Tuesday, February 28, 2006

a forced dietary change

About two years ago, an incident changed the way we live in subtle ways. We were at a festival in Florida, lots of people around us, loud music playing. A moment of inattention on my part and baby boy bit into a cookie covered with some sort of ground nuts. Within minutes, he vomited all over me and himself, his face was slowly swelling and turning red, his voice getting raspy. The adrenaline was rushing in my body, I had to think fast. Got the 5 of us out of there, ran to the car and drove to a pharmacy we had passed on our way there. Bought some Benadryl and gave him some right there on the hood of the car in the parking lot. I didn't sleep that whole night, monitoring him, giving him more Benadryl. A few hours later he was fine. But we knew what we were faced with: food allergies. Something totally new to us. No one in our families had ever had this.

Came back to Canada. Got him tested. Sure enough, he was allergic to all nuts. I sat there in that little room with the allergist talking a mile an hour filling my head with information, handing me pamphlets after pamphlets, explaining how to use an Epi-Pen all the while trying to comfort an unhappy and restless 29 month old who's arm had been pricked in a good 4 dozen spots.

So first, you go through this whole denial phase. Then a sense of panic and why him? And then you start getting informed. And then you have to inform and downright educate everyone around you: big sis, grandparents, babysitters. Shopping requires reading labels, going out for supper at restaurants or even friends houses requires vigilance. Birthday parties, playdates can be problematic. Yet, you don't want the child to feel different. You don't want to instill a total sense of doom but can't let it go lightly either.

Now that he is older, he understands better. We just got him a Medic Alert bracelet and he wears it proudly. But its still always a concern. We show up to a friend's house, who knows about his allergy, and there's a half eaten peanut butter sandwich on the coffee table around which the kids are playing. The grandparents come over with cookies sprinkled with nuts, argh, "but its not for him, only for you guys". They don't get it. We've instilled a no nut policy in the house, we had to. Another playgroup asks that he eats his snack separate from the other kids. How nice!! The preschool calls in a panic today cause one child brought pinenuts as a snack. A mother calls wondering if she can put nutmeg in a lasagna that she's preparing for a meal we'll have there. Another mother bakes her own kid's birthday cake herself instead of buying it at the pastryshop so it would be safe for him and he refuses to eat it. Part of me felt bad for the trouble I put her through. Each time we leave the house we have to remember to bring along the epi-pen. I now have a special folder where I put all the info I get my hands on about the subject.

As any parent, you have to become your child's ambassador. Yet, with food allergies, even more so. You have to contantly educate yourself and those around you. True, people are becoming more and more aware of this issue as there are more and more people affected. But anyone who doesn't live it is quite blase about it and doesn't always grasp the simple fact that you can actually DIE from it.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

indoor winter activities

What to do with kids full of energy when its too cold for outdoor fun? Go bowling!! Another family first, and here I was thinking we had pretty much exhausted those. The kids had a hoot!! The blaring music, the black lights making their clothes glow, their joy when one of their balls actually made contact with a pin, their dancing when one of us miraculously had a strike. Fun!

Rented the movie March of the Penguins. A tale of survival and love. Beautiful cinematography. Thouroughly enjoyed by us all, watched the movie one day and all the added features the next. Of course, even this movie had a "bad guy" namely the penguins' predators who set the two of them crying :( Nevertheless,we now have a pair of happy waddling penguins cruising down our hallways ;)

Hubby now busy playing a home-made version of mini-putt with them and then they are back into the garage emptied of vehicles so they can go biking!

Friday, February 24, 2006

the man with the yellow hat

On a last minute whim, we decided to take all 3 kids to see a movie at the theater, the first time the 5 of us did that together! Well, we did go to IMAX with them, but I don't count that as a movie theater experience as the showing is much shorter and there's no popcorn involved!

I had already gone with the twins well over a year ago to see Madagascar. I was with a girlfriend and her son at the time. I really didn't see much of the movie as I was pretty much in and out of our seats with one or the other. Their attention span wasn't quite there and the bathroom trips not very quick :(

So, close to $50 later, the 5 of us are seated in the theater, popcorn and pop in hand, the kids tingling with excitement at finally seeing Curious George. The movie starts. Its a cute gentle story line. The kids are giggling at the antics of the monkey and the man with the yellow hat. Hubby and I are exchanging a contended glance at seeing the 5 of us enjoying this together and proud of the twins who are definitely more attentive to the cinematic experience developing before their eyes.

