On bears, birthdays and statements of fact

We steal each other’s lines. It’s true:


Jane: You terrify me.

Flora: Is that good or bad?

Jane: It’s just… a statement of fact.


Sean: You terrify me.

Jane: Is that good or bad?

Sean: It… it just is.


Cinder: You! Terrify! Me!

Ender: Good! In! Your! Face!

In other news…


Jane: Gah! That funny thing you said in the car the other day… what the hell was it?

Flora: What? When?

Jane: You know. The last time you were really amusing…

Flora: I like to think I’m always amusing.

Indeed. I wish I wasn’t so forgetful…


I know I’ve said I don’t brush my children’s hair and it’s a major philosophical thing, but the thing is, I don’t brush my children’s hair AGAINST THEIR WILL, which means Flora often sports 28 meticulous, threaded braids, and Cinder will occasionally ask me to help him de-dread those locks of his he can’t tend to himself.

Ender, on the other hand… raised by wolves. But there’s a birthday coming up, and visits with grandparents and what not and there will be photographs, so many photographs. We discuss. Negotiate. Use a bottle of conditioner. He brushes his own hair vigorously. “Ouch! I! Am! Not! Being! Gentle.” I’m holding the brush as he comes out of the tub, and as I wrap him in his towel… he head-butts me. Hard skull against soft lips and hard teeth and it hurts so much I cry and scream and throw the hair brush against the bathroom tile and…

Ender: Oh, Mama. See? I told you brushing my hair would end badly.

Good news: the tiles are fine. The hair brush is not.

And neither is my lip. Although Flora says it is a lovely, sultry look, and I pull it off.


Speaking of birthdays… yeah. The Ender, my littlest, is five this week. When did that happen? To celebrate, I present the Ender Retrospective:

Before Ender: or, what the psychic said (November 2011)

Ender’s Arrival on Planet Earth (the last three minutes) November 2009)

Ender’s Arrival on Planet Earth, the long version: why you should just throw out that birth plan and have that baby any way it needs to come (November 2009)

Why Ender’s Ender (November 2010)

Being Ender (November 2011)

Embracing Chaos: unParenting unResolutions (December 2012)

No, of course I don’t expect you to read all, or any, of those. (Well, except for you, Mom. I’m actually doing this just for you.) But, we must celebrate the boy’s birthday, no? Let’s do it with this story from when he was two and change. It begins with a vicious assault on my coffee cup by a tantruming two-year-old. And swearing. And then:

Cinder: You asked for it, you know. I mean, you did nickname him Bear. Bear? That’s what he is. A very, very good bear.

The Bear bares  his fangs, growls, and rushes at Cinder, delivering a vicious head-butt to  the belly.

Jane: You’re right. We should have nicknamed him Fluffy.

Cinder: Well, it could have been worse. You could have called him Cthulhu.

We could have. Names. Powerful things, no?

Happy Birthday, Fluffy.



NBTB-Bears Birthdays Statements of Fact

Summer rerun3: Ender says rock

Polonius: What do you read, my Lord?

Hamlet: Words, words, words.

That would be a pretentious warning that the following rerun contains words that may offend. Well, just one. But repeated a lot. Because. This is a story of Ender learning to say… ROCK.

Yes, rock can be a dirty word. Read on.

(Originally published on November 22, 2011, when Ender was two’ish.)

NBTB-Ender Says Rock

Ender learned a new word today. His fourth or fifth I suppose. I’m so proud. I only wish his pronunciation was a mite better…

We’re at the Glenbow Museum, yyc’s answer to whatever THE museum in your town is. It has armour, paintings. Teepees. Rocks. That’s the trouble…

Cinder and Flora do their crafts in the Discovery Room, and then decide that they want to show Ender the rocks and minerals collection. We go up. They all pet the geode. (There’s a pet geode you can pet there. For real. You should come visit.) And Cinder says,

“See, Ender? You know what that is? A rock. That’s a rock.”

And Ender, adulation in his eyes, looks at his big brother and says…


Flora’s eyes get big as saucers. Cinder howls and howls. “Yes, Ender, that’s a fuck. A great big fuck.” Sideways glance at me. “What? He said it first.”

Jane: “Doesn’t mean you have to say it.”

Cinder: “You say it’s ok for us to swear when it’s appropriate.”

Jane: “I’d say right now is not appropriate.”

Cinder: “Fine. Ender? Come with Bubba. Look here. What’s this?”

Ender: “Fuck!”

Cinder: “And this?”

Ender: “Fuck!”

Cinder: “How about these over here?”

Ender: “Fuck! Fuck! Fuck!”

I may never be able to return to the Glenbow again.

2014: I’ve been back. I have no shame.



PS Looking for me? Awesome. Click here.

Why the rerun: Nothing By The Book is taking a page from old school un-social media and doing a re-run summer, while I spend the hot days getting a tan, running through sprinkles, selling one book, writing another, reading two dozen more, neglecting my garden, falling in love, jumping off cliffs—you know. Everything but blogging. But, you get reruns of my favourite stuff, so everyone wins. Likely keeping up with Instagram—NothingByTheBook—connect there, if you like? Or Twitter—  or/and .”

