Tag Archive: Motherhood

Happy New Year! Happy New Year from the FGHB family!!

Yes, I know, I haven’t been around much….. okay, AT ALL for the last 18 months or so. In my defense, I would like to say this has been a period of immense change in our household and I put aside a lot of things in order to keep this family functioning. That being said, things seem to be on an even keel at least for the time being, so I’m going to once again look at broadening my geeky horizons.

So, it being a new year, I’m going to make some resolutions:

1) To make a minimum of one post per day on this blog.

2) Attend at least one con this year – either Polaris or Fan Expo.

3) Convince Dylan Meconis (who I met last year – SQUEE!) to reprint Bite Me!

4) Discover one new musician, movie director, or web comic a month

5) Try one new recipe a week and cook one vegetarian meal a month

6) Start work on my steampunk costume

So, I think that should keep me busy along with all the other stuff that being a working mom entails.

Enjoy the year. It’s looking to be a good one.


Happy Mother's DayI love Mother’s Day. I love seeing the expectation in my children’s eyes when they give me one of their meticulously decorated “gummy lumps” that they’ve worked so hard on at school.

Gummy lump you ask? A gummy lump is a treasure, made by childish hands. Robert Fulghum came up with the concept in his book “All I Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten”:

What I’m talking about here is something I think of as the gummy lump. Once it was a shoebox, decorated and given to me by the oldest child. Then it became a repository of other relics of childhood given to me by the younger children. The shoebox became my treasure chest in time….

Anyhow, this shoebox isn’t looking too very good now. It’s a little shriveled and kind of moldy where the jelly beans and gumdrops have run together. It’s still sticky in places, and most of it is more beige than red and white. If you lift the lid, however, you will begin to know what makes me keep it. On folded and faded and fragile pieces of large-lined school paper, there
are words: “Hi daddi” and “Hoppy valimtime” and “I lov you”…. Glued to the bottom of the box are twenty-three X’s and O’s made out of macaroni. I’ve counted them more than once….

The treasures of King Tut are nothing in the face of this.

Have you got something around the house like a gummy lump? Evidence of love in its most uncomplicated and most trustworthy state? You may live a long, long time. You may receive gifts of great value and beauty. You may experience much love. But you will never believe in it quite as much as you believe in the gummy lump. It makes your world go round and the ride worth the trouble.

Happy Mothers DayEnjoy the weekend Moms! I hope you get pulpy orange juice, burnt toast and too sweet coffee and a slightly soggy newspaper for breakfast on Sunday.  I hope you get home-made Lightsabers, hand-drawn comic books and time to play Halo with your kiddies. I hope you get the best Mother’s Day gift of all, a lot of love.

See you on Monday!

I don’t want flowers, I don’t want gardening supplies. I want this stuff.

From top left, going clockwise: Hello Schröddy t-shirt, Marshmallow Blaster, Limited Edition Starbuck Frakker, Desktop Easter Island, Mini Plush Microbes and an Aromatherapy USB Aromatherapy Oil Burner.

You can find all of it at ThinkGeek.

Think DH will take my oh so subtle hint?

It’s spring and with the warmer weather there comes the request that all mom’s dread. “Mom! Can I have a freezie?!? And some for my 20 0r so friends who’ve followed me home today?”

FreeziesFirst off, freezies in my house are usually 100% juice, except DH decided he would do the shopping at the end of the summer and came home with a giant box of jumbo, artificially flavoured, synthetic liquid. They made their way down to our freezer once I rolled my eyes and reminded myself once again that DH, being male, is not capable of making healthy food choices when confronted by puppy dog eyes and tragic pleas from our two daughters.

In the grand scheme of things, freezies aren’t *that* bad. There are probably thousands of worse snacks, but given how hard it is to get my kids to eat healthy, I’d rather avoid snacks that are essentially sugar and chemicals.

But I digress.

Science for kidsAs soon as the snow was gone and the sun finally graced the GTA with its presence, the aforementioned scene took place in our front yard. The crowd of kids meant that I could get rid of the junkie freezies sooner than I thought and could soon replace them with the healthier, 100% juice versions. Imagine my surprise when these things actually served a purpose and we were able to hold an impromptu Physics class in our driveway.

