Friday, April 27, 2007


My apologies for my lack of posts, but all my spare (ha, ha) time has been taken up with assorted adventures. These included going to Prince Albert with the two boys for the day by myself (its an hour drive away), running a youth group overnighter with one and then both boys in attendance, and preparations for my upcoming trip to Winnipeg.

Yes, Winnipeg. I get Winnipeg cravings every once in a while if I don't go and visit my excellent family and friends, not to mention that fine city itself. Winipeg has a special place in my heart. So special, in fact, that I am leaving tonight to drive there with Andrew and Aaron. I can't cancel youth group, and I have no one to do it for me, so my trip has to fit inbetween two Friday nights. So I am leaving tonight after youth group, then arriving home either Thursday night or Friday afternoon so that I can run youth group again next week.

I figure that even if it is a complete disaster, it will still be a great blog entry. Stay tuned next week for the further adventures of Jill.

Monday, April 16, 2007

I Once More Flunk the Middle Class Mom Test

You may remember my post about the Christmas party a Andrew and I attended earlier this year? Well, I get together for coffee with the same group of women on Tuesday mornings. Right now a lot of them are back at work, and my friend is looking after two of their toddlers for a few weeks before they go off on maternity leave.

Not to be sterotypical (I only say that because Kris is going to leave another nasty comment), but these women are almost all elementry school teachers. And we all know what that means. They are VERY PARTICULAR. Their children never go anywhere without perfect hair, old navy colour co-ordinated clothes, appropriate footwear and a change of clothes, a bib, a snack and sippy cup (prefrably matching) containing little toddler puffs and watered down apple juice, and slippers. Yes, these two year olds all have slippers. One even has home-made knitted slippers, that they are required to wear around the house. These are very civilized children.

Well, you have all seen pictures of my less than civilized child. I beleive that you can only get away with looking entirely dishevelled for a certain number of years of your life (okay, in my case it was about 25 years) so you might as well take full advantage of it while you can. If Andrew is matching, it is usually because it was laundry yesterday and I had cappuccino at breakfast time.

Two weeks ago, we were heading out the door to coffee, and Andrew was helping get himself ready and he put on his own rubber boots, hat and mitts. Which was very helpful. We get to my friends' house, and he takes off his rubber boots to reveal . . . that he is not wearing any socks. All the other perfectly coiffed and mannered toddler boys have robeez or hand knitted slippers on. And my son has bare feet.

Assistant to Mr Chapman: His Mother

Andrew has discovered the power of costume. I, as a former drama minor and consumate sewer, am quite proud of him for making this discovery. I am not pleased, however, that I am apparently his personal dresser and assistant.

"I want my overalls on, mommy. And my shoes. I'm Bob the Builder"
"Take my overalls off. Take my shoes off. I want my rubber boots. I am a fireman."
"Oh, the kitty fur is clean. Take my shirt off. Put on my kitty fur. I'm a little kitty (in a high, falsetto voice)"

My favorite transformation was the other day. Andrew was sitting on the floor, playing with blocks and his excavator, when he suddenly saw his red rubber boots (his "inside" boots which are hand-me-downs 3 sizes too big). He put them on and demanded, "Go to the basement and be a fireman with me, mommy. Come on, Mark". I was in the middle of nursing Aaron and my back was sore so I didn't feel like toting him, one armed, to the basement, so I said, "Not right now, Mark. After the baby is done eating". Andrew takes off the rubber boots and says "Oh, I've got a lot to do today, Wendy. I'm Bob."

I think its time for a shop at chez VV to find some dress up clothes. Some easily removable dress up clothes. It really does become tedious to put on velcro running shoes with one hand while nursing a baby with the other.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Someone shares my passion for lost shopping carts!

Those of you who knew me in my younger days are aware of my fascination with lost shopping carts. I love the way they look as if they have personalities. As if they are almost alive, as they sit, waiting, in odd places around the city. Thunder Bay had a particularly large population of abandoned shopping carts, for some reason, and they tweaked my imagination like few other things did.

I have also raced in shopping carts and went through numerous fast food drive thrus in shopping carts (it is a 4-wheeled moving vehicle, so they had to serve me). But that is another story.

I was really excited to see this:

pop up on my Yahoo! screen when I turned on my computer this morning. I am seriously going to buy this book. I haven't been so excited about an ironic book since I saw Douglas Copland's collage book . .. what was it called now? Snapshots of Canada? Something like that.

Here is the website.
My favorite classification has to be "True Stray: Naturalized".

