March 2007

It’s that time again. The cold, clear, sunny weather just hovering at the freezing mark is the ideal time for it: the annual spring rite of picking up of the poop-dogs, as they are unaffectionately known around here. Nothing like spending a couple of hours on a Saturday morning prying frozen shit off the lawn to make one wax philosophical and contemplate the nature of life, the universe, and dog poop.

Why, for example, do month-old frozen dog turds have to be the exact same colour as six month old fallen maple leaves? Couldn’t they be a different colour? That would make my job a lot easier.

And since we’re on the whys – why don’t frozen poop-dogs stay on the shovel? Why do they roll off the end more than three-quarters of the time? And what the holy hell has that dog been eating that she poops her entire body weight at least twice each winter?

Apparently the dog is not the only creature using my back yard as a toilet. It took me about a half an hour and four pounds of poop dogs of wondering where the hell the dog was getting all those undigested raisins I was finding before I realized that they weren’t dog-excreted raisins after all. It seems we have rabbits, and from the copious quantities of scat, I’d say a whole warren’s worth.

My over-the-fence neighbour was out tackling the rabbit turd problem this morning as well. Where I was using a shovel, he came muttering out of his house carrying the shop vac. His wife had sent him out to make the lawn presentable for an Easter Egg hunt next weekend, and he wasn’t messing around. He spent the best part of an hour vacuuming the rabbit pellets out of the grass. He was not amused, but I certainly was.

This year, for the first time I found a paid dog-waste spring pick-up service in Ottawa. The estimated quote was in the $100 range for a one-time spring clean-up and cart-away, and my Dutch/Scottish ancestry kicked in and said there were far better things I could do with $100 than pay someone to haul off two months worth of dog crap. I cursed my skinflint ancestors for the full three hours, spread over two weekends, that it took me to do it myself. Next year, maybe I’ll treat myself. Would you pay someone to do it?

I have to admit, I’ve honed my technique considerably this year. I used to favour the plastic bag over garden glove pick-up, but this year I started using a shovel. It’s better for prying up the frozen bits, but the aforementioned problem of the shit rolling off the end of the shovel was tiresome. In the end, I used a second spade to do a sort of pinch-and-lift, and dumped the results into a 12″ plastic flower pot lined with a plastic grocery bag.

An entire post about poop-dogs. Aren’t you glad you dropped by?

Edited to add: I swear, the raisin theme this week was entirely coincidental.


A box of raisins

by DaniGirl on March 29, 2007 · 22 comments

in Infertility, Loss

The forecast called for a mild day with drizzle, a nice change from the month-long deep freeze we had been enduring. I happily dug my long spring coat from the back of the closet where it had been languishing behind our heavy winter gear. I shrugged into it and ran out the door, late as usual for the bus that was just pulling up to the curb. It was only when I got off the bus downtown and was walking with my face turned up to the newly softened spring breeze that I shoved my hands into my pockets and encountered the cardboard box. I pulled out my hand and opened my fingers. A small green box of organic raisins. In a heartbeat, my upbeat mood turned melancholy.

Of course, I thought to myself. I haven’t worn this coat since last fall. Last fall, when I was pregnant, I never went anywhere without a stash of granola bars and raisins to stave off that sudden lurch of nausea brought on by an empty stomach. I would have been switching to my winter gear just about the time we lost the baby. The last time I wore this coat, I was pregnant.

It’s only been four months. Amazing to think that if I hadn’t lost the baby, I’d still be pregnant right now, not even all that close to my May 8 due date. I’d be huge and uncomfortable and obviously pregnant, able to feel even the smallest of the baby’s movements. I’d be having trouble finding a comfortable way to sit, let alone sleep, and would be deep into preparing the boys for the impending arrival of chaos. I’d be pulling out the old cartons of baby clothes again, picking through to find sentimental favourites and reminiscing about how my giant boys used to practically swim in the tiny sleepers. I’d be hating my maternity clothes and missing my old favourites that no longer came close to stretching across the vast expanse of my stomach. I’d have forgotten what my feet look like. I’d be uncomfortable and crabby and glowing, all at the same time.

But, that’s not how it turned out. Instead, on the weekend that would have been baby’s first weekend at home, by a coincidence of timing we’ll be enjoying the company of my extended family on the free camping weekend. It’s taken a very long time for me to be able to consider the month of May without a sharp constriction of my throat. May finally no longer means the birthday that won’t happen. It means the month with the fun getaway, the month before our big vacation, the month when the boys switch to their new (sshhhhh!) caregiver.

