Archive for October, 2008

Happy Birthday, Sari

Wednesday, October 29th, 2008

Reid got a new Chirp magazine in the mail last night and so knock-knock jokes are in my thoughts. I wanted something profound – like a thank-you for all of the childrens’ book advice Sari offers – or something amusing like the story of the underwear she had to wear at Kathleen’s wedding but what came out was this joke:

Knock, knock.
Who’s there?
Sari who?
Sari we couldn’t be there to give you a birthday kiss in person.

I’m not in control of my thumbs, my brain is* and it wanted to write a joke. We’re all lucky that it didn’t want me to write and perform a song. I could come up with a poem that’s appropriate for both Sari’s birthday and Halloween:

Roses are dead,
Leaves are falling,
Happy birthday, Sari,
You are a darling.

But I can’t carry a tune, let alone write one. (I might not be the world’s greatest poet, either ;+)

Happy birthday, Sari! I hope this is a great year!

* I’ve tried telling Reid that she is in control of her brain but she disputes this assertion. She says that is does what it wants and goes to spend time with her dad while she sleeps. Logic is no match for the conviction of a 4-year-old.

A few words about words

Monday, October 27th, 2008

I’ve been thinking about sharing some Reid-isms for a while and tonight is the night I’m actually writing about them.

Pardon you, what you say? – This one is impossible to reflect back in a way that helps Reid hear the proper usage. I’ll ask rhetorically, “What did I say?” and then continue but we’ll have to wait for the arrival of “pardon me”.

Ee-chother (with the accent on the second syllable) – referring to the two of us together, I don’t know how often I use this reflexive pronoun but I noticed it in the last month or so. Pronouns are the sort of thing I need to master to succeed on my oral exam.

Unlove – Reid and I say, “I love you” before we go to sleep. She will often expand on this. We will love each other always, even if we don’t want to play together, even if we are old and she is a mama with babies of her own. In fact, we will love each other even after we are “died”, which I always note will be a long, long time from now. Reid summarizes with the following, “We will never unlove each other.” She is right, at least for my part and I hope for hers as well. I know that the pre-teen and teenage years are said to be full of conflict (though I seem to have more or less forgotten this from my younger years) but I’m confident that my mama love will withstand them. I will never unlove Reid.

Inter-upt – (emphasis on the second syllable) this is the case of a word interrupted if ever there was one. Reid will say, “Don’t inter-upt me! That’s wude!” (The initial Rs are still missing in action.) I usually hear this when I’m asking her to do something for the umpteenth time and she is talking about something else and ignoring my request completely. I know that interrupting is a behaviour that the teachers are working on eliminating at school but I feel justified. What to do?

Pardon me versus excuse me – Reid is interested in these expressions. When her sensibilities have been offended, she will sometimes ask for the regret to be expressed as “Pardon me …” and sometimes she wants to hear “Excuse me …”, both with full excuses to follow, and other times she wants to hear both. You’d think that I’m a burping, farting swine but that’s not the case. Lately, she has decided that “excuse me” is preferable because it’s more polite. I pressed her on this line of reasoning but she couldn’t explain her reason for finding “pardon me” lacking. Perhaps she is corrected at school. I’m an “Oh, pardon me” person from a way back and it may be too late for me to change my ways. After all I’m still working on accepting different ways of hanging the toilet paper roll.

So good, so far

Friday, October 24th, 2008

We finally got to the hotel about 11:30 later. Reid is a highway girl – as soon as I put the car in park her eyes popped open from what had looked to be a deep sleep. Uncle Roger came down to carry her up while I brought stuff in and presented myself at reception. By the time I got to the room, Reid was snuggled in a bed with Dylan watching television. Apparently Dylan is also a highway boy.

Aunt Karin, Reid and I were talking about who would sleep where and one of the proposals would have seen Reid sleeping with me rather than Dylan. He objected to this with an indignant, “I haven’t slept with Reid in so long!” as he touched her back. Like, never. They did try when we were in Toronto but Reid decided she wanted to sleep with me. Last night, I was invited to join them and that seems like progress to me.

Reid was awake about 5:00 or so but I told her it was too early to talk or be awake. When she woke up the second time, I tried the same logic but with little success. Her plaintive, “But when can I talk?” must have attracted Uncle Roger’s attention because he told us the time immediately when I said I’d have to check the clock to know. Reid is blessed/stuck with my internal clock, I guess, since she woke up at her usual time despite the break in her sleep (and my lack of sleep due to the drive.)

