Oh, Rob. *Sigh*

Ford
Image from cbc.ca

Dear Rob Ford,

When you were elected as mayor of Canada’s largest city, all my Torontonian friends were aghast. They never thought you’d make it in. Having lived in Toronto for a couple years myself, I had to agree that you seemed pretty incongruous: Toronto is, after all, known for its diverse, savvy, cosmopolitan character, and you simply did not seem to reflect that. But hey, obviously you had enough voters. Who am I to argue?

I admit that I felt bad for you, that time you made a resolution to get fit and, um… failed. We’ve all had those times when we didn’t measure up to our own dreams for ourselves, and I’ll give you kudos for trying so publicly.

Suddenly, I could picture you as a high school kid, the kind who masks social insecurities by being a boor and drinking too much. It seems you never really got over that.

I heard your apology speech yesterday as it happened. Again, and rather in spite of myself, I felt pity for you. You did sound truly sorry (that triple “sincerely” really drove it home) and I’m sure it was all very difficult for you.

Also, I’m glad you admitted you were ashamed, that you’re an embarrassment, because that’s the first step to admitting there’s a problem with you. The question is, what took you so long? How were you not ashamed earlier? How were you not embarrassed by getting called out for those city buses you commandeered for your football team, for those pictures of you reading-and-driving on the Gardiner, for swearing on camera, for getting drunk in public, or for all the times you cut out early or didn’t show up for important events?

I didn’t actually see you fail to stop for a streetcar, and I don’t actually know if the sexual harassment charges hold true, but as a public figure, you must know that none of that matters. We’ve all lost count of the number of times your name has come up on the radio, followed by a report of sleazy/unprofessional behaviour, and we’ve rolled our eyes, thinking “How the hell is that guy still in office??”

Then we thought you were finally done for when you went on trial for Conflict of Interest. It felt like the one-jillionth strike against you, in a world where three strikes is usually enough to take you off the field. Honestly, I have no idea how you managed to wrangle your way back to the mayor’s chair from that one.

Furthermore, I don’t know why you wanted to. I simply don’t get why you think this mayor job is for you. Generally, when a city needs a mayor, one starts with UPSTANDING CITIZENS. I don’t mean to be uncharitable, but you simply ARE NOT ONE. Anyone who uses a “drunken stupor” as an excuse for smoking crack has a wacked-out idea of what it means to be a respectable person.

You have, in the past, lashed out at the media, saying “Show some respect.” (I can’t deny they’ve hounded you.)  But you neither show respect nor inspire it.

You apparently want to “regain the trust” of your constituents and “continue the work” you’ve already been doing. But seriously, there is no way to regain the trust at this point. It is gone. And as for continuing the work, I have to ask: does the amount of work you’ve done for the city even come close to the amount of time wasted on all the stupid shit you’ve done?

So why do you want this gig? Are you showing up some former bullies? Is it sheer pathological doggedness? Maybe it’s all a joke, just to see how much you can get away with and still hold onto your post? Or perhaps you’re being paid off by the federal Conservatives, to make them look less evil. After all, who cares about gross Senate overspending and Harper’s warmongering and duplicity – at least they don’t smoke crack!

To be frank, I’m not even sure what you love about Toronto. If you don’t like streetcars or cyclists or immigrants or refugees or women or Pride or homeless people or journalists, then you’re in the wrong city. You could definitely find football teams in towns more suited to you.

The bottom line is that, as mayor of Canada’s largest city, you represent all of us to a degree – regardless of whether any of us want you to. Thanks to you, in this way, we ALL look like idiots and we are ALL a laughingstock. And that is not okay.

Please, don’t be that obtuse, untrustable boyfriend who refuses to see he’s being broken up with. You do not need this job. You need help. You need to fix yourself before you can fix anything else. And I’m afraid Toronto’s just not that into you.

***


 

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How Eating Smarties Can Light Your Tap Water on Fire

Do you ever have those times when you read or see something alarming and think,

Shit, this is it. We are GOING DOWN FOR SURE THIS TIME. Humans are SCREWED.

