Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Parenting tips that I'm working on:

  • Do what you say and think before you say it
  • You must have patience with your kids. You'll go crazy if you don't
  • Find your sense of humour
  • Use simple words and get to the point
  • Yelling is the worst way to communicate
  • Teach by example
  • Allow disagreements
  • Listen, really listen
  • Be consistent
  • Follow through
  • Practice patience
  • Play with your children
Taken from the Parenting for Dummies reference book.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Florida and GLBT Adoption

Sometimes I forget how lucky Hilary and I are to be a family and to have been able to adopt Liam together as a couple. There are still places in the world that we cannot travel as a family because it would be dangerous to be seen in public as a lesbian family. Even closer to home, I have many friends who still cannot enjoy the same priviledges and safety that we do. My gay and lesbian American friends, for the most part, cannot get married, be on each other's health insurance or be considered equal parents to their children.

Florida is now appealing the judgment from a Miami-Dade judge declaring that Florida's 30+ year old law violated equal protection rights. It seems that the state of Florida believes that gay and lesbians just aren't healthy safe people to whom they should entrust the care of children (overlooking the fact that they allow gay and lesbian foster parents - it's only when the parenting becomes permanent that we somehow become a threat). The state plans to argue that we "have higher odds of suffering from depression, affective and anxiety disorders and substance abuse, and that their households are more unstable"*.

I can't wait to hear how they plan to prove that one.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Best Deal EVER!

I'm cheap. I know this and am not ashamed of it. I shop for bargains, I use coupons, I love a good sale.

And today I stumbled upon an AMAZING sale!

I was at the mall to pick up a last minute item (that I'm still kicking myself for not getting yesterday when I was there because it was gone today.) I thought it was odd that people were walking around the store putting items into shopping bags, but I thought maybe they were just using them instead of baskets. Then a lady came up and said "you DO know about the deal going on don't you?" Am I ever glad she told me!

Turns out that you could go up to the cash, ask for a bag and then fill it with any of their items that had 50% off stickers. The whole bag then cost you $5.00. Yup, you read right, FIVE DOLLARS!!!

Well!! When I went up to get my bag I asked if it was limited to just one. NOPE! As many as you want. So I took 4. I figured I could blow $20 on Christmas eve!!

I walked out of there with more then $300 worth of stuff. I think I now have NEXT years Christmas shopping done!

Merry Christmas Eve to me.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Telecommuting and kids

I've been working from home off and on for a couple of months now. Usually one or two days a week. But with having had a bad sinus infection for the past 2 weeks, no one wanted me at the office spreading my germies before Christmas. I was more then happy to oblige, especially since we don't have a car and it's hideously cold and icy here.

So far when I've worked at home Liam has been in school. We have some time that overlaps; I start work an hour before he leaves in the morning and he's home an hour before my day ends. Those are quiet hours for him though where he is easily occupied while he wakes up or winds down.

Yesterday was the start of Christmas vacation for Liam. Hilary and I however had to work. We found a great program at our local wave pool. It was a day camp for kids with arts, crafts, games and a swim. Liam loves the wave pool so we thought he would have a great time!

Yeah, not so much.

He cried in the morning that he didn't want to go. We coaxed, cajoled, threatened and bribed and got him there. By 10:00 they were calling to tell me that he was sitting in the corner with his tiger Ralphie, crying and refusing to participate. Boy, did that make me feel swell. The program director said that they were going to try and get him engaged and not to come pick him up just yet, but they just wanted to give me a heads up. When Hilary picked him up at 4:00 he was jammin' on Guitar Hero and having a great time. So we figured that going again today would work out all right.

Yeah, not so much.

He decided before bed last night that he wasn't going back. No way, no how! After feeling like a schmuck for making our child cry in a corner surrounded by strangers we decided to not force the issue and let him stay home. He knew that I had to work so I couldn't play and he couldn't bother me. Hilary stayed home too to get some last minute pre-Christmas stuff done.

My job is very task driven. I run a lot of reports that require an intense 30 seconds of work to set them up and then10 minutes of watching the gears spin around counting down the time till it's done. So having Hilary and Liam home while I work is not that big a deal. I can chat, pour milk, snap the hard pieces of Lego together as needed. On Tuesdays though I have a one hour conference call that I lead that several important people attend. I told Liam that this was happening and we laid out all the activities he could do while I was on the phone and covered all the activities he could not do. Could nots included shouting, loud toys in the room, interrupting etc.