The obvious correlation between crying over spilt coffee and potty training

Sean: Ender! Why did you spill Mama’s coffee?

Ender: I not spill coffee. I pour coffee out.

Sean: The question stands: Why? Why? Why?

Ender: I have to pee.

Sean: Of course. Let’s go.

Ender: No. I pee in coffee cup. That’s why I pour coffee out.

it's potty time!


First published October 26, 2012 on Nothing By The Book. This happened more than a year ago. And is the Ender potty-trained yet?






P.S. I’m back from the land of the sun and the mouse. Mired in critical deadlines. So you’ll only see me around if the work isn’t going well. In which case, you need to look at me very sternly–in my IRL eye or my cyber-eye–and say, “Get back to work, Jane!” My clients thank you in advance.

P.P.S. Cloudy With a Chance of Wine, that’s the coffee cup you’re getting if you ever have the guts to visit my house. Ha!

A day in the life

Strong start to the morning

Ender: Mama! I pee in potty!

Jane: Awesome! Way to go… um… if you peed in the potty, why is there a big puddle of pee on the floor?

Ender: I dump pee. Dump pee on floor. Hee hee hee.

Jane: Um… why?

Ender: Make footprints!

One day, he will be potty-trained. One day, he will be potty-trained. Oh, gods above, please, let him one day be potty-trained…

Gets even better in the afternoon…

Flora: Moooooom! Ender’s biting the dog again! Should I make him stop?

Jane: Well–yeah! Get him off her! Why are you even asking me?

Flora: Well–cause if he’s biting Maggie, then he’s not biting me. [Pause.] Or you.

Jane: That does make sense. … No, for Chris’ sake, get him off her. Poor dog.

[five minutes later]

Flora: Mooom!

Jane: Is he biting the dog again?

Flora: No, he’s dragging me around the floor by my feet. I knew we should have just left him biting the dog.


Photo: Ender and Maggie. We should have gotten him a Doberman.

Interlude for a telephone call…

Phone. I’m the kitchen. I run. I lose.

Ender: Hello… Mommy? Talk with Mommy? … No talk with Mama. … I go have nursies now. She too busy! [Receiver slam!]

It’s the Vice President (Legal) of a Calgary investment banking outfit. Of course. At least it wasn’t the CEO.

Every day ends. Mercifully. And in the evening…

Jane (reading): “Holi is a joyous Indian holiday that comes at the end of winter. Holi is also known as the festival of colors. On this holiday, people run through the streets smearing strangers and friends with colored powder and douring each other with colored water. At the end of the day, everyone is decked out in all the colors of the rainbow.”

Flora: Oh, oh, oh, we could totally do that tomorrow to celebrate the Equinox. Can we, Mom? Can we?

Jane: Well, it would be very fun, I totally agree. But all our neighbours would pretty much hate us.

Cinder: They already think we’re the crazy people, don’t they?

Originally published as From the sitcom that is my life, March 19, 2012

Of the apocalypse, euphemisms and (un)potty training, 2


Jane: I don’t understand. I don’t understand how two people who love each other as much as I know you two do can fight so much!

Flora: Oh, Mom. Don’t worry. We’re just like Sadie and Carter. (Sadie and Carter Kane, from The Kane Chronicles.)

Cinder: Yeah, we fight all the time…

Flora: … but we cooperate when it matters.

Cinder: Yeah, we’d totally work together to save the world. Right, Flora?

Flora: Right… Ouch! Why’d you punch me?

Cinder: The world is not in peril right now.

The Revelation of St John: 4. The Four Riders ...


Cinder: Mom! I taught Ender a new word!

Jane: Oh, dear God. Do I want to hear this?

Cinder: Ender! What do you say?

Ender: Butt sack! Butt sack!

Jane: Butt sack?

Cinder: It’s a euphemism. Do you want to know for what?

Jane: No.


Jane: Ender, beloved, the potty is right there. Why did you pee on the floor? Again?

Ender: I hate potty. I never pee in potty again.

Jane: Why?

Ender: Potty evil.

Jane: Cinder!

Cinder: What? Why are you assuming I told him the potty was evil?


Cinder: Well, it’s not like he was using it much anyway.


Flora: Moooom! Maggie’s drinking pee!

Jane: What? Oh… no, that’s okay, that’s water.

Flora: You… gave… Maggie… water… in… Ender’s POTTY?

Jane: Well… it’s not like he’s using it these days.

(first published June 15, 2012)


Blogosphere Love Payback Moment: I still haven’t properly reciprocated to the funny Momtimes4 for the Very Inspirational Blogger Award,  and now the ridiculously awesome and hilarious Jenn from Something Clever 2.0 has passed on The Liebster to me. Thank you, lovelies–it’s always nice to know you’re not just throwing words into the ether, right? And I’ll dot the T’s and cross the I’s–wait, that doesn’t sound right–of the pay-forward when I can do so with some focus and concentration. In the meantime: thank you much. And keep on laughing. Because it’s cheaper than drugs or therapy…

Embracing Chaos


or, unParenting unResolutions

“Mama? Big mama? Wake up, big mama. I love you so very very very much.”

