Thursday, September 30, 2010

Ah defiance...

I've dealt with  my fair share of kid shenanigans.  I've swum in, treaded water in, and floundered in some fairly tricky parenting waters.  I feel like I've earned a few parenting badges (and lost a few other parenting badges) along the way thus far.  Some things I've dealt with more gracefully than others, let's be clear, but I always seem to at least have an inkling of what direction needs to be taken in most situations.

But the outright defiance, that has me flummoxed.

Lately, we've embarked upon the "No.  I won't do that."  And because my children (yes, both of them, god help me) have a particular flair for the dramatic, Boy-o's actual refusals sound something more like: "NO!  I will not never, ever, not ever do that!"  Sometimes, it's just kind of funny.  Like "No, I will not ever, never, not ever drink that water!"  (Heard in my home just yesterday.  Lasted exactly until he got thirsty).  In these situations,  one can easily say: "Alrighty then," and move along.  You don't like water?  Don't get thirsty, then. 

But sometimes, the defiance is a little more complex.  Keeping in mind that I actually want to be sensitive to his need to assert himself (within reason) and making him do things by force 1) is trickier than one would think when one's 3 year old is extremely tall and over 40 lbs, and 2) isn't really my cuppa tea.   So what then?  You have a stand-off.  Do you wheedle? (Sometimes).  Bargain? (Sometimes).   Ignore? (Very difficult to do with my child).  How do you ignore "No, I will not ever take a bath"  or "No, I will never go to bed" or the like.   These are things that of course have natural consequences.  But unfortunately the consequences of an overtired, stinky, dirty child are more difficult for me than him.  So that tack doesn't really work. 

And how, pray tell, do you resist the omnipresent urge to say "Oh yes you will, you little pipsqueak or so help me god I will squash you and your defiance like a little, tiny bug?"   Or, if like me, you are sometimes unable to resist this urge,  how do you go about said squashing when you know darn well hitting only teaches kids violence and mistrust, time-outs are useless when you have a child that won't actually stay where you put them, threatening doesn't work and mostly makes you look like a total jack-ass, and yelling makes the kid cry and you feel guilty?  Squashing, it seems, may just be an overrated instinct.  Doesn't seem like anyone in our house has benefitted from it, anyways. 

So I'm dedicating this weekend to hopping off the grid (see you in October, friends) and cracking a copy of Mary Sheedy Kurcinska's "Kids, Parents and Power Struggles: Winning for a Lifetime."  Some of you may recognize the name as the author of the very excellent "Raising Your Spirited Child," which was a breakthrough book in this household.  I shall report back with any exciting findings *please let there be exciting findings* next week.

Here's to hoping I get a few new tricks to share about squashing rebellion without squashing my kids... 

Wednesday, September 29, 2010


I must have some bad-ass Karma.  Last night, I was experiencing a few minor life glitches, and I was feeling frustrated and overwhelmed and rather sorry for my sad self.   It happens sometimes.  And then this morning, the gods decided to smack me around.  I could almost hear them saying: "You wanna feel sorry for yourself?  We'll give ya something to be sorry about..."

So - I'm driving Boy-o, Girlio, and a little school chum of Boy-o's to school, blearily sipping my coffee and trying to tune out the three tots in the backseat when we start experiencing this strange, off-kilter-y, bumpity-bumpity-ness.  Shit.  Shit.  Shit.  I have encountered this strange, off-kilter-y, bumpity-bumpity-ness before.  It's a mother-effing flat tire.  I'm sure of it.  I pull-over, my heart sinking into my stomach.  The fates would not do this to me.  Not with three kids in the back of the car in rush hour traffic.  No they wouldn't.  That's just mean.  And wrong.  All kinds of wrong. 

Turns out they would.   That tire is flat.  Effing flat.  Mother effing flat.  Flat like an egg.  (For context for that last description: "How flat is the tire?"  Boy-o wants to know.  "Flat like a pancake," I say.   "Flat like an egg?" his little friend queries.  "Sure."  I say.  "It's flat like an egg.")

So - in this situation, like any kick-ass-take-no-prisoner-I-can-do-anything-fearless Girl, I immediately  called my wife.   She, as I suspected, knows what to do - call our Kia roadside assistance - the number which seems to be handily displayed on the driver's side window.  Clever, clever wife.  I do this.  The lady at the Kia busts a gut in cackles when I plead to send help fast because I am trapped inside a car with three smalls under the age of 4.  I did not think it was nearly quite as funny as she did.  However, must have taken me seriously, because help came in form of Glen from AMA within 35 minutes.  Which is a pretty darn good rush hour response time.  It was just long enough for several games of "I Spy," for my precious coffee to get spilled, for me to intercept and redirect a couple of scuffles between Boy-o and friend, for us to sing The Wheels on the Bus ad nauseum, followed by "I've Been Working on the Railroad" equally ad nauseum, for us to dance in our seats to some bad radio music, for Girlio to lose her shit and poop in her diaper at the same time, and for me to want to start stabbing myself in the eye with a fork a few times over.  A car is a very small, space when stuck on the road with littles.  Prison-small.  Just sayin'.

But then Glen came.  Glen came and was the knight-in-shining-armour to my lesbo-princess.  I love Glen.  If I weren't happily married gal, I'd have given Glen a big ole sloppy wet one (not that he would have probably wanted it, but anyhoo).   He didn't just know how to change a tire.  He knew where the spare tire was.  (There's a tire under there?  Who knew?)  He knew what the tire-unlocky-bolt-y-thing was AND he knew it would be in my glove-box.   He had tools (and an accent ;).  He jacked up my car and changed my tire.  AND he entertained both boys while doing it.   He showed them his tools.  He had them rivetted with explanations of what he was doing and why, as they marvelled at the amazing-ness of a tire-less car.  And then - he helped me figure out how the hell to put all of the kids back in the car WITH a car tire and a stroller.  Glen - if you're out there somewhere - you are the shit.  The bomb.  A lifesaver.   I know you were just doing your job - but you really saved my ass today... and you went above-and-beyond.
We made it to pre-K, 40 minutes late, but none the worse for wear.  

Unless you count my nerves.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

playgroup drop-outs.

There is a dearth of activities for the one year old set here in Redneckville.  I know this because I have researched every kind of child-friendly-program-offering facility there is.  And yet, here we are, dropping out of the one program we found after taking in a mere class.

The 45 minutes went as follows:
  • 15 minutes of free play while parents sign in attendance sheet.  (Okay, good so far).
  • Making the children put all of the toys away for circle time.  (Alrighty - the kiddos were just getting warmed up, but maybe some good stuff will ensue?).
  • Circle time, which consisted of taking attendance and expecting children to raise their hand when their name is called.  (Say What?!  Girlio still calls her own reflection "baby!")    Also consisted of a detailed explanation of the craft to follow, including raising every single colour one by one (ahem - fall colours only for the fall craft - and yes, yes you are detecting a note of derision right there) and expecting the children to repeat this colour out loud.  (Okay - they're one.)  By this time, the children (and I) are crushingly bored and all over the place, as the facilitator looks beseechingly at parents to 'reign them in.'
  • Painting activity, which is slotted to last 10 minutes, of course only lasts 2, and results in great, great, great amounts of mess.  Both of these things seems to surprise facilitator.   Clean-up takes another 10 minutes, apparently making the program 'run behind'.
  • Getting 5 minutes allotted for snack-time, and then expecting parents to promptly put snack away for storytime.  (M-kay - snack with one year olds is like grazing.  You can't just put it away after five minutes.  Five minutes hasn't even given them enough time to stop staring at the other one year olds or stop picking the lint off their socks long enough to take a single bite!)  We (and a few other parents 'n tots) rebel and take our snack with us to circle time. 
  • Circle time again.  The facilitator notices that the kids are SUPER restless and all over the place, so tries to get them to follow a stretching routine with her, which, you now, they don't.  Then time for a story, which is too long and involved for one year olds.   Story-time followed by two songs, which are quite involved and meant to be sung every class, so children can learn the words and actions (which are too many for ME to memorize).  During which time most of the children are too busy walking away to pay much attention . . .
And then... whew!  Class dismissed.   But not before I overhear:  "It's never too early to introduce a little structure to kids!"   