Even though the shock and pain and immediate grief of the miscarriage have faded to a gentle melancholy, it only takes a little box of stale raisins to bring it to the fore again. And every month, the red tide of disappointment spills forth, dashing once again my hopes for another chance to be pregnant.

My feelings on getting pregnant again are complex, not clear even to me. I would like to be pregnant, love the mechanics by which one gets pregnant, but am so very afraid to become embroiled in the emotional maelstrom that is Trying. And every month since January, when we officially started Trying again, I’ve been heartbroken to find myself not pregnant again, even as I wonder in the bright light of day whether I am ready or able to risk going through it all again.

How ironic it all is. When I was speaking to the writer for the upcoming Chatelaine article, she seemed intrigued by my statement that I still consider myself in the camp of the infertile, even having conceived three babies naturally and Tristan and his twin through IVF. (I was still pregnant at the time.) For someone who considered herself infertile, we had really only spent that one year trying to conceive – and then a bunch of other stuff happened.

Sure, it took us more than a year and more than $10,000 of medical intervention (including the IVF and two IUIs) to conceive Tristan, but both Simon and the baby lost in November were conceived without concerted effort on our part. We weren’t really even Trying with Simon – in fact, we were celebrating the sign-off of waivers on our new house. Oops! We didn’t Try before Frostie either, because we had high hopes for that to work out, and when it didn’t I became pregnant the very next month anyway.

And now, so ironically, for the first time since before Tristan was born, seven long years after we tumbled into the land of the infertile, here we are again. We are Trying and it’s Not Working.

It’s different, of course. Back in those dark, lonely, scary days when we were first struggling with infertility, I was wracked with fear that we would never have the family we so dearly wanted. Now, the cruel and abrupt arrival of the monthly red messenger is disappointing, but not crushing.

With each month, as we drift further and further away from the last pregnancy, the urgency to replace and restore my pregnant condition subsides. All things being equal, I think I’d like to have that third child some day, and so we’ll keep trying for a while. Keep trying, without Trying, maybe.

That’s a whole lot of emotional detritus to stuff into one little box of raisins.


100 books meme redux

by DaniGirl on March 29, 2007 · 9 comments

in Books, Memes

Saw Bub and Pie give the ubiquitous 100 books meme a great twist, and thought I’d try the same thing. I clicked back through more than 15 blogs trying to figure out what the original list of 100 books was supposed to represent, but couldn’t find it. (You can see the original meme here.) The idea is to bold the ones you’ve read, but B&P came up with the idea of categories, which I shamelessly stole and then substituted with my own categories.

Better than reading a cereal box

The Da Vinci Code (Dan Brown)
Angels and Demons (Dan Brown)

The Lovely Bones (Alice Sebold)
The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe (C. S. Lewis)
The Mists of Avalon (Marion Zimmer Bradley)
The Red Tent (Anita Diamant)
Angela’s Ashes (Frank McCourt)
A Tale of Two Cities (Dickens)
The Time Traveler’s Wife (Audrew Niffenegger)
Interview With The Vampire (Anne Rice)
Catch-22 (Joseph Heller)
Les Miserables (Hugo)

The Diviners (Margaret Laurence)
Charlotte’s Web (E.B. White)
Not Wanted On The Voyage (Timothy Findley)
Of Mice And Men (Steinbeck)
The Stone Diaries (Carol Shields)
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Rowling)

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Rowling)
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Rowling)
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Rowling)

Shoulda stuck with the cereal box

The Secret Life of Bees (Sue Monk Kidd)
The Celestine Prophecy (James Redfield)

She’s Come Undone (Wally Lamb)
The Kite Runner (Khaled Hosseini)
The Clan of the Cave Bear (Jean M. Auel)

Read it twice, or more

The Stand (Stephen King)
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Douglas Adams)
The Catcher in the Rye (J.D. Salinger)
The Great Gatsby (Fitzgerald)
The Stone Angel (Margaret Laurence)

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (Rowling) *
The World According To Garp (John Irving)
The Outsiders (S.E. Hinton)

School daze

Wuthering Heights (Emily Bronte)
To Kill A Mockingbird (Harper Lee)
The Hobbit (Tolkien)

Little Women (Louisa May Alcott)
1984 (Orwell)
Great Expectations (Dickens)
The Handmaid’s Tale (Margaret Atwood)
The Fountainhead (Ayn Rand)

Fifth Business (Robertson Davis)
The Little Prince (Antoine de Saint-Exupery) – in French, no less!
The Secret Garden (Frances Hodgson Burnett)
Watership Down (Richard Adams)
Lord of the Flies (Golding)

Started but not finished

The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring (Tolkien)
Fall on Your Knees (Ann-Marie MacDonald)
The Bible – although after 13 years of Catholic school, I’ve got a firm grasp of the plot and how it comes out in the end
The Poisonwood Bible (Barbara Kingsolver)
Life of Pi (Yann Martel)

Erm, how did I miss this one?

Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen)
Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte)
The English Patient (Michael Ondaatje)
The Grapes of Wrath (John Steinbeck)

Life’s too short

The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (Tolkien)
The Lord of the Rings: Two Towers (Tolkien)
Crime and Punishment (Fyodor Dostoyevsky)
War and Peace (Tolsoy)
The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants (Ann Brashares)
Ulysses (James Joyce)

Would have read by now, if I hadn’t been wasting all my time blogging about books

A Prayer for Owen Meany (John Irving)
Atlas Shrugged (Ayn Rand)
Brave New World (Aldous Huxley)

Never got around to it

Outlander (Diana Gabaldon)
A Fine Balance (Rohinton Mistry)
Memoirs of a Geisha (Arthur Golden)
East of Eden (John Steinbeck)
Tuesdays with Morrie (Mitch Albom)
Dune (Frank Herbert)
The Notebook (Nicholas Sparks)
The Pillars of the Earth (Ken Follett)
I Know This Much is True (Wally Lamb)
Confessions of a Shopaholic (Sophie Kinsella)
The Five People You Meet In Heaven (Mitch Albom)
Anna Karenina (Tolstoy)
The Count of Monte Cristo (Alexandre Dumas)
The Thorn Birds (Colleen McCullough)
One Hundred Years Of Solitude (Gabriel Garcia Marquez)
Bridget Jones’ Diary (Fielding)
Love in the Time of Cholera (Marquez)
Shogun (James Clavell)
Rebecca (Daphne DuMaurier)
Wizard’s First Rule (Terry Goodkind)
Emma (Jane Austen)
The Good Earth (Pearl S. Buck)
The Bourne Identity (Robert Ludlum)
White Oleander (Janet Fitch)
A Woman of Substance (Barbara Taylor Bradford)
Kane and Abel (Jeffrey Archer)
In The Skin Of A Lion (Ondaatje)


The Alchemist (Paulo Coelho)
The Power of One (Bryce Courtenay)
Ender’s Game (Orson Scott Card)
Tigana (Guy Gavriel Kay)
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Betty Smith)
Blindness (Jose Saramago)

* I’ve started re-reading the entire Harry Potter series, starting with the Philosopher’s Stone, in anticipation of book 7 this summer.

(Edited to add: oops, it’s a meme for sharing. Consider yourself tagged if you want to play along!)


Following our heated rivalry for the 2005 Canadian Blog Awards, Rick Mercer and I have come to an easy peace (inasmuch as I stopped obsessing about him and he continued to not notice that I exist.)

Just now, I was futzing about on the computer looking up bits for our trip to Bar Harbour, and the Rick Mercer Report was on in the background. I suddenly knew he must have been thinking about me all this time, maybe quietly lurking on the blog, when I heard his skit featuring the Stephen Harper Home Pregnancy Kit, which lampooned the new child tax credit from the recent federal budget with the tag line, “Canada’s New Government – Fooling Families Two Budgets in a Row!”

Sing it, Rick!


A love letter to Tristan

by DaniGirl on March 27, 2007 · 26 comments

in Tristan

(Editorial note: I promised that I’d write this post 20 days ago on Tristan’s birthday, just like I wrote one to Simon on his birthday. It took me a long time not just because it’s been a crazy month, but because it’s hard to pick and choose among all the wonderful things that define Tristan to me. Also, for the first time I am aware of Tristan as a possible audience to this post, at some future date, and that has made me inexplicably self-conscious in writing this.)

My darling Tristan,

You are five years old. The rounded cheeks of your babyness have melted away, revealing the fine cheekbones and strong jaw of a handsome young man. Your unfairly long eyelashes frame your gorgeous eyes, gray one moment, then green, then blue. Your eyes take in the world, and I see the world in a different way because of how it is reflected in your beautiful, thoughtful, searching eyes.

You are a joy to me, every single day. I love your companionship, the simple joy of getting to know you and spending time with you. I love that we can sit on a quiet afternoon and play Uno together and I don’t have to help you or let you win. I love bringing you with me as I run errands, simply for the pleasure of your company. I love to talk to you, to discover that you have opinions and ideas and perspectives that are uniquely your own. I love your sense of humour, and I love to laugh with you.