Somehow though when a 6 year old sees a telephone in their parents hand they go berserk! He lasted about 1 minute of being quiet then started in on a loud stage whisper asking me questions. As I covered the mouth piece and tried to shoo him away he dissolved into a bit of a maniac (Hilary was previously occupied in the shower at this time, as the plan had been for her to take Liam out during my call but they were running behind.) As I shot him "the look" he decided to make raspberry noises on his arm, jump up and down, practice his arm-pit farts, wrap himself around my leg and generally be a menace.

Part of his outing with Hilary had been for him spend some of his cash and by a small toy. (Yeah, yeah, I know.. it's 2 days before Christmas.... ) In a fit of frustration I hissed at him "that's it, you are NOT buying a toy today!" Which of course was met with a loud wail akin to a wounded goat.

I banged on the bathroom door (all the while keeping the call going and trying to screen the noise out with my hand) and got Hilary to come out and deal with the whole situation. Apparently Liam sobbed for half an hour with her upstairs. I finished the call and we regrouped as a family. Appologies were given and accepted in all directions, hugs exchanged and there were promises to try better by everyone.

No one on my call seemed to notice the hoopla going on at my end of the call, or at least they were polite enough not to comment on it!

I had planned on working at home for the remainder of the holiday season (and perhaps beyond if I can convince my boss that this should be a full time thing!). I'm going to have to come up with a much better strategy for phone calls and meetings though. I wonder if my wireless connection works in the attic?

Keeping a close eye on that mouse!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Christmas traditions

Every family has different traditions. We are no exception. We have table presents for both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day dinner. We have crackers and insist that everyone present wears the hat.
We also started a new tradition a few years ago: Finding the Christmas Pickle. The history of the Christmas Pickle is varied and no one knows for sure where or when it started. Many people say that it is German in origan, but most people in Germany have never heard of it. The idea is that an ormanent shapped like a pickle is hidden on the tree and who ever finds it first gets a special present. Hilary has been the purchaser of the present and then the hider of the pickle after Liam and I decorate the tree. Our pickle presents are musical Christmas decorations. A tree that opens to reveal a train set inside that moves and a ferris wheel that plays music while it spins around. Hilary is out today looking for this years presents. I wonder what it will be?
What traditions does your family follow?

Sunday, December 21, 2008

What Am I? Christmas edition Reveal

Well done Heather! It's a Christmas card holder in the shape of a tree:

Each circle holds a card:

We don't use it any more as we like to display our Christmas cards on the side board with our Advent Calendars and our Pickle Presents.

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Why I love the Maritimes!

$5.00 a pound!

What Am I? Christmas edition

This item was my Mom's, but it was my favorite Christmas item when I was little, so when I moved out it went with me. I'll post one picture a day between now and Christmas. Good luck guessing!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Look at the size of those snow flakes!

It is actually snowing here in Halifax, but so far the flakes aren't quite this big. I had fun making these quick and easy decorations this morning. Some scrap paper, tape and staples and you are all set. You can check out a how to here .

I haven't been in a very chatty mood lately. Not here, not on the forums or groups and not even in real life. Granted, I'm on week 2 of a bad sinus infection, so I haven't been feeling the greatest, but it's more then just that. I think it's the impending holiday. Don't get me wrong, I'm very excited about Christmas; eager to see Hilary and Liam's reactions for gifts I got them, anticipating what Santa might bring everyone.

Holidays just have a bad way of reminding me of the losses in my life. Losses from adoption (both mine and Liam's), from the deaths of loved ones and from family/friends that I have lost over stupid and petty little fights.

It's those last ones that are the hardest, because they are ones that could be fixed. A phone call, a letter, anything to reach out. But it can be so hard. Especially as years and years pass. When you can't really even remember what the original fight was about. When you are willing to apologize for past hurts (even if you weren't the one who was wrong!) but you know that the apology won't be accepted. I know I will never have another family Christmas like the ones I had growing up because our family is now divided. Family members that I probably won't see or speak to until the next funeral. That's gonna be a fun time!

So Hilary, Liam and I will make new memories. Happy, wonderful memories together while I push the losses to the dark corners and try not to let them peak out too much and ruin my holiday.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

How did they know?

15 years ago

15 years ago I walked into a bar (a straight bar at that!) with a group of friends, not knowing that my life was about to change.

15 years ago I sat across the table from a gorgeous woman and was tongue tied.

15 years ago my friend took me aside and gave me a pep talk (that sounded more like "Buck up and get on with it already!)

15 years ago I realized that I had fallen in love.

15 years ago Hilary and I became a couple.