And then, the "bad guy" shows up. Why is it these kids' movies always have to have one? In this one, its a superintendent, big broad shoulder, an angry look on his face. Our idyllic family excursion was over. Baby girl jumped in my arms, wimpering, hiding her face and asking to go home :( Hubby and I exchanged a "here we go again" look. You see, big sis was just like that too. Unable to watch a movie, wimpering at every "bad" scene or "bad guy". So I had to reassure her for the rest of the movie and all the way home she talked about how she didn't like the"bad guy"

Well, we won't be doing that for a while. Will stick to watching movies at home. Cheaper too!!

Thursday, February 23, 2006

mini olympics

I am pooped, physically and mentally, so no wit here today.

Spent the morning outside with the twins and all their buddies at preschool. It was Olympic Day and so much fun. We lucked out and had a beautiful sunny, warm day. My cheeks are feeling a little fried. First the Flame arrived and the Olympic Torch was lit. Sang the National Anthem. Then they were all divided up in groups and participated in several events: curling , hockey, luge, relay race, ball throwing, treasure hunt, snow angels and the best, hot chocolate with marshmellows. Then they all received gold medals for excellent participation. My hats off to the teachers who deal with all these little munchkins every day.

Then off to Timmies for a quick lunch followed by their skating lessons. I'm ready to curl up in bed and they're still growing strong. Ahhh, youth!

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

winterlude poem

Got up last Sunday
It was a beautiful sunny day
Drove down the highway
Looked at the ice fishing huts along the way
Ain't gonna do that, no way
Declared it a family day
Headed down to the canal, hooray!!
Skated and skated, this way, that way
Of course had to stop along the way
For a sugary treat, "yummy" I heard them say!
Well that was our kind of day
Last Sunday
So much fun to play
Felt like a little holiday

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

carnival week

Big sis had hers last week and the twins this week. Every day has a theme or special activity like pyjama day (which was great for me...no need to dress them in the morning), beach day, funny hat day, Olympic day, etc.

Today was backwards/upside down day. Typically, the kids put their clothes on backwards or inside out, stuff like that. So we had talked about that last night.

Well, this morning baby girl and baby boy get up and I can hear them giggling as they are getting dressed for their special day. But my jaw just dropped when I saw them show up: baby girl had put on her brother's clothes and baby boy put on her sister's clothes!! Underwear and all!! I was even asked to put hair clips in baby boy's hair. So off they go to preschool, with each other's boots and snow suits and hats and mitts and I had to introduce them to the teachers with each other's names. What a hoot!!!

Not sure what hubby will think when he sees his boy all dressed in pink ;)

a golden injustice

Another gold medal for Canada! Way to go girls. They even watched the game yesterday at big sis' school. Throughout the jubilation of it all, there was a little unsung story. The Olympic team has 3 goalies. The third one rarely plays, if at all, yet she's still there at all the practices and is basically part of the team. But regulations have it that all the team members get a medal except for her. There she was on the ice celebrating with her teammates but she doesn't get to bring home one of those golden donuts. BUT, and here is where the injusitce lies, in the MEN's Olympic hockey team, the third goalie CAN get a medal. Strange rules that should definitely be reassessed.

Sunday, February 19, 2006


Saw this ad in the classifieds section of the local newspaper (the free kind) and couldn't believe it:

"Healthy mother willing to give excess breast milk. Please describe your needs." Followed by a first name and a local address.

Is this like a modern day wet nurse or some woman trying to make some money?

And who would get this?

Not sure what to make of this.

Friday, February 17, 2006

a pure canadianism

So we've been watching the Olympics non-stop. The whole family is really into it. The other night, they did a blurb on this 64 year old Newfoundlander named George who is a snow-specialist. He was called to help the Italians get the tracks ready for the cross-country ski events, a fave in this house, right after hockey. He analyzes the snow and showed them how to use the grooming machine accordingly and correctly.

The interviewer: "So what makes for the best snow for a cross-country event?"

George, seriously: "Well, you don't want any Timbits in it. Ya know, those round hard chunks of snow."

