penelope and bumblebee

Good grammar costs nothing.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

The Wednesday Shuffle - Thursday Edition

Also known as the ‘I have the day off, baby is napping, coffee and bagel with cream cheese edition.’

1. Courage – Sarah Polley – her version of the Hip song, from the soundtrack to The Sweet Hereafter. I love this version.

2. Happiness Runs – Donovan. What? I used to be a hippie.

3. Ramalama (Bang Bang) – Roisin Murphy. Again. My current song addiction, and bumblebee does the cutest little bouncy dance to it.

4. All In Your Hands – Lamb. Does anybody else like this now-defunct band? Me and Chris loooved them – this was the first band that was ‘ours.’

5. High Tide or Low Tide – Ben Harper & Jack Johnson (live). Ben Harper and Jack Johnson doing Bob Marley? Together? I think I just had an orgasm.

6. Heartbeat – Annie. Recently discovered. She's Norse. Good stuff.

7. If I Were a Carpenter – Bobby Darin. This song reminds me of my dad. Love my dad.

8. Pinch Me – Barenaked Ladies. More Can-Con. Hated the ladies when everybody in grade 9 was wearing the ‘barenaked’ hats, but I like them now.

9. Undone - The Sweater Song – Weezer. Really, who doesn’t like Weezer?

10. Birthday – Sugarcubes. I shared a love of the ‘cubes with a boy in grade 12 who was very very awesome. We used to scale the fence into casa loma’s gardens for midnight picnics.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Good Enough

My daugter amazes me. That is not of course, a statement that I lay exclusive claim to as a mother, but believe me when I say it.

I am amazed by the way that she gets the pasta onto her little fork, and the little fork into her mouth. I am amazed by the way she goes down the slide by herself. I am amazed by the games she makes up with a bucket and some blocks and a little perch to sit on. Why, just this morning she amazed me when she took the pants from my outstretched hand and delivered them ‘to daddy’, as I had enthusiastically instructed.

And every time she amazes me, I stop myself from from exclaiming my amazement.

Not because I don’t want her to know how proud I am; not because I think that she gets too much praise for things that she should do without expecting praise, and not because I think that she must already know that I think she’s amazing. No; I have refrained from doling out deserved praise because my instinctual response, praise-wise, seems to be,

‘Good Girl!’

And, quite frankly, that is not the praise I want my daughter to want.

I don’t think, and I don’t want my daughter to think, that being a good girl is what she should strive for. There is more to life than being good. There is more to expect from a little girl than being good.

Now, don’t get me wrong – I’m not looking for a bad girl; I don’t think that my toddler needs more of an edge – heaven knows, I may be pining for the thing I am eschewing once bumblebee turns, say, 14, but for now – for now, I just don’t want everything she does to become a reflection of her behaviour; of her character.

I don’t want my daughter’s accomplishments relegated to some archaic measurement whererby to be well-behaved is to be valued. I don’t want her to do things just to please me, or to prove to me how good she can be.

And so, I must come up with a new lexicon. After only 16 months of mothering, I must rethink that which, for some reason, is coming so naturally to me, and stop telling my daughter that she is good.

I’d like her to know that I appreciate her, so I will say thank you.

I’d like her to know that I am proud of her, so I will praise her efforts.

I’d like her to know how much I love the things that she does without me asking, so I will let her know how I value her independence.

I’d like her to know that she adds joy to my life, so I will let her know how much she is cherished.

I’d like her to grow to be confident, smart, loving and trusting of both herself and of us.
If I can get her there, than I will know that we’ve both done ok.

And that is as good as it gets.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Penelope's Reading List

Read only the very first chapter and it is easy to see why
The Friends of Meager Fortune, David Adams Richards’ latest epic, was recently named as a long-list finalist for the Giller Prize. Then read on, and discover a story whose prosaic allure takes hold of your imagination and does not easily let go.

Set in World War II era New Brunswick, Friends once again takes us to rural, wild Canada where, against a backdrop of the most beautiful, most ferocious landscape, a logging family weaves a saga of fortune and tragedy, love and vengeance.