This is how Ender sets up the mood for the day—ensuring that no matter what he flushes down the toilet or smashes into pieces with the meat mallet (“How the hell did he find it again? I hid it on top of the fridge!” “Judging by barstool beside the counter, and the stack of boxes on the counter, you don’t want to know.” “Oh, Kee-rist. How has this child not broken any bones yet?”), my first and most brilliant memory of the day is tickling butterfly kisses and expressions of love ultimate from the beloved beast who will spend the day terrorizing the house, the family, and if we let him outside, the neighbourhood.

He is who he is; he is three. He’s careening towards three-and-a-half (see Surviving 3.5 and 5.5: A cheat sheet for an exposition and some almost practical tips and tricks), and three-and-a-half for the boys I birth is the age of chaos. So as I prepare to say goodbye to 2012 and hello to 2013, I know that chaos and the Ender crazy will dominate much of the year.

And I make no resolutions to yell less. Or discipline more. I will lose my temper, and I will yell, and there will be days when, as I survey the destruction wrought by the whirlwind in the kitchen while I absented myself from his side for five minutes, I seriously ponder just how wrong it would be to put him in the dog’s kennel. Just, you know, for a little while. And there will be days—and weeks—when I’ll be counting the hours until bedtime from 11:15 a.m. And days when, as soon as Sean comes home, I will hand over the entire parenting business to him, and lock myself in the bathroom with a bottle—um, glass, I meant to type glass—of wine.

That’s part of the ride; part of the package. I’ve written elsewhere on that the ultimate secret behind parenting is; its close twin is this: every age and stage, every journey has tough stretches, challenging stretches. And they’re all necessary, and most of them are unavoidable, and happiness and peace lie in knowing that they just are. And not seeking perfection, from myself as mother, or from the child.

He’s so lucky, my Ender, my third. His eldest brother broke me in, thoroughly, and no sooner did I start to boast that I had “cracked the Cinder code,” Flora arrived, teaching me that I had learned absolutely nothing about the uniqueness that is her (bar that nursing every hour, every 15 minutes, or, what’s that word, constantly, is kind of normal) from my first years with the Cinder. By the time Ender arrived, all I knew, for sure, was this:

I love him, madly, fully, unconditionally, in all his guises.

He will exhaust me, challenge me, frustrate me, make me scream.

And I will love him still, and love him more.

As far as everything else goes? As he grows, I will learn him slowly, piece by piece, unique need by unique need. Sometimes well, sometimes badly. Sometimes I’ll fail him—and sometimes, I will do right by him even though in the moment he thinks I’m failing him completely. And maybe, at the end of it all, when he’s 30, 40, with his own children—in therapy—maybe he’ll despise me, blame me, reject me. I don’t know. All I know for sure, is this:

I love him, madly, fully, unconditionally, in all his guises.

He will exhaust me, challenge me, frustrate me, make me scream.

And I will love him still, and love him more.

More like this: Sunshine of Our Lives, or, How Toddlers Survive.

Blog Hop Report: I spent some of the weekend blog hopping at the TGIF Blog Hop hosted by You Know it Happens At Your House Too. What a fascinating variety of blogs, people and approaches to life, the universe and blogging.

I’d like to introduce you, if you do not know them already, to three mama-bloggers (but so much more) with attitude:

Jenn at Something Clever 2.0  (Twitter: @JennSmthngClvr)

Teri Biebel at Snarkfest (Twitter: @snarkfestblog)

Mollie Mills at A Mother Life (Twitter: @amotherlife)

And something completely different, a woman who took my breath away with her authenticity and boldness of voice from the first line of the first post I read of hers: Jupiter, “Eco-Redneck,Breeder,Stitch-Witch,Knittiot Savant & Whoreticulturist Extraordinaire” at crazy dumbsaint of the mind. I’m not going to attempt to explain her. If whoreticulturist is not a word that turns you off, the word sapiosexual turns you on, have a visit and get to know her. Otherwise, maybe not. Safe she is not.

Happy reading, happy blogging, happy living, and I will see in 2013. My year of chaos. Your year of… what?



P.S. And if you’re having a slow New Year’s Eve at home with your kids and computer, check out Dani Ryan’s The Best of 2012 Blog Hop at Cloudy With a Chance of Wine.

A very, very, very, very short review of Playful Parenting

Cover of "Playful Parenting"


This is by request for a friend mama who’s navigating through toddlerhood for the first time, and asked for my thoughts on this book:

Yes, back when I still read parenting books, I did read Lawrence Cohen’s Playful Parenting. Bear in mind this was aeons ago. I do think  there are quite a few useful insights in it, but what  I still remember best is my immediate reaction… which was this

This is a book written by someone who does not spend all day with HIS children for people who don’t spend all day with THEIR children.

The end.

How I broke my children

It starts innocently:

Ender: I sorry, Daddy!
Sean: Um… why are you sorry, Ender?
Ender: I am sorry. I peed on your sheet. And now I sorry.
Sean: You peed on my sheet? Like, the sheet on my bed?
Ender: I did. I am sorry. Mama giving you a new sheet right now.
Sean: Oh, good.
Ender: I also peed on your pillow.

And I can’t tell you what Sean said next.

a pillow case (or pillow slip), with the pillo...