The kids modelled their Halloween costumes for each other about 6:30. They both made admiring noises and so I think that the skunk and pteradactyl (sp?) will be strutting their stuff at the party tomorrow night. I finally convinced Dylan that he should go to the bathroom and as he walked over he said, “I don’t know if dinosaurs pee.” (hee, hee, hee … Pause for effect …) I know that they poop! (hee, hee, hee) So funny!” It’s going to be a weekend full of potty humour – also Reid’s favourite – but a fun one, I expect.

Uncle Roger invited the kids to go for a walk. “Where to?” they asked. He told them they would see fancy signs and buildings but not that the key was to keep them from waking the others on our floor. I should take advantage of the time to shower.

My way or by Reid

Monday, October 20th, 2008

In Ken’s absence, Reid has been taking on more responsibilities with greater and lesser degrees of success. She is more than capable of giving the cats kibble although she tends toward the “super sized” servings, both in the bowl and in the number she drops for Leo (because he likes to “hunt” a few off of the floor). Reid’s one attempt to fill the water bowl in the basement resulted in a panicked yell and wet clothes. The controls on the utility sink are exceedingly sensitive, except you have to twist and twist before they respond at all, and they seem to me to work backwards. In any case, Reid hasn’t tried to fill the water bowl since that first time.

Reid has mastered the art of changing the toilet paper roll. She seeks out occasions to practice this skill, a change from the state of play in most house I know. The only thing, and it’s a small thing but I notice, Reid tends to put the roll on so that the toilet paper unrolls at the back and bottom. I’m a dispenses from the top and front woman. Everyone knows that there is only one correct way to hang toilet paper (and that is the way they happen to do it). I say nothing to Reid except, “Hey, thanks!” Or maybe, “I’m so glad we work as a team!” A little part of me, the part that appreciates – but ignores – the irony of my otherwise lax housekeeping traits co existing with this anal one, knows I’m silly to quibble but would still prefer that she change the way Reid hangs the toilet paper. I’m not dumb enough to correct her though.

I’ll take help in Reid’s way than doing everything myself. When we were newly together, Ken told me that I could have something done my way or by him. This was a good way to explain the choice before me. I had to leave the room when he washed dishes to suppress my impulse to improve his process but it worked out overall. I don’t know whether when he washes dishes by hand he still puts each dish in the water all alone but I know that I’m not the only one who washes dishes and that is the main thing. Now, I’m not the only one to change the toilet paper either. Things are going well.

Signs of the season in Ottawa

Friday, October 17th, 2008

Yesterday, the weather man mentioned that there was a chance that next Tuesday afternoon’s rain could turn to snow in the evening. I congratulated myself for having booked an appointment to have the winter tires put on just that morning. When we had them put on last year, we explained to Reid that our car needed the snow tires just like she needed snow boots. Reid has extrapolated this to mean that we need to stop eating cereal with milk and eat oatmeal exclusively. Never mind that she has been eating oatmeal most every day since Ken left and every school day since the start of her second week. (Confession: Reid brushes her teeth before we leave the house and then eats her cereal in the car. I have no shame.) I could have some trouble conforming to this dictate since I like my oatmeal piping hot and that is difficult to achieve in the rush of getting out the door. Mushy bran flakes that have absorbed all of the milk are somehow less objectionable.

I haven’t found a pair of snow boots for Reid yet, haven’t even looked. I think I might be in denial. Despite an awareness of the fact that snow in Ottawa rarely waits for winter – or November – to put in its first appearance, some part of my mind has decided that it won’t happen until Ken is here to shovel it. It’s sad when people who know better take – or delaying taking – actions and create situation that they know will only end badly.

As for snow tires, the Quebec government has made them mandatory, starting this winter. Faced with this guaranteed surge in demand, Wal-Mart closed the only part of its operation to unionize and have a contract established, saying that they would have had to raise prices too much to pay the employees – all of $10 or $11 an hour instead of $8. I’m not sure that I would want to trust something as important as my tires to people paid that little and treated that poorly. (I’m holding back on including the words to *Solidarity forever* but only just.)

Hear Pete Seeger’s version:

Two weeks ago we went for one last trip to the beach, last week we went crunching through the leaves and this week I’m hearing predictions of snow. Yes, those are signs of the fall season in Ottawa.

