Thursday, March 29, 2007

The shit is so far beyond the fan

The high of the week was a literal high of 20 degrees on Tuesday. In Ottawa. In March.

I took out the tricycle, made the seasonal adjustments, put Emily in her rain suit and boots and off we went to the playground and library. It was a wonderful taste of spring. And then Thursday came. Back to reality with a high of 5 degrees or so.

With Wednesday came my (our) breaking point with the complete lack of progress on the poop in the toilet front. However, there is great progress in the poop in the underwear front where Emily is up for the freaking equivalent to the Art Ross Trophy.

I've had it. Last night John and I decided that the whole positive reinforcement thing is completely a waste of time with Emily. Right this minute I have a soccer ball set, a package of bathtub crayons and some chocolates sitting in my closet waiting for Emily to poop in the toilet. She has seen them all, we talk about them daily and you know what? She doesn't give a.... hah, that's kind of funny.


Yesterday John and I decided to start taking things away. Since Emily is an "out of sight, out of mind" kind of girl, taking away toys doesn't work. I know. I've tried it. I've pretty much tried everything. (I just want to point out here how hard it is for me to not pepper, litter, completely obliterate this post with really foul language. I think I deserve kudos for keeping this PG13.) Where was I? Oh yeah, I took away t.v. That's right, my friends, the holy grail has been removed. No more Dora. No more Franklin. No more... okay, there is nothing else right now.

How did that go down? Emily came downstairs this morning, asked for t.v., John said no and reiterated why, Emily said: Okay, I play with toys.

Calgon... take me away.

So, then there was today. We were in Timothy's having a snack (Timothy's is a nice coffee chain in Canada, equivalent to Starbucks but on a smaller scale and the coffee isn't burned and, oh yeah, there are some items that are actually under 4 bucks) and Emily announces that she's pooped in her pants. You're probably wondering at this point why I just don't keep her in diapers. Because. Because it has taken me several months to get her toilet trained for peeing, she's doing really well, and I want to keep that up. Diapers would be a major step backwards. I also figured, and I think rightly so, that having "big girl underwear" on will make her want to use the toilet, and it has with peeing. Also, she never poops in her pants in public. Okay, clearly not never.

So, we skedaddled out of there and went home. I made her clean herself up. She was pantless around the house, and because of this, she made a deposit on the toilet (Emily will use the toilet if she is naked. You're probably wondering why I don't just leave her naked. I did that for training but now she always wants underwear and pants on and if I leave her naked she just goes and gets some for herself). So, she got to watch some Franklin.

Fast forward after her nap. She asked to watch another episode of Franklin (they're only 10 minutes) and just as I was putting the DVD in, she did it again. From my perspective, it couldn't have been more perfect because I had to turn off the t.v., she cried, and I think it finally hit home. Of course, this didn't stop her from doing it all again after supper. Are you starting to get a sense of how totally shitty, literally, my life has been lately?

So, I'll stick with the no t.v. thing since there is a nice added benefit that she isn't expecting to watch it much right now but tomorrow I'm instituting the no pants in the house rule. For Emily. I plan to wear pants. I can't speak for John.

I'm going to conquer the problem of her getting clothes by moving all pants and pant-related products to a shelf out of her reach. It seems extreme. But extreme poop calls for extreme measures.

So, I'm looking for advice, people. But, before you start asking me if I've tried X or Y, here is what we've already done:
  • positive reinforcement - candy, gifts, treats, special outings
  • negative reinforcement - time outs, taking things away, telling her she can't do special things (programs at the community centre etc) if she isn't using the toilet
  • you're the big girl stuff - telling her she's the big sister, she's a big girl
  • comparisons - telling her that all her friends do it
  • huge excitement when she uses the toilet and ignoring her when she goes in her pants
  • using a doll - Emily teaches it how to use the toilet
  • walking around naked - this does work but see above and I'm pretty sure that at some point she will require clothes
  • I'm sure there are other things but now I can't remember them all
I'm also really tired of thinking about, talking about and cleaning up poop. I never thought I'd reach that point, normally I love poop talk, but here I am. Damn it, this sucks.

Still, I love her. Just not the poop.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

What's cooking Wednesday

No vegetarian meal this week, I'm afraid. I'm on a quest to empty the freezer so I'm slowly working my way through the meat that has been in there for... I'm not sure how long. So, for this week's What's Cooking Wednesday, I made a favourite around here, Swedish Meatballs with Cranberry Sauce. This recipe is intended as a crock pot recipe but I didn't start far enough in advance so I made on the stove instead. I've put in both instructions so you can choose.

