Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Adapting Success

Once upon a time I posted about our success with our Readathons.

The basic rundown is that one day on the weekend you drop everything on the hour, every hour, from 9-5ish and take a moment to have your child read to you for practice's sake. At the end of the day they get a prize.

Our kidlets love Readathons.

Unfortunately(?) their reading skills are no longer lacking, and the readathon—while much enjoyed—could be time better spent on other skills needing some honing.

And I'm tired of tossing out prizes (dinky cars, Lego minifigures, Trashies, Kinder Eggs, whatever's left in the prize bucket) for easy-peasy acts.

Oh no, Mom doesn't hand out prizes for nothing—you need to work for these little mofos, children.

Enter the math-athon. My oldest needs math practice. The youngest does not. And nothing viscerally irks the one that needs help more than having his little brother bouncing with the answer because it comes easily to him.

I get it. Know-it-alls make me stabby, too are aggravating.

Thus it became evident that we needed to manage the oldest's morale by handing a not-so-likeable task to the youngest in order to keep said frustration in check. Enter the printathon...

Yes, our six year old is in grade one and his printing is horrific, chicken scratch, could be Chinese characters I wouldn't know the difference, erm, less than desirable.

Handily, he's been sent home with sight words to be used for quizzing him on his reading—200+ sight words the kid got right the first time through and clearly doesn't need to study in order to repeat the act.

These same booklets I'm repurposing as source words for his printing.

And after a few printathons over the Christmas holidays, he's already showing improvement.
Believe it or not, that's improvement.

Now that he's focusing on an area he needs to work on, his know-it-all attitude has also been knocked down a peg and his older brother isn't nearly so defensive and defeated when approaching his own studies (the hated beast that is math).

I'll call this a win.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Cats For Sale

If you've been hanging around here long enough, you'll know I have a love-hate relationship with Kijiji.

This ad is one of the more positive reasons I keep browsing on the classified site, and couldn't help but snag a screenshot. I hope these two have found a loving home, hopefully with someone who shares the ad poster's sense of humour...

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Merry Boxing Day

Yes, because savvy blogger I am, I've had a whack of posts scheduled over the last few weeks to cover the December frenzy here at Chez Lannis and completely forgot to whip up a merry Christmas post.


So Merry Boxing Day. Enjoy.

Or don't, since despite being paired with envious savings, the culture of Boxing Day (or Boxing Week) sales ultimately ends in frustration--grabby shoppers, rude parking lots, and general disgruntlement.

Unless you do as Mr Lannis says and "pack your patience."

Or do as I do and go solo and pack my Kindle...

A long line to wait? No worries--I've got 212 books in my purse. Truth.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Capturing a Moment

I like Scrabble.

To Mr Lannis' dismay, I don't play it much with him (no, seriously--he's bugging me all the time), but not because I don't like the game.

I'm a lazy points tallier. The really truly actual board game requires math.

Math and I? We don't play well together (heh).

Besides, I like to do fancy pants moves on the board and make three words at once just to screw with my opponent (right, Tricia? ::smirk::).

No, we haul out our Scrabble board once or twice a year if it's lucky, despite it being one of our favourite games.

I do, however, play Scrabble online--or rather, currently its counterpart Words With Friends on Facebook.

The math, she happens automatically. It's lovely.

And I'm a believer that this game is part vocabulary, part strategy, part mental altertness, and part luck of the draw--shitty letters are shitty letters. No matter what's on the board, sometimes your tiles just blow and there's nothing you can do about it.

Today's board selection made me giggle. I'm sharing, natch.

Sometimes, despite your best efforts, your tiles are booshit. Heh.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Words of Wisdom

[Note: This post was originally published on The Mrs on December 17th, 2011.]

Okay. I don’t have an anecdote or silly story to tell today, but I have a present for everyone just the same.

Wisdom. Perhaps a touch of much-needed mental breathing room?

Regardless of whether you’re decking your halls in anticipation of a birthday that happened over two thousand years ago, or (secularly) for a fat guy to break into your house because he’s been watching your kids all year (yeah, because that’s not creepy at all), or well... I’d touch on other celebrations but I’m going to err on the side of “I don’t celebrate it, so I won’t mock it” because I’m friendly (read: ignorant) like that...

Anyhow, point being: for whatever reason, there seem to be plenty of reasons for people to get-together this time of year. In Canada we call it “keeping warm.”

A lot of us will be seeing family soon, be it our family by blood, or the one by choice. And we all know what happens when you get a lot of people together with different opinions, philosophies... perhaps a little alcohol poured in there, too...

Yeah. Shit show, ahoy.

So. In the interest of keeping our lovely family here at The Mrs aneurysm-free over the holiday season, I give to you some words of wisdom.

This is in our main floor bathroom. Because everyone needs to see it.


Everyone who comes into my house long enough to use the bathroom, that is.

I’ll admit I need the daily reminder. Thanks to the copious amounts of tea I drink, I receive this reminder often.

My sanity — and my blood pressure — are much better since I hung this handy sign. (Psst — someone posted it on Pinterest and you know how we feel about Pinterest around here.)

But, if this mental mantra doesn’t work — because not everything works for everyone — I give to you —

(Are you ready?




Like, seriously ready?)


Or, well, pieces of people, I suppose... written in zombie font.

And if visualization’s your thing, might I suggest imagining any aggravating offenders (offending aggravaters?) you meet over the holidays as participants in said font?

If that doesn’t work, there’s always defenestration...

Merry, merry, and all that jazz from the Lannis Clan!

Monday, December 16, 2013

DIY Ribbon Wreath

When going through the Christmas decoration bins it occurred to me that I have a problem...

Apparently I'm addicted to buying ribbon.


So, faced with oodles of spools of wired cream and gold ribbon, I did what any rabid avid crafter would do—grab the nearest old wire coat hanger and go to town.

And I did.

This is old ribbon that I've used and reused for years (wrapping bannisters, swirling about the tree, folding into bows for our pillars), so I'm unsure of how much I actually had, but there's at least three spools (possibly four) of 2" wide, 15' long ribbon used.

Upcycling, ahoy!

I can't stress enough how much you need to use wired ribbon. The ability to manipulate your loops is what gives you the look of lovely fullness.

Staples (and a stapler, natch), an old wire coat hanger, and copious amounts of wired ribbon is all you need to make yourself a Christmas wreath.

This is not rocket science, people. One morning after taking the kids to school I was struck with the inspiration to do this, et voilĂ ! Using shit I had laying around and 45 (somewhat spare) minutes I magically had a new wreath.

Mind you, the ribbon hoarding helped on the availability of supplies on hand.

Step 1: Bend your coat hanger into a circle.

Note: not the actual price I paid for the ribbon. I refuse to buy it full price and always hit up clearance sales—probably why there's so much... I forget what I've squirreled away from the previous year and insist on buying more when I see a bargain.

Step 2: Bend your ribbon into 2" loops and staple them on, clumping them together and twisting the ribbon in another direction occasionally to create variety in the direction of the loops. You'll want to use plenty of loops to create a full look. And I didn't even crack out the heavy duty stapler, either—the cheapo paper thing I have kicking around the kitchen just in case was all that was necessary.

