Wednesday, July 27, 2005

The Negotiator

Sprout impressed me the other day. Okay, he impresses me every day, but this was stellar.

It was Saturday morning, and we went shopping for second-hand clothing for a while. At some point I said, "Sprout, are you hungry? Should we go to the mall and have a muffin?" "Yeh," he said, and off we went.

Getting to the mall was easy - getting through the mall was harder. This particular shopping centre has recently doubled the number of small fibreglass rides for children - they're everywhere! I never have money to put in the rides, but Sprout is happy just to climb on them. So he sat in the rocket ship, he sat with Kermit in the purple car, he sat with the chipmunk in the red car, and over 20 minutes we inched our way to the muffin shop.

To my dismay, when I thought it was all over and the coast was clear, the mall has added a room with 3 rides in it for kids - the Bob the Builder bulldozer, the tiny carousel, and the spider man helicopter. Of course, we had to stop. My son loves big machines (diggers/earth movers/scoops). He ran from ride to ride for another 10 minutes, being very busy and serious as children are. And I was starving.

Me: "[Sprout], can we go and get a muffin now?"
Him: "I just need to go on dat big machine for a little bit."
Me: "Okay. After you're done that ride, I would like to go and get a muffin please."
[loop this conversation about 3 times]
Me: "I'm getting really hungry. Can we please go and get a muffin?"
Sprout: [This is the impressive part] "How about, can we go and get a muffin and bring it back and eat it on da big machine?"
Me: "Yes! Yes, we can! That's an excellent suggestion."

And so we did. I was so proud. If he can problem-solve like that at two, imagine the future possibilities.

Bobo in the Swing

The deck and fence project proceeds slowly, and my sister is still visiting us.

This weekend, I babysat so Jim and Auntie Bean could build an entrance-way out of beams that doubles as a swing locale. Auntie Bean made Sprout a beautiful wooden swing at furniture design school, based on the garish wooden swing we had as children. It is now proudly hanging in our back yard, and Sprout loves it.

Well done, woodworkers!

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

My Son

Among the many, many dud photos that we take there is the occasional gem. This is my Sprout in all his proud glory.

Invisible Grandma

My Polish grandmother has been dead for many years, but we have a photo of her and me on the wall in the dining room. Sprout and I have been through all the photos on the wall many times, and he knows who is who. When we come to her, I always say, "That's MY grandma."

Yesterday he pointed at her photo and blew me away with this comment: "Dat's de invisible grandma." "The invisible grandma?" I said. "Did you say that because you've never met her?" "Yeah, I never met her," he said.

So, does this two-year-old really think that way, or is it just a coincidence that it came out sounding so clever? Who can say. This is, of course, the same child that will still answer "yes" occasionally if I ask him if he is a water buffalo.

A Big Wock

Sprout has a regular bedtime routine: bath, pajamas, books, and mook, and then he goes into the bedroom with Jim and they chat and negotiate until he finally falls asleep (or until Jim can't handle the madness of getting a two-year-old to sleep). Sometimes I listen to the bedtime conversation through the baby monitor from the living room, because it is amusing.

This quote from tonight: "A big wock come fwom outer space and squash all de dinosaws. A heavy wock."

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

The Unfortunate Twait Controversy

I have been having an on-again off-again argument with my husband and my sister about the word 'twat' for years now.

We all know that the word we're talking about sounds like 'cot', 'snot', 'plot', and 'hot', right? So it should, by all rights, be spelled 'T-W-O-T'. That's my opinion. And I'm sticking to it.

But my annoying relatives! Aagghhhh. They insist that 'twot' is spelled 'T-W-A-T' (an argument ludicrously backed up by most dictionaries), and this shakes my faith in all I know about spelling dirty words. (And someone from Lead.r should KNOW how to spell dirty words.)

" 't-w-A-t'??" I wail, incredulous. "No, no, no, that's just all wrong. If it was spelled that way, it would sound like 'cat' or 'hat' or 'bat'! That's just ridiculous!! Or what the heck, why don't we just all say 'twait'??!? That's just as silly!"

Back and forth we go on this, with no resolution. And the result, in terms of daily usage? Now we all say 'twait'. As in, "Ow! That baseball hit me right in the twait!"

And it never fails to amuse on some base level. Unfortunate but true.

Friday, July 08, 2005


If I had a Russian accent, I could describe my afternoon thus: boringk, boringk, boringk. Da.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Good Librarian (Pat, Pat)

My first day back at work yesterday, and right after I whined on my blog about being bored, we answered a reference question to the great satisfaction of all parties.

Mr. W. calls us regularly, and he always has an interesting question. Last time, he wanted me to find out which metal conducts electrical currents best (copper, gold, etc.). That was fun.