It is here that we meet the Jameson clan, including eldest son Will, whose determination and gifts see him raised to mythical proportions in the eyes of the town and his fellow loggers, and younger son Owen, who must bear the twin burdens of that greatness and of a looming prophecy divulged long ago.

Plagued by war, scandal, treachery and trial, Adams Richards leads us through the last great logging haul before the inevitable advancement of technology, and into the hearts and minds of a townspeople determined to see the Jameson family ruined.

As with the Giller-prize winning Mercy Among the Children, Adams Richards offers readers an unparallelled level of both tragedy and humanity, where a series of unfortunate events, ironies and maliciousness plunge our protaganists to the lowest depths of misery, though, while there, even the most put-upon, misunderstood or accused character manages to cling to the belief that love, beauty and kindness exist and are worth surviving for.

There are two linked struggles throughout the story – that which takes place on the mountain, where the battle is fought mostly against the nature of the land, and that which takes place in town, where the battle is fought mostly against the nature of humans. In both struggles, the players long for reward and redemption, and in both, losing, we are assured, means certain death.

Adams Richards weaves his tale in a language of subtleties; the action meanders, and sometime seems to even stall, then is punctuated by a series of tragically beautiful events. But the plot does move forward, in whispers that are almost hidden. If tempted to skim even the most innocuous-seeming paragraph, you risk altogether missing the most imperative answer. Secrets are revealed in the most casual of exchanges.

But I urge you: don’t skim. Don’t miss even one word of this tragic, beautiful epic.

Monday, September 18, 2006

The Disgusting Incident of the Mouse in the Nighttime

*Now edited for tv tag action! See below*

So, a mere 5 days ago, I’m reading the lovely Sunshine Scribe’s post about her unwanted houseguest, and, ha ha, look at me, leaving witty comments about charging rent, blah blah, glad it’s not me –

It’s me.

This morning, around 3:45, I was awakened by the sound of my cat going on an early-morning rampage with what I can only assume is a hair clip left somewhere to be batted to the floor, or perhaps something crinkly surreptitiously pilfered from the wastepaper basket in the bathroom – right?

Wrong, wrong, wrong, ew, ew, ew – wrong!

I immediately knew the gruesome truth of the situation. I freakin knew it wasn’t anything as light and airy as a kleenex or a hair clip – just look at the way she’s putting her weight behind pushing it around. And even in this bleary, hardly-awake state and the grayish light, I can see that she is watching her ‘toy’ – waiting for it. Waiting for it to what? Waiting for it to leave. And – is that a TAIL?

This is when I wake Chris. No way I should have to go through this inevitable discovery by myself. ‘Chris!’ I whisper, reaching across Bumblebee to give him a shake, ‘Wake up!’

‘Huh?’ Is that a bit of drool in the corner of his mouth? Never mind that – the cat! The cat!

‘Chris, Miko has a freakin’ mouse!’ He’s up.


‘She has a mouse! I know it – she’s got a freakin mouse! Ew ew ew!’ I shudder, and sit up. So does Chris. ‘Ok’ he says, ‘I’m going to turn on the lamp –‘

The cat freakin jumps up onto the freakin bed. Toy in mouth. Toy on bed.

‘Turn on the light! Turn on the light!’

But of course, I don’t really want the light turned on. Because turning on the light will, literally, illuminate the truth of the situation, which is –

There is a dead freakin mouse on our bed.

In one swoop, bumblebee is out of the bed, in my arms, and I am dancing like I am on hot coals, one foot then the other, punctuating each move with a steady stream of ‘Ew ew ew ew ew ew ew,’ and looking from the freakin mouse, to Chris, to the cat, who is looking at us like she is very proud of herself, indeed.

Bumblebee is in exceptionally good spirits, considering I have whisked her out of her cozy sleep, and she is currently waving to her father and saying ‘Bye. Bye. Bye,’ obviously figuring that we are on our way somewhere. And we are – out of the rodent death chamber that my bedroom has become.

But not so fast.

‘Uh, I’ll take her,’ Chris informs me, scooping our baby out of my arms, ‘I don’t do mice, remember?’