But I can tell you what Cinder said a little later when:

Ender: I! PEED!
Cinder: Yeah, so did I, Ender. Y’a know what the difference is? I peed in the toilet.
Ender: I peed on your foot.
Cinder: I know!

And then, their mother had a bit of a struggle with a project and:

Jane: Fuck, fuck, fuck!
Cinder: What’s wrong?
Jane: I’m just having a really hard time focusing on my work.
Cinder: I’m having a really hard time getting this Minecraft mod to work properly. Want to swear together?

And then, there was a horrible, horrible conference call, and the mother lost all moral high ground and self-restraint:

Jane (on telephone to editor): Fucking hell, I don’t fucking believe this==the [bleep bleep bleeps], they’re just [bleep bleep bleep], they’re [bleep bleep] and taking it in the [bleeeeeeep]…
Cinder (on extension): I’d like to apologize for my mother’s language. She’s having a very bad day.

[five minutes later]

Jane (to Sean): And then they [bleeeeeeeeeeep]…
Flora to Cinder: Wow, that was a new one. Are you taking notes?
Cinder: You bet.

It was, may I say in my defence, an exceedingly difficult day.

But I survived.

Although the children are probably permanently scarred.

swearing in cartoon Suomi: Kiroileva sarjakuva...

“There are no pee towels in the kitchen”


Ender: Mama! I peed in the kitchen!

Jane: Just a second! I’m folding the laundry… I’ll be right there…

Ender: Mama! There are no pee towels in the kitchen!

Jane: I know! They’re all in the laundry! I’m folding them right now; I’ll be right down!

Ender: Mama! There are no good towels in the kitchen!

Jane: Folding laundry! Be right down!

Silence. Too much silence. Eerie silence. I grab a handful of unfolded pee towels and run down the stairs. And there is Ender. In the kitchen. Naked.

Jane: Why are you naked, Ender?

Ender: There is no pee towels. There is no good towels. But look–I took off my shirt, and I cleaned my pee up with it.

Problem solving, right? This is a good sign, right?

P.S. I hate laundry. Even when I’m on top of it and have a system that’s working… there’s just nothing fulfilling about it. And as I take Ender’s piddly shirt and pants and pound down the stairs into the basement to start another load going, I know precisely why.

P.S.2 Yes, I have a drawer of pee towels in the kitchen. What, you don’t?

Photo (Photo of the Week 44-2011 – Towel Day) by cheesy42

Revelation: “So this is why you go to Mom’s Nights Out?”

Setting: Ikea. The cafeteria. God, I love the Swedish, bless their socialist-capitalist little hearts. They think of everything, including giving urban mothers in crappy climates the ultimate “come let your children run wild in our giant show room” indoor play area. (Smalland? We don’t go to Smalland. We test all the beds. And couches. And chairs. And shelving units. “Cinder! Get Ender out of the cupboard! I don’t care if he likes it; do not lock him in the pantry!”) Best of all: the lunch. Where else can I feed three kids and self for $10 for lunch? Although, with Cinder ordering two and sometimes three kids meals’ these days, the price tag’s inching up. Still… Ikea. Love it.

And here we are. For lunch and a mission: reading lights for the kids room, a birthday present for Flora’s friend (I’m all about efficiency shopping. The lil’ girl’s lucky today was Ikea day and not tire change day. What little girl wouldn’t love a socket wrench for her seventh birthday?).

The plan: Eat. Shop. Leave, before Ender-the-toddler breaks something.

The marvellous gift from the universe: Ender falls asleep in the car.

The new plan: Shop. Pay for everything. Look at breakable stuff at leisure. Go eat as soon as Ender wakes up.

The revised plan: Shop. Eat. Because the older children are starving (The first thing you learn as a parent: Life with hungry children is not worth living. Especially in public spaces.) Feed Ender during round 2 when he wakes up.

So there we are. Ender asleep in the stroller. Cinder eating fish and chips, Flora devouring meatballs. Me, piggish, with the shrimp AND the salmon plate. Ender asleep… oh, I already mentioned that. Ender asleep. Ah.

Flora: Wow. This is such a nice, peaceful meal.

And she looks around the table as if it pinpoint the difference. Indeed, it is so peaceful. Eating with a 10-year-old and a seven-and-a-half year-old, really, is pretty much the same as eating with adults. Right? They move the food from their plate to their mouths without too many detours. They don’t throw the food. They don’t choose the middle of the meal as the time that they need to scale your back and head for a better view. They don’t pee their pants five minutes in and require an emergency bathroom run. They don’t throw the food–oh, I already mentioned that, didn’t I?

Flora sighs with contentment and then, the penny drops. She looks at sleeping Ender. She looks at me.

Flora: Oh-my-god. This is why you go to Mom’s Nights Out, isn’t it?

Jane: Yup.

Actually, I go to Mom’s Nights Out to have more sex (see The Authoritative New Parents’ Guide to Sex After Children). But that’s a conversation I’m not planning on having with Flora just yet…

MEATBALLS! How typical! Considering we are, uh...