Happy Anniversary my love!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Amazing Mosaic

Recently Liam's school produced their Art Cards for their annual fund raiser. Every child submits a piece of art work, we scan it, print it onto a note card, and sell them in bundles. You can check out Liam's here. I'm involved with the committee that works on this project each year and I wanted to do something different, something to give back to the school. One idea that the committee had was to create a mosaic of all the cards. Sounds cool... but hard!

So I searched the handy dandy Internet. And lo and behold I found some amazing software! Check out Andrea Mosaic. It's a quick and free download that lets you upload your main picture and then use any pictures you have on your PC to create the mosaic.

Here is my final creation: A picture of the school made up of the 155 art card projects from the kids this year.

and here is a zoomed in view of the individual pictures:

So if you are like me and have a couple gazillion pictures on your hard drive, I highly recommend that you download this great piece of software and start playing!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Explaining the terror of Mumbai

to a 6 year old.

No, we don't normally watch the news with Liam around. As my last post pointed out, the violence is getting closer to home (literally!). He doesn't need to know about that, or about gunmen taking control of a city and killing hundreds of people.

Unfortunately he did see the news: men with guns, people screaming and fleeing, confusion.

Liam had sat down to watch a DVD, so I put it in the machine and told him to hit play after all the intro stuff finished, since I was in the middle of something. What I didn't realize was that the TV was set to channel 3, the channel that the cable feeds through, and not to channel 4, the channel that the DVD player feeds through.

So I walked away leaving the TV playing a news recap of the terror in Mumbai.

Mother of the year award for that one!

Liam watched for about a full minute before he called me back to tell me that it wasn't right, there were men with guns on TV. I moved pretty quickly once I focused in and could hear the announcer.

Liam had many, many questions and concerns about what he had seen. We answered them as honestly as we could in an age appropriate way. I don't understand why people do these things, so it makes it pretty hard to explain it to a six year old. He was then very worried about something like that happening here, what our plan would be if bad men came to our house, reminding us to call 911 and to run away. He brought up different scenarios once or twice as the day went on, but overall I think he is satisfied that we are safe, he is safe and that we will do everything in our power to keep him safe.

I just hope that I can continue to keep him safe in this crazy world.

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. .....like 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. .....like 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?

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!

We've had some awful weather blow in here today!
A hurricane, a tornado and lightening storm!

The tornado:

The hurricane:

The lightening storm:

Happy Halloween!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

What happened at the library

When I was on vacation this summer I visited the city that I grew up in. It is also the city that my birth mother lives in and the city where my adoption was done. So I took the opportunity to scan the microfiche for the city's newspaper in search of my birth father's obituary. I have 3 pieces of information about him:

  1. His first name is Ken

  2. He was married and had 4 children, one of whom is named Carole

  3. He died on March 31, 2001

It's not a huge city by any means, so I figured that this was enough info to find an obituary. I had no clue what I would do with it if I did find it! (You can read my thoughts on this from before I went here. ) Alas, after scouring the days before and after March 31, I found nothing. No men of the right age, with a name or circumstance that were even close.

Now what?

I find myself thinking more and more about my father's family, especially my half-siblings. I grew up as an only child, so the idea that I have 5 siblings brings so many mixed emotions. They are all older then I am; some would be in their 60's now. Do they know about me? Did they suspect that their father was having an affair? How will they react when they do find out? Will the hate me because I represent their father's transgressions, or will they welcome me into the fold?

As with most adoptees who wonder and search, I also wonder on the medical side of things. Seeing so many friends getting breast cancer diagnoses lately makes me even more nervous about my lack of medical history. What do these people know that I don't? Do they know that we are all prone to diabetes, cancer, high blood pressure so they take preventative measures to keep themselves safer? I've had to live my life on the assumption that I *might* be prone to everything and anything.

Since I didn't find anything at the library, I can't move forward on this right now. Sure, I could hire a private investigator, dig through the Internet or enlist the help of a search angel. But something is holding me back from doing any of that. The fear of the unknown and the risk of rejection are two big motivating factors for inactivity.

and yet................ I really want to meet them.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Not as pretty as Mummy...

Kids say the darndest things sometimes!

As I was reading Heather's blog entry about her daughter commenting on her butt (check it out here) I giggled again at Liam's most recent comment.

We were all getting ready to go out for dinner on Saturday, Liam looked at me in my long brown skirt and long beige shirt and said:

"You look nice Mama, but Mummy is prettier."

Thanks Dude!

What am I? Round 10 - Reveal

Congrats to N for solving this "What am I?"