Swedish Meatballs

1/2 dry bread crumbs
1/4 water
1 egg
1 small onion, grated
3/4 tsp each salt and pepper
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp grated nutmeg
2 lbs lean ground pork
1 tbsp vegetable oil
6 cups sliced mushrooms
1 tsp dried dill
1 can (385 ml) evaporated milk
1 cup beef stock
3 tbsp all purpose flour
1 tbsp (or more) lemon juice

In bowl, combine bread crumbs, water, egg, onion, 1/2 tsp each of salt and pepper, allspice and nutmeg; mix in pork. Roll by rounded tablespoonfuls into 1 inch balls. Bake on foil-lined rimmed baking sheet in 375 F oven until no longer pink inside, about 15 minutes. If using slow cooker, transfer to slow cooker, if cooking on stove top, transfer to large pot.

Meanwhile, in large skillet, heat oil over med-high heat; saute mushrooms, dill and remaining salt and pepper just until starting to brown and liquid is evaporated, about 10 minutes. Scrape into slow cooker or large pot that contains the meatballs.

Pour evaporated milk and stock into slow-cooker or pot. For slow cooker, cover and cook on low for 4 hours or until bubbly. For pot, cover and cook on medium-low for about 30 minutes.

Whisk flour with 1/3 cup water; whisk into slow cooker or pot. Cover and cook on high (for slow cooker) for 20 minutes or about 3 minutes in pot until thickened. Stir in lemon juice.

I always add peas to this too. It really adds something to the dish. I just stir in about 3/4 cup or so of frozen peas about 5 minutes before I serve it. I also ALWAYS serve cranberry sauce with it and serve the meatballs over egg noodles. You can also be authentic and use lingonberry sauce but I'm just not always near an IKEA to pick some up. Go figure.

Smaklig måltid!

Monday, March 26, 2007

Seven songs

I've been tagged! My first ever tag. Sognatrice over at Bleeding Espresso has tagged me to list the seven songs I would listen to if I could only listen to seven songs for the rest of my life. Well, that wasn't the original meme but it is the one she chose to do and I like it. So....

I'll tell you now that these are going to be mostly sentimental favourites. I might give you a different list tomorrow if I had waited to do this then. But, today's today and here is my list:

1. What a Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong. This was my mum's favourite song, it was sung at her funeral and it is the epitaph on her gravestone. I think of her throughout the whole song and when I hear it I am flooded with great memories and as cliche as it sounds, her deep love of life.

2. Morning Has Broken by Cat Stevens. Beyond this being a favourite of our high school choir and therefore having some good memories attached to it related to when I was younger, thinner and carefree, I just think it is a beautiful song and I know all the words so I can sing along to the whole thing.

3. The Idiot by Stan Rogers. I pretty much could have picked anything by Stan Rogers and been happy but this is one of his rip-roaring, sing along yet feel deeply sad and joyful at the same time kind of song. I guess you could say that about anything he wrote or sang.

4. Upside Down by Jack Johnston (Curious George Soundtrack) because whenever I hear this I think of wonderful things about Emily and her joie de vivre and the many, many fun moments we have together on a daily basis. Curious George is her favourite character and one of her favourite movies and this soundtrack is her favourite CD.

5. Home for a Rest by Spirit of the West. A cracking tune and it was pretty much guaranteed to be played every night in the pub during university, not to mention in our dorm rooms. Just plain fun but also great nostalgia (again) for a lot of fun times.

6. Beautiful Day by U2. U2 still rocks for John and I. We went to see this concert at Copps Coliseum and it was a great night with a great guy.

7. Lasso the Moon by Art Garfunkel. This song will always remind me of Hope when she was very wee.

Okay, so now I'm supposed to tag seven people but here's the thing, most of the people who read my blog that have outed themselves in comments don't blog themselves. So, I will tag Beth, Julie and Marty (because they need a diversion right now), Undercover Angel and all you lurkers. I know you are out there - Seattle, London, Portugal, Plano TX.... I can see you so speak up! If you choose to play along, and I hope you all do, please leave me a comment letting me know.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Another trip to the bush

Today we made another trek out to the sugar bush, but this time to a traditional Quebec sugar bush with our good friends, Ron and Meredith and their two kids, Ella and Duncan.

We've never been to a Quebec bush before - we always go to Ontario bushes - but we've heard the rumours and let me just say... they are all true. The food is great and there is a lot of it.

It is different to the Ontario sugar bushes in that the food is served to you rather than being a buffet and it is family style. Also, you get traditional Quebec sugar bush fare, which includes split pea soup, les oreilles de crisse (smoked pig jowels - puts bacon to shame), beans of course, and dessert of maple cake and sugar pie. There is of course liquor if you choose. Needless to say, giant 1 litre bottles of maple syrup line the tables up and down.

There was also horse drawn sleigh rides, which we didn't do this time and maple taffy on the snow - another sugar bush tradition no matter what side of the River you are on.

It was all wonderful, delicious and a great way to say goodbye to this winter and welcome the spring. My only complaint was the long wait to get in (even though we had reservations). As you can see, Emily wasn't too impressed either.

