– On Friday night, we celebrated my oldest daughter, Nicole. No, it’s not her birthday, but given the recent step in her journey toward womanhood, I thought it was fitting to celebrate her growth. I’d read about “menarche parties” and “red parties” and new agey dancing-naked-around-the-moon type ceremonies that would totally freak her out, but instead of doing something completely outside her comfort zone, she selected a few female friends and mentors, and we celebrated her. It was a low-key affair – just dinner out, complete with delectable desserts and good conversations. The event suited the girl – classy, comfortable, and quiet and not ostentatious or overboard.

– Was there any sanity involved in the creation of Crazy Frog? After they’d put up with my music selection for about an hour, it was the girls’ turn to make a selection. I let them play Crazy Frog on the condition that it would ONLY stay on as long as they were cleaning the house. The moment I found them slacking off, the cd would get banished (possibly even destroyed) and it would be my turn again. The motivation seemed to work, because they cleaned for much longer than normal, which meant that I was subjected to synthesizer hell for about 45 minutes. And of course, for the rest of the day, I had the annoying voice of the crazy frog repeating inane words like “the crazy frog is jumping” ad nauseum in my brain. I think the cd may go missing between now and next week’s housecleaning binge. For the parent who let their child buy this for Julie for her birthday – I’VE GOT YOUR NUMBER!

– Saturday was about as long as I could hold out in the “we’re not putting up the Christmas tree until December” plan. The girls have been bugging me to do it for about 2 weeks, but I stood by my rule (otherwise known as “buying myself some time”). On Saturday, after the house had been cleaned (that was the other motivation for the 45 minutes of cleaning time), the girls and I made our annual trek to Ten Thousand Villages for their new ornaments. I used to buy them Hallmark ornaments each year, but now I just take them to our favourite fair trade store and they get to pick out an interesting ornament from another part of the world. Our tree is delightfully eclectic, to say the least. Some day they’ll move out, take their decorations with them, and I’ll be left with nothing more than a few bows, a sparkly egg that says “our first Christmas together”, a dough creation of Santa flying an airplane, and the pregnant bear that says “mom-to-be”.

– I had told myself that, since we won’t be home for Christmas, I would only put up the tree and forget about all the other decorations around the house, but then the tree looked so lonely and I couldn’t resist putting up the nativity scene, the garlands, the bows around the candles, the lights over the picture window, the nutcracker, the Father Christmas figurine – you name it. It’s beginning to look a LOT like Christmas.

– All those people who keep telling ccap “just you wait” about how challenging child rearing can get when they reach a certain stage (and of course the stages keep changing) can just shut up, because I’m lovin’ every stage. On Saturday, as I sat back and watched my tree get decorated without any effort on my part (except that I put the lights up), I quite enjoyed the fact that my kids are old enough to do it on their own without me having to reach the high branches and protect the breakable ornaments. The same was true on Sunday, when they decorated gingerbread men, and I could sit and sip my tea with the other adults and didn’t have to be forever fussing with icing and sprinkles. It’s not that I don’t enjoy doing it with them, but it’s quite lovely when it becomes less work and they can do much of it themselves. (Okay, so the truth is – I’m just lazy and I had kids so I could make them my slaves!)

– Marcel spent most of the weekend watching the Liberal leadership race, because that’s his idea of a GOOD TIME. I was interested too, because I want to know who might possibly lead our country one day, but the result is about the only information I really needed to know. I don’t know if they made the right choice, but I do know I’m glad Ignatieff didn’t win. He left a bad taste in my mouth.

– I finally got around to watching Hotel Rwanda this weekend. It’s one of those movies I’ve been meaning to watch for awhile now, and I think I actually rented it once before but had to return it before I got a chance to see it. On Saturday night, Marcel was out with his siblings, the girls were watching something else on TV, and I crawled into bed with a cup of tea and the portable dvd player that the girls won last year, and I watched the movie. It’s heartbreaking but beautiful. I love movies that show the beauty and grace of otherwise flawed people in the midst of ugliness and hatred.

– Have you ever seen a chicken explode? On Sunday, we invited friends (Yvonne and George, for those of you who know them), and family (ccap and her boy and girl) over for supper and we cooked a chicken. I’m not sure if it was because I put it in the roaster upside-down, but when I opened the roaster, the centre of it was blown open – almost like a small explosive device had gone off in the chest cavity. My first thought was “of COURSE the chicken blew up – it’s because I’m a lousy cook and even worse host”, but then when I was finished channeling my mother, I invited everyone into the kitchen to see the spectacle. I was a little nervous of feeding it to guests, for fear that I might inadvertently be subjecting them to salmonella or some other horrid form of food poisoning, but we all ate it, and as far as I know, no-one got sick. Whew!

– It’s a good thing I’m going back to Africa next month (more on that later) because I used my very last Kenyan tea bag last night. I thought I’d used them all up months ago, but then I discovered a small box I forgot I had. Yesterday, I pulled the last bag out and threw the box away. Sigh. I don’t know if it’s REALLY that much better tasting than the other stuff from the store, but I just like the fact that it connects me with my African experience every time I take one out of the box.

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