My current favourite: The Authoritative New Parents’ Guide to Sex After Children (of course)

SeriousWhen toddlers attack (surviving “That Hitting Things”) • Searching for strategies for Sensitive Seven • Five is hard: can you attachment parent an older child • It’s not about balance: Creating your family’s harmony • 10 habits for a happy home from the house of chaos and permissiveness • The ultimate secret behind parenting: it’s evolution, baby

FunnyFloor peas • The rarest song of all • Sarcasm, lawn darts, and toilets  • What humanitarian really means  • The sacrifices mothers make for their children (Warning: grossness factor uber-high)  • It’s all about presentation  • Anatomy talk, now and forever  • Want to hear all the swear words I know?  • Of the apocalypse, euphemisms and (un)potty training  • Mom? Have you noticed I’ve stopped…  • Poisonous Volvo

Let the pummelling be: little Caveman explains

Jane: Ender! No! You do not hit Mama! You do not push Mama! You do not pummel Mama! Never! Because frankly, little bum, it’s getting more and more difficult to not whallop you back.

Ender: Oh. Only hit Cinder?

Jane: No! You don’t hit Cinder! You don’t hit anyone!

Ender: But I love when I push Cinder… and then Cinder throw me on bed… and then I hit Cinder… and then Cinder push me… and then I scream… and then Cinder throws me up in the air… I love, love, love it!

Jane: Oh, my cavemen…

Ender: Cinder! Cinder! Bubba! Throw me on the bed! Throw me on the bed!

Cinder: Oh, yeah, little dude? You want some of this? You want some of this?

Ender: Bring! It! On!

…  and a few minutes later, my bed transforms into a WWF wrestling ring.

Cinder: Funky Cinder! Woo-hoo!

Ender: Funky Ender! Woo-hoo!

Cinder: Funky Ender! WHAP! WHAP!

Ender: Funky Cinder! WHAT! WHAP!

Their bodies slam into the mattress. The pillows are flying. They’re laughing, howling, screaming…

Cinder: Funky Cinder will whallop you!

Ender: Funky Ender whallop back!

And the moral of this story gets lost on me somehow…

For a moral, read That hitting thing/When toddlers attack. In the meantime, I need to get ready to stand by for when Ender slams his head into the bedroom wall… or starts to feel that Cinder is outperforming him too much and resorts to biting… and the screaming turns less joyful and more, you know, deafeningly painful and horrid. But until then… I let the cavemen/warriors be.

Let the pummelling be.

It ends with crying, of course it does. And I can see it coming–their energy escalates into psychosis, and they start running back and forth in the hallway, and the doors start slamming, and just as Sean hollers, “Someone’s going to get their fingers slammed in the door!” Ender slams a door into Cinder’s shoulder and Cinder shrieks and pushes him and Ender cries and comes running to me, and Cinder calls him a stupid baby and I reprimand Cinder and Cinder stalks off…

Flora: What happened?

Jane: The boys got too rough with each other.

Flora: Which one did you yell at?

Jane: Sigh. Cinder.

Flora: Why do you always yell at Cinder?

Jane: Sigh. Because it sucks to be the oldest. Because he’s bigger.

Flora: Should I go find him and say you’re not mad?

Jane: That would be great, my little love.

And three minutes later, we’re all in bed reading about Alexander the Great (or not-so-great-and-frankly-insane, as our book puts it). Ender snuggles up against Cinder (punches him once in the stomach for no reason at all).

Cinder: Why do I love this insane creature so much?

Ender: Because I your Bubba!

And that, perhaps, is the moral?

A pillow fight that took place in Lausanne, Sw...

The rarest song of all


One day, we will remember why it is that we don’t go out for dinner much. But inevitably we forget, and we have a, “Hey, we haven’t been out for dinner as a family for weeks–months, actually. Shall we go?”-“Oh, yes, darling, what a great idea!” conversation. And about 10 minutes in, as one of us restrains Ender, while the other apologizes profusely to the waitstaff–or the poor unfortunates seated next to us–and Cinder and Flora clean up the mess, we swear–never again. We are never, ever going out with the toddler, ever, ever again.

(Do not, by the way, share your “Eating in restaurants with toddlers” tips with me. I don’t need them. I had two civilized, distractible, entertainable toddlers who were absolutely amazing in restaurants. Now I have Ender. This, incidentally, is karma, for every time I cast a superior glance at the mother with the freaking out toddler and wondered why she didn’t just bring books, crayons, and funky toys into the restaurant to amuse her child with.)

(The answer to that last query, if you’re eating out with Ender, is that there is no toy that cannot be turned into a projectile, with the right–er, wrong–motivation.)

Anyway–it happened again. We forgot, we were hungry, we went to the restaurant. I’ll spare you the theatrics (although if I could do justice to the spectacle of Ender standing on his head on his chair and then wiggling his butt left-and-right while making farting sounds, I would)–the end-tail of the meal featured Sean putting the Ender into a full-Nelson and manhandling him out of the restaurant while I ordered the desert promised to Cinder and Flora “to go” (sigh),  and Nana paid for the meal, clearly thinking we should be saving our money for therapy. While we wrapped up the meal (tip for dining out with Enders: leave huge tips. Huuuuuuggggggeeeee TTTTIIIIPPPPSSS), Sean occupied Ender in the parking lot of the restaurant. Which meant, of course, playing in the van. Or so I thought.

