Archive for September, 2007

How much is your baby worth?

Tuesday, September 18th, 2007

I noticed in a CBC story today that Danny Williams has promised $1,000 for each child born or adopted in Newfoundland and Labrador if he is re-elected as Premier in the election campaign that just kicked off. I guess that while you can’t put a price on love,  you can put a price on a child.

I wouldn’t say “no” to a thousand dollars but I think it’s awfully simplistic – and more than a little reminiscent of the $100 universal “childcare” payments – and deals with the result of the problem rather than the problem. People decide not to have children for a variety of reasons including financial, lifestyle, including marrying and having babies later, dual-income couples, lack of support systems when people can only find jobs far from the rest of their families, etc. Oh, and some people think that daycare is too difficult to find and too expensive, especially when you have two kids in full-time care. Problems not solved by $100 a month, even when you add $1000 on the birth of a baby.

Nasty, brutish and short

Tuesday, September 18th, 2007

This morning we were discussing what to have for supper when Ken said that he didn’t care because he doubted that he’d have a chance to eat anyway. I made some crack about how his outlook was negative and that for him, life was nasty, brutish and short. Ken grinned and said that I was “short” and he was “nasty” and Reid was definitely “brutish”. Watching Reid eat her breakfast, he pointed and said, “definitely brutish”. Just because my little princess was scooping Nutrios off of the table into her mouth.

Ultimately, I forgot to put the pork in the crockpot and so we won’t be having pulled pork for supper. Reid and I made boiled eggs before breakfast. I had some concern about the freshness of the eggs and googled “eggs float if fresh”. Fresh eggs stay on the bottom of the pan of water; mine were super-buoyant floaters. I’m Reid forgets about them. It’s too soon for me to be explaining my silliness again and again. All this to say that the chances that Ken won’t get any supper are higher than ever.

If you’re wracking your brains trying to remember where you’ve heard the quote, it’s from Thomas Hobbes’ Leviathon in reference to the life of humans in their natural state.

Reliving my silliness

Monday, September 17th, 2007

I locked my keys in the car Sunday morning. While we were waiting for the tow truck driver, Reid was full of questions. Unfortunately for me, many of them were focused on out predicament.
Reid: What are we doing?
Mama: Waiting for the tow truck driver to come and open our car.
Reid: Why?
Mama: Because I locked my keys and purse in the car and I can’t pay for us to get into Upper Canada Village.
Reid: Why lock keys in the car?
Mama: Because I’m silly.
Reid: Why?
Mama: Do you want me to read you some stories? (I remembered our little bag of books but not my purse.)

A few minutes later, Reid asked her first question again – the verbal equivalent of “wet hair, lather, rinse, repeat.” The main variance was what I said to distract her. We read stories, collected leaves, ate an apple, threw the core away and admired the flowers in the bed whose wall provided us a seat.

We have many conversations that are repetive like this one but it’s only the ones about about my foolishness that needle. This is the song that never ends and some of our conversations don’t seem to either.

Edited to add:

My sister commented that it’s unfortunate that I can’t attach the keys to my Blackberry with a carabiner since I *never* forget my crackberry. My response:

And also too bad that I didn’t listen to the voice in my head that said I should lock the doors with my key fob instead of the on-door lock. I thought my purse was in the basket of the stroller and didn’t want the hassle of bending over and getting it out. I’m smart enough to think of the right way but too dumb to act on the thought. ;+)

Mabel Murple and Too Tall Reid

Saturday, September 15th, 2007

Reid has a book about Mabel Murple by Sheree Fitch, which tells the story of a little girl who dreams about a purple world and the life of a purple girl named Mabel Murple. There was an exerpt in a recent Owl or maybe Chickadee (one of Melissa’s kids read it to Reid) and so we’ve been reading it lately. In any case … one morning this week,

Reid: When I was tall like daddy, I was a boy and really tall. (Reid stretches her arms above her head.) You were a durl. There was no mommy.
Me: No mommy? That is sad.
Reid, not paying attention to me: And I had a tall telebision. (Streches arms above her head) And I watched tall shows. (Stretches arms again) I was the brother and you were the sister. You were a little durl. And there were 2 daddies.
Me: Ah, 2 daddies. (Thinking: being a single parent seems very difficult)
Reid, seeming to have noticed I’m interested in the parents in the story: Daddy was one daddy and I was the brother and you was the sister. And … (more about being tall and a boy)

Reid’s description of life as a tall boy continued for about 5 minutes in all. It was a good and happy part of her (imagined) life. To think some people need to be hypnotized to remember their past lives.