Here’s what happened.

DH brought the box from the basement freezer and opened it for the first time in front of all the kids. The kids, being kids, all wanted the same flavour of freezie, prompting him to have to go digging. What he found in the middle of the box were some freezies that were still liquid despite being in the freezer for the last 8 months. When he pulled these freezies out he squeezed the contents and they immediately began to freeze, crystallizing before our eyes. Because the freezies were coloured, we were able to get a really good idea how water crystallizes whilst freezing.

Why did this happen?

Freezies - Ready for the FreezerAnyone who’s ever tried to quickly chill a can of pop or a bottle of water in the freezer and had to clean the catastrophe once they remembered where they put the container knows that water expands when it freezes. What happened in our freezies’ case was that they were so tightly packed in their box, the packages in the middle didn’t have room to expand as they froze. In essence, they were forced to stay liquid due to the surrounding outside pressure and became super-cool fluid. When the box was opened and the surrounding freezies pulled out, the pressure was released, allowing the water inside the plastic tubes to expand and the contents to freeze right in front of our eyes.

How can I do this at home?

Frozen Ice TreatsI can’t promise you that if you buy the same brand DH did that you’ll have the same results with no effort.

Your best bet is to buy a box of freezies, open it to see how much room there is around the individual packages. Stuff the spaces with plastic bags or newspaper to get them packed in there as tightly as you can. Then re-seal the box, taping the lid closed as tightly as you can. Then, put the box in the bottom of your chest freeze, wedging it in a corner. Surround the box with frozen whatever, remembering to put lots of weight on top. You don’t want to give the freezies in the middle any room to expand and solidify. Wait until the next sunny day, pull them out and quickly see what’s up with the freezies in the middle. Hopefully they will still be liquid. Give the plastic tubes a squeeze or a shake to kick start the process and watch them freeze before your eyes.

So, DH’s impulse buy wasn’t that much of a disaster after all.  It allowed us to demonstrate a major scientific concept – the phase transition of matter from liquid to solid form to the neighborhood kids.

But if he thinks that means he’s going to be able to buy those nutritionally challenged treats on a regular basis, he’s got another thing coming.

It’s no big secret that I have the smartest kids in the world. Their intellects put even Einstein’s to shame.

Alright, I’m exaggerating, slightly. But my kids do come up with some great bon mots from time to time, and I love to share them. So, here are the latest, both from Goober and both from the same trip to Oshawa.

1) Truer words were never spoken

Go Train As we are nearing the Whitby Go StationGoober:  Mommy! Mommy! Look! A TRAIN!
Me: Yes sweetheart, that’s a Go Train.
Goober: But it’s not going Mommy.

2) But do they lay eggs?

Construction Crane Elfkin: Mommy, why do they call [construction] cranes cranes?
Me: Because they look like the birds, can you see the long necks and beak?
Elfkin: Yeah, I can see that!
Goober: [said very thoughtfully] But they don’t have wings.

Musings and Endings

Newfoundland grave markerI’ve been struggling with some stuff over the last couple of weeks.

A beautiful, funny, glorious, much too young family member is dying of liver cancer. It developed from a case of melanoma that she thought was licked last year (note, make friends with your moles people!).  She was given two weeks to live three weeks ago. I guess you could say she’s living on borrowed time. The one kindness is that she’s able to make the most of what time she has left, having taken a trip to the tropics and to the waterpark with her grandchildren. I am in awe of her grace, dignity and strength.

Everyone in the family is struggling to cope with the news, and I’m no different.  As difficult as it is to watch all this helplessly from afar, my biggest problem right now is the kidlets. I’ve taken a bit of heat from a few sources about how I handled it.

Basically my attitude is that death is a natural part of life. It’s a sad, heart wrenching, painful, confusing, sometimes tragic inevitability that comes from being alive.  Does this make it less traumatic when it happens.  No.  It is something to be sad about, not hide from or be afraid of.

