Sunday, October 31, 2010

A Brief Respite

My wifey has taken the littles to the park.

I am totally and completely alone.

What to do first?! Blare music? Run? Have ridiculously long shower without having to play curtain peek-a-boo and hop out once or twice to deal with nefarious giggles or screams from the kitchen vicinity?

Yes. Yes. and Yes. Don't mind if I do...

It is rather amazing how much you come to appreciate an hour to yourself...

Friday, October 29, 2010

Sounding off on "sorry"

Timmy hurts Mickey.  Timmy's mom, witnesses the 'offense' and forces Timmy to tell Mickey he is sorry.   We've all heard the the parental battle cry of "_________!  You say you're sorry RIGHT NOW!"   Hell, most of us have probably uttered the battle cry on more than one occasion.  It's a default reaction to righting any number of playground/schoolyard/sibling wrongs.  

But does "sorry" make the wrong righted?  Is this even the right thing to do?  I am a bit torn about this. 

IS Timmy sorry?  Or is it Timmy's mom who is sorry?  Does it matter?  And does making kids say they are sorry for their actions give them any greater understanding of the situation as a whole, or the feelings incurred?  Does it make the situation any less likely to occur in the future?  And most importantly, does it actually help instill any greater empathy for others?  Does it help kids have any better understanding of the damage they caused?  

I guess my problem with the business of making kids immediately apologize for their wrong is that their apologies often aren't actually coming from a place of sincerity.  We've all heard and seen kids who mutter "sorrry" under their breath, or who sing-song it left, right and centre while continuing to bash some other tot every two minutes.  Not useful, in my estimation, to changing the behaviour behind the incident or to helping the wronged party feel better.  Not useful, because the kids aren't actually sorry. 

While these incidences do help us, as parents, to feel less guilty about the actions of our children, I wonder if the forced "sorry" is really the way to teach kids about appropriate and innappropriate behaviour.  And if this kind of "sorry" isn't the way to go, what else should we be doing?

I've been experimenting lately, trying to veer away from the automatic "say you're sorry" route, and here's what I've been trying to add into my repertoire. 

1.  Address the incident as immediately as possible, saying something like: "So and so really doesn't like to be hit (pinched, have their toy grabbed, whatever).  It hurts their body and their feelings!"  and then turning to address that other child and asking:  "Are you alright?" and tending to their needs to model nurturing, caring and empathy.

2.  Then leading my child away for further conversation about the behaviour.  Asking if they understand and/or want to try to do something to make so and so feel better.  If yes, brainstorming what that could be.  If no, letting them have some distance from the situation, but making sure they know that they can always come back and talk to their friend about what happened when they are ready.

3.  Using the incident as an example when things happen in reverse.  (Ie. if someone hits kiddo and s/he doesn't like it, taking time to validate their feelings, but also trying to remind them of how _______ must have felt the other day when you clobbered them).

4.  Making sure model the use of sincere apologies to them when warranted.  Ie.  "Hey kiddo - I'm really sorry I lost my shit on you yesterday, I was really tired and feeling pretty frustrated when you wouldn't listen, but I know it doesn't feel good to be yelled at, and I should have taken some deep breathes and figured out a different way to talk to you about what was going on."  Okay - maybe without the "lost my shit" part, but you get the picture.    Hopefully, both the sincerity in apology, as well as talking about different ways I could have done things will eventually filter in.

I know that my opinion probably won't be the most popular among the parenting set, but I have really come to feel that the words "I'm sorry" are only really helpful when we actually, you know, are sorry for what we've done.  I feel like teaching kids to parrot "sorrrrrrry" every time they do something wrong, we give them a 'get out of jail free card,' without really instilling a real sense of what it means to actually be sorry

I'm hoping that using a more long-run approach will do just that.  But I guess only time will tell.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Fattie Kiss-In

Looks like I won't have to seek out fat-phobic Marie Claire writer Maura Kelly and make-out with my wifey in front of her anymore.  Why, you might ask?  Because a whole bunch of hot, bothered and pissed-off folks are gonna take care of it for me.   If you live in the NYC area, you might want to check out the deets below:

Organizers say:

Please spread the word!! BIG FAT KISS-IN, NYC! Tomorrow (Friday, October 29th) at 6pm in front of Hearst Tower – 300 W. 57th St. near 8th Ave., Manhattan, NY. Bring signs, your friends, lovers and family. Chaste kisses, cheek kisses, french kisses, any kisses! Come and show Marie Claire that it’s not OK to shame anyone out of their sexuality.

I say: now there's some fun activism :)

If the early bird gets the worm...

then my kids get a lot, a lot, a lot of worms. 

