Friday, December 20, 2013

The Things I've Said...

Things I've said I'd never do that somehow seem to have happened....

- Have kids
- Get a tattoo
- Get married before I'm 23
- Get divorced
- Breastfeed (maybe not totally true, I just didn't think I could so I wasn't getting my hopes up)
- Co-sleep with my kids
- Take my kids to a restaurant before they're 4
- Live at my parents past college
- Have my own business
- Homeschool

Friday, December 6, 2013


Thinking about the whole Toby drama thing... and a thought came to me... A comparison of actions...An analogy....albeit maybe an extreme one...but one that hits it for me..

Why do I want Toby to go to school? Because I just...want him to. I want him to enjoy it like I did. I want him to make friends. I don't want to let people down by taking him out. I want him to be 'normal'.

Why doesn't he want to go? Because, he's told me over and over, there are too many kids. It's too noisy. And so it's not fun.

I tell him/myself that he'll grow out of it. He'll come around. He'll get used to it. It's fun when you're there, you've just forgotten.

But now... What if, instead of talking about school, we were talking about him being gay.

Would I still say those things to him? No. If his future-self confided in me and I said "I hear you, but you're wrong, don't worry you'll come around." what kind of a person would that make me?

School shapes your whole life, and right now, to him, school means stress and anxiety and fighting with mom. Do I want that?
Yes, he's 5. Yes he might change his mind about school. But is it worth ignoring his feelings right now?

Food for thought.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

School.... again...

So Toby's 5 now. He kept saying he'd go when he's 5. I knew he wouldn't. He's not.
He goes sometimes, for half a day, when he feels like it.
The rest of the time we spend fighting about it.

This is maybe more me ranting than a cohesive blog, so sorry about that. Just after today... I feel like giving up.

Trying to convince him that school will be fun and to think about all the crafts and books and songs and play they do, and how it would be nice to play with his friends, is exhausting. It's a song-and-dance. It's like performing some kind of tactical emotional surgery, and one wrong move kills everything. And usually does.

I try not to be too song-and-dancey about it. I try not to get angry. I try to be matter-of-fact. Just,'this is what we're doing today'. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. I sometimes try to put on the stern 'no I'm in charge' face, and he one-ups me. It's scary.

Today we were going to go outside to feed the birds, and after excitedly getting half dressed, he sat down and began taking all his stuff off. I ignored it and kept getting dressed and then he began having an absolute anxiety attack that I wasn't taking my stuff of as well. I said i was still doing my job and I'd be back in a sec, and he proceeds to follow me outside, screaming, in bare feet.
When he gets in these little manic states, there's no talking sense to him. I carried him inside, said he couldn't go out in bare feet and then sat and listened to the screaming and yelling about how much he hates going outside and he's never going to play outside with me again and how he hates when I tell him he's being rude because I'm the one that makes him rude.

Maybe it's just a 5 year old's temper tantrum, but the words still hurt. The yelling still upsets me. I don't scream and yell at him to make a point, so I don't know where it comes from. Maybe I did make him rude because I try to correct him too much and he feels the need to lash out. Or maybe I don't listen to him enough, even though I feel like all I do is respond to him.
I also try not to call him rude or mean or loud, because that's all he will hear and just become that thing. But it's hard not to.
It's hard not to lash out right back.
Not that I keep a total cool today either. Lots of screaming and crying happened on both our parts... Toby's out of rage and mine out of exasperation.
It's poisonous to fight like this all the time. I feel shaky and tired and sore and all that was exchanged were words.

I always said I didn't want school to be a fight. I don't know why it is. I've tried all kinds of bribes and reward systems and nothing is enough incentive for him to go. He has a really good friend at school who misses him, but even that doesn't make him want to go.
I feel like homeschooling would only relieve half that stress. Sure we wouldn't have to 'get up and go', but he'd still have to learn something. To listen to me. And I'm afraid I don't have the energy to do that daily.

I really don't know what to do because I feel like I've tried everything. I've stood my ground, I've been quiet and listened, I've begged, I've tricked... I'm tired of doing it. I'm tired of making him seem so sad all the time. He doesn't seem to want to do anything I suggest anymore. He sits and stares at his knees and sighs and shakes his head. I go to hug him and he wrenches himself away. It's...just hard.

I keep telling myself it's a phase. I keep telling myself that we're only like 3 months in to school. I keep telling myself that he was like this when he was 3 and he grew out of it. I just hope I'm right.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Best and Worst of Kids TV

I don't like using the TV as a baby sitter, but it happens. Especially now that he's older and knows when to turn it off on his own and doesn't freak out when I leave the room to do something else. Sometime though I will feel bad, and I sit and watch things with him. Usually it's a ploy to get a few more minutes of shut-eye (like now as I'm nursing a miserable head cold and don't feel like doing much else but watch tv) while he's otherwise distracted.

People complain about kids TV. Most of it is too 'soft' or sparkly or sing-song-ish. And as a result they let their kids (and by "kids" I mostly mean 2-5 year olds) watch stuff that's not appropriate for their age. Or maybe they think it is but because they don't sit down and watch with their kids they just don't know.

I find there are some fantastic kids shows out there that even I enjoy watching, and even look forward to.
I've listed below some my faves and least faves.
Note that I'm not necessarily judging educational value or the child's enjoyment, although that comes into play in some of them.

Fist of all, some TV tips:
-Turn off Treehouse.
I know it's on 24/7 and will entertain your kids at the drop of a hat. But most of it is annoying.
-CBC Kids has a great morning line-up that ends at 11am on weekdays and Noon on Saturday. That's the big thing for me. IT ENDS. Unless your toddler is hooked on Heartland or Dragon's Den, they will turn it off, time for lunch, then carry on with the day.
-TVO has some good shows too, but again, it carries on all day without rest.
-If you want afternoon entertainment, invest in DVDs, or scrounge Value Village for VHS tapes that are easier to handle around young-ins. DVDs and tapes END. Then the TV goes off. Or if another show does get started, they usually only last 20 minutes.
-I've also recorded several hours of CBC Kids onto VHS which I can pop in if I"m desperate.

Here's my list of shows I can't stand/refuse to watch.

Toopy and Binoo - I don't know much about them, I've only seen a few episodes, but from what I've seen it's just...5 minutes of a rat making up games with his stuffed cat.

Dora The Explorer - I don't like her voice. I don't like the excessive amount of pink and purple. I don't like the painful pauses waiting for 'us' to answer her questions. I don't like the computer cursor that takes part in the adventures, implying that we're in a computer game. I don't care if we're learning Spanish words, French is Canada's second official language and I'd rather my kids be learning that.

Peppa Pig - We used to watch this as kids, and found some humour in it, but now it just feels painful to sit through the nasally Pig family make their way through their day.

Thomas and Friends - I know there are die-hard Thomas kids out there, and yes trains are cool, but I can't stand watching the shows. They feel rushed and chopped together and someone is always being angry or mean or reckless. Sure it may get resolved in the end, but it happens so fast I'm not sure that any of the resolution sinks in.

Backyardigans - One time I liked them. I liked the concept of imaginative play and exploring different genres of music. But the songs just drag on. And the episode drags on. And we loose interest. The same story could be told in half the time and with less annoying characters.

Barney - Is this even on anymore? I had to include it because just no. This and Teletubbies was the start of the decent of quality children's programming.

There are more shows like Caillou and Teletubbies and other whose names I don't remember, but I haven't actually sat through an episode or watched long enough to report on.

These are some shows that BOTH Toby and I like (ie. I will usually stop what I'm doing to sit and watch these shows with him):

Super Why - I didn't like this show at first because I didn't like that they took a classic fairy tale and changed the ending just to solve the problem in the book. However, the subtle way they teach letter recognition and phonics in the show it what I attribute to Toby being able to read early. Plus the characters within the fairy tales often have personality quirks that adults can find humour in as well.

