Tuesday, March 31, 2009


Sometimes, watching my girls, I'm astounded at how grown-up they are. They look exactly the same for what seems like months on end, and then one morning when they drag their sleepy selves to the breakfast table, they've changed. Subtly, but unmistakeably. One or the other looks older somehow, more mature. Losing the roundness of the little girl faces, the excitement of the little girl voices, and gaining the height, the stretch, the angularity of older girls, the ennui and disdain for things, like Dora, that once they adored.

I get glimpses, flashes, of the teenagers and women they'll become -- Rachel sitting on the couch with her legs crossed, twirling her hair while she finalizes details for a playdate with her friend Kate over the phone, saying "Yes, that works" to Kate's suggestions. Leah and her friends Alice and Ellie breaking character in their make-believe game to gossip about a classmate in trouble for flipping off a teacher. I have no trouble imagining these three in the future sitting around a pub table with beer or wine in front of them, bending their heads together and laughing in the same way that they're now doing over strawberry-kiwi Fruitopia and chips.

But some things don't entirely change. Some things still echo the past and bring to mind the little girls they once were, though those things are fleeting and don't happen often.

Leah was watching TV the other day in a pose I remember from the past. I snapped a picture:

And then I went to the photo albums. The year that Rachel was born, Leah was two, nearly three, by the time Rae arrived. She liked to watch TV on the floor. I opened the album and took out the remembered photo, and snapped a picture of it:

It's nice to know that some things haven't changed.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Little Miss Muffet redux, now with extra snot

Man, I'm just hittin' them out of the park with my titles lately, aren't I?

Well, here's the scoop. I apparently spit in the Universe's eye last week when I was bragging about making it all the way through the fall and winter without a single cold. Sure, we danced a bit with a gastro flu once or twice in the household, but no pain-in-the-ass, drippy, sneezy, coughy colds. The Universe has a wicked sense of humour, though. It bided Its time and let me make it just past the vernal equinox and into spring before unleashing the mother of all head colds on my unsuspecting body. I'm thinking of redoing the occupation portion of my business cards to read "mucus factory". The one bright spot (and I really hope I'm not jinxing us yet again) is that the girls are showing no signs of this plague.

So, since my head is full of what feels like bricks and, well, snot, I'm incapable of coherent writing and will once again reach into the archives for a previously viewed post. And seeing how well snakes went down, this one's about spiders. I'm *not* a fan.

Gardening for the arachnophobic

My back yard earlier today:

Shhhhhp. [sound of weeds being pulled]
Shhhp.[pause][sudden intake of breath][realization that crawly sensation on arm is just breeze ruffling arm hair][relieved sigh]
Shhhp.[pause][a more-panicky intake of breath and slight scream][realization that what was thought to be a spider was only part of a dead leaf][slight embarassed laugh and relieved sigh]
AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAUUUUUUUUUUUGGGGGHHH!!!!! Fuck! It's on my arm!! Get it off! Get it off! Get it off! Get it off! Get it off! Get it off! Get it off! Get it off! Oh my God where did it go? Where did it GO? It's up my SLEEVE! AAAAAAUUUUUGGGGH! CRAP! [wild flailing of arms and shoulder shrugging, like a test subject in a nerve gas experiment] THERE IS A SPIDER UP MY SLEEVE! [attempts are made to take long-sleeved teeshirt off right there in the yard] Shit! Shit. Shit.

[small black thing falls out of sleeve]

Oh..... It's just a cricket. Well hello, Mr. Cricket. You gave me quite a scare. Run along now like a good six-legged bug.

[delayed case of the willies, because it *could* have been a spider up the sleeve]
Screw it. I'm going in for a beer.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

For Meanie, or Anatomy of a fashion icon

When five-year-olds dress themselves for playing outside in September.

No velvet was available at the time.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Facebook thinks I'm fat and lonely

Facebook thinks I should take a good long look at myself in the mirror.