I wish they'd leave some for all the other little birds.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Why Marie Claire Should Kiss My Fat Heiny

I'll mostly let the ignorance speak for itself, except to say that if I should ever have occasion to run into this woman, I will be sorely tempted to strip off all my clothes and totally mack out on my wife, so that she can be fully grossed out by my fat ass getting some action.

That this "article" made it past an editor (even in one that sports anorexic models on every second page) is beyond my comprehension.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

one of those days

Ever have one of those days where everything seems so difficult and so trying, that you want to repeatedly stab yourself in the eye with a fork? 

Ever have one of those days where you think stabbing yourself in the eye with a fork sounded like an improvement over your current activities? 

Ever have one of those days where if one person tells you how much they love being a parent or how perfect their kid is or how the world just needs more positivity or something of the like, that you will want to repeatedly stab them in the eye with a fork? 

Um, I haven't of course.  (Being the total paragon of positivity that I am...)

I was just wondering if you did.

gender busting and kiddos

Some very lovely peeps of mine (thanks Rachel and Trish) pointed me in the direction of a couple of really amazing resources for kiddos around gender non-conformity, and then I found a couple on my own.  If you've been sticking with the blog for a bit, you know that working against the grain of gender stereotyping and gendered social rules is an important issue to our family.   Boy-o, though in many ways stereotypical "boy", has also been known to wear a princess dress and rock the ponytails now and again.  And it's my hope that Girlio will follow her own path and find her own ways to circumnavigate all the heteronormative, gender normative messaging that's so pervasive in our culture.   (Because the strict rules we carry around gender limits, and sometimes hurts,both boys and girls.)   The reason I was so excited to find these resources,  is that there is a veritable dearth of information around rewriting and reworking the concept of  gender, and gender roles, particularly for the small set. 

Anyhoo -without further blabbing on my part - on to the resources!

The first is a series of three colouring books (and though as a general rule, I am anti-colouring book because they are more likely to stifle creativity than encourage it, for these I'll be making a big ole exception) created by Jacinta Bunnell, and illustrated by a host of artists.

The first book is called Sometimes the Spoon Runs Away With Another Spoon. This colouring book's description explains: "We have the power to change fairy tales and nursery rhymes so that these stories are more realistic. . . . Sometimes the Spoon...aids the work of dismantling the Princess Industrial Complex by moving us forward with more honest representations of our children and ourselves. Color to your heart's content. Laugh along with the characters. Write your own fairy tales. Share your own truths."

Um, can we say "you had me at hello?!"

#2  in the series of colouring books is Girls are Not Chicks, which is described as "twenty-seven pages of feminist fun! . . . Color the Rapunzel for a new society. She now has power tools, a roll of duct tape, a Tina Turner album, and a bus pass!  Paint outside the lines with Miss Muffet as she tells that spider off and considers a career as an arachnologist!  Girls are not chicks. Girls are thinkers, creators, fighters, healers and superheroes."

Yup - Still loving it.

And then the latest in the series is Girls will Be Boys Will be Girls  which is touted as "a fun consciousness-raising tool for adults & children who want to unlearn a lifetime of sexist and heterosexist education."

Information about the author and illustrators, as well as ordering information at: or

I can tell ya that Santa might be getting his queer on and dropping a few of these goodies off at our house this year.

Then, while perusing one of the sites that the aforementioned colouring books are available at, I stumbled across a really cool sounding children's book. 10,000 Dresses, written by Marcus Ewert and illustrated by Rex Ray, explores the journey of a young boy who yearns to create and wear beautiful dresses. 

10,000 DressesThe publishers description says: "Every night, Bailey dreams about magical dresses: dresses made of crystals and rainbows, dresses made of flowers, dresses made of windows. . . . Unfortunately, when Bailey's awake, no one wants to hear about these beautiful dreams. Quite the contrary. "You're a BOY!" Mother and Father tell Bailey. "You shouldn't be thinking about dresses at all." Then Bailey meets Laurel, an older girl who is touched and inspired by Bailey's imagination and courage. In friendship, the two of them begin making dresses together. And Bailey's dreams come true!"

The book is available here:

My Princess Boy BookMy Princess Boy is a book written by the mom of Cheryl Kilodavis about her own, and her family's experience with son Dyson's gender nonconformity.  Please watch the clip below about their family, Dyson's amazing school, and their experiences.  It is really so so lovely to see such openness to letting this little dudes negotiate his self-expression in a world that writes boys pretty darned narrowly (though I think I would've left my four year old at home, but that's just me).

And check out the book and the website:

Monday, October 25, 2010

Pretty Slam

Katie Makkai - Pretty

Other than the fact that pretty has six letters, not five - this piece encapsulates quite nicely why I cringe every time someone calls my girl "pretty."

Sunday, October 24, 2010

A blog repost, in honour of SOPWAM: "Just a Housewife"

(This is a repost of my third blog post ever.  I thought the repost fitting, given my last post regarding SOPWAM.)