Sesame Street - The original series. Not the "Elmo's World' stuff.
Because of the adult actors in the show, there are often subtle parenting coping strategies tucked into conversations with the puppets. Celebrities add interest for adults, as well as open children up to pop culture. The humour was often made for adults, but with tones that were funny for kids as well.

Dino Dan - The original series, not Trek's Adventures. Sorry Trek, your older brother had better story lines. Not only does this kid talk to dinosaurs, but we actually learn interesting stuff about them. He knows the names and characteristics of every single one at the snap of a finger, which keeps my interest because it's often things that I don't know myself. Plus his classmates are hilarious. Subtly flamboyant and zany Cory is my favourite. This Canadian made show is also full of a whole host of Canadian Actor cameos.

Zoboomafoo - The toddler's version of Kratt's Kreatures from back in the day, but just as interesting. I know the new Wild Kratts show is the 'it' thing now, but there's still something about the live-action animal exploring with the Kratt brothers that I like better. It's funny and I learn new things myself. A number of their animal friends were provided by the now non-existent Muskoka Wildlife Centre.

Zerby Derby - A new one on my list as it's on TVO which we hardly ever watch anymore. The basic concept is it's this assortment of vehicles that drive around their forest home and try to solve everyday problems. Sound's hokey, but instead of being animated it's all done with live-action remote controlled cars. The humour I get out of it is imagining this groups of grown-up guys playing with remote control cars all day and then voicing them over. The credits include a blooper reel which, in itself, is worth the episode watch.

Stella and Sam - We have the Stella and Sam books, which we love, and I had no idea it was a TV show until Toby found a DVD at the library. 9 year old Stella looks after 4 year old Sam and teaches him about the world as they go on outdoor adventures in their yard. The 'teaching' often involves whimsical explanations of things and tall tales (like polar bears eating snow flakes for breakfast with milk and sugar) but are always rooted in fact (like frogs hibernating in the winter). Just a really nice, conflict-free television show.

The Cat in the Hat Knows A Lot About That - I was never a fan of the Cat in the Hat stories growing up, so I wasn't eager to start watching this one. However, instead of being chaotic and mischievous, this version of the Cat in the Hat, voiced my Martin Short, is clever and intelligent. He takes Nick and Sally on adventures (always with the permission of their parents) to find answers to questions they have. It's always science and nature based and you find you're learning things without knowing you're learning things. All the science is accurate as well as entertaining.

Bear in the Big Blue House - The fact that I started watching this show while at college, maybe says something about me.
From the Jim Henson workshop, these puppets come to life as only Jim Henson can do. The range of scale of these puppets must be a chore to not only maintain and operate, but to film. Bear is an over-sized full body puppet, much like Big Bird. There are some 'normal' mid-range characters, and then Tutter, the mouse hand-puppet who is often filmed in the same scenes as Bear.
The best part of the show is at the beginning when Bear pauses to smell a smell, and ends up sniffing right into the camera lens before exclaiming IT'S YOU! I get stupid giddy about it.

Magic School Bus - Nuff said.

Shows that Toby likes and I'm indifferent to:

Bob the Builder - I always told myself I wouldn't get sucked into the Bob the Builder thing, but I found some VHS tapes at Value Village and had to admit that two-year-old Toby would love them. And he does.

Dirtgirlworld - I do actually like this show, just maybe not as high on my list as some of the others. The unique animation takes a bit of getting used to, but in general the stories are about a girl who runs her own farm and isn't afraid to 'go get grubby', which I think is great.

Paw Patrol - Toby has newly discovered this show and has become obsessed with it. It's fine enough, just doesn't always grab me to want to sit an watch. Basic premise is boy Ryder and his team of 6 dogs who each have a different specialty and catch phrase as they go out and help the residents of Adventure Bay.

Bookaboo - A new addition to the CBC line-up, it's actually pretty good, but I'm maybe not as obsessive over it as Toby is. Bookaboo is a dog puppet in a rock band who often loses his enthusiasm when he hasn't been read a story. He sulks in his tour bus, making up games for himself, until a Canadian celebrity comes with a book to read him and get him out of his funk. It's pretty cute and the books are good. It's kind of cool to see these famous people 'out of character' and just being themselves as they read a book to a friend.

Busytown Mysteries - Toby loves it, I don't really care all that much. I was never really in to the Richard Scary books as a kid. The stories can be entertaining and it's all bout using logic to solve problems, but it's not my personal favourite to watch.

I'm sure there's more I could add to each list, but these are the one's off the top of my head. Do you have any show that you refuse to watch/love watching/your kids watch and you don't understand why?

I'll leave you with John Green's video reviewing popular children's television shows :)

Friday, November 15, 2013


Single-ish.... that limbo state of knowing you're in a relationship, but it's still kinda new and it's not actually legally recognized as a relationship.
I've become very used to being single. Some things maybe have been easier, but most things were definitely suckier. I've resented, but become used to, being a 'single mom'.

I saw a post in a group a while ago about a woman going through the transition of being in a new relationship after 5 years single, but still identifying as a 'single mom' and wondering when it's appropriate to start admitting you're not.

It's a good question. Because legally you're single until you're married. Some said it wasn't until they were married to their new partner that they felt they could say they weren't single. Others suggested that they didn't feel 'not single' until they and their new partner had a kid together, regardless of if they were married or not.
It's a complicated feeling: knowing you're happy and 'not single', but still having this voice inside warning you about becoming too attached. Everyone can be happy and getting along, but you still know somewhere inside that you're still a single mom.

And maybe that's just how will always be. You and this kid have a history that even the best partner won't really be a part of. The future may look great, but it's still only your kid.

It's interesting being in a position to choose the person that you want to help you raise your child. You think you're doing that when you get married before kids, but having a kid can change everything. So many things I'd said I'd do/wouldn't do have changed drastically based on experience and further reading. I've seen for myself relationships that become rocky after having children because of differing views that you thought you could compromise on, but now can't. It can be hard.

In some ways having a new person around is even harder than having no one.
You're trying to keep things normal while your kid is being a maniac and showing off everything he knows how to do. Outings, meal times, bed time, breakfast time are all now accompanied by these bi-polaresque mood swings that go from fun to nightmarish in a matter of seconds. Not that this didn't ever happen before, but it just seems amplified now. It's hard just wanting to spend time with your partner while the child demands all the attention.
Which is what parenting is, right? That's what happens. Just usually you get a few child-free years together before that.

It's hard because part of you assumes that this new person will just fit in to your parenting style and know what to do because YOU know what to do. But in reality they have to do what you did year ago... give up everything and learn from the beginning. Which can't be easy for them either.

But then, the fact that they've chosen to do this speaks volumes.

Because you know how shitty the shitty days are. You know how loud and stubborn and messy your child can be.
And yet, they stick around. On purpose. Even though those are the days that you yourself want to run away.
Which is nice, because having someone there to share the crap burden, as well as the fun times, makes you feel like you're part of something.

Love ought to be shared. I love having someone else to share it with.

I'm not single, but I think I'll still feel single-ish for a while. Which is ok. Those four and a half years made me into who I am right now and they don't deserve to be forgotten.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

"Candy Day"

I have always always always loved Halloween. I have always loved dressing up. I love pretending. I love fall and pumpkins and witches and cobwebs and brooms. I loved trick-or-treating and getting stuff, but we live in the country and only drove to about 3 houses so it wasn't the 'loot' that you hear tell of most kids.
My mom has always rolled her eyes and said she hates all the the candy nonsense, and obviously when you're a kid you don't get it, but we also weren't bombarded with it in our house.

