No. No. Mine!

Henry's best pal in the world is a black, stuffed dog named Creamy.

Correction: Henry's best pal in the world is a real dog named Creamy.

We've tried hard to not make any one toy belong to one kid. Creamy is one of very few exceptions. Jane knows (and Henry reminds her often) Creamy is off limits.

Last night, Henry and Erin were upstairs while Jane and I read some books on the couch. Mid-way through, Jane realized Creamy was sitting beside her. She picked him up.


"That's right. Creamy's not yours."

She pointed to the stairs. "Nenny."

"Yes. Henry's dog."

She put Creamy down. "No."

"Good job, Jane. Creamy isn't yours."


"Yes. He's a dog."


"Henry's dog, yes."

She paused, leaned forward, looked at the stairs, made sure Henry was definitely not coming down.

She snatched Creamy back into her arms for a desperate hug.


Don't tell anyone...

Henry's been doing some fine work in the potty-training department. My only real complaint is he takes so dang long on the toilet. He'd sit there for hours, if you'd let him.

It wasn't really a problem until last night. He was just nicely settling in for a marathon session when Erin's bladder started ringing alarms. Pregnant chicks, apparently, can't wait as long as you or I in that department. She was pretty desperate.

The good news is, we now know the kids' potty is strong enough to support the weight of an adult.

The bad news is, well, now YOU know about it (ah, blogging).

Tension problem

I miscalculated the tension on the pair of socks I'm knitting myself. The first one is much smaller than I'd hoped. As a result, I'm now knitting them for Erin.

It's just as well. I find I'm more motivated to finish something if I'm knitting for someone else.

Chapter Books?

Since Henry discovered chapter books, he's been burning through them. We started when he was two with Charlotte's Web. He loved it so much, we probably read it to him 4 or 5 times.

Since then, we've gone through most of the Little House books, Pippi Longstocking, Stuart Little, and.. I can't remember what else. We need suggestions for some more.

Here's the criteria: nothing too scary. The boy gets freaked out by ominous music, so it's got to be pretty light. He likes fantasy. He likes history. He isn't a huge fan of the absurd (like Pippi). He's not ready for Harry Potter, and I can't stand any of the Chronicles of Narnia (the allegory gives me a rash). He might be ready for some Cornelia Fudge...

What do you recommend? What did you like when you were a kid? What do your kids/grand kids like?

In Praise of the Mini Post

It never fails. The fewer words I write in a blog entry, the more comments I get.

Look at the previous two posts, written within minutes of each other.

The longer is an over-written, self-centred vanity post (ah, blogging). The shorter is an honest portrayal of life with two crazy kids. It also fed my need to type the phrase "evil death robot of grumpiness."

Too much fun

My neighbour invited me over the other night to jam. He's a fairly accomplished traditional musician, but I didn't know exactly what to expect.

I walked into the living room to find him plus two other guys. One had a fiddle. The other a mandolin. Daniel, my neighbour, had a funny mandolin-on-steroids called a bazuki(sp?). I brought my guitar.

Now, I can play fine. I haven't played much in the past six or seven years, but I can hold my own. Still, I'm used to rock, where enthusiasm is an acceptable replacement for skill. I had a sense these Cape Breton boys were going to blow me out of the water.

"Um, are you going to play anything that I can follow?"

They all looked at each other.

"Don't know. Kinda depends."

The tunes started up and it was all I could do to keep up. Each guy (but me) switched instruments with ease; from fiddle, to guitar, to mandolin to tin flute. Sometimes they switched in the middle of a song.

If I couldn't figure a song, I just stood back and listened. One song blended to the next. Usually by the time I'd caught on to the changes in one tune, another started. It was crazy mad, but more fun than a bucket full of lego. I really was pickin' with guys way above my league. I was surprised at the end when they invited me back.

I think I might be more useful at future jams on the upright bass. I cant' afford one, so I'm considering ordering one of these. 75 bucks. Too much fun.

(painful) End of an Era

An almost unbroken three-year chain of afternoon naps for Henry ended this week. They've been replaced by Quiet Time.

It's just about killing us. The boy has become an evil death robot of grumpiness.

It will get better. Right?

I have blue hands!

But the kids have fresh play dough. Nothing an hour with the sand soap can't cure.

Play dough fresh out of the pot is the best. Still warm and gooshy.

Dave or David

My birth certificate says David, but I've gone by Dave since I was in Grade 7. It was a conscious choice. Seemed cooler at the time.

My dad didn't like the switch.

"I didn't name you Dave. I named you David." I think parental disapproval just added to the appeal.

It might be the public radio nerd in me talking, but David is growing on me. Seems more grown up.

I met an older man a few weeks ago as part of a story I was writing. I introduced myself as Dave.

"Dave?" he scoffed. "Your parents gave you one of the strongest names out there, and you thank them by going around with the nickname of a 10-year-old boy? Dave."

Which do you prefer?

"Yef!" A morning conversation with Jane


Me: Jane? Are you awake?

Jane: Yef.

Me: Do you want to go downstairs so we don't wake up Henry and Mummy?

Jane: Yef!

Later, after trying to make breakfast for 20 minutes with Jane on my hip.

Me: Can I put you down?

Jane: No, Doddy.

Me: Please?