Crap. He doesn’t. We made that deal after a particularly harrowing incident involving a carpenter ant. (Shut up. They’re scary.) I think it was in our vows – he’ll kill my bugs, but I handle mice and birds. At the time I thought it was a good deal, seeing as bugs can be so prolific. But it’s not. It’s not a good deal, because bugs are prolific, but birds and mice are diseased and gross and traumatic. Gross. And. Traumatic.

So anyway, you bet I’m wondering why I ever sold my soul for this deal when I am faced with a stiff little dead mouse on my top sheet, and my big, strong, virile farm-boy husband is halfway down the stairs with the baby.

Coward! Ok, what to do, what to do?

The mouse is at the foot of the bed, paws up, like he’s begging for something (uh, like his life, maybe?), big bite in his belly, but mercifully, no insides outside of anything. I fold the sheet up over him, dignified like, and then fold the sides over, so that I have a little dead mouse pouch. I carry him quickly down the stairs.

Where am I going? Where should I put him? We assess the possibilities.

Backyard? No way. Front yard? No! Big garbage pail at the side of the house? No – target receptacle opening is too small and I will not risk him falling on the ground. I am not, not, not picking him up. Green bin? Well, normally I do compost my organic waste, but that opening is even smaller. Schoolyard across the road? No! I don’t want a child to find him and be freaked out, or worse, start poking him with a stick. No. I know! The little overgrown grassy space between the fence and the school parking lot. The parking lot slopes down to the fence, so nobody, not even dogs go there.

I start across the road, which is peaceful and quiet and actually quite warm for 3:30 in the morning. I feel like I am dumping a body, which I guess I am. I wonder how many insomniac neighbours I have, and if any of them are watching me, ready to call crimestoppers and report erratic behaviour involving a bed sheet and a girl in her husband’s t-shirt and clogs. They will say I was acting funny; twitching. I was. Ew, ew, ew, ew.

There, it’s done. I rush back across the road, dump the sheet on the lawn and head into the house, straight for the sink. Ew, ew, ew, ew, ew. After washing my hands thoroughly, I take bumblebee. ‘I might do mice, but I don’t do dead mice bed sheets,’ I tell Chris, and leave him to retrieve the evidence from the front lawn.

Miko is watching us, expectantly. What is she expecting? A reward? Well, yes, in fact. She is a cat. She is a hunter. She has hunted, and left her kill for us because she loves us and wants to please us. She gets treats. Because the funny thing is, my cat is so not that cat.
She doesn’t hunt! She hisses, at just about everyone, but she is so lazy she’ll barely jump up onto the couch. So actually, we’re quite pleased that since we had a mouse – no way around that part – she caught it. And killed it. Hooray for our fat lazy cat!

Fine. It’s over. Bumblebee shows no signs of wanting to go back to sleep, but at least the sheets are changed, the hands are washed and the mouse is gone. But I’m ready to make a new deal. Like, fine, I might do mice, but I don’t do dishes. Or, hey Chris, you don’t have to do mice, but you do have to play with my hair for ½ an hour 3 times a week.

Fair is fair. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go bathe in lysol.

Metro Mama tagged me for the most funnest tv meme ever! (see what all that tv does to a girl's grammar?)

So, here are the best characters according to me, as seen on tv:

1. Nellie Olsen – forget Laura; Nellie is the shiznit. I even thought Percival was cool.
2. Ruth Fisher – the best post-menopausal woman ever written.
3. Natalie Green – even at half-wattage, Natalie ruled.
4. Rachel Greene – forget about the first 2 seasons – once she hit her stride, there was no stopping her.
5. Johnny Gage & Roy DeSoto – my very first mcdreamys.
6. Christina Yang – perfectly flawed. I love her.
7. Karen Walker – absolutely no better timing on tv. Show should have been called Jack & Karen.
8. Al Swearengen – a filthier-mouthed poet there never,ever was.
9. Seth Cohen – oh, how I love you, Cohen.
10. Zan & Jayna – shape of an ice cube! Form of a martini glass!

I am tagging everyone that reads this - it's fun, and we all need more fun in our blogs.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Adventures in Babyshitting

Now that I officially have a toddler (she’s just a wee 16 months, but if she toddles, she’s a toddler, right?), I realize that bumblebee’s father and I must now gently guide her through a whole new leg of developmental milestones.

