Good Clean Fun

On Sunday, I took Owen in the bike trailer and we headed off to Oka. I can’t imagine why we didn’t do this sooner. It is such a quick ride with so much bang for so little pedaling. We’ve been passing by the ferry often, and Owen dreamed of crossing over, and I was totally going to do it, eventually, in the car – but then I thought, why don’t we bike over? It will be so much more of an adventure. And it was!

Here is Owen on the ferry.



And here is the dog we met (Roméo), also along for the ride in a bike trailer!

DSCF1452With the Oka church in the background:



DSCF1454Once we got there, I realized that we didn’t have a plan. At all. But there is a tourist information centre right at the ferry, so we went in there and asked what there was to do. I think the girls inside thought we were a little batty. They suggested three activities: visit some tropical birds, go buy Oka cheese, or go and make soap. I put it to Owen. He said, let’s make soap, so we did!

Of course, I forgot to take any pictures of the soap making process. We made four bars of beautiful, sweet smelling soap between us. In any case, here’s the place, Nhôa’s Eden.

Afterwards, we ate our picnic in the beautiful garden behind the savonnerie:


Including a delicious oatmeal brownie from Jen and Jodi’s Friendly Kitchen (more on this to follow in the next couple of days). Mmmmmm….


Has bath time ever been more rewarding than bathing with soap you made yourself? With a car and a plus sign inside, and smelling of raspberries?


I don’t think so.

Exploring Four

Now that Owen is four, he requires a knife to eat with. It was not six months ago that he got upset if a knife were near him on the table, lest it jump up and cut him.

Luckily, he is being called upon to be a brave (if not scurvy) pirate. Here’s what he got for his birthday. We called him Captain Black Thumb on account of his injury.


We went to “the chicken restaurant” for supper on Owen’s birthday. Here he is with his clown ice cream (note the Mr. Bump bandaid on his poor black thumb):


While at the chicken restaurant, Owen and his Daddy decided to show me how strong they were,


as well as their “three smiles.” (The three smiles are Owen’s invention. I kind of love them.).







The day after Owen’s birthday was his party. Ten friends came over for a fire truck themed event. Here’s the cake I made (adapted from


And here is Owen ready for his friends to arrive:


We had a grand time, and the event culminated in the destruction of a very robust fireball piñata (Duncan and I finally had to break it, after three goes from each child). Alas, I forgot to photograph the piñata.

Owen’s latest expression of how much he loves me is great. He puts his arms behind his back. This signifies as far as his arms can go (i.e. a four-year-old version of infinity). I melt.

A love letter to Owen at 4

Oh, Owen, how I love you.

This morning, when you woke up, I asked you how old you were. “I don’t know,” you replied. I said that you were four. “Really? How did that happen?” You were surprised that you hadn’t noticed the change, and immediately went over to your height chart to see whether you’d grown since the night before (I measured you a day early).

You are curious, bright, funny, and wise. You ask “why” incessantly, but I mostly love to answer because you really care about the answers (and you remember them). I love that you make us all wave to places that interest you (the building with the colourful lights, the ferry, the graveyard). I love that you always want to take the pretty road. It doesn’t matter to you that it takes longer; you want to enjoy the ride.

Your teacher wrote you a note recently. She said that you were the smartest, funniest and wittiest boy she had ever taught. You make me so proud. Today at daycare, you got a folder full of pictures drawn for you by your friends. You have so many friends. You bond with  children, but you also enchant adults. Every grownup who meets you comments on how well you can hold a conversation – and for hours on end! Some of these people have told me that they forget they are talking to a child. I know what they mean.

You are my child, but you are also my friend, Owen. You are so fun to hang out with because your wonder and wit spill over into everything you do.

Kisses and squeezes,



“The Worst Day Ever”

Yesterday was not the worst day ever, but we did experience a cluster of unfortunate events that had me wanting to hit the rewind button of my life. Except that there is no such button.

