Upchuck Fail

It had been a long time since one of my daughters was ill, but this weekend Olivia’s number was up.

She started complaining that her stomach was hurting on Saturday afternoon. OK, not so much complaining as letting out a loud chain of whines and cries. Sadly, we know Olivia often tends to exaggerate for attention, and we didn’t really take her seriously at first. For which I feel quite guilty, in retrospect. She said she felt like she might be sick. A few minutes later, turns out she was right.

Now, I understand she was sick and out of sorts. And she’s normally a very bright girl. But I really wish that when we told her to run to the toilet, she had grasped that we meant *stand in front of the toilet*, and not *sit on the toilet*. FAIL.

Whatever you’re picturing, it’s probably accurate.

A couple of loads of laundry later (not to mention some mopping and disinfecting), we realized the tone was set for the weekend. Throw in a fever, and now we’re really having fun.

She’s much better now. Finally managed to hold down some chicken broth, and her complexion is definitely a healthier shade of green.

But lesson learned – next time, specify what to do when arriving at the toilet.


Nina’s Surgery

Today wasn’t a good day. If I met today in an alley, I’d turn and run the other way. Our baby, Angelina, had surgery for a hernia.

We’ve known for a month that she’d need surgery, but we only found out yesterday that a spot opened up for her this morning. Now, I know that the hernia wasn’t serious, that she’d only require day surgery, and that the risks were very low. But there’s just something fundamentally nauseating about the idea of my little girl lying helpless in a hospital, about to be put to sleep, not quite understanding what’s going on, and clinging to you for comfort.

She was so brave. She accepted our oversimplified explanations, and went along with whatever we said. I went into the OR with her, wearing scrubs and a mask. We asked her questions to try to distract her, and her answer to everything was a nervous “I don’t know”. She asked me to hold her, which I did as best I could, considering they were getting her IV ready. I caressed her and told her everything was OK. When they finally pushed the anesthetic through the IV, within seconds her little arms plopped down and her eyelids fell. Mostly.

Her eyes weren’t completely closed, and I asked if she could still hear me. They assured me that she was very much unconscious, and they ushered me out. They don’t even let you watch from the other side of the door, because they were about to insert a tube down her throat to help her breathing. They strongly believe – and I share their belief – that no parent needs to see this.

I returned to where Chris was waiting, with the unpleasant image of my baby lying under harsh lights, and amongst all those strangers and sharp metal instruments.

About half an hour later, the doctor told us that the surgery had gone fine, and that we could see Angelina when she woke up. So we waited. And waited. I stared at the domed mirror on the ceiling, trying to see if someone in scrubs was walking up the hallway to tell us we could see her. And as other parents were being called to see their children, I felt like that person at the restaurant who orders first but then watches everyone else get their food.


Domed mirror


Nina took an hour and a half to wake up. Likely payback for the morning’s experience. She was groggy, but happy to see us. And she was fine. In fact, she was enjoying a Popsicle within 10 minutes.


Nina Sicle


As difficult as this morning was, I have the distinct impression that it will be much harder trying to keep our almost-4-year-old from being the monkey that she indisputably is.

From the mouths of babes

We’re pretty careful about what and how much TV our girls watch. Despite this, they absorb information like little sponges. It all started before last Christmas, when our daughters began noticing TV commercials. Then the questions emerged: “Mommy, can you ever buy me that toy?” and “Mommy, can we ever go to Marineland?”

But what surprised me most were some of the other things Olivia started noticing. She was watching cartoons while I was making dinner, when she asked me: “Mommy, would you like a Slap Chop? Because if you do, you have to call in the next 20 minutes.”

Vince Offer & Slap Chop

Vince Offer & Slap Chop

In all fairness, that’s a bad example. Back then, every third commercial featured Offer “Vince” Shlomi (hey, you can’t make this stuff up), A.K.A.  the ShamWow guy, exclaiming “You’re gonna love my nuts!” To this day, I don’t know how that line was allowed to air.