I've posted photos below so you can see the food, the dining room (just big long tables - wonderfully casual, exactly as it should be), the giant bottle of maple syrup.

The kids were great throughout. Hope focussed on her sweet potatoes and spoons. Emily was immersed in her meal and even sat patiently waiting for her dessert. I was so happy with them and the result was the I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

I try hard not to let Emily's (sometimes) bad behaviour ruin outings for me/us but as much as I try, I don't often succeed. I also try not to be embarrassed by what really is typical two-year old behaviour but again, it is so hard to keep my objectivity sometimes. I imagine it's difficult for any parent and I consider myself a pretty laid back one. As much as we try, we all feel that our kids' behaviour is a direct reflection on our success as parents. Before I had kids, I was guilty of judging parents whose kids were acting out in public. John and I would both remark about the parents, how they didn't have control, or they clearly didn't set good boundaries or practise good discipline. As our friend John says, I was a much better parent before I had kids.

One thing that parenting has taught me is to not judge others based on their kids. You can be the freaking Baby Whisperer and your kid will still pee on toys in a restaurant or lay down in the church lobby and scream, or be the perfect child you know she can be. You'll parent the same way and get two different results.

So, to all you parents out there: you're doing a great job, no matter what the person at the table next to you in Starbucks is thinking.

Because Jesus kicked some serious ass, doncha know?

Me: Emily, what did you do in your Sunday School class this morning? Did you make a craft?

Emily: No.

Me: Did you have a snack?

Emily: No.

Me: Well, what did you do? Did you have a story?

Emily: Uh-huh.

Me: What was it about?

Emily: A boy.

Me: What did the boy do?

Emily: He had bread and fish.

Me: Oh, you heard the story about the loaves and fishes. What did the boy do with the bread and fish? Did he give them to Jesus?

Emily: Uh-huh.

Me: What did Jesus do with them?


Friday, March 23, 2007

A bus adventure

John took the car this morning to work (a rare occurrence because parking at the university is downright extortion). When he told me his intentions a few days ago I decided that Emily, Hope and I would ride the bus somewhere today. I do realize that labeling a bus ride an "adventure" is bordering on the stomach-turning pretension of a car-dependent family, however, whenever we do something out of the ordinary, I tell Emily it is an adventure. She loves our adventures however menial and it works out great because I can easily turn buying milk into an adventure for her.

We had to ride two buses. I had Hope in the big honking MEC backpack. This meant I couldn't sit down and yet I had to wedge my knee against Emily to keep her from sliding off the bus seat and onto her face, um, again. Our destination was Licks, the aforementioned favourite hamburger joint. I also had to drag with me food for Hope because she has taken to solids like a fly to honey. Also, I needed some Pull-Ups for Emily because you never know when the poop will fly (and it did. I so want that birthday cake but I think it is a long time in coming.). Also, spoons, wet wipes, diaper change pad, etc, etc. The backpack was probably around 25 pounds when all was said and done.

My kids amazed me at lunch. I actually had an older man come over to our table and say: "You have two very well behaved children here." I'm not sure but I may have blinded the other patrons with my beaming. They really were great. Well, until Emily pooped in her pants ("just a little one, Mummy") and then got a bit high on the banana ice cream (a strategic mistake on my part). It was time to split that popsicle stand. A big bus trek home, both kids in bed (and actually sleeping!) and I'm feeling like activity leader extraordinaire and mum of the year today.

But, I am so glad that I didn't trek all the way to St. Laurent Mall with these guys on the bus, which was my original intention. Sometimes things do happen for a reason, and Hope's gargantuan nap of this morning that precipitated a change in plans was fortuitous in that I ended up with a great morning when I think I probably would have been playing out one of my worst ideas of all time. One thing I've learned (and am still clearly learning) about myself this year is that I need to pare down my ideas sometimes to a more manageable size when I have two kids in tow that get tired and hungry frequently, can't walk too far, and oh, sometimes (okay, often) poop their pants.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Haircut Day

Emily and I had our hairs cut today. Emily was great as usual and sat perfectly still and obeyed every instruction when she was in the chair.

While the camera is still a thorn in my side, I do have Photo Booth, thankfully.

Turns out that pregnancy has leached all the curl and body from my hair. Here's hoping that it is temporary. I'm not betting on that though.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

What's cooking Wednesday: Golden Harvest Soup

Today's What's Cooking Wednesday is, according to the cookbook authors, intended as a fall recipe but it is so darn good, that I cook it right through the winter and start up again around August if there is a cool evening. Not only is it possibly my all-time favourite soup, it is extremely easy to make and good for you, too! Believe it or not!

The recipe is from the very first cookbook my mum ever bought me and it remains one of my favourites. It is The Canadian living Cookbook - the big grey mother of a cookbook that they put out in 1987. I just checked out of interest to see what this book is listed for now. Clearly it is sought after because the lowest price that it is available (new & used) is $101.50. Pretty sure my mum didn't pay that in 1993.

