June 2006

Bestest playdate ever

by DaniGirl on June 29, 2006 · 3 comments

in Uncategorized

I knew if I waited long enough, Nancy would get around to blogging what I was up to yesterday!

She`s got the scoop, but let me give you my own spin on things – and very quickly, because I am in a Holiday Inn `Business Centre` getting my blog fix, with two boys locked in here with me, and the Dollarama marble run and two juice boxes are only going to buy me so much time!

If you ever happen to be traveling through Montreal, skip all the fancy tourist stuff and head straight to Nancy`s place. Four boys played exquisitely all day, either in the basement or terrorizing her guest room, while we sat in the kitchen and mostly ignored them. And Nancy made amazing giant bubbles in the backyard and the boys went crazy trying to pop them. And we went for a swim and our jaws dropped open at her little fishies swimming like pros. And she made us homemade muffins, plus lunch AND dinner and – gasp! – Tristan actually ate a good portion of both meals. Really, best. playdate. ever.

Her boys are so sweet that when Tristan expressed an interest in a little Batman figure, one of her gracious little boys actually gave it to him. How`s that for amazing preschooler behaviour!

More, much more to come, but if I don`t get these boys out of the Business Centre soon, we`re going to have no place to sleep tonight.

P.S. I`m logged onto the hotel internet (in Quebec City) and the Blogger interface is in French. Trés cool!

P.P.S. My mother would have a canary if she saw me admitting on the Interwebs that I`m not in my house. Rest assured, evil ne`er-do-wells, the house is not empty. Don`t even bother.


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Technical difficulties

by DaniGirl on June 28, 2006 · 8 comments

in Uncategorized

Argh! I just wrote a post, but it’s not appearing. Blogger says it should be there, but no amount of frantic refreshing conjures it out of the interweb.

My apologies – no time to play this morning. Maybe this one will appear? Stay tuned, more later…


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Life’s great mysteries

by DaniGirl on June 28, 2006 · 5 comments

in Uncategorized

I’ve stumbled upon another one of life’s great mysteries. Like the solution for pi, the divine proportion, and the secret of how they get the caramilk into the chocolate shell, this one will be puzzling humanity for aeons to come.

How did they work it so that it takes exactly one roll of paper towels to soak up the entire contents of a freshly opened bag of milk?

And did you further know that if you hear Simon poking about in the kitchen, followed by a thunk, a splash, an “oh oh”, and a “Hey, my feets wet!” you’ll be well on your way to discovering this ancient mystery for yourself?


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I started writing my ten-pages-in book reviews after a book so knocked my socks off that I was worried I’d never love a book in the same way again. That book, The Time Traveler’s Wife, was easily one of the best books I’ve ever read.

Here we are, just over a year later, and I’ve finally found a worthy successor, another book in which I have completely lost myself, not to mention track of time when I’m reading and a will to do anything but curl myself around it and see what happens next.

I’m reading The Historian, Elizabeth Kostova’s debut novel ten years in the writing. I had heard enough buzz about the book to request it from the library, but it took a full five months for my name to claw its way to the front of the queue and by then, I had pretty much forgotten whatever I’d heard about it. When I flipped open the dust jacket and read it was a historical novel about Dracula, I almost put it aside unread. I’d done the same to Anne Rice’s latest tome, Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt. I read about two pages and a good chunk of the author’s notes at the end, but I just couldn’t commit myself.

But this book, The Historian – this book, I couldn’t put down after two pages. From the first five paragraphs, I was hooked. True, it is about Dracula, but more importantly it’s a set of intertwining quest stories, an exploration of the relationship between fathers and daughters, a whole series of mysteries, a romance, a suspense story and just about the spookiest thing I’ve read since the latest Stephen King novel. Reading it on the back deck in the blazing June sun, there was more than one instance when my skin puckered in goosebumps at a particularly eerie turn. It’s a damn good book, an amazing book, and I’m quite distracted to be sitting here telling you about it when I know it’s waiting for me, only half-way finished, upstairs.