Yesterday, he wanted help to remember a word, and this is the metaphor he built for me to explain what he was looking for:

'On an old manual typewriter, you have the roller, and you have small hammers that hit the roller when you strike the keys. The hammer makes an impression in the roller that stays only for an instant, and then the roller bounces back to its original shape. What is the word for something that takes an impression but bounces back to its original shape? It is the bouncing back-ness that I am most interested in.'

I said that I would work on it and call him back. After a few minutes of pacing in the thesaurus aisle, I knew the word started with 'R'. After a few conversations with my colleagues, we struck upon it.

Go ahead. Take a guess what the word was.

Librarian Navel Gazing

I've been musing about this for weeks.

When we are teaching library patrons about evaluating the information that they find on the Internet, I always use the example of health information. You should find an author that you trust on a health topic, instead of depending on the information put on the web by "Bill in his basement who said 'I put toothpaste on the wart for 14 days and it went away!'", or information from websites that want to sell you a charlatanesque cure-all.

But, think about this for a minute. What if 1,000 people or 5,000 people say on their individual websites/blogs that putting toothpaste on a wart made it go away? At what point is there a critical mass of individual reports that makes this sort of health information on the Internet valid? Medical professionals have strong medical training and access to medical knowledge resources, but they still base their diagnosis to great extent on what the patient tells them is wrong or what hurts.

There is no quantifiable way that I know of to test my toothpaste-wart theory, but it makes for good pondering as I walk to work in the mornings. Of course, news alerts might be an interesting way to get a loose sense of something like this, if I can get a topic that is focused enough.

My colleague and I are going to prepare a public computer class for the Fall on 'News Aggregators and News Alerts', and she was thinking of setting up a news alert for 'Sasquatch' (a.k.a. Bigfoot). I think this news alert would be so much fun.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

I'mma Libeerian

Oh, the drudgery, of being back at work, on a sun-shiney day in Saskatoon, when I could so easily be working on my new deck and fence...

Monday, July 04, 2005

The Mook Report

I am still lurking on the lactation consultant listserv, learning about details of breastfeeding. There was a whole thread that went on for days about alternate uses of human milk - drops in the ear for ear infections, as a skin treatment for psoriasis, a cure for viral infections of the eye, etc. It has high immune properties, it seems, that even work topically. Fascinating.

Sprout continues to have regular bouts of eczema on his head - red, itchy, raised bumps, and we haven't figured out what causes it. We have been treating it with a whole spate of different medicated creams, including steroidal creams, which make me very nervous. The problems of bumps on his head is now compounded with the possibility that they are simply mosquito bites - and I don't really want to be putting steroidal cream on mosquito bites.

(The regular morning yoghurt shakes with flax oil seem to have helped somewhat, but have not put the eczema in abeyance, by the way.)

And so I thought, "What the heck." About two weeks ago, we stopped using medicated creams and have started putting breastmilk on his head bumps instead. The jury is still out on whether this is working or not, but with the bumps we've seen, the breastmilk seems to work as well as the steroids. Neither has sent the bumps away permanently yet, but they both make it more manageable and less itchy. And if I never have to use another steroid cream on Sprout's head, I'll be a happy camper.

Sprout is completely happy with this treatment too, since he gets to drink whatever 'mook' is left over. Try doing THAT with other kinds of medicine!

Last Day of Holidays

Today is the last day of my holidays. Jim already went back, but I have today off since I work Tuesday to Saturday this week.

Our deck is getting closer to having planking all over it, but the back yard is still a minefield of holes, construction, and discarded board ends. I am running around today cleaning up and making things ready: my sister comes to visit tonight from Ontario!

She is allergic to our cats, so I have to vacuum the house from top to bottom, and set up her alternate sleeping arrangements. I am still working on re-organizing the basement too, so it should be a busy day.

I could use another week or two of holidays. It's been so great to not have to think about work (even though I actually like my job). I had my interview a few weeks back for a supervisory job at the Library, and I am still completely undecided about what I will say if they offer it to me. Being so totally undecided about a job is not my usual stance, and so I am thinking that that in itself is a message that taking it might be a problem. It's been nice not having to think about that.

Ah well. One must work to grow and change. After one more blog, will go out there and enjoy the day.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Shakin' It Up - 2

Then in the middle of the week of flooding and big birthdays, we got some sad news about someone's marriage being in trouble. It is very upsetting, and we're being as supportive as we can from so far away.

Big Guys and Little Guys

And then last week was Jim's 50th birthday. Wow. We had a great day, low-key and comfortable. No pink flamingos on the lawn. No shocking photos in the newspaper. Just a good dinner and lots of babysitting on my part. I asked him what he wanted to do for his big birthday, and he said, "To work on the deck." That's my squirrel - we always get wrapped up in the project at hand. Rue the day we don't have a project.