Interviewer, laughing out loud: "Bet the Italians don't know what you're talking about when you talk about Timbits!!"

I just found this so funny and so purely Canadian!

Thursday, February 16, 2006

recalling a mommy moment

The storm they were forecasting just started, the snow is coming down steady. Like a big blanket descending on us, it conveys in me feelings of peacefulness and coziness. Hopefully it won't change to freezing rain as they predict. Makes the driving a whiteknuckled adventure and the kids have their skating lessons this afternoon.

Let's go back to a certain Saturday some 3 years ago. Hubby was out of town, the twins were babes and going through a phase of restless sleep at nighttime leaving me in sleep-deprived stupor come morning. Add to that a head cold resulting in a pretty pathetic mommy on pure survival mode. On this particular Saturday, big sis who was 7 at the time had several activities to attend. So here I am driving her from here to there dragging some grumpy babies along.

Pick up big sis from one event and start driving to the next one when she announces she'd really love an ice cappucino (it was a beautiful sunny day as I recall, not that it made me any cheerier). I said sure, why not, I'll get myself one too, a special treat. Wait in line behind other cars at the drive through, finally my turn arrives, roll down my window to put in my order: "two small ice caps please" and instead of the usual "that'll be please proceed to the window" I hear this young kid laughing is head off. How rude I'm thinking. He then announces: "lady, if you want some ice caps you better go to the Tim Horton's across the street!"

What ???? I look around, I'm at the MacDonalds!!! In my totally confused state, I drove up to the wrong drive thorugh!! I look back at big sis and ask her, why didn't you tell me I was at the wrong place? She just shrugged. Drove by the window with my head bent low as some snotty faced pimple bursting kid was still laughing.

oy vey

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

that sinking feeling

I was in big sis' school library doing my usual stuff when the principal came in and announced he wanted to talk to me. My heart dropped in my stomach, here we go, something about big sis. Now she's never been a problematic child at school, not one to be sent to the principal's office much if at all. It happened twice in 3rd grade and the principal, another one at the time, called me to talk to her. Apparently my daughter had been overheard saying to an older boy "go s*ck your d*ck" which totally flabbergasted me as I didn't think she knew those words and then shortly after she was caught biting this girls arm, out of character again. The principal characterized her as a problem child and any other behavior like it and she would be expulsed from school. I remember blushing and getting angry at this woman who did NOT know my child and how dare she put this "bad" child label on her. I was mad. Long story short, big sis was being bullied by this girl who's arm she bit. She would tell my daughter to do things and if she didn't she'd beat her or such other thing. When she bit her, she was actually defending herself. In this age of zero-tolerance in the schools, it was actually the victim that was being reprimanded. This other kid was eventually brought to the light of day and she still seems to spend lots of time in the principal's office.

So I followed this principal to this quiet corner and patiently listened to his "sandwich" exposé, just like I used to present to my employees: somethting good-the bad stuff-something good. Seems like big sis has been "mad" with these two girls and has written a nasty note in one of their lockers and has physically pushed them in the hallway. They went and complained to their teacher who in turn advised the principal.

Big sis has many friends at school but mostly for geographical reasons hangs out with these two particular gitls. Now as in any trio, its easy for one to feel left out. Lately its been my daughter. There's been many class projects that have to be done in groups, so the kids have to meet outside of school hours. So these two girls always pair up together and then tell big sis that she can't be with them even though groups of 3 are fine. Or they invite each other for sleepovers but not her. And so on.

So no, I don't agree with physical nor verbal abuse but as a mom you automatically defend your child. So I did mention to the principal the history behind the 3 of them and that her behavior could stem with a constant aggravation at being left out. My daughter never mentioned any of this to me, which I am really sad about. Does she not feel safe enough telling me this kind of stuff? And then, part of me wants to not believe these stoies as it hurts to know that your child is not "perfect". I also mentioned how I'm now wondering whether her sudden decision to go to another high school besides the one where most of ther friends are going is catalyzed by these altercations. You think you know your child and then you get this sinking feeling of disappointment with them and question whether you know them at all and whether as a parent you will be wise enough to lead them the right way. And as a mom, it really hurts when they are hurt and you just want to shelter them from all these injustices that are unfortunately part of life.