Being an adult now you 'get it' a bit more. You see the Halloween candy before Thanksgiving has even arrived. The grocery store aisles are almost literally piled to the ceiling with boxes and boxes of assorted chocolate bars from competing companies.

I can't pretend to imagine what it's like to have a kid who is allergic to peanuts in among all the fine print, but I do know what avoiding gluten and egg is like. And most everything contains gluten. Plus my adverse reactions to dairy that I usually ignore should be considered at this time of year, which nixes out pretty much everything but Skittles and Rockets.

Halloween parties at school were awkward because I knew I couldn't eat any of the stuff, but I wanted the stuff, and there was no other stuff, so I ate it anyway. I'm so thankful  now that schools are taking food allergies and nutrition seriously and not handing out treats as rewards as was common when I was a kid.

I like having treats at Halloween, but eventually you have to ask yourself: Is it the candy or the holiday you love more?
If it's really the holiday, then there are LOADS of things to do that don't involve the sweets.
It it's the candy you're in it for, there are also lots of things you can do to cut down on the sugar content in your house, especially for the kids.

My treat bags this year consist of glow sticks, a pencil, potato chips and organic jelly beans.

Adults tend to roll their eyes at the Halloween toys out there, but handing out glow in the dark vampire teeth, goofy tattoos, bubbles, or spider rings ensures that you're the house on the block kids will remember.
If you live in a neighborhood, handing out pre-cracked glow sticks is not only fun, but is a safety measure for visibility as your kids walk the dark streets.

Making up a treat bag with a toy, chips and a small apple or juice box is a good way to be 'fun' while avoiding the mounds of sugar as well.

Raisins have a bad rep, but I loved getting them. They're sickly sweet but no added sugar.

A pack of sugar-free chewing gum will last a long time for the child you give it to, just also read the package for artificial sweeteners like sucralose and aspartame, which are harmful to your body over time.

If you really want the chocolate stuff to be part of Halloween, make the effort to find locally made or fair-trade products.

If you want to avoid food all together, you can join the Books for Treats movement to give out gently used children's books instead of candy. Ask friends and family if they're getting rid of any kids books or pre-teen novels, or even go to Garage sales and Value Village through the year and pick some small appropriate ones.
On Halloween organize them into boxes by age and let the kids choose their own book when they come to the door.  - for more information.

Homemade goods have become frowned upon to hand out at your door due to food allergies and the crazies in the world, but you can make then for your family and friends. Host a Halloween party for your kids and friends instead of going trick or treating and serve home made treats instead of setting out bowls of candy.
Make personal pizzas and decorate them into a spooky face before you bake.
Have olive 'eye balls' to snack on.
Make your own cookies or muffins and ice with plain or strawberry cream cheese.
Have carrot or cheese 'fingers' and serve them with creepy green guacamole.
I've seen pictures of "boo-nanas" being posted - half banana with chocolate/carob chip eyes and mouth stuck in.

Do Halloween crafts with your kids and make them just as, if not more, fun that the food treats.

Research and talk about the historical origins of All Hallows' Eve, to enforce that this holiday exists for a reason other than treats.

If you think your kid will balk at the idea of not being able to collect and eat their fill of candy the night of Halloween, keep in mind who their role models are. You can set an example of a 'one-a-day' treat, or alternatives to them.
If "That's what Halloween is!" at your house, then let them pick their favourites (healthiest ones?) out of the mix and encourage them to leave the rest for the Switch Witch, who will come late Halloween night to exchange the rest of their candy for a kick-ass toy.

In a time of obesity, mis-diagnosed ADD and increased awareness of food allergies, make the effort to turn 'Candy Day' back in to 'Halloween'.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Mommy Mantras

All together now.... repeat after me...

1. I'm not the only one.

2. It's a phase.

3. They'll do it when they're ready.

4. However bad it seems, someone has it worse.

5. Trust your instincts.

Monday, September 30, 2013


It's hard when parents have a certain vision for their child, and the child has very different plans. it seems the more a parent wants their kid to be a doctor, or a lawyer, or be on the football team, or win the cheer-leading championship, or enjoy kindergarten... the more they retaliate against you.

Toby only has school every other day. He was nervous, and I knew that, but I kept talking about all the positive fun things that would happen at school. I've seen in the past that if you start labeling too many emotions, like being nervous or sad or scared, the more he thinks 'oh, is that how I'm supposed to feel about this?' and it makes it worse.
It doesn't help that the month before school we were stopped by everyone we knew and asked if we were excited for school. Toby would hang his head as per usual and I would say something like 'Yeah it sounds like it should be fun' and then I would get comments over his head like "I remember liking kindergarten, but oh did I hate grade 3. I had a horrible teacher" or "The adjustment's pretty tough, it's hard to be away from mom for so long" or "The bus ride sounds long, that sucks that it comes so early."
Toby can hear you. Toby can hear everything you're saying and he remembers everything that people say. And I'm not blaming these comments, but it just all piles up in my head as another thing I have to counteract with positivity.

Wonder of wonders, he got on the bus the first day.
Wonder of wonders, he did it four days.
Everyday he was nervous, but went out the door. Everyday he came home and cried for an hour. All I could do was sit and hold him and say nothing. I understand that he doesn't like driving. I understand that it's a long day away from home (not away from 'mom' because he's used to staying home with my mom while I'm at work, etc.)

Then Toby got sick. We stayed home for a week getting over the flu. And then  I think it clicked in his head that "I got to stay home on a school day".

This past week has been....difficult.

We woke up last Monday and he immediately started saying he didn't think he was ok to go to school. The morning got worse. The bus went by. I had to go to work. Toby stayed home.

Wednesday was the same, however I didn't have to go to work so I got to talk to him better. He crawled in bed with me and curled up in my arms and said he couldn't go to school. I asked him why. He said he didn't feel well. I had seen him at play the last few days and knew full well he wasn't sick so I asked him what was really bothering him and to please tell me so I could help.
He was quiet for a very long time and then very quietly said that there to too many kids at school and it was too loud.
We talked about it for a while and how I could ask his teacher to give him a quiet space to go if he needed it, but he was learning so much at school that we don't get to do at home so it would be good to try to go and I would drive him in but it would be good to take the bus home so his friends on the bus could see him. He shrugged and said he "wasn't really interested in talking to them".

He didn't go that morning, and I carried on my jobs and kept telling him I was still going to do my work because he was supposed to be at school. He very merrily went downstairs on his own and started practicing numbers himself on a number board we have. He made me a treasure hunt where he had written letters on 'clues' around the house.
Like he somehow knew the he'd better do some 'school' things even if he wasn't going.
I finally convinced him to go at lunch break and we got to the school and he wandered away to the school yard to find his friend from class. I picked him up at the end of the day and was met with an emotional mess again, but I had a note from his teacher saying he had a good day.

This is where it's hard...because I know he's learning things at school, and he has a friend who is very very similar to him. But the before-and-after nightmare that I have to deal with is emotionally exhausting.
I don't want him to stay home. I don't want to home-school. But I don't want school to be a punishment. I don't want the punishment for anxiety to be more anxiety.
There are some kids who kick up a fuss and say they hate school but it's all verbal, and they usually still end up putting clothes on and going out the door. Maybe they cry at goodbyes, but at the end of the day they don't have enough words for all the fun things they got to do that day.
Toby is just...sad. He just shuts down. And at the start of the day if I were to force clothes on him and throw him out the door he would have his clothes off as fast as I put them on. If I could even get near enough to get his pajamas off in he first place.
He's not jumping up and down and whining that he hates school... He's talking to me about it. We have a discussion. He tells me that he doesn't find it exciting. He tells me that it's too busy. And I have to respect that I guess, otherwise he'll never want to tell me anything hard again.

