Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Me and Ursula? Who knew?

I love James Bond. Yup, the tuxedos, the martinis, the exotic locales, the double entendres, the fast cars, the chase scenes, the nifty spy gadgets -- what's not to like? And the Jameses -- all of them a little different, all with their pros and cons. Sean Connery with his sexy Scottish accent and more rough-hewn charms, Roger Moore's suaveness, Timothy Dalton (who I rather liked) with his athletic build and good looks, and now Daniel Craig, the newcomer -- I'll reserve judgment until I get to the movies to check him out.

And the Bond girls. Always so beautiful, accomplished and deadly. What woman hasn't wanted in her secret heart to be a Bond girl? I know I did. Then I stumbled on this quiz "Which Bond girl are you" and found out that I'm Honey Ryder from "Dr. No". Cool.

Which Bond girl are you? Take the quiz from the link (Take this Quiz!) below the picture, and drop me a comment to let me know.

Which Bond Girl Are You?

You are Honey Ryder -- free-spiritied, nature-loving, and adventurous. Your response to "you can't do that" has always been to do it, and you're way to smart to get caught. You're a bit of a loner, but that just makes you more mysteriously attractive.
Take this quiz!

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Saturday, November 25, 2006

Scenes from the salon

I went to get my hair cut on Thursday evening. Now, I'm not one of those people who return religiously to the stylist every 6 weeks to keep the cut looking good. I'm much more the person who lives with the hair for months until the moment when it starts to drive her insane, and then wants an appointment Right This Minute. And I do enjoy it when I go. It's a little bit of adult pampering -- I arrive, and while I wait, they bring me a cup of coffee, and then there's the gossiping and catching up while my hair is being washed and cut, and sometimes coloured. It's a little oasis from being a mom, a bit of me time.

Until last Thursday. I had arranged for my next-door-neighbour, Connie, to take the girls for the hour or so that it would take for me to go to the salon down in the village. Thursday morning, Rachel woke up with a weepy, crusty case of pink eye. Connie runs a home daycare. She was more than happy to take Leah, but couldn't risk having Rachel around. So Rachel came with me to the salon.

And all in all, she was pretty good. But it really was not the same experience that I usually enjoy. I brought crayons and a colouring book to keep her amused, and one of the stylists gave her a manniquin head with long hair, a bunch of clips and a hairbrush, which kept her occupied for about 20 minutes. She kept up a constant monologue while she was doing this and entertained the other stylists to no end. And, in listening in while I had my hair cut, I learned some things about my daughter that she hadn't told me.

"Ginette, who drives the school bus to school, says that we're little monkeys. But Aiden says we're just humans. Then Ginette said we're human monkeys."

"I really like Anna and Sierra in my class. But they are just so small. Compared with me. I'm pretty tall, you know, for a girl. But not so much for a boy."

"I have a pink eye. That's why I can't go to Connie's with Leah. I wonder if I could get a green eye next."

"My favourite song is on one of Mommy's CDs and it's called 'SomebodytoldmethatyouhadaboyfriendthatlookslikeagirlfriendthatIhadinFebruaryoflastyear'. Really, that's what it's called."

"I like to walk around with my eyes closed. Sometimes it's not a good idea."

"Sometimes, when I'm sad, Leah gives me a hug. She's a good sister."

It's funny the chances you get to learn about your children if you'll just listen.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006


Now that I'm back from San Diego and have finally gone through all the photos I took while I was there, there were a few I'd forgotten taking. They made me laugh in one case and roll my eyes in disbelief in the other. They were photos of signs. I present them to you now without further rambling.

OK, so this kind of makes sense. Warning pedestrians to beware of vehicles. This sign was posted where the pedestrian walkway crossed over the laneway to the underground parking at the hotel.