My MIL bought me these a couple of years ago so that I could get in touch with my inner Diva while cleaning the house. Unfortunately the boa part sheds, so I don't actually use them.

I'm going to have to hunt for more obscure items for the next time. Thanks for playing!

Monday, October 27, 2008

What am I? Round 10 - # 2

Only guess so fare is some kind of Halloween Costume. Like most things around the house, I'm sure it could be incorporated into a costume, but that is not it's primary purpose.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

What am I? Round 10

Hopefully my dry spell for blogging is over. To help goose the creative juices I scoured the house this morning with camera in hand looking for a new subject for "what am I?"

And here is what I found:

I took the item outside on the railing of the deck to make the best use of the natural light (and it's always more sneaky to not photograph the item in it's natural environment!)

So guess away! Guess often! There will be 4 pictures, one per day, before the final reveal. Unless someone guesses it sooner!

And if you enjoy playing this, be sure to check out Lori's Childhood Trivia.

Saturday, October 25, 2008


My Mom's birthday falls during her visit to us this year, so Hilary and I decided to take her out for a nice fancy restaurant - somewhere that didn't offer crayons. We live in a very touristy city, so we have a lot of wonderful restaurants to chose from. Pre-Liam Hilary and I would eat out fairly often so we could check out a lot of the new restaurants. Post-Liam- not so much!

We decided to try something new and unusual, something that neither Hilary nor I had ever done and definitely something my Mom had never done! We went out for Teppanyaki:

Teppanyaki dining is a Japanese tradition where specially trained chefs prepare the meal right at your table on a large grill. In Japanese, teppan means an iron plate or steel sheet and yaki means stir-frying.

We had a fabulous time! The chef is not only skilled with a knife he is also an entertainer. He built our table a volcano out of rings of raw onion, filled it with oil and lit it on fire.

The grand finally was the meat being cooked under a very large flame. We were sitting about 1 foot back from this! You can just see the edge of Mom's plate in the corner of the picture.

We all had a great time and headed out for a leisurely coffee at a local pub and made the most of having a babysitter at home dealing with bedtime!

Well Bust my Buffers!

It is a sad day in our household. Well, sad for Hilary and I. Surprisingly Liam seems rather unfazed.

We've packed up all of the Thomas the Tank Engine toys. Thomas has been a part of our life since Liam was 2 years old. We have trains and tracks and buildings and books and DVDs and clothes and, and and......

Now at the very old age of 6, Liam has outgrown Thomas. His interests now run to things like Bakugan's and Bionicles and Hot Wheels and Star Wars.

Hilary and I will adapt. We are slowly learning the languages that go with these new fantasy worlds. And of course we are acquiring the toys, the books, the clothes and the DVDs for this next phase of childhood.

The Thomas stuff will remain packed up in boxes (5 in total!) in the attic. Liam may want to revisit them one day or we will keep them to pass down to the next generation of train buffs.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

We are pathetic

Yup, Hilary and I are pathetic. Hilary trapped a mouse the size of a quarter under a container and I had to go wake a neighbour up to come and deal with it for us.

How sad is that?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


If you were to ask Hilary she would tell you that I have a shoe obsession. Nothing that rivals Imelda Marcos she would say, but too many shoes for one person. After all, Hilary likes to argue, you only have 2 feet and can only wear one pair of shoes at a time.

I don't believe that I have a shoe obsession. I have 1 pair of running shoes, 1 pair of flats for the office, 1 pair of outdoor Crocs, 1 pair of indoor Crocs (worn as slippers), 1 pair of actual slippers, 1 pair of winter boots, 2 pairs of sandals. This is only 8 pairs of shoes, hardly an obsession.

But I digress.

My 1 pair of running shoes (cheap $19.99 ones from a big box store) had a crack in them and I was getting wet feet any time I walked in even the slightest of misty conditions. And since I live in Halifax, that is pretty much our everyday weather. So it was decided that I should buy a new pair. Off I went to another big box store, because overall I'm pretty cheap, and will not pay much more then $20 for any pair of shoes. I might concede to $40 for winter boots, but I'm not going over that. Even my Crocs are not brand name Crocs and only cost $9.

At my current age I have had many opportunities over the years to purchase new shoes. And ever since I stopped growing at the age of 12 I've worn a size 8. On the odd occasion an 8.5. That is until last year. Last fall I bought my first pair of size 9 running shoe. I figured that the sizing was wrong, or that particular brand ran small. Then last winter the boots I got were a size 9 too. And this years sandals? You guessed it a 9. I was now starting to think that it was maybe my feet that had changed and not that the entire shoe industry had secretly changed their sizing methods. Maybe my foot was suffering from the same middle age spread that the rest of me has been experiencing. And really? a 9 is not that far from an 8, so no big deal.