Thursday, April 05, 2007


One of the fun things about having a second child is being able to watch the budding relationship developing between Andrew and Aaron. When we first brought Aaron home, Andrew was really uncomfortable with him. He didn't want to look at him, touch him or talk to him. They were aukward strangers.
Over time, he slowly started to be curious about his new little brother. He would watch me bath him and ask to help, then give him one swipe of the washcloth and then dart away in case this new creature bit him. He would swoop down before bedtime and gently pat the baby's cheek or kiss his ear.

But how long could he resist the adoring stares and excited coos? How long could he be watched so closely before he had to give in and start enjoying this new little person who already loved him so much?
In the last few weeks, I have watched these two boys start to play together. They can now share a bath (albeit a very splashy one) and Andrew always wants to play games Aaron can participate in. "Can Aaron play, too?". He loves to imagine that Aaron is coveting his prized possesions: "Aaron wants some of my catelope. But only I can eat it." And in the way of controlling big brothers everywhere, he already wants to tell Aaron what to do "No, aaron. Don't chew your hands. No."

Aaron, for his part, continues to smile big happy smiles when he sees his brother. He happily tolerates having his arms tugged and his feet tickled and his ears poked. He still loves to watch his brother (in fact, if given the choice between mom and brother, he always chooses brother), and I am sure he will be a big copycat as soon as he can be. He adores and looks up to his big brother.

Things are still aukward. Andrew kept rolling Aaron off his lap while I was taking these pictures. Andrew always needs something urgently when I'm nursing Aaron. He often says "You are not allowed to touch Aaron, mommy. Touch ME." They will have their squabbles, I am sure, and their arguments and struggles. But it is such a delight to already see such love and such fun developing between my two little boys. I can't wait to watch these boys grow up together -- two children are harder, but much more fulfilling, than one.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Amusing Myself or How you know you're an Art Nerd

Do you know what I have taken to doing to amuse myself and keep my mind active while I read "Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel" or "Sheep in a Jeep" or whatever for the millionth time? Well, I'm going to tell you. Generally I occupy my mind with one of three things:

Method One: If the book is poetic in form, I identify and analyze the effectiveness of the literary devices used in the book. Alliteration, repitition, rhyme and rhythm are the most common culprits. Its silly, really, but sometimes I will try to skip a portion of the book whose rhythm or imagery I am not fully satisfied with. Andrew usually catches me in the act and makes me read it, however.

Method Two: If the book has a narrative structure, I analyze the authour's perspective, world view, and the implicit virtues emphasized in the book. I look for archetypes and echos of stories and characters from myth and legend. And I put together little theses on the underlying meanings of the book. Sometime I'll share my criticism of Cat in the Hat, which involves Dr Seuss's misuse of the trickster figure to promote the concept of a consequence free society with you. But not tonight.

Method Three: I try to work out the medium and techniques used in the artwork. Is is watercolour, acrylic or oil paint, markers, ink or a mix? Did the authour sketch the paintings first and then watercolour them in? Did they use the pencil crayons or the watercolours first? Was it oil paint or oil pastel? Did they get that effect by using bumpy paper or by using a special kind of brush? Does it look like they drew from life or from their imaginations? What artists or schools of art or design might have influenced them?

I think I might need to get a Masters in Children's Picture Book Literature when this stage of my life is over . . .

Jill's Adventures in Single Parenting

I also survived Dave's trip to California. I just slept with the boys when they were both sleeping, and didn't expect to get more done than I reasonably could get done while also watching both of them. The ironic thing is that my house ended up being just as clean or cleaner than it is when Dave is also around, and I was less stressed out about housework. Becuase I cleaned as I went I kept up with things quite well. In fact, I discovered an amusing fact. Most of the women I talked to were slightly reticent in admitting it, but would generally say that they felt more relaxed taking care of their children and households by themselves than they did when their husbands were around. I think its just the general lack of sexual tension and unspoken expectation in the air (these were all women with very young children, where many things tend to get left undone . . . ). I was getting bored by the end, and was glad to have Dave home to help, but it was kind of refreshing for a few days.

My abseloute lifesaver (no, Sharon, I'm not just writing this because I know you read my blog) was my trip to Nipawin in the middle of the week. We got away to somewhere where I had company, Andrew had distractions and someone else fed us. Despite the complete chaos that descended upon the household (Sharon's youngest was jealous of my baby and had a fit, and her middle child just decided one day to take away everything Andrew was playing with -- in fact she woke up from a nap just to take a book from Andrew and go back to sleep) when we arrived on the scene, it was refreshing. The most amusing part of the trip was when we took all our kids on an excursion to the Co-op grocery store and took over all their novelty shopping carts. Then I had to nurse Aaron, so we took over the entire cafeteria area with our children and novelty carts and me breatfeeding in public and Marie spilling juice everywhere and Bea and Andrew fighting over who go to lift the door levers on the novelty truck cart and Sharon feeding the kids crackers from a box she hadn't paid for yet. It was pretty classic. Another instance of me becoming the woman I swore I would never be.