BONUS: Vince Offer Soundboard – perfect for crank calls!

I couldn’t believe Olivia had taken notice of such a random piece of information. I was also partly amused, having worked in marketing since 1997 and being attentive to all forms of advertising ever since I can remember.

I find it utterly fascinating to have slogans recited back to me through the mouth of an innocent child, who doesn’t know any better than to believe the promises she hears. A few nights ago, she was fascinated with the Dollars for Gold ad. For those of you unfamiliar with this amazing service, you stuff any unwanted or broken gold jewelry into an envelope, ship it to the folks over at Dollars for Gold, and wait for your cheque to come in the mail. Seriously.

Tonight, Olivia had two specific new requests, each accompanied by a marketing-induced rationale:

1. Scope Outlast mouthwash. I told her we already had mouthwash. Olivia then explained: “But mommy, this one lasts five times longer!” Never mind the fact that she doesn’t use mouthwash. Or that mouthwash isn’t recommended for young kids because they might ingest it.

2. Pantene shampoo and conditioner. “Can you please, please, buy Pantene next time?” When I asked why, she explained: “They make one for curly hair, one for colour, one for shiny hair.” She actually retained, fairly accurately, their product segmentation. Olivia likes to look good from head to toe. Apparently that includes Pantene Pro-V shiny hair. Diva.

Time for a “Don’t believe everything you see on TV” talk…

Me too, me too!

Lately everything is a competition with our girls. Constantly measuring fairness. Singing an endless chorus of “Me too”.

The girls are play-baking together. Angelina decides to go play something else. Olivia barely notices and keeps playing. When she finally tires of it, she starts walking away.



Me: “Olivia, could you please put the toys away if you’re done?”

Olivia: “Angelina too. She played with it too.”

Me: “Angelina is busy right now, and I’m asking you to do it.”

Olivia: “It’s not fair.”

Don’t get me wrong. I’ll often get one of them to come help the other (to which that one will reply, “It’s not fair!”), but when one girl monopolized a particular toy, it seems a little too convenient for child 1 to suddenly implicate child 2.

Besides, who said this was a democracy?

So I ask if it’s fair that I’d have to pick everything up, on top of everything else I do. I secretly love the sheepish “No…” response that follows. Plus it has the intended effect of putting a stop to any whining and getting their toys put away.

Then there is the never-ending dress saga. Girls love wearing dresses and getting prettied up. Practically every morning, the same question comes out of both their little mouths: “Can I wear a dress?”

We often let them; but if one of them has an outdoor activity, we opt for something they can more readily monkey around in. The next day, the question becomes: “Can I wear a dress? She wore one yesterday.”
I find it very amusing that somehow, what one wore the previous day has any bearing on what happens to the other the following day. Perhaps I should explain that her sister wearing a dress yesterday actually doesn’t reduce the inventory of dresses in her own closet…

I’ve also recently noticed that both girls have an intriguing physical anomaly. If I stand right in front of them and speak, they don’t notice – those noisy crayons and stickers must be interfering with their hearing. But if one asks me for a gum or candy and I agree, miracle of miracles, the other’s ears suddenly come alive, and I hear a little voice from upstairs yelling, “Me too! I want one too!”, quickly followed by little feet running down the stairs.

Sigh. Will this translate into future competitions about who’s helped with chores most, and who did their homework first?


Yesterday was Chris’s birthday, and we decided to celebrate by heading over to Ottawa’s newest attraction, the Calypso theme water park. Considering the recent heat wave, cooling off in the water sounded like it would hit the spot.

√  Swimsuits and towels: check
√  Sunscreen: check
√  Life jackets for the girls: check
√  Snacks and water bottles: check

The number of slides and games was impressive. The more we walked around the park, the more slides we discovered. We were surrounded by tall, swirling, colourful, fun-filled slides, and the happy sounds of splashing, laughter and music everywhere we went. I challenge any grown-up to go to Calypso and not turn instantly into a 10-year-old child.