I am apparently not achieving my full potential. It's obvious from the steady stream of gently nudging ads that appears on my profile page. I have no doubt that Facebook has only my best interests at heart, and truly wants me to be a better person. A thinner, less wrinkly, and happily shacked-up in-a-relationship-with-my-soulmate person. (A short digression, Facebook: glass houses and stones. Your new layout really sucks leaves a lot to be desired. Epic fail. Seriously. You need to change the format back. Do it for yourself, if not for your members.)

But let me count my shortfalls according to this Dr. Phil wannabe social networking phenomenon, as manifested through the ads:

  1. Compatible Single Men! - lonely
  2. The Dr. Bernstein diet - fat
  3. Are you 45? Win a Wii Fit! - old and out of shape, possibly fat
  4. Ottawa Singles Events - lonely
  5. Meet men over 40! - lonely, and only attractive to fellow oldies
  6. Fine wines at the LCBO - Well, OK, Facebook, you got me there.
  7. It's better than Botox! - wrinkly
  8. Lose weight with Acai berries, Hollywood's secret! - fat, and easily swayed by celebrity
  9. Date a millionaire! Meet single, verified Canadian millionaire men who want to date classy women! - lonely and shallow/gold-digging. And easily flattered due to my desire to believe in my own innate 'classiness'.
  10. Amazing anti-aging cream: Why does Celine Dion look so much younger than she is? - (I don't know, maybe she sang at the devil until he couldn't take it anymore and gave her a portrait for her attic?) - old, with a side of wrinkly
Yeah. Then why am I in such a good mood seeing as I'm obviously totally pathetic?

Status: Alison is logging off Facebook and getting a glass of wine.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


A package arrived for the girls a couple of weeks ago. Presents from Aunt Lise. The best thing nestling inside the box (except maybe the Mamma Mia! DVD for me) was a copy of Cadoo. Cadoo is a game from Cranium, which makes some of the best, most imaginative board games for kids around. And this one is no exception. There are cards that can only be read with secret decoder glasses, and when one person reads the clue, she must either act out the answer, sketch the answer, or model the answer out of bright purple modelling clay for the other players to guess. There are also codes to be broken. It's loads of fun, and the great thing about it is that although it's fun for all of us to play together, the girls can play it by themselves, without me having to help out.

I came up from the basement the other day, with some chicken from the freezer to thaw out for dinner, to find the girls had pulled the game out and were playing in the living room. Rachel had just finished miming 'eating breakfast' -- spooning up invisible cereal, when Leah sculpted her object and placed it triumphantly on the coffee table:

Y'all know what this is, don't you?

That's right. It's a tap.

Sunday, March 15, 2009


It's above freezing today, it's nearly 11 degrees. The sun is shining, there's birdsong in the air -- the metallic-sounding calls of the first robins, the chirring of the red-winged blackbirds, the harsh croaking of the bluejays, and the autumnal honking of the geese heading back north -- and my front walkway is a small lake from the melting snow. I have all the windows open to air out the house, and I'm already thinking about all the yard work that will need to be done when the last of the snow is gone.

And I'm not the only one in the house who's noticed that spring is coming.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


Just in case the title of this post has left you in any doubt -- I would like to take this opportunity to inform you that this is a post about SNAKES. There will be pictures of SNAKES in it. Real ones. If pictures of SNAKES make you feel icky and/or freaked out, then it's time to click on over to a small fluffy animal blog or something.

You have been warned.

OK, so you might have noticed that there are no snakes in the above picture. Don't bother looking either, it isn't a "Where's Waldo the Snake" picture. (Unless the snake guy didn't take them all with him when he left, and I'm pretty sure that he did. But, if Max turns up missing any time soon, then maybe I should check under the couch. But I digress...) That's the adorable birthday girl, above. The one who loves snakes, and reptiles, and yes, amphibians. She is a fan of all things scaly and slithery and tadpole-y. So, when we were at the Carp Fair last year, and Leah saw that there was a Little Ray's Reptile Zoo tent there, she was mesmerized by the snakes. She found out that they did birthday parties, and it was game over. We were having a Snake Party!

Children were invited:

And a few adults were too:

(You didn't think I'd let this opportunity to quote from Snakes on a Plane go by without taking advantage of it, didja?)

Pizza was ordered, the room was decorated, and the cat was locked in my ensuite bathroom to avoid inadvertently becoming snake chow.