The book jumps back and forth in time to follow three storylines. In the current day, it’s 1972 and a motherless sixteen-year-old American girl living in Amsterdam with her diplomat father stumbles upon a secret from her father’s past. She finds a mysteriously blank book, save for a rather eerie woodcut of a dragon, and a series of letters that begin, “My dear and unfortunate successor.” As the story unfolds, her father, Paul, tells his own story of his quest some twenty years earlier to prove that Dracula, aka Vlad the Impaler, was not only real, but still ‘alive’. His story also tells the story of his own mentor’s quest to prove the same thing some twenty years before that, and the three stories weave a tight rope of surprisingly linear narrative. Stories inside stories inside stories, like riddles and reflections and ripples in time – it’s a breath-taking and sweeping story told with exquisite attention to place and detail. When Paul disappears in the current day, his daughter sets off across Europe to find him, and instead finds evil pursuing her.

As I said, I’m about half way through. So far, Kostova seems to have figured out what I once read Stephen King speak to – that the monster you can’t see is far more frightening than the monster you can. At this point, the evil is only just beginning to reveal itself, although its presence has been alluded to and foreshadowed by the layers of congruent stories.

It could be overwrought and over the top. It’s not. It could have the gothic grotesques and arabesques that Anne Rice brought to Interview with the Vampire and so many of her other books. It doesn’t. What it has is incredible attention to atmospheric detail, so you truly feel like you are in Istanbul in the 1950s, or in Radcliffe Camera on the campus of Oxford University in 1972, or in the court of Sultan Mehmed in the fifteen century. And it has a rollercoaster of a plot, with twists and dives and hairpin turns that will keep you awake at night. And it has compelling characters, characters with whom you are fully engaged from the first time they are sketched out on the page.

I’m conflicted – should I continue to elaborate on how simply gobsmacked I am by this fabulous book, or should I shut this down and go read it some more?

Right. Good choice. See ya!


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Simon’s quirks

by DaniGirl on June 26, 2006 · 8 comments

in Uncategorized

Simon is becoming more of a character every day. Inasmuch as ‘character’ means mostly adorable, occasionally insufferable, and often hilarious. He seems to develop a new peccadillo every week, and I’m writing this as much to capture them for posterity as for entertainment value.

For instance, he’s picked up a couple of phrases from the bigger kids at daycare, and I’m by turns mortified and amused every time they come out of his mouth.

The first is a very blasé ‘That’s BORing.’ Any time he doesn’t want to do something, wear something, eat something, it’s ‘BORing’. Imagine it uttered with all the disdain a teenage girl could muster, multiply it by three an infuse it with a world-weariness unprecendented in your average two-year-old.

The other is a very staccato ‘No way!’, as if whatever you’ve suggested is the most idiotic thing he’s ever heard.

“Simon, would you like a banana?”
“No way!”

Or:

“Simon, could you please let go of the dog’s lips?”
“No way!”

He’s also exhibiting vaguely alarming tendencies to hoard things, and to depend on rituals. Bedtime has become a complex series of arcane protocols – first books, then the story of his day, then soothers (three, always three, and he will cycle through them looking for just the right one. If one is not to his liking, he will pull it out with a very lispy “Too small,” and repeat until he finds just the right amount of suction and resistance. And yes, they are all the same size.) I’ll push play on the CD player to start the lullabies, place him into his crib, and start the blanket ritual. He must have at least three or four blankets. It can be February or July, but if he sees a blanket you haven’t put on him, he will hector you for it – he’s kind of like a reverse princess and the pea, except he’s the pea. And then there’s the de rigeur rounds of “Hey, you! Put your feet down” as you place the blankets. And he needs companionship as well. Just now, I put him to bed with three blankets (it’s 25C in his room), Gordon, Percy, Scoop, Wags the dog and Dorothy the dinosaur. There’s barely room for him in there.

I have this image of him, twenty years in the future, in a bingo hall somewhere. He’s about 6’5″, 300 lbs, and you’ll loose a finger if you touch the collection of treasures arrayed out in front of him with his bingo daubers. Either that, or he has to touch the doorknob five times before he leaves, tap the glass twice, turn around once, and walk to his car without touching any of the cracks in the sidewalk, with one eye closed and his finger resting against his right earlobe.

If only I could argue with any conviction whatsoever that he doesn’t get it from me.


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Miscellany

by DaniGirl on June 23, 2006 · 11 comments

in Frostie, Infertility

You, my bloggy friends, have been wonderful thing week. Thank you for your jokes, all of which I will file away to later torture friends, colleagues and strangers on the street. Thank you for your support, and your kind words, and your suggestions on how to brush my kids’ teeth. Y’all are rockstars in my book – for this week, at least!

But hey, it’s Friday, and the Friday before I have ten whole days of vacation, nonetheless. So forgive me if we ramble just a bit, because I have the attention span of a firefly today.