I don't want to 'lower my expectations' of him. But I maybe need to change them.
He's smart. He's really smart and loves learning. And I don't want school to make him hate learning. He can write all his letters and when he asks me how to spell a word I give him the sounds and make him figure out the letters on his own. He can sound words out on his own, although when you flat-out ask him to show you he gets all self-conscious and usually won't.
He can count. He can cut paper. He can draw. He's imaginative. He's good at building and balancing things that you would never think would work. He likes showing people things he's done.
This morning he said he'd try going to school at lunch, and then proceeded to merrily show Anthony all the letters he knows how to write and the 'Letter Train' that was sent home for him to work on. He can do the work. I think maybe it's just overwhelming to have it all taught to you at once with other kids around.

After talking a lot to my mom I think we've decided to (within reason) let him decide when he goes. If he misses a day and he's not sick, we'll go up to the school anyway to find out what they did in class. If I can convince him to go at some point during the day, an hour is better than nothing. Maybe he's just not ready. He developed at everything late, except talking. Maybe he just needs more time. And I'll just hope that he hasn't been scared off of school all together.

If we run into you in the next while, please don't ask how school's going. I don't want to lie and say IT'S GREAT while Toby hangs his head. And I don't want to sigh and quietly mutter something about 'challenges' because it furthers reinforced to Toby that he's a 'problem'.
As with everything in his life, it seems, you have to wait until he decided he wants to talk about it, and all you can do is respond enthusiastically.

This is either the rough beginning to a great adventure, or the quiet beginning to a very rough adventure.... I suppose only time will tell.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Blurred Lines

Yes, this blog is about what you think it's about, and if you choose to stop reading, I won't be offended. I'm on a rant. And it's long. With multiple links to look at.

Blurred Lines. Robin Thicke. Where do I start?

I never liked the song. It's not my kind of music to begin with, so I ignored it. Then it started getting played a lot. Then people started complaining. Then I started listening to see what the fuss was about.

As one post I found on Tumblr states: "'Blurred Lines' is catchy in the same way 'Ring Around The Rosie' is catchy before you learn it's about the plague..."

As if the lyrics weren't cryptically bad enough, the music video is worse. Lame dancing on a blank background with scantily clad women supposedly taking humour in having their hair tugged and smoke blown in their face. Supposedly the video director was a woman. I'm not sure what she was thinking. Maybe it was supposed to be funny somehow. But it's not really.

If it's not outwardly obvious, 'blurred lines' refers to the supposed blurred line between consent and assault. Mr. Thicke appears to "hate these blurred lines" as he and his co-stars eye up their surroundings in the music video.
One might even be tempted to say that perhaps it's the girls' fault for dressing that way. One might be tempted to say that acting like that is 'asking for it'.

And there is where you've fallen into the trap. It's always the girl's fault, right? Never the men who act on impulse..

I turn your attention to this article which I'm sure most of you have seen as it's been circulating the internet to mixed reviews. The FYI (if you're a teenage girl) post by Kim Hall started out as a 'point taken' type rant about the types of photos teenage girls are putting online. She raises good points about how you never know who is looking at your stuff. Maybe not hackers, but family members of yours and your friends. Keeping a certain online image IS important, especially at a young age.
However her post turns preachy and accusatory when she starts saying that she's had to make her sons block these girls' profiles. There are apparently 'no second chances' with behavior like that - behavior that will make her sons 'linger' over their profiles and hinder their chances of growing up to be men with a 'strong moral compass'.
My reaction is... don't you trust your sons to make good decisions? Do you REALLY think that other people's online profiles are going to change their lives that drastically? Do you have THAT LITTLE faith in the way you raised them that you don't think they might end up figuring it all out in the end?
And again, of course, it must be the girl's fault. Since clearly you've trained your sons to only see a scantily clad object, and to avert their eyes. You can't hide from the whole world. So maybe learn to see through it.

Which leads me to this post. I'm not sure if this was written as a reaction to the previous one, or if it was independent, but Seeing a Woman is an example of what more people need to be teaching their sons. The father writing this article admits that, yes, some girls dress like that, but no, that doesn't make them less of a person. "It's a women's responsibility to dress herself in the morning. It is your responsibility to look at her like a human being, regardless of what she is wearing".
I think, all too often, boys are let off easy because 'boys will be boys'. Which sometimes is fine, it's part of growing up, but to never have it taught that girls are human, regardless of what they look like (both drool-worthy super model and the bullied nerd) is I think where this whole system falls flat.

Back to Mr. Thicke.

The problem with his song/video is it caters to this whole culture of people who believe women are there for amusement. It sounds old-timey and backwards, but there are indeed people out there cheering this song on. It also helps along the points of those people like Mrs. Hall about badly behaved men are that way because of being egged on by scantily clad women.
 But because it's created so much controversy, it's listened to/viewed/downloaded for the simple sake of people knowing it's popular, or people like me who are finally giving in to seeing what all the fuss is about.
His music video on Youtube has over 177 Million views. The unrated (full nudity) version has over 20 million.
His performance with Miley Cyrus at the VMAs has over 3 million views.
His music video on itunes is sitting in 4th. Nicely nestled between Miley Cyrus's latest two videos.
The popularity of the song has little to do with how 'good' it is, it's simply because he's created a buzz. But because of that he's raking in the royalties every time it's heard/watched/bought.

Here's where things get even more touchy.. and here's where discretion to keep reading is up to you.

Project Unbreakable is an online project that was started in 2011 by a woman named Grace Brown. She is a young photographer who wanted to crate a public space for assault/rape victims to share quotes or stories about their attackers, as publicly or anonymously as desired, to either help get it off their chest, or let others know they're not alone. The response to what started out as a collection of poignant photographs has been massive. She now gets people emailing her letters or pictures of quotes. She goes on tours to school campuses to collect photos of those willing to share. The database is now enormous.
Which in one way is great, because so many people are being moved by it. But on the other hand... look at how many people there are...And why are there so many...

A few days ago (trigger/mature subject matter) this post showed up online. The author pulls lines from Mr. Thicke's song and pairs them to real-life attacker quotes posted on Project Unbreakable.
This is where you start to go...oh.

This is where you start to really realize that it's maybe not just a quirky little song.

In a world full of progress and equality, and songs like 'Roar', 'Same Love', 'Inner Ninja' and 'Brave', it's sometimes hard to believe that songs that feel the need to 'blur the lines' between ok and offensive are still out in the mainstream.

It's hard to protect kids from that. But maybe the trick is to just let them experience it, and then make them understand why it's not acceptable.
Don't teach them to shut the world out.
Don't tempt them by forbidding every offensive or provocative thing in their path.
Teach them to think.
Teach them to look past it.
Teach them to 'love with' instead of 'love at'.
Teach them to be their own person, as long as it's not hurting those around them.
Yes, sure, teach your girls to dress appropriate, but please also teach your boys that when they maybe don't, it's not an invitation.
Teach them that 'these blurred lines' are actually quite solid. As solid and as simple as a 'yes' or a 'no'.

Friday, September 13, 2013

The View From Car

Toby has never been good in the car. His first time in the car was maybe the only time he was ok. He whimpered. He fell asleep.
The next few times in the car he was fine in the car seat, but then as soon as we pulled out of the driveway he shrieked, he bellowed, he wailed... I turned up the radio and he quieted.
After that though... after that was miserable. So much so I dreaded going to doctors appointments or grocery shopping or visiting, because that meant 20 minutes to town and 20 minutes home.