When we got home I took the troops with me to youth group (nothing like making pizza with a dozen teenagers, a toddler and a baby). Fortunately, Andrew is starting to recognize some of the kids, and it was at our church which is familliar to him, so he did really well. The kids totally underappreciated the cd of Dean Martin singing Italien Love Songs that Sharon and I had downloaded, but I made them listen to it anyway. And of course they had flour fights, and threatened each other with hot peppers and did all those things teenagers will do.

Friday night I was sick and threw up everything I had eaten. At first I thought it was food poisoning, then the flu, but it may also have been from eating nothing but dark chocolate mini-eggs and coffee between lunch and 8:30 pm when I finished making my pizza. Anyway, I was super weak and dehydrated and nauseated and trying to breastfeed the next day, so I called up an older couple of professional grandparents in my church, and they took Andrew away to see a farm and eat lunch with them so I could recouperate.

Sunday we went to church, and Monday, Dave was home. All in all it was about as peaceful and fun as I think it could have been. Andrew was completely settled, becuase he knew where Dave was and when he was coming back, Aaron was, well, Aaron and I was calm and other than getting sick and then really bored, it was all good.

Dave's Adventures in Car Buying and Pastoral Care

Dave is one of those people who, if attending a party (and not asleep on the couch) will be holed up in the corner with a small group of people, hearing their life's stories and discussing their faith issues and questions. I don't know how this happens, but it inevitably does. Even when he's in a bar in Potatello, Idaho or a coffee shop on Hollywood Boulevard, it still happens.

About a week ago Dave flew down to Los Angeles to pick up the car he bought on ebay (a very nice green Suzuki Esteem station wagon). He flew into LA, took the bus to meet the nuns who sold him the car, and then hung around LA for a few days and drove back. Typically, the highlights of his trip were not seeing a major celebrity, or seeing the sights of LA or Las Vegas (although he did that), but it was encountering a number of quirky people along the way.

First, the Carmelite nuns who live in a trailer and are setting up a larger convent and the stations of the cross in wine country in Southern California. He walked the stations of the cross with them, was blessed by a guy who had a shard of the original cross, and got to sit on their brand new statue of Jesus.
Next, the black rapper from France who he met in a coffee shop in LA. They mostly talked politics.
Dave ended up with a $75 parking ticket because he was ten minutes late moving his car, but he figured the 2 hour conversation was well worth it. He says you can't see them, but this guy was travelling with his two hommies who sat with them in the coffee shop.
Finally, there was the group of lax Mormons he ran into in a bar in Idaho. He ended up hanging out with them (at one of their houses) until 4am, discussing religion and eating their pizza. Everyone else had been in a wedding party together a few weeks earlier and then there was Dave (he didn't get a picture of them, unfortunately.
These "chance" encounters ended up being the highlight of his trip. He said the scenery was beautiful, and of course he enjoyed checking out all the life and culture in LA, but for him it was all about these interesting people. They renewed his sense of calling and reminded him of why he does what he does . . . because he really is interested in people.

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention

that I got my hair cut about two weeks ago. It is easy to style (I can literally wet it, put some goop in it and leave it), very cool and utterly impractical. Why impractical, you ask? Well, its sort of a long shaggy cut (think Kathryn's "Bon Jovi" cut from Lake of the Trees for those of you who were there that fateful summer) and the top layer comes to a length that slides behind my ears but does not quite fit into a ponytail, so when I pull my hair back, I must use a thousand barettes to sort of pull the top layer back, but of course because it is my hair it creeps out and hangs in funny little bits everywhere . . .

Okay, let me put it this way. For the last few years I have come to the conclusion that since my hair is naturally sort of wild and unmanageable, the best thing to do is to get a haircut where it looks like its SUPPOSED to be wild and unmanageable (note to self: a good policy for hair, but not so good for children). And this cut does that. Anyway, it is good hair. I'll post a picture when I think to take one of it.

April is the cruelest month . . .

It is snowing today. Also, it snowed Tuesday and Wednesday. Oh, and Saturday. It has been melting in the afternoons, though, and the slow melt is much better for the farmers and does prevent the lowlands from flooding, so I guess its all good. But seriously, can someone tell Mother Nature that it is APRIL now? I guess good old TS Eliot was right.