A little structure, my ass. 

It's never too early to make your child a drop-out.

Monday, September 27, 2010

It Gets Better

Hey folks...

If you haven't already heard about this project, then you should!  Dan Savage,  naughty columnist extraordinaire ("Savage Love") and his partner Terry have spearheaded this amazing project on YouTube. 

It's called the "It gets better" project, and it's aimed at queer youth who are struggling their way through the teenage years, (with the added baggage of homophobia, anti-gay bullying, and way-above-average risk of suicidality - fun times). 

Savage created the project in response to a suicide of a 15 year old gay youth who was experiencing horrific bullying in his highschool.  He's set up a You Tube channel and is currently collecting video submissions from queer peeps talking about how much better their lives have become once they made it past highschool. 

Take a moment to stop by the site - it's chalk full of inspiring stories - both recounting the difficulties of high school experiences, and sharing the triumphs of making it through.    

And take a moment to pass it on... this is a project that really needs to get far and wide!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

muddling through our choice to CIO when we are deadset against it

This isn't right.  It's 1:50 a.m.  My daughter is wailing despondently in the room immediately adjacent.  I can't see her, but I know she is standing at the furthest edge of her crib, her head on the railing.  I have been going in at 2+ minute intervals, giving her a hug, putting her back down with Bear-Bear and turning on her "fishies" acquarium.  She stops crying, I rub her back 10 times or so and leave again.  Rinse repeat.  It feels terrible.  Awful.  It feels, at this dark hour, as if I am helping no one and failing at my job.   

Most people who have tried CIO (or cry it out) will tell you it works.  God, I hope so.  (Though I many for whom it hasn't and yes, they tried it properly.  Kids just aren't one size fits all). 

People trying to comfort me about making the decision to try CIO have told me that I shouldn't feel guilty, that no one else can know what it right for me, for my family.  This is probably true.  But I still do.

I know deep within my myself that I do not believe CIO is right.  In fact, I still believe it is fundamentally wrong.  Even if it works.  This isn't intended as a judgement against those who believe in it or use it (I'm a different strokes for different folks kinda gal and I have many good friends, whom I love and respect immensely, who have chosen this approach to their sleep woes with great success).  But I belong, unabashedly, to the Dr. Sears-esque school of parenting.  I believe it's my job to be in there with her when she needs me.  Even when she needs me ten times a night (even though I know very well it was likely Dr. Sears' wife who did the bulk of nighttime care in their house!).  I worry that CIO works because it teaches Girlio that I won't respond to her needs.  I worry that CIO messes with attachment and can have a long term emotional impact (though, again, CIO proponents will insist this is not the case - I wonder how these things get 'measured.')  That's just me - the girl raised by therapists

So - one might wonder -what the hell am I doing, then, blogging and crying along with my baby at 2 in the morning?  A fine question.  Parenting has some darn slippery slopes...

I not doing this because I haven't slept for 15 months, per se, though this is certainly true, and certainly unpleasant.  I am doing this because while not sleeping for the last 15 months, and in particular for the last 8 months, I have had some dark moments at night.  Really, really dark.  I have thought horrible, terrible things about my child, whom I love more than is possible to articulate.  I have felt the fleeting urge to shake her, to throw her, to scream in her face.  I have had horrifying glimpses of understanding as to why people with less inner and outer resources than me sometimes hurt their children.  I have clenched my teeth and inwardly shook with the kind of rage that should not be directed at any child, ever.   That is outcome of prolonged sleep deprivation.  And nighttime is just the tip of the iceberg.

People always ask incredulously how I manage to function during the day, when my sleep is so lacking and so interrupted.  And the answer is, all too often, badly.  My parenting is often sub-par.  I get frustrated too easily.  I yell too much.  I am often too drained to focus on the kids much at all.  My exhaustion makes it difficult to maintain relationships - I haven't talked to my siblings in ages because I can't talk on the phone when the kids are awake (they hate me being on the phone and it's too hard to carry on a conversation with ankle biters, well, ankle biting).  And by the time evening rolls around I'm too tired to be coherent enough to converse.  It affects my relationship with my wife - because we're both too tired to chat, to connect, to have a date.  And I've noticed that while driving Boy-o to school in the mornings, I have to really struggle to pay attention to the road and have received quite a few horn honks of late.  

The long and the short of it is - it ain't good.  It ain't good at night and it ain't good in the morning.  Something, as they say, has got to give.

If this works - and again - I really, really hope it does because we're starting to crack up a bit here - I probably will not become a CIO convert, or decide that it's really the kind or gentle alternative, as many CIO authors claim.  I'll still think it goes against my personal parenting values and philosophies.  I'll still think it sucks and I'll still feel like I failed at my job.  And I'll still likely feel like it broke my heart into a million tiny pieces.  (I'm not being mellowdramatic, either - I am having a really, really, exceptionally hard time with this decision ***).

We tried CIO not because it was right for our family, but more properly, because it turned out to be just a bit less wrong than the alternatives.

And there's the slippery slope of parenting.

*** I used to be an unplanned pregnancy counsellor for quite some time.  And in my experience, I found that out of the folks who chose to have an abortion, the ones who had the toughest time with it were the ones for whom it went against their personal or religious morals and beliefs.  I am guessing that the same principle applies here, to me with our decision to try CIO (with the caveat that I am not comparing this problem to terribly scary experience of having an unplanned pregnancy).

Friday, September 24, 2010

Why we don't keep secrets around our house... A friendly PSA about child sexual abuse

We don't use the word secret with our kids, and I blanche when others try to use it with them  (Please don't use this word with my kids, folks!) 

Why?  Child sexual abuse (heretofore refered to as CSA for expediency).  And before you dismiss me as being paranoid, I'll tell ya, I'm not at all paranoid about this.  What I am is realistic.  Read the statistics and then do the math (and while you're at it, you might as well add on a gazillion % for all the unreported assaults on children).  The basics are this:  1 in 3 girls and 1 in 6 boys will experience an unwanted sexual act prior to the age of 18.  See more detailed stats below:

We're all on-board for teaching our kids about stranger danger.   We all live in fear of the horrific stranger abduction and abuse of our children (the ice-cream man, the dude at the park, etc.).  I don't want to diminish these fears.  These occurences are real and terrible for all involved.  But these occurences are not how the VAST majority of sexual assaults occur on children.

The sad, sick, vomit-inducing truth is that most children are sexually assaulted by someone they know and trust.  Yes.  Family members, parents, step-parents, grandparents, family friends are responsible for 95% of CSA's.  I'm not shitting you here.  Ninety-five %.   People that we, their parents love and trust.  It's a terrible thought, and one we all don't want to think about.  So naturally, we'll all take a minute to comfort ourselves by saying, "Oh, not my boyfriend/girlfriend, not my wife/husband, not my father, not my uncle, not my best friend Jenny.  All the people I know are safe and wonderful and so great with my kids."   I would probably have a heart-attack from shock if my kids ever told me that someone they knew, someone I knew, hurt them in this way.  But being shocked is entirely different than being unprepared.   And I will not let my love of the people in my life blind me from the reality that most child-assaults happen from those who love us, and whom we love.   I volunteer on a sexual assault crisis line and have talked to many a distraught parent, who believed just like we do, that their children were safe with the people they love.  It happens to kids from all walks of life - not just 'those' people (whomever 'those' people are in your mind), so banish this thought, too.

And why the hating on the word secret?  Because child sexual abuse depends upon secrecy.  "It'll be our little secret.";  "We won't tell anyone about this."  "We can never tell because they won't understand."  These are all part and parcel of how abusers maintain their patterns of abuse.  Children keep their secret - out of fear that they won't be believed, out of loyalty to and love for their abusers, out of feelings of guilt and shame, out of fear due to threats. 