I took a photo of this soup. But, my camera, that I bought a short two months ago or so is, in a word or two, totally shitty. I hate it. I hate it because several times now I have taken photos and I go to download them and the card is empty. One of those times was when I took the girls skating with me on a perfect winter afternoon. Emily and I shared a beavertail and skated around and it was wonderful. I documented a few really great moments that I'll now have to rely on my damn memory for. I've tried two different memory cards and I am still losing photos that I know were there because I checked them in review mode. The problem is the camera, not the cards, not the batteries. Tomorrow, Henry's is getting an earful from a righteously pissed off mom who wants a damn camera to reliably take pictures of her damn gorgeous kids and damn gorgeous soup! Is that too much to ask?

Ahem. On with the recipe.

Golden Harvest Soup

1/4 cup butter
1 large onion, chopped
2 leeks (white part only), chopped - or if no leeks, just use two onions instead
1 large potato, peeled and diced
1 cup thinly slicked carrots
2 cups diced butternut squash, in 1/2 inch cubes
3 cups chicken stock
1 1/2 cups light cream (or as much as you feel is necessary)
1/4 cup dry white wine (I used closer to 1/2 cup)
salt and pepper

In large heavy pot, melt butter and cook onion and leeks until softened but not browned. Stir in potato, carrots and squash; cook, stirring, for 2 to 3 minutes. Pour in stock, cover and simmer for about 20 minutes or until vegetables are tender.

Puree in food processor or blender until very smooth. Return to saucepan.

Stir in cream to desired consistency. Stir in wine and heat until very hot but do not boil. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Seriously this is the easiest and tastiest soup in my repertoire. You gonna love it!

Diagnosis... positive

Looks like I may have a future in pathology. It is confirmed as of this morning that Emily ALSO has a bladder infection. Needless to say, I sprayed pretty much every surface of our house with Lysol last night. My doctor laughed when I told her and said: "Of course you did." But, she says my dirty ways have nothing to do with the recent run of bladder issues in our house.

So now Emily is on the same antibiotic Hope was on. She loves to dramatically tell me while she is peeing how sore her "gina" is. I was sympathetic but I'm reaching the callous stage.

She also seems to love all the juice she is being offered, something rare around here. We're milk and water people for our kids but all hell has broken loose on the juice front now. May hay while the sun doth shine, Emily.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

It can't be contagious so maybe our house is just a cess pool

Emily has a bladder infection. At least, that's my diagnosis. She is peeing every 20 minutes or so and only a little bit of pee comes out. And it burns. Or in her words: "My gina sore!" Graphic... I know. Sorry. Seems that all signs are pointing in the direction of a bladder infection.

So, I'm feeding her cranberry juice (okay, cranberry grape juice if truth be told. Have you ever tried to get a toddler to drink straight cranberry juice? I dare you.). Because the doctor's office didn't get back to me with an appointment possibility until right after the two ankle biters were asleep, we have to wait until tomorrow morning. I sure hope she can sleep through the burning that she is sure to experience through the night. I'd be open to suggestions of other home remedies, old wives tales, witches' brews... whatever you have in your arsenal. On the bright side, she's getting really good at using the toilet.

So, it isn't contagious, I'm told. Odd that both my girls get this within two weeks of one another. It is apparently a bacteria, which leads me to wonder: Is my house really that much of a bacteria-infected, germ-producing cess pool? I'll admit here that cleaning isn't exactly at the top of my agenda most days but the house isn't downright, Oprah-show kind of dirty. You can see the floor. You can even tell that the bathtub is a natural 1980s beige colour. I wash the diapers every two to three days. Emily never doubles up on underwear. There are a lot of dust bunnies. Enough that we've started considering them part of the family but I doubt the kids contracted the infection from them. Maybe I can blame someone else. Like aliens. Or Stephen Harper. Oooh, I like that. I'm going to work on that one.

I will admit that I'm damn dirty right now. I haven't showered today because I have no clean underwear. It's all in the wash. Okay, it's all in the dirty laundry bag save two pairs which are in the laundry machine.

Hmmm, so maybe the bladder infections are a result of my dirty-birdiness.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

At least it isn't matching adult track suits

Today was one of those days that I love. One of those days where you watch the guy you fell in love with years ago riding up and down an escalator with your daughter and fall in love with him (and her) all over again.

We woke up to a really snowy day here. In fact, it's still snowing. After a beautiful week that promised spring is just around the corner, this is kind of hard to take and took away the usual excitement of doing some outside stuff (the nasty wind didn't help motivate us either).

We didn't really have any specific plans but we decided to start off at what Emily calls "the bagel shop." It's a great Ottawa bagel joint called Kettleman's. They serve Montreal style bagels. If you don't know what this means, man, are you missing out. Simply put, they are much chewier and denser than New York style bagels (which I tend to refer to as bread with holes). They are traditionally poppy seed or sesame and the dough is slightly sweet. The closer you get to Montreal (Ottawa is just two hours away), the more often you'll find them. Anywho.