I am a feminist. I believe firmly that a woman's "place" is wherever she wants and needs to be. (I wish very much that we lived in a world where that were possible for all women). I also believe that happy (reasonably) well-adjusted parents make happy, (reasonably) well adjusted children, regardless of whether those parents work outside or inside of the home. So why is it that I find it so difficult to answer the question: "What do you do for a living?" I find it equally distressing to respond to the ever present: "So, when are you going back to work?"

I hate the word housewife. I hate the word homemaker. These words are so loaded with patriarchal bullshit that I can barely utter them in any seriousness, much less use them to describe myself or what I do. Yet that's the check-box that applies to me. And because of it, I get dismissed by the folks at the bank, the car dealership, and occassionally, other parents. It feels like a pretty limiting check box. But what else do I call myself? How can I encapsulate what I do, day in and day out, without sounding either overly-simplistic or self-denigrating?

I have a master's degree in Gender Studies. I'm a complete and total nerd and I love researching and writing. In fact, it's one of the only things I've ever been really good at. I always thought I'd be an academic, and was planning for a return to school for my PhD immediately following the birth of my son. But things didn't quite turn out that way.

Being at home with my son was a real learning experience! Some days were amazing and I felt thrilled and gratified at being able to witness and guide the growth of this little being. Some days were horrendously frustrating and tiring and what I couldn't wait to get "back out in the world." All of the days (and often nights) were long and challenging. But when that first birthday rolled around, and it came time to look at putting Boy-o in daycare, I simply couldn't do it. The very thought of it made me want to cry and throw up at the same time. I just wasn't ready to let go of my role as stay-at-home mama. When Boy-o was just shy of two, I started to feel a bit suffocated, and decided to look around for some part-time work outside of the home. And then, I got pregnant with Girlio. So - I've been out of the paid workforce for almost four years now. But not out of the workforce.

To say I keep my household running would be an understatement. I make it possible for my partner to focus on her paid work because of all of the behind the scenes work I do. Cooking, cleaning, child care and sock washing. (It is invisible and undervalued work, but work nonetheless).

I don't deal in the economies of paychecks (at least not mine) - I deal in the economies of scraped knees, band-aids, juice boxes and swing pushes. I struggle each day to instill creativity, love of life, respect for the earth and for humanity in my children. I am working my ass off to raise children who will not be sexist or racist or homophobic, who will value difference and do their part to make this world a better place. I do this while struggling not to let my identity become subsumed in the world of my home and children. Some days are better than others. There are many days when my cats rubbing against me for attention at the end of the day makes my skin crawl, because if one more thing "needs me", I will die/cry/spontaneously combust. And seldom a day goes by when I don't find myself wishing I had more contact with a world outside of child raising, more money, more time on my own, more positive feedback to nurture my sense of self and importance in the world.

But this I know for sure. Child raising is labour. A labour of love, most certainly, but labour nonetheless. Hard labour. The hours are crap, the pay is worse, the vacations non-existent, and the acnowledgement from the world around us pretty non-existent.

What do I do for a living?

I'm a teacher and a doctor and a therapist and a laundrymat. I'm a playgroup leader and a chef and a nutritionist. I'm a personal shopper and a cleaning lady and a librarian. I'm a taxi driver and a soccer coach and the occasional jailer. I'm the CEO of this operation, and I'm pretty good at it. I'm up to my eyeballs in laughter and tears and dirty diapers and snotty kleenex. I'm on call 24/7. Fit that in a check-box.

When I am going back to work?

Fuck off.

Friday, October 22, 2010

listening to the radio

So after dropping off Boy-o at school yesterday, I was driving around listening to CBC waiting out Girlio's carnap so that we could meet up with a friend.  And I was tremendously enjoying the conversation between a feminist ethicist and some other person who annoyed me about the continued trend towards older motherhood in our generation.  The 'some other person who annoyed me', we'll call her SOPWAM for short, was raising some really quite alarmist perspectives about the mean age of new mothers being 30.7 years of age, such as the next generation of children will be increasingly orphaned, and saddled with their old ailling parents far too soon, etc. etc.  She was pretty negative about 'older mothering' and basically insinuating that older mothers shouldn't have access to reproductive technologies just because they missed the boat, so to speak.  And the other speaker, an ethicist, kept raising these perfectly wonderful points like the fact that women of our generation are having kids later and later because they feel like they have to choose between raising children and having a career, because women/mothers are discriminated against in the workforce, because there isn't meaningful support for parenting in a way that lets women pursure parenting and a career (easily accesible,affordable daycare, etc. etc.)  At any rate - this bit is besides the point...