Breastfeeding, poverty and Blog Action Day

Wednesday, October 15th, 2008

Today, October 15, is  Blog Action Day 2008 and the theme this year is poverty. Angela, at Breastfeeding 1-2-3 has proposed a focus on breastfeeding and I think that is a worthwhile link to make. Starting our children off on a good basis is surely one of the issues to be addressed when confronting poverty.

I remember that books that I read when I was pregnant revealed an inverse relationship between income and rates of breastfeeding, that is: that the less money that you had access to, the more likely you were to use formula to feed your child. It surprised me from a purely economic point of view. If money was tight, why wouldn’t you breastfeed to avoid the cost of formula? Of course, the issue is far from that simple. An Australian study from August 2008 explains the tendency not to breastfeed:

Women from lower socioeconomic backgrounds were less likely to breastfeed for various reasons, including a lack of family support, less ability to seek help with breastfeeding problems, less flexibility with working arrangements, and concerns about breastfeeding in public.

A Canadian study breastfeeding from multicultural perspectives from 1997 explains that formula-feeding is perceived as the norm in Western society and thus a behaviour to be modeled in developing societies.

It is interesting to note that the adoption of commercially prepared infant formula in developing countries is so frequent that some anthropologists see the continuation of breastfeeding as an inverse indicator of acculturation to Western ways (Bader, 1979 as cited in Henderson & Brown, 1987). In other words, researchers suggest that the rate at which a particular cultural group adopts bottle-feeding and decreases breastfeeding can be used as a measure of the extent to which that culture has replaced its traditional beliefs and practices with those of the Western world.

Of all that the West could share with the developing world, it shames me that we have shared a propensity toward a less-healthful approach to infant feeding. It makes me think of the adoption of white bread, a nutritionally inferior product that was initially available only to those who could afford the costs of over-processing the flour but which soon became sought-after by all in society, to the detriment of their health.

According to a number of sources, James P. Grant (past Executive Director of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF)) stated, “Breastfeeding is a natural safety net against the worst effects of poverty”. This seems emininently logical but what are the concrete steps that must be taken to encourage higher rates of breastfeeding among those in poverty?

1. Increase the number of Baby-friendly hospitals, which includes: helping mothers initiate breastfeeding within 30 minutes of giving birth; showing mothers how to breastfeed and maintain lactation, even if they should be separated from their infants; giving newborn infants no food or drink other than breastmilk, not even sips of water, unless medically indicated; giving no artificial teats or pacifiers (also called dummies or soothers) to breastfeeding infants; and other criteria.

2. Increased breastfeeding help in the community, like Well-baby drop in sessions and La Leche League meetings but especially peer support programs.

3. Paid maternity leave to allow for the establishment of good breastfeeding routines.

4. Work with employers to establish locations and policies conducive to pumping breastmilk when the mother does return to work

5. On a personal level, and with no research to back me up, I think that breastfeeding mothers should breastfeed their babies in public because it is normal and important and should be seen. Those who are nursing or have done so in the past should talk about their experiences. Again normalizing the experience seems important and you establish yourself as a resource should the person have a question or need a bit of support.

6. Institute or continue public education campaigns that promote breastfeeding in culturally-sensitive terms for various communities. I would argue that this would include using humour to appeal to younger mothers.

More thoughts on breastfeeding and poverty will be shared through this month’s Carnival of Breastfeeding.

School pictures

Saturday, October 11th, 2008

I’m sure that most of the parents if Reid’s classmates were hoping that their kids would look good in their school pictures. I wasn’t. It’s so much cheaper to buy photos from the Loblaws’ Portrait Studio that I booked a session for Reid the day after picture day at school. And then I forgot to take her to it. (I do wish that the Portrait Studio was like the dentist and called me to remind me of the appointment.) All of a sudden, I was one of those parents who was hoping that the pictures from school would turn out. Of course, the company that takes school photographs doesn’t deliver the proofs right away. They must want to encourage prayer in schools or at least among the parents of the children in schools.

Two weeks after picture day, there was (finally) an envelope in Reid’s bag with the proofs in it. As far as I can tell, they took one really good picture of Reid that they then presented in various cropped versions and treatments. She looks so cute! I’m a (tiny) bit biased but it’s true. There is no glare on her glasses and they’re where they belong on her nose. She’s at just the right angle that no part of her face is magnified by her lenses (a new thing for me to watch for in pictures).  All in all, I’m happy and won’t complain about paying what turns out to be just a bit more than Loblaws’ prices.