So what to do?  Well, for starters - talk about it.  With your family, with other parents, on your facebook, on your twitter, on your blogs, whatever.  Even though it feels yucky and crappy and vomitous - when we talk about it, when we admit to ourselves that these things happen, when we stop treating the subject as taboo - we can be proactive and we can take steps to protect our kids.

1.  Make sure your kids have the language that lets them talk about their body parts.  Kids need to be able to articulate it to you if something is wrong.  Remind them that no one, not even a teacher or close relative, has the right to touch them in a way that makes them feel uncomfortable.
2.  Try not to use the word secret. 
3.  Let your littles know that people who love them will not ask them to keep secrets.
4.  Differentiate between secrets and surprises - (Secret = never supposed to tell.  Surprise = mommy's birthday present that she'll open next week.  Big difference there.)
5.  Tell your kids often that you will always believe them  (and then practice what you preach).  And let them know that if they don't feel comfortable telling you something has happened (and kids often tell someone other than their parents about CSA), make sure they know that if the first adult they tell doesn't believe them or won't help, to keep telling, for as long as it takes.
6. Make sure they know that no one has the right to ask them to keep a secret from their parents, and that NO older person should ever ask them to keep a special secret, especially one that makes them feel uneasy, yucky or weird.
7.  When they are old enough, be honest and direct with them about sexual abuse and let them know that you will always believe them, no matter who they are disclosing about. 
8.  And probably one of the very, very most important things you can do is to let your kids have bodily integrity.  By this I mean - don't force them to hug you if they don't want to.  Don't make them hug or kiss family members if they don't want to.  Say "would you like to give Auntie Betty a hug goodbye?" instead of "Time to give Auntie Betty a hug goodbye."  Let them make decisions about what feels good or right for their little selves.  They'll let you know if it feels right at any given moment or not.  And don't allow people to guilt your kids into physical affection either: (as in, "Oh, I'll be so sad if I can't have a hug goodbye."  We don't want our kids to learn to give physical affection (however innocuous) in order to make someone else happy.  Yuck-o-rama.

*feel free to add any steps you've taken with your kids in the comments*

As parents, we can't always stop bad things from happening to our kids.  What we can do, is arm them with the best possible information and skills to help them avoid bad things, and let them know that if bad stuff does happen, they can tell us anything, we will believe them, and we will stop it.  Period. 

For more info on warning signs, where to get help, etc. etc.

Sexual Assault Centre of Edmonton

Little Warriors

Serious public service announcement over now.   Feel free to go on about your weekend.


Sometimes I wonder whether other parents worry constantly that they're muddling things up more often than not?

It's only 7:38 a.m., and already I've done a gazillion things I wish I hadn't.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

A Music Post (yes, the grown-up kind)

I've been writing about somewhat heavy stuff lately, so I'm going to intersperse it with a little fluffy post with totally useless information about yours truly.  And music. 

Here goes:

My favourite songs to be sad/cry to
(I'm a sad girl, and so I really like sad music.  Just how it goes):

1.  Breakable Girls and Boys - Ingrid Michaelson (okay, pretty much anything by Ingrid Michaelson.  She writes the best music to cry to.  For real.  Hands down.)
2.  Driving North -  Chris Pureka (fucking haunting, this one.  She's like a folkier Stevie Nicks).
3.  Clouds - Joni Mitchell
4.  The Scientist - Coldplay
5.  Falling or Flying - Grace Potter and the Nocturnals
6.  Falling Slowly - Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova
7.  Landslide - Dixie Chicks or Fleetwood Mac versions

My favourite songs that remind how fucking great my life is:
1.  How Lucky We Are - Meiko
2.  Fidelity- Regina Spektor
3.  My Life Would Suck Without You - K.C. or Glee version
4.  All this Beauty - The Weepies
5.  Precious Heart - Veda Hille
6.  A Case of You - Joni Mitchell or k.d. lang version
7.  The Littlest Birds - The Be Good Tanyas

Favourite Tongue-in-cheeky song:
1. The Fear - Lily Allen

#1 Cover that make me love a song even though I hated the original:
1.  Obadiah Parker's version of  Hey Ya (originally done by K-OS)

My favourite cleaning music:
Motown - Always.  Always.  Always.  It is very difficult to really loathe what you are doing if you are singing "What choo want, baby I got it!/What chooooo need, you know I got it!"   Try it and see if I'm right...

My Favourite Guilty Pleasures:
1.  Kelly Clarkson
2.  Pink
3. Adam Lambert.  Yes.  Glambert.  That's right.
4.  Cold Play
5.  Bon Jovi (I can woman-up and admit it).
6.  Any boy with a good falsetto.  Yum.

Music That Really Makes Me Want to Shoot Myself:
1.  Nickelback 
(Okay, I dislike lots of other top 40 artists.  But old Nickelback is the worst.  And when you live in Alberta and your son stuck quarters in the cd player, rendering it useless, one hears A LOT of Nickelback.  Secretly, I fear that hearing it so much will make me start to like it, and that makes me want to shoot myself even more.)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

3 and 3/4 years

That's how long it took for my Boy-o to hear the words: "Boys can't do that - that's just for girls."  3 and 3/4 years. 

It was a kid at school.  (And it just had to be the kid Boy-o has been talking about since school began last week).  He chastized Boy-o for playing dress-up as a princess at school.  I know I shouldn't resent that kid or want to flick him upside the forehead - he's just a kid after all, and repeating what he hears from people in his life.  But I do anyways (and I don't even care if it makes me a bad person).  (Okay, I don't really.  I'm just speaking from the 'someone messed with my kid' place.  It'll pass).

When pressed about how he responded, it was clear Boy-o was baffled.  Never has he ever been told that certain things are only for girls or only for boys.  He said:  "I laughed and laughed and laughed and laughed. . . and then I said: 'okay, okay.'  And then I even saw a girl dress-up in it.  So I guess it must be for girls." 

L. and I both held our breathe and took a bit of a pause.  I tried to will my eyes not to bug out of my head.  For starters, that's not nice (and not true).  And this is not a subject you want to tackle unthinkingly.   On the one hand, you do not want to set your child up for a lifetime of playground ass-kickings.  On the other hand, you do not want to let that bull-shitty 'boys don't/girls' don't business win.  So L. says, after a pause: "well yeah, some people believe that there are certain things boys or girls shouldn't do.  But I sort of think that limits our chances to have fun...  What do you think?"  Pause.  Boy-o says nothing.  So I take pipe in and add:  "It's about what makes you feel okay and happy in your heart buddy.  If you feel like you don't want to wear that princess dress, that's okay.  And if you feel like you want to wear it, that's okay too.  It's about what you think, not what other people think."  Pause.  Still nothing.  Clearly, Boy-o was working hard at processing the whole situation.  And then, not wanting to beat the horse dead, we let it go, feeling a bit heavy-hearted about it.  (Though of course we knew this would happen... its eventuality didn't serve to make it feel any nicer).

It makes me feel pretty sad to think that even if he does decide to go back to school and play dress-up as a princess (or more accurately, a princess firefighter), it will never again be with the same unproblematic, unchecked joy as those first few times, before he was informed that boys 'don't do that.'  It will never again be without the anxiety of going against the grain.

I'm glad my boy got at least those 3 and 3/4 years without hearing those words (or the sentiment behind them).  I wish Boy-o could go his whole life never having heard them. 

I wish those words were obsolete.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

school angst cont'd

The school open-house was a great success.  Boy-o was beside himself in ecstacy in his new surroundings.   First there was the bathroom - which we very nearly didn't make it to! - only to hear "LOOK MAMA!  They're just my size!"  Good toilets.  Check! 

Next we moved onto the music room, which could only be described as mecca for the music loving kid.  There were a plethora of xylophones in different sizes and different materials, a huge floor drum and many, many smaller ones, tin whistles and shakers and bells galore!  Boy-o would have stayed there the whole open-house if we hadn't encouraged him to move on.  Next we found our way to a small reading room, filled with books and books and books, along with a lovely cozy reading tent and many comfy cushions.  And from there, the main classroom, replete with a sand table, water table, painting table, kitchen/dress-up area, cars and a roadway carpet, a great big wooden blocks station and several kid sized sitting tables.  Check, check, check, check and CHECK!

