Children’s Art Gallery

Posted October 21st, 2014 in Uncategorized by Mitsy

I am pleased to unveil our new Children’s Art Gallery just outside the girls’ room, showcasing a collection of September and October masterpieces.

Drex and Associates installed three IKEA Dignitet curtain wires for the display. Very pleased with their work and looking forward to an ongoing rotation of art to brighten our home throughout the seasons.

One drawing above by Leena is particularly precious to me. On the left, done in glitter marker on red construction paper, is Baby Brother attached to his placenta, growing inside my womb. There are two ovaries, two Fallopian tubes, and a cervix, which the girls know to be “the round door that opens so they could be born.” What can I say? The daughters of an M.D.

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Weird? Us?

Posted October 17th, 2014 in Uncategorized by Mitsy

In Sonya’s adorable family portrait, Drex and I look kind of like unwashed hippies. He’s got a beard. I’ve got a crazy pregnancy bump and a dark face. Leena is hanging with Skywalker. I’m hanging with my Adventure Buddy under the Egg Sun, and Sonya is in the middle of us amidst a shower of pink and purple confetti.

Meanwhile, somewhat unrelated, but this awesome rap song has been stuck in my head. It’s kind of becoming a personal anthem.

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Knits for Baby Boy

Posted October 16th, 2014 in Uncategorized by Mitsy

Sometimes, people come up to me when I am knitting and they say things like, “Oh, I wish I could knit, but I’m just not the kind of person who can sit and waste time like that.” How can knitting be wasting time? First, I never just knit; I knit and think, knit and listen, knit and watch. Second, you aren’t wasting time if you get a useful or beautiful object at the end of it.

I will remember that not everyone understands. I will resist the urge to ask others what they do when they watch TV.

— Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, At Knit’s End: Meditations for Women Who Knit Too Much

A tiny head, a tiny body, and two tiny feet will wear these soon. I hope they fit. I have no idea if they will. Both girls were just under seven pounds at birth. Will their brother be that tiny too? He has his head down, getting ready to come out in a couple of weeks. Drex feels that we’re more ready for his arrival than we’ve been for our other two kids. By this, I think he means that we actually have baby things and a box of newborn diapers. But I’m still a bit anxious about how it’s all going to play out. I mean, I’ve had three uncomplicated pregnancies and two beautiful natural deliveries so far, but a woman never knows what’s going to happen. As we get closer to the due date, it’s in my nature to start freaking out. What if what if what if — deep breath — what if what if what if.

Properly practiced, knitting soothes the troubled spirit, and it doesn’t hurt the untroubled spirit either.

— Elizabeth Zimmermann, the knitting legend who designed the famous Baby Surprise Jacket

I was very pleased when I found these root beer colored buttons for the Linnie cardigan at a Montreal street sale. They bring out the hints of brown in the Koigu sock yarn (bought ages and ages ago) used for the stripes, hat, and socks.

I knit the baby beanie hat and the cardigan. Molly Ann knit the socks. I have never knit socks. It’s going to be a New Year’s Resolution. Meanwhile, Molly Ann knit these two adorable socks on double-pointed needles in just a few days. She’s incredible. I am but a padawan in the presence of a true master.

Socks are small. Never mind that the average sock knit out of sock-weight yarn contains about 17,000 stitches. Never mind that you need two of them. (That’s 34,000 stitches, for anybody keeping track.) Socks are only physically small. By stitch count, they are immense.

— Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, At Knit’s End: Meditations for Women Who Knit Too Much

Molly Ann also did the finishing work on the hat (attaching that little loop at the top), weaving in ends, and sewing on those three root beer buttons to the cardigan so that everything is ready for my son’s arrival. Her superstitious, but probably accurate, theory was that if this knitting was done before the weekend, when I’ll be in Ottawa for a writing conference, that there’s no chance I’ll go into early labor. It’s like carrying an umbrella to prevent the rain. Maybe not scientific, but highly effective in my own experience.

That’s Leena and me just before she headed off for daycare and I headed off for the office yesterday. 37 weeks pregnant.

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Uppercase #23

Posted October 9th, 2014 in Uncategorized by Mitsy

Yesterday we got the latest issue of Uppercase Magazine (“for the creative and curious”) all about calligraphy and lettering! Since I took that one online handlettering class, I’ve been eager to do more, and this issue is chock-full of inspiration for all that free time I’ll have during maternity leave (wink to self)!

Plus I love fun trivia, like about heraldry. For example, a shield is called an escutcheon, and there are all kinds of traditional ways to divide it up or decorate it. Oh, and then on page 25, there’s a short feature on our family badge designed by Brian Steely, like as an example of awesome. How cool is that?