And that’s what I tried to explain to my kids before we saw her a couple of weeks ago.  Essentially I told them that the cancer is going to make her feel really tired and eventually she’ll fall asleep and not wake up.  It’s not (please) going to hurt when it happens, she’s not in pain (thanks to the pain management plan, but they don’t need to know that).  They seemed satisfied with that.  Sprout, with her eyes wise and knowing, nodded gravely and asked about funeral arrangements – that’s her, hiding her sadness with practicality.  Elfkin stuck her lip out and pouted, and wanted to know why she couldn’t help. Fighting back tears I explained that we couldn’t help her live, the doctors had done all they could, but they couldn’t fix the cancer anymore.  What we could do to help is to visit, and make her laugh and smile and give her good memories before she goes on.

Which we did.  We had dinner with most of the family and we got to talk and visit, but not say goodbye.  Our girl didn’t want tears, so I hid in the bathroom when I felt them coming on.  I held her mother while she wept, hidden away in the kitchen and tried to come up with some words of comfort that didn’t sound facile or trite.  I failed miserably. What do you say to a mother who is watching her child die? It’s going to be alright? No, it’s not. Nothing will ever be alright again.

Hopefully I conveyed with touch what I couldn’t find the words to say.

While we ate, my practical Sprout had an epiphany: “Mom, when she’s gone, who is going to take care of her dogs?” That’s my girl, always thinking of those who need help or protection. I explained that her husband and sister would most likely look after them.  If not, I was sure another member of the family would look out for them and find them good homes.  Elfkin pouted some more and announced: “It’s not fair. She’s too nice!” And she’s right, it’s not fair.  She’s so young to learn that fairness rarely plays a role in these things.

We left that night with hugs, kisses and toys for the kids.  It was a good night.

Since then I’ve been told I’ve robbed my children of their innocence and that I should have gone into detail about the miracle of life after death. The truth is, I’ve always been honest with my kids, regardless of what they’re asking about, be it sex and love or death and the afterlife, I give them as much age appropriate information as necessary to answer their questions and tell them that my door is always open should they have any more.  And I ask them if they have anything they want to talk about regarding a particular subject at random intervals.

As for the religious angle, again, I tend to define myself as agnostic with pagan tendencies so talking about Jesus doesn’t feel comfortable to me. I let my mother handle the Judeo-Christian angle, with editorial guidance from me after the fact.   I certainly have faith that we go to a better place when we die, but I don’t KNOW for certain.  And no one knows for certain what it’s going to be like – bright light, excellent hunting, harp music? No one has come back to tell us.  The whole heaven thing and going to ‘be with Jesus’ when you die, simply is not my belief although it wouldn’t surprise me if he dropped in to the Summerlands for tea from time to time.

At any rate, the kids seem fine with all of this.  They’ve had some questions and asked how she was doing, but don’t seem disturbed beyond the expected.  Normally I would just shake this off as unfair criticism, but this really rankled me.  Am I completely off base?  Have I somehow failed my children?

There are times, quite often it seems, that I find myself questioning my sanity. Most often this happens after I’ve spent time in the bosom of my loving family.

Like tonight at dinner for example:

TreeElfkin: How does a tree get on the internet?

DH: I *wood* not know.

Me: *shudder*

Elfkin: It *logs* on!

Family: Gales of laughter

DH:  Who knew trees were *branching* out into the Internet!

Me: *shaking head* Stop.

DH: You want me to *leaf* it alone?

It went on like that for 10 minutes.

I’m going to go find a padded room now.

End of the Innocence?

InnocenceBefore I get too far into this post, I think it’s about time that I tell you a little bit more about my family life.

I’ve been married to my wonderful DH since 1997.  He’s a high school Math and Physics teacher and I’m a web designer/content manager/IT project coordinator. We have three beautiful children.  Because I respect their privacy, I won’t be referring to them by name on the blog.  So, Sprout is the oldest daughter at 10, almost 11, Elfkin is my middle daughter.  She’s 7 and Goober is my insanely active 3 year-old son.  We live in Toronto after having moved her from Kapuskasing Ontario, via Oshawa in 2008.  We’re a pretty normal household, we have our ups and downs the same as anyone else.  Right now we’re a little more down than usual, but hopefully things will pick up soon and we’ll be back on our feet.