Then, there was this, where the driveway crossed the sidewalk:

Now that just cracked me up. I could see "Caution, pedestrians" or maybe "Watch out for Pedestrians", but "Beware"? Like pedestrians were going to leap suddenly from the bushes and throw themselves onto the windshields of passing cars while screaming and brandishing machetes, lol.

Oh, and the one below, which was posted on the wall of the room where we had our banquet:

Yeah, that's really going to whet your appetite for the Mexican buffet. I can only surmise that California is such a litigious state that hotels and restaurants post signs like these to cover their butts in case of lawsuits. Either that, or I had a nice asbestos sandwich and didn't notice.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Hypothetical dating question

Ok, so if I hypothetically had a date, and had decided on a hypothetical sweater which clings to my hypothetical curves and is low cut enough to show some cleavage (actual rather than hypothetical); and if I had 2 hypothetical bras to choose from, one of which is kind of a push-up bra that pretty well makes those puppies defy gravity (which considering 2 pregnancies and 2 years of breastfeeding is tantamount to false advertising) but is kind of plain looking; versus one that is pretty and lacy and mesh-y and lets a tantalizing glimpse of lace peek out of the neckline but doesn't lift the girls quite so high; which one would you pick?

Yes, I know that was a run-on sentence and I don't care. Hypothetically, I know which one I picked, um I mean would pick, hypothetically. Which one would you?

Saturday, November 18, 2006

It's just a pie

One of my girlfriends was asking why my blog is called "Party of 3' but the URL is www.itsjustapie.blogspot.com. Well, when I was deciding to start writing a blog, I was trying to decide between the two names, and came to the conclusion that "Party of 3" described my life with my girls more accurately. "But where did 'it's just a pie' come from?", she asked.

It comes from a story about Leah, and how she loves to surprise people, and how she always wants the best things to happen to the people she loves. And she loves a lot of people.

My friend Shell and her husband had to travel out of town, and their two daughters, Maggie and Becca were staying with me. Now, Bec is 16 and Mags had turned 19 the day before, so they didn't need babysitting per se -- what they needed was a chauffer to drive them to and from work and social engagements. Also, Mags had spent Thursday, her 19th birthday, getting her wisdom teeth taken out. And therefore she hadn't had a special dinner, or a cake, or the rite of passage for every Ontario nineteen-year-old: going out drinking legally for the first time. Instead, swollen-cheeked like a chipmunk, she was ensconced on my couch with an ice pack and a Vogue magazine.

On Saturday, Becca was at work, and I took the girls with me grocery shopping to give Maggie some quiet time. While I was pushing the cart around the store, Leah was unusually quiet. "What's up?", I asked. "I was just thinking, Maggie didn't have a cake for her birthday. Can we buy her one and surprise her?", she said. I thought that was a great idea and we went to the bakery section where Leah picked out a cake covered in bright red icing roses and we had 'Happy Birthday, Maggie' written on it.

Pulling into the driveway, we were discussing the best way to get the rather distinctive looking cake box into the house without Maggie seeing it. Leah thought for a minute and said, "what if you held it behind your back and then I could walk right behind you and help you carry it and no one would know." I pictured it for a moment, but knew it would end badly, so I said, "Let's just get it inside without saying anything and hope she doesn't see it." This plan was pretty well ruined when Maggie came out the front door to help bring the groceries in. I saved the box til last, and brought it in and put it on the counter behind the bags of groceries. I knew Mags had seen it and was smiling.

Then Leah had a stroke of genius. She decided that misdirection was the answer. Pushing the grocery bags aside, she pointed to the box and said, "Maggie, see this box? Don't worry! It's just a pie. Just a pie." The earnest expression on her face and the dismissive hand gestures just cracked Mags and I up. We managed to hold the laughter in until Leah ran off to her room, but then laughed so hard that "don't worry, it's just a pie" has entered the lexicon of in-jokes that our families share. And to this day, Leah loves to tell the story of how she fooled Maggie and surprised her with a birthday cake.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

La casa del estrogen

We live in an all-girl house. The toilet seat is never up, except for cleaning the toilet. Every last one of us knows how to replace the toilet paper roll, and does it without complaining or being reminded. We dance a lot, and sing very loudly and badly to vintage 1980s Madonna songs. We tend to wander around half-dressed if we feel like it, and I'm sure that modesty is something that I'm going to have to teach the girls, since they will shuck their clothes in the living room if the mood takes them.