As he got older it got better. I could give him a snack or a drink and not need to stop every 10 minutes to nurse just to get him to calm down. Later when he was forward-facing I started talking non-stop about the things out the window just to keep him distracted. A Tractor! A cow! A horse! A buldozer! A cloud! Corn!

Eventually we braved the three hour drive to Stratford for a visit. The three hour drive took us about 4 and a half hours because of stopping every half hour to nurse and diaper change and re-assure and distract. We pointed out the farms and the John Deere dealership and the Kubota dealership and the cows and the sheep and the wind turbines in Shelburne....

I have often thought about, and often had suggested to me, why don't you just get a portable DVD player?

I was tempted. I sometimes still am. But the more I think about it, especially for a kid like Toby, the more uncomfortable with the idea I become.

I know him. I know he loves TV. And we don't really watch a lot of TV. The only movies he's ever seen are Cars, Wall-e, and Robots. He likes Mighty Machines. He likes Franklin. He likes Magic School Bus.
I know that he likes these things so much that he will go out of his way to find excuses to watch any of these things. And if I let him watch a movie on a long trip, he's going to ask for it on a simple trip to town. It's another thing to argue over. And yes I could make it clear that it's only for long trips, but if I only use it 2 times a year, is it worth buying?

I totally get when and why you would want a DVD player in the car...but I also don't think that watching more TV is what car rides should be about. Car rides should be about learning direction. Learning landmarks. Tucking things away in the long-term memory banks. Car rides should be about playing games as a family when you're bored. About singing loudly and terribly to the radio, even if all your speakers are used to emitting is Fred Penner.

When Toby was 2 we were showing a friend of ours our photo albums - a favourite pass-time of Toby's. He  would flip pages and spew out some articulate toddler gibberish, and then turn the page again. We got to our Stratford trip and our friend asked "Hey Toby, what are these?" "Dindmills" "Wow windmills, those are pret-" "Going round and round and round in Delburne *page turn*"
She looked up at me in amazement. He knows that?
Sometimes you don't realize how much kids absorb from what you say or where you go when they seem to small to understand. If I stuck a movie in he wouldn't care about the windmills. He would get bored.

On the way home now he'll say "There's the tractor store, half way home!" "There's Ego's market, we're at the 9th!" "There's the Store, home is over the hill, right mom?"

He now has a 70 minute bus ride to school to deal with twice a day. I felt sick to my stomach on his behalf, knowing that he relied on snacks and music usually to keep him going. He still gets restless and impatient in the car, even with distractions. He threw up half way home on his first day of school and has greeted me off the bus with a scowl everyday since then. It usually takes half an hour and a snack before he's over it. I've been toying with driving him to school, but I know that will get old for me pretty quick, and it's harder for him to leave me once I'm there with him. It wasn't until we drove up to the school yesterday for Open House that I felt better about it all...

"MOM! That's the bumpy road the bus goes down!" "I know this bridge, the bus goes over it!" "That's the house with the red canoe, our bus comes up here too!" "That's the road where we drop some kids off!"

I was so relieved... So very relieved that things aren't as bad as his mood depicts at the end of the day. He knows how to entertain himself on a long drive. He's memorized landmarks. He knows the way.
And I really do believe that it's because we don't watch TV in the car. It excites him, instead of bores him, to learn about new places. Maybe my little non-traveler will take these skills on the road some day...

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Wordless(ish) Wednesday

 September 2008

September 2009

September 2010

September 2011

September 2012

September 2013

Friday, August 16, 2013

Today I saw...

Everyday Toby and see some pretty cool things either through the window or on adventures outside. I find I often take these things for granted because "it's just where we live".
Every day several of our conversations start with "Hey, did you see the____?" or "Wow, I found a_____!" or "Look the _____ is back!"
Today I decided to actually record everything we saw and heard.

Today I heard:
Several Field Crickets
2 Cicadas
2 chickadees
3 Toby sneezes
1 Granny sneeze
2 Catbirds
Various other calling birds
Leaves rustling
Trucks on the road
Airplanes flying over

Today I saw:
1 earwig
3 ants
4 houseflies
6 honey bees
10 bumble bees
16 mating Japanese beetles
2 female Hummingbirds
1 male Hummingbird
1 weird hornet thing
4 paper wasps
1 large field cricket
1 baby field cricket
1 small airplane
1 helicopter
5 cabbage butterflies
1 Turkey Vulture
2 dueling spiders
1 hover fly
8 mosquitos
1 White Admiral
1 Silvery Blue butterfly
1 Mourning Cloak
2 fruit flies
1 Wren
1 Catbird
2 micro toads
1 Harvester (Daddy Long legs)
2 worms
2 millipedes
An assortment of tiny un-identifiable moths
6 spider webs
1 Skipper
28 Milkweed Tussok moth larvae
6 Turkey feathers
1 very active almost-5-year-old

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Things That Come Out of His Mouth

We all know kids say the darndest things...But sometimes you wonder where the things they say come from.

I do my absolute best to answer any and all questions that Toby asks me, even if I don't really know the answer. Like if he asks how they make cars, I'll say something like "Well, i would imagine that a lot of different people would have to do different jobs...someone has to make all the plastic parts, someone has to sew all the fabric parts, and someone has to mold and make all the metal parts. And then they would have to follow some pretty tricky instructions to put it all together and make it work."
He may not 'understand' everything I say, but he's satisfied that I gave an effort. If I really don't know (Like how exactly they harvest bananas) we'll look it up online or at the library.
It amazes me that he even thinks to ask or say some of the things he does. Some of it is stuff that I've never thought of or questioned.
I think taking the questions seriously encourages conversation and narrative talking with kids. It teaches them to answer clearly when asked something and to elaborate if they can.

A lot of people ask if I'd ever home school, or if we do 'lessons' at home... and no, I don't think homeschooling will work for us, but we do have some really interesting impromptu lessons I guess. I don't sit down with him and say "today we're learning this", but it just all kind of comes out in the course of a day.
We take a walk and name trees and plants. We watch birds at the feeder and count and add and subtract as they come and go. We doodle and draw and I'll point out when a shape looks like a letter or number or symbol, which piques his curiosity and he asks how to write more letters. He helps me bake and cook and we talk about safety and colour and size and fractions. We do yoga or soccer and talk about body parts and balance and strength and energy. We read constantly and he understands phonics and syllables and rhyming words. He's taking piano lessons and within that he's learning sound, rhythm, counting, fractions and co-operation.

Now, seeing all the written out, maybe I shouldn't be questioning where all his questions come from. He's so used to learning that he just wants to know more.
I've been keeping a list over the last few months of things he's asked me or said and I've done my best to answer. Some of the things may not seem significant, but to a four year old who really doesn't 'need' to care about these things, it's pretty impressive that these are the things he comes up with.

-How to they make batteries?
-Do kangaroos have springs inside them?
-What does 'latest invention' mean?
- How do they make metal gates?
- From inside the car, the fireworks sounded like tap dancers.
- How does cold water turn to ice?
- How do they get the skins on bananas?
- What does 'substitute' mean?
- How do they make cars?
- How does the slot at the Library get the books back on the right shelves?
- How can airplanes fly if they don't flap their wings?
- My feet have super powers from all the food I eat.
- There's actually skeletons under there for scientists to find.
- How do you say __________ in French?
- How do they make utensils?

I feel that there is more... 100% there is more... just those are the ones I thought to record.

It blows my mind sometimes to listen to him. It definitely goes to show that kids absorb more than they often let on.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Music Monday

Happy Music Monday!

As I write this, thousands of students and community members across Canada are simultaneously performing Is Somebody Singing to promote awareness for the importance of music education.