I worry, though, if my hoping for bad pics will come back to bite me in her class photo. We haven’t seen it yet and so there is always the risk that my wishes will have come true in it. It really is important to be careful what you wish for.

Happy birthday, Grandma Joyce

Friday, October 10th, 2008

Mom has been expecting a birthday message from me for almost a year. As you may recall, I sent my first-ever birthday message to Chris one year ago tomorrow and that means Mom has been waiting a long, long time and, you know, I don’t think she likes to wait.

Top 10 reasons that I’m glad that I got Mom for my mother:
1. She loves me completely, totally and without question. What’s more, she loves many other people in the same way. It’s good to be part of the gang of the “loved”.
2. She has a song for any and every occasion, turn of phrase, and mood.
3. She taught me that the best thing a mother can do for her child is to love the father. This is good advice and she followed it herself.
4. She taught me that tossing clothes in a dryer with a damp cloth will get out almost all of the wrinkles. This is important to know, too.
5. She has always had time – or made time – to listen to my hopes, dreams, fears and musings. Dare I say blathering? And I use past tense because I’m not talking to her right now but she listened to me last night.
6. She sews the most beautiful clothes for Reid. Some have some bad words sewn into them but all show her love.
7. She can be counted on for a comment on any situation, like when she asked Ken about his thoughts on marriage the first weekend I ever brought him home. No pressure. Or the reassurance and support she offers when I’m lonely or uncertain in his absence.
8. She has baked dozens of dozens of dozens of cookies over the years. What’s more, she let me ‘”help” when I was a girl and has accepted Reid’s “assistance” as well.
9. She has my hands. Or maybe I have her hands. Either way, looking at my hands makes me think of her.
10. She has nurtured me, prodded me, disciplined me and did whatever was necessary to be done to get or keep me where I needed to be.

Happy birthday, Mom!

Vote child care on October 14

Thursday, October 9th, 2008

I’m not a political person generally but just as having a daughter has brought forward my feminist self that had slipped into the background after university, having a child makes me want to write a bit about child care just days before the October 14th election. I received a message from Child Care Advocacy Association of Canada that provides some statistics from a recent survey of attitudes toward child care. The key findings show:

  • Three-quarters of Canadians (77%) think that the lack of affordable child care is a
    very (31%) or somewhat (46%) serious problem in Canada today.
  • Across the country, the lack of affordable child care is seen as particularly serious in
    the Atlantic provinces (86%), British Columbia (85%), and Ontario (78%). Seventy
    percent (70%) of Quebec residents, and 75% of Prairie residents, see it as a
    serious problem.
  • Supporters of all political parties see an important role for governments in
    helping parents meet their child care needs, including Conservatives (75%), Liberals
    (88%), New Democrats (95%), Green Party supporters (81%), and Bloc Quebecois
    supporters (88%).

The $100 cheque that I receive each month for Reid is simply not the same as a child care plan. The way to create an adequate system requires that the equivalent of those $100 payments (and more) be spent strategically on a system. Scattering the money throughout society is tactical – it may engender support for the party that implemented the payments but it doesn’t build infrastructure and it may even permit some people who couldn’t otherwise afford child care to afford it but it won’t help them to find child care. Our family has the money to pay for child care but it was not easy to find care for Reid before she started school - we had to drive in the wrong direction to take her to her day care but at least it was a good one – and we were unable to find child care that complimented her public school hours. We’re fortunate enough to have been able to find and afford an independent school that offers pre- and post-care.

I don’t know how to show respect (in monetary terms) for families who choose to have one parent stay home with the children. Maybe $100 per month does make a difference in their lives. For me, even though Reid will soon not fall into the traditional child care age group, I’m voting for a party that supports a  child care system

Whatever your reason, get out there next Tuesday and vote!

Psychic abilities required

Thursday, October 9th, 2008

The other day when I was getting Reid dressed, she started to cry when I put her clothes on in the following order: underwear; shirt; tights; and then, almost, jumper. When I asked what was wrong she sobbed that she wanted her tights on before her shirt. I took her shirt and tights off and put them on in the “right” order. As I did so, I suggested that Reid should have told me the order in which she wanted her clothes on earlier. Reid’s voice broke as she said, “But I wanted you to know what I wanted. I didn’t want to tell you.” Oh, so now I fail her because my psychic abilities aren’t up to the task. Being a mom sure is tough.