Boy-o vibrated happily through the open-house, moving from toy-to-toy, station-to-station, introducing himself to the other kids and parents in a voice so excited and quick that no one could possibly hope to understand him.  No matter, his joy was infectious and he quickly spread smiles around the room. 

But as Boy-o vibrated with happiness, I vibrated with nervous energy.  Having scanned the room full of kids and their parents, I knew right away ours was the only queer family.  In many ways, this doesn't matter.  The school we have chosen has a progressive diversity policy, our childs' teacher is down with the gays, and willing to take the issue on the classroom if need be.  Many of the parents we met that night were completely non-plussed by L. and I as a family unit and very friendly.  So - what's the problem then?  What's the big deal?  Why, as we headed out to the car with an exhausted baby and a wired and happy Boy-o, was I struck by this huge, overwhelming sadness and guilt? 

I was just struck that night with this sudden and crushing - well - I guess grief is the right word, that I was the source of what will make my son "different" from his classmates.  And before you say it, YES - I know.  Everyone is 'different.'  Every kid deals with something or other/gets teased for something or other/kids are mean/kids are resilient/blah blah blah.  I know this is all true. 

But here's what I also know to be true.  I desparately want to not be the source of why my son gets teased, or razzed, or god forbid, bullied, in school.  I desparately want to keep him in this little bubble where his family can be 'normal' and okay; where people won't tell him he's lacking because he doesn't have a dad; that his family is an abomination; that his parents are child molesters, that he must be a fag because we are gay, or the myriad of other bizarre and baseless things the wacko folks like to say about us queers.  I want him not to have to confront the homophobia and heterosexism that permeates our culture. 

And even if he doesn't get bullied, razzed, or teased - even if people are fantastically nice and aware and sweet to him - it's still hard to be different sometimes.  And the source of the major difference my kiddo is going to have to deal with at school is us.  His parents.  The two people who love him more than anything else in the world.  It stinks.  It smarts.  It terrifies me.

It's knee-jerky, emotional stuff I'm talking about here.  And right now, it's MY baggage, not his.  He may well go through his whole life not giving a rat's ass that he has two mommies, or even, gasp, being glad that he has two mommies.  The guilt I am wading through, the sadness I am wading through, and especially the fear I am wading through as we send our son out into the world of Redneckville without us to shelter him, is *mostly* mine.  I say mostly because I wouldn't have to feel so guilty, so sad, so afraid for my kids if we didn't live in such a crap-assed, homophobic (racist, classist, etc.) world.  If we weren't so complacent about the various kinds of  'isms' that pervade our lives and the lives of others.

The biggots are right about one thing - homophobia isn't fair to our children.   Ignorance isn't fair to anyone, really.  (But of course they miss that last bit of the equation).

Right about now, I'm just really, really, really wishing I could keep my sweet, trusting, loving, open, gentle Boy-o from having to learn about that ignorance so early on in his life...

*and crossing my fingers that maybe, just maybe, he won't*

Monday, September 20, 2010

school drop-off fashion

Dilemma #1:  I've gone from having a job where no one sees me but my kiddos, to having a job that requires dropping one of said kiddos off to school every morning.  Where copious amounts of people see me.  Grown-up people. 

Dilemma #2:  I have a woefully inadequate outside-the-house-where-other-grown-ups-can-see-me wardrobe.

Dilemma #3: Doing anything about aforementioned wardrobe requires significant raise, because we can't afford new wardrobe AND school.

Dilemma #4 : There's not much chance of the afore-aforementioned significant raise.

Ah poop.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

God hates ignorance... at least I'd like to think so

I don't know if anyone here is familiar with the Westboro Baptist Church.  They are a particularly hateful group o' haters, and the personification of the reason people like me get a bit squirrely around religion.   (These folks are the brainchildren behind the picketting of gay folks' funerals... oh yes I did say funerals, with signs that say lovely and supportive things like "God hates fags."  I can barely even type this without both seething and crying.  They have all sorts of other wonderful activities, but this one is so my fave). 

Anyhow - in a demonstration of the amazing potential for culture jamming, a creative (Floridian, I think?) couple (yup, they play for my team) have started a blog called  In this blog, they are recreating positive, love-filled, beautiful, poignant messages out of the hate-filled, ignorant, fear-mongering, lowest-common-denominator press releases from the Westboro biggots.   They are just getting started out, but hopefully will keep on keeping on with this fantastic blog.

Please take a minute to check them out.  You won't regret it.  I love them whole bunches and hope you do too...

Saturday, September 18, 2010

separation anxiety

My kiddos and wifey's have just left to spend a morning with the out-laws (yes, this is a term of endearment :). 

I have the whole house to myself.  I can do anything I want.  I can savour the quiet and the total lack of commotion.  I can tackle the mess, which has reached the point of hideousness.  I can organize without sticky little fingers disorganizing right behind me.  I can head to the garden and get my fingers dirty without having to go on a wormhunt for Boy-o.  I can sit on my ass and drink coffee.  I could drag my tired ass on a run.  I could go back to bed and no one would wake me up.  I can blog guiltfree for as long as I want to and noone will tug at my sleeves or legs or heartstrings.

But first, I have to figure out a way to move past that too-familiar, crippling fear that I will never see them again. 

Anxiety sucks.

Friday, September 17, 2010

dear readers...

So we had a friend visiting from out of town, and while I was chasing the tots around with our cacophonous instrumental marching band, he quipped: "And you must be thinking: 'I got my graduate degree for this?'"   Of this I have two things to say:

1) Ouch.  Hit a stay-at-home mama right where it smarts.  There's nothing that gets my life anxiety revving higher than the thought that I'm, you know, 'not living up to my potential.'  Add the thought that others may believe I'm 'not living up to my potential,' and just sit back and watch me implode.
2) He's right.  Sometimes, I am thinking that very same thing (though, just for the record, never during a rousing session of marching band, which really I kinda dig), but not for the reasons one might think. 

But it's not the fact that I have a graduate degree, and therefore should be doing something 'better' with my time that gets me down from time to time about where I am in my life.  It's the fact that while I was getting my graduate degree, and my undergraduate degree for that matter, I was kind of a super star.  I don't mean this to insinuate that I was the best of the best - I'm sure there are/were plenty of folks smarter than me in grad school.  What I mean is that I worked my heiny off.  And then, I got LOTS of external validation for my diligent work.  People thought I was smart.  And they told me so.  I got plenty of life-affirming, self-affirming feedback, and the big fat A's didn't hurt either.  Sometimes, my work even got published, which believe you-me, is some heady stuff in terms of feeling like you are offering something of value to the world. 

Flash forward in time.  I've been out of the school world and work force for just under four years.  And I'm still working my ass off.  Doing work that I believe is really, really valuable and important.  It's not necessarily intellectually challenging (although sometimes it is) - but it more than makes up for that lack in its ability to be emotionally challenging. (Holy crap does it ever!)  And have I mentioned that it's freaking hard yet?  But this time around, the external validation is nil.  Zip.  Nada.  In fact, quite the opposite.   I get queries about 'when am I going back to work?' as if what I am doing now doesn't really count.   Or, as I mentioned in my second blog ever,  getting treated like a total moron/nobody by the folks at the bank, car dealership, salespeople and random telemarketers.   (And you're going to have to trust me when I say here that being treated like you are a total loser by a teenage telemarketer is a particularly special experience).   Or other parents confessing they don't understand how stay-at-homer's can do it all day every day, because they'd be so bored or unchallenged or explaining how they're too ambitious to bow out of the workforce, or something of the like (without thinking about what these declaration might be saying about me).  And then there's the whole 'I'm-capitulating-to-the- patriarchy-and-contributing-to-the-downfall-of-feminism-by-regressing-to-50's-housewifeyness' bit, which you know, can sometimes make a feminist mama feel like having a bit of a rampage.  Oh, and government(s) not really thinking our work matters (to social welfare and the economy).  All of those things piled on top of each other don't exactly scream:  Hey yo Mama!  The world around you thinks you're hella super great!, if you know what I mean.