Don't get hung up on neatness. It's all hidden.
Step 3: Uh... Repeat until your coat hanger is full. That's it, peeps.

There. My cheapo crafting is done for the week. This not-so Martha Stewart has earned the chance to crack open a wine bottle and relax (heh).

Friday, December 13, 2013

A Christmas Decorating Philosophy

Last year I didn't decorate for Christmas (much), thanks to surgery being scheduled December 20th.

Yeah, it sucked.

Mostly for the kids, I think. It didn't look too much like Christmas around this house.

(This would be thanks to my micromanagement, trust issues, inability to let other people help me--I knew Mr Lannis wouldn't put away the delicate Christmas decorations to my satisfaction, so I decided it was best for our relationship, the breakables, everyone involved if I just kept things to a minimum.)

Flash forward to a year later, and our house has exploded with ribbon, lights, and merry doodads freaking everywhere.

It's almost nauseating.

Regard the nasty vinyl tablecloth. It's ugly, but its primary purpose is sacrificial--the kids can destroy it and I don't care.


Well, the more socially acceptable reason is that I'm trying to rewrite my children's memories--one day they might remember the year we didn't have many decorations out, but common things being common, they're going to remember how the house transforms (almost) every year with light up ceramics, gauzy ribbons twining bannisters, something Christmas-y every direction they look, and a cheer so infectious its insistence is borderline militant.


The underlying reason for the storage room vomiting forth its red and gold abundance?

Well, my Christmas decorating philosophy is pretty straightforward: overkill.

Yes. Make it so over the top that you're grateful for the chore of putting it all away come boxing week.

It's that simple.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Pointless Popcorn Spiel

[Note: This post was originally published on The Mrs on April 14, 2012. This popper remains in use.]

I’ll be the first to admit we’re a little behind the times in the Lannis household. Santa finally brought us our first gaming system this past Christmas, and we don’t have cable or satellite TV.

I also don’t have a data plan on my smart phone, but that’s a whole other post for another day.

Last week, though, we opted to upgrade. A little. Like, how most of you probably did in the 1980s (or perhaps earlier)...

We went from popping popcorn on the stovetop (yes, the old shake-the-pot method), (dun dun DUN!) to an air popper.

It all started when Mr Lannis read somewhere that it was healthier to air pop popcorn (duh). Of course I knew this, but aside from a short stint of microwaving popcorn when I was in university, I’ve stovetop-popped popcorn all my life.

“It’s easier,” Mr Lannis said. “It’ll be better for the boys when they’re older--they’ll be able to pop popcorn themselves with less supervision.”

The latter, I highly doubt. Probably because I micromanage the kitchen in general (except for Mr Lannis’ eccentric eating habits--another whole post for another day).

And so the hunt began. I went online. I researched. I frugally found our $10 reward card for Sears, and scrolled through what they had to offer.

Warning: ranting semi-digression ahead.

Handy time-saving tip: Sears is overpriced. Holy moly, are they ever.

And I knew this, but I was that girl who grew up leafing through the phonebook-thick Sears catalogue--and not just the Christmas Wishbook, but the other seasonal catalogues, too, just as thick.

I was trained from childhood that Sears is the go-to. And I’ve shopped there plenty, taking advantage of their catalogue store pickups to keep from having to travel all the way into the nearest department store location for the item of choice.

Overall, it’s always been a decent experience. Basically the free-shipping-little-travel sold it for me. So I figured my $10 reward card would compensate for the air popper’s overpricing, and I would be able to pick it up in my town at the catalogue pickup location.

The air popper I chose was $19.99...

Yes, you could argue I could wait until garage sale season and find sixteen being sold within walking distance of my house for $2.

But Mr Lannis wanted it NOW!

Okay, so, maybe he just mentioned it twice and I took the opportunity to shop because, let’s be frank, I’ll take any excuse to do so--I’m far worse when it comes to books, trust.

My point here is that by the time I had that $20 air popper in my online shopping cart, it was $28 after taxes and shipping.


Whoa, whoa, WHOA.

Excuse me, Sears. This is new to me. It was always free to have items sent to the pickup locations... now you’re charging $3.95?! And applying tax to that?!

And it seems to me I’m still using my gas to drive to your location to get it?!


Off to WalMart (no, it wasn’t a special trip--I had a whole list). For $14.88 plus taxes I got a simple Rival air popper. A similar popper from Sears would have been $18 after I’d applied that $10 reward card!

Yes, basically the same price, but I still have my reward card.


Digression over.

So I brought home the popper, to decidedly less fanfare than I had anticipated, but whatever.

Mr Lannis, God bless him, read the instruction manual cover to cover. All eight pages, including warranty information.

Uh... it’s an air popper.

Recklessly, I poured in the kernels and plugged in that bad boy.

Actually, it wasn’t my first time manning an air popper. Once upon a time I worked for a local museum, and part of our education programming was teaching school classes about Native Canadians and their relationship to farming. They grew corn, and they were brilliant folks.

They used to toss it with maple syrup.


Point being, I’d manned an air popper a time or two at the museum...

But Mr Lannis hadn’t. So I get it. But as I’m setting in to watch Game of Thrones on DVD, he’s got kernels flying willy-nilly, into and out of the bowl set to catch them, as he leafs through the manual.

And then he speaks, “Uh, hon. It says here that kids and pets are supposed to be kept forty inches away.”

“Hm. That’ll be tricky,” I reply. He catches my eye. “Are they recommending we tie them, or staple them to the floor?”

He may or may not have thrown the manual at me.

I may or may not have deserved it.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Gift Ideas for Kids

Having trouble coming up with gift ideas for a child in your gift-giving circle?

I'm a big fan of books. (Not that this surprises anyone.)

I find a lot of the same titles repeated while perusing the bookshelves of my friends and their children. There are plenty of tried and true classics that turn up everywhere (think Dr Seuss, or Robert Munsch), and I try to avoid giving them because they are so popular.

You never know if the child already has it or not. It's a pain.


Might I humbly suggest my number one go to author for kids?

Graeme Base.

He's got amazing talent, this one. Imaginative brilliance, really. Lavish, engaging artwork, and fun stories. And apparently they've published some board books of his titles aimed at little ones (though they've yet to cross my path).

He's got many titles to his name, but here's my top three Graeme Base books to gift:

The Eleventh Hour was my first encounter with Graeme Base, when my mother gave it to me for my eleventh birthday. Yes, I've been a fan that long. The book is a mystery, and the reader need decode the hidden messages to solve the puzzle. I'd say ages 10 - 12 would enjoy digging through its pages.

The Water Hole is a numbers-based story about animals across the continents and a shrinking water hole. And the animals of the previous pages are hidden within the artwork of the later pages. I'd recommend this for ages 3 - 7, and have gifted this many times.

Animalia is the alphabet done with animals (and a single boy hidden in every scene for eagle-eyed readers). This is great for ages 4 - 9, have gifted this often, and my boys have burned through two copies themselves.

The Legend of the Golden Snail, Little Elephants, Jungle Drums, and Uno's Garden have all marched through our house via our local library and also have their merits, but those first three are my top choices.

When I've been really on the ball, I've given them as teacher gifts for their classroom, too, heh.