Water, just water, not in a bottle

Saturday, September 15th, 2007

In the last week or so, I’ve eaten at a couple of restaurants and ordered water as I always do. The waiters have been almost aggressive in asking what kind of bottled water I want. “No, thanks,” I say, “tap water with ice cubes is fine.” I guess that they’re not following the news about people getting more interested in the environment and following the lead of the Oz Cafe in downtown Ottawa that was covered by CBC Radio for its decision. My wish for Reid, then, is that our city’s water remains good enough to drink straight from the tap. And to the snooty waiters out there (who probably don’t read this anyway) I have nothing to be embarassed by in ordering water; you have something to lose in your tip, though.

Back to school, with less packaging

Friday, September 14th, 2007

I read an interesting post by Katherine at From Dirt to Dish about an Eat Local Challenge yesterday and the actions she is taking to reduce her family’s carbon footprint by buying foods grown and processed close to home. It made me think of the actions that I need to take- and to also wish that the challenge had started in the summer when Ottawa is more hospitable to eating locally. Then, this morning I read Dani’s Postcard from the Mothership on facing her family’s ugly eco-truth and I decided that I could tackle the packaging problem that BlogHer Act Canada has identified for focus this month.

They are asking a few questions and also for reflection on what can be done on a personal level. I’ll answer the questions at the end.

There are quite a few posts about reducing packaging – the first of the trinity of Rs  – and so I’m going to cover reusing. I walk the fine line between keeping too much “just in case” materials and creative re-use. Reid has a little post office/theatre/grocery store from Discovery Toys. We have kept some sample packages for the grocery store part. At a garage sale recently, I saw a woman who had packaged a bunch of empty single-serving containers for just that sort of purpose. She explained that it helped justify the single-serving containers for camping.

In my world, junk mail falls into the category of packaging or at least it does in this post. I’m a shredder of mail with personal information on it. The problem is that the paper then goes to the recycle bin with so much potential left in it. Or it would if I didn’t save it ina bucket. One day recently, when Ken was out, Reid and I had a “snowfight” with the shredded paper, made a craft and then spent a bunch of time sweeping and vacuuming (fun activities for Reid). If I can rig up the frames, I think we’ll make some paper as presents for Christmas. I also asked daycare if they wanted some of the shredded paper and they said, “yes”. Daycare is really good place to send the things that have potential still in them when we are done using them.

Reid draws and paints on a roll of paper that threads through her Ikea easel. As the paper is used, I keep it in a single piece and roll it into itself. When we have a birthday or other occasion, we use the paper to wrap gifts. Even Reid received a birthday gift wrapped in limited-edition Reidie paper. For the most part, our Christmas presents going out into the world in cotton bags. I can’t say enough about bagged gifts. The appearance of the gifts under the tree is fabulous; you can have a much greater variety of bags than wrapping papers. It’s faster to “wrap” a present in a bag and it is *so* much easier to clean up after the presents are unwrapped.

Now for the questions:

1.  How many disposable plastic water bottles would you and your family have used?

We generally use very few plastic water bottles – I’m cheap as well as environmentally conscious – but we went to a cottage for Labour Day Weekend that didn’t have water that was safe to drink. A fact we didn’t know in advance and so weren’t able to arrange for large containers of water. We went through at least 12 bottles in that one weekend alone. At work, I get a plastic glass of water from Starbuck’s each morning. This needs to stop. I will have to buy a reusable metal container since I can’t count on winning the nice one being offered as a prize. I guess the packaging on it won’t be significant compared to the plastic glasses it will replace. So, I can save 3-5 plastic water bottles by being more prepared on weekend activities and 10 plastic glasses for the remainder of this month. And if I keep it up, presumably the purpose of the exercise, that would be 6 bottles and 20 glasses a month.