Starting in 2005, every first Monday in May has been turned into a celebration of music in Canada that community groups and educators get classes involved in by learning and presenting a 'theme song' that is chosen each year by the Coalition for Music Education.

But why music education? What do kids gain by just...singing?

It may just seem like singing, but the act of making art and music has direct influence on brain development, especially when exposed at a young age. One step further, education in music and the arts and learning to play an instrument has even greater impact on brain development.

Toby has been taking music/piano lessons for about 8 months now through the Music for Young Children program, and while I find it hard to get him to physically practice the piano, the amount of stuff he has learned and remembers is amazing.

Music stimulates long-term memory.
Music teaches patience.
Music teaches confidence.
Music teaches basic math skills through counting, fractions, addition and subtraction.
Music teaches listening.
Music formats the brain to better understand foreign languages.
Music teaches precision.
Music teaches pride in your work.
Music can draw autistic children out of their 'shell' or calm them down.
Music is fun.
Music is joy.

Cutting arts education out of our school curriculum is cutting out an entire method of learning. It would cease to acknowledge that people learn differently and that music and art awakens parts of your brain that are not used otherwise.
Start getting your kids to appreciate music as young as possible. Make it a normal part of your home life.

Sing in the car. Sing in the shower. Sing in the bath. Sing on a walk. Play music while you make dinner. Dance before bed.
'Fill the skies with Music'.


Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Introverts and Extroverts

Often the initial imagery you get upon hearing the words introverted or extroverted, are that introverts are shy and keep to themselves, and extroverts are friendly and outgoing and go along with anything.

Not that those things aren't true, but it's only a small part of what is really a very complex label.

I keep stumbling across posts online and books talking about the varied levels of what exactly introverts and extroverts are and it's been really eye opening in understanding the way Toby reacts to things and also understanding myself.

An Introvert can be shy, yes, but it has more to do with how you build energy for yourself to make it through the day. Introverts need time alone to think/read/watch tv/write/sleep in order to feel ready to go out into the world.
Extroverts on the other hand need to collect energy from those around them and when they are left alone tend to get agitated and moody. They need to be talking and working and interacting with people to keep up their motivation.

I've always said I was an introvert, which I still believe I am, but I'm also realizing I have many extroverted tendencies. I like discussing things out loud and often need to do this before making a decision. I talk with  my hands. I like being with people and gain from the energy transfer that comes with a hug. I like going out and doing things and seeing new places.
But at the root of it all, I need my time alone. I'll often catch myself leaving the room suddenly while Toby's playing or watching tv. I like plying with Toby but suddenly I'll have a 'No, don't touch me' reaction. I feel like I need my time to just aimlessly scroll through the internet or watch a movie or read before I go to bed. I dread calling people on the phone. I feel exhausted after a day in town, even if we didn't do much.

I've also always said that Toby is an introvert, but am beginning to realize that i think I'm wrong. He certainly has very introverted tendencies; He does not meet people easily and it often takes him close to an hour before he's used to someone's presence. He is smart, but won't volunteer an answer to someone he doesn't really know he knows even if he full-well knows the answer.
But despite all of that, he displays more extroverted characteristics. In familiar company he talks non-stop. Non-Stop. He will follow you from one room to another just to be able to keep telling his story or see what you're doing. He has very little regard for personal space or privacy, from trying to sit on my lap while I'm on the toilet or hanging over the edge of the bath tub while I'm in there, talking the whole time. He has to be busy constantly. When people visit us here he usually has no problem telling them all about the garden, or the playground, or the stream, or his tractor...
And I've tried to let him have alone time to get him used to playing by himself, but usually after a few minutes I come back past the room and he's in a pout in the middle of the floor or he's thrown everything everywhere and says he doesn't want to do anything anymore.

He treads a fine line between needing human interaction and to be busy, to needing an hour long tv break and some alone time. He's this half and half mix that makes it really difficult to read him or predict what will happen.

It's hard being an opposite personality type to your kids. As an introvert, I tend to get frustrated when Toby wont just let me think in silence for a few minutes, or feels the need to treat me as a jungle gym especially when I'm doing yoga. And in turn I'm sure he doesn't understand why he needs to sleep in his own bed and not follow me into the bathroom and not talk when we're listening to other people tell a story.

I leave you with three links with a good summary of these personality types. They've made their way around a few times, but I always love seeing them.

Cartoon on Understanding Introverts

How to Care for Your Introvert

How to Care for Your Extrovert

Monday, April 22, 2013

Love and Discipline

In the last month or so, and more specifically in the last few days, I've come across or over heard several so-called "disciplinary actions" or "jokes" that just make me realize how much I live in a bubble.

It's nothing all that big or bad, but just totally not things I would say or do or agree with. It's easy to feel like the world is changing when you're so involved with peaceful parenting groups, and easy to feel very alienated when you're out in public.

First of all is the notion that loving your kids=disciplining your kids and that discipline=hitting.
Discipline is far more complex than a slap on the hand or a spanked bottom and the idea that giving your kids a good scare will teach them a lesson.
I hate this.
I hate this so very very much and I personally have a hard time understanding why anyone would think this is ok.
And I'm not saying that I've never felt the urge to because 'I love my kid so much' or whatever... no I've felt the complete rage and the 'end of the rope' sliding closer after a day or four of non-stop screeching. I've yelled, I've held on too tight, I've punched counter tops and walls to keep myself from doing it to someone else.
Because what does hitting accomplish? It's not about lesson-learning, it's about the adult needing to vent.
A 2 year old does not understand consequence. They appear all grown up and walking and talking and smart, but they are just clever parrots and don't go out of their way to make your life miserable. They are curious. They will touch things and do things they've been told not to, because they forget. Their heads are full of so SO much... they are learning a new language and realizing that this world doesn't always revolve around them and that mom is in fact a separate being from them. It's tough. It's stressful.
So when they get yelled at for having 'fun' they will lash out because they are angry and being angry is new to them and they don't know what to do with it.
Being hit in this process might get them to stop or scare them enough that they stop crying... but how is that healthy? How is being silenced teaching them how to control their emotions? How is disciplinary hitting teaching them anything but that hitting is the answer when someone is not doing what you want?
In my opinion it shames, embarrasses and scares a kid who might not really understand why it's happening.
I've read posts on message boards of people trying to 'be strict' with a 9 month old and it's just pointless when they're that small.

I know my opinions are not shared by everyone, but I passionately believe that although there are days/weeks/eternities where all you want to do fight back, you can't set that example.
Sometimes all you can do is offer a hug and walk away while they cry. Sometimes you think they're fine crying but they just want to be held, even if they know you're mad at them. Time-outs don't always work. Sometimes being shut in a room is not what a kid needs. Sometimes they do need time alone to work themselves out.
Every kid is different, but they are all the same in that they deserve to be taught to have a healthy emotional outlet. They deserve to be loved even when you want to tear their heads off. They deserve to know that crying is ok and curiosity has it's limits. But they deserve to learn these things gently.

Furthering on on the mentality that kids need to 'grow up and toughen up', I keep being amazed at some of the conversations I over-hear. Again, I forget that I live in this quiet little bubble and a lot of other people don't do the same things I do.
As I was leaving a grocery store with Toby I saw a family packing up grocery bags and a box. The girl, maybe 7 or 8, looked up at her dad as he picked up two of the bags and the box in his arms, while the mom took the other bag.
"Wow, those must be heavy!"
"They're not heavy at all you're just a weakling. You need to grow some muscles so you can lift stuff like me."
It felt like he said it loud enough for me to hear how hilarious he was as I was pushing past. I heard the humour in his tone. And I saw the girl stare at the floor as they shuffled out of the store.
A few days later we were in a pet store looking at fish and two little crayfish things were fighting on one of the tanks. A kid about Toby's age, maybe younger, was looking at the with his dad.
"Look they're jumping at each other!"
"Yeah look at them fight! Probably trying to kill one another for more food."