So far, I think we’ve done ok:

We’ve seen her through to




Pondering the important things in life

And turning us into complete suckers with her cuteness

So, I think that we are all prepared for whatever comes next – talking, for example. Bumblebee’s vocabulary increases daily, and we have always talked to her like a normal person, so I know she’ll thrive there (today, she told us what a bunny does – Hop! Hop! Hop!). One day she may even sleep through the night, or in her crib…

Sorry, had to take a moment there. I was laughing so hard I had to pee.

Which brings me to the developmental milestone I most dread having to face:

Toilet training.

Seriously. This one I don't look forward to. Call me crazy, but I have never minded dealing with diapers, diaper changes, baby shit or any of it. I even did cloth diapers for the first 8 months, and only a body that is truly not fazed by shitty bums would deal with that action.

But toilet training scares me. I feel like I am already late out of the gate. We have several friends who have children the same age, and they have had a potty around for months. Not because they intend their child to use it yet, but so that said child will recognize it, be curious about it and want to use it. One friend puts her 15 month son on the potty frequently, and has been rewarded with a little pish in the dish. My nanny’s 18-month old daughter has already pooped in the potty – after informing her that she had to go!

I can’t imagine being so toilet savvy yet. Even tho she toddles, my babe is still, well, a babe. I certainly don’t want to rush her, and even tho she clearly hates having her diaper changed, I can’t picture her going the grown up way for a while. And more importantly, I’m not ready. And I hate pottys. They remind me of old, infirm people, and I can’t imagine having to clean the thing out 10 times a day. We never had one when I was little; just a seat that went on the seat so that little bottoms couldn’t slip through. And my mother insists that we were all toilet trained in one week, at age 2 years, 2 months. Not a day before. Except my brother. He was slightly more resistant, and my mother made jokes that she would be chasing him down the aisle at his wedding yelling, ‘please, please, let’s put on big boy pants!’ My sister trained her daughter by letting her run around naked in the garden all summer. But they lived on an island in BC, with slightly fewer neighbours, and slightly more land than our city pad enjoys.

So that’s it then, I suppose. Off to the country with us. Pack lightly; we won’t be needing any pants.

This, I realize, is my mothering achilles’ heel. I co-sleep, breastfeed, made organic babyfood, sing to, read to, talk to, and am head-over-heels bonkers for my child. But I am not looking forward to toilet training. I am scared of it. Don’t even know why. The notion of having to spend a week cooped up in the house to ensure that we always have a dumping ground at the ready? The prospect that, like with breastfeeding and sleeping, bumblebee will be loathe to change the program? The idea that once bumblebee is through with diapers that she is also truly done with being a baby?

That’s the part that freaks the crap out of me.

you want me to what? where?

special thanks to metro mama for lending us cakes' sweater for this early morning photoshoot. bee's father pays so much attention to his daughters' wardrobe that he had no idea that it wasn't hers. don't worry, I've washed it!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

The Wednesday Shuffle (1998 – Living in Israel Edition)

My best friend is moving into her new house this weekend (hooray!), but packing up all the shit in her mom’s basement for the last time has proven emotional.

She has uncovered relics of our (sometimes sordid) past that sent me on a bit of a roadtrip down memory lane as well.

Even more than smells, music transports me to moments past. Here are 10 of my favourite moments:

1. Remember Me – Blueboy (crowd pleaser at our pub, The Pundak)

2. Bittersweet Symphony – The Verve (brought from home; noone in Israel knew them yet)

3. Body Movin’ – Beastie Boys (sent hot off the presses from my bro – Israel would not get the import for another 6 months, making my CD a hoooooot commodity)

4. Barbie Girl – Aqua (the exploited Thai workers in the caravan next door spent many a wasted, passed-out night with this blasting on repeat – that’s me, hung over, banging on their door and yelling ‘Shut up! Shut up! Shut up!’)