Jane: No, Doddy.

Me: What if I put the foot stool at the sink so you can play in the water?

Jane: Yef!

Even later, after much splashing and giggling and no Mummy or Henry.

Me: Jeesh, Jane. I think they're still sleeping. Do you want to have a breakfast date with me? The porridge is ready.

Jane: Yef!

A few moments later.

Me: Good oatmeal?

Jane: Yef. Me me!

Me: Holy, Jane. You finished.

Jane: Me! Me!

Me: You want more? Some of mine?

Jane: Yef!

I spoon out half of my breakfast (everything tastes better when it's someone else's). Commotion from upstairs. The stirring of feet.

Jane: Mummy!

She slides down from her seat. Runs to the stairs. Starts climbing

Me: Come on back. Leave Mummy alone for a few minutes.

Jane: (climbing) No, Doddy.

Me: Jane.

Jane: (climbing higher) No, Doddy!

Me: I'll give you my toast.

Jane: (stops. considering)

Me: With cream cheese and jam.

Jane: (climbing down) YEF!!

Run, Jane!

Jane is the only one of us left not sick. It truly would be easier for me to list the parts of me that don't ache. Even my leg hairs hurt.

I'm thinking about bundling Jane up in her coat, shoving a hundred bucks into her little hand, and sending her out for help. At the very least, she may bring back food.

"Um - I guess - thank you."

Poor Erin is exhausted. Both kids are still getting over their colds. The fever and chills finally caught me today. Nobody is sleeping.

And, oh yes, she's 5-months pregnant.

I had a work buddy over last night for supper. Rob is one of those guys who is excellent at simultaneously entertaining the kids and adults. Just before he left at the end of the night, he ran out to his truck to grab a hat that's too big for him. He handed it to me, I tried it on. It fit perfectly.

"Keep it," he said.

Erin, by this time, was sitting on the couch trying not to look tired.

"Wow," she said. "What do you say to Rob?"

It wasn't until after the words left her mouth she realized I wasn't a three-year old. I laughed very hard.

This morning I made sure to tell Rob she was embarrassed and sorry she gave him the wrong impression of our relationship.

"Sorry? That was the best joke of the night!"

almanac 12

I think the fact that Ontario was stuck this weekend in a huge winter storm made Cape Breton's weather all the sweeter. Saturday and Sunday both hit 12 degrees with sun.

We took the kids out on their bikes 3 or 4 times. Jane ran all the way around the lake at the park near our house. I couldn't believe it. The last time it was so nice out, she was barely walking.

10 degrees is a milestone for me. My aunt is fond of saying tomato plants will set fruit at 10 degrees.

New glasses!

One morning about two years ago, Henry decided to do me a favour. He woke up before me and fetched my glasses from the bedside table.

"Here are your glasses, Daddy!"

I opened my eyes and saw he had them in two hands. My poor, precious, nerd glasses. Snapped in half.

I'd wanted them for years. Black, plastic-framed glasses. As soon as I got my job with my first-ever health plan, I went out and bought them. And there they were. Broken between the eyes.

Of course I wasn't mad. He was barely 18-months old. The sentiment alone deserved a big hug. I still had my old, scratched pair that I'd bought years before. They were... fine.

I finally today got around to picking out a new pair. I decided not to go back to the nerd frames; I don't think I could pull them off anymore. I opted instead for a pair of NASA Control Room Glasses. Black arms and top. No frames on the bottom.

Houston, we have glasses. Store them well out of reach, over.


Stuffy-nosed Jane couldn't sleep last night unless she rested her head against my shoulder. I had to be sitting upright for this to work.

We assumed this position on the downstairs couch from about 3am.

The pluses: Jane slept. She actually looks rested this morning, which is something we haven't been able to say for more than a week. Erin slept. Thank the gods.

The minuses: Seem minor.

Maybe I'm feeling a bit sleepy today. Maybe.

I shouldn't have asked

Jane stuck her hand into a bowl of dry cereal and started flicking her fingers.

"Jane! Stop! Look at the mess you're making!"

She looked around and saw bits of sugary corn lying on the table and floor.

"Who do you expect to clean that up?"

She paused and looked at me like I'm daft.


Name That Baby

Talking about what to name your first baby is lots of fun. The endless possibilities. The lure of creativity. And the all-powerful urge not to name it something popular.

Henry is a good strong name, I think. Known, but not common. Easy to spell. Waldeny.

Talking about what to name your second baby is kinda fun. The endless possibilities (minus one). The lure of creativity. But.. suddenly half the names you liked last time sound totally lame. After about a week, you get tired of the discussion. And besides, the first baby needs its diaper changed.

Jane is a good strong name, I think. Known, but not common. Easy to spell. It's my sister's name. It makes me feel very nice to have another one of her around.

Talking about what to name your third baby is a drag. The stupid endless possibilities. The stupid lure of creativity. The first baby is bashing the second baby on the head. The phone is ringing. You can't find a clean pair of socks. "I thought you did laundry." "Oh yes, because that's my job, isn't it?" "Of course it's not your job. I just.. work.. need.. socks..."

Can you please name our baby for us? Something good and strong. Something known, but not common. Something easy to spell.

Leave your ideas in the comments. And no, I don't know if it's a girl or a boy.