I drove Owen home successfully. I parked the car. Owen is on an independence streak, so he wants to do everything himself. I often let him, figuring that if he can do it, he probably should. His first attempt at shutting the car door wasn’t quite successful. I reached over to help him. Insisting that he could do it himself, he resisted, and tried again, closing the car door on his right thumb. I’m not sure who screamed louder. It was immediately obvious that this was a bad injury – it started to bruise immediately. My first thought was ice, so I rushed him toward the house as he bawled uncontrollably, “it really hurts, it really hurts! Oooooowww!” On my way out of the garage, on auto-pilot, I closed the garage door behind me. Then, when we got up to the house, I was rooting around in my purse for the house key (which is attached to the car key), while trying to calm the screaming child, and, well, wouldn’t you know it? In my panic at Owen’s accident I had unknowingly flung my keys on the garage floor before closing the door securely behind me. I had been working around the house all day, so all the doors had been unlocked, but of course I had locked everything behind me. So now we were locked out, with no way to get in until Duncan arrived on the train – an hour and a half later.

Thinking that I had to get Owen’s thumb iced, I thought that the next best thing would be cold water, so I got him to soak his blackening thumb in a toy watering can full of water. Then I thought, we can walk into the village and get ice. Better yet, a Mr Freeze.

So we did. We walked down the street and bought a flavourful ice pack for Owen’s thumb. Then we went to get hot dogs and french fries. At some point, Owen’s shaking sobs calmed down, and we were almost having fun.

He kept telling me, “It’s your fault, Mummy. You should have told me,” because, when he had initially shut his thumb in the door, I had said that it was my fault, that I always worried he would do that. Which I do.

I tried to defend myself a little, and then gave up. “Yes, it is my fault. I am so sorry, Owen.”

“You should have said that earlier.”

“What, sorry?”

“Yes. This is the worst day ever. I hurt my thumb and you locked your keys in the garage. Oh no.” By now, at least, the sad face is on purpose.

After eating, we walked over to the train station to meet Duncan. I told Owen how sad Duncan would be when he saw his thumb.

“Yes, Daddy is happy now, but when I show him my thumb, he will be sad.”

When we met the train, Owen kept his thumb behind his back like a surprise. Duncan was suitably sad when he saw his son’s injury.

I thought that was it, but last night, Owen was up 3-4 times because of the throbbing pain. He came to the top of the stairs sobbing, “My body isn’t doing what it’s supposed to do!” (i.e. heal his thumb). We offered him a treatment of tylenol, ice cream, a bag of frozen peas, a video, and lots of hugs.



Ants in his Pants (OK, Shirt)

I think I’ve written before about how much insects love my boy. His sweet little skin is ambrosia to mosquitoes, his blood a tonic to black flies. And to some other mysterious bug, Owen is so delicious that the creature had to go back for a fiftieth helping.

I am not even close to kidding.

Last Thursday, Owen came home from daycare as usual, ate supper, played, went upstairs for his bath. But when I pulled up his shirt, I might have screamed. The picture below doesn’t do it justice, but anyway, here:

Photo on 2013-05-31 at 17.19

Impetigo has been going around his daycare, so my first thought was an infection. I washed him really well and was glad that we had a “hypochondriac” doctor’s appointment the next day to look at three (apparently unrelated) blisters on his back.

The first doctor, a resident, started eliminating. Not chicken pox, not impetigo, not herpes (!). He said it looked like bed bugs, but when I explained that it happened during the day, he recanted. He called in the senior doctor, who took one look and said “bugs.” He didn’t know what kind, but said to apply calamine lotion and wait it out.

I must confess, I didn’t quite believe them, but the “rash” never spread, and they are slowly healing. Since then, every time I leave Owen in someone’s care, I pull up his shirt and explain – “This is not a disease. It’s bugs.” I did it to the babysitter, I did it to 2 daycare educators. Since I’ve been dropping Owen off early, I did not have a chance to tell his own educator, who called me Tuesday to report a “rash” – I know, I know, I said. “Bugs.”

Our best guess is that Owen got one or several red ants up his shirt, and somehow didn’t notice as they bit him 50 times.

Poor munch(ed)kin.