For those of you keeping score on the frostie thing, I had my ultrasound yesterday and everything looks great. I have a blood test on Monday, and if the progesterone levels are within range, we’re good to go next month. After this week’s leaky ambivalence, I’m feeling excited and enthused again. I was gobsmacked by how nice the new Ottawa Fertility Centre is, especially compared to the facilities before. The ladies’ room had granite counters and flowers – I can only imagine how nice the sperm-gathering room must be! The whole place has an air of cool calmness, just what you want when you are at your most vulnerable.

It’s been such a busy week, and there have been tonnes of stuff I meant to talk to you about. For example, did you see that new show “America’s Got Talent“? We were instantly hooked; it’s perfect summer brain candy. It’s like the Gong Show, which I’ve always loved, but with David Hasselhoff, for whom I have developed a latent affection after seeing this video. Go ahead, click on it – I dare you, and then I double dog dare you to not be humming that song all day (right, Andrea?) What with this, and that new Gameshow Marathon, it’s all my favourite childhood TV shows all over again. Nothing reminds me of the endless summers of my childhood like The Match Game, the Price is Right and Card Sharks.

And speaking of childhood TV, did you hear that CBC is finally retiring the old Mr Dressup episodes? Even though I didn’t realize they were still on any more (Ernie Coombs died in 2001, after all) it does make me feel a little sad, and a little old, that they won’t be running those old episodes in perpetuity.

One more note on seminal children’s programming – I don’t think I ever told you that I finally got my Electric Company DVD set as a Mother’s Day gift. It so rocks! Now I just have to get a couple of Muppet Show DVDs and The Littlest Hobo and I’ll be set! Simon’s current favourite movie is Beloved’s copy of the old Batman and Robin movie from the 1960s, so with a little luck and a good stock of 1970s TV DVDs, we many never have to watch an episode of Dragon Tales or Arthur again.

And now, finally, my contribution to the joke-fest yesterday – to which you should feel free to continue to contribute, by the way. If you know me IRL, chances are you’ve heard this one; it’s one of my favourites!

When Beethoven passed away, he was buried in a churchyard. A few days later, the town drunk was walking through the cemetery and heard some strange noise coming from the area where Beethoven was buried.

Terrified, the drunk ran and got the priest to come and listen to it. The priest bent close to the grave and heard some faint, unrecognizable music coming from the grave. Frightened, the priest ran and got the town magistrate.

When the magistrate arrived, he bent his ear to the grave, listened for a moment, and said, “Hmm, interesting, that seems to be Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony being played – backwards.”
He listened a while longer and then said, “There’s the Eighth Symphony, and it’s backwards, too. Most puzzling.” So the magistrate kept listening. “There’s the Seventh… the Sixth… the Fifth…”

Suddenly the realization of what was happening dawned on the magistrate; he stood up and announced to the crowd that had gathered in the cemetery, “My fellow citizens, there’s nothing to worry about. That’s just Beethoven decomposing.”


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Emotional wreckage

22 June 2006 Frostie

Ah, there’s nothing like a good meltdown to clear your head. Maybe the toddlers are on to something? Apparently, I’m not taking this whole frostie thing with the zen detachment I thought I was. I was talking to a friend today, my knickers in a twist supposedly about all the *other* things I’m trying to […]

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The one with the dentist

21 June 2006 Uncategorized

I don’t know what makes me feel worse: that Tristan has had two appointments with the dentist recently; that one of them required a filling (with a second to follow in two weeks); or, that I completely forgot about one of the appointments and didn’t remember it until Beloved called me at work to tell […]

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The Great OPK Adventure

20 June 2006 Frostie

I call the clinic, because I have one stick left in my box of five, and I’m guessing that since my life is never straightforward and uncomplicated, I’m going to have to buy another box of ovulation predictor kits. The nurse confirms that yes, I’ll have to buy another kit if my surge isn’t detected […]

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New, improved and free from original sin

19 June 2006 Uncategorized

The vision: celebrating our sons’ baptism in a gorgeous old cathedral, hushed voices echoing off vaulted ceilings, sun streaming through stained-glass windows, wooden pews buffed to a dull gleam, well-behaved boys mesmerized by a captivating sermon. The reality: a touching but blissfully informal ceremony on plastic stackable chairs in the “gymnasium / cafetorium”-cum-church, punctuated by […]

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