Am I missing something? Why would you say things like that to your kids??!!
Why do they need to be desensitized by the time they're 2?
Why can't people just let kids be happy kids before the drama of school and real-life creeps in to their lives?

Respect can be learned, and I think lasts longer, without the force of a hand.
Discipline can be taught by example instead of force.
Fun can be had without making every game about shooting/getting/killing the other guy.
Love can be shown by talking and teaching instead of controlling.

Step in to their shoes for a few moments and try to remember what it was like to be a kid. Maybe they can teach you something you forgot.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Positive Party #5

At least I think this is #5...

Why A Long Winter Can Be A Good Thing

1. When the world warms up too early, plants and animals get fooled into thinking that it's time to wake up and grow. 90% of the time it snows on April Fools Day (Mother Natures little joke, I always say) , it has snowed on Mother's Day before, and it's usually cold again with risk of frost at the end of May for a few nights.
If flowers bloom before mid April, they will most likely be killed by frost, and be 'done for the season'. There was an apple shortage last year for that reason.

2. Early spring can mean a short maple syrup season. Sap only flows when it's warm, but needs the cold nights for the trees to build it up again. If it just gets warm and stays warm, the trees drain in a few days and there's a syrup shortage.

3. When the weather's warm it's hard to wait til the end of may to plant the garden, but doing so earlier can result in damaged seeds and plants in the weather freezes again, which it tends to do here in Canada.

4. A late slow melting period helps keep the ground moist which helps your grass and garden plants last longer. When the snow melts too early and too fast the moisture in the ground drains or evaporates quickly

Spring is coming, but don't make it rush!

March 18 2012. Still technically winter. 22C. BBQ and t-shirts in the porch.
The year the garden died, the yard died, the apple blossoms died, and the summer was the hottest on record.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013


Grumpasaurus - Noun - a person, particularly under the age of 5, presenting foul and unruly behaviour over a period of time, emulating that of an enraged dinosaur.

The Grumpasaurus dwells in most households, though can usually go unnoticed for long periods of time bringing a sense of security and peace to it's prey.
Reasons for a Grumpasaurus to attack include, but are not limited to: Lack of sleep, lack of sustenance, wrong type of sustenance, sudden change in surrounding activity, opposition to opinion.

While is it still uncertain as to why the Grumpasaurus will choose to turn on it's caregivers at various intervals, it is possible to predict when an attack might occur.
Watch for signs of high activity followed by no activity. Listen for a sound mimicking that of a squeaky door or pterodactyl; the hunting cry of the Grumpasaurus. Leaving the immediate area of the Grumpasaurus is recommended at this time.

The Grumpasaurus will feed on whatever it can find, with a particular taste for jelly beans, potato chips, and chocolate. While the Grumpasaurus seems pacified by these food sources, the effect is temporary, and therefore it is recommended to hide any and all snack foods well above Grumpasaurus level. Again, be warned the sound of what seems to be a squeaky door. It may be the Grumpasaurus readying itself for battle.
If caught in the onslaught of a Grumpasaurus attack, sit very still so as not to draw attention to yourself. Occasionally, the Grumpasaurus will retreat of it's own accord if not provoked. Making any sudden movements or noise may startle the Grumpasaurus and target you for further attacks.

The Grumpasaurus resides primarily in high-traffic areas of the household. It has been known to exert dominance over any couch area, or other space that is threatened with being occupied by another person. Attempts to confine a Grumpasaurus to one room of the house may result in heightened rage and destruction of property within said room.

Remember, preparation is the best defense! Best of luck should you encounter a Grumpasaurus in your home.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Reasons To Not Co-Sleep

1. You should not co-sleep with your baby if you like getting up 6 times a night to feed/change/make sure they're still breathing.

2. You should not co-sleep if you don't like morning cuddles followed by falling asleep for an extra two hours.

3. You should not co-sleep if you don't want to hear dream giggles.

4. You should not co-sleep if you don't want to be able to chase away dream sobbing with the touch of a hand or sleep nursing.

5. You should not co-sleep if you don't want an extra bed-warmer in the winter.

6. You should not co-sleep if you like arguing about bedtime.

7. You should not co-sleep if you don't like the smell of baby hair.

8. You should not co-sleep if you don't want to create a strong sense of security in your child.

9. You should not co-sleep if you don't want to provide subconscious breathing cues and heart beat patterns as your baby is learning to breathe while they sleep.

10. You should not co-sleep if you don't like little fingers reaching to make sure you're still there for them.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

So Many Blogs

I've been keeping an eye on the Circle of Moms site for a couple years now. I read and answer questions. I scroll through the cookbook, though have yet to add any of my own recipes. I participated in the Top 25 Canadian Mom Blogs contest in 2011, and came 22nd I believe. I kept tabs on other Top 25's that I might participate in. And then I found the Single Mom Blogs contest and read through last years winners and thought, this is something I feel 'qualified' for.
So I stuck my name in for this year's, hoping to make it into the 25, never thinking it would go to top 10 and laughing at the notion of being in the top 5.

And now here I sit, flipping between spot number 4 and 5 and comparing 'little old me' to the rest of the amazing blogs on this list.
For starters, this contest is WORLD WIDE. Most of the participants are from the US. A handful from the UK. Some from Australia and the Middle East. And, as far as I can tell, only three from Canada. Those three blogs currently sit in 3rd, 4th, and 5th place.

I've read the main page and hunted for the author's bio on every single blog up to 55 (there are 71 now, more than when I was creeping people). I've found people from every walk of life....well-off and struggling, East and West, religious and not, people who love Doctor Who as much as I do, people with food allergies, people who are vegan, people who promote local beef, blogs that are very commercial and blogs that are very personal.
So many blogs.

It's strange and I guess a little comforting that there are so many people out there with the same day to day issues as you. And the ones on this list are just the ones who knew about the contest. I'm sure there are hundreds more.

So, thanks for helping me be a part of this. It's awesome to meet (creep on?) all these blogs I never would have known otherwise. If you have the time, read through a few!

5 days left to vote

Thursday, February 21, 2013

How to Trick Kids into Thinking You're Playing With Them, When Really You're Just Lazy.

How to Trick Kids into Thinking You're Playing With Them, When Really You're Just Lazy.

1. Over-Enthusiasm. 
"Mom let's have a race!"
"OK! Let's see how fast you can run to the end of the yard and back, and I'll time you, GO!!!"
*Cheer them on and repeat praises and starting lines as many times as you can until they either catch on or go do something else*

"Mom, let's build a HUUUUGE block tower"
"YEAH! Ok, show me how we should start!"
*Let them do the project on their own as long as you can stretch it. Maybe even dare to close your eyes for two minutes*

2. Self-Benefiting Logic.
"Mom, you have to STAND to throw the ball"
"Yeah but when I'm sitting I'm the same height as you, so it makes it easier to aim right?"

"Mom climb up as high as me!"
*Stand and reach to where they are*

3. Verbal Acknowledgement. 
Lots of "Wow!" and "MMhhM!" and "Oh No!" and "Amazing!", even if you're sleeping on the couch at the time.

