Guest blogger: Stomach flu strikes again...

Guest posted by Bojan. He's minding the tomato patch while Dave spends a few weeks in Ontario.

The thing that schools are really, really, REALLY good at is spreading germs. I wonder who's next...

Guest blogger: Baby freelances

Guest posted by Bojan. He's minding the tomato patch while Dave spends a few weeks in Ontario.

I like staying home with my kids. They are two great girls and most of the time we keep out of trouble. Sometimes, though, trouble finds us.

I stay home and freelance. I like assignments. They pay bills and are fun and I don’t have to jump through hoops to convince somebody to run a photo or a story. Except, today I had no babysitter and my wife was working the afternoon shift which, of course, NEVER happened before. The older girl jumped at the opportunity to have an extra playdate at friend’s place. I took Elise who is ten months old on her first job. She promptly fell asleep in my arms at the CBC Saint John station while I was uploading files which I have previously accidentally deleted and had to recover from my backup at home. And then I took her to Quispamsis where we followed a national story together. A woman wanted to put her maiden name on a vanity licence plates, but the province refused to do it because her last name is Weed. Can’t promote drugs on the licence plates - no sire. Elise woke up before we got to the lady’s home and entertained her husband while we completed the shoot. She was fabulous - graciously smiling and charming the man who obviously knew a thing or two about being a grandfather.

It’s been a weird week in New Brunswick. First somebody stole puppets from a ventriloquist’s trunk, then the Weed thing gripped the nation, and then somebody stole a monkey from the Saint John zoo. Dorothy, we’re not in Kansas any more.

So the tomatoes are watered and I hope that flying was not too painful, Dave.

I leave you in good hands

I'm taking off for a few weeks to visit family in Ontario. But fear not! I leave Tomato Transplants in the capable hands of one of my favourite bloggers.

My buddy Bojan has graciously agreed to water the tomatoes while I'm away. I hope you enjoy the wacky antics of a stay-at-home dad in Saint John, New Brunswick (who happens to take wonderful pictures and make fancy-schmancy radio pieces for CBC).

He has two little girls: one is five, the other ten-months. The younger one likes to bite. The older one likes to remind her father the kitchen is on fire.

See you in Upper Canada.


My ears felt funny when I woke up this morning. Not plugged; I know what that feels like. Not painful; I know that one too. Just funny.

I could definitely hear better from my left ear. The other, while still working, was also giving me a funny whooshing sound. I kept hoping it would clear up before I left for work, but it didn't.

It made me feel dizzy. I had a hard time concentrating on my work. Shortly after lunch, I decided I'd brave the hospital's emergency room.

The sensation in my ears is most annoying when there are several sources of noise in one room. The emergency room was about as bad as it gets: A TV blared kids' shows in the corner; several conversations went on throughout the room; plus the normal comings and goings of any hospital.

I don't like waiting in emergency rooms (who does?), but I pride myself in being The Patient Guy. After three hours, a small group of waiters were starting to grumble about how "totally unfair" it was that they hadn't been served yet. About that time, a woman wheeled her obviously hurt partner into the room. He was called in within minutes. That drove some people crazy.

"I mean, how long has he been here? I've been waiting for two hours."

This woman was mad enough that she tried to squeeze some answers from the triage nurse. After a few minutes, the woman walked back to her seat in a huff.

"She says patients are admitted based on priority. Huh!"

I got in after four hours ("Huh!") and found I'm not going deaf. I have fluid in my ears. It's probably a holdover from my cold, and will take care of itself.

"I'm flying on Wednesday," I told the doctor. "How's that going to be?"

"Oh, it's going to hurt."


Henry the poet

Two turns of phrase today:

"The moon is a haunted croissant."


"...a curtain of mice." (meaning a lot of them)

Sit ups. Need sit ups.

Jane strolled in to the bathroom this morning as I got ready for work. I had my shirt up a bit, to get my deodorant on. She pointed at my mid-section.


Grandma D's quilts

My grandma is a life-long quilter. For most of her nearly nine decades, Grandma has been churning out warmth for her family.

Some of my most prized possessions are Grandma Quilts. We have three baby-sized ones, a worn out double she made for me when I was a teen (which, over time has been demoted to a dog blanket), and the beautiful wedding quilt she had to rush to completion when Erin and I shocked her with our short engagement.

Her mum taught her how. Grandma once told me she and her brothers and sisters had to crawl under her mum's quilting rack in order to get to the stairs in their little farm house.

Since my grandpa died, she's quilted with a group of women who meet a few times a week in an old school/community centre. A few years back, the stitches of one of the group's older members started to become inconsistent enough to become a problem. That day, Grandma gave a fateful job to one of the other women.

"When that happens to me, let me know."

Grandma got that call a few weeks ago. I don't think she's been back since. She could still go and knit or even just have tea, but Grandma doesn't want to. It's always been 'work', and if she can't work, she doesn't feel she should be there.

Tonight, I'll wrap one of Grandma's finest efforts, a beautiful green and yellow nine-block baby quilt, around Jane as I take her up to bed. The others I may put into retirement along with their maker. At least until Henry, Jane and baby X can wrap their own kids in them.