I asked that the teacher call me back so I can ask her if things are better between teh 3 of them. May try to bring up the subject, gently, ever so gently, so as not to back her up against a wall, and see if I can get her to open up to me.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

a day to celebrate love

St-Valentine's is an over-commercialized Hallmark-money-making day, agreed. But when you have pre-schoolers, it's a cute special day in the middle of a wintery month. We had fun preparing little cards for their classmates and now they are looking over all the ones they have received. We have also made this humongous card for daddy who is coming back from his business trip today. We will be baking heart shaped cookies and after supper tonight, our traditional St Vats chocolate fondue will be savored by all.

Hubby and I aren't great romantics, never really were. So we never did much or bought each other much over the years. We just have this quiet understanding that we love each other unconditionally and forever. Once in awhile he'll surprise me with some goofy card and ususally gets me 3-4 exquisite chocolates.

But February 14th holds a special place in our hearts for 2, well 3, reasons. Big sis was conceived against all odds as we were told we couldn't conceive on St Vats day when after a glorious day of cross-country skiing we frolicked in some apres-ski ;~) Then, seven years later, I acted as a mother hen when on that day several eggs of mine were retrieved :)

With a world full of cynicism, I take confort in this one day of celebration for our love for each other.

Monday, February 13, 2006

a new family order

Big sis had an obsession with the Teletubbies when younger and so we have a whole slew of videos and other paraphernalia of them. The twins who had been on a TV strike for quite some time have rediscovered them and now want to see them all the time along with their Baby Einsteinn videos. They love them because they say there are no "bad guys" in them. Seems they are both sensitive to any "bad" guys and tend to hide when one shows up on the screen.

All that to say that the Teletubbies have been in the air around here lately. And now every family member has been allocated a new name :)

big sis is PO cause she's cute

baby boy is DIPSY cause he's silly

baby girl is LAA-LAA cause she's always humming a tune

hubby is TINKY-WINKY although they call him "Stinky-Winky" followed by loads of laughter cause he farts and burps ;)

and I'm now known as NOO-NOO cause I'm "the only one that picks everything up all the time" ;)

So this is the new order of things around our household.

Which Teletubbies character are you?

Friday, February 10, 2006

let the games begin

I LOVE the Olympics, especially the spirit of it. From the classical idea of games held in friendly competition while no war is being waged to the athletes who are giving their all. Love watching all the events, love the drama, love the behind the scene stories or when they show us snippets of the country where the games are. I remember growing up and watching every single one of them with my parents. My dad especially loves the winter ones as he grew up in the Grenoble/Chamonix/Albertville and now Turin part of the world. Living in Montreal in 1976 strengthened this Olympic love. Then the Barcelona ones, my mom's hometown, was especially special for her as the language of Catalan was recoginized for the first time worldwide and used at the Olympics, a language that was banned when my mom was a child and living under the Franco regime. Of course now, seeing that Greek flag coming out first is special too.

Always loved the opening ceremonies and all its customs: when the athletes come in behind the name of their country, their differnt outfits, countries which have been added/removed over the years, guessing who will be bringing the flag and the torch. We watched the opening ceremony as a family here, the kids loving it too, and it didn't deceive me. The whole show was great. When Peter Gabriel sang Imagine by John Lennon, I bawled. That song already sends me shivers whenever I hear it, the whole concept of world peace so close to my heart as I am truly a hippie-soul, and combined with the whole Olympic theme was magnificent. Of course, Luciano Pavarotti and his powerful voice sent chills down my spine too.

The TV will be going non-stop for the next 2 weeks constantly tuned on the Olympic channel. The kids, having skied and skated now, and seen the neighbourhood kid compete in speed skating are REALLY into it. What a change from 4 years ago when I watched Salt Lake City with a baby in my arms at all hours of the day.

Spent the morning yesterday organizing the details of some mini-olympics for the twins' preschool as a major theme for their winter carnival week coming up. Complete with a flame arriving and staying lit, several events downsized to their capabilities (curling, luge, relay race, hockey and hot chocolate with marshmellows of course)and medals. Should be so much fun!!