5. Standing on the Moon – The Grateful Dead (for those times that I was feeling homesick and sorry for myself – few and far between, to be sure)

6. Girl from Ipanema – Gilberto/Jobim (soundtrack to our travels; did you know that this is recorded in Arabic, Turkish, Hebrew…)

7. Ray of Light – Madonna (learned to love Madge as this song became my ray of light, penetrating horrible Israeli rock on the local radio station)

8. Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You – Lauryn Hill (goes well with tuborg)

9. RESPECT – Aretha Franklin (all the lovely ladies – and a couple gay korean guys – on the dancefloor, please)

10. Save Tonight – Eagle Eye Cherry (beautiful scandinavian girls and beautiful Israeli boys equally enjoyed this one-hit wonder)

Bumblebee just heard that Lukas won. She thinks Canadian boys rock.

Friday, September 08, 2006


Is being the recipient of a juvenile, sexist, objectifying cat-call any less offensive when you are a 30-ish mother who, 15 months post-natal, still can’t fit into her skinny jeans?

Hell, yeah!

Come and take away my feminist membership card if you wish, but it happened to me today, and I smiled, and was kind of proud of myself and all of my obvious hotness.

Never mind that it came from a carload of teens who were probably just trying out a new phrase that they had heard somewhere (like maybe from their babysitter or something); Someone other than my husband stuck their head out of a moving car window and yelled ‘Yo, MILF!’

(ok, chris has never stuck his head out of the window of a moving vehicle to declare his lust for me. But I bet he would if I asked.)

It’s not like I was cruising Yonge Street on a Friday night, either. I was ‘cruising’ Bayview Avenue with bumblebee, where, usually, the only people checking each other out are the Leaside moms wondering how that bitch got the new bugaboo diaper bag before she did.

So, er, I digress. Or maybe I regress, if I feel like this is worth a post, but come on… it’s very easy to feel like a frumpy, run-down, unstylish mom. It’s not that easy to feel like you are attractive to your own loving husband, let alone some jackass teenagers who are desperate to shag just about anyone with a pulse. And in my past life, I was the first one to give the finger in response to these kinds of comments, or at least shake my head disapprovingly with a little chuckle thrown in for ego’s sake. But these days, I am slightly desperate to ensure (or be reassured) that I didn’t trade in all my former hipness, all my former confidence, all my former sexiness, to be a breeder.

And, man, you should see me. A MILF-ier MILF there never was: I hardly ever look in a mirror, I have been wearing the same civvie outfit all summer (my uniform consists of the only cool jeans that still fit me, tho they have split down the bum and are held together with safety pins cause I can’t find my sewing kit, and a new gap halter [brown] that everyone and her sister wears), and hair that, while, yes, is quite glorious since pregnancy, is a mass of out-of-control waves/curls that neva eva sees a brush -- H.O.T.

All the more reason that being cat-called like a common whore seems ok right now. And the best part is that it is not only me that will benefit from this little slip of decency; chris will probably fare ok –

MILF; It does a body good.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Labour Day

Thought I’d honour it with bumblebee’s birth story.

This is the letter that I wrote to the families we met at prenatal class. We shared our stories after our babies were born, and most of us have kept in touch ever since.

Sunday, May 15, 2005
Hey everybody, it's been a pleasure to read (almost) all of your announcements and birth stories – what a beautiful bunch of babies! Mums and dads, you’re all looking great too.

Chris and I are ecstatic to now be able to add our own story:

On monday, I was feeling crampy and well, just different. by the middle of the night we knew that these were (mild) contractions, and started keeping track of them to see if labour would progress. In terms of intensity, things were slowly moving, but in terms of frequency, it was all over the map. Although the excitement and anticipation were also mounting, I managed to sleep around the contractions. On tuesday morning, we went for a long walk (well, it wasn't that long of a walk, it just took a long time since I had to stop every few minutes to wait for a mild contraction). We gave our midwife a head's up when we got home, and she came over at around noon to check on the progress. Low and behold, I had made it to 3 cm. She told us to keep doing what we were doing, and that she would call again in a few hours. By our next check-in at 5 pm, things were still intensifying but not speeding up. Tracy (our midwife) said that she was sure we would be having this baby that night, but probably not for a little while. She would call back at 9 then go to sleep early and wait for us to page. By 7 pm, things were rockin’ and I called Tracy back at 8. my contractions were 2 minutes apart and I could do little through them but breathe and ‘vocalize’. She said that she was on her way.