I can't say enough about Kevin and the show he put on with the snakes. He was so good with the kids, he remembered all their names, was so patient with all their questions, and really, really knew his stuff. It wasn't just letting the kids pet the snakes, no, he started with North American snakes, and then South American, African etc. He explained what kind of snake each was, where it comes from, what it eats, how big it gets, etc., etc. He also brought a monitor lizard and a cayman. The kids were spellbound. It was fun and educational and way cool. Here are a few of the 50 or so pictures I took:

A teeny tiny Rubber Boa, native to BC. Who knew we had boas in Canada?

It looks like a Rattlesnake, but it isn't, it's a harmless Bullsnake.

The monitor lizard had very sharp claws.

The Yellow Anaconda was my favourite snake, it's just beautiful. And heavy.

The cayman was pretty laid-back. I'm thinking crocodillian valium. He did have his snout taped shut (avoiding his nostrils) just to ensure that there were no nasty missing-finger issues.

Then violently and without warning, the house was tipped on its side and screaming children slid down the suddenly inclined walls to fall in a giant heap while Kevin valiantly used a hook to keep the Reticulated Python pinned to the once-floor and now-wall so that it wouldn't be flung down on the unsuspecting kiddies!!! (No, not really. For some reason I can't get this photo to come out in the correct orientation. I've rotated and saved it about 50 times on my hard drive to no avail, but my explanation is way better, I think. Just tilt your head.)

That snake (Reticulated Python) was voted Most Likely to Eat Someone, as it was not a happy camper and lunged at Kevin. No petting was allowed, and it was sent to its box without any supper.

And then came the big boy. Or big girl, actually. I think her name was Pebbles. Yes, I had a 12-foot Boa Constrictor in my living room. How incredibly cool was that?

Check out the size of her! She's huge. And gentle. She seemed to like all the petting.

After we said goodbye to Kevin and the reptiles, and everyone washed their hands, it was pizza and cake time.

I don't think any of the kids is going to forget the party anytime soon. Samuel L. Jackson would have been proud.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

In which I break a promise

It's 11:17 p.m. This time shift to daylight savings is kicking my ass, because the kids aren't tired at bedtime because their bodies think it's earlier. And I can't get the photos to load from the server at work, where they're stored.

So, to avoid making this the sum total of the snake pictures from Leah's party:

I am going to have to wait until tomorrow to blog about Leah's Snake (and other assorted reptiles) Party.

Snake-o-phobes be warned, there will be snake photos in tomorrow's blog.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Rumours of my death have been greatly exaggerated

Well, I can't deny it. I've been a bad blogger lately. It's been more than a week since I've updated. And I haven't been round to visit many of you either. Some intense structured-writing and XML training, a presentation for my French class, and planning Leah's birthday party (which will be blogged in all its snaky glory, so be warned) kept me away from blog .

But here's how much I love you guys. Five minutes ago, I was upstairs in my living room. In my comfy chair. With a glass of red wine at my elbow, a fire burning merrily in the (fortunately squirrel-less) fireplace, the Sens one goal up on the Buffalo Sabres on the TV, and a P.D. James novel open on my lap. The girls were WWF wrestling playing nicely and I was trying to decide between brie on crackers or dark chocolate for a snack.

And now I'm here. Down in the dank ENAC-infested basement where the computer lives. Instead of being up there, in the warm bosom of my favourite hockey team family. The guilt at not posting more often was made that much more manifest since I spent a lovely few hours brunching with other Ottawa-area bloggers down on Elgin Street today. It was great to see the uh-may-zing bloggers I've already met -- XUP, Nat, Andrea, Maven, Jobthingy -- again. I also got to meet two of my other blog roll reads in person (finally!): Adventures in Mongo, and Raino M.O.T. And I had a great conversation with the Dandelion King's human.

So, here's the deal. I promise to get back on the bloggy horse tomorrow and tell you all about the 12-foot boa constrictor I had in my living room, if you promise to come back and read. And I'm a person who takes her promises seriously. (And on that note, Maven, I want to hear that you actually did deflower a masseur for me at the spa today, K?)