After the bagel stop, we decided to head to the Byward Market. We haven't been down there in ages, although we used to often be there every weekend when we were child free and full of spontaneity. We picked up some maple syrup as it is by far the cheapest place to get it - much cheaper, for some reason, than getting it at the sugar camps. We had a great time going through the Market Mall (a building in the market that houses a few cool shops and little eateries). Emily was perfect Emily - in awe of everything, pointing out things on the way, and talking about food most of the time.

From there we went to the Rideau Centre and did some browsing. "Mom, this mall is awesome!" was proclaimed a few times (apocalypse coming, my friends) and Emily loved the big open spaces to run around in, looking heartbreaking in her little barrettes, curls and ski jacket.

I took the opportunity to pop into Old Navy to browse the kids' section. I picked up a few things. Afterwards I met John and Emily at Second Cup for the snack Emily had been asking about for the previous hour. I showed off the purchases Hope and I made. Specifically this:

John's face clouded over. He started to shake his head and said "no, no, no, no." Then went on a diatribe about how I'm one step away from wearing track pants and thinking they look good and that it is a slight against humankind to dress our children in the same outfits, blah, blah, blah.

I think it's going to be damn cute. I think it's cute to have older and younger siblings, once in a while only, in the same little outfit. Am I wrong here? Am I one step away from buying matching windbreaker suits for John and I?

Friday, March 16, 2007

Do they provide a plug for that?

Hope's appointment at CHEO has been set for April 25. Yesterday was her six month appointment at the doctor and I got all the details of the CHEO appointment while I was there. For those not in the know, Hope had a bladder infection and now has to get it checked out at the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) to make sure nothing is wrong that caused the infection (apparently standard for these wee ones).

So, here's the kicker: she has to have a full bladder. Uh, pardon? Has CHEO gone off its nut? The kid is six months old! Excuse me, Hope, but can please ensure that you hold your pee until they do the ultrasound. Gee, thanks. Oh, also, you can't be full of breastmilk... only water or juice so do you mind learning how to use a sippy cup (or, gasp, a bottle like a normal baby) before your appointment?

So far, in my dealings with child-specific doctoring or medical stuff, I've been pretty impressed but this... this is just wonky. Erika... any tips for keeping pee in a baby?

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

What's cooking Wednesday: Moroccan Stew

In my recent obsession, er, quest to prepare more meatless meals, I discovered this recipe in one of my cookbooks a couple of weeks ago. I loved it... as did everyone else who tried it including a toddler, and I highly recommend it be added to your repertoire. Aside from the really great flavours, it is super easy to make and you can make it ahead... a perfect recipe in my estimation! Okay, here it is:

Rockin' Moroccan Stew

2 tsp olive oil
1 cup chopped onions
1/2 cup each diced celery and chopped green bell pepper (I used carrots and broccoli instead of the pepper this time, simply because I didn't have any peppers in the house)
1 clove garlic, minced
3 cups vegetable stock (I used chicken)
3 cups peeled, cubed sweet potatoes
1 can (19 oz) tomatoes, drained and cut up
1 can (19 oz) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp grated gingerroot
1 tsp each ground cumin, curry powder, ground coriander, and chili powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 cup raisins (I generally DESPISE raisins, but they are essential to this recipe)
2 tsp each peanut butter and chopped, fresh cilantro

Heat olive oil in large saucepan or pot over med-high heat. Add onions, celery, green pepper, and garlic. Cook and stir until vegetables begin to soften, about 3 minutes.

Add all remaining ingredients, except raisins, peanut butter and cilantro. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, about 20 minutes.

Stir in raisins, peanut butter and cilantro. Mix well. Simmer for 5 more minutes. Serve over couscous or rice.


Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Diagnosis... I guess she was right

Seems I have a kick ass doctor (well, I know I do) because she was bang on about checking for the bladder infection in the midst of Hope's mystery illness.

To back up a bit...

I did strap on the ole' pee-bag at the end of last week, and, success!, I got it to work the first time. I collected the tiny little urine sample from Hope and this morning at 9:00 my G.P. called to tell me that the urine sample came back positive for a bladder infection. Now, Erika pointed out to me last week that many samples taken this way come back with a false positive but with the high fever she had and the brutal grumpiness, I'm thinking that indeed it burned when she peed.

Hope is now on some kind of antibiotic and, here's the kicker, she has to go into CHEO to have a catheter put in and then they shoot some kind of dye up there to make sure her bladder isn't having kickback of some sort. Poor wee one. I dread that day.

To top it off

I have to recount to you 24 hours that I experienced starting around 9:00 on Sunday night and ending around 9:00 last night.