I have thought this many times. When I was a kid in the ’80s, raised (and homeschooled) by liberal activist parents, I was pretty well-versed in environmental problems even before my age reached double digits. (We watched David Suzuki’s The Nature of Things regularly.) It seemed likely to Mini-Di that we would pollute ourselves to death pretty soon.

Then I took World Issues in high school (back when Ontario still had Grade 13), and was convinced that our little planet would not be able to handle the projected human population; we’d run out of food – and livable space – by 6.5 billion.

Amazingly, here we are. We’re still truckin’, well past 7 billion. I’m not quite sure how, but who am I to question?

This week, with another Earth Day behind us and May Day upon us, I’m mad at Nestlé. Again.

Yes, it’s Nestlé. “Good Food, Good Life.” Wholesome purveyor of Smarties, Perrier, and infant emaciation.

nestle-boycott-twins
This mother was told she would only have enough milk for one of her twins. She ended up with only one twin.

There has been a boycott of Nestlé since the 1970s, because of their aggressive promotion of infant formula in developing countries, where mothers have been persuaded to formula-feed, but are unable to make formula that is safe for babies to drink, due to water contamination, language barriers, etc.

no-nestle
Boycott Nestle

Last week, there was news that this oh-so-virtuous company, the largest food company in the world, has chalked up another point for greed:

Nigella sativa — more commonly known as fennel flower — has been used as a cure-all remedy for over a thousand years. It treats everything from vomiting to fevers to skin diseases, and has been widely available in impoverished communities across the Middle East and Asia.

But now Nestlé is claiming to own it, and filing patent claims around the world to try and take control over the natural cure of the fennel flower and turn it into a costly private drug. (From GlobalResearch.)

Classy move. Clearly they’re hurtin’ for cash. Nestlé has put a “clarification” (denial) on their website, because once the internet got ahold of this, it didn’t look very good on them. Gee, if it doesn’t look good… DON’T WEAR IT IN THE FIRST PLACE.

Then there’s the incredible mercenary attitude that is jeopardizing the water that Wellington County relies on.

Nestle photo

Nestlé Waters is the world’s largest bottled water company, and Wellington County in southwestern Ontario is home to its largest bottling facility in Canada. Under its current permit, Nestlé pays $3.71 for every million litres of water it pumps from the local watershed, which it then packages in single-use plastic bottles and sells back to the public for as much as $2 million!

Despite reaping enormous profits from bottling a shared public resource, Nestlé is now arguing for an even better deal. One of the mandatory conditions built into its water-taking permit requires Nestlé to reduce pumping by 10-20 per cent during times of drought. In a recent appeal to the Environmental Review Tribunal (ERT), Nestlé has requested these restrictions be removed.

In a stunning move the Ministry of Environment (MOE) has agreed to a settlement which would weaken the conditions and potentially allow for Nestlé to pump at its maximum rate during droughts. We believe this puts Nestlé’s profit-making interests before the water rights of the people of Wellington County. (From The Council of Canadians.)

I live in Wellington County. It blows my mind when I see people in my very own city, drinking the same water that pours from their taps – out of bottles marked “Nestlé Waters”. It is an impressive feat, this brainwashing that has convinced us that water is automatically better from a disposable bottle.

THEN I read this article in the Guelph Mercury, written by a Community Editorial Board member, Cynthia Bragg, who happens to be a friend of mine. I highly recommend you read the whole thing, especially if you live in Wellington County, but here are some highlights:

Syncrude's toxic tailings pond in alberta
The Syncrude tailings pond and oilsands facility seen from a helicopter near Fort McMurray, Alta., in 2012. Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press

Let’s zoom in on one area of Canada: the Alberta oilsands. To produce one million barrels of oil a day, industry requires withdrawals of enough water from the Athabasca River to sustain a city of one million people, every year. But by 2020, the oilsands are expected to produce five million barrels of oil a day. In spite of constant recycling, most of the water never returns to the river. It ends up in toxic tailings ponds. […]

Las Vegas and the entire State of California are under real threat of running out of water this century, and the Hoover Dam will stop producing electricity if the water level falls by about 12 metres.