And you needed all of the preceding so that you could understand this:

Ender: Mama! You back! I peed in the van!

Jane: Oh, that’s great darling. We’re all here, let’s load up and…

Sean: That’s great? He tells you he peed in the van, and you say that’s great?

Jane: I thought he said he played in the van… Oh, Ender, you peed in the van? Where?

Ender: On the seat. Right here! Now I have no pants. You pack more pants for me?

Sean (moaning): Right on the seat. We are never, ever, ever going to sell this van.

(Mostly irrelevant aside: we’re trying to sell the van. Live in Calgary and want a 2009 Pontiac Montana? Have I got a deal for you! Freshly shampooed and everything!)

Ender: Never, ever, ever ever going to sell this van! Because! I! I! I! Peed! On! The! Seat!


So we drive Nana home, scandalize her neighbours by having half-naked Ender prance down the street to her house, and spend a little time letting Ender vandalize her house while Cinder and Flora watch the last part of The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers on Nana’s nice big television screen. And then it’s time to go home–with the Ender partially panted this time, sporting a fashionable doo-hickey fashioned out of a swimsuit. Now, Ender’s not great in the car–that whole restrained-while-sitting-down-when-he’d-rather-be-climbing-on-the-roof thing just doesn’t go over very well–so we generally need to take turns entertaining him, singing with him, playing games with him, and otherwise trying to distract his attention from the fact that he’s strapped into the receptacle of torture (aka the car seat) and, once he kicks his shoes off, unable to pelt anyone with anything for the duration of the ride.

And the preceding (as well as the entire earlier vignette) is all a build-up just for this:

Ender: Can you sing me the P & C song, Mama?

Jane: What? I… I don’t think I know that song, Enderini.

Ender: Oh, it’s a very rare song. I sing it. I! Peed! In! The! Seat! I! Peed! In! The! Seat!

And that, ladies and gentlemen, why we love him beyond all pale of reason, despite everything.

Photo: Ender’s latest potty

2006-2009 Pontiac Montana SV6 photographed in ...

(I know there have been an awful lot of pee stories lately. I apologize. Tis the season, and soon it will pass, and I will never, ever have another potty story to inflict upon you.)

The obvious correlation between crying over spilt coffee and potty training

Sean: Ender! Why did you spill Mama’s coffee?

Ender: I not spill coffee. I pour coffee out.

Sean: The question stands: Why? Why? Why?

Ender: I have to pee.

Sean: Of course. Let’s go.

Ender: No. I pee in coffee cup. That’s why I pour coffee out.

it's potty time!

“Why do we have new toothbrushes again?”

English: This is used to pee in the bathroom.


The toilet is plugged, and my contact lens case is missing. We suspect the two items are related.


Sean: Jeezus Kee-rist, there is a ton of Lego in this sink drain? What the hell?

Cinder: You have to ask?

Sean: And where’s the little drain protector I put in here to keep this type of thing from happening?

Ender: I put in the toilet this morning. Weee!


I stand in the bathroom, which looks clean, but smells terribly, terribly like pee. I wish I had one of those hi-tech tools for examining the walls. Where is the secret pee spot now? I remember three-year-old Cinder’s glee when he learned that streams of urine could be used to hit targets (“Mom! Look! When I press my penis like this, I hit the top of the garbage can!”) Where is Ender doing target practice? The boy himself wanders in. Plops down on the potty. Then picks it up and dumps it into the garbage can.

“Oops,” he says. “I put pee in garbage can not toilet. Better luck next time.”

Well. One mystery solved.


Flora: Why do we all have new toothbrushes again?

Jane: You have to ask?

Flora: Oh, Ender! (pause) Mom? You know, at Mimi’s house, they have this thing on the toilet seat to keep it down, so their new baby won’t throw things in the toilet. Why don’t we get one of those?

Jane: We had one of those, briefly.

Flora: We did?

Jane: Yes. It was awful. You and Cinder didn’t know how to work it, so every time you had to use the bathroom, I had to run upstairs and take it off.

Flora: Oh. So you took it off? Where is it now?

Jane: Um… well, I didn’t actually take it off. Ender wrenched it off.

Flora: And flushed it down the toilet?


Sunshine of our lives, or, how toddlers survive

Sunshine, morning, so slow, so lazy… do we get out of bed or not? I guess we should. I tousle the toddler’s head.

Jane: Ready to get out of bed, little Ender?

Ender: Ready. Not ready. Ready. OK. Let’s go, Big Mama.

And we roll out, slowly, and fat sweaty hands wrap around my neck, and we gallop down the hallway. Everyone else is up already. I poke my head into the Lego/Computer Room/Sean’s office, where Cinder is already hard at work… er, play.

Jane: Good morning, little love.

Ender: Good morning, little love.

Cinder: Yo, Ender, how are you doing this morning?

Ender: Me happy, little love. But me need to pee.

And we gallop down the hallway the last two feet to the bathroom. Make it. Relief. We poke our heads in through another door. See the Sean.

Jane: Good morning…

Ender: Good morning, our big love.