On Babies on Board

So: I’m confused. To be clear, I’ve been confused for years, but the public embrace of this trend is so vast that I have held my tongue. I am confused about why people, when they have babies, put a yellow “caution” “Baby on Board” sign up, usually in the rear window of their cars. Now, if it’s just a happy announcement: “I had a baby, rejoice!” then I totally get it. But, then, why caution? Because I don’t think it’s being used in the sense of “Lion on Board: don’t get too close.” It seems to have more to do with protecting the precious cargo within: “Caution all you other drivers. Don’t hit THIS car. This car has a baby inside.” And while I am certainly not advocating random bumps of cars-containing-babies, I am kind of against random bumps of all cars in general. Given that most of the accidents that occur on the roads are just that – accidents – it seems strange to me that in addition to looking out for deer, and moose, and intersections, a driver must also watch out for “caution: baby” signs, and explicitly avoid hitting those cars. What’s more, I have seen a fair amount of cavalier driving by cars sporting these cautionary signs (including the now trending: there-may-be-any-one-of-these-stick-figure-family-members-including-the-family-cat-on-board). So that I sometimes cynically wonder whether these signs imply that a driver with a baby on board may drive however she pleases, since all other cars are expected to make way. I have also observed that these signs are rarely removed from vehicles, so that a “baby on board” sign means less that there is an actual baby in the car, and more that the household currently includes (or once included) a baby.  Furthermore, other drivers might in fact be exercising caution against a “commuting-father-who-already-dropped-off-the-kids-on-board” or a “school-age-child-who-was-once-a-baby-on-board.” I may be wrong about the latter.

It strikes me that a baby on board sign is not the same thing as a “please give pregnant women your seat” signs, nor the same as the vibrant “children-on-board” yellow school bus. Pregnant women quite literally have a baby on board, and cars must actually stop to let children cross the road.

It seems to me that if we’re going to have “baby on board” signs, then we should have “human on board” signs (don’t hit THIS car. It contains a human.) I know Google and others have developed computer-driven cars, and while one might assume that a human would be inside, we might well get to the point where we send our car over to a friend so she can come and visit. Then, once she climbed aboard, she could hang up the human-on-board sign. Then again, if all cars were driven by computers, who would be reading those signs? I’m still confused.

The Magic Circus Fair

This is all Owen:

“Mummy, did you know that there is a magic circus fair at my daycare? You get there through the wall door between the sink and the potty. It’s a secret door and no one can go through it without a leader. I’m the leader, and when we go through, we are going to go to the magic circus fair to have adventures. Isn’t it good that I am the leader? We’re going to go through the wall door next to the potty. No one has been there before.”

I love this story about the magic circus fair. I love its name, and I love that you get there through a “wall door” (I suspect that it’s a plumbing panel, but I haven’t investigated). We just finished reading The Wizard of Oz and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and are part way into Peter Pan (though the length of the chapters in the latter is kind of killing me), and I wonder whether that is where he’s getting the idea that there are alternate worlds to visit.

When I was young, my mother would take us on picnics to “the Enchanted Forest” (really a plantation of trees – possibly overgrown Christmas trees?), and on one of our picnics she told a story about a land we could access from the Enchanted forest. According to this story, you went in through a secret door in a tree. This door led to an underground land which, if I remember right, had candy covered trees. I don’t remember anything else about the story other than it was wonderful, and it made a fairly pedestrian picnic magical.

I hope Owen can find friends to join him on his excursion to the Magic Circus Fair, and that they have lots of adventures there.

Nothing Matters

We sat down to supper tonight and Owen said, brightly, “We can cheers when I have a drink.”

I don’t think this was a “hint, hint,” but I felt a little guilty in that I had already poured myself a glass of wine, with nary a thought for my child.

“Sure!” I said, overcompensating. “Would you like a glass of milk?”

“No, a juice box.”

“OK. Go get one.” Now I can think of all kinds of reasons why it makes no sense to let him have a juice box at home with supper, but I am also lazy, and I love the drink he can fetch himself.

“Hooray!” he cheered. “It’s a daycare night, but nothing matters.”

We laughed, and Owen’s line became our mantra for the evening. Nothing matters! Let’s eat soup and bread and cheese. Our soup is really watery tomato sauce, but it’s a daycare night. Nothing matters.

There was such a joy of rule breaking in this little gesture of the juice box at supper. Juice! In a disposable container!

I even (horror. I know you will cringe). I even let him drink his soup with his juice box straw. I didn’t want to spoil the evening’s festive, laissez-faire atmosphere.