The pirate ship area was the girls’ favourite, with its water slides and activities for kids of all ages. In fact, this section attracted an unexpected audience: 18-25-year-olds. At the very top of the pirate ship was a colossal wooden barrel adorned with a skeleton head, which periodically fills with water. When the bucket is full, it tips over and causes what can only be described as a tsunami to crash down over the entire setup and its occupants. Evidently the 18-25 year-old crowd enjoyed the refreshing tidal wave, anticipating its every descent. Note to parents: hold small children firmly by the hand, lest they be washed away.

Stepping out of the kid zone:

The Acid Test twirls and releases you into a giant bowl whose edge you spin around three times, before eventually being sucked into a hole in the middle and being led back to a pool area. Recommended for anyone wondering what it would be like to be flushed down a toilet. Highly amusing.

The Zoomerang starts off with a pitch-black twirl; the light reemerges just in time for you to realize you’re about to experience a several-storey-high drop of death, gain tremendous speed, climb up a ramp until gravity takes over, and speed back down toward the pool area. An adrenaline rush to say the least.

In the midst of all the fun, I had occasional nervous moments. Although we were always careful to hold on tight and sit securely with the girls, I had fleeting images of one of them bouncing off the tube, or other equally unpleasant thoughts. I never have those fears on roller coasters; so why was this worrying me now?

Then it dawned on me: roller coasters involve being somehow strapped to the riding vehicle, which is in turn tied to rails or other guiding system. You could send me to the moon on a coaster and I’d probably go back for seconds; but the free fall nature of the water slides, especially with my girls, occasionally made my mind wander to the dark side. Rails good; free fall bad.

A note to anyone heading to Calypso (or any other water park): wear flip-flops to the washrooms. The fact that it’s a water park doesn’t make them any cleaner. In fact, I’d say the opposite, since there isn’t a single spot on the washroom floors that wasn’t covered in a wet, brown film. My 3 1/2 year-old let out a loud “Ewwwww!” with a frown when she saw the person in the next stall barefoot on the giant petri dish that is the floor.

That being said, the rest of the park is much cleaner. Everyone, especially our girls, had a great time. Highly recommended to anyone visiting the Ottawa area.

Walk a mile in these shoes

I’d like to know who designs flip-flops? Cause I’ve got a bone to pick with you.

It’s almost June. We’ve wallowed all week in hot, sunny weather. Women all over have been kicking off their shoes, peeling off their socks, and painting their toe nails in anticipation of wearing pretty sandals and cute flip-flops.

I was out shopping for a pair of flip-flops. Although I love sandals, walking around excessively with a new pair will only yield blisters, regardless of how much you spend. Since I’ve never been a fan of wearing sandals with either blood or band-aids, my solution is wearing flip-flops to and from work, and changing into sandals at the office.

After shopping, I came to two conclusions:

1. most flip-flops for women look obscenely cheap (even for flip-flops)

2. most flip-flops feel worse than they look

Usually, the sole is absolutely flat. It offers no comfort whatsoever, which is surprising for footwear basically made of compressed foam or rubber. The top is usually made up of cheap, stiff, too-often bedazzled man-made material, assembled by a small underfed child in China. Whoever designs these shoes hates women. Even the Airwalk and Nike varieties are designed as a form of punishment for feet.

I’ve found the men’s flip-flops to be marginally better. From Airwalk to American Eagle, the sole is thicker (although still hard) and the strap on top is often made of a cotton weave or leather strap. But I still wouldn’t wear them daily, even less if there’s a $30 price tag attached to them. $30. For flip-flops.

I used to laugh at people who would pay an outrageous $40-$50 for a pair of Crocs. What a gimmick! I’m sorry. You’re not going to sucker me into buying Crocs, no matter how big that crocodile smiles. First, they are nearly $50. Second, I’m not 12 years old.