At any rate, like I said, I think in terms of family dynamics we’re pretty normal.  We struggle with the usual stuff; are we being too protective, are our kids too materialistic, are we overloading them, etc…

One of the things I find it hard to cope with is letting these little monkeys grow up.  I loved my babies, I loved my toddlers, and now I have one daughter on the cusp of womanhood, and one who is just learning that everything in the world is not as it seems.  How the heck did that happen?

At any rate, I want my kids to stay kids for as long as possible, and I would say I’ve gone to great lengths to ensure that my kids view of a magical world stays with for a good long time.  I’ve had friends who do calligraphy write letters from Santa and the Tooth Fairy, I diligently put cookies, carrots and milk out for Santa every Christmas and leave baskets of goodies at their bedroom doors, surrounded by glitter from the Easter Bunny.  All so my kids can wake up in the morning and believe that the world is a rare and marvelous place.

It’s resulted in some arguments in the school yard.  Sprout especially would become quite indignant when anyone questioned the validity of Santa Claus’ existence.  Each time we were careful to turn the conversation over to what she believed and why and that her faith in her convictions were what was important, not proving the other person wrong.  The cat finally ripped its way out of the bag when my mother in law showed her the card with all of my DH’s baby teeth carefully glued to it with the date each one was lost.

Poof!  There went the wonder and magic of belief.

Elfkin’s didn’t last much longer, having figured it out this past Christmas.  Happily the girls are alright with the idea that the spirit of each of these mythological characters lives in their parents.  They’re also taking some delight in the realization that it now lives in them as well, because they have to put on a good show for their baby brother.

But it’s alright. It was time, and I’ve made my peace with it.

But I got hit with that bittersweet yearning for more innocent eyes in my children yet again last weekend.

Chased by DinosaursWe were watching Chased by Dinosaurs, a BBC nature series in the same vein as Planet Earth.  The show centers around it’s host, Nigel, a Steve Irwin wannabe who ‘time travels’ back to prehistoric age to film and interact with dinosaurs.  Think The Crocodile Hunter meets The Land of the Lost.  It’s quite fun, the CGI and props are quite good.  In fact they’re a little too convincing.

Poor Elfkin really thought Nigel was going back in time to swim with sea monsters.  The look on her face was heart wrenching when we told her that this wasn’t real.  It was all done with computers.  She looked so betrayed.

Thankfully, a few minutes later she started quizzing me on how they did the effects, and as I started explaining about building maquettes, and digitizing them and finally animating them that look of wonder came back to her eyes.

“Could I do that when I grow up, Mommy?”

The look of wonder that I treasure was back, not quite as innocent, but full of promise all the same.  I think I can live with that.

I love it when these things happen!

We were having leftovers for dinner tonight.  I had made a a brisket on Monday, and it was huge and entirely likely it wouldn’t get eaten unless we made another meal of it, so we heated it up and made hot beef sandwiches (ask me for the recipe, it’s soooooooo good).

I sit down after everyone is served and The Goober looks at me with a huge smile on his face and says:

“How do you like your orthocone sandwhich?”

This is an orthocone:

They are over 17 feet long!

Have I mentioned Goober is only 3?  I’m so proud! *wiping tear from eye*

Anyone want a peanut?One of the fun things about being a mom, particularly a geeky mom, is sharing well loved experiences with your little ones.

DH and I did that this weekend, re-watching The Princess Bride with our three kids.  Our two older girls have seen it with us before, but it was the first time for The Goober (aged 3).  Predictably, he loved the sword fights and the R.O.U.S.s.  Actually, loved doesn’t describe it.  He was enraptured, staring open mouthed at the screen.

The girls favorite character is of course, Buttercup.  My three favorites are Inigo, Vizzini and Max.  Goober, of course marches to his own drum and decided that Fezzik was by far the best character in the movie.

Which explains why he was running through the house this morning, in his Spiderman underoos yelling:  “Anyone want a peanut?’