It was such a great listen - I was feeling really engaged and into the discussion, talking back to the woman who was clearly wrong (erm, I mean, with whom I was disagreeing), and nodding in agreement when her sparring partner hit a particularly salient point. It felt great to be envigorated and engaged (albeit by myself!) in this great intellectual argument. 

And then, SOPWAM said something along the lines of:  "I wasn't a stay at home mom, I'm one of those career women who had dreams and goals for myself...." the sentence went on, but it was totally lost on me.

I could literally feel my self-esteem sinking. 

(It likely fell somewhere between the break and gas pedals, on the floor of the car in which I was driving my napping daughter, en route from dropping off my son, in the throes of my little, little, little, dreamless, goal-less life).

It might have even made a little plinking sound as it went.

I felt myself completely tune out.

I felt myself totally dismissed.

Newsflash lady:  everyone has dreams and goals for themselves... even l'il ole 'houeswives.'

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Our whole family rocked the purple yesterday.

I thought about not saying anything about wearing purple, and the meaning behind it, to the kiddos.  It's a big, sort of scary concept - a lot for smalls to take in.  And though they'll find out about this big 'ole world soon enough, you don't want to, you know, rush it along.   But my child is the child of queers.  He will undoubtably know sooner than many kids that the world doesn't always (or often) appreciate difference.  And while I don't believe it's right to fear-monger with kids (aka give too much information too soon), I also don't believe cocooning them and giving them the (false) impression that the world is always a safe, wonderful and just place for everyone is the way either.  And it is incredibly important to us to raise him and Girlio in a way that really emphasizes the need to respect and value diversity. 

So- how to talk about "Wear Purple Day" in a way that's meaningful and honest without giving out too much information for a not-quite-four-year-old?

I eventually decided on something along the lines of:  "We are wearing purple today to remember some kids who people were really mean to because they were different. These kids really, really got their feelings hurt when people were mean to them.  Wearing purple today helps us to remember them and to remember that being different is what makes us all special.  And that it's never okay to be mean to someone just because they are different from us." 

And I left it at that, and he tootled on to the very important business of playing before it was time to leave for school.  I wondered how much of what I'd said he'd taken in, and what his mind would do with what I'd told him.  I didn't have to wait too long to find out, though. 

Upon arriving at school, Boy-o threw off his jacket and backpack in his cubby and launched himself at his teacher (whom he adores) so quickly and with such excitement that he was practically tripping over his words (and his feet!): "Today is PURPLE day!  I'm purple today because everyone is different and we shouldn't be mean!" he shouted happily.

Bless his gigantic not-quite-four-year-old heart.     

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

FCKH8 indeed :)

In honour of the day people have chosen to remember the youth (queer or assumed to be) who have taken their lives due to homophobic bullying and hate, I'm choosing (while also sporting a fine shade of purple) to post the very in-your-face video by the crew at fckh8.  It's funny as hell and straight to the point and just as pissed off as I am. 

I will just include the caveat that if you choose to watch this link at work, you may want to think about turning the volume down.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Getting better and wearing purple

In the horrifying wake of several queer youth suicides across the United States, people are being inundated with questions about "how this could happen?" (which I won't even dignify by addressing).  We are also being directed, via Facebook and other forms of social media, to the various ways people are responding to the crisis, including Dan Savage's It Gets Better campaign (previously also linked in my blog), and advertising blitz for The Trevor Project (crisis intervention and support for queer youth) and the Wear Purple Day of Remembrance/Mourning  (Sept. 20th).  

Having a greater number of folks made aware of projects like the It Gets Better Campaign, The Trevor Project and the Wear Purple Day of Remembrance is part of the upside of the Facebook share button.     Raising awareness and sharing information is certainly a necessary aspect of making change in the world.  But there is a down-side to that share button, and other forms of FB or social media 'activism' too.   We can hit that "share" button or join a FB group and think: " Now I'm doing something about the problem."  And most of us stop right there.  It's a lazy activism, because it doesn't really require anything of us.  (And don't get me wrong, I do it all of the time, so I'm not pointing fingers here).

It makes us feel better, without really taking on the fundamental issues at hand.  (That being the everpresence of, and over-all social acceptance of, homophobia and heterosexism).  In America gays cannot marry.  They cannot openly serve in their military.  Homophobia is thus legally sanctioned by the state.  And lest we think we are much better in Canada, our own Prime Minister (though it pains me to call that jackass our PM) ran on a platform that included denying my family's right to legally exist.   (He doesn't much like the gays, Mr Harper doesn't - and Canadians by and large don't seem to take much issue with this).  And Albertans live in a province run by (and I know this will come as a shock to ya'll), rednecks, who passed a bill relatively uncontested that forces public school teachers to notify parents if sexuality (re: sex education), sexual orientation (read: queers) or religion (read: non Judeo-Christianity) is to pop up in class discussion.  Because here in Alberta, we believe it's a parent's right to keep their child nice and ignorant. 