Hope woke up at 9:00 Sunday night, crying. I put her back to sleep and she was then up every 20 to 30 minutes until 2:00 a.m. You read that right, people... every 20 to 30 minutes. She wasn't teething (not obviously anyway) and she didn't have a fever.... she was just wanting to breastfeed, well, suckle actually. So, at 1:30 a.m. John took her to the basement to see if after a bit of crying she'd go to sleep as she has done before. At 2:30 or so, he came back upstairs after one full hour of bloodcurdling screams. I heard them all from our bedroom where I laid awake. I just can't sleep through her cries. It's a mum thing.

I fed her again. In the midst of this feed, I started stretching my neck. If any of you out there are breastfeeders, you'll know why. You get really tight shoulders and neck from breastfeeding. So, I'm stretching away and then something pops in my neck. Crap - I couldn't turn my head to the right without a lot of pain. Hope went back to bed and I uncomfortably did too. She was awake again at 5:00 and back down quickly. Awake again at 7:00 and then slept again until 8:30.

We're all getting ready for the day. I'm in the shower when the smoke alarm goes off on the top floor. Emily starts getting pretty frantic - I don't blame her as it was ear-piercing. We have two smoke alarms up there. One is wired into the house. The other is battery operated. We installed the battery operated one because I don't like the wired-in type. They could easily fail if your electricity is down, like when your house is on fire. Okay, so I jump out of the shower and run into the hall and determine it is the wired-in one that is going off. Naked and sopping wet I run down the stairs to the main floor and into the kitchen (saying hi to the reams of people walking by on the path at the end of our yard). No smoke. Check the basement. No smoke. I ran back upstairs and grabbed the step ladder out of Hope's room (don't ask me why it's in there, but I was really glad it was). Keep in mind that my ears are totally ringing by this point. Emily and Hope are taking it surprisingly well. I climb up and rip off the cover and pull out the wires. I untwist the caps pulling at the same time so that they become disconnected. Smoke alarm stops. It dawns on me at this point that I just disconnected live wires (bad enough) while I am soaking wet.

Next, my neck is killing me all day so I get to the chiropractor and get all fixed up. Dinner not made so John starts cooking when we get home, a nice veggie stirfry validating my successful attempts of late to eat more vegetarian meals.

Finally, dinner is ready at 6 at which point John tells me he kind of screwed up the rice. Let me just interject here to say that John is a great cook... better than me most times even. However. The rice came out crunchy. He realized he used a one to one ration instead of one to two. But, he figures he saved it by letting the saucy stirfry sit ontop of the bed of rice for a while. So, we dig in. What hits my mouth is one of the most vinegary and cruncy (not the veggies) stirfries I've had.

John starts laughing. Laughing so hard that there are tears rolling down his cheeks. He says: "I was just thinking about your day..... and.... after being up all night, hurting your neck, almost frying yourself naked.... then I serve you a dinner that tastes like urine."

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Healthy girl

Hope seems to have fully recovered from the mystery illness but is now in full teething mode, although it only hits at night of course. Typical.

My old Hopey is back (worst nickname ever but created and constantly used by Emily) and it sure is nice to see her again.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Not her best moment

To give me a bit of a break and also so I could help Hope without distraction, John took Emily this morning on one of their adventures. Their adventures normally entail a stop at Tim's, some shopping, maybe a train ride. Today was no different. They drove to Tim's and had a Timbit and bagel. Then they went over to the train and took it to Carleton where John is a professor. She wowed his colleagues and had yet another snack then they ran for the bus and made their way over to Licks. Emily had declared that her next stop on her gastronomic tour was hamburgers. During the whole adventure Emily was apparently talking non-stop and absolutely charming everyone around her - Emily at her best according to John.

Then it all went sour. After she'd eaten her hamburger, she played in the little play area at Licks. "Daddy, look!" she said. And then John saw the horror of all horrors. Emily was peeing. Peeing in her pants and all over the toys in the toy area. And damn proud of it.

A Licks employee had to help clean it up. Emily was whisked out and given a thorough tongue lashing and threats of worse if it every happens again. I imagine she won't be getting hamburgers or time in a restaurant anytime soon. John is still smoking. Emily was tear-ridden all through the lead up to her nap. It was a bad end to a great morning for the two of them.

I'm glad I was home with a girl who is clearly on the mend.

No one told me

I'm having a terrible time with Hope. She was up last night from 7:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m. I think it's teething. But no one has ever described it to me like this so I don't really know if it's her teeth that are causing all the problems.

She has no fever today so that is an improvement but she is in obvious pain, she's crying constantly. I finally gave her some Motrin and some Orajel and that helped a bit, coupled with breastfeeding.

I'm really at my wits' end. Thankfully, John is taking Emily for the morning so I can deal just with one. I never, ever knew it could be this hard. Again, another time when I wonder why we're living so far away from someone who can help us.