In all the Great Lakes, water levels are at an all times low as hot dry summers cause more water to evaporate than our reduced rainfall and snowmelt can replace. Cargo ships have had to reduce their loads to avoid being grounded. At one popular Michigan fishing spot, salmon were seen flopping in the mud.

In Ontario, 65 major creeks and rivers that flow out of the Oak Ridges Moraine already have lost as much as two thirds of their water. Yet golf courses are still permitted to draw three million litres a day for 180 days.

In case you don’t know, extraction of oil from the oilsands is what necessitates fracking, a process that imbues water with so many chemicals that it actually becomes flammable.

gasland_clip tap water on fire
Just add a spark.

Fracking, or horizontal hydraulic fracturing, is cleverly and understandably illustrated here.  It is being committed all over Canada.

This article rounds up a whole buffet of threats to our water. It’s a reminder that if you add them all up, it’s one lethal situation. It makes me want to use melodramatic terms like evil and doomed. YOU CANNOT JUST FUCK WITH THE WATER SUPPLY. (Yes. I used the actual word for once.) Forget car crashes and drug addictions and bullying and anorexia and sexual assault. If we don’t have a system of drinkable water, that’s it. We – and countless other species, both animal and vegetable – are DONE.

I know it’s a bummer that I’m bringing this up. I know this is really depressing reading. I know we’d all rather think about the spring flowers and sunshine and our plans for next weekend. And that’s very easy to do, when you live far away from any tailings ponds or flopping salmon.

But we need to make sure that we, as a species, are not so dumb and arrogant as to forget our dependence on existing natural systems, forget that we can indeed poison ourselves, if we’re not careful.

Here’s the good news, though: we are not that dumb. We are still growing, still polluting, but also innovating all the time. That’s the thing about humans: we manifest all the idiocy and brilliance in the world. We can do almost anything we can imagine, healing or toxic.

I admit, I’m not the kind of exemplary environmentalist that Mini-Di could be unequivocally proud of. I drive a car on a regular basis. There are bananas in my kitchen that travelled way too far to get here. I sometimes buy beverages in disposable cups even though I totally know better. But that doesn’t mean I can’t take small steps to help. All of our small steps add up, just as surely as those taken by the fracking oil execs.

Dear Wellingtonians, please click to visit Wellington Water Watchers and learn, donate, volunteer, or even just read Nestlé’s Twitter-based attempts to pretend they don’t suck. (A bit of comic relief.)

To learn more about fracking and/or sign a petition against it, please visit the Council of Canadians.

Thank you so much for reading.

P.S. I’m aware that eating Smarties does not actually light your tap water on fire. But all the water in the world is connected. And so are all the Smarties.

***


 

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Is “a bit of fresh air” really worth it?

Let’s take a walk!

What could be more invigorating, more wholesome, more beneficial for body and soul? I can take the kids, we can all get some fresh air, and the baby can have a nice lung-cleansing nap.

On Wednesday I took my children for a walk around the neighbourhood. We have been graciously handed down a “sit-and-stand” stroller from a friend, so I could put A on the front in her car seat, and E could choose to sit or stand at the back, or walk.

We’ve done this a few times, and it works fairly well. E is happy and keeps his eyes open for tire swings and other interesting facets of people’s houses and yards. For instance, when we passed the house with the gaudy hot-pink garage door, he exclaimed, “That’s a SO beautiful pink garage!” and then proceeded to repeat pink garage, pink garage to himself for the next block or two.

on a walk with a preschooler
Wide-eyed at the environs.

Plus, A is ridonculously cute in her fuzzy snowsuit thingy.

baby in the stroller
Getting sleepy on the ride.

The stroller is rather large and unwieldy, but it’s worth a bit of straining around corners to have both children contentedly bundled and riding.

By Friday, it had turned snowy. That tipped the balance: given the number of households likely to have cleared their sidewalks (not many), I was not willing to try manoeuvring the behemoth on snow.