2.  How many disposable coffee cups do you save by bringing your own?

I bring a travel mug of coffee with me each morning but then switch to tea at the office. Most cups are consumed out of a china teapot and cup. I do go to Starbucks, though, and have gotten out of the habit of bringing my travel mug – a Chicago mug acquired at BlogHer, in fact. I’ll commit to skipping tea when I forgot my travel mug at my desk or at least I’ll commit to going back for the cup when I realize that I’ve forgotten it. If only I drank coffee, Starbucks would give me 10 cents off each cup.

3.  How many cans of pop do you save buy buying larger sizes or switching beverage choices?

Oh, on this one, I’m good. I drink maybe 2 cans of pop a month. Ken, though, is another story. I’m going to have to stick with what Janet at Three and Holding says about recycling the cans because we’re good with recycling the cans.

How can I work these into conversation

Friday, September 14th, 2007

I was reading a legal interpretation of the part of the act, for which I’m writing a directive, Tuesday and came across the following, “Without doing violence to the meaning of the word”. I read it and continued on but had to go back. How could I leave such an imaginative phrase alone? Maybe that is typical legalese but it struck me as elegant. There are a few people who use the word “fullsome” incorrectly in such a way that they do serious violence to the meaning of the word. I’ll be able to call them on it without causing offence. (Or not ;+)

Roger called me with an invented word he’d read about in the Toronto Star that made him think of me:
Snooziasm (noun) – a strong inclination to nap
I’m not sure if I should be insulted. I might be if it weren’t an accurate word to describe an important part of my personality. I used to tell people that I didn’t sleep in but I was a napper. Now I can tell them that I’m snooziastic and if they question the word, I’ll tell them to take it up with my big brother.

Guess how much I love you – the hair care edition

Friday, September 14th, 2007

Confession: I bring home the little bottles of shampoo, conditioner, etc. plus the little soaps when I stay in hotels. Not just the part bottles that I haven’t emptied but full bottles, too. In fact, I clear them from the bathroom counter each day so that I’ll get a full set of replacements. It’s a compulsion and a hereditary one. I get if from Grandma D. I don’t open the soap wrappers to the the bars can age and so last longer. This means there is hope for Reid. Maybe she’ll inherit only the need to bring home the half-used ones and *her* child won’t think twice about leaving them behind.

I read somewhere that to save money, you should use up absolutely all of something before buying another. It made me think of those shampoos and conditioners lingering in their baskets in the guest bathroom. We don’t have enough company to require that I keep the little bottles for my guests. I reached in and came out with a mini bottle of Neutrogena Clean hair conditioner. Wow, what a nice product! It lasted for 3.5 showers and it made my hair so silky soft and easy to manage. I was almost ready to buy some but then I remembered that I was supposed to be using them all up. Besides what if there is an even better conditioner hiding in the basket?

When it was time to wash Reid’s hair Wednesday night, I decided to be magnanimous and share the fabulous Neutrogena Clean conditioner. We had been using the same discount conditioner. It may have only been me, but it sure seemed *much* easier to comb Reid’s hair after her bath and the next morning I noticed that it had an extra-pretty sheen to it.

And to think I’ve been letting other people use the mini bottles all this time! Whoever decided to sell Neutragena in mini bottles made a great marketing decision. I doubt I would have tried it otherwise.

I’m a lactivist – Breastfeeding Challenge, September 29, 2007

Wednesday, September 12th, 2007

Anyone who reads this blog regularly will know that I’m a breastfeeding mother of a 3 year old (yes, really, she is 3) . Reid will stop nursing eventually but I’m not pressing the issue at this point. When Reid was small, we went to a Breastfeeding Challenge at the Place d’Orleans and since then, I’ve not got us organized and to another event. This year, though, we’re going to the St Laurent Centre to nurse and be counted. If you want to join in, there is a list of sites across Canada and the United States that are participating in the 2007 Breastfeeding Challenge.