I was saying yesterday to Rachel that wasn't it nice to live in an all-girl house, and she replied, "But Elvis is a boy". Well, maybe chromosomally the cat still qualifies, but that's about it. She then went on to tell me, "You know, you don't really need a boyfriend, you have Elvis." Where did THAT come from? Advice from a four-year-old: date the cat.

Hmmmm, species aside, he's small, furry, toothless, and neutered. Not exactly what I was looking for in a boyfriend.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Back home

It's official. I have now had enough Mexican food and margaritas to last me, oh, say 3 years. Or til the next time the group from work decides to go to Feleena's in the Glebe. Whichever comes first.

Cali was awesome! I loved every minute of the trip. Seeing my friends, rooming with Evelyn, talking shop with colleagues, spending time sitting outside in flower-strewn courtyards (in November!), eating Mexican food and drinking margaritas -- what's not to like?! The conference sessions were interesting, and amazingly enough, presented ideas that we can use here at work.

My talk went well, but since I had a bad time slot, right after lunch, a lot of people came in late while I was talking and it put me off a little, but other than that, I was satisfied with how I did.

We went on a great geology field trip on a boat. Normally our field trips are by bus and we are always getting off to look at the rocks, then back on, repeat, repeat, repeat; so it was so different, and great, to just stand on deck and have someone tell us all about what we were seeing -- wave-cut terraces, mesas, ancient river deltas -- very cool. Also cool was seeing the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz which was anchored in the harbour, and a bunch of (well, 2) submarines.

We also got up close and personal with some sea lions and pelicans on a floating dock in the middle of the harbour. I kept expecting the latter to start speaking like Geoffery Rush, lol. And after all that, they opened the bar and then served us a truly spectacular Mexican buffet aboard the ship while we cruised the harbour and went under the Coronado bridge.

The only drawback was that the hotel seemed to have the most, ummmm....intellectually challenged front desk staff of any place I've ever stayed. Honestly, they were friendly enough, but not very smart -- like a litter of slow Golden Retriever pups. I had made reservations more than a month ago; a single non-smoking room for Linda, my supervisor; and a double smoking room for Evelyn and me. Ev smokes, and it doesn't bother me to be around it for the few days we would be together. So we arrive at the front desk, tired after flying Ottawa-Chicago, then Chicago-San Diego, just wanting to flop on a bed and decompress for a couple of minutes, only to be faced with Roy the Wonder Clerk. He gave us our key cards and a map of the hotel, which is actually a compound of white adobe, tile-roofed buildings connected by walkways, galleries, and courtyards, and off we went, dragging our luggage behind us.

Ten minutes later we arrived at our room on a second-floor gallery. Front and centre was the no smoking sign on the door. We bumped our luggage back down to the ground and through the walkways back to the lobby. I explained that we had reserved a smoking room. Roy looked like he was thinking very hard. (Roy was about 22, kind of punk-looking, and his name tag said he was from New York.) Without so much as a 'sorry' he took the key cards, searched the computer and gave us a new room. This one was on the second floor of a building without an elevator, so we bumped our wheeled luggage up a steep flight of stairs and then down another gallery to our new room. It was a lovely room. It was a smoking room. It was also a single room. So I left Ev to have a smoke and I went back to the front desk to try to straighten things out. When I told Roy that it was a lovely room, but it was a single, he just looked at me. I'm not sure that anything was going on behind that blank face. I explained that since there were two of us that two beds would be a nice idea, and once again he turned to the computer for a bit, only to tell me that a) there were no double smoking rooms available, and b) there were now no double rooms at all available since he had given them out to other guests checking in while we were on our wild goose chase.