Lastly, can the media please leave Gretzky alone? Isn't it coincidental that all these allegations come up just before the Olympics? Its as though someone is intentionally trying to mentally sabotage the Canadian Olympic hockey team? Its pissing me off. Why should an NHL problem get dragged cross-Atlantic to an Olympic venue? Let it rest till afterwards. Poor Wayne, he's got enough on his plate as is. Mourning his mom and grandma, coaching an NHL AND Olympic team and now this! OK, can you tell I have a soft spot for him?

Thursday, February 09, 2006

ice fishing

And now for a totally different kind of post. I could have written about how we are in the midst of trying to decide what high school to send big sis to next year, how she is making lists of pro's and cons, how its consuming all my conversations with other moms AND how I have to do the same for the twins and how its agonizing me. But enough of that.

I drive along a river to get home and every winter as the cold sets in, more and more huts get set up for people to go ice fishing. First the huts, then the cars/trucks/snowmobiles end up on the ice. And every year when I see them I shake my head and ask "why would someone like to sit in a hut on ice peering at a small hole and pulling out small fish?" OK, the men do it to get away from their wives and go drinking, right? I mean, whenever I see them I think of the movie Grumpy Old Men.

One of my recurring dreams growing up was falling through the ice, being caught underneath, looking up through the ice and looking at the people standing there unable to help me. Guess taht's why I may have a phobia of walking on ice, not ice like on a skating rink, but ice over water. And then every year we hear of someone going through, including kids, and not making it.

So, ice fishing...I just don't get it.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

yet another stage

Up until now, the twins have pretty much done everything together. Same activities, same playdates, same parties, same bedroom, same school. Now, all of a sudden, we have been faced with something new. They have both been invited to birthday parties of two classmates and these parties are on the SAME day and at the SAME time! After some discussion amongst themselves (super cute to overhear too) they decided that baby boy would go to the boy's party and baby girl to the girl's party (totally predictable outcome, of course). So this is pretty much the first time they will go to an event on their own. Being of different genders I was kind of expecting this to occur at one point as they grow up with different friends. More so than twins of the same gender who can share friends and activities for longer. Reminds me of a friend of mine who has twin boys. At the time they were both attending the same school and the same class, first grade. Come along one classmates's birthday party and he invites one twin and not the other. The latter was devastated. The mother ended up not sending either. For her, it was both or none.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006


Last week my parents gave me a box of odds and ends of stuff of mine from when I was living with them eons ago. My jaw just dropped when I found this little frame a girlfriend gave me for my 10th birthday. She got it for me because my astrological sign is Leo and she had no clue what the saying meant cuz she was totally francophone. Who would have guessed that 3 decades later I would start a blog with that same title. Too cool!!

This is the same kind of coincidence that happened here 3 years ago. Big sis had this Fisher Price house she used to play with and when she stopped having an interest in it we put it away in the depts of the basement. I had all but forgotten about it when several years later it re-emerged in order for the twins to play with it. Imagine our shock when we saw that the characters that came with this house included a dad, a mom, a big sis and boy/girl twin babies!! It was as though it was meant to be!

Love these little coincidences that life throws at us :)

Monday, February 06, 2006

monday ramblings

Another week-end gone and I'm now faced with unpacking, laundry and general tidying up. I'm in no mood for that at all so am finding every excuse to proscratinate.

The Hilary Duff concert was pretty good actually. Better than last year. She's grown right before our eyes. She had more energy, an opening act (The Operator from Toronto, so-so), two back-up singers and 3 dancers. This was the last show of her tour. She was still shy sounding when talking to the crowd and is horrendously thin. Horrible trend these young stars are following. The place was packed with screaming young girls. My big girl thought they were all pretty silly. She's not one to do that. She was also so aware of the commercialism of it all. Like the hundreds of $5 a pop glow sticks that they sold and the overpriced paraphernalia they were selling. She somehow seemed so much more mature. We ran into a friend of ours who brought his 2 young girls. He looked like he was in shock and muttered something about being the only guy in the place. The look on his face made us laugh so hard.