That is how Friday afternoon found me lugging the singleton jogging stroller up from the basement. That thing corners like it’s on rails… relatively speaking, of course. I should ask my son to just walk, so we don’t need a stroller – he actually has pretty good endurance – but it’s harder in the snow. When he poops out, I won’t be able to carry him on my back. The whining that would therefore ensue is not an option today. (I know you feel me, mamas.)

Strap on the 3.5-month-old in the baby Trekker. Find a hat that fits her fast-growing head. Don my sister’s voluminous blue second-hand Coat of the Nineties, because it is big enough to zip up around the baby. Situate folded receiving blanket where it will (I hope) absorb the most drool.

Help three-year-old with coat, hat, boots, mittens. Equip him with a snack. Let him clamber into the stroller. Opt not to do up the safety straps because frankly, this kid has gotten huge.

Navigate out the door. Lock door with one hand while preventing stroller from tumbling down stairs of front stoop with other hand.

Whew – it’s chilly. That’s a windchill. (It’s -13C with wind – that’s 9F for the Yanks.)

After we’ve passed about six houses, I stop and awkwardly put the plastic weather shield on the stroller so that E doesn’t freeze. It’s wrinkly, ripping at the seams, and generally disreputable from being bunched up in the storage basket. Between that and the highly fashionable coat I’m wearing, I allow myself a giggle at what an awesome mom-picture I must make.

A is gazing as far up into the trees as the head support for the carrier will allow. She has, of course, positioned herself such that she’s drooling onto the coat. Actually, she’s sort of licking it dreamily.

Well. Getting ourselves going was a production, but now it’s pretty! Lovely and white! Not to mention invigorating!

Until we turn westerly. I realize too late that any road we take heading vaguely west enables the wind to blow the cavernous hood off my head, so that there is no barrier for A’s face. She gasps as the wind steals her breath, and pieces of my ears begin to crumble away in icy chunks. I shield her with a mittened hand, steering with my other hand, as she complains. Good thing the stroller is so light and lithesome. Kind of. With a 35-pound kid in it.

The whole nap idea is not working out as I’d hoped. Instead of sleeping, baby fusses periodically as we change direction, taking the shortest possible route home.

She finally falls asleep about a block from our house, on our own street where the trees shelter us. I ask E, “Hey buddy, you doing okay?”

There’s no answer. I peek over the shade. My son, who has not had a regular afternoon nap in well over a year, has also fallen asleep. Or frozen in place, I suppose.

I do an extra lap of my street, trying to make the most of the situation. The longer E naps, the more it will screw up his bedtime. The shorter A naps, the grumpier she will be at dinner hour. I’m sure I could figure out the optimal length of time using calculus – if I remembered any.

In my wish that E will awaken cheerful and enlivened when we arrive home, I am sorely disappointed. His circuitry has somehow gotten stuck on whine mode in his sleep.

So that settles it. We’re going to make popcorn for dinner and then commence hibernation. It’s way more fun to hang out all day in our pajamas anyway.

baby girl and big brother
Yay pajama party!

All you mamas and daddies with three or more children who EVER get out of the house as a group… I bow down to you. You have my eternal admiration.

***

For some great reading, click over and sample the blogs at Yeah Write!


 

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Wrapping up NaBloPoMo! (…I cheated a little.)

It’s November 30th, the last day of National Blog Posting Month, 2012!

Whew. What a relief. For real.

Like last year at this time, I am proud to say that I did it! But with slightly less integrity than in 2011.

30 blog posts

One per day

(though this was where I cheated. I tweaked the time of publishing a few nights when I couldn’t post by midnight because it would have necessitated actual bad parenting)

18,429 words written

An average of 614 words per day (rather less loquacious than last year’s 710)

(But if I’m honest, handfuls of those belonged to my three-year-old, the gang at MPAA, and Siri of the iPad)

Most commented post: The Ladies of Election Day

Shortest post: Some images from today + 1 BONUS (86 words) – lettin’ those images speak for themselves

Longest post: Why I Love Belly Dancing (1,341 words)

Runners-up for longest post: A Post About Beauty (1,008 words), Greyphobia: Why can’t I just love my wrinkles? (993 words) and BANG Book Review: The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling (991 words)

 

I had several of the same personal FAQ as last year:

Why am I doing this, again?