Cottage life, part 3

Wednesday, September 12th, 2007

It’s funny, isn’t it, how the last day of a holiday seems to be filled with going home. As I lay in bed waking up, I was thinking of what needed to be packed, what needed to be eaten so that it didn’t have to be packed and that sort of thing.

Reid and I left Ken to sleep in a bit on Monday morning and tried to go to the highly-recommended Apple Betty’s in Morrisburg for breakfast. Reid was starving, ready to chew on her own fingers by the time we made it from Iroquois to Morrisburg and then to far side outskirts of town. Of course, the restaurant was closed. We went to the Macintosh Inn instead. Reid wanted sausages (of course) and I added toast so that the waitress didn’t think I’m a bad mother. I ordered french toast and the waitress warned me that they would be sweet. I kind of shrugged not knowing what to say. Later I heard her offering to bring the cinnamon and sugar separately. I’m glad I hadn’t had the option. The french toast that were placed in front of me were encrusted with 1/4 centimetre of cinnamon and brown sugar. It was a lot like eating freshly-baked doughnuts. Yum! I had to stop after a piece and a half because the sugar was making me twitchy.

As we drove back to the cottage, Reid told me that she and Ken would be doing the packing and I should sit down. While that sounded pretty good, I thought it might cause some stress in my relationship with Ken. I convinced her that I should pack the food and leave her and Ken to the the “stuff”. We all worked together for a while and then Ken and Reid went to the gazebo to play. She had asked me to go but I wanted to be alone more than I wanted to slack. It was going along swimmingly until we got into the car. Ken is a foot taller than me and needs the driver seat farther from the steering wheel than I do, surprisingly enough. I had the backseat floor packed. Oops!

We were only 10-minutes late leaving. Since we’d been told we needed to be out at 10ish, I thought we did well. We drove to Upper Canada Village and took the miniature train to Crysler Park Beach. I’d always thought that the train just ran in a purposeless loop but, since we didn’t use the only tickets we’d bought for it at during the Alight at Night event we went to last year, I had no real information. I’d never given much consideration to the term “miniature train” but if I had, I would have thought of the train as being short, cute and low to the ground. I wouldn’t have equated “miniature” to “torture”, as in “when you’re 6 foot 2, a miniature train is a form of torture that you endure if you love your daughter.” Poor Ken has such long legs that he couldn’t get comfortable even when he sat as sideways as possible on the little seat. He didn’t complain – I couldn’t fault him for the grimace of pain that crossed his face. Being short has some advantages, it turns out.

We got off the train with our basket of sand toys and picnic lunch when we got to the little train station at Crysler Park beach. The beach was only a short walk away. The sand at the edge of the St Lawrence River seemed “imported” to me, not that I’m an expert but it didn’t seem to match the stones in the river. I’m not complaining about the sand, though, since it was fine and clean and perfect for castles. Ken and I built the castles and Reid destroyed them with glee. I convinced her to wait while I built a compound with several castle buildings and even a wall. Reid was trying to wiggle herself into the hole I was making as I filled my buckets and so I made a point of digging a girl-shaped hole. Soon enough, she was laying in the hole and I was covering her with sand. Have I started a odd little habit or do all kids like to be buried in sand? Once freed from the sand, Reid offered a brief look of admiration, or was that calculation, for my development Reid asked if she could knock it down. She danced and stomped and soon all was flat.

We ate our lunch at a picnic table, disposing of some of the leftover groceries and then went back to the train station when we saw the train’s approach. The train ran every half hour, and with the unrelenting approach of nap time, we were able to stay only an hour. Plus, the need to do laundry was intruding on our vacation. We used the bathrooms at Upper Canada Village, conveniently located outside of the gates, and had to explain to Reid that we weren’t able to go to see the animals. We piled into the car and Reid and I were asleep 5 minutes into the drive. Thanks to his sleeping in, Ken was able to stay awake for the whole trip.

I’ve said before how lucky we are to live in Ottawa. Now, I’ll add that I’m feeling lucky that Ottawa is situated where it is.