Jane: The Other Great Communicator

If my memory is correct, Henry was born speaking in sentences. I hate when parents brag about stuff like that, but it's a fact: Henry's a fantastic talker.

Jane's vocabulary hit a plateau about four months ago. She speaks about as well at 20 months as Henry did at maybe 10. However, she communicates almost as well as he does now, thanks to some tricks she's invented.

She has mastered all the basic words (hi, bye, yes, no, Mumma, Daddy, Nenny [Henry], sorry, pease [please], that, mine, baby...). But she also has a few expressions she stretches to mean a whole lot of different things. Here are a couple of my favourite:

Oh: This can mean several things. Sometimes it's, "Well! That's new, isn't it?" Other times it's, "I accept what you're saying as true." Or, "Explain this foreign thing, please." Or, "Things aren't working out like I planned." Or even, "Leave me alone, Parent. I've got this on my own."

Mmm Hmm: This can be a simple affirmative, but more often it's an acknowledgement of understanding a new concept or a request.

Happy Daddy: This originally was Jane's version of the song Happy Birthday. It has since morphed into her catch-all phrase for almost anything to do with me. It can be as simple as, "Daddy's home!" But has been used for more complicated things like asking me how I feel about something.

She's also developed her own version of sign language which has become quite complex. In combination* with her actual words and her Jane Words, it's very effective. Here's an example:

I walk in the door from work.

Me: Hello!

Jane: (running to the door) Daddy! Happy Daddy!

Me: Yes! I had a great day! What did you do today?

Jane: Baby!

Me: Did you see a baby today?

Jane: Mmm hmm. (She pauses, points in the direction of our friends' house) Oh! Oh!

Me: Was it baby Zadie? Did you go to her house?

Jane: Yes!

Me: She's so nice.

Jane: (cups her hands together and slowly brings them towards her chest)

Me: Did you get to hold her?

Jane: Mmmn Hmm!

Me: Were you gentle?

Jane: (scowling a bit) Oh.

Me: Did you maybe squeeze her too tight?

Jane: Mmm Hmm.

She's so good at this, she was able to completely explain to me the process of how a work crew built a new step on our neighbours' house the other day. Without having to get Erin to clarify, Jane explained the entire process, including how she and Henry watched from separate windows through the day.

*Edit: in fairness, I should point out she also occasionally makes annoying shrieking sounds until we desperately figure out what she's trying to say.

The Empire Strikes Back

By "Empire", I mean "nasty chest cold."

It had to strike on a Friday. Lousy dark side.

Almanac 13

The sea ice left the harbour this weekend and Spring whooshed in to take its place. What a beautiful couple of days of warm sun.

A friend of mine (who watched the kids for a few hours) told me about this exchange with Henry:

Friend: It's Spring! Are you excited?

Henry: Of course! Have you seen the crocuses? They're fabulous!

The measure of a boy

Henry got in a bit of a fight last week with his best friend/nemesis Kinnon. It wasn't so much of a fight as a demonstration of Henry's wimpiness (this is written with love, I promise).

We were playing soccer in Kinnon's yard. Kinnon lost interest in the game after a few kicks; he was off in the far corner of the yard climbing a tree. Daniel (Kinnon's dad) and I took turns as goalie while Henry took shots.

I was in net when the fight broke out. Henry ran to mid field (yard) and performed the classic soccer blooper: he swung at the ball and missed, brought his foot back for a second pass and instead ended up standing on it. Gravity being what it is, Henry was on his butt pretty quick.

I have no idea how he moved so quickly, but Kinnon was there in a flash. In what can only be described as mid-eighties WWF technique, Kinnon dished out a perfect flying elbow drop to Henry's gut (he may have even tapped his elbow with his other hand before executing, I can't be sure).

Henry, stunned, rolled over to face his now prone (and grinning wildly) opponent. Henry peppered him with a series of sissy punches (the boy didn't even try to make fists), accenting each with the sound "Eeh! Eeh! Eeh!"

Daniel and I pulled them apart. We were laughing too hard at this point to dish out any serious punishment.

My son. The sissy puncher.

Bruised oats

I love oatmeal. We eat it almost every morning. I'm usually the first one up in my house, and so, I'm the oatmeal maker.

I've refined my technique over the years. What I will freely admit was formerly described as "gluey" has evolved into delicate grains of deliciousness. I attribute most of my success to a recent discovery.

After boiling the (slightly salted) water, I add the oats, a handful of raisins and a bit of cinnamon. I give it one quick stir, then leave it to simmer on low.

The discovery -- which I'm sure took most people less than a decade to figure out -- is to not touch it from this point on. No further stirring required. The next time you touch the spoon (or spurtle), you should be scooping it into bowls.

The result is perfect oatmeal. Swollen, fluffy, unbroken oats. Perfect vessels for brown sugar and milk.

Erin commented recently on how much nicer her morning porridge tastes, but she attributed it to what must be an extra-good batch of oats.

She got up a bit earlier this morning than usual. She entered the kitchen while the oats were still cooking. Before I could catch her, she grabbed a long spoon and gave the pot a good stir.

"Stop!" I shouted. "You're bruising the oats!"

Sure enough, gluey again.

I felt the baby kick!

At breakfast this morning!