Sprout has been getting involved in the project (fledgling squirrel!) as often as he can, helping to hold the drill or pretending to hammer nails into blocks of wood. Suddenly, in the middle of Jim's birthday, I had an inspiration. Sprout and I were at the park and I said, "[Sprout], do you want to go and get your own set of tools?" "Yes," he said (of course).

The big toy store (evil big box) carries sets of toy carpentry tools for little workers, and I always thought that Sprout would enjoy them some day. We don't often buy him toys, because you can't beat sticks, rocks, dandelions, and bugs, but I thought it was time to get some tools. These tool sets are made by Homme Despot, a.k.a. "The Evil Empire (another big box)". I hate H.D., but I must admit that they make great fake tools. The little battery-operated circular saw is a riot.

Now Sprout pulls out his tools every day and does some serious work, either inside or outside. He knots his brows together, sets his chin, and says, "I building da deck. I building da deck, Mommy," or, "I am a working man, Mommy." It is SO cute.

Although, the bottom does drop out of my stomach when I watch him running around my antique oak coffee table, sawing imaginary chunks out of it with the little circular saw, or cutting the couch cushions 'in half' with the plastic hand saw. It may not bode well for the future of my furniture. But he's happy.

I've been cooking a lot lately (I used to be an uninspired cook), and took the roast chicken with winter veggies to a new level by throwing in hot Italian sausage, in honour of the big birthday. Jim is an excellent cook, so it's great when he really likes my cooking. This meal was a big hit. A good day all 'round for my guys.

Shakin' It Up - 1

I can't believe all the things that have happened in the last week and a half.

First, the deck building project is coming along as well as can be expected, considering the other bits of news to follow. The fence is mostly up, aside from a few boards that need to be ripped before they will fit. ('Ripping', for the uninitiated, means running the whole board lengthwise through the table saw to narrow it.)(This squirrel AIN'T touching the table saw.)

The lower deck is taking shape, but still needs joists and planking. The upper deck by the back door is finished, albeit without a set of stairs to it. The cedar planking smells wonderful in the rain.

Did I say 'smells wonderful IN THE RAIN', you ask? Oh yes. Yes I did.

The second week of deck building started off well - two hot clear days, with successful runs to the bakery for chocolate croissants, and no industrial accidents. Then Wednesday at 3:30 a.m. it started to rain. And rain, and rain, and rain. We had 3 inches of rain between 3:30 and noon, and basements all over the City flooded. Including ours. Quelle drag.

City Park, our neighbourhood, is known for having leaky, heaving basements due to being so close to the River. We were counting ourselves lucky because many of our neighbours had basement floods 3-4 times in the previous two weeks, and we didn't have anything. Aside from water in every post-hole we dug for the fence, if you remember. This time, though, the water table just couldn't get any more saturated, and we ended up with a lake in the backyard and two inches of rainwater in our basement.

Jim immediately went outside to try and bank dirt against the foundation, and avert the water away, but to no avail. The whole back yard was under water (including our sad little deck foundation). And no one is ever ready for rainwater in the basement, right? Ours is an unfinished basement, but we still have stacks of crap all over the floor waiting to be culled and organized. Most of it was wet. After four hours of pushing water towards the drain with a broom, and running around trying to avert disaster, we decided that the only thing to do was - my favourite solution to everything - SHOPPING.

Off we went to Peavey Mart, where we purchased rubber boots for Floyd (deck-builder turned emergency-plumber), a heavy duty drying fan, two sets of metal shelving to organize the crap, 30 feet of hose, and the last sump pump that Peavey Mart had. Were we ever lucky. I happened to have a shopping cart, and we just got the sump pump into it before the other shoppers started circling desperately and staring at it. And what a wise purchase that was.

When we got it home, we decided to look under those boards in the basement floor that we never quite got around to looking under - there is a rectangular hole in the cement floor that is the size of a bathtub down there, and it was full of water (and a few rusty iron pipes). All the pushing water around didn't do anything to clear the basement; new water would just fill the void. But dropping the sump pump into this 'bathtub' (I always wanted a second bathtub!) immediately took a lot of water out and cleared the whole basement. Jim spent the rest of the day hovering over the sump pump, nurturing it to success.

I had to take all the computer equipment apart and move it upstairs (alas, without Internet access for days - no blogging outlet for the boredom!), put together all the metal shelving, and drag soggy crap around listlessly. All in all, a very tiring day for two people who would rather be finishing their deck project.

The next day, the newspaper made us feel like we got off lucky. Lots of stories of neighbourhoods where the sewer system couldn't handle the water runoff and basements were full of sewage. I'll take two inches of clear rainwater over four feet of sewage any day.

Sprout is awake from his nap now and is insisting on playing on the computer - the downside to the computer being upstairs. More later.