Well! Want to guess at what size my brand spanking new running shoes are?

Yup, 11! My socks still fit, all my other shoes still fit and yet I found myself buying size 11 runners yesterday. Hilary took one look at them on me and started making clown and boat references. Nice, supportive even one might say. I tried on the 8s, the 9s, and the 10s before committing to the boat like 11s.

So why did I buy these huge clunkers?

They were on sale of course! only $17.99 - regularly $49.99. Who could pass them up? And they really are quite comfortable too.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Going to the Chapel

We attended a family wedding yesterday. It was a very small wedding in a very small church. The 50 people nearly filled the pews.

I was raised Catholic, spent a better part of my teen years as a born-again Christian and then returned briefly to Catholicism before coming out as a Lesbian. For me, the 2 were not something that I could do at the same time.

Hilary was raised in an Atheist household. Since we have been together, I have moved away from believing in a higher power to being an Atheist as well. We are planning on raising Liam to be exposed to many world religions but are also sharing with him that we do not believe in them.

So yesterday was really his first time going to a religious service. We've been to 2 other weddings since he's been born, but he was 2 and 3 years old, so young enough to not be aware of what was going on. Now at 6 he understands what a wedding is, we have had discussions about God and how different people believe different things, and what we believe and don't believe.

We sat at the back and brought a new toy for Liam to help keep him quiet, we only had to pull it out part way through. We did have some interesting theological discussions: "Why do they keep calling this a house? It doesn't look like a house? Where does God sleep? Who is God again?" "Who's that guy hanging on the wall?" "Why do they all talk at the same time?"

The new toy he got was 2 Littlest Petshop dogs. He then decided that they should get married too and had them walking down an imaginary aisle and kissing while he pronounced them married. He did sit and watch a good part of the service. Overall he was quiet and well behaved.

He has one medium velocity burp (purely accidental- I picked him up to sit on my lap and kinda squeezed it out of him). Luckily only the folks immediately around us heard it.

And of course he was the cutest kid there! Okay, I may be slightly biased since he was also the ONLY kid there! But check out the handsome lad:

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The Hostest with the Mostest!

I haven't been around much this weekend as we have been visiting with family who are all in town for a wedding tomorrow. And during all of this visiting, Hilary has stepped up as usual with her Hostest with the Mostest abilities!

Case in point 1:

Thursday night her parents flew in to Halifax and landed at 11:12 PM. After collecting their luggage and rental car, it was well past midnight when the arrived at our house. Hilary knew that their tummies would still be on BC time so she had a light meal prepared for them. Rarebit and salad.

Case in point 2:

Her uncle called yesterday. He and his wife are staying in Halifax before the wedding and called on Saturday to see if they could come by to visit us Sunday morning. So Hilary threw together this brunch:

She made potatoes with horseradish and salad shrimp while drinking her first cup of morning coffee!

The Profiteroles she did buy pre-made, but she still has a knack at platting things so that they look awesome!
So Happy Thanksgiving to all my Canadian friends, and I hope everyone has had a wonderful weekend. I'll be back after the wedding with pictures of Liam in his first tie and tie-pin!!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Love Thursday

Liam took this picture of Hilary and I with his camera. He doesn't use it often, but at unexpected times will pick it up and say "I better take a picture of this so that I can always remember it."

He is getting much better at centering the shot and being aware of the lighting around him. Hilary is not thrilled that there are now 2 of us in the house randomly snapping pictures of her!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

It's out!

It came out during French class today, so the teacher put it in an envelope for him to bring home.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

A part of motherhood

I wasn't prepared for.

I can deal with cuts, scrapes, a hole in his tongue, MRIs and surgery. Apparently I cannot deal with a wiggly tooth.

His tooth is so loose that he can push it forward with his tongue so that it is perpendicular to the rest of his teeth. He can almost spin it right around. And every time he does this, usually while shouting "WOOK, WOOK at my TWOOTH" [thus pronounced because he has half his hand in his mouth] both Hilary and I succumb to a bad case of the heebie jeebies **SHUDDER**
Our tenant downstairs is a dentist. I sent Liam knocking on his door today to see if Dan would pull it out for him. Alas, Dan was not home. The tooth is going to come out any moment. It just needs a small yank by someone who won't pass out when they yank on it. Liam keeps trying, but can't seem to get a grip on it.