The tricky part, though, is remembering who I've given Base books to after I've done it once... any suggestions on where to turn after that? A good picture book author that spans across age groups yet isn't so popular it's almost guaranteed to already be on a kid's shelf?

Friday, December 6, 2013

Minor Adjustments

Some days I wonder how much my kids are aware of what went on around them in the last two years.

We explained some elements of our journey in language they would understand--basically they're aware that Mom had surgery because the doctors were fixing the part of her that would make her one day have cancer.

And of course they knew I had surgery. Twice. The recovery was long and definitely affected my ability to care for them, so it was, er, noticeable, for sure.

But then I run across something like this, and it's both completely random, and particularly insightful, and so I wonder...

Thursday, December 5, 2013

It could always be worse...

[Note: This post was originally published on The Mrs on June 9, 2012.]

Apparently a memo went out this weekend, one dictating that since Sandi had so lovingly posted about BARF, it was A-okay to start the intestinal pyrotechnics in the Lannis household, too.

Okay, so maybe the five-year-old was the only one who read that particular memo (which is kind of odd, seeing how he’s the only bipedal member of the family who can’t really read yet), but he followed through just the same.

Yep. Went to Nana’s for dinner, and—like always—had the boys put on their PJs before leaving for the hour-long drive that would end at Home Sweet Home slightly past their bedtime.

Drove to Papa’s (it’s on the way home) for a quick hello, and then proceeded to our house, arrival time adjusted now to slightly more past their bedtime...

And there were some uncharacteristic complaints from our five-year-old. Too hot. Thirsty. Are we home yet?

(By the way, that last phrase is outlawed in our van, due to its repetitive rudeness—completely NOT allowed. Best. Idea. Ever... trust.)

Arrived home. Kidlets unloaded. Entered through the garage. Boy one. Boy two. Lannis. Mr Lannis. Then...

L: I don’t feel good. [sits on laundry room step] BARF!
R [6.5 year old]: OH! EW! He puked on me!

No, he didn’t really puke on his brother. Just on his own clothes, his shoes, and the accumulated mangle of footwear that migrates into a disordered pile in the laundry room—seeing how that’s where the garage entryway is, it makes sense to me.

Mr Lannis, bless him, took our oldest boy upstairs, helped with toothbrushing and returned moments later after said boy was in bed.

The pukey one, however, was still sitting on the step. With a new accessory: a puke bucket. Which was good, because the BARF was still happening. Until it wasn’t anymore.

I was rinsing shoes and tossing them into the garage while sickly boy emptied his belly. It didn’t take long. The rinsing or the belly-emptying. Thank goodness.

Oh, and in there somewhere I’d wiped his face with a cool cloth and helped him blow the ugly from his nose.

By this time, Mr Lannis had found clean PJs for sickly one, and a glass of water, and was attempting not to gag as he helped his son undress.

Have I mentioned lately how much I love that man?

And I don’t know if it’s an innate mom-skill, or if it’s an acquired one, but I mindlessly rinsed those shoes, rinsed and scrubbed puke from PJs, a sweater, and the laundry room floor, put on a load of wash (Lord knows we had a good one by then), then scrubbed the laundry sink with bleach before I realized it...

It was 9:30pm, and I was on my hands and knees scrubbing my laundry tiles, and was thankful.

Yes, thankful, because sickly boy had his colour back and for all the world it looked like he’d eaten too much delicious food at Nana’s, then added a smattering of exhaustion, heat, and car sickness...

And he’d picked, of all places, one of the easiest areas in the house to clean.

Not the carpet, not his bed, and GOD BLESS HIM NOT THE VAN!

Sure, it was puke. But it could have been a hell of a lot worse!

Rationalization. It’s the underrated super-power.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Patches, Patches, Patches

If it's one thing I can rely on my kidlets for, it's their ability to make a liar out of me, it's their ability to blow the knees out of any given pair of pants.

I'm lucky if we get six months out of a pair of hole-less school pants before they need to be relegated to the play clothes drawer.

This means I absolutely refuse to pay full price for jeans (because we'd lose our house). In fact, what is new for my kids is usually only new to them.

Yep. The majority of their name brand (Levi's, Gap, Old Navy, Children's Place, and Osh Kosh) clothes come from second hand stores. Local small businesses or, when I travel to the nearby metropolis, second hand chains like Value Village and Once Upon A Child.

Experience has told me the best place to find gently-used-can't-tell-them-from-new (and sometimes brand spanking new, original tags still on them) jeans is Value Village. For $20 after 13% tax I walked out one day with four pairs of perfect condition jeans for the boys, and a toque (WTF is it with toques in our house?!).

And when Mr Lannis went hunting I went on a rampage, I whipped through this house getting things done and came upon the mending basket which prompted me to dig through the boys' play clothes drawers for pants in need of help, and heaped them all together in the kitchen.

Lo and behold, the pile was huge.

About a dozen pairs of pants, some with both knees blown out, some clearly unsalvageable (that's fine, someone needs to be the sacrificial meat to save the herd). Three pairs were Mr Lannis' too.

Hm. None of them were mine.



I patched. And patched, and patched, and pricked my hands with pins desperate to keep denim in place, drove myself crazy scrunching up pant legs so my sewing machine could properly zip those squares (or circles, as the case may be) into place.

I'm not saying it was easy--there's an art to sewing thick denim within the confines of a pant leg, but I'm saying it can be done.

And as they are bored with their monster patches, I opted for something a touch different this time. Easier, too, believe it or not--or at the very least less prep work overall.

Remember folks, sometimes the key to pulling it off is to veer away from perfection, artsy and fun, that's the way to go. If they look like they were never meant to be identical, it'll never look like you missed the mark.

Or at least that's what I tell myself... ::snort::

Monday, December 2, 2013

The Transformative Power of Music

There’s a long history of the creative arts being linked—visual artists garnering inspiration from musicians, visual artists moved by poets... music begetting dance, dance begetting poetry, poetry begetting song. A tradition of creative growth, an evolution of inspirational symbiosis that continues forevermore.

(That’s pretty much straight from my first year of creative writing, by the way... feel free to Google it. I’ve basically remembered—and lived—that, along with the internal struggle of killing the baby, which I’m currently living..)


(Note:  No worries, said baby is figurative—there’s no actual baby killing going on, so don’t call the authorities. The baby is my manuscript, and the entire phrase is a metaphor for embarking on the editing process, so chill.)

Music has always been inspirational for my writing. Not simply lyrics, but musical scores as well. Atmospheres, emotions evoked—it doesn’t always follow a song to the letter, but if it does, it can give me the chills.

Even if only one line applies to my work in progress, I can fluff up a vision all my own; a personal, mental music video that I will relive every chance I hear that melody.

Of course this is equally a blessing and a curse.

The blessing of course being the ease with which I can slide into an emotional atmosphere conducive to the tone of a particular scene, and motivating myself to write.

The flip side of this is the ease with which can slide into an emotional atmosphere conducive to the tone of a particular scene—regardless of situation, be it at the laptop or driving the car—and have reality melt away in the onset of mental immersion, or find my mood affected instantly.

Mr Lannis knows certain songs to avoid, certain artists I gravitate to and therefore shouldn't be on a playlist for a long drive. Others I’ve managed to hide from him, but there are some he knows without a doubt transport me elsewhere.