Tracy and our student midwife, Jen, arrived at 8:30, and upon checking, we found that I had made it to 6 cm. Through a series of different labouring positions, and a surprising ability on my part to completely give in to whatever my body was wanting to do, I made it to 10 cm by 10:15 pm. I pushed for just over 2 hours, and I admit that I meshed my most primal instincts to birth this baby with a healthy dose of ‘please, please, just take it out!’. I was not quite prepared mentally for the difficult, often discouraging, and EXHAUSTING task of pushing (I was actually falling asleep in between pushes – chris told me later that at one point I started snoring!). But on the flipside, I was also not prepared for the perfect ability my body had to do the job, and the very clear messages it sent my way, that I had no choice but to respond to. And when one of my worst pre-natal fears came true, and tracy said that she wanted to perform an episiotomy due to the baby’s slowing heart rate, I didn’t care. All I cared about was having this baby; for my baby to be out and safe. At 12:28 am, our baby was born on our bed. Straight to my chest she went, and of course, that was indescribable. We didn’t even look to see what the sex was for a few minutes, and were overjoyed when we found out that this beautiful, alert, perfect little creature was our baby girl. After getting a shot of oxytocin and delivering the placenta, jen got our baby to latch on – she’s a natural – and my new little family was left to wonder at each other for a while. When my midwives came back upstairs, I let go of the baby for the first time while I was stitched and she was weighed and examined.

So now we’re doing great; I’m a little sore but my wonderful sisters (who were at the birth) and totally spoiling all three of us, and we’re having a good time in the cocoon we’ve made of our bed. I’ve been a bit emotional, but I’m sure you have too. Even without all of those vacating hormones, how can you not be when you’ve just fallen in love harder and faster than you ever thought you could?

Happy Labour Day everybody.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

She's Got Personality

So, you know those personality tests everybody is always talking about? Myers-briggs and whatnot?
I decided to get in on the action. I want to be identified by an obscure acronym and gain some insight as to my true self. So I did it. I am an ESTJ – Extrovert, Sensing, Thinking, Judging.

I enjoyed doing the test, and I think the results are pretty accurate, but it was a funny test.

Some of the questions were pretty bleedin’ obvious...
You consider the scientific approach to be the best
(yes. I am a thinker.) (No. I am a senser.)

Some, kind of accusatory...
Deadlines seem to you to be of relative, rather than absolute, importance
(ok, ok, I admit it! I had an artist bio due, but I let it slide so that I wouldn’t miss the season premier of project runway! I’m sorry, I’m so sorry! Please go easy on me!)

Some, kind of hard-line...
Objective criticism is always useful in any activity
(Yes! Always useful! Any activity – take laundry, or choosing an item off a menu, for example – very useful!)

And some, just kind of weird...
You are usually the first to react to a sudden event: the telephone ringing or unexpected question
(telephones and questions? When I think ‘sudden events’, I usually think something with a bit more of a bite – a co-worker getting the axe, or an explosion maybe.)

I kind of felt like they just started pulling things out of their ass. I half expected them to ask questions like:

Do you like pasta?

Have you ever killed anyone, but not someone whose life you felt was important?

Do you often wear bluejeans?

Really, the test doesn’t have to be more than 4 questions long:

1) Do you have friends?
2) Are you a little miss bossy-pants?
3) Do you analzye the shit out of everything?
4) Betty or Veronica?

Anyway, the test was fun, so I thought I’d take a few more.
Here’s what I found out:

The o/s I am most like is: slacker linux

My pie tastes like: Key Lime

If I were a dogI’d be: a freakin’ French Bulldog

I am the goddess Gaia. Represent, Earth Mother!

And, most importantly, if Fox ever needs a replacement for Summer, I’m so there.

of course, if you really want to know what i'm about, just call me CALM - cool ass lady mama.

Bub and Pie nominated me for a Perfect Post!
This is pretty heavy stuff because
a) I’m a newbie
b) Bub and Pie is a tremendously smart, eloquent writer whose words I have adored and have inspired me (hi, see my last 2 posts) since my first time over there and
c) that post meant a whole lot to me.

A million thank yous, from the bottom of my milk ducts.

my grateful acknowledgement and apologies to those who left comments on the previous post that has now disappeared. I am just being my usual no-techmoric loser self. whoops.
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