Tuesday, January 22, 2013


To put into context how sick I am currently with the flu, here is a list of other events which caused me to not exercise and the number of days I was sedentary:

2005 Post Chicago Marathon recovery - 5 days off
2006 Post Boston Marathon recovery - 7 days off.
2009 Post birth (Cesarean Section) - 6 days off.
2012 Post birth (normal delivery) - 3 days off.

2013 FLU - 10 days off. And counting.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013


A few disclaimers before I reveal the hideous amount I have been spending on groceries. First, the amount includes everything we buy at the grocery store, not just edible items i.e. diapers, toilet tissue, facial tissue, cleaners etc. Second, grocery prices are higher in Canada than in the US... a few examples: 2 L of milk = $3.49. Bananas typically go for $1.29 per lb. Third, I have been extremely ill in the last week and so have been buying convenience foods. Ok, enough with the disclaimers. So far in January, I am spending a shocking $25.93 per DAY on food to feed a family of 2.6 adults (I count 0.4 for Chaos and 0.2 for Confusion). Ridiculous. Irresponsible. Now I know... time to change.

Sunday, January 6, 2013


Even though theoretically one should not need to wait for one particular day out of 365, I love New Years resolutions. I almost always make them and have only marginal success in keeping them. This year's resolutions feel important somehow and I am going to give it a sub-3 hour marathon effort to make them stick.

First, and I am embarassed to have to write this but... here goes. Stop yelling. There is only person in my life who I yell at and probably everyone can guess who she (hint) is. I was not a yeller until I became a mother and am appalled to transform into an ugly, old yeller about 2.5 years into motherhood. There are countless, excellent reasons I am determined to stop but the most compelling is nothing more than this: she has started to yell back. One day, in the midst of yelling at her "stop yelling at me"... the irony suddenly beat me over the head like a 2 X 4. No more yelling in this house (we were the only two doing it). I had a long, honest talk with her in which I explained I was not going to yell anymore. I did many, over-the-top imitations of "ugly yelling mom". We both laughed. Than I explained to her that it was equally ugly when she yelled. Finally I said this was going to be a yell-free house. Period. Ok, so it hasn't been the magic solution to curbing bad pre-schooler behaviour but it the difference has been startling. I don't yell anymore. Period. She still yells but quickly stops when I remind her. She no longer gets the satisfaction of seeing me lose my cool (because on some level she definitely enjoyed seeing me lose it) and I like myself better, my husband likes the dynamic in the house better and well there isn't peace in the valley yet, but we're getting there.

Second, and actually I am also somewhat embarassed to write this because I think that perhaps I won't have a sympathetic audience to this one... dress and groom more attractively. Hubby likes the heels, the stockings, the make-up, shaved legs and armpits (ok, yes, most men like that!) and, well, those things just aren't me (yes, I do shave my legs and armpits... I mean mostly I do, when I remember). Anyway I am making an effort to look more attractive more of the time. Maybe it's shallow, maybe it's unfeminist, maybe he should just love me the way I am ... who knows. It makes him happy and it's not such a big effort. Also, to put this in the right context, I am a really sloppy dresser i.e. this (last picture in the post) is how I look most of the time even at work (minus the toothbrush in my mouth).

Third, reduce our grocery bills (inspired by Ingrid). I am spending January tracking our grocery bills (and am already horrified!) and once I have a baseline, I will begin implementing some frugality.

So, in brief, I resolve to look attractive, stop yelling at my family and stop feeding my family. :)

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Boys, boys, boys

I found my diary from 1994-95 over the holiday season. It contains an overly documented account of the minutia of my life between the ages of 19-20. I now know what I was doing during those tenders years: boys, boys, boys. I was doing boys. Not so much doing them as thinking about, obsessing over, dreaming about, seeking out, avoiding, spending way too much energy on, and yes, occasionally doing: boys. In fact, were it not for boys, running, my close circle of friends, my parents divorce and organic chemistry, the pages of that book could still be harvested for grocery lists. Note to self: burn diary in event of untimely death to avoid posthumous humiliation.

Despite the poor writing (not much has changed there) and the cringe-making boy angst, I was happy to find and read the diary which I have to confess I had forgotten ever having written. It was interesting to see occasional glimpses of my adult personality peeking out from the fluff.  There were also some true treasures in there: in-detail account of a work-out I did with an Olympian and former Canadian record holder and the advice she gave me on running competitively, some long forgotten memories of a friend's mother who died of cancer a few years later, a hilarious account of dating a frat boy (first and only frat boy I was mixed up with, and no I didn't intend it to be hilarious when I wrote it), a description of my first ever 5 km road race.