I think the easiest way to explain the sensation is when a particular piece of music is tied to a something of your past, and whenever you hear it you’re suddenly shifted; you find yourself reliving that moment in time.

In my case it's usually reliving a scene I've written.

Many writers have playlists for particular works. I know I do.

And sometimes I need to remember the basics; to use the tools I have to help bridge the gap I’m living.

Music will get me back in the mindset of my broken manuscript, and hopefully allow me to fix what needs fixing. And I've been putting it off far too long.

I need to let music return me to Jane.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Gallows humour and an introduction...

[Note: This post was originally published on The Mrs on August 11th, 2012. And it still makes me laugh, because clearly I'm still a horrible person.]

Friday July 13th 2012 marked a simultaneously hilarious and horribly sad day in the Lannis household...

I don’t normally subscribe to the “Friday the 13th” brand of superstitious—my grandmother raised me on an earthier sense of groundless irrationality than that of the fall of calendar numbers...

[Disclaimer: some are grounded, as I discovered through research—still doesn’t stop the quiver of dread if I see shoes on a table, though...]

If you haven’t guess from previous posts, I have a healthy sense of gallows humour. Thank the shit sandwiches life has forced down my throat, or perhaps the quirks that pass for an ordinary day around the Lannis household—I stopped trying to logic it out long ago (right about when my verbal filter broke and I lost my sense of shame).

That’s as close as I’m going to come to an apology for the content of the remainder of this post. And to anyone who believes it may be disrespect, it’s not. It’s actually healthy coping skills with a dry twist of black humour...

So. Jumping straight into the fray...

On Friday the 13th, I went into the basement to find my cat, Shakespeare, laying on the floor.

As in: dead. D.E.A.D.

Yep. Very obviously stiff, no mistaking it—even from a distance—dead.

My first thought? Like, seriously, the very first thought in my head when I saw his unnervingly-still form?

THAT’S a blue job.

(I wish I was kidding.)

Of course, halfway back up the stairs I turned around because within me flickered the thought that I needed to make sure that THAT was a done deal...

Thankfully, it was.

My next thought was to remember it was Friday the 13th.

And my gut froze, my brain anything but frozen with possibilities of exactly how whack-jobs like to lash out at neighbourhood pets... How a potential serial killer would have no trouble luring my overly-friendly Shakespeare close enough to do harm...

Turns out this wasn’t the case.

Thanks to an investigation by CSI: Small Town (observations of which I’ll spare this blog), and a discussion with our vet, it has become evident that Shakespeare mostly likely suffered a massive coronary, and in all likelihood was dead before he hit the floor.


Believe it or not, this gives me peace.

Some vindictive nut possibly trying to poison the local obnoxious stray and getting my cat instead? Well, animal cruelty makes my blood boil, regardless of whether that animal has a home or is even domestic...

Mother Nature deciding it was time for our almost-four-year-old, 16 lb, heart-murmur-suffering, long-haired cat to drop dead in the middle of a heat wave?

THAT I can live with.

The vet, upon consultation, was astounded to realize we had a 16 lb murmur cat... apparently 6 years old is considered a very long life for a heart murmur cat, and they’re usually small in size. That we had a gloriously healthy, not-overweight (simply large), outdoor-hunting-loving tomcat with a heart murmur? Apparently shocking!

He kept remarking on Shakespeare’s weight, like I was supposed to have stopped feeding him around the 7 lb mark...

Uh, dude... I’m no DVM, but in that case, I think starvation would have got him first, not the faulty heart, eh?

The boys, upon hearing the news of Shakespeare’s passing, surprisingly barely blinked. I started by telling them not to go in the basement because Shakespeare wasn’t doing well, and my oldest wanted to know how bad it was... caught off guard, I said it didn’t look good, and that our beloved pet was probably dead.

My 6 year old took this in stride. By the next day he had declared we needed a “memory rock” to remember Shakespeare by, and he wanted it to be in the backyard, so he could see it when he was playing.

Consider it done!

Of course, there’s a whole anecdote to insert here about my “stay out of the basement” command, coupled with my heading downstairs with the phone to assess what I could do about the stiff-cat scenario, to return upstairs and find my oh-so-well-behaved youngest in tears because the oldest was locked in the closet, and HE HAD NO IDEA WHEN I WAS COMING UPSTAIRS AGAIN, POSSIBLY NEVER! AND HOW WOULD HE EVER TELL ME HIS BIG BROTHER WAS LOCKED IN THE CLOSET SINCE I SAID NOT TO GO TO THE BASEMENT...?! WHAT IF HIS BROTHER WAS LOCKED IN THE CLOSET FOREVER AND EVER?!

Did I mention Mr Lannis was at work during all this excitement?

Yes. My Friday the 13th was fun.

Nothing like standing at your neighbours’ doorstep, telling them that you’ve two crises in motion: one they can help with, and the other? Well, don’t worry about the dead cat, he’s not going anywhere, anyway...

(Seriously. That was the official joke that day—any time anyone went into the basement, the first thing hollered up the stairs was, “he’s still here!” to the giddy relief of the handful of us assembled for the morbid event.)

There’s also another anecdote to stick in here, before moving on... before leaving for work Mr Lannis had left a note reading, Worried about Shakes.

After having found the cat, I wrote on his note, DID YOU SEE HIM BEFORE YOU WROTE THIS?!

Then realized that wasn’t helping. And that upon returning from his late shift, after I was in bed, perhaps that line wouldn’t be the most reassuring one to find on the kitchen counter?

I debated writing, Don’t worry about Shakes. or He’s fine now. or Don’t go in the basement. before logic kicked in and told me that anything I wrote would prompt Mr Lannis to investigate...

So I put, He’s dead. Then thought that too harsh. So I added a sad face, but couldn’t stop laughing (no, really, it was all too absurd). Finally I scrawled, So sorry, Honey.

Then my friend from this post showed up and pointed out that we couldn’t just leave Mr Lannis a NOTE! What was I? Crazy?! Clearly we had to stay up, get drunk again, and inform him in person that we had a dead cat in residence...


(Perhaps I was the only one drinking. Shh.)

Anyhow. Onward once again...

After that night...

After toting a shovel at 1:30am (thanks to a husband who couldn’t contemplate sleeping with a dead cat in the basement—I don’t care what he tells you, he had the heebie jeebies and the wide-eyed incredulity of those who’ve read Pet Semetary, and who believe in a zombie uprising!), after shockingly blasĂ© children, after a sappy she-cat, after smashing a car with a sledge hammer for charity (true story), after sunshine and rain, and oh, maybe 48 hours with only one cat in residence (closer to 36 if you counted the one hanging out in the basement but not breathing...), we have a new family member...

Because what better way to honour the life and death of our Shakespeare, than by opening our hearts to a new friend who needed a home? Our local Humane Society was having an open house because they were overrun with kittens, and we, well... let’s just say we suddenly had an opening, eh?

As it turns out, this little guy’s littermate was adopted out on Friday the 13th, and he was alone in his cage until Sunday morning when he came home with us. Seemed rather fitting to me that we’d both lost loved ones on the same day—perhaps we could find some peace together?

Not a true replacement, never a true replacement. Simply a new friend.