I've felt really out of touch with the external world for a good portion of my stay-at-home career, and most acutely after the birth of Girlio, with two smalls at home and a hardworking wifey in a job with no paid parental leave (insert big old birdie directed squarely at the Government of Alberta here).   It wasn't until I discovered the world of blogging, which affords me a space to express myself externally, with the added bonus of not having to leave the house, that I really started to find my groove (not that it isn't still often difficult or challenging).  I'm not sure if I can adequately relate how much the feedback that comes back to me from my blog really keeps the feelings of isolation, and the fears of losing that old 'superstar' self  part of me at bay.  (And how being nominated by a reader for Babble's Mommy Blogroll, well, let's just say it made me almost pathetically happy.) 

It's this near-pathetic euphoria that really made me realize how freaking important that external validation is - and how very, very little of it us stay-at-home mamas get in our worlds.   It's really quite a shame - because you know (and I'm speaking for the lot of us here) - we're quite a crafty lot now and again. 

At any rate - I guess this is all a round about way of getting to - thanks peeps.  For finding my little blog-world, for sticking with me, and for telling me from time to time that you think I sometimes stumble upon something to say that resonates.  It means more than you know.

(And yeah - I totally got my masters degree for this :))

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Oh Hell NO! Learning the language of Girlio

Boy-o was, let's just say not impressed, when his sister Girlio arrived on the scene.  Though he managed to move past shouting "Put her down!  Put her on the floor!" and other thoughts in a similar vein, he progressed to shouting "NO!" at her everytime she tried to make noises or movements in his general direction.  This too has gotten better, slowly but surely.  However, the result of all this constant "No"ing on Boy-o's part has resulted in Girlio really enjoying the word NO.  She uses it ALL OF THE TIME.  Even when she means yes.

 For example today, I asked her if she wanted to breastfeed (and to put this question in context, I think Girlio may still be breastfeeding well into the college years).  And she looked me right in the eye and proclaimed "NO!" right before launching her face like a human projectile and smacking me right between the breasts with her whole head.  No indeed.   

So now we've learned that we have to learn to read her facial cues more carefully when we're asking her questions or trying to figure out what she needs, as she's developed her very own little negative language.

"No!" with toothy grin or eye twinkle actually means "yes." 
"NO!" with a nod also means "yes."
"No" with a determined look, poop face or grimace definitely means "no."
"No!" with the Elvis lip curl seems to indicate a certain amount of extra emphatic "No"-ness.
"NO! NO! NO!" with a coinciding shriek means she's having a toy scrimmage with her brother and I should probably get my butt in there to referee.
"No?" sounding like a question could mean "maybe" or "I don't know what the hell you're going on about."  "No..." with a blank face means "ask again"!  

We've also learned to differentiate between the sounds of different "No's."   Some are long and drawn out (usually being goofy and/or totally ignoring the question), or the timber in her voice goes up and down to match the exaggerated shaking of her head from side to side - "No-o-o-o" (emphatic). 

Then there's also the "No's" that don't come in response to Yes/No questions.  For instance:
The "No" with the point, means "I would like that thing up there on that shelf!"
"No!" with a snicker - means "I've just done something I shouldn't have and I don't want you to know so now I'm being sneaky."
Or the current favourite dinner-table "NO!" in which she wants something and will shout NO! and point vociferously until we finally figure out what it is she wants to eat.
Or my own personal unfavourite, which involves her new game of chucking miscellaneous bits of food off of her tray and proclaiming dramatically (hands on her cheeks) "Ohhh NOOOOOOO!" with a particularly cheeky look on her face.

Never, ever have I heard so many variations of one small tiny two letter word.  Though Girlio actually has a pretty impressive vocabulary for a 15 month old - "No" is by far her favourite and most varied to date.  Not only is she quite excellently equipt for holding her ground with her big brother,  I also believe she's well prepared for the ages of two and three to come, where her dedicated commitment to finding new and unusual ways to say and mean "No!" will really come in handy for her. 

(Heaven help her poor moms...)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

baby body bullsh*t

So Girlio are at a playgroup for babies.  It's really very exciting as it's the first opportunity she's had to be the sole focus of my attention, and the first time she's had a chance to be around other babes her own age.

Anyhow, during snacktime, another mom and I were chatting about our kid's eating habits.  I mentioned that Girlio is mainly a "fruit-i-tarian" but that she'll really eat pretty much anything except for carbohydrates.  And the other mother says:  "Oh WOW!  That's so great!"  And I respond: "Oh yeah?  I think carbohydrates are kind of important to the diet."  And she says, doubtfully, "Ummmm, maybe, but that could, you know, really help her out later on...".  

Say WHHHHAAAAATTTTTTT??  Are you freaking kidding me here???!!!  Are we really, really so arse-deep in self-absorbed body obsessiveness that we've hot the all-new low of congratulating baby girls for basically being on Atkins?   For real?  Because it'll stop her from being fat later on?    That ain't right, people.  Not right at all.    I cannot even begin the list all of the myriad of ways in which that ain't right! 

The especially sad bit is, this isn't the first time I've had this conversation.  And it isn't the first time I've had the very same bizarre congratulatory response.    Which, frankly, I find so wildly offensive that I'm not even sure how to respond. 

So for the record - according to Canada's Food Guide - we need between 5-12 servings of cereals and grains a day. 

(Yup.... even girls.) 

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


It's been a long couple of days.  Girlio - no sleepy.  Boy-o - sicky, cranky, cooped-up-y.   Some trying times in mama land.  I've been gritting my teeth, counting the seconds til L. gets home, feeling frustrated, tired, over-done. 

And then, Boy-o asked for me to snuggle down with him (usually he wants L.).  And then, then, he reached around me and asked for a hug.  And then, then, then, he grabbed my hand, openned it and wrapped it around his little one. 

Freaking amazing how such tiny, little kid gestures can make the most intense burst of mama-love coil up around your body - starting at the ankles and winding its way around all the way up to the tip of your head - and  make three days worth of exhaustion and frustration just dissolve into thin air.

Bless his sleeping little heart.

Old Navy Barf

I was shopping online at Old Navy.  Because I needed their warm footy pajamas for one Mr. Boy-o .and can't find them anywhere else in a 5T.  And they have a big old sale.   So after purchasing some Boy-o clothes - because he keeps freaking GROWING - I was perusing their baby section.  There are lots of new babies coming to the world near me soon, and I loves me some brand new baby clothes for the brand new baby set.  Anyhow.

And surprise! I encountered a few problematic things in the old baby department.
1.  No gender neutral baby clothing whatsoever.  None.  Nada.  Zip.  Not a stitch of it.
2.  Boys' clothes had fun and entertaining slogans such as: "formula powered," "muscle machine," "babe magnet," and "young rebel," with a few pirate motif duds thrown in for good measure.  
3.  Girls'  clothes had far less slogans (and far more pink, natch) but there was a kitten with a tiara and pearls, along with "daddy's natural beauty."

This is so stereotyped and so obvious that it's kind of like a caricature of itself.   However unintentionally.
The girls are once again reduced to beauty and the boys reduced to speed, power, aggression.  (Though interestingly enough, the problematic stuff was mostly all baby clothes - once you got into the kid clothes - aside from the ever-present boy colours/girl colours crap, the slogans were blessedly absent.  Perhaps the gendered brainwashing has sufficiently set in by the age of 5 and we no longer need it?!)

I'd like to say that I dumped my online cart and wrote a strongly worded letter to Old Navy.  But I really needed those footy pajamas.  And the free shipping. 

In my own defense, Boy-o's need for warm footy pajamas is a serious thing (and yes I am mostly mocking my own fickleness here... though to be fair - our house is really drafty in the winter).   But I did write the old strongly worded letter, which though it will likely languish at the bottom of someone's email inbox unnoticed, made me feel at least marginally better.

Monday, September 13, 2010


It occured to me, late, late into last night (well morning actually) first as I was attempting to escape the death grip of my three year old holding my hand in his sleep, and then as I was crying as quietly as I could and blowing my nose into a receiving blanket (yeah, I know, but it was either that or my own pajamas) while trying to get my 15 month old down for the bazillionth time how much parenting platitudes are really unfair. 