Although the weather didn't look that great when we set off on our ski week-end, we ended up with 2 pretty good and mild days. On the way there, on a total last minute whim we splurged and stopped at the Chateau Montebello for lunch. The food there is so awesome and the kids loved to see the inside of a "chateau". The twins really got the hang of skiing alone and they were the cutest things taking turns following each other down the hill doing the "pizza" and the "french fries". Hubby videotaped them coming down and they watched themselves at night over and over. I think that actually helped them. Big sis decided to try snowboarding so we set her up with a lesson. She spent a lot of time on her butt though ;) Not an easy thing to learn but at least she's willing to try again. Loved seeing those pink cheeks on all 3 of them after spending the day outdoors and what an appetite, watch out!

We actually came home earlier to watch the Superbowl. We are definitely NOT football fans but hubby and I didn't want to miss the Stones at half-time. We both LOVE that band. I was surprised to see the kids actually watch most of the game with their dad who had to explain every play to them.

On the way home, the twins were joyfully recounting everything they did on their week-end and how they love going there. They have that enthusiasm that preschoolers have about so much. And then we have the 11 year old who doesn't have that enthusiasm any more. Somehow it gets lost with pre-teens. They can be so morose at times that it can drive me nuts. She can be so unappreciative. I mean here we went to a concert, fancy lunch, lessons and she tells us her week-end was "just OK". You ask her to do anything and you get this big sigh. I can loose my patience with her in a second. Hubby says to leave her, its just a phase. I'm just worried about spoiling her too much and her becoming blase with everything she has. I mean I grew up with SO much less than what she has. My parents didn't have the means like we have now. Is this generation of kids getting too much as compared to what we got? More toys, more outings, more lessons (gym, skating, etc...), more clothes. Are we actually hurting them by giving them so much more than we had? I know that hubby and I have already discussed that as soon as she can she's getting some kind of part-time job so she can comprehend the value and meaning of money and working for it. Ahhh, I'm so NOT ready for those teenage years. I think that's why I enjoy my preschoolers so much cuz I know that this magical phase will not last forever.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

girl's night out

OK no drinking involved here or half naked men either.

I'm going out tonight with my big girl to see Hilary Duff. Not the most exciting show, I know, especially since my last one was to see U2, but a show is a show and its still a night out for me. Plus its great to do something alone with her.

Big sis has been a fan for the last few years. Has watched all her TV shows, has all her cd's and movies and tons of magazines about her. Her bedroom is filled with posters and trinkets of hers. This will be her third time seeing her live. She's not as crazily mad about her. I guess some maturity is setting in. But as an artist she's still a decent role model.

Funny how growing up I never had such a crush on a particular artist. Actually, never had posters in my bedroom either.

Well, gotta get supper ready and some things packed as we are leaving tomorrow morning for our mountain getaway. Another ski week-end awaits!

Wednesday, February 01, 2006


Hard to believe but I registered all 3 kids for soccer today!

Hard to believe cuz its still winter out there and the concept of sitting on the sidelines of a soccer field seems SSOOO far away.

Hard to believe that big sis is entering her seventh season.

Hard to believe that the twins are already at that age. First it was the "drag that big belly to games and share pregnancy/birth stories" summer. Then it was the "drag the babies and all their paraphernalia and their stroller to all games, practices, tournaments" summer. Followed by the "lets take turns bringing big sis and one of us stay home with the twins who have no concept about not going on the field while the game is in play" summer. Followed by the "lets play on the side and eat snacks in our cute little lawn chairs and play in the local playstructure" summers. And now it will be the onset of the"juggling three soccer schedules" summers.

Hubby loves soccer. Playing it and watching it. World Cup years are always important ones. When we were first dating I would go see him at his games. Once, he was the only white guy on the team and another year the only non-italian. He would also coach kids back then. So it was a natural step that he would end up coaching big sis and her team. The twins have known that and learned, gradually, not to disturb dad while he was coaching.

So today when I registered them, they both looked at me with a huge smile and said simultaneously "dad will be our coach too, right?" That's when my heart sank. It won't be possible. For years, the league had the 4-5 years old as a co-ed team. So we thought, great, they'll be together. But NO, now its changed, girls and boys have been separated. Which for us means that the twins will ALWAYS have games at the SAME time, SAME day, DIFFERENT fields. How can he decide to coach one and never see the other one play? Sucks. He may not even be able to coach big sis as her practices will be on the one evening he works on weekdays.

Oh well, we'll figure it out. Can't wait to see the wee ones in their cute outfits and for once it'll be big sis getting dragged to their games!