For Shakespeare’s purpose was to be a companion for Minette once our house was empty—when one day I return to the workforce (ha!) and the boys are both in school. And well, he’s not exactly filling that purpose anymore, so much as he is filling a hole... (::snort::).

Welcome, Asmodean!

Let you be as sucky at being evil as your namesake, and as friendly as your predecessor.

So that is the story of how we were a two-cat house, down to a one-cat house, then back to a two-cat house in less than 48 hours...

Hope your Friday the 13th was less eventful than ours!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013


I over-think things.

I like to believe it’s a part of my creative nature—the ability to analyze and fabricate possibilities from nothing, but the truth is this particular ability is a double-edged sword.

Sure, I can create multiple scenarios to any given situation—some likely, some not—as well as perfectly sound justifications for rather unsound possibilities, thereby giving them a credibility they would otherwise lack.

It’s a skill.

And no, I’m not talking about lying—something I’m actually rather terrible at—possibly because my knee-jerk reaction is to call people on their bullshit and the best way to do that is with the truth; and possibly because I’m inherently a lazy individual, and lying means you need to put work into remembering your fabricated details, whereas with the truth you only have to remember the, well, the truth.

(In processing this ramble I’ve suddenly recalled I have a shitty memory, and realize that yes, this doesn’t exactly bode well for the last statement, but then again I’m not lying about events, as clearly my own actions will be remembered by someone who can vouch. And besides: despite occasional appearances to the contrary, I’m actually rather boring—there’s nothing to remember or lie about. Heh.)


Point being... my imagination is rather, er, active, even at rest. In other words: I have the uncanny ability to create stress where there is none. (Go figure.)

I call this an overactive imagination; and coupled with my double superpowers of rationalization and justification it can do a lot of damage. (Seriously: you want to buy that 1970s Hulk cookie jar on eBay? I can give you seventeen reasons why you absolutely need to have it or ZOMFG you will effing die in a fire by midnight so click click click that BUY IT NOW button! DOOO EEEET! Trust).

It was brought to my attention the other day that this particular oddity—the ability for my own creativity to analyze, and over-analyze, and dissect a situation with the meticulous inspection of a forensic coroner—might simply be considered over-thinking, and perhaps detrimental to my own mental well-being... you know, when I've managed to become stressed and frantic with those same imagined horrors.

Why would I do this to myself?

Um, well, there are times when it’s put to good use—brainstorming and plotting story lines and narrative tension.

Then there’re the other times, when clearly my brain has nothing constructive to deal with, and begins fabricating possibilities that have less chance of actually happening than our winning the lottery—except that doesn’t lessen the panic riddling my veins as I stare at the ceiling at 3am.

(My kid has anxiety... what can I say? He comes by it honestly.)

Anyhow. My friend went on to question: why aren’t I currently harnessing this energy? Why am I staring at the ceiling at ungodly hours of the night worrying about the safety of Mr Lannis in a bush in Northern Ontario (it’s not like the deer have firearms, though arguably that would make it more fair), when I could be skimming through possible plot lines and conflicts for as-yet-uncreated characters?

Not that the insatiable energy of inspiration humming through my veins would mean I’d sleep any more...

More than that, this friend reminded me I need to write, said it’s talent wasted. (I’m flattered, truly, but my terminal realist shouts that that has yet to be proven. So pffft to that.)

But the sentiment is true: I need to redirect my thoughts and get back into writing, for multiple reasons.

And creative writing. (Read: not blogging.)

Or at least, less blogging, or blogging as a break.

And then I remember the why... 

Why I can't jump yet. Why I'm hovering on the edge of hacking three manuscripts to bits.

You can’t push it.

I need to be ready. When it’s there, it’s there.

It’ll come. It’ll return, and I’ll hum. I’ll be glued to the keyboard again, a frenzy of sleepless focus that will somehow expel 50k - 85k words in four to eight weeks.

It’s happened three times before, and it will happen again. This I know.

I need patience.

In the meantime I need to breathe, and stop over-thinking.

Because for fiction, it’s great; but for reality, it’s goddamn stressful...

Monday, November 25, 2013

Just Add Pearls

If there’s one thing that Kijiji’s good for, it’s getting rid of excess clutter.

But sometimes—like, say, when your husband goes hunting and you go on a purging spree of the entire house—you come to a crossroads where you’re parting with an item that is near and dear to your heart, but other than that sentimental value you’re really not going to miss this particular item, but you will certainly value the space it frees in your closet...

For example, say, the first corset you ever made (and used for this tutorial).

Yep. It took a few years of rationalization, but we’ve finally parted ways.

Seeing how I have two other corsets (both winners of JordanCon costuming awards!) and have plans on making another—albeit corset-less—costume for the upcoming year’s competition, well, I finally had to reconcile myself to the fact that I’m never going to wear that first corset again.


And frankly, with two (soon to be three) other elaborate costumes in my closet, why am I holding on to something that won’t get any use?

Sure, I could loan it out, but with those three others that I’m far prouder of, I’d really rather potential borrowers wear them instead of that first humble effort...

So I sold her on Kijiji.

Yep. The first shirt I’d bought, the blue crushed velvet skirt, and that handmade corset were lumped together as one lot for $30, and away she went to a woman who sent her delightful hubby came to get it.

He arrived saying he was sent to pick up a dress, and his eyes widened when he saw it was in fact a costume.

Yes, dude, your wife just bought herself a bona-fide-lace-'em-up-corset. (Enjoy... heh.)

And I’m glad someone will wear it. Truly.

But it’s still sad to see it go...

Friday, November 22, 2013

Day in the Life

Recently a friend of mine (who shall remain nameless—she knows who she is and can forever live in private shame for her actions, heh) asked me what I do all day.

What I do all day?

What I DO all day?


No, I'm not insulted. I can get defensive as much as the next non-stop housewife, except, well, I had a hard time answering this question. At all.

It's true.

At the time I could only blink blink blink in response, because my initial thought was, "well, you've finished the ginormous refinishing project. You're almost finished painting the living space. You're not exactly writing... she's right... what do you do...?"

And I understand the question was directed less at the finite tasks and more at the repetitive must-happen-every-day bullshit of housewifery (that's a technical term, by the way). And regardless of the fact that clearly it all gets done eventually (usually immediately before it's time to happen again... ugh), I found myself wondering in mild am-I-suffering-some-kind-of-amnesia horror... what do I do all day?

Must be time for another Day in the Life post!

This time I didn't do the careful selection of a "good" day to write this post. Usually when it comes to DitL posts I gravitate to days that look like any other—they are filled with those perpetual chores and could pass for any given day, thus representing the whole at large, despite some weekly discrepancies.

Nope, this time I woke up, decided to keep the log, and away I went.

Willy-nilly fly by the seat of my pants! WhooOOOOooo!

Exciting, right?

I suppose what I'm saying is that this particular day is yes, a typical could-be-any-day day, but at the same time it's not one of the days when I get much done around the house. I barely sit down (except during my appointment or driving, it would seem) but there is barely any housework happening. Um... so I guess I'm saying it could be worse? Yeah...

Day In The Life - November 18, 2013

6:07 - Wake. Look at clock. Remember alarm goes off at 6:20 and berate myself for waking one minute earlier.

