Rules Around Pools

My son is starting daycare part-time shortly and we’ve found a home we really like. The parents are great, their two little girls (3 and 1) are sweet  and the set-up of the playroom is awesome. There are lots of toys (educational and otherwise) and the walls have the alphabet, the days of the week, and the weather posted. It’s like a daycare in a home and it’s perfect. One problem. They have a small, above ground pool. It’s not up yet but I gather it’s about 8-10 ft in diameter with hard sides about 2-3 ft off the ground. There is no fence around it (other than the fence around the backyard proper).

The daycare provider has said that they will put up a small fence around it and “move the bigger toys in front of it to block access” but I’m still feeling uncomfortable about it. As a parent and former lifeguard, I know how easily things can go wrong. I really like the place but the more we think about it, the more this is becoming a deal breaker for us.

Aren’t there rules around having a second fence around a pool? I know that if we’re not happy with the fence that does go up around the pool, we can always pull him out of the daycare. I guess I’m just musing aloud because it’s easy to feel like a neurotic parent sometimes, especially when the other parent is more relaxed about it. Anyone out there have thoughts or experiences about kids and pools?


What Happens in Grade 6 Should Stay in Grade 6

I made a personal time box on Sunday, January 14, 1989. I cannot explain why. I filled it with treasures, a note to myself, and a record of personal information in case someone else found the box. I remember I was reading “After the Bomb,” a young adult novel about nuclear holocaust. I suspect I thought that this time box–a shoebox–might somehow survive whereas I might not. It wasn’t morbid, really. I wasn’t thinking so much about my demise but the box’s survival.

The box was labelled “Open in 2010” and last week I opened it. More than 20 years after I made it, I started to pull those treasures out of the box.

Here’s what I found.

Best finds:

1) A great photo of my nan on our old living room sofa. She was wearing a blue silk nightgown and big, dangly pearl earrings. She had her red curly hair up in combs and lipstick on. I’m sure it was Christmas morning. My friend Heather remarked that she looked like someone out of that old tv show “Dallas.” That is exactly how I remember my nan. It’s been over 13 years and I still miss her.

2) A 1976 $2 bill. It’s crinkled and well-used but still cool to see.

Other significantly less impressive finds:

3) Eight of my best jelly bracelets, including the ones with the sparkles and liquid inside (which has since evaporated or leaked)

4) A dozen plastic charms including a pink baseball bat, an egg in a frying pan, and a jar of two-tone pills.

5) A fabric-covered box of fabric-covered unsharpened pencils.

6) Six of my grandmother’s rings (old costume jewelry). The part that goes around your finger on a few rings is a gold elastic woven thread type-thing.

7) A random assortment of valentines (including Ziggy and Minnie Mouse). Not from close friends, mind you, but from random people in my class.

8 ) A 680 CFTR bumper sticker signed by “___ Spencer” with “Thanks for listening.” I did really like CFTR when I was a kid. It ruled.

9) My old phone book with neatly written names and complete addresses of all my friends. My cursive writing was spectacular, I must say.

10) Painted plastic window ornaments that my friend Zenia says are “Shrinky-dinks” <??>

11) My Camp Miakonda song book and a letter to me at camp from my parents.

12) A two-page list of blonde jokes including such favourites as “What do you call three blondes in a freezer? Frosted flakes.” and “Why do blondes have TGIF written on their shoes? Toes go in first.”

And a few other things…

I wonder what I was thinking at the time I put these things in a shoebox to be preserved. I think that… I wasn’t thinking. At least not too deeply anyway. I just put in the things that I loved at that moment. Maybe my other takeaway from opening this box should be a reminder to live in the moment. How can I be disappointed with that?

A Pocket Full of Sunshine

Yes, this is another meme going around the internet from blogger to blogger. It came from Dara at Readily A Parent and I’m passing it on to Renee at Canamgirl, Chantelle at SixthandElm, and Susie at NewDayNewLesson to see where they take it.

I’m starting with five today and five more another time. In no particular order, things that make me ridiculously happy:

Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy!

1) Funny movies, especially anything produced by Judd Apatow (e.g., Superbad, Anchorman) For example, from The 40 Year Old Virgin:

2) A warm breeze. I know how cheeseball this sounds but I’m dead serious. Picture a warm spring day when the sun is shining. You’re wearing a cozy sweater but no coat and a warm breeze is blowing gently across your cheeks. How awesome is that, really?!