Wearing purple or sharing a good link or piece of information is a decent start.  But it's not nearly enough.  Not by a longshot.  Tell people WHY you are wearing purple.  Tell them til you're blue (or purple?) in the face.  We have to start speaking up.  In big ways and small.  Speak up to our governments and politicians.   Write letters.   Make phone calls.  Vote.  (VOTE!!!!!).  Speak up to comments that are both directly and indirectly homophobic: like the random stranger at the wedding who makes a huge deal out of another straight guy wearing Lulu Lemon workout clothes (aas he repeats ad nauseum, "Hee hee - I wouldn't tell that to too many people"...), or the family friend that always says: "That's so gay," or the coworker who drops the word "fag" every now and again.   Think about where you spend your money.  What values do those companies have?  What values is your money supporting?  For instance, the owner of Best Buy/Target just made a huge campaign donation to an anti-gay candidate in the US.  They lost my business, and I told them why.  I don't shop at Walmart because, among other reasons, the owning family is vehemently anti-gay (and anti-choice) and like to spend their gazillions supporting anti-gay (and anti-choice) organizations.  And as mentioned yesterday, they are choosing to sell an anti-gay children's book.  

Kids are being bullied and choosing to take themselves out because of the bigger picture.  Because we've created a world in which such behaviour is, in fact, the logical conclusion.  

If we want our kids to stop bullying, to stop hating and to stop fearing difference, we have to stop tacitly supporting that behaviour.  We have to show them how

We have to actually mean it.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Reason 5481 I flip the Birdy to Walmart

It would appear that in addition to donating a tonne of money to anti-gay and anti-choice organizations, paying male employees more than female employees, and continually squashing their worker's right to unionize, Walmart is coming out of the closet with their gay hating ways.  They are selling a children's book (yes- a children's book) by Janice Barrett Graham, wife of Standard of Liberty president Stephen Graham***, called Chased By An Elephant; The Gospel Truth About Today's Stampeding Sexuality.  The book was intended by the author to, "help shed the clear light of truth on today's dark and tangled ideas about male and female, proper gender roles, the law of chastity, and the God-given sexual appetite."

Angry.  Angry.  Angry.  Angry.  Really, really, really  angry.   Have I mentioned that I am really angry?

***The following is taken from the SoL website:  Standard of Liberty is an LDS-oriented educational foundation which exists to raise awareness of radical sexual movements overrunning America's Christian-moral-cultural life and to inspire the public will, families, and individuals to counteract these trends.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Addendum to the addendum to the I Hate Air Canada Rant

Apparently, Jazz flights are for old, crusty flight attendants who are meant to go to flight attendant purgatory before they are put out to early-retirement-package-pasture.  She got into a fight with some business dude in the first five seconds we were on the tarmac (over blackberry use - she was right, he was wrong, but she flew right off the handle in 0-60 seconds and yelled at him that he was committing a "federal offence.")  

And then, when I was again holding my child "wrong," she informed me that "I don't know if you know this, but the pilot can't land the plane when you are holding your child like that..." (because apparently pilots, like moms, have eyes in the back of their heads.  Unlike moms, pilots can also see backwards through doors and the bodies of crusty flight attendants). And, because this trip really needed a piece de resistance, she added: "This isn't a helicopter, you know!"  I refrained from saying: "It isn't?  Oh shit! I totally got on the wrong flight!"  

But just barely.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Addendum to the I Hate Air Canada Rant

So, I'm checking in on-line for the return flight for Boy-o, Girlio and I.  And it's all well and good until I note the seats they've given us all. 

Girlio and I - 11D
Boy-o - 12 F

Pardon Me?  No really.  Seriously? 

Mr. Boy-o, aged 3 and 3/4 gets seated away from his parent, who is clearly stated as his parent upon ticket purchase and in all pertinent information?   I get that he has a different last name than me, but is it really company policy to seat 3 year olds on their own?

I managed to change our seats (to the last available seats together, in the very front row).  But still.

What the Hell?

a crier. a must watch. but a crier.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

travelling tales

I wish, that 5 and a half years ago, I had been a whole lot more understanding of my brother and his partner.  They had travelled to Canada from Australia with their 18 month old twins.  And they seemed so stressed out about everything.  We will never be like that when we have kids, we thought.  We will be so chill and relaxed.   

Ha.  Aha. Ha.  Ahahahahaha.  Ha.  How stupid we were.  Stupid.  Quite stupid were we.  Had we have known then what we know now about the incredible stressfulness of travelling with kids, we might have managed to be somewhat helpful.   