… rooted in the historic practice of heraldry yet feel[s] at home in the modern world— a unique combination with the potential to provide a profound storytelling experience for both you and your audience.

— Courtney Eliseo, “Herald Your Brand”, Uppercase, issue 23

Obviously, this is Brian’s design genius, so I feel very fortunate that we had this really amazing collaboration. In subtle, profound, and lasting ways, I believe these ideas, images, and narratives we surround ourselves with can truly shape our sense of who we are, where we belong, and what we’re capable of. I hope our family badge reminds us now and in the stream of coming years that we’re a team of Adventure Buddies, we belong together, and the world is ours to explore, with all the glorious challenges, setbacks, and opportunities that come our way.

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Jesse and the Girls

Posted October 8th, 2014 in Uncategorized by Mitsy

We’re following along on the pilgrimage the girls’ incredible jiu jitsu teacher Jesse Bell is taking with his brother from Montreal to New York and across to Los Angeles to become better fighters along the way.

We’ll miss Jesse. I admired the way he taught the girls with great patience and insight. We’ll try to continue jiu jitsu, but it wasn’t just jiu jitsu the girls enjoyed so much. It was their time with Jesse.

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Adventure Race and Apple Picking

Posted October 6th, 2014 in Uncategorized by Mitsy

On Sunday the girls ran their second Dead End Race. Leena’s hardest obstacle was sliding down a pole. Sonya’s hardest obstacle was running up a steep hill. Derek’s hardest obstacle was helping the girls roll tires across a field. I cheered for them.

Then we went apple picking at Vergers Lafrance, perhaps my favorite of all the orchards we’ve visited so far in terms of ambiance, apple quality, and the added bonus of post-picking cider and fresh apple donuts (not too sweet).

By the way, we got the girls’ hats for a loonie apiece at the race. An enterprising woman was selling random winter accessories out of a large plastic bucket. The girls rummaged out these treasures. Sonya’s hat has heart-shaped buttons which, when pressed, can get her to do different things, like give hugs. Leena’s hat has a Time Timer on it. You can set the timer dial with your finger and then Leena will beep to let you know when time is up.

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Rainy Day Activities

Posted October 6th, 2014 in Uncategorized by Mitsy

Before our trip to Vietnam and Singapore, I bought many Djeco art kits with their bright and whimsical designs to entertain the girls on the plane. We have a lot of handy dandy undone activities that I pull out on rainy days like this past Saturday. So after a morning of splashing in puddles, we had a busy afternoon in warm pajamas doing arts and crafts.

The tooth fairy brought two purple poker chips and six glitter markers after Sonya lost one of her bottom incisors. She made shiny magic healing feathers. One for small cuts, one for bigger cuts.

And before his trip, Drex left these cardboard practice-lace cards with the outline of a shoe for the girls to practice tying bows. Sonya has mastered the cross and can get one bunny ear through the hole.

Meanwhile I’m almost done knitting one sleeve of Sonya’s purple cardigan. I began it almost a year ago, and if I don’t finish it soon, she’ll never get a chance to wear it before passing it along to Leena. Meanwhile, poor Leena has a chesty cough, but it means she’s been very cuddly. Sonya took this lovely picture of us on the couch.

The general household mood this past week with just the three of us has been very subdued. We’ve comforted ourselves with a lot of bread and pasta, homemade brownies, and hot cocoa. I’ve lived in black yoga pants and done a lot of sitting, but at 35 weeks, I feel I’m entitled to loungewear and leisure.

And then after a delayed flight from California, Drex came back! The house is so happy! And thank goodness he can take over helping the girls with cello, being the one with string instrument experience. Leena is just as excited and eager to learn as Sonya, who comes home full of knowledge and explanations for her little sister. At school they learn the French solfège music system with do-re-mi that I only vaguely remember from school choir instead of the more familiar ABC notation from my piano days. Meanwhile, I have the sheet music for the cello accompaniment that I intend to start practicing soon. Maybe.

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Suzuki Cello

Posted October 1st, 2014 in Uncategorized by Mitsy

All children who are properly trained can develop musical ability just as all children develop the ability to speak their mother tongue.

— Shinichi Suzuki

The music department gave Sonya a brand-new never-before-played 2006 Stradivarius quarter-size cello. So far, she’s learned how to pull out the endpin, rest the cello on her left shoulder, and hold the bow. She can also make some truly magnificent fingernails-on-chalkboard, cochlear-hair-cells-dying, cats-being-tortured screeching. Then again, it’s only her first week. Her first official “lesson lesson” is tomorrow afternoon.