Because Sean and Skye said I should. And I’m a sucker for anyone who says I should do something because I’m so awesome. 😉

Aren’t my readers getting sick of me?

Yes, definitely. (Except for Sean and Skye, since they have to like it.) One subscriber even asked, with utmost courtesy, if I could please remove her from the notification list, because she enjoys my posts but she’s just too busy. I fully sympathized. But hey – at least I toned down the word count!

Would I do this again next November?

I could probably be sweet-talked into it… But then again, I’ll be back at work by that time, with TWO kids at home. Maybe not.

The Drawbacks:

  • I know I missed some baby smiles while blogging. A is getting smilier by the day, and, much as I love her, Serenity never smiles. (Yes, my MacBook has a name. Yes, it’s a Joss Whedon reference.)
  • My house got real, real messy sometimes.
  • My “To Do” list got real, real big all the time.
  • Nursing baby + NaBloPoMo = many hours of BAD POSTURE.
  • When trying to eke out enough minutes for blogging during baby’s nap time, I resorted too often to screen time for E. He was stoked about it, of course, but I felt like a bad mama.
  • When blogging makes you feel like a bad mama, it’s just not quite as fulfilling.

The Benefits:

  • Again, being “obliged” to use this time to exercise my brain was really good, something to look forward to. And I know it’s something a lot of moms with newborns end up having to neglect.
  • I was reminded of how lucky I am to have so much help from family around the house right now: this month, Daddy was home for two weeks, and Auntie Em and Uncle Ben both stepped in often. I might have given up otherwise, because E would have been pretty neglected. Siri would probably think she was his mom by now.
  • On the up-side of too much screen time for E… he’s getting really good at Tangrams.
  • I love connecting with you Di-hards. Getting to do it every day is a privilege.
  • This year, in the NaBloPoMo Soup on BlogHer, I stumbled upon Yeah Write… and it’s totally great, you guys. So great, in fact, that it’s getting its own paragraph AND list.

You see, it’s been nice to feel included by adding my posts to the Soup at BlogHer… but BlogHer is hunormous. Overwhelming. I like to click on a few random posts by other bloggers each time I post something, but with a couple hundred contributions posted every day, one ends up actually feeling anonymous. Yeah Write, on the other hand, is a much smaller community, where each week you can submit a post for possible inclusion in a competitive grid, to be judged by the editors and/or the community members themselves.

Why Yeah Write Is Cool:

  • Submitted posts have to be 1,000 words or less. Working on my powers of pithiness is always a good idea, and this was really good practice.
  • Everyone on Yeah Write is there to write. (Well, duh.) What I mean is, they are GOOD writers. The past two weeks there have been open grids, unmoderated by the editors and voted on by the community. Each of those two weeks, I read every single submission (35-40 of them) so I could vote properly… and let me tell you, even unmoderated, the standard of writing was amazing. Short snippets from the lives of people I’ve never met – stories beautifully rendered that gave me goosebumps, brought tears to my eyes, or made me laugh out loud. I loved it. (But it’s a good thing the grid isn’t open every week, because I can’t always read that many.)
  • This is the first time I’ve really been part of a blogging community. I’ve become friends with a few people through mutual blog-reading in the past, but suddenly I get why it’s worthwhile to join up with a blog-gang like this. The whole group is all over each other’s blogs (especially on submitted posts, of course) and they are full of lovely comments – encouragement and feedback on the writing and everything. Wicked-awesome.
  • My blogroll is going to be EPIC! I can hardly wait to update it.

My goals for tomorrow:

  1. Don’t blog.
  2. Do some other stuff. 🙂

I’ll be back soon, aiming for 2 posts a week (ish).

As always, a thousand thanks for your readership. You’re the best.