So, for those of you out there who have experienced nasty teething, is that what is going on with her? Her gums look inflamed but they are hard to the touch and I can't feel or see anything obvious coming through. She arches her back and cries/screams. She rubs her nose and mouth all the time. She drools like a fiend. She also seems constipated.

Emily never experienced anything like this so it is new to me. I'd love to hear some stories to confirm that there is nothing serious wrong and that it will end soon.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Who would have guessed?

You Will Be a Cool Parent

You seem to naturally know a lot about parenting, and you know what kids need.

You can tell when it's time to let kids off the hook, and when it's time to lay down the law.

While your parenting is modern and hip, it's not over the top.

You know that there's nothing cool about a parent who acts like a teenager... or a drill sergeant!

Would You Be a Cool Parent?

I tried this today and who knew? Apparently, I am or will be a cool parent. Do I care? Not really, but fun all the same.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

What's cooking Wednesday: Veggie Lasagna

Somehow, in the midst of all the confusion and anxiety lately with Hope's unknown illness (see below), I somehow managed to make supper tonight. Am I patting myself on the back? Hell yeah!

So, for dinner tonight, by Emily's request, was lasagna. I'm trying to cook more meatless meals lately (for environmental reasons, as well as "good for the body" reasons) so I went veggie. This is NOT a traditional Italian lasagna. This is, for the most part, a full-blown North American lasagna, with a couple of exceptions, those being fresh pasta and limited sauce. Being that I'm a little under the gun and dead tired right now, I took some shortcuts, too (no homemade sauces tonight).

Vegetable Lasagna (pretty much use whatever veggies you like although I highly recommend eggplant be included)

I use fresh pasta (got to!), so no need to boil the pasta before hand... much better tasting and a time saver, too.

Chop up two onions, some zucchini, half an eggplant and a pepper. Saute in olive oil and add a whole lot of garlic. Poor in some tomato sauce after it is all nicely softened.

Dump one container of ricotta (not light, please!) into a separate bowl, add an egg, some salt and pepper and some spinach (I use frozen chopped, one full package). Mix. Add some mozzarella if you like. I do.

In big pan, spread a bit of tomato sauce on bottom, put in one layer of noodles. Pour on all of the veggie mixture. Put another layer of noodles. Pour on all of the cheese mixture. Put on another layer of noodles. Spread on a thin layer of tomato sauce and grate some mozzarella on top. Bake uncovered in 350F oven for about 45 minutes. Let sit for about 15 minutes before serving.

This is NOT a saucy lasagna. You don't need to overpower lasagna with sauce if you use fresh pasta. All the flavour comes from the fresh pasta and the lovely fillings.

It was a big hit, although, sadly, Emily insisted on ketchup and bread and butter pickles on the side. Sigh.

Check out the home of the original What's Cooking Wednesday at Tales from the Fairy Blogmother.

Hope update

Just back from the doctor's. Hope's temperature just before we left for the doctor was 39.8 - that's high. I gave her some Tylenol and we hit the road (she was crying a lot but the car soothed her as usual). By the time we hit the doctor's office, her temp was down to 38.5 but she was still feeling very hot to the touch and she was crying a lot. As much as it pains me to see that, I was glad that Jodie, our doctor, was able to see the symptoms and not just have me explain them.

Jodie checked her all out and still no ear infection, no chest problems, no strep throat. Next step is to take a urine sample to check for a bladder infection. If you think this sounds difficult, you're right. I have to stick some sort of bag gizmo over her vulva and hope that I trap the pee and it doesn't just leak everywhere. Then I have to (somehow) manage to get the pee bag into a bottle. Should be fun!

If no bladder infection, then.... ???

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

My doppelganger

So, through the Ultimate Blog Party, I was visiting someone's site and they had done this little "game" through where you upload a photo and they show you what celebrities you most look like. It sounded like a laugh, but you know what? I learned something disturbing about myself....

I look like a man.

Here's the frightening evidence:

Out of all the celebrities that I look like, according to the site, only 2 were women.

Well, at least I look prime ministerial... but I would have preferred Wilfrid Laurier (great mustache) or Kim Campbell (at least she's the right gender).

But, really the question is: what does this say about John? Is being with me a way to express his hidden and suppressed man-love? I must think on this.

For those looking for a Hope update - I have no idea what is wrong. I didn't take her to the doctor today... she was fine by mid-morning but then by 6:00 tonight it all started again - fever of 39.3 and really, really cranky. So, tomorrow I will take her in. Especially since it is almost 10:00 and she's sitting on my knee while I type this because her gums are so sore. Makes me wonder if it is all teething related although a temperature that high seems odd for teething (all doctor types tell me that "there is never a fever with teething.")


If you're here for the Party... see below for my party post and welcome!