It is hard.  Like, bugger hard.  Even to places full of people we know and love, and who know and love us and the kiddos. The kids are out of wack, because they are not in their familiar surroundings.  And because you aren't in your own home, you don't necessarily have control over things you would normally have control over.  Mealtimes and groceries and house temperature and routine and naps and such.  Some of this you try to adapt to and some of this people try to make allowances around.

But sometimes there are things adaptation and allowances don't happen for.  And it sucks to have to talk to people about these things, as you worry about your kids, because you feel, you know, really farking annoying.  And so not chill and relaxed.   Because sometimes you have to ask people to reduce their comfort level in their own space, or to change the way they do things, for the sake of your tots.  For instance, I had to ask someone not to recline their car seat up against the baby car seat.... in their own car.  This is an unavoidable by-product of travelling with kids.  It's not anyone's fault - it's just the way it is.  You feel like you are always weighing imposing your schedule and way of doing things on someone else's.   Like - do I ask to turn up the thermostat, or do I bundle the kids up and cross my fingers and hope they don't catch a cold?   Or, puzzling over how to deal with the fact that the sheer size of dogs in the house we are staying in makes the baby cry?  Who knew?  She normally loves dogs.  (Apparently just not pony-dogs).  Not forseeable and not the pony-dog's fault, that's for sure!  These parts of the travel adventure aren't really fun for anyone. 

And then there are the logistics of travelling with children - one third of a suitcase for me and the other two-thirds, plus a whole other suitcase, plus two carseats and as many carry-on as they let us take, for the tots (plus Brown Bear and Mr. Snuggle-Puppy, naturally).  I become part pack-mule, part mama-airport-sherpa: schlepping toys and games and crayons a-jumble; navigating strange corners and security checks and crowds; preventing accidental gum theft and premature flushing from errant airport toilets (whose flushes we are afraid of).  I do all of this while attempting to keep the kids' combined enthusiasm and cooped-upedness in check, in the hopes that we will not fall under the ire of random flight-attendants and other passengers and airport travellers.  My kids are pretty experienced fliers, and yet still, sometimes we don't luck out in the child-friendly department, as my Air Canada rant will attest to.

Of course there are plenty of wonderful bits about travelling too.  Getting to see loved ones we wish we saw much much much more, play and delight in the kids.  Getting to see my Boy-o practically leap off of the airport escalator and fling himself with wild, devoted abandon into my moms' arms, screaming  "NANNIENANNIENANNIE!" and making everyone in hearing radius at the airport smile from ear to ear.  Having time to hang out with my moms, my sister, my reli's, and having the kids get to spend time with them too.  Showing the kids where my family and I come from, where my history is, where I went to school and all of those tiny bits and pieces of me:  all of these things are priceless.  Walking through Wolseley, eating Tall Grass bread (I'm sorry - but there is no better bread, not anywhere in the whole world and universe), and old haunts like The Falafel Place (mmmmm breakfast) and Baked Expectations (mmmm Caramel Pecan Cheesecake).  Having Thanksgiving for sixteen at Home St (my old house), which Boy-o called a party and at which he and Girlio had the most amazing time.   

Those lovely and wonderful bits balance out the tough parts of travelling with smalls.   But can't quite erase them.  Because as anyone who's ever travelled with tots will tell ya - no matter how well travelled the tot, that shit is challenging. 

(So M & T - if you're out there reading this:  I'm so not chill and relaxed.  Because no matter how nice the destination and travel and visit is, munchkin travel just ain't chill and relaxing.)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


Travelling.  No time.  Both children nap refusing.  Derelict blogger loses any chance of me-time.  But as my baby is screaming what surely must be baby profanities at me from her crib in the next room, and Boy-o is going pee for the fourth time in 10 minutes just to avoid falling asleep (where is he getting all that pee from?!) - I just had to try and remove myself from the drama for a minute.  So this is my attempt at saying something.  

So, you know, um, hi.

Guess me and the kiddies are going to play instead of nap today. 

(God help me at the witching hour.)

Monday, October 11, 2010

why we will never fly Air Canada again

She came by the give us the schpiel, and I expected it to be just like any other 'flying with infant' schpiel.   But instead, Ms. Highfalutin-flight-attendant proceeded to lecture us on how she believed that Transport Canada regulations for flying with children were wrong, and that we should all be paying for an extra plane seat for our infants and transporting them in their carseats because it 'really isn't safe any other way'.  She knows that it's hard to lug around carseats in an airport, but it really is the safest thing for them.  And while we're at it, we ought to consider bringing along Boy-o's carseat too.  The mind boggles at the entourage it would take to carry the children, carry-on arsenal AND two carseats through the airport witout requiring a trip to the looney bin.  The mind also boggles at what, exactly, the lady would like us to do about her safety opinions two seconds before take-off, with our car seats checked, and an overbooked flight.  Nevertheless - apparently we are bad, lazy, cheap parents. 