And as is usually the case with such discoveries, it was the stuff between the lines that was the most interesting. For example, there is near constant commentary on the words and actions of a rotating cast of boys and harsh judgements cast upon them... all the while the diary documents my actions and words which clearly show me to be almost identical in character to this cast of boys and yet... completely OBLIVIOUS to this fact! Did that make sense? What I mean to say is that I whine endlessly about the jerkiness of 19 year old boys but the diary clearly shows that I am a jerky 19 year old girl but unaware of the irony or hypocrisy. Which I guess goes to show we were all just guilty of being 19 years old.

But it was a good find. I hope that when Thing 1 and Thing 2 inevitably take longer than one would hope to work the silliness and boy (or girl) craziness out of their systems, that I will be patient and understanding. I am glad I found these memories of angst, good friendships, drama and of simpler times. I am gladder still that 19 year old Piccola Pine Cone did not have the chance to make permanent decisions about my life!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

41 months

Initially I was going to write a series of three posts, 8 months for Thing 2, 40 months for Thing 1 and 457 months for me describing each of our respective developments. I got Thing 2's done but found that writing about development of people who were one and two orders of magnitudes of months older than 8 months was correspondingly more complex. Today though, La Cocotte (who refuses outright to be called that, preferring instead Princess Bebe Pirate or variations thereof) is exactly 41 months old and it is the start of a New Year so I thought I would try to take a verbal snapshot of 41 months.

Language, actually languages, are well developed and delightful. Thing 1 is well on her well to being truly bilingual. There is some mixing: "Papa why do personnes utiliser money?" but typically sentence will come out either fully in French (when directed to me) or fully in English (when directed to Papa). Some of my favorite sentences of this holiday season were:

when asked to apologize to Thing 2 for some transgression:

"Je peux pas m'excuser parce-que ca fait fatiguer dans mon ventre."

(I can't apologize because it makes me tired in my stomach) which I thought was a poetic way to describe that feeling of simply not being able to swallow one's pride and apologize even in the face of egregious wrong.

"Mon bouche ne peux pas dire ce mot."

(my mouth cannot say that word)

"Je vais partager avec maman, papa, moi,bebe et moi."

(I am going to share with me, mom, dad, baby and me.)

Like a typical Montrealer, she often uses the vocabulary of one of our official languages with the phrase-ology of the other so, for example, instead of saying "Can you help me?" she will ask "You can help me?". "You can come here and bring me the blanket."  Seriously, it won't me long before she is saying "I need some informations" and "Open the light."

She uses her language skills to great advantage to understand the world around her with the never ending whys... or more usually, pourquois. So much so that I have named a new species of bird the Pourquoi (pronounced pour-KWHA! ending with a squawking sound). I summon the bird when I have reached a level of nested pourquoi that I can no longer handle... usually 4-5 pourquois deep. Papa has much more pourquoi endurance than I do and I have overheard him explaining the bonds between ions that form metals or in one case our current understanding of human intelligence.

One of our friends speaks of a "window of cooperation" that lasts from 4 years of age until about 11 years depending of course on the child. We have not yet reached that window however I can see it in the distance. It is a candle lit window in a house, at the edge of a snow covered field at twilight on a cold winter's night. Beyond the field is a small wood and we are at the edge of those woods. We are slogging through the deep snow towards that window and it is slow going but at least now we can see the window and we believe it exists.

Which isn't to say that Thing 1 isn't already a sweet and helpful child. If she overhears Papa saying his feet are cold, she will bring him his slippers (seriously between that and Thing 2 eating crumbs off of the floor under the table we really have no need for a family dog). She is also gleefully protective of Thing 2:

"No Juliette you can't have that, it's dangerous for you!" she will shout as she takes away a dime from Thing 2 though because her English strangely has an Eastern European (??) accent it comes out as:

"No Yulee-ette, you canna have dat! Eeees dangrus fah yooouuu"

(sorry if that was offensive to Eastern Europeans, perhaps I say that because when she speaks English she reminds me so much of my grandmother who always spoke with a strong Ukrainian accent).

Thing 1 is solidly in her princess phase. One of her favorite pass times is the pull out all of her party dresses (at last count she has more than 40 all purchased for under $3 and shipped to us by a well meaning but overly indulgent family member) and try them on one by one, or sometimes, all at once. Dressing is a battle. She is quite particular about what she wears and despite her vast and varied wardrobe, she tends to stick to the same 2-3 dresses day in and day out. I've put this into the category of battles not worth fighting... a ever growing category I might add.

I have also noticed a huge, step change in her ability t entertain herself. She can sit quietly for upwards of 30 minutes sorting coins, lining up the spice jars or similar. She can allow us enough time to cook a meal, clean a room or even have an adult conversation.

So all in all 41 months is perhaps the beginning of a truce. The beginning of the wonder years. There are big decisions about her future looming but for now we hold our sweet girl who is no longer a toddler close (when she lets us), fight the battles we need to fight, sidestep those not worth it and try to drink it all in.

Current favorite breakfast: bowl of snow.