I pointed out that we had just been given a double room not 20 minutes before, and could he please check if it was still available. Giving a sigh like I had just asked for a kidney or a testicle or something instead of asking him to, I don't know, *do his job*, he looked again and grudgingly gave us back the key cards to the first room we had been given. Ay caramba! We were soooo ready for the margaritas!

The scenery was beautiful, and I never got tired of seeing these gorgeous plants, plants that in the past I've paid a fortune for, just growing in people's yards or in giant pots in the courtyards of the hotel. I was slightly tempted to never come home, but you know, I'm Canadian enough to miss the winter. Oh, and my daughters. Yeah, I'd miss them too, of course.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Going to California with an aching in my heart

Well, not really. (Apologies to Led Zeppelin.)

I *am* going to California, tomorrow morning, and I have to be at the Ottawa airport at some ungodly hour of the morning. But my heart will definitely not be aching. Nor will I be posting to this blog for a few days.

I'm hoping everything will be OK on the home front, where a friend of mine and her daughter will be looking after my girls. And I'm so looking forward to a few days of talking to colleagues, catching up with old friends, going on a really interesting coastal geology field trip, and eating at restaurants where you pay for the food *after* you eat it (and where no clowns are involved in the process). I'm not even nervous about giving my talk. Well, not too nervous. It's almost finished, and I've been practising, but could always use another guinea pig to listen to it...

Anybody interested in public access to government-gathered geological information? Anybody? Hello?

(See you next week.)

Monday, November 06, 2006

Happy Birthday to me

It's my birthday today.

I'm a big fan of birthdays. I like my birthday, and I see no reason to stop liking it just because it's coming with bigger and bigger numbers attached. Not that I have much planned for tonight; nothing, in fact, except dinner, homework, bath, and stories with the girls, but that's OK, spending my b-day with my favourite people in the whole wide world is an evening to look forward to. I've had a few e-mails, a couple of phone calls, and a shout-out from the mommies in my online mommies' group to commemorate the occasion. I feel loved.

It's a blessing to mark another year going by and realize how good my life is right now. My girls, my job, my home, and my wide and ever-increasing circle of friends are all things to be celebrated and cherished.

That being said, there are still a few things I would like to have in the coming year:
  • I would like never to have to be trapped with Rachel in full tantrum mode in the changing room at Walmart ever again. (We were all in there for Leah to try on a pair of jeans, when Rae, at the end of her tiny little rope with boredom, pitched such a fit that I fully expected to see Ottawa City Police, the SWAT team, and the Children's Aid Society waiting for us on our exit from the cubicle.)
  • I would like to purchase Leah a pair of girls' jeans that *does not* come with those idiotic adjustable elastic band/button deals for adjusting the fit at the waist. The buttons chafe, and if they become unmoored, her pants slide down her skinny hips.
  • I would like someone to decree that sparkly/glittery eyeshadow is out, and matte is in. Please do this soon, I'm almost out of my lovely matte Estee Lauder makeup.
  • I would like the powers- that-be at CTV to decide that the icky bodies and gore of C.S.I. are less damaging to small children who might still be up at 8 p.m. than the wonderful smut of Grey's Anatomy, and switch the air time for the two shows. That way I won't keep missing the first 10 minutes of Grey's taking Rachel in one last drink of water/finding the missing toy/general small-child stalling tactics.
  • I would like more time for blogging.
  • I would like Rachel to stop with the semifrequent and always-in-the-right-context use of the word 'damn'. (Wonder where she heard that.) Telling her it's a bad word just seems to make it more alluring.
If you could help with any of these things on my wish list, I'd be happy to share my cake and ice cream with you.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Where's Greg?