I'm worried about Hope (my youngest - six months). Yesterday she woke up from her afternoon nap with a fever of 39.8 C (over 103 F for you Yanks) and very agitated, panting and rapid breathing and then holding her breath sometimes, and she vomitted, too. The same thing happened in the middle of the night on Friday night/Saturday morning. I didn't take her temperature then and wrongly assumed it was teething related.

Yesterday I got worried. I called Telehealth Ontario and then after going through everything with the nurse, she told me to take her to Emergency due to the breathing thing. When I arrived at CHEO I was told that it was a 3 to 4 hour wait and of course by then the ibuprofen had kicked in and she seemed fine. I went home and got an appointment at our after hours clinic last night. The pediactrician there said that all the symptoms are related to the fever and her ears and chest are fine. He didn't give me a reason for the fever happening but said to check in with my family doctor in the next couple of days. Then at 5:00 this morning it started again.

Now I'm getting pretty concerned. There has to be a reason and it just doesn't sit well with me. I really feel that something is wrong and I'm getting nowhere so far. She seems like she is trying to push something out of her in the middle of the fever - her breathing sounds like she is exerting effort. Any ideas out there?

I'll be going to our family doc today. Hopefully I'll get some answers.

Monday, March 05, 2007

The Big Party

I'm participating, as are some of you, in a very cool idea. It's the Ultimate Blog Party, hosted by 5 Minutes for Mom. If you haven't yet, check it out... a very cool idea and a great way to discover new blogs and have yours discovered, too!

For those of you just stopping in for the party, here is a quick synopsis of me: my name is Karen, I live in Ottawa with my husband, John, and my two kiddies: Emily who is 2 1/2 and Hope who is just 6 months. When not on maternity leave, I work for the Canadian federal government in the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade. My plans were to keep Emily in daycare part-time while I was on this maternity leave but a few weeks before my due date my daycare provider told me she was closing shop. I had three weeks of having Hope on my own before Emily was home with me full-time. It took me a while to get my head around it and stop panicking. But, here I am six months later. I've learned a lot and wouldn't have it any other way now. In fact, I am looking for ways to avoid going back to the office.

That's my story. Thanks for stopping by!

Party on!

Sunday, March 04, 2007

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

In case you think that the most wonderful time of the year is Christmas... you are so very wrong.

The most wonderful time of the year is sugaring-off time!...the yearly (or more often) visit to the sugar bush. In Ottawa, it is a VERY popular thing to do from early March to end of April. There are A LOT of sugar bushes around the area on both the Ontario and, of course, the Quebec sides of the river.

This morning we had our first visit to the sugar bush for 2007. We went to Fulton's. For John and I, it isn't our favourite bush - that would be Sand Road Sugar Camp - the food is superior at Sand Road. However, for kids, Fulton's is head and shoulders above the rest. The food is good (just not all-you-can-eat and where the heck are les oreilles de Christ?) but it is all the activities that make it great for the kids - an outdoor play area, a fire pit with marshmallows, horse-drawn sleigh rides, face painting, etc. And, since we went so early in the season (the sap isn't even running yet actually due to the cold weather), it wasn't very busy which was great for the kiddies.

We went with our good friends, Pam and Jim and their two young 'uns, Nevan (same age as Emily) and Celia (same age as Hope). We had a great time... but for Nevan and Emily it was bliss. Those two are great friends and play really well together.

It was one of those perfect winter days, too - a bit sunny, not too cold, but lots of snow, no wind. Just perfect, peaceful, quiet out there mixed with the smell of wood smoke, horses and maple syrup.... can't get much more perfect than that.

If you were wondering what Hope was doing during all this fun... it involved looking like Baby Genius while coating the backpack in frozen drool.

Friday, March 02, 2007

For the Bible tells me so

I've mentioned before that Emily's current obsession is Curious George. We have two anthologies that we read from every afternoon and every night before bed. Her current favourite story is "Curious George Makes Pancakes." If you're wondering why you don't remember that story from our childhoods it's because it is one of the "new" George stories. I think Margaret Rey kept writing after H.A. died and some C.G. design company did the illustrations. The new stories are actually pretty good although the illustrations are too perfect. I miss the pencil marks of H.A.

On with the story.... this afternoon Emily asked me to sing some songs while she was doing who knows what on the kitchen floor and while I was feeding Hope her cereal. We did Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star and then moved to Head and Shoulders. I decided to throw in Jesus Loves Me because at church she always gets so excited by any song that mentions Jesus. So, I did it once... she loved it and asked me to repeat it. I did it a couple of more times and then she asked: "Where's Jesus?" "In heaven," I said. She looked confused so I tried to very basically explain that heaven is where Jesus lives and he watches us all the time (it actually sounded kind of creepy when I said it out loud) and takes care of us. She said: "What?" (very loudly in her usual uncouth manner). I tried again, went through heaven is where Jesus lives, watches us, loves us, etc. She looked at me and said: "like Man with Yellow Hat!"

Yes, just like that. I think it talks about it in the book of George, Chapter 6, Verse 19.