Then, just before take-off, she came over the intercom to inform my partner that she was holding Girlio incorrectly.  Over the intercom.  The intercom.  For starters, Girlio was facing backwards, standing on L's lap, with her head buried in L's neck, and her back, head and neck supported by L's arms.   We've taken off and landed like every other time we've flown.  But apparently she needed to be sitting down, facing backwards with her back and neck supported. (And if anyone can successfully undertake this feat with my child, I'll give 'em a million bucks). At any rate, now we are also negligent, slightly stupid parents (which everyone on the plane both wanted and needed to know).

Then, when we were getting off of the plane (having somehow - cheap, neglectful, morons that we are -successfully managed not to let our child get irreparably maimed or broken during take-off, in-flight turbulence, and landing), and we thought we were safely out of the clutches of flight-attendant-zilla, she takes aim at me this time.  As Girlio and I are departing the plane, she takes me aside and tells me: "See - children that are as active as her really need to travel in a carseat."  (And I should clarify that "active" in this context meant that she travelled from L's lap to mine, not up and down the aisle.)  I say  nothing and don't even try to act polite at this point.  But she continues bravely (or stupidly) on: "But she must be just about two, right?"  When I let her know that she's actually only 15 months, as I'm beginning to walk away, she calls after me (in a somewhat accusing voice) "Wow.  BIG girl."    (Not that it matters, but she's actually ridiculously average.  50th percentile in height and weight.  Just sayin').

So, just to recap, we are bad, lazy, cheap, negligent, slightly stupid parents, who have probably lied about our gigantic baby's age.

So Air Canada - your planes aren't nearly as nice as your competitor, your tickets are more expensive, you overbook your flights and your horrible flight attendant almost got thrown onto the tarmac yesterday.  And you can take my word for it when I say that no one on our flight woulda blamed me

You won't be benefitting from the proceeds of our credit card anymore.

Sunday, October 10, 2010


So so much to be thankful for this year:

In no particular order -

  • waking up to the sounds of giggly children and birds, not warplanes
  • my lovely wifey, who sticks by me through it all 
  • my son's huge heart and endless capacity for empathy
  • my daughter's fiest and toothy grin
  • getting a bit more sleep these days
  • getting time to chat and cook in the kitchen with my mama
  • beautiful friends scattered clear across this country
  • loving and supportive family
  • living in one of the most beautiful countries in the world
  • having time here and there to write
  • having folks who take the time here and there to read what I write
  • good books, though I may not get as much time to read as I would like, I know they're there
  • sharing a glass of wine with my wifey and talking about our days
  • fall leaves
  • new beginnings
  • my family's continued run of good health
  • an unseasonably warm Fall (which makes up for our unseasonably cold summer.... brrr).
  • the company of our very feline cats, who too often get neglected as we chase after our other littles
  • being able to stay at home with my rug rats for as long as I want/need to
  • having a life filled to the brim with love

Friday, October 8, 2010

these are the people in our neighbourhood....

When we had to move to Edmonton from Halifax a few years ago for my partner's work, we had a jetlagged whirlwind house-hunting weekend in which we saw a whopping 26 houses in a mere two days.  We weren't thinking about planning the kind of neighourhood that would be the right fit, we were just focussed on looking for the right house that us, our 18 month old son, and any future tots we might have could grow in.   We found the house, put in an offer, wrangled, bought the house, and headed back to Halifax on the red eye to commence packing and organizing.   We were more than a bit nervous about moving to the more conservative West.  We had no one who could tell us which neighbourhoods were more like 'gaybourhoods', and really hoped we'd managed to pick a neighbourhood that wouldn't be too weirded out by the gay folks moving in.

A month later, my wife already at work in her new job, my son and I pulled up outside our new home to wait for the moving vans.   We were almost immediately greeted by an older lady from the house across the street.  She didn't speak much English, but I did manage to make out the "where's your husband?"  Flinching inwardly at what I guessed was going to be an awkward exchange, I decided honesty was the only policy, and corrected her.  "My wife."  She looked blankly at me and repeated her question.  Once again, I corrected, "No, no husband... my wife!"  She looked confused for a few seconds longer before repeating: "You . . . You.... wife?"  I  nodded.  She promptly blanched and semi-surreptitiously made the sign of the cross.   I tried very hard not to snort out loud.  This was clearly not the 'gaybourhood.'  It's probably safe to say it wasn't the best ever first meeting between neighbours.

Icebreaker #1:  It was our 18 month old son that was mainly responsibly for winning them over.  I am a stay-at-home mom, and we spent much of the summer playing outside on the front lawn, and meandering through the neighbourhood trying to get our bearings.  He was always an infectiously happy little guy, and one morning, when we'd been playing on the front lawn, our across-the-street neighbour and her husband came over to our side of the street to see us.  And he thoroughly and completely charmed them with his 18 month old self. 

