Rio 2016

The Olympics are back! At our house, that means unlimited TV time as we watch every single event ever (rugby 7s! beach volleyball! pole vault! archery! gymnastics! ALL GOOD). I have Olympic Fever and I’m not afraid to admit it.

My friend RheostaticsFan was over on the weekend and reminded me that the last time there was an Olympics – two years ago, the winter Olympics – our youngest kid had to fill out a page at school on family traditions, and when asked what holiday her family loves to celebrate together, she said, “The Olympics.” Which is hilarious and awesome and wee bit embarrassing but mostly awesome.

She no doubt thought of the Olympics because, possibly more than any other holiday around here, Olympic time means craft time and decoration time as we celebrate – FLAGS OF THE WORLD.

Here’s our bannister:


Flags ordered by current standings, as of this morning – we update it each day. Here’s the top of the leader board:


And some more of our favourites, hoping to earn a spot on the bannister – can you name them?


I just cannot get enough of making these little flags (which are about the size of a 6×4 photo). I have a crafting station all set up in the dining room covered with all colours of card stock, glue, my flags of the world reference book, and my beloved star-shaped punch. We are flagging it up around here. This morning for homework the kids each made a flag because we were missing a few on the leader board – my youngest made this kick ass flag of the Philippines:


Memo to the Philippines, and while we’re at it, South Africa (also pictured): you have not made life easy for the schoolchildren of your countries.

It’s the Olympics, the most wonderful time of the year! How are you celebrating?

A Life Lesson Learned

So yesterday I took the kids to the Museum of Nature for an outing.

We used to go frequently, but it’s been more than a year now since we were there so our annual membership had lapsed. The whole way there I was dithering about whether we should get a new membership – which pays for itself if I go three times in the year with the kids, and twice in a year if Sir Monkeypants comes too – or if I should just admit that this was likely to be our only trip of the year and pay just for the day. I was leaning towards just paying for the day.

But then we got there and had to wait a half hour in our car just to get a spot in the parking lot. And then we finally got inside and there was an epic line up – right out the door – to get tickets. I don’t remember it ever being that busy before. Is that typical for the summer? Hm.

So we get in the long line for tickets and there, temptingly, off to the side is a small desk for members with absolutely no one at it. We could buy a membership right now, leap over the line, and get inside.

So I did. Plus we threw in a 3D movie, because LIVING LARGE.

We went inside and spent about 15 minutes in the Earth Gallery, which was our primary reason for visiting (there’s been recent interest in rocks and gemstones in our house), before the kids complained they were hungry. So we gave up and went downstairs to the cafeteria to eat lunch.

We were sitting with our food when I noticed that Little Miss Sunshine’s left eyeball was about to explode.

Some background here: we have spent the week caring for some pets at a friend’s house, while they are on vacation. These friends have a cat, and Little Miss Sunshine is super allergic to cats. She’d been medicated with antihistimines, though, so I thought we were okay.

At the museum, she’d been rubbing her eyes a lot and complaining they hurt so I gave her more meds and thought that would be the end of it. Then, while eating, she casually looks at me and OMG – WHAT is your eyeball doing, child? The white part of her left eyeball was kind of yellow and gelatinous, and worst of all, BULGING – like, instead of being a nice sphere, her eyeball was sort of lumpy with the coloured part inset and the whites pushing out. GAH.

So we packed everything up and went to the hospital.

The people at CHEO, who we sadly know much better than we ever wanted to, are so nice and kind and great with kids, but it was still three hours we chilled in the emergency room before we saw a very nice doctor who told us that although it looked incredibly scary and gross, the Little Miss just had Chemosis, which is an uncommon but not unusual extreme allergic reaction (warning: do NOT Google images of Chemosis while eating). Likely she touched something with cat on it and rubbed it into her eye. More Benedryl and she was sent on her way.

By then it was late afternoon and the Little Miss actually wanted to go back to the museum, because she had been looking forward to seeing the gemstones and more importantly, shopping in the gift shop. But I was exhausted and not looking forward to another half hour wait to pay for a second round of parking, so we went home, eating the loss of the 3D movie tickets.

But! We can now go to the museum on any other day, because I bought the damn annual pass.