***


 

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Why is parenting so effing hard?

I think I may have sounded, in yesterday’s post, like life with my kids is idyllic and wonderful and effortless. I was glad to have the writing to focus me on the parts I love about this parenting gig, because yesterday was actually a rather difficult parenting day.

How is it okay that the most intricate, least predictable, most emotionally draining, least perfectable job in the world HAS NO MANUAL? No training, no license – just do it. Just make it happen. RAISE THOSE KIDS.

I mean, people offer classes you can take. Experts have written books you can call manuals – but my daughter didn’t come with one for her. I read manuals I consider very wise and useful, and still, I’m full of questions every minute.

Like, why is my baby waking up when she’s still so tired? Why does she fall asleep and then her eyes pop open as if she’s ready to go? Why, when I can see that sleep-window opening, is it still so hard to get her to sleep sometimes? And even harder, the more tired she gets? SHOULDN’T SLEEPING BE ALL BUILT-IN AND WHATNOT?

And as it turns out, my three-year-old provokes even more questions… Why does he retain every syllable he hears about cars and Smarties and friggin’ leatherback turtles (if Diego talks about it), and then release to oblivion every word I tell him about the dangers of choking if you run around while eating? Why does he insist on the whiny voice even though it doesn’t get him good results? Why won’t he try just ONE TINY BITE of something OFF the list of thirty separate foods that must be consumed separately? Why does he wake up, baby-like, before he’s done sleeping? Why is he being a turkey and doing exactly what we just told him not to, when we RAISED HIM BETTER THAN THIS? Why is he not listening again?? IS THIS NORMAL???

If it seems like I’m overusing my caps lock all of a sudden, too bad. Those are the CAPS that go through a mom’s head when she’s trying to keep her voice reasonable, confident, and loving, so that the baby/three-year-old will think you know what you’re doing.

As I’ve said before, at least we know why they’re so cute-looking. Keeps us from stuffing them into small soundproof spaces that latch from the outside.

Let’s not forget the questions for – and about – myself. Why didn’t my maternal instincts cover this? Why wasn’t this technique part of my womanly intuition? Why did I sign up for this again? Why am I not better at this? How does ANYONE do this with MORE THAN TWO CHILDREN??

I know, I need to loosen up. Sean and I were discussing the other great primates and how they do things – they seem pretty laid-back about parenting. They go with the flow. They’re ALL instinct, and it works just fine.

gorilla_baby_sleeping-on-mother
Photo by bartdubelaar

Of course, they don’t have dishes to do, they don’t have to make sure they have a clean nursing bra, their older kid is fine by himself because he’s supposed to be a crazy ape anyway, there are no diapers, no toys underfoot, no grocery shopping… and no addictive NaBloPoMo blogs to read. (Darn you, you fascinating people.)

Maybe if I had a clingy-fingered baby and lots of chest and back hair, I could find a way to be supa-chill about this whole parenting thing too.

Of course, in that case, I’d probably have a few other issues.

Being human is so complicated.

***

P.S. Now my daughter is smiling at me, ridiculously fetching. …What was I upset about again?


 

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Those Greedy, Lazy Teachers

When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?

When I was little, I wanted to be a ballerina. After that, I wanted to be a novelist.

It didn’t occur to me to want to be a teacher until later. As a homeschooling kid, I didn’t even have teachers other than my mom.

Then I went to public high school, and had many different teachers, including some really amazing ones. It was my senior French teacher who inspired me to consider a career in education. She was (and is, I’m sure) a wonderful, talented person who taught because she loved kids and wanted to engage with them and help them to do better in life. I loved her class.

When I decided I wanted to teach, it wasn’t because I wanted to be rich. (I already knew that teaching is NOT the way to get rich.) Ditto being famous. I wanted to use my languages, to help other people find their love of language, to impart knowledge and connect with young people. To teach. It sounded so rewarding, so community-oriented, so purposeful.