6:20 - Shut off alarm. Get out of bed. Wash, brush teeth, whip greasy hair into a braid to pretend it’s not wash day and I don’t get my shower until later.

6:36 - Chase Minette around in the dark because Mr Lannis is sleeping and she’s snuck into our bedroom when I opened the door—she’s used to not having him around after the week he was gone hunting.

6:40 - Turn on lights and unlock front door. Sort laundry (two loads). Boil kettle. Turn on laptop. Start tea.

7am - 7:50 - Feed cat. Dick around on Pinterest for 20 minutes (seriously, I’m never on there that early), then realize I’ve dicked around on Pinterest for 20 minutes and get to work. Empty dishwasher. Make kid lunches. Put away clean dishes from sink. Switch laundry loads.

7:50 - Remind cat I've fed her. Microwave rice heat bag. Pour tea. Grab banana. Give Lego Magazine subscription renewal card to R [almost 8 y/o], and have him put it by the door where we won’t shouldn’t forget to mail it today.

7:55 - Sit down on chair. Begin this list. Eat banana. Start writing grocery list, meal plan for the next week, and Mr Lannis’ Honey Do list (swag kitchen table’s light fixture; put up Christmas lights; drill new screws into two kitchen chair seats).

8am - Check email. RSVP to a birthday party for L [6.5 y/o]. Begin emailing auntie about the quandary of sewing project fabric accumulating. (Her organizational guess is as good as mine: I'm of the mind that it breeds on its own in the dark of the closet.)

8:20 - Daycare charge arrives. Boil kettle for oatmeal for three kids. Remind cat I've feed her (seriously, Minette! My swirling a finger in your food dish doesn't make it any fresher, but you seem to think so... WTF?).

8:25 - Get back to emailing my auntie on my lack of fabric organizing skills.

8:28 - Pour milk onto L’s cereal. Fill empty oatmeal bowls to soak. Pour more tea. Nuke rice bag again. Stare aggressively at a strange dude parked across the street—he’s just staring at our house, and I have too many kids kicking around to feel comfortable with some weirdo casing the joint and thinking he’s unnoticed. He drives away.

8:32 - Add to this list. Remember to hit send on email to auntie, as I’ve walked away from it three times. Send this link to Sandi at The Mrs as I’ve discovered we can’t even use the excuse of crappy Canadian climate to not grow veggies in the winter (some over-achieving Ontarian ruined that for us. Effing peachy).

8:38 - Import photos from camera (Mr Lannis’ hunting trip) and cell phone (our recent jaunt with Auntie Princess to Reptilia). Upload some pics to the photo processing website for pickup later today (R is going to do a mini-project about Mya the mango sprout, seeing how we already have the pics and dates, and his class is focusing on plants right now).

8:40 - Get sucked into Facebook (suck... face... heh). Upload pics. Tell kids to tidy up the toy area.

8:59 - 9:45 - Realize what time it is. Turn off heat. Hustle kids into outdoor gear, change into jeans. Dig through winter gear drawer to find the “perfect” toque for L (where is the toque? Why can’t they stay where they’re put? WTF is wrong with toques in this house?!). Put on my own coat/neck warmer/toque/boots/mitts combo, as well as L’s backpack. Hustle three kids outside and walk to school. Remember to mail Lego magazine subscription renewal card (it’s free! Check their website!). Meet my friend Miss B’s group walking to school and head there in a big group (seriously, nine kids and two adults kind of big). Drop off kids at school; check Lost and Found with Miss B (seriously, WTF is going on with the toques and how can they disappear?!), walk home.

9:45 - 10am - Put on kettle for mocha. Put away oatmeal, honey, tea, etc, and get out mocha fixings. Wash last night’s dinner pan left to soak. Put breakfast dishes into dishwasher and wipe table (how three kids manage to spread crumbs across six places is beyond me). Eat last of banana bread (forgot to feed myself oatmeal this morning with the kids). Lament that Mr Lannis is still sleeping, because I want to shower. Get out red vinyl tablecloth with white snowflakes (not exactly Christmas-y, but wintry decor, for sure). Mix mocha. Sit down and update this list, and check on pics uploaded to Facebook.

10:08 - 10:45 - Mr Lannis is up! Chat.

10:30 - Receive call from L’s teacher, re: volunteering tomorrow.

10:45 - Log into Blogger, realize I’ve scheduled that post for tomorrow, not today, and it doesn’t need to be posted to Facebook. Cool.

10:48 - Remember to tell Mr Lannis that his mom wants us to go to her place for dinner on Saturday. Dick around online some more.

10:55 - 12:20 - Shower. Wash hair. Blow dry hair (it’s winter weather in Canada, even without snow).  Dress. Rotate laundry loads. Grab materials, get in van, and head to an appointment. Discuss bidness. Text findings of meeting to Auntie Princess.

12:20 - 2pm - Run through Tim Horton’s drive thru for a muffin and a mocha because I’ve forgotten my lunch. Go shopping; grab a few items we need to tide us over until grocery day (Thursdays); and some items for R’s upcoming birthday party sleepover. Pick up developed photos at another place. Then get back into the van.

2pm - 2:15 - Drive to the post office to pick up a parcel. Wait in line. Wait... wait... wait... (Yay. They’re training someone. It’s my lucky day).

2:25 - 3:15 - Come home, unload van. Discuss appointment’s findings with Mr Lannis. Chat until it’s time to head to the school to get the kids. Call family doctor’s office, sit on hold for fifteen minutes while putting away shopping, eventually arrange appointment for next week. Get winter gear on (coat, neck warmer, toque, boots, mitts, sunglasses—yes, sunglasses) to walk to school.

3:15 - 4:15 - Meet Miss B and walk to the school together to pick up kids. Check lost and found again. Chat with parents in school yard. Pick up five kids and head home. Get mail (another parcel pick up notification).

4:15 - Turn on heat. Boil kettle for hot chocolate. Unpack kids’ lunches. Have kids put away their snow gear. Help R begin his plant project on our mango sprout. Fold laundry.

4:30 - First after school care charge is picked up. Chat with parent. Continue folding laundry and directing R in his schoolwork.

4:45 - Referee kidlets downstairs. Tears, aggressive behaviour, and a time out.

4:53 - Other parent arrives to pick up last two kids (uh, except mine). Discuss behaviour of one in time out. Purchase charity lottery ticket.

5pm - Start dinner. Pasta, sauce, and carrot sticks (Mr Lannis is on afternoon shift). Write out spelling word practice for two kidlets. Fill out paperwork for school. Listen to L ramble about books he wants from the Scholastic book order catalogue (no dice, dude).

5:30 - Cut onion and brown ground beef for slow cooker chili for tomorrow—I’ll be volunteering in L’s classroom and will appreciate dinner waiting for me. Eat standing up while prepping tomorrow’s dinner. Rinse dishes and load dishwasher. Partially prep school lunches for tomorrow (crackers in tubs; refillable drinking boxes filled and ready to go).

6pm - Help L [6.5 y/o] open a Playdoh container. Have the boys show me what they’ve made. Nuke rice heat bag. Fill my glass of water. Send boys upstairs to put away their laundry, then have them practice their spelling words. Check email. Debate buying this Lego Play Book from Book Depository. Reply to a friend on Goodreads. Pay gas bill. Fill out benefits reimbursement for Mr Lannis’ recent appointment.