Take for example, the mother of all parenting platitudes: "This too shall pass."  If I had a dollar for everytime I heard that one, I'd be knee deep in retirement funds.  The sensible person in me knows that this platitude is true (the especially annoying bit about platitudes is, of course, that there is truth to them).  The hopeless and exhausted and sobbing into a receiving blanket at 5 in the morning (having slept nary one bit) part of me says: "I've been getting this platitude for 15 months.  So when's it fucking ending?!"


"Ohhhhh you'll miss this when they get older...".  Okay -  again, a grain of truth.  There are so so many things I will miss when my smalls are large.  So many baby things I achingly miss already, even.   And it's certainly true that I will miss the cuddliness, the smallness, the snuggled-in-ness, the total trust in these babe-in-arms days.  I, just like all parents before me, will miss all of the wonderfulness of my kids being wee littles.  But I won't miss 15 and counting months of total lack of sleep (which, is torture, plain and simple).  I won't miss day long tantrums.  I won't miss being smacked  or whacked or having to dodge flying toy projectiles.   I won't miss the crap moments when I lose my shit/lose my lofty parenting ideals/lose myself in anger.  I won't miss the parts where I fail miserably.  This is the crap bit of my kids being small (though I'm sure the parts about me losing my shit and failing will continue to evilly pursue me throughout my time as a parent).  At any rate - only a crazy person would miss those bits. 


"Just wait til they're teenagers - you won't be able to wake them up!"  Um, for starters, why would I want to wake them up?  When they're teenagers I'm gonna be catching up, people.  Take my word for this.  They want to flunk out of highschool because they're sleepy?  Not my problem.  I'm sure they'll have a perfectly nice career at Tim Horton's - I hear they have a good benefits package.  And again, as with above - right now - when I'm having elaborate night-time fantasies about running away in my pajamas until the car runs out of gas, then running alongside the road and raving like a crazed woman until someone picks me up and delivers me takes me to the hospital where they give me good the drugs (breastfeeding be damned) and let me sleep for awhile - I don't really CARE about NOT being able to wake them up at some distant time in my life.  

The thing I hate the most about platitudes is that they aren't fair.  For starters, they are almost always uttered by people we aren't in the thick of some parenting Hell.   They know the bad stuff passes (and new bad stuff takes its place) but they aren't there now.  And I firmly believe that just like women forget the pain of labour, we all tend to forget the painful life spots we've been in previously.  So one might say the comments are coming from perspective.  And one might also say they're coming from a place of parenting amnesia.  Most likely it's both.  Platitudes are meant, I think, to remind us to appreciate where we are in our lives.  I get that.  And, believe it or not, I do appreciate it.  I appreciate so, so much about my time with my kids, who are, by and large, amazing, wonderful and delightful small creatures who have challenged me and helped me to grow in more ways than I them.  But platitudes also have the effect of silencing us.  Making us feel guilty, like we complain too much,  like we shouldn't talk about the stuff that's hard.  And I can't get behind that, as you all know.  But most of all, platitudes aren't actually helpful.  It's like telling someone who's loved one has died that 'the pain will pass.'  It's true.  But in the here and now of a painful reality, being told it will pass in some murky future isn't useful, and doesn't dull the crushing pain of the present.  The same holds true for difficult parenting moments. 

So the next time you might be thinking about doling out a parenting platitude - resist.  It might be hard at first....  but this too shall pass.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Saving money, ditching sanity

Why did I go anyways?!  I really shouldn't have.  It defied all logic.  But when I have a plan for the day in my head, I have a really hard time shifting gears.  Bad move.  BAD. 

A bit of background.  L. and I are trying to cut costs around here.  We are a one income household, who due to flip-flopping in and out of school for most of our adult lives, do not have the savings or you know, plan, lots of folks our age do.  In short, we're kinda broke-assed.   Not broke-broke, as in poor.  But broke-assed as in, we're just making it.  Most of the time.  Let's just say we're the folks the bank calls from time to time to ask us if we realize that we don't have any RRSPs.  (And as an aside, what kind of idiot wouldn't know this information?  Oh, shit!  Really?  I forgot to pour all of my copious amounts of wealth into a retirement plan?  YES a$$holes.  I am really, astoundingly, acutely and terrifyingly aware that I have no retirement plan.  So not to worry, I haven't squirreled anything away with the competition.  Whew.  Time to digress.) 

Anyhoo - because Boy-o has started semi-private school, (because as I've previously mentioned, we won't send him to public school in this silly redneck Bill 44 loving province) we're paying an extra 300$ a month that we don't really have.  Which brings me around (ever so slowly) to London Drugs expedition.  (Yes, I promise, there is a point here somewhere).   I have started actually reading through the plethora (and I do mean a forests' worth) of flyers that come around every week, and have been shopping around to stock up on the cheapest prices in town.  This is a serious pain in the arse - (and soul-crushingly house-wifey-ish) but it is also saving us some cash.  Hopefully, when combined with my newfound commitment to cooking at home more and eating out less, and L's and my attempts to kick our latte habits, around $300 a month's worth.

London Drugs had our preferred cat litter for dirt cheap.  It also had some really yummy fair trade organic coffee for half price (which, if you buy fair trade organic coffee, you will agree is a pretty darn good deal), and cheap Kleenex, which really appealed to my sick, runny-nosed self.  So I called L. to tell her that she should meet us there after work so she could avoid taking her second bus and help me carry the
several containers of coffee and cat litter I was about to purchase.  All good. Except that a few hours later, L. calls me to tell me she missed the bus and traffic is really backed up.  She doesn't know if she's going to make it.  I tell  her that's okay, we'll go anyways.  And I pack my cooped-up-inside-all-day-because-it's-pissing-rain children into the car to go all by my lonesome.  As Julia Roberts got famous for saying: BIG MISTAKE.  HUGE!

Picture this scenario.  Sick, snotty, head-colding Mama.  Cooped up, razzed up children (baby wearing no socks and boots because she pulled them off in the car on the way and I can only find half of each).  No f*cking loonie to get a  f*cking cart.  Drenched from running from car to store.  Trying to buy multiple containers of cat litter, organic coffee and bulk kleenex.  What did I smoke to make me think this was a good idea?!?!  Even without the dirty details of what transpired - which, suffice it to say, were not pretty and are highly unflattering to everyone involved.    Let's just say there was some running and some crashing into things and some yelling and some screaming and possibly some flailing and wild gesticulating too.

I got the damn stuff.  I saved 40 fricking bucks.  (I also got a lot of chocolate, which likely cancels out a chunk of that savings).  I got really especially dirty looks from extremely unhelpful store clerks, who also felt the need to let me know that I had too much stuff and I wouldn't be able to carry it all out myself.  For serious.  I let them live. (Though it was touch and go, I'll have you know.)  But only because had I openned my mouth to speak, I would have howled out tears and snot and spit and stuff.  You know, in the ugly crying way, not the I'm-such-a-pretty-girl-sniffly-moviestar-crying way.  I decided to put half the stuff by the doors and come back for it after I'd straight-jacketed the children -erm - I mean after I'd gotten the kids in their carseats.  And I set into the parking lot, dragging cat litter and children with snot (from the cold) and tears (from the cold and the grrrrrrrrr) and rain running down my face, likely looking and sounding slightly demented.

And then, an angel of mercy descended.  She came in the way of an average looking young woman who ran out behind my screaming tots and my-about-to-lose-it-self (um, okay, maybe my losing it self), and offered to help carry out half of our stuff in the rain.  And bless her heart, she did just that.   She even loaded it into the back of the car with me while I strapped the kidlets into their carseats.  For real and for true. 

So, just in case you, like me, are often struck by the utter craptastic-ness of the world around us - remember the Angel of London Drugs.  People really do do unnecessarily kind things sometimes.  (Cause believe you-me, it would have been far easier to walk away thinking: "God help those children, their mother is bat-shit crazy.")