And kisses and tousles and sunshine. And Ender is ready for a day of action and destruction. There are things to shove down sink drains and toys to put in toilets, there are pictures to scribble on and books to tear up, there are milk jugs in the fridge that need to be poured onto the floor, pots to bang and rearrange, boxes to squash, a dog to terrorize, a fish tank that desperately needs a bar of soap added to it, a sister’s hair to pull, a brother’s Lego creations to destroy, food to smear on walls and throw on the floor, bathwater to drink and pour down the stairs… Oh, it’s a full, full day for an Ender and he lives each minute as fully as possible, and at day’s end, everyone exhausted to bed goes, exhausted by the pace of life set by the Ender.

And Ender falls asleep, exhausted too and so happy and so fulfilled, and already, I can tell from the cast of his eyes and lips as they close, planning the next day’s mischief. And so we all fall asleep too, so we can keep pace with him.

We yell at him, you know. Snap. Complain. Sometimes, run away and hide (even me). But, boy oh boy, we love him. And when he wakes up the next morning, sunshine of our lives, we forget all the “I want to throttle Ender!” moments and just drown in his sunshiney love.

Ender: Good morning, Big Love Mama.

Jane: Good morning, love of my life.

Ender: No. I not love of your life.

Jane: No? What are you then?

Ender: I littlest love in the house.

Jane: Good morning, littlest love in the house.

Ender: Let’s go play. Outside?

Jane: Let’s pee and have breakfast first.

Ender: Let’s pee. Then me put something in toilet. Maybe Lego. Maybe car. Maybe… pee! Hee hee hee hee.

And the day begins anew.


“I am not feeding my baby sister playdough” and other acts of sibling love

Cinder, Flora and Ender’s cousin Matthew turns two this week, and in another four or so months, he will be a proud big brother to his own little sister. Flora is thrilled. But if she had a clear recollection of her own first months in the womb, she’d probably be afraid for the new babe’s life.

Don’t get me wrong, Cinder loved Flora. Loved her. To death. Or so we occasionally feared. Fortunately, she was tougher than she looked.

Happy Birthday Matthew! And, to your ecstatic parents, stories from our life seven years ago. July 13, 2005–Cinder is just over three, and Flora six or seven months. Remember–she survived. That’s the important part.

I. “I am not feeding Flora playdough”

Cinder: Mommy? Can Flora eat playdough?

Jane: No, no she can’t.


Jane: Cinder… what are you doing with that playdough?

Cinder: Don’t worry, mama, I won’t let her eat it. I’m just stuffing it up her nose.

II. Potty tongue

Jane: Okay, baby, go pee and then hop in the tub.

Cinder: Pee in the potty?

Jane: Of course. Where else would you pee?

Cinder: I want to pee on Flora’s tongue!

III. It’s all about redirection

Cinder: Mama, tell Flora not to pull my hair!

Jane: Flora, Flora, pulling hair hurts, don’t pull Cinder’s hair.

Cinder: Mama, tell Flora she can tickle my bum instead.

IV. Sleep positions

Cinder: Mama… I can’t get comfortable… Can I sleep on Flora’s head today?

Two kittens

V. Daddy’s Little Helper

This is your reward for making it to the end… and proof that Cinder’s early years weren’t all about tormenting Flora. He tormented Daddy too…

Sean: Cinder, what are doing?

Cinder: I’m hammering a hole in the wall you painted. Do you want to help me, Daddy?

I’m  in the wilds of Manitoba, and generally unplugged. I’ve got one more post auto-scheduled for your enjoyment, but I won’t be able to respond to comments until July 15th.

Anatomy talk, always and forever

July 22, 2005. Cinder, age 3.2: “Mommy? When you were a little girl, where you a little boy like me?”

June 22, 2012. Ender, age 2.8: “Mommy? Where your penis go? You lose it outside? I go find it…”*

and hey, while we’re talking anatomy:

January 2005. Cinder, age 2.5, witnessing Flora’s first diaper change: “Mama! Help! Flora has two bums!”

and as proof that things never change:

June 26, 2012. Ender, age 2.8: “Flora, why put Cinder’s hat on your penis?”

Flora: “For the last time, Ender, I don’t have a penis.”

Ender: “Why?”

And I leave it up to your imagination how Cinder’s hat fits into all this…

*Yes, this was a blatant attempt to sabotage bedtime. It was, after all, still light out in the Northern Northern hemisphere at 10 p.m….


Flora (Photo credit: CaptSpaulding)

I’m  in the wilds of Manitoba, and generally unplugged. I’ve got a few posts auto-scheduled for your enjoyment, but I won’t be able to respond to comments until July 15th.

Road trip survival tips when travelling with infants–not

We leave for Manitoba tomorrow, a 1600-or-so kilometre drive (1000 miles) that we’re planning to do over two leisurely days of at least eight hours in the car each day. The kids are aged 10, 7.5 and 2.8 now. The elder two are awesome road trippers. The littlest one… well, there’s a reason we didn’t go anywhere last year. We think we’re prepared (we’ve got snacks, games, electronics, strategies galore AND ear plugs)… but we’re also a little worried.