I work from home on Fridays. It's a good thing. This morning I was emerging from the dark basement where the computer lives, and where I work when I'm at home, to visit the bathroom. While going past the living room, I realized that I had left the TV on. It was Good Morning Canada, and the Wiggles were on. The first thing I noticed is that they're looking kind of old. Anthony has a fair bit of grey in his closely shorn hair. But then, I looked at the guy in the yellow shirt and

It. Wasn't. Greg. WTF? Who was this guy, and what have they done with Greg?

My family's relationship with the Wiggles goes back 6 years when Leah was a year old. My sister gave us a Wiggles video, and though I failed to see the charm in these four strange men, Leah was enchanted. The "Fruit Salad" video could ensure me 20 minutes to make dinner, or fold a load of laundry. When she was 3, Leah told me that Greg was her boyfriend. I always had my doubts about these guys -- have you ever seen the bizarre puppet video on "Fruit Salad"? The song is "Can you point your finger and do the twist" and it's the Wiggles puppets, these scary-looking paper maché guys that bop around with their little fingers pointed, against a bad psychadelic multi-coloured background. The whole thing looks like a bad acid trip flashback. Rachel won't watch it 'cause it creeps her out.

My online mommies' group once spent a giggle-filled week posting back and forth on the subject of "If you had to sleep with a Wiggle, which one would you choose". (A digression, I know, but I'm desperate for enough Wiggle-related material to fill a blog posting.)

Anyway, I consulted Wikipedia, and apparently he has a 'mystery illness'. Poor Greg. I hope he gets better soon, 'cause the new guy.....not cutting it.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Well, that explains it

Newsflash: according to the next-door neighbour, the neighbour across the street was seen cleaning up a smashed pumpkin from the street at the end of his driveway at about 8:30 p.m. on Halloween night. I guess I know what happened to my jack o'lantern.

Now it's time to gear up and get things in order since I'm attending a conference in San Diego (!) starting next Wednesday. I'm very excited, since I've never been to California before, and this conference, which I attend almost every year, is more often in such exciting locales as Troy, NY; Tulsa, OK; Sudbury, ON, Shepherdstown, WV; and Whitefish, MT.*

An amazingly good friend and her 16-yr-old daughter are moving into my house for a few days to look after the girls so that I can attend and present a paper at the conference. Note to self: get going on writing presentation.

*No offence meant to people who live in any of the above places, I myself lived in Sudbury for 5 years and it's a lovely town, but, damn, San Diego! The Pacific Ocean, the beaches, the palm trees, the non-requirement for heavy sweaters, the people who've never heard of snow tires. You have to admit it's a cool destination (Way cool, my friend Norah would say), especially taking into account Ottawa weather in November. Now all I need is a leopard-print silk scarf and some wicked sunglasses and I'm all set.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

I wonder if this ever happened to Rodin?

Last night's trick or treating went very well. Unexpectedly warm weather made the annual round of the neighbourhood a pleasant outing instead of the usual sleet/cold rain/occasional snow flurry extravaganza, with all Halloween costumes hidden under snow suits. In the rush to get home from work and pick the girls up from daycare, get supper and get everyone costumed up and ready to go, I neglected to take any pictures of the girls in their costumes or of the lit jack o'lantern. Around 6, we set up the jack o'lantern out on the front porch and put bowls of candy out ready for the goblins (hoping that the first kids by didn't just empty the bowls into their bags) and set out.

We were home by about 7:15 with bags bulging with chips and candy. After the kids were in bed, not too badly sugared-up, I went out on the porch to blow out the candle in the jack o'lantern, only to find it gone. Gone! And I hadn't even taken a picture of my masterpiece. I looked around and the neighbours' pumpkins were still all there, merrily flickering away, but mine was gone. Damn.

I'm trying to console myself with the thought that someone was so overcome with admiration for my carving abilities that they were helpless to stop themselves making off with my truly stellar flaming skull jack o'lantern. Well, that and the fact that now I don't have to store a decomposing pumpkin in my garage til next garbage day.