Crocs clog

Crocs clog

Until the day I actually tried a pair of Crocs flip-flops. My feet discovered the soft, comfortable, lightweight, superior-gripping, non-marking and odor-resistant caress of Crocs’ proprietary closed-cell resin. The sole acts as a cushion, absorbing shock as you walk; and – can it be – arch support from a flip-flop! It’s the way walking was meant to be.

I happily dished out the $45. Because in the end, I’d rather pay a little more for a superior product. I still hold that the original Crocs clogs are best suited for children and tweens (and yes, both my daughters wear them), but I was happy to see the gift of comfort being extended to many other footwear styles, from sandals to high heel shoes.

More Crocs styles

More Crocs styles

On behalf of sore and tired feet everywhere, I declare Crocs the undefeated casual footwear hero.

Because I said so

Beware of little girls

Beware of little girls

This being Chris’s second business trip in a very short time, I’ve developed a greater admiration for single parents. Not that I’m comparing myself to a single parent by any means – but let’s just say I’m looking forward to Chris’s return home this weekend.

Actually, Chris has become quite good around the house. He hardly ever steps over the hurricane of toys anymore, but rather puts them  away. He loads and unloads the dishwasher, and has even developed his own “method”, which he claims cleans the dishes better, and for which I find him most endearing. He even occasionally washes pots and pans. I make sure to thank him profusely and recognize his efforts. A little praise goes a long way to encourage wanted behaviour. Because, ladies, men don’t come out of a box that way.

I’ve convinced myself that the girls choose the periods of Chris’s absence to test the limits of my patience as a favour to me. They probably figure that by requiring my constant attention as a cook, maid or referee, I won’t be nearly as lonely.  That’s probably why my little angels have argued about everything from who gets to wear the most costume jewelry (thanks again, Chris, for the three hundred plastic beaded necklaces you brought back from your last trade show), to whose little toe is over the imaginary line dividing the couch into two equal parts, to who gets to sit in the back or the front of the bath.

I hold the same diversion argument for sleep deprivation.

How do I wake thee? Let me count the ways.

We spent part of last weekend at my cousin Lidia’s house. The kids got to play together, and Lidia and I got to hang out and even treat ourselves to a culinary treat at the Staye House. The sleeping arrangements seemed logical: my youngest shared a bedroom with her younger cousin, and my oldest shared a bed with me.

I quickly found out that Olivia, who incidentally squirms around, slowly abandons her pillow and invades mine, and affectionately leaches on to my arm, all while being sound asleep, also grinds her teeth. In fact, I believe she secretly swallowed a loudspeaker before bedtime, just to make sure I could hear it nice and loud. Every hour or two. Until about 6:45 a.m., when Angelina wandered into the bedroom, claiming her cousin sings to herself and woke her up. Naturally, the only thing she could do was share the joy.

The next night, I was happy to be back in my bed and relieved to have my girls in their own beds. Until about 4:30 a.m., when a very groggy Angelina came into my room and woke me up. At first I assumed maybe she had to go potty. She said “Mommy, my pillow is crooked.” My first thought: “Go ask daddy.” Oh right. He’s not here. I got up, took her by the hand, brought her back to bed, straightened out the damn pillow and told her to go to sleep. Sigh.

Anyone remember this commercial? A cute little girl comes into her parents’ bedroom, goes to mommy and asks “Mommy, can you make me breakfast?” To which the mommy replies, “Go ask daddy.” The little girl walks around the bed and asks “Daddy, can mommy make me breakfast?” as a smile appears on daddy’s face, his eyes still closed.

I never wanted to know what 4:30 a.m. looked like. My revenge will come in about 15 years, the morning after they’ve gone out partying with friends. Wakey wakey… eggs and bakey!!

I guess it’s not that bad. Olivia helps clear the table after meals, and even helped Angelina get her coat, shoes and hat on both before school, and before swimming lessons, as a surprise to me. More importantly, it involved no whining on their part. I really do enjoy seeing them spend time together without hearing any arguing or bickering.

Note to self: buy more duct tape.