You don’t need me to take care of you at every moment anymore. You can open your own seatbelt and car door, and put on your own boots and coat, and I can trust you out of my sight for more than a minute or two at a time, and while I am greatly relieved by much of this, it still surprises me. You have grown up so much in the past year, your first year at school.

School. You are doing so well at school, and I am so proud. You are so clever, my Tristan. I’m glad that the learning comes easily for you, and that you seem to enjoy each new task. By all accounts, after our first meeting with your teacher, you’ve thrived. You’ve taken to school like you’ve always belonged there.

You are kind, and thoughtful, and considerate. A few weeks ago, you took it upon yourself to put away folded piles of laundry you found on my bed. In the past week, you’ve taken to making your own bed – without anyone asking you to do it. And when you saw how pleased we were, you made your brother’s bed, and made a good stab at making our big bed, too. You, like your mother, like to please people. I can see you absorbing our praise and approval like a plant absorbs water and sunlight.

You are even considerate of your brother. When the two of you are colouring endless pages of your favourite Toy Story and Cars characters printed out from the Internet, you are careful to write Simon’s name on all his pages for him. The other day, tears ran down my cheeks from supressed laughter as I peeked around the corner from the kitchen and watched you try to help your brother put his pyjamas on, because you had yours on and of course he wanted to be just like you. You are surprisingly patient with the number of times you are asked to relinquish something or share something or give your brother the first turn at something, simply because he is younger than you. You are an ideal older brother.

You also have your mother’s obsessive tendencies. You have moved in the past few months from fixations on Thomas trains to Cars toys to Toy Story characters. You have also inherited your mother’s attachment to the computer, and if we let you, you would stand for hours in front of the cabinet that holds the family computer, playing video games and looking for new colouring pages. Well, maybe you get that from your father, too.

You are, son of mine, a little bit on the obstinate side. You know your mind, and you know what you like, and you are quite sure that you know more about the ways of the world than your doddering parents. Which most likely is true, but I was hoping for a few more years before you figured it out.

You still love to cuddle, thank goodness. You are endlessly affectionate, and free with hugs and smiles. You love to share a blanket, or a bed, or simply curl up with us on the sofa. I love the way you rest your head on my shoulder as we read a book together, and the way you will rest your hand on me with affection and ownership.

You are a miracle to me in so many ways, my Tristan. You are the oldest, breaking new ground with every day. I often feel like we are learning as much from you as you are learning from us. It falls to the first child to teach the parents how to parent, I think, and you are a good teacher. As you grow up, I am constantly delighted by your emerging personality.

I love you more than I could ever tell you, my son. From your bright smile to your warmth and affection to your growing independence… you find new ways every single day to endear me, to charm me, to win me over. I love you, Tristan. More and more each day.


The littlest enforcer

by DaniGirl on March 26, 2007 · 18 comments

in Ah, me boys

We’re in the car, driving back from our favourite hamburger joint. Simon and Tristan are recounting the day’s adventures, and Tristan tells us how he was playing basketball in the driveway with one of the kids from daycare.

Tristan: “It was fun, but then he pushed me while he was trying to get the ball and I fell down.”

Simon (two years younger and four inches shorter than Tristan), fiercely: “If that guy ever pushes you down again, I’m going to teach him a lesson!”

I suspect that may in fact set the tone for their school years. Don’t mess with Tristan, or his little brother will beat the snot out of you.


Hello Moto

24 March 2007 Life, the Universe and Everything

As I mentioned a while ago, we got a new Moto KRZR phone recently. I like it a lot more than the Nokia 6682, even though it has less stuff on it. (Yes, “stuff.” I’m so techno-ignorant it’s a wonder I can figure out the blog some days.) One thing I do prefer on the […]

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Bar Harbour it is!!

23 March 2007 Away we go

It’s booked! Two nights at the Bar Harbour KOA in a lovely little cabin with an ‘ocean view’. Check out the inside and outside virtual tours! I am really loving this cottage camping idea, can you tell? Beloved is quite excited about the whale watching and puffin sighting tours. Puffins! And one of the reviews […]

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Am I nuts to spend eighteen hours in a week in the car with my kids?

22 March 2007 Away we go

Family vacations. Are they not two of the most laden words in the English language? So much joy, so much stress, so much fodder for the boys’ future therapists. The window for successful family vacations is really rather small. For the first couple of years, it’s too hard to travel because of the pack’n’play and […]

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In which I dump the contents of my inbox into your lap

21 March 2007 How I love the Interwebs

I have so many little mental post-it notes stuck to my forehead that I can’t see through them anymore. I’ve got to get some of this stuff out, coherent post be damned. Do you like free? I like free. Do you like camping? I like camping somewhat less than I like free, but even stuff […]

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