Icebreaker #2: It didn't hurt that we became pregnant with our second child shortly after moving to Edmonton.  Eventually, our neighbours realized that we're like the lesbian Cleavers.  Ward goes off to work everyday in her job as a prosecutor, and June stays home, with a bun in the oven (The Beave), taking care of our toddler (Wally), and doing every day June Cleaver-esque stuff like grocery shopping and cooking dinner and such.

Icebreaker # 3:  My wife became seen as the neighbourhood protector.  She is a prosecutor.  She also happened to call the police when some further away neighbours had a domestic dispute that spilled onto the front lawn.  And then when we all had some trouble with our drunk and departing neighbour, who was asking the old folks around the neighbourhood for money (accompanied by various sob stories), they came to L. for advice.  Neighbourhood protectors. 

And now - we get invited over for espresso, they let our son pick apples from their trees (which I promptly make into apple loaf and deliver one to them).  And when our daughter was born, they stopped by with a present for her.  Though - they were somewhat alarmed when they learned she would not be properly baptized (or baptized in any way, shape or form).  We pretended not to notice when they furtively made the sign of the cross over her tiny sleeping body. 

There's a language barrier, which probably in our case sort of helps our relationship remain in the safe zone.  Much of our "chatting" consists of nodding and pantomime.   I listen when they want to chat about health problems or things going on in the neighbourhood (of which they are the eyes and ears!)

Our neighbours have been in that same house across the street for over 30 years, watched their own kids grow and move out.  They care about this neighbourhood.  They care about us.  When Boy-o set off the firealarm which resulted in FIVE firetrucks descending on our home (as I have previously blogged about), they were the first ones to arrive on our doorstep to make sure we were okay.

We'll probably never be each other's ideal neighbours - but deep down, we're all kind of sweet on each other.  Just goes to show you that from time to time, allies can come from the unlikeliest of places.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

swimming lesson rebels

While Boy-o is at school on Tuesday's, Girlio and I have started her first swimming lessons.  Now - I'm pretty relaxed about the business of swimming "lessons" for the 15 month old set.  For me, it's mostly about getting your child introduced to the water, playing around, trying out a float or two, playing with some water toys.  For some folks, however, the business of toddler swimming lessons is quite serious.  They undertake it with such zeal it appears as though they might expect their child to be the next Michael Phelps within the year (pot dabbling notwithstanding, natch).  Simmer down folks.  They're toddlers.  Pretty sure they can't yet be recruited for the Olympic team.

And our swimming instructor this go round seems quite intent on the business of dunking children.  A lot.  Yes, yes, I know that they say that the more you get your babies used to dunking the less the more they get used to it, etc. blah  etc. blah.  And I can get behind a dunk or two.  But every song, every game we underake in this half hour swim lesson results in one or multiple dunks or water face plants of some variety.  And my Girlio, she does not like the dunks.  Not one bit.  So each lesson, we try it once and if she doesn't want to do anymore, we don't do anymore.  It's simple enough for me.  She has years and years of swimming lessons ahead of her to put her face in the water.  I'm not going to make her cry her first go round because some 20 year old swim instructor thinks I should.   Because I think it's much more important for her to learn to enjoy and feel comfortable in the water than to feel anxious that I'm going to stick her head under water every five seconds.  And the instructor doesn't seem to really appreciate my perspective. 

Every class, she creates a water fountain with a hose that the kids are supposed to swim through, and if the parents don't put them 'through' the stream of water, she'll raise it so the kids (and parents) get splashed.  It's really annoying on a couple of levels.  1) I should get to say when and whether my kid gets her face splashed or dunked, and 2) I really don't appreciate getting my face splashed, my hair soaked, and my glasses all mucky (particularly by someone other than my child!).  This is my kids' swimming lesson, not mine.  So - after a few times through the hose, we 'accidentally' splashed her back.  Ooooooooops.  Sorry.  Were you trying to stay dry?

And then, I guess because there are a few parent dunk resisters, the instructor went through kid by kid, trying to lift them and dunk them back to their parents.  Well, my Girlio, after watching her do this to a couple of kids, got lifted up for her turn, stuck her face in the face of that instructor and said her loudest, boomiest, sternest baby voice: "NOOOOOO!"   Every eye in the pool turned to look as the instructor handed her right back to me.

That's my girl

Monday, October 4, 2010

Sarah Silverman on gay suicide...

I am sick, and having an epic-ly crappy day.  Too crappy to even write about, at least while in the thick of it.  So - today I'm going to let the lovely Sarah Silverman do the talking for me... 

Here's her message to America, on the topic of the recent explosion of gay suicides across America...