So - random young woman who ran after us in the parking lot, aka the Angel of London Drugs.  I love you.  A whole lot.  You are the cat's pajamas.  I am sending you out ridiculous amounts of goodly, lovely karmic wishes.   You saved the day of a mama who made a bad, bad choice to go on a solo mission to get, of all things, cat litter, coffee and Kleenex, against all good judgement, in order to save 40 bucks.  (You may have also saved the life of her kids.)

Friday, September 10, 2010

unfinished blog-i-ness

I have several unfinished blogs.  I start and really intend to finish them.  Some of them are even good ideas.  But my blogging time happens whilst the kids are napping.  And sometimes the kiddos naps are a bit on the theoretical side.

(I try, from time to time, to blog when the smalls are sleeping.  But since we don't do a whole lot of nighttime sleeping - a la Girlio - most days I'm far too braindead by 8 p.m. to even have a conversation, much less try to write something with even a semblance of point). 

Anyhoo.  Today, I wanted to finish a blog I'd started about Boy-o's school (I swear, someday, I will finish it).  And this is what actually happened:

Noon - read Boy-o stories with Girlio pulling all of the books off of his shelves.

12:15 - settle Boy-o down in bed and head to Girlio's room for bum change and nappage

12:25 - head back to check on Boy-o who is, unlike most days, still commitedly awake.  Lie down with Boy-o and snuggle, in the hopes that this will do the trick.  It sometimes does.

12:30 - Heard from Girlio's room: "Mama! MAMA!"  Scoot out of bed, reminding Boy-o that he at least needs to try to sleep.

12:36 - Still attempting to resettle Girlio, whilst hearing Boy-o consistently call out: "Mama?!  Mama?  What are you doing Mama?  Mama?  Where are you?"  

12:45 - Amazingly, Girlio falls asleep. Amazingly amazingly, I do not utter a single swear directed at my loud wondering son during this episode.  I make it back to Boy-o's room, with him still achattering way, any hope of "me time" dwindling away. 

12:50 - I set Boy-o free, with the bargain of quiet play-doh time at the table, thinking that this will buy me some blogging time.

12:51 -  Get Boy-o set up.  Girlio wakes again.  Cat meowing in her room.

12:52 - Shhhh, shhh, shhh Girlio while resisting strong urge to throw cat down the hallway.

12:58 - Girlio re re-settled.  Back to kitchen table.  Pop open computer.  Head to blog site.  Begin writing this while it's still in my head.   Listen to a constant chatter of things like:  " Mama?  Mama?  See my pancake?  Mama?  I made a pink pancake.  I'm making it really flat, Mama.  Mama, it has three colours now.  It's really squished together. It's really old.  I'm making it really old.  Mama?  Mama!"  Try to murmur encouraging sounds, like "mmmm"  and "uh-huh" and "oh yeah..." while actually ignoring the child.

1:15 - Small voice from beside me getting more insistant.   Guilt getting stronger.  "Mama?  Do you want to help me learn?"  Ha!  I challenge any mama to try and ignore that one.  Finish off blog.  Give up any remaining hope of  "me" time today, and getting caught up on the last bit of an unfinished blog. 

1:16 - Hit publish post.  Pick up a piece of play-doh.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

nominated? moi?

I found out today that some exceptionally kind person nominated my blog for Babble's Top 50 Mommy Blogs.  I am beyond flattered, and really it couldn't have happened on a better (read: worse!) self-esteem day.  So thanks Nicole - if you're out there reading this.  That was really awesome of you.

And if anyone else feels the urge to vote too - or check out any other fabulous mommy bloggers - head on over to  (The best way to find blogs is the do an alphabetical search :)

And wow.  Thanks again Nicole.  Really.

Kidlit #3, plus two dirty little kidlit secrets, plus some great links

1.  Grumpy Bird / Boohoo Bird by Jeremy Tankard.  Love the bird books by Jeremy Tankard.  They are quirky, odd and they crack my kiddos up. 

2.  Pearl Barley and Charley Parsley written and illustrated by Auzzie actor and writer Aaron Blabey.  One of the very loveliest kids books I've read in a long time, about two very different young friends who make each other feel exceptional.  It's an award winner too :)

3.  Arnie the Doughnut by Laurie Keller (I've mentioned her before.  She also wrote Do Unto Otters, which is a wicked cool book about kindness and manners for the tot set).  Who woulda thunk that anthropomorphizing a doughnut could be so darn engaging?  But it is.  Case closed! 

4.  We Share by Robert Munsch.  Dirty little kidlit secret #1: I will come right out and admit that I am not actually a huge (or as Mr. Munsch would say, HUMONGOUS) Munsch fan.  I find him a bit, well, over the top most of the time, and just about all of his stories feature the traditional family to boot.  But this one is actually a funny look at a tricky topic for kiddos, and it throws in some funny commentary about gendered expectations as well.  

5. Heart and the Bottle / The Incredible Book Eating Boy, by Oliver Jeffers.  Oliver Jeffers is, hands down, likely our family's favourite author.  And in his newest book, The Heart and the Bottle, he tackles the topic of the loss of a loved one in a gentle, engaging way.  It's just beautiful (and nice to see Jeffers bringing out a female character too!).  And, as I love books about loving books, The Incredible Book Eatirng Boy is a laugh out loud goofy read about reading.  As per usual, his illustrations are breathtaking.  And my very own incredible book devouring boy gives it a two thumbs up.  If you haven't already introduced yourself to Jeffers work - do!  You won't be sorry. 

6.  Zen Shorts / Zen Ties by Jon J Muth.    These books are rather interesting, following a wise old panda named Stillwater and some kids from his neighbourhood.  The prose is spare (very zen-like, that) and sometimes I find it a bit too spare.  But my Boy-o LOVES them.  There are interesting story-within the stories taken from zen teachings which are pretty neat.  The stories themselves are on the long-ish side, so best for kiddos with long story attention spans.   Beautiful illustrations round out the books nicely.

7.  There's a Big Beautiful World Out There by Nancy Carlson.  A book about big fears written just for little people.  Now maybe it's because I have a terrible problem with anxiety, but I really loved this book's take on living with and taking on your fears.  Lovely illustrations, too, by   I also really love that this book was written on September 12, 2001.

8.  Grump Groan Growl, by bell hooks (and that isn't a typo, she doesn't capitalize her name).  hooks is a feminist philosopher that I've studied quite extensively in university, and she has also branched out into kids books.  Some of her stuff is pretty existential and a bit tricky for kids to take in.  But Grump Groan Growl is a fantastic look at a bad bad mood.  The prose is spare, and the illustrations by Chris Raschka are perfectly grumpy.  We really like it for those bad mood days.

9.  Tin Lizzie, by Alan Drummond.   If you live with a small person who is a vehicle enthusiast, I highly recommend picking up a copy of Tin Lizzie.  The book looks at the history of cars and delves into the modern problems borne of too many cars - air and noise pollution, overcrowding on the roads, etc.  The writing isn't overly exciting, but the ideas behind it definitely are. 

10.   Orange, Pear, Apple, Bear and Monkey and Me, by Emily Gravett.  Two of Girlio's current favourite board books are the above mentioned by Emily Gravett.  Orange, Pear, Apple, Bear is a clever play on words and illustrations, and Monkey and Me is a must for any baby monkey-lovers.  Girlio loves to "oooh-oooh-ooooh" along with the little girl protagonist and her monkey exploits.

11.  In My Den, In My Tree, In My Nest, In My Forest, In My Patch, etc., by Sarah Gillingham.  Again for the baby set, these books are all finger puppet books with really beautiful illustrations.  The prose is very simple, but the finger puppets and illustrations can keep the books relevant to your little toddler-monsters too.

This brings us to dirty little kidlit secret #2.  I really don't like Eric Carle books.  Except The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See?  My kids like 'em.  And everyone else on the planet seems not to mind them.  But I don't love 'em.