So the lesson here is: always buy the annual pass.

The end.

Aging Not So Gracefully

As I age, my fear of bugs is getting worse and worse, especially my fear of spiders. When I spot a spider in the house, you know it, due to excessive screeching. I realize my response to spiders is Not Appropriate, and yet I cannot help myself. I suppose that’s the very definition of a phobia.

Luckily I have a secret weapon around here, and that’s my youngest daughter, Little Miss Sunshine. For an intense animal lover, she certainly has no qualms about getting in there and squishing the hell out of any bugs in the house. I think her need to be helpful outweighs her need to cherish animal life. I’m not going to quibble with that.

The other day I was driving around with the Little Miss sitting quietly in the back seat right behind me. Suddenly she squealed and started kicking the back of my chair over and over, hard, then just as suddenly, stopped.

Me: Um, I’m driving here, honey. Usually it is not a good idea to bother the driver like that.

Her: I know, but there was a giant spider crawling up the back of your chair.


Her: I know. I’ll need a tissue when you get a chance to scoop up the guts.

She rocks.

Aging Gracefully

A weird thing is happening to me as I age, and that is that I have come to like vegetables. Not just like them; crave them.

Those who have known me since childhood (hi, Fame Throwa!) know that this a rather shocking turn of events. I was the poster child for I Hate Vegetables, the stereotypical kid sitting at the dinner table with lips locked and a look of horror on their face. I didn’t even like the ones you can usually coax kids to try, like carrots or peas or celery.

One time, my poor mother tried to lay down the law and insisted I sit at the table until I ate three small baby carrots that were left on my plate. After an hour and a half I finally choked one down and then threw it back up, along with the rest of my dinner, all over the table. After that, she was resigned to looking the other way while I slipped Fame Throwa (who has always loved veggies) my broccoli under the table.

Suddenly, it seems, I cannot get enough of them. I was out at the Farm Boy a few weeks ago and they had a little bowl of cut cucumbers out as samples. I have always despised cucumbers but for some reason I took one, and it was like a Festival of Joy in my mouth. I bought like, 20 mini cucumbers and ate them all within three days and had to go back for more.

(Then I took a pregnancy test JUST IN CASE.)

Now I find I’m obsessed with lettuce. I could seriously take an iceberg lettuce and just bite into it and eat the whole thing like an apple, but between the Farm Boy and the weekly farmer’s market I’ve been delving into all kinds of dark, reddish, or bitter variations and loving it. Plus, red peppers: NATURE’S CANDY. So delicious.

I realize this probably just means I’m dehydrated. Also, come winter I’ll probably be depressed when all the vegetables go back to tasting like water and I’ll get over it. But for now, I like to think of this as just me getting better with age.


I like to think of myself as well read, and I have read a lot of older classic-type novels, which means I know a lot of words. Even words that are no longer in common use.

The other day I was reading a Nancy Drew book to my youngest – The Whispering Statue, which I just learned from that very Wikipedia link was completely rewritten in 1970. It contained this part:

The intruder was taken completely by surprise. It was easy for the three girls to hold him. As he became obstreperous, George used a judo trick which buckled the man’s knees and he fell.

Obstreperous is a word I have never heard before. I just could not get over the fact that a Nancy Drew book contained a word that was completely foreign to me.

Plus, it means “loud and difficult to control,” which if you have kids like mine, means this word should be in DAILY USE. “Knock it off, you’re becoming obstreperous.” “I’ve had it with your obstreperous fooling around, I’m turning this car around!” “Hey! Try and be a little less obstreperous, I’m trying to watch Jeopardy!”

Am I right or am I right?

So – officially kicking off the campaign to bring back obstreperous. It deserves to live.


Little Readers

I was a Reader as a kid, and I always hoped my kids would be as well. And they do like reading, although it’s not the kind of obsession it was for me, the kind that makes you sneak a book onto your lap at the table or stay up late with a flashlight under the covers after bedtime. It’s more like something they are WILLING to do, eyeroll, when I force them to put their screens away. But at least there is some reading going on around here pretty much every day, which is good.