6:40 - Have R tell me there’s cat puke upstairs. Whee...

6:44 - Ignore cat puke. Dick around online instead... online banking, checking blog stats (hey! New Google Salad entry: Kijiji troll bots), begin to transfer this post to blog (it begins life as a word processor document).

7:15 - Remind boys it’s almost time for bed, give the ten minute warning that tidy up time is approaching. Gather rice heat bags to nuke and put as warmers in their beds.

7:20 - Tell boys to settle down as they’re beginning to get rambunctious (read: annoying).

7:30 - Send boys up to put on PJs, brush teeth, and floss. Go upstairs, clean up cat puke. (Whee...). Wash my face, and brush hair and teeth. Set out boys’ clothes for school tomorrow. Set my own clothes in the second bedroom (Mr Lannis will be sleeping in. I hate afternoon shift). Remind Minette that I don’t want her sleeping on my clothes. Water upstairs plants.

7:45 - Story time. The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson.

8pm - Say goodnight to boys, return downstairs. Nuke my own rice heat bag (I perpetually sit on it all winter). Clear up any accumulated mess in the kitchen. Feed cat (yes, again). Dick around playing games on Facebook (Candy Crush and Farm Heroes Saga... yes, I have issues).

8:30 - Turn on TV (yes, first time today). Watch three episodes of The Mindy Project while hand sewing L’s monkey hat (the fleece lining has come apart again—the kid is so hard on things).

 9:45 - 10pm - Turn off TV, turn off lights. Shut down computer. Lock doors. Head upstairs. Brush teeth again with super-flouride-mega-ultra paste. Read a few pages of Neil Gaiman’s American Gods. Set alarm, and turn off light.


Thursday, November 21, 2013

When the mice are away...

[Note: This post was originally published on The Mrs on July 21, 2012.]

Not gonna lie... sometimes I miss being kid-less.

Like, when grandparents take them for three days and one of my favouritest people in the world comes over and we put on our drunky pants and like true grownups decide to spend time reassembling Lego figures—because what else do real adults do sans kidlets?!

And then one of the Lego figures decides to take a swim.

That’s fun, folks.

Who knew the Sea King liked mojitos?

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Griddle be gone!

So... I believe I mentioned Mr Lannis has gone hunting for the week, and I take this opportunity to purge shit out of this house...

Case in point: the griddle.

It's been a lovely griddle for the last ten years or so--it was a wedding shower gift, if memory serves. It's been good to us. It's cooked pancakes, and eggs, and bacon, and occasionally several grilled cheese sandwiches at once...

But in the last year or so its leg broke. And food began sticking to it.

So I guess what I'm saying is it has ruined its last pancakes...


Why yes, it IS missing a leg.

And Mr Lannis--with his packratty ways--can't do anything about it! HA!

Should we start a pool to see how long it takes him to notice...?

Monday, November 18, 2013

It's only eight days...

Mr Lannis has stolen the firearms and run away to hide in some tree fort in Northern Ontario for a week.

He calls this hunting. ::snort::


Do you know what that means?



You name it, it’s getting attacked. Closets, drawers, basement storage, everything.

I was into the Tupperware cupboards before he’d even walked out the door—all our containers and their matching lids were planted on the (now enormous) kitchen table, and anything without a match or if I couldn’t recall the last time it was used it went into the donation box.

Seconds after he left, I hit the fridge. This had me so giddy in anticipation that all morning I had butterflies flitting in my stomach...

No, really. Because lately Mr Lannis is on a no food waste campaign. And while I have no issues with such a campaign on principle (and truth be told it’s taught him how much he’s overloading the kids’ plates at dinner, so that’s been helpful), Mr Lannis is also wont to “experiment” with new condiments.

Bottles of which now line our fridge shelves.

Yep. But not anymore! /singsong


So yeah, I get to play single parent for the week while he goes gallivanting off in the bush. It’s a fair trade because my vacation is JordanCon come the spring.

I could be looking at this week with dread—I’m the sole parent for what works out to be eight days all told... all tasks large and sundry are on my shoulders—but when I think about how I get to tear apart the house purging it of crap, ditch the nobody-cares-for-them-but-had-to-try-‘em-once condiments, and (here’s the best part) not pick up after another adult who’s perfectly capable of putting the oatmeal back in the cupboard after he’s finished with it?!

Yeah. Looking around this house, I know eight days is too short...

Friday, November 15, 2013

Family Resemblance

On Sunday I spent a good five minutes arguing with my six-and-a-half year old.


Oh, because he forgot to eat breakfast.

And it was noon.

I can’t even fathom forgetting to eat (I’m not that kind of girl), but whatever...

You’ll note, lovely parent that I am, that I take no responsibility for his lack of breakfast.


Well, because I’m raising independent kids. They know how to grab themselves cereal bowls and fill them. They can pull a stool over to the fridge and grab themselves bread, and jam, and even (gasp!) grab a butter knife to apply their own spread.

Besides all that, I reminded him. I even went so far as to tell him there was more of his current favourite junky cereal (Captain Crunch. Gag.) on the shelves in the stairwell, where we keep the pantry’s overflow of stock.

Back to the argument, though—I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what was his freaking problem?!

Seriously. It went something like this:

Me: L, it’s lunch time. What do you want for lunch?

L [shocked]: But I never even had breakfast!

Me: Well, it’s lunch now. What’re you going to eat?


Me: So have cereal for lunch.


Me: So eat cereal for lunch. I’ll get the milk.


Me: Whatever. Cereal for lunch. Let’s get to it.


Me: It’s lunch time. Lunch.

At about this point he ran sobbing to his room, to howl at the walls.

You know, it took me a good ten minutes of listening to him raging to figure out he somehow felt slighted that he had missed a meal, and all it would’ve taken was the simple admission that he can call it whatever he wants, but he needs to eat.

I tried explaining that the reason I was calling it lunch had to do with the fact that it was noon, and nothing to do with the type of food he wanted to consume.

Apparently this isn’t a good enough explanation when you're six, and the idea of missing a meal is borderline traumatizing.

Whatever. It’s over. He ate.

It took an hour, but he managed to pack away a bowl of cereal with milk, a bowl of hot oatmeal, a jam sandwich, and a mandarin orange.

This seemed to satisfy him.

Anyhow, this entire incident is a symptom of a bigger problem. Our six-and-a-half year old is perpetually distracted. He’s on the ball academically, but he struggles to finish any task (be it school work, feeding the cats, getting dressed, brushing his teeth, you name it), usually because he’s too busy gabbing or hamming it up.

I have no idea where he gets it. [::shifty eyes::]

And that stubbornness that kept him from admitting that the noontime meal is lunch, despite type of food consumed?

Well, that’s definitely his father...

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Holding On

[Note: This post was originally published on The Mrs on May 5th, 2012. And I'm proud to say my kids continue to grab my hand when we're in public. Uh... just not on school property—because they're already too cool for me.]

I still hold my kids’ hands.

I noticed this today, walking across the school parking lot, as students and parents hurried toward the yard to begin the day. Adults were hustling along their kids, some older, some younger than my own, and no one was holding anyone’s hand.