On the plus side, no matter what happens, it can’t be worse than our first car trip after Flora was born. In this vignette, she’s five months old. Cinder’s three. Their parents are in… hell.

June 27, 2005—Calgary to Edmonton. 300 km. 

6:45 a.m.—Both children in the car, unfortunately awake but, fortunately, notscreaming. So far, so good. We’re leaving only 15 minutes later than planned.We will still beat the rush hour out of town. We hope.

6:53 a.m.—Speeding at 120 km/h in the far left lane on Deerfoot Trail whenCinder starts rocking back and forth and saying, “Oh, oh, oh, oh.” “Do you have to pee?” Sean cries out, panicked about spending the next 300 km in a pee-smelling car. “No,” says Cinder. “Oh, oh, oh. Yes. Oh, yes! Oh, oh,oh! I have to pee! I have to pee right now!” “Hold it, sweetie, hold it!” Sean hollers. “Mama’s going to pull right over. No, what are you doing, not onDeerfoot! Wait until 32nd…” Mama pulls off a wicked lane change, screeches around the corner on the 32nd Avenue exit, and comes to a bumpy stop at ared light. “Oh, oh, oh!” cries Cinder. “Hold it, hold it, hold it!” screams Sean.

“We’re almost there,” say I as I take a sharp right into a parking lot. Sean leaps out of the car before I stop and runs around to get Cinder out. He scoops him out of the car seat and pulls off his pajama pants just as a fountain of pee starts flowing. And back into the car. A quick wave to the building security guard, who watches, mildly amused, or possibly disgusted, as he chews on the end of a cigarette.

6:54 a.m.—Aborted attempt to get coffee and TimBits (“for the peeing, Mama, I need a treat for the peeing!”) at the 32nd Avenue Tim Horton’s. There are two dozen cars lined up at the drive-through, and, with the three-year-old freshly peed and the five-month-old not-yet-screaming, we are not wasting any time waiting in line. We pull back onto Deerfoot.

6:55 a.m.—Three-year-old starts agitating for his TimBit. The commotion starts the five-month-old meowing.

7:00 a.m.—The meowing escalates into shrieking.

7:05 a.m.—The shrieking starts shattering eardrums. “Cinder,” Mama pleads into the back seat. “Can you give Flora a toy to settle her?”

7:06 a.m.—Exalted silence.

“Thank you, Cinder,” I say. “What did you give Flora?”

“My toe to suck, Mama,” Cinder says happily.


“Don’t worry, Mommy. I remembered. I took off my shoe.”

7:20 a.m.—We pull into the Tim Horton’s at Airdrie, Cinder’s toe no longer inFlora’s mouth (“Flora’s trying to bite my toe, Mommy! I’m taking it back!”) .Sean goes in to get coffee and TimBits. I free Flora from the restrains of thecarseat; she latches onto the nipple while I’m still struggling with the buckles.“Can I go in with Daddy?” Cinder asks. I counter with the “you have no shoes”argument. “But, Mommy,” he says, “I took my shoes off so Flora could suck my toes. We can just put them back on.”

7:25 a.m.—Flora interrupts her boobie-sucking to explode. I commence changing her, in the car, on my lap. “Stinky!” cries Cinder, not being of the camp that maintains breastfed baby poops don’t smell. “Gross!” cry I, as Irealize that the diaper contains only about a quarter of the total poop amount.

7:35 a.m.—Sean returns with the coffee and TimBits. He stares at the dirty diaper and pile of mustard-coloured wipes on his seat. He thinks about saying something, then sighs instead and gathers them up. “Give me the sleeper,” he says, extrapolating from the number of wipes—and the fact that Flora is now wearing new clothes—that we had a blow out. “I’ll go rinse it off,” I say. “I have to wash my hands anyway.” “I wasn’t going to wash it,” he says, appalled. “I was just going to throw it out with the diaper.” “But it’s a brand new sleeper!”I protest.

7:37 a.m. —Having succeeded in transferring some of the poop on the sleeper to my hands, elbows, and clothes, I toss the sleeper into the Tim Horton’s garbage.

7:45 a.m.—We leave Airdrie. “It took us an hour to get to Airdrie?” Sean laments. “The TimBits are all gone,” Cinder announces. Flora falls asleep. “Don’t worry,” I say. “They’ll both sleep the rest of the way.”

7:50 a.m.—I stand knee-deep in water in a ditch beside Highway 2, a barefoot Cinder, pants around his ankles, squirming in my arms. “Okay, baby, pee,” I say. He squirms some more. “Mommy, take off my pants. Quick! Quick! I’m going to poop.” And a row of transport trucks zooms by……

11:45 a.m.—We meander through the extremely slow traffic on GatewayBoulevard past the Edmonton city limits sign. “Remember when this used to be a less-than-three hour drive?” I say wistfully. Cinder, who fell asleep a mere four minutes earlier, snores gently. Flora lets out a loud belch.

A more common losing cup.

I’m on the road and then in the wilds for the next 10-12 days, and generally unplugged. I’ve got a few posts auto-scheduled for your enjoyment, but I won’t be able to respond to comments until I get back.

Did you catch Happy Canada Day, made complicated yesterday? It’s worth reading.