Meanwhile, Sonya has offered to teach Leena everything she learns. They are both in absolute cello-love. I wonder if/when the novelty will wear off. Meanwhile, I really don’t know what music these two girls are hearing in their heads when they saw at the strings, because they seem perfectly happy with the racket they’re producing. Whether this is the beginning of a passion or a phase, I’ll be excited to hear the progress. Our neighbors, too, undoubtedly.

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Designated Braider

Posted September 25th, 2014 in Uncategorized by Mitsy

Drex already has a reputation as the master of French toast (and breakfast-making in general) but now he’s also the household master of French braiding. Sonya’s school requires all children with long hair to have it tied back to prevent lice (which, if the lengthy paranoid e-mails from the administration are to be believed, is an enormous hassle through the fall and winter). So I watched a number of YouTube videos and practiced my sloppy, pathetic technique, but then Drex and his nimble wizard classical guitar-playing fingers quickly figured out how to make a gorgeous French braid after just a weekend of practice. He’s a natural. So Daddy will be the one to show his girls how to drive a stick shift and braid their hair, because I’m hopeless in both those departments. (But at least I, too, can make decent French toast when called upon).

Meanwhile, Drex’s next goal is to become a French master (like of the French language) with intensive courses next semester. Knowing him, he’ll probably be more fluent than me in a month or two. At least in the language department, I plan to up my game as well. So many idioms, expressions, and nuances to master! So many verb tenses, clause constructions, and other grammatical tidbits to review! Mais nous pouvons le faire!

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Jedi Cat

Posted September 24th, 2014 in Uncategorized by Mitsy

“Do you want to get her declawed?” the vet asked me over a year ago.

“I heard it was like cutting off a person’s fingers at the first knuckle,” I said, surprised that I was even being offered this option at the vet’s office.

“If you’re ever going to do it, it’s best to get it done within the first year,” the vet said. “You’d be surprised how often people say no and then change their minds.”

Drex and I were sure that our kids would get mauled by trying to overlove this cat. When Skywalker stretched out in a patch of sun on the back of the couch, the girls would cover her with baby blankets and pat her back. A savvy cat probably would have run and hidden somewhere, but Skywalker remarkably just yawned and  played along. Because of her cooperative personality, she became the girls’ plaything. When she was a kitten, Leena would pick her up by the middle, sling her over her shoulder and jump up and down.

“That is some cat,” I thought. She has claws. She has teeth. She could scratch, bite, and escape if she wanted. But she didn’t.

I think it was all part of an elaborate Jedi mind trick to win a place of tremendous power and influence within our household. She shreds the leaves off my houseplants, kicks kitty litter three feet out from the litter box, and chews through power cords (totalling hundreds of dollars in damage).

But one day, Leena had Skywalker in a bear hug on her lap, face buried in fluffy striped fur, breathing her in. Then suddenly Leena decided to stand up. Kitty slipped so that Leena was basically throttling Skywalker in a choke hold. For a sickening split second, which passed in slow motion, I watched both of Skywalker’s front paws land on Leena’s eyes, one mitten paw in each socket. Then those paws dragged down the length of her sweet round face.

When Skywalker finally landed on her feet, Leena giggled. No gashes. No blood. Not a scratch. Because even while falling to the hardwood floor, our cat didn’t pull out her claws. Instead of raking Leena’s face, Skywalker just softly brushed her with velvety paws on her way down.

I honestly couldn’t believe it.

Later that evening, I got proof of the damage Skywalker might have done as she clawed a corner of her favorite wicker basket in the living room, shredding the corners into sawdust with her front paws.

Some Force, I’m convinced, brought this particular cat to our family. She is wisdom, like a well-trained fighter of a martial art who knows when to hold back her deadly strength. She is unconditional love curled up every night at the foot of the girls’ bed like a mystic guardian. She is happiness prowling our house on quiet feet, our Jedi cat. As much as she annoys us sometimes, having recently chewed through yet another MacBook Air power cord, she’s a part of the house, if not quite a part of the family.

And I will say, our upstairs and downstairs neighbors have brown mice scurrying in their kitchens. We have no roaches, no rats, no mice since Skywalker came to live with us. If for no other reason, I love Sky-kitty for that. Also, she belongs to our girls. They are loyal and protective of each other. Sonya and Leena look out for their “Moochies” whenever Drex or I threaten to toss her out on the curb for being a nuisance. But that cat knows she’s spoiled, loved, and here to stay, controlling us all with her Jedi mind tricks.

New sophisticated Diwali clothes sent by Dida. I can almost picture the girls as tweens. Goodness.

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