Except me.

And it happens naturally. When they hop out of the van, I stretch my arms out to either side of me as I start walking, and miraculously sweaty little palms slip into mine as we trudge across the tarmac.

They expect it as much as I do.

They’re well-trained, and Mr Lannis and I however we might look overprotective — are avid hand-holders. In grocery stores, if the boys aren’t in our grasp, they’re hanging on to the cart — yes, I’ve mastered the ability to steer a shopping cart single-handed. And we’re not those parents harping at our kids to keep up or stop touching the shelves.

And the boys’re independent in other ways on the schoolyard. The oldest won’t be walked all the way to the area designated for the older grades, instead stopping in the kindergarten yard to receive a kiss on the cheek goodbye.

And the youngest doesn’t want a kiss at all — a high five will do.

But walking across a parking lot? They stretch out their hands willingly, sometimes before I have the chance.

Because they like it as much as we do.

They’re now five and six-and-a-half, and I don’t know when it’ll stop. All too soon they’ll be too cool for it, or be linked self-consciously with a crush, and they won’t even need me to pick them up and drop them off at school, let alone guide them across a parking lot...

I know there’ll come a day, but right now? Now, even as spring rain makes me want to curl my fists into my sleeves or stuff them into my pockets, I feel a short tug, and I know.

We must hold them close while we can.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The Mango Sprout: Update

So... for the last, oh, six months or so our little Mya the Mango Sprout hasn't done a whole lot.

Same six leaves as the last post.

Okay, that's not true: I'm sure she's grown herself some fantabulous roots, but lord knows we haven't seen much new from her on this side of the soil.

Until now.

Yes, I've spotted a teensy tiny bud of new growth.

We has new leaves, ladies and gentlemen!

And if the speed at which she acquired the first set of six is anything like how these bad boys are about to come in, well, we'll have another four or six leaves by Christmas.

Yes, this is exciting to me.

Might be a stay-at-home mom thing: some people watch paint dry when they're bored; I watch plants grow.


Tuesday, November 12, 2013


This poster was in the washroom at my doctor's office.

It took me far too long to figure out what kind of flushing they were talking about, because, well, menopause isn't exactly what I think of when I read that word and I'm standing in a bathroom... just sayin'...

In related news, it's possible I was stuck on trying to figure out why I'd call my doctor if I needed someone to tinker with my toilet...

Yes, I realize it blatantly says, Sigma Canadian Menopause Society right on it. Thanks. Still sharing--no shame. Heh.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Dear Judy: Thanks, but no thanks.

Today’s blog post is brought to you by solicitors (one of my favourite things—not), and my love-hate affair with Kijiji.

Once upon a time I wrote a rant about soliciting. I also have multiple rants about Kijiji—which, at turns can be both excellent and vexing... all depends on the day, really.

Today it’s the latter... with a dose of soliciting. And because I make it a habit not to interact with trolls, I’ve decided to expel my frustration here—because what good is having your own blog if you can’t vent, am I right? I mean, it is my corner of the Internet, I’ll do as I please, thankyouverymuch.

Granted, this lady isn’t exactly a troll, but she’s pretty damn close to the line in my estimation. Imagine my displeasure as I sat down to read my email and eat my lunch, to discover someone had replied to my ad for after school care with an Avon proposition...


I'm still unsure how an after school care ad screams, "I want to work for Avon!"
Also? It's two words. After. School.

The flood of rage, guys. Flood. Of. Rage.

And for multiple reasons...

First, Avon as a company irks me due to its solicitous nature—if I wanted your product, I’d be coming to you, not being bombarded by magazines on my doorstep. I’m a big fan of personal space, and when I’m at home, that personal space is my entire property.

Yes, I’m an antisocial bitch. I’ll own it.

If a catalogue were to show up in my mailbox, well, that’s one thing. Don’t drop one on my doorstep—I consider that littering.

Second, that Judy here might feel the need to solicit me via Kijiji is insulting—clearly I am advertising my own business, why do I need to become an accessory to hers?

That she’s judging that since I work from home I must have free time to hawk Avon wares is offensive, and doubly so since she’s a fellow woman—is she not aware of the multitude of tasks undertaken daily by a stay-at-home-mom? Why the hell does she think I’d have time for that, especially since I clearly take in extra kids?

My “free” hours are the ones where the kids are in school. This means my mornings and evenings are chock full of kids.


Not to mention the fact that those “free” hours are bombarded with everything that running a household entails—an exhausting list I won’t bother itemizing here.

I mean, I suppose I should be flattered that she considers me supermom and able to handle the extra workload without a sweat, but... well... let’s just say I’m not feeling flattered so much as violated.

Yes, violated.

Because if I was interested in becoming a sales partner (or whatever Avon’s particular terminology might be) then I’d probably reply to whatever Kijiji ad Judy has undoubtedly posted soliciting potential Avon candidates.

Guess what... I didn’t.

Because I'm not interested.

And now, as I sit here dropping salad down my sweater (I’m not a pretty eater, sorry), I’m subjected to indigestion thanks to Judy’s ambushing proposition, because SOLICITORS MAKE MY BLOOD BOIL.


Truth be told, I pity Judy. She’s mentioned that I have potential customers coming to me, when clearly she’s had to resort to emailing random child care ads on Kijiji because she herself is struggling to find people interested in her product, or possibly she doesn’t understand her own business strategy enough to make decent sales...

You see, Judy doesn’t seem to understand that my clients come to me for child care (read: not Avon products). I’ve maintained an ad for more child care clients because legally I have space available for that service—I’m not desperate to fill those spots, but someone in our area might be desperate to find a child care solution, so my offer is out there. Perhaps I can help them, as this is the service I offer.

Judy, though, has made the mistaken assumption that these clients would also want Avon products, when up until this point there’s nothing to indicate that that may or may not be the case.

Personally, I operate under the assumption that if you’re coming to me for child care services (as advertised), you’re probably only interested in child care services—and not, you know, being guilted into taking the Avon magazine being shoved into your hand.

Either way, if my clients wanted Avon products, they’re welcome to find it somewhere else.

I also find it insulting on behalf of my clients and, well, basically anyone potentially interested in purchasing Avon products, that Judy here is operating under the assumption that (A), my clients are all women, and that (B) only women might be interested in Avon products.

Judy, girl! I’m beginning to see why you’ve had to resort to almost-blind soliciting of Kijiji posters!

Hell, if I really wanted to pick apart Judy’s assumptions I could point out that she’s assumed (rightly, yes, but still assumed) that I’m female. How does she know that I’m not a stay-at-home dad who’s providing child care services? There’s nothing in my ad to indicate either way...

Hm. I can see Judy and I wouldn’t get along very well. It’s probably a good thing I don’t take her up on her offer...

I’m not big on blanket generalizations—I mean, I can step wrong as quickly as the next person, but by and large I prefer to err on the side of not pigeonholing my clientele, or, well, anyone else for that matter...

Thanks, but no thanks, Judy. I’m most definitely not interested.

And all that’s without ranting about Avon’s perfumey mess of signature products, or pointing out that perhaps Judy become acquainted with a period, you know, since she's resorting to cold contacting people via written correspondence... oy.