I remember that my awesome French teacher came to my farewell party before I left for France, after I’d finished my degree in French and Spanish at university (which was also inspired in a large part by her). I hadn’t seen her in four years – four years during which Mike Harris had wreaked havoc on Ontario’s education system. She was looking forward to retirement, and she was feeling, for the first time in her decades-long career, disillusioned and sad about teaching. I remember her saying, “It’s different now. The government speaks badly of teachers, so the parents speak badly of teachers, and the kids come to class with that disrespect in their minds. It’s a terrible atmosphere to teach in.”

The same thing has been going on in British Columbia now since 2001 – an agonizing demoralization of educational professionals through consistent bad-mouthing and a gradual stripping of contracts and working conditions.

Now here we are in Ontario, once again, dealing with a provincial government who blabs on about “putting kids first” as they scramble to lay blame for the deficit. (Ask any Ontario public school teacher – this catch-phrase is so hypocritical it makes us want to throw up.) Continue reading “Those Greedy, Lazy Teachers”

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The Baby Name Game

I’m always amazed when parents (-to-be) are able to agree on the name of their impending child many months ahead of time. I know two expectant couples, both due to have daughters in August, who had names ready (boy and girl options) even before they knew the sex of their baby. They make it seem so simple.

For me (and consequently for Sean), it’s a many-step process. With our firstborn, once we knew he was a boy, I combed through the entire male half of the baby name book (a big one – I think it was 100,000 names in total) and wrote a long list of names I liked. Then it was Sean’s job to do some initial veto work, then we let it simmer, then we looked again at the short list and did some more culling… you get the idea. I have a need to be thorough, so I don’t miss the perfect name.

As a teacher, I have very specific criteria for choosing a name.

  • I can’t have taught several children with that same name.
  • I can’t currently be teaching any child with that name (and as a planning teacher, I tend to have 6-7 classes’ worth at any given time).
  • I can’t have taught even one child with that name who drove me bonkers.
  • It can’t be a name that a future teacher (or doctor or employer etc.) is guaranteed to mispronounce/butcher.
  • The spelling must make sense, i.e. be potentially guessable by your average human.

Then there are the questions all parents (ought to) consider:

  • Does it sound good with the child’s last name?
  • Does it sound good with the child’s sibling’s name, if applicable?
  • Does it rhyme with anything really obviously bad?
  • Is it associated with any serial killers/skanky TV characters/inappropriate brand names/famously failed pop stars?

And this last one seems like a no-brainer, but there are obviously people who forget to ask themselves…

  • Is it actually a name? Or is it a random phrase that can only be considered freakish on a person?

All of these criteria hinge on Sean’s and my belief that it’s really important to think of the child. As in, imagine how he or she will feel with that name. You can’t control whether they will love their name or not, but it should be a name you would enjoy having yourself – otherwise, it’s not fair to inflict it on your child.trans The Baby Name Game Continue reading “The Baby Name Game”

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Okay Stephen, now I’m ******* ticked off.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper
Langevin Building
80 Wellington Street
Ottawa ON K1A 0A6

Mr. Harper:

As a polite Canadian, I’d like to be able to write a proper, respectful salutation; unfortunately, I have seen no evidence of respectful governance to warrant one.

This is my second open letter to you. You obviously did not heed (or read) the first one, shortly after you were elected, discussing your obligations to the more than half of Canadian voters who did not vote for you. You have, it seems, forgotten all about that particular 60% of us, but WE ARE STILL HERE. And some of us are very angry.

I already knew that I disagreed with almost everything you stand for. You glorify militarism; you want to mess with socialized medicine; you revere corporations.

You are an expert sneak, taking transparency and accountability to a new low – and no wonder, because if you were open about your dealings, people might realize that you are a disgrace to the nation. They might object to your deregulation of everything for your own purposes.

I have been unimpressed (read: disgusted) by many things you have accomplished (e.g. G20 summit) and worked on (e.g. fighter jet boondoggle) since you came into office. That robocall we received didn’t go over well either.

But still, somehow, I retained an apparently preposterous hope that you would not actually — rape — Canada.