And last but not least - in case you're dying for even more dirt on the best of the best of kidlit - I've found somegreat blogs dedicated to that very thing!  And the latter blog has many, many more blogs devoted to great emerging kid lit!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

September Blues

I am freaking out.  *F-R-E-A-K-I-N-G OUT! *

My baby is starting school this week.

I hemmed and hawed and wondered and queried  and worried and fussed about whether he was ready for this giant leap, especially being half a year behind.  But the truth is, it turns out, that I'm the one who's not ready.  I keep getting teary.  Watching back to school commercials on TV.  Buying him size ten shoes at the store.  TEN!  When did he start wearing size ten shoes?  (The people at Superstore now suspect that I am a total lunatic.)

When did he start saying, "Oh thank you Mama," when I do something for him?  When did he start saying such smart, creative things?  When did he get so tall?   When did he start imaginative play?   Making up cool rhyming songs and dances?   When did he get so grown up?  It happened right before my eyes and I feel like I missed it.  My sweet little sensitive dude, going out into the world.... without me.  

Waaaahhhhhhhhh.  Aw man.  I'm a total mess. 

I'm sure he'll be fine.  (He'll be fine, right?)

But am I going to make it through the first week of school?!?

Monday, September 6, 2010

Some random things I love right now

1.  spontaneous kidlet snoogles.

2.  kitchen dance parties with my peeps.

3.  a nice glass of pinot grigio as the kidlets are drifting off.  (and the kidlets drifting off!)

4.  tiny bits of by myself-ness, here and there. 

5.  small stolen moments of adultness here and there, with my wifey and friends.

6.  crisp fall days with crunchy, colourful leaves and sunshine and sweaters.

7.  a nice run on the days where it feels liberating and exhilarating, as opposed to the days where it feels like, well, more work.

8.  my bloggity blog, which feels like a place where I can be me, and is, in large part responsible for me getting me groove back.

9.  the satisfying first 30 seconds after I clean the house.

10.  catching the rare, but ever-so-slowly increasing moments where my babies play together (without anyone being bludgeoned!).

Sunday, September 5, 2010

10 Peeves of the Pet Variety

This particular blog is dedicated to crankiness. ( I do love a good crank.)  Without further adieu.  (Feel free to share your own cranks below :)

1.  Purposeful misspellings.  Like Fude.  There is a restaurant in Winnipeg that goes by such a name, which reportedly has decent food.  I just can't bring myself to go there because they have a reelly stoopid name on their sine.  (See also Girlz, Kidz, and so on and so forth).

2.  Certain mispronunciations really do me in.  Two in particular really drive me round the bend.  It's library, not libary.  It's frustrated, not fustrated.  Fingernails on a chalkboard. 

3.  Tailgaters.  Oh my word.  Nothing makes a mama want get out of her car and throw punches more than a rude, nasty, child-endangering tailgater.  Only people with a personal invite are allowed to get that close to my hindquarters.  Just sayin'. 

4.  People I don't know calling me Mrs.  I will never, not ever, be somebody's Mrs. (As in, Mr + possesive).  Sidenote: even if I had a Mr., I still would not be a Mrs.)   Also Ma'am. 

5.  "You look great!  Have you lost weight?"  Oh my god.  Do not ever ever do this to someone.  What you are really, really saying is - "Man you look better now, but you looked like shit before."  Not nice to hear, no matter how well-intended.  (Also, it makes people feel like you are keeping tabs on their body, which is pretty much kind of creepy).  Abolish this phrase from your repertoire.   Seriously.  Take a fat chick's word on this one.

6.  As with above, when a saleclerk tries to get me to buy something by saying "It's very slimming," which is roughly translated into: "Buy this.  It makes you look far less fat than you actually are."   Wheras if you say: "that looks great on you," or "you look stunning/marvellous/beautiful/whatever" you don't actually negate the possibility of a fat person looking stunning/marvellous/beautiful/etc.  So abolish that one from your repertoire if you use it too, please.

7.  As previously mentioned:  "Which one of you is their mom?"  For previously mentioned reasons.  Just keep it to yourself.  And really, why is it so important for you to know????

8.   Further to above, when people say stupid shit like: "it's too bad your son doesn't have a father to play ball with/roughhouse with/pee standing up with/whatever."  Do I even need to say why this is super-dooper-totally-farking-ignorant?  Well, I will 'cause I'm wordy that way.  1.  Totally sexist.  While I may not to pee standing up (though wouldn't that be fun?!) I'm pretty sure men don't actually have the market cornered on roughhousing, playing sports and the like.  And 2.  It insinuates my family is lacking, and my boy's life is lacking.  Why doesn't anyone ever say: "what lucky kids to have two moms!"

9.  When my kid shushes me when I'm using my grown-up voice on him. Oh. My. Stars. Sends. Me. Round. The. Bend.

10.  Putting laundry away.  I can wash it, dry it, and how I love to fold little bub clothes.  But I can't make myself put it away.  It hangs out in laundry baskets until we wear it straight from the basket, or until I can't stand it anymore, or until we run out of baskets.  Hate it.  Hate it.  Hate it.  Unfortunately, L. hates it too.  This may have to be the first real chore I train the kids to do ;)

Saturday, September 4, 2010


The next time some random stranger feels the need to ask: "So which one of you is their mother?/their real mother?"  I am going to:

a)  ask "Why is it important for you to know this?"

b)  reply "We're homos intent on raising up the next generation in the gay 'lifestyle' to woo away your straight children to our secret gay army."

c) lose my shit.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Me and the big JC

Clearly, I have a potty mouth.  The words: "Mama!  Mama!  You said 'Fack!'" come to mind here. 

And now, Boy-o has picked up on my relationship with the big JC. 

Heard from Boy-o yesterday:

At the grocery store:  "JESUS!  This shopping cart sure is full!"

and then later on in the backyard, when it started to rain... "JESUS!  I better get my umbrella!"

Can't.  Stop.  Laughing. 

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Here comes trouble....

We have reached the stage in Girlio's life where we need to avoid  restaurants for awhile.  This happened with Boy-o, too, around the same stage.  It is a bit of a shock to the old system, being so used to having a completely portable baby, who sits and happily plays with a spoon on your lap, flirting and wooing everyone who happens to pass by. 

And then all of the sudden, your little adorable spoon player has learned to walk and grab and squack at the top of her lungs when her brother gets to drink a milkshake.  She has developed her own opinions, but can't opine in anything other than, well, loudness.  She also throws cutlery, salk and pepper shakers, and her food when displeased in some way.  (Though she certainly does have a good arm.  Hey, a mama's gotta take pride where she can). Oh, and playing in glasses of water with sticky, grubby, foody fingers is also super fun.  But not quite as fun as knocking the water over on someone special.   Take the water glass away?  Yes, you guessed it.  Loud opining again.  And the opinions just keep on acomin'.  Opinions about sitting in the highchair.  Opinions about sitting in Mama's lap (though she does enjoy using said lap as her own personal napkin - but hey, dignity is totally overrated).  Opinions about Mommy's lap.  Opinions, opinions, opinions.  (I think this child might be related to me ;-)

And lest it sound like Girlio is a total grump,  I would be remiss if I didn't mention that running across the floor with her arms in the air and cackling like a drunken baby hooligan, nearly kneecapping every server in sight - is Girlio's recipe for some serious restaurant fun. 

Yes, we've reached the time where, like her brother before her Girlio has become aware of a whole wide world out there for her to fearlessly, loudly and tactile-ly (yes, I believe this is another one of my made-up words) explore.  The world is her oyster.  

In a general sense, I love watching my kids develop their inner stormtrooper.  It's mostly really lovely to witness, you know, except when we're in a restaurant, having become a personal human napkin; diving to catch the cutlery, sugar packs and bits of cheesy noodle that's been catapulted towards the next table over, whose inhabitants are nearly as charmed as me by my daughter's excellent throwing arm; and dodging the looks from other patrons as her rather loud thoughts on the state of the union reach the other side of the restaurant. 

So instead of being a break from cooking, restaurant-ing now has the effect of, well, near total exhaustion.  It seems that until we move a bit further into the 'able to be reasoned with' stage of Girlio's life, it's drive-through or bust.