"Mom, open your eyes!"
"Yep they are"

"Here mom, have some hippo soup"
"Om nom nom, yummy!"
*Eyes still closed, didn't move*

"Did you see that!"
"Sure did! Pretty awesome!"
*Eyes still closed, didn't move.*

4. Encouraging Independence.
 "Mom, can you get all the sand toys set up?"
"You know where they are! Can you find them? Then you can choose which ones you want."
*Grab a 30 second power nap*

"Mom, get out of bed, I"m hungry"
"You know where the apples are, you can go grab one. I'm coming"
*Cover head with blankets and hope that they'll intercept someone else in the house to divert attention from the fact that you haven't moved*


One week left to vote for my blog in the Circle of Moms Top 25 Single Mom blogs of 2013!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013


Choosing to be an 'Attached Parent' is both the easiest and hardest thing I've decided to do. Along the same lines as when I say brestfeeding was both the best and worst thing I've ever experienced. You keep telling yourself there's a reason why this is good... why this is better... but you don't see it until months or years later.

Attachment Parenting can seem daunting to someone without kids, and even I scoffed at several things before having Toby. What it comes down to is survival. And being alone, survival and sleep were things I cared about more than whether I was doing things 'by the book'.

I initially had no intentions of co-sleeping, but after a week of turning on the light, sitting up, getting up, lifting a 9 lb weight out of the cradle, and then fumbling to nurse, I just said 'screw it' and made a space beside me where I could just roll over to feed in the middle of the night.
Lying down. Sleeping. Lights off. Good.

I was wishy washy about breastfeeding, and had a hard time getting Toby started. I wanted to pump and fill bottles. I didn't want to be in pain. But then suddenly it was ok. And then it became easy. And then I couldn't imagine needing to prepare, heat or clean bottles all the time. He nursed on demand and I let him because it was easier than listening to the crying.

I was always kinda into baby wearing, but I didn't know it was a 'thing' until I started talking to other moms. I didn't know anything about the world of slings. I didn't know I'd become so passionate about it.

And while everything for ME was going well enough, you still get the comments....comments about how meeting his every need is spoiling him, and how he needs to be on a schedule in order to cope with life later on, and how I'd better kick him out of the bed before he's two, or he'll never want to leave.

The problem is, especially when you're single I think, you start to believe all that. You're doing it differently, you're acting out of desperation, so you're wrong. You can't just leave your baby with your parents for a weekend to have some personal time, so that means you're allowing your child to manipulate and control you. Even living with my parents and having my mom assure me that I had nothing to worry about, it's still not the same as having someone your own age to bounce your worries off of. I felt guilty for having personal time, but also felt guilt for myself when I spent too much time 'parenting'. After your 2-year-old waking up to nurse for the 4th time that night, you start to hate what you've done and wish it was different.

Toby was (is) shy and clingy and hated loud places and large groups. He never crawled more than a few feet away before either coming back or screaming for me to follow. For a long time I believed that this was my fault because I didn't take him to more play groups and force him to have time away from me. He screamed in the car, he screamed at nap time, he screamed when we got dressed. And again, I felt this was my fault because I 'gave in' too much to him and didn't just make him get used to 'sucking it up'.
It was 'my fault' he was cranky and demanding because I spent my pregnancy being depressed, and although I ate healthy, I should have done more. He would have been a happier baby if I was a happier person. He would like people better if I had cared enough to expose him at a young age.
But then at home most of the time he was downright lively. Curious, smart, funny, inquisitive, learning words early and speaking clearly long before others his age.
So maybe I was doing something right....right?

I have just started reading the book Raising Your Spirited Child by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka. The tag line is "A guide for parents whose child is more intense, sensitive, perceptive, persistent and energetic".
I'm only three chapters in, and a lot of it is stuff I already 'know' through personal experience and drawing my own conclusions, but seeing it all laid out in nice neat little headers and sections, and reading stories of other parents is just so relieving. One of the first lines of the book mentions how her son would have a 45 minute tantrum when his toast was cut into triangles but he was expecting squares. It talks about how some kids seem more stand offish and some are permanently wired.
Everything I'm reading is 'Toby'. Everything I'm reading says it's not the parent's fault. You didn't make your child hate baths and clothing. You didn't make your child moody and shy. They're born with a temperament and can have a range of characteristics therein that make them especially intense or perceptive or sensitive. You can't change them, so learn from them.
Reading this book is like getting a warm hug after a crappy day.

I could go on more about the book, but I'll be writing forever if I do.

What the book is really doing for me (even though I'm only 3 chapters in) is reaffirming things I already believed.
Working WITH your kids gets you further than trying to tell them what to do or turn them into your idea of how they should react or behave.
Respecting your child's feelings will in turn get them to talk to you and treat you with respect. You can't demand something you don't set an example for.
Getting your kids to put their energy into helping you, instead of trying to make them sit quiet and stay out of the way, will benefit both sides of the relationship and help enforce responsibility without it being a lecture.
Listen to your kids. Listen to what they want and what they're saying and try to take them seriously if you want them to take you seriously.

Obviously different things work for different kids and families, but attachment parenting is what we both needed here. It was hard. I hated a lot of it. But now, there's not much I would change.

Toby is becoming ore outgoing and friendly each time we go out, because he is sure of himself, because I helped him feel like that.
He sleeps through the night, in his own bed, because I helped him through his extended period of being insecure.
He gave up nursing and toilet trained with very little fight, because I didn't force him too early, and understood when we had the odd 'backtrack day'.
He's articulate and clever and asks questions way beyond what a 4 year old should care about, because I talk to him about things beyond what a 4 year old should care about.

Every kid is different. Some kids will be comforted by a 'shush' and a warm hand in the middle of the night, and other kids need to fulfill their vampiric need to nurse or they will work themselves into a panicked rage. There's nothing you can do about it but be understanding.
Some kids thrive in organized sports, other kids decide you're not their friend anymore because you suggested they kick the soccer ball with the inside of their foot and not their toe.
Some kids only want to eat pasta and crackers. Other kids will eat anything, but heaven forbid you only have the stick kind of pretzel when they were expecting the knotted kind.
It usually has very little to do with them 'trying' to be bratty, and more to do with them trying to figure out the world and getting mad when things don't go how they expected them to. It's confusing and overwhelming and  there is this group of 'Spirited' kids who need a little extra parenting and understanding along the way.

Listening to your child is never spoiling them. Loving them is never spoiling them. Holding them when they cry is never spoiling them. Comforting them, whether it be nursing or sleeping in your bed, is never spoiling them.
Having a 'Spirited Child' can be more exhausting (mentally and physically) on parents, especially when you're the only one, but that just means that the pay-off is more rewarding.

For the benefit of those who don't follow this blog through facebook, I'm entered in the Top 25 Single Mom Blogs of 2013 on Circle of Moms.
If you'd like to vote, you can do so once per day until the end of February!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

A Day in the Life


-Baths (though didn't think to photo document that early in the morning)

-Fulfull request to make play dough, even though we made some yesterday and we haven't had breakfast.

-Finally, Toby's breakfast

 -Tv snack an hour later

 -Serious construction business 

-Leftover soup for lunch

-Venturing into the frigid blindingness of the day

-Grumpy cat 1

 -Grumpy cat 2

-Shoveling the path with the smallest shovel in the entrance way....

-Icicle snack

 - Shoveling off the deck

 - Snow swinging

 -Grumpy cat 3

 - Mood stomp back to the house after mom dared to suggest that the flying saucer path was getting too slippery to be starting from the very tip top of the hill since mom just crashed into the fence and really hurt her elbow. 

-Releasing grump on play dough pile (though NOT the batch that mom was requested to make a few hours before) while mom does dishes.

 -Making chocolate pudding

-Popcorn snack and TV break...

 -To watch Best Recipes Ever..

-And Stefano Faita

-Making an Olympic sport out of slide bumping down the stairs

 -Dinner, with a side of traffic jam.

-Pasta crab salad!

-Reading with Grampa.....and mom slips away to hide....