3) Being right. I know, I’m not supposed to admit this but it’s true. It may not make me ridiculously happy (that’d be a stretch) but I do really like to be right. Case in point: Two days ago, we tried giving the babe blueberries again because the first time he had them 3 months ago, he got a little rash on his cheeks. I said at the time, “No more blueberries. They’re causing that rash.” My hubby thought I was nuts, that it was just dry skin. He’s reiterated that point a few times since. So we tried the blueberries again. And guess who woke up with a rash on his cheeks. (For the record, being right is certainly A LOT less fun when it means something bad or uncomfortable for someone else [esp. the B!]. This just happened to be a recent example.) Update: The rash is quickly going away and there will be no more blueberries for the little guy!

4) A good book that I can’t put down. My current favourite won’t likely be supplanted from its first-place position for a long time: The Shadow of the Wind, by Carlos Ruiz Zafon.

When I first read this for a book club I’m involved in, I didn’t love it because I think I read it too fast and didn’t take it in the way I like to. But after the discussion, I read parts of it again and loved it.

“…few things leave a deeper mark on a reader than the first book that finds its way into his heart. Those first images, the echo of words we think have left behind, accompany us throughout our lives and sculpt a palace in our memory …” The Cemetery of Forgotten Books, page 8.

That first book for me was The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. I also loved A Little Princess by the same author. I remember imagining the foggy, grey hills and valleys of the moors and the pruning of the old rose bushes against the old brick wall. And who doesn’t love the idea of a secret place that no one but you knows about?

5) Glee!! 

This t.v. show wasn’t a winner out of the gate for me because I’m not a huge fan of musicals. However, it got such rave reviews, I wanted to give it a shot. And what a fun show– a good plot, great music, and uber-talented singers! I may even buy the soundtrack for the car and chalk it up to a guilty pleasure. 🙂

The Quest for Clothes that Flatter, not “Fatter”

Recently I spent an afternoon in West Palm Beach , Florida, at City Place, a boulevard lined with the hottest shops for the young and tiny, you know, places like BCBG and Anthropologie. There is a wonderful stone plaza with a spectacular fountain as its centrepiece. And every half hour, bursts of water rocket into the air in time to classical music pumped out across the courtyard.

The fountain... but no photo I've found will do it justice.

Designed to represent an old Italian village, the archways, pillars and palm trees are inspiring and the foot traffic is incredible for a Monday morning.  The $8 US valet parking might even fool you into thinking you can afford to shop in some of the higher-end boutiques.

But truly, this is a mecca for hard core fashionistas and wannabes alike. People come from all parts in central Florida to shop in  its high-end boutiques and chain stores. I have to say that it’s nice to see affordable stores in such a nice setting for a change, like a Rodeo Drive but without the $4000 pantsuits.


However, when it comes to fashionistas vs. wannabes, I have to say that I am firmly a wannabe. I wannabe stylish, I wannabe trendy, I wannabe anywhere but a fitting room. You know what I would love? A personal shopper. Seriously. Someone who can miraculously pick out jeans that make my bum look smaller and tops that flatter rather than “fatter.” I would gladly pay someone to make me stylish. Instead, I’m left to navigate seas of racks with clothes that seem to be made for someone without my wonderful shape to find clothes that suit not just my body type but also my age. I’m not 18 but I’m also not 40 (not that there’s anything wrong with either–well, actually, I wouldn’t want to be 18 again but that’s another story).

So, my question of the week is this: where do you 30-somethings find stylish clothes in a reasonable size? And when can you take me there?

Fennel and Fontina: When Good Recipes Go Bad

Subtitle: A Tale of One Cookbook’s Lust and Betrayal

Oh fennel root and fontina cheese, how you’ve wronged me! And what did I ever do to you besides try to combine your rich flavours with scrumptuous baked sausage and potatoes?

Great cookbook, mouth-watering photos of easy dishes, a young woman at home on maternity leave teaching herself how to cook. More disappointments than successes but those good dishes make it all worthwhile. Last night, however, is one hour of cooking I will never get back. It was an edible dinner, but certainly not an enjoyable meal.

Here’s the photo from the cookbook:

Baked Sausages, Fennel and Potatoes with Fontina

I thought, how can I go wrong? My carnivorous husband is sure to love this dish what with the meat, cheese and potatoes. Not so, my friend. And I can’t say I blame him.

Once I made something called “Cheesy Enchilada bake.” Not healthy at all but I was scrambling and I had everything on hand. The main ingredients are lasagne noodles, ground beef, cheese. A small 2 oz can of green chilis and a small onion give this dish its kick. You know what my husband said as he ate? Too many vegetables. <????> Oh, and he was serious. (NB: My husband has been very supportive throughout this process and always eats most of what’s put in front of him extolling each recipes virtues instead of dwelling on its flaws. Well, except for last week’s Tandoori Tilapia. That was just wrong on all counts.)