I guess I needn’t have worried about it so much because in addition to my history as A Reader, I also have a sordid history as A Book Buyer. It’s my absolute weakness. I will wear shirts with stains and holes in them, I will wear shoes until they crack and fall apart, I will deny myself all manner of treats and bling, but put me in a bookstore, and I am WEAK.

Observe my house:

The horror that is my bedside table backlog. Not shown: overflow pile on the floor.
The horror that is my bedside table backlog. Not shown: overflow pile on the floor.
My husband's bedside table. These were all gifts from me.
My husband’s bedside table. These were all gifts from me.
There's a bookshelf in my room...
There’s a bookshelf in my room…
And one in each kid's room...
And one in each kid’s room…
And each kid's floor kind of looks like this...
And each kid’s floor kind of looks like this…
And we have some overflow hidden in some cabinets here and there...
And we have some overflow hidden in some cabinets here and there…
Plus my basement looks like this.
Plus my basement looks like this.

It’s a Situation, is what I’m saying, but possibly a good one. If there’s ever a Zombie Apocalypse, we’ll be able rebuild society based on my personal library of Every Classic Children’s Book Ever.

The only other shopping weakness I have is this:

crayons (Small)


Here’s what’s being read around here these days:

Captain Jelly Belly, age 13 – The Alchemyst series by Michael Scott; also, although it is a bit below his reading level now, he’s only just discovered A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket and finding it HILARIOUS – I think the dark, dark humour in those books is maybe best for this age level.

Gal Smiley, age 11 1/2 – Gal Smiley is the closest we have to a real Reader in that a) she can get so lost in a book that we have trouble getting her to come to dinner or go to bed, and b) she re-reads favourites over, and over, and over, and over. Also, this is totally beyond my comprehension, but she often has about five books on the go at any given time and picks them up randomly, which would drive me NUTS. Right now she is re-reading the Kane series by Rick Riordan (having just re-read the entire Percy Jackson series for the THIRD TIME), plus she’s working her way through Frank Cottrell Boyce’s entire works (including Millions and Sputnik’s Guide to Life), plus she just got Scrap City by D.S. Thornton from the Chapters because it was the thickest book she could find in the 9-12 section. Also, she has several graphic novels on the go at any given time – right now it’s the Lumberjanes series by Noelle Stevenson and Grace Ellis.

Little Miss Sunshine, age I-turned-9-years-old-yesterday! – Together we are reading the Nancy Drew series at bedtime, and on her own she’s working her way through the Mermaid Tales series by Debbie Dadey, the Stink books by Megan McDonald, and the Phoebe and Her Unicorn graphic novel series by Dana Simpson.

What are you reading this summer? And what are your shopping weaknesses?

For Christmas We’re Getting Her a Green Visor

This past weekend our friends the Lucky Sevens came over for dinner. They have two kids that slot nicely in between our three, and the five of them usually have no trouble finding some scheme or other to occupy themselves when we get together.

This time they all disappeared into the basement and while the adults were chatting, we could hear quiet, followed by a crazy uproar of shouting and squealing, followed by quiet, repeat. We were curious, but no one showed up with blood or a broken bones and we’ve been parents long enough to know that if no one is crying, you leave well enough alone.

Later at dinner we asked them what they had been playing and it turns out that my darling daughter, Gal Smiley, age 11 3/4, had started an underground Hexbugs betting ring.

DSC_5370 (Medium)

DSC_5372 (Medium)

If you’re not familiar, they are little electronic bugs that you can put on a plastic course, kind of like a Hot Wheels course, and they vibrate when you turn them on and sort of jitter around and move places. What Gal Smiley was doing was setting up some sort of course challenge – the first to break out of a closed space, or the last one to remain on an elevated bridge perhaps – and then taking Monopoly money bets as to which hexbug would win.

Winners got their investment back plus 10%. Losers lost it all.

I gotta tell you, I wasn’t sure if I should be mortified or proud, but I was certainly leaning towards proud. The inventiveness! The entrepreneurship! The drive!

And yet, you know, the vague illegal nature of it all. This must be how Bernie Madoff’s mother feels.

Gal Smiley loves nothing more than the exchange of money, and she is always hustling to make a buck. We’ve already called her for a future career in sales or possibly stock trading. But this is a whole new area for her. Our daughter, the bookie. The heart swells, does it not?