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Now it is clear that I was hopelessly naive. Assuming that Bill C-38 is the crystallization of your intentions, it’s official:

You are effing up my country. Continue reading “Okay Stephen, now I’m ******* ticked off.”

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The Hope of a New Generation

Dear New Neighbours,

I just wanted to let you know what a privilege it is to share our neighbourhood with you. As your facing neighbours, we feel especially lucky.

When you first moved in a few weeks ago, we though, Hurray! These kids will help keep us young! And you wasted no time in seeing to it: we got lessons in Topfortyology that very weekend. In your determination to be thorough, you played your music for twelve hours straight, and you made sure it was loud enough to reach from your living room to our backyard. That’s dedication.

By now, we know how much our weekends are to be enriched by your presence. We know that for as long as the weather holds, the street will be filled with the youthful joy you and your friends bring to your get-togethers, complete with colourful vocabulary for my son to learn, inspirational news about your capacity for vodka, and whimsical barking noises designed to make the dogs of our neighbourhood feel included. And the fact that your commitment extends even unto gracing our breakfast not once, but twice this weekend with the hearty sounds of retching into your flowerbeds, well… there are no words.

For the example you set for our children… for the honour you do your parents who sent you to school… for the respect you show your forebears who made the University what it is today… for the reminder that bedtime is just a human construct that fetters our fulfillment… for the way you tipped the balance to transform our boring family neighbourhood into an exciting new place we hardly recognize… and for the motivation you provide to your peers who might otherwise lead a quiet, lacklustre life of studiousness – and whose reputation you glorify by association… THANK YOU.

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A Two-Year-Old’s Bedtime Stories

I’m pretty grumpy.

A) I’ve just spent the last hour-and-a-half trying everything I can think of to get my toddler to sleep (I guess I should be glad he usually goes to bed without incident, but we didn’t get to that stage without a fair bit of work);

B) I was trying to write a post about the two national holidays we’ve just celebrated and realized that I’m not having a good writing day (or week for that matter) – nothing I write sounds original or witty, it sounds like a Grade 9 paragraph or something even cheesier;

C) my beloved MacBook Pro had an incident since my last post, resulting in the logic board leaking gray-green gook on itself… which was UPSETTING and is part of the reason I haven’t posted for so long;

D) I’ve been (typically) tired and strangely short of breath with iffy circulation all day (my limbs keep feeling like they’re about to fall asleep), which is unnerving;

E) maybe it’s because that silly Baby #2 is still transverse despite the fact that we’d both be more comfortable with his head where it’s supposed to be; and

F) is for the effing car alarm that’s been going on and off every few minutes for the last hour. Seriously?? Haven’t we solved this yet???

So anyway, I know full well I have little to complain about in life (but HA, I did it all the same). I acknowledge that I could easily come up with a list of things that are GREAT that would take up all the letters of the alphabet including the most expensive ones (Q and Z). Here is the thing that would currently top the list:

Two-year-old E is rolling around in his bed, good-naturedly refusing to sleep. Mommy is attempting the technique of lying on the big bed beside him, reminding him to lie down every time he starts to get up. It is not working. E is babbling about trucks and car alarms and slides at the park.

E (suddenly, in a sing-song voice): Once upon a time! A girl named Everett. Sleeping in the bed. Head down.

Mommy: Semi-hysterical giggling, muffled in the pillows.

E (in the same storyteller voice): Sometimes… there’s a [long unintelligible word] named Everett. Playing in the sand. With a digger.

Mommy (unable to suppress her curiosity): A what named Everett?

E: A front-end-loader.

It must be noted that Auntie Em started the tradition (which I’ve continued whenever we need a distraction) of telling short impromptu stories about a little boy named Everett, whose life resembles my son’s to a remarkable degree. He loves them. They also work with the power of suggestion – yesterday when he was unreasonably grumpy after his nap, I told him a story of a little boy who got up from a nap and his mom asked him if he would like a snack and he said, “Yes, please, I would like some raisins with a drink of water,” and right then, the story came true!

So yeah… my grumpiness is silly. I still have the coolest kid ever.

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