversaries. We are all about giving (and getting!) presents as often as possible.

The trick with table presents is that they aren't "real" presents. They are usually fun little things, like the Thumb Wrestling Ring.

Other presents of note over the years have been a banana guard (which was very fun to wrap), bacon flavoured mints and magnetic cars that climb the fridge.

The banana guard

For me, they are a lot of fun to shop for and I am always keeping an eye out for that perfect gift. You really have to know the recipient well to pull off a great table present present. Lame fall backs from the last minute shoppers include candy and booze. Both great presents, but not in the right spirit for a table present. Unless it's a specialty item like Peeps at Easter (my FAVORITE Easter treat that my Grandpa used to buy me that we could not get in Canada for many years)

It's a tradition that Hilary and I have celebrated for nearly 15 years. It is one that Liam now enjoys and one that we have shared with my family and all of our friends that we share big family dinners with.

Do you have any neat traditions that you want to share?

Thursday, November 6, 2008


What do you guys think of these buttons to add to your blog for playing/winning What am I?

What Am I? Round 11 - Reveal

Way to go Thanksgivingmom! You guessed it, it's a Pro-Thumb Wrestling Arena! No house should be without one. I got mine as a table present for my mom's birthday.

What's a table present you ask? And why did I get a present on my mom's birthday? Stay tuned and I will explain.

Thanks to everyone who played this round of What Am I? I think I need to make a nifty button for my players (and an extra swanky one for the winners) like Lori has!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

What am I? Round 11 - picture #4

Here is what we have so far:

  1. Pen cover
  2. ponytail bands with a cap-like thingamajig
  3. hair roller
  4. whistle
  5. flashlight
  6. Bottom of a travel toothbrush holder
  7. weird scrapbooking tool
  8. Chutes and ladders

We haven't made it to the 4th picture in a while. Keep the guesses coming!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

What Am I? round 11- Picture # 3

Well this picture should get some interesting guesses!

Here is what we have so far:
  1. Pen cover
  2. ponytail bands with a cap-like thingamajig
  3. hair roller
  4. whistle
  5. flashlight
  6. Bottom of a travel toothbrush holder

As you can see it's not any of those things!

Monday, November 3, 2008

What Am I? Round 11- picture #2

We've only had one guess so far:

  1. Pen cover

Maybe this one will get you closer. Good luck!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

New Blog Bling

Thanks so much to my buddy (and virtual twin) Heather over at Nobody but yourself for awarding me some new blog bling!!

What Am I? Round 11

Alrighty, you guys have gotten to be very good at this game, so I've searched far and wide for something even more obscure! 1 picture a day for the next five days and then the big reveal.

Good luck!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Is it wrong

to eat Halloween candy for breakfast when Liam isn't looking?