I’ve been working through two cookbooks, making roughly three new recipes a week. I’ve discovered about eight dishes that satisfy my requirements: healthy, contains vegetables, and you don’t have to be Martha-freakin’-Stewart to be successful.

So, my friends, I put this call out to you. Tell me your tales of cookbook lust and betrayal and, if you’ve found a good, healthy and fairly easy recipe, send it my way. Please, for the sake of my family. 😉

Part 2 of Something Red This Way Comes

The title of this blog should really be “Something SICK (or GREEN) this way comes” because everyone in this house has been sick for the better part of winter. What is it with little kids always catching everything going around? Last week, the kiddo woke up with one eye glued completely shut, the other half shut and a mountain of green goo dried under his nose. He was like a disgusting little pirate and if I didn’t feel so bad for him, I would have taken a photo.

Instead, I’m taking photos of red things around my house, a part 2 to last week’s blog. I’m the first to admit it’s a silly “game” but no sillier I would argue than those crazy games that fly around Facebook. My next photo? The pajamas I have been in for most of the past couple of months, except on laundry days and that one week there when I wasn’t sick.

My most-comfy flannel pjs

I have been busted by neighbours at 3 o’clock in the afternoon in the abovementioned pjs, prompting me to get dressed daily whether I feel like it or not. I know, pity me.

And you would think that wandering around the house sick for the past few months, with a sick kid in tow, I would be more organized. Not so, my friend. I discovered last weekend this fine Christmas floral display in plain sight in my front hall. Oops! (In my defense, I usually have a very similar, non-christmasy vase with red flowers in its place.)

The last of the Christmas decor.. still up and it's February!

The last of the red photos is that of our bedroom walls, a colour my husband hates, and the Kandinsky print that I love hanging on our wall.

Murnau Houses in the Obermarkt, Vassily Kandinsky, 1908

I really, really enjoy Kandinsky and as I’m writing this, I’m thinking again about our trip to New York City and seeing the Kandinskys at the Guggenheim. That’s where I’m going in my mind while I nurse two runny noses and two coughs due to cold.

Something red this way comes

Today someone sent me a note asking what happened to my blog, that she’d been enjoying reading it and it hasn’t been up lately. I have to say, it’s nice to be missed. The truth is I just got distracted. No, not busy. Well, no busier than usual, just distracted with other things. I’m notorious for starting eight projects at once and finishing one. Such is life.

There’s a game afoot in the blogosphere where we’re meant to celebrate the colour red (perhaps for a late Valentine’s blog?) Here’s where it started for me. I suppose it’s really an opportunity to share things about oneself using red as the link. You’re supposed to take photos of 10 red items around your house and post about it. I’ll bite, I guess. But I’ve only got six. Take it or leave it.

The first thing I find is the Dancing Elmo in my son’s toy box. This toy scares the pants off him. It sings and dances, not quite over top of the sounds of the motor and gears chugging away. You’d think that in this day and age we’d have quieter robotics!

My son's Dancing Elmo. That which terrifies him will only make him stronger!

Next I found the purse I bought in New York when we travelled there for our fourth anniversary.

The handbag I bought under a bridge in NYC

But what this purse really reminds me of is the poison ivy we picked up before we left that resulted in my face swelling up like the allergic reaction in the movie Hitch. (My husband maintains it wasn’t THAT bad. He lies.) We have a photo of soaking our poison-ivy coated feet in the tub in our hotel room. Socks+hours of walking=aggravated tootsies.

And since the Olympics are on and we’ve been watching constantly, I picked up a couple of pairs of these inexpensive, warm commemorative mittens. You know, for all that snow we’re getting? Sigh. 2010–the year the “man-machine” (aka snow blower) sat in our garage instead of dragging my husband around the driveway like a rag doll.

Official Olympic mittens. And warm too! Sweet!

Are you watching the Olympics? What’s been your favourite competition? How do you find the reporting? CTV is cracking me up because all of the anchors are stumped to fill 3+ hours of time when no events are taking place. Every morning, they take us to the streets of Vancouver to show us their favourite sausage vendors and street buskers and they’ve resorted to Olympic gossip about Johnny Weir, the fur-wearing diva figure skater from the USA.

Okay, I know I said I had six but I think that’s enough for today. I’ve got seven other projects that demand my attention! 😉