Tuesday, 30 December 2008


I'm not one to make New Year's Resolutions, but I read this today and thought that if I did, this would be a good guide to a thoughtful compilation of things to work on, for myself or my kids:

"Set yearly goals with your children - things they would like to obtain, qualities they would like to develop, and skills they would like to acquire."

Monday, 29 December 2008

Learning through humility

A good friend of mine was asked to be a Sunday School teacher at our church. She will be teaching a bible study to a class of 40 or 50 adults, leading discussion and highlighting gospel principles. The class is full of people at all sorts of religious and intellectual levels and experiences, some who have a career in bible education, others who have been Bishops or served in other leadership roles. Oh, and my friend isn't even 25 years old yet. And yet, when I heard she had been asked to take this position, I knew she would be perfect. Sentiment throughout the church echoes my own.

I have learned that there is only one requirement to being a devout student of faith. It is not years of experience or how many times one has read the bible. It is humility.

If you look at the world religions, there are examples great men and women in every faith. They are spiritual and intellectual giants, who have devoted their lives to studying and living their beliefs through their religion. Looking at these people, you could not say they were duped, fooled or misguided into choosing their religion. If then, it was possible to definitively determine which religion is correct using man's intellect alone, it would stand to reason that all of these men and women would find themselves coming to identical conclusions about truth.

But they have not. Thousands of religious sects exist, each proclaiming to be the only true way. It would seem, then, to be the height of hubris to say that one could determine the truth by his own studying, logic and deductions. It would take several lifetimes to study in depth all the options. And then it would deem those with less spiritual knowledge unfit to make a decision. I know that personally I have not even a "ha' penny" of the wealth of spiritual knowledge that many others have.

But God does not require that. He did not call the scholarly Pharisees to Apostleship, but humble fishermen. He did not call Saul to preach the gospel when he was a well-known community leader, but called instead "Paul", a meek version of his previous self, ready to teach and be taught by the Spirit of God. Moses was a terrible public speaker and worried no one would take him seriously as a prophet of God. Even the founder of my church, Joseph Smith, was just a boy of 14 when he started on his path, from a family of no importance. By all accounts, he should simply have been ignored among the gathering of great religious intellects of his time.

But, in the end, the only way to find spiritual truths is through humility. Once you admit that you are unable to find the answer by yourself, you come to the level of humility that enables God to teach you.


Trying to console an angry Caleb, who had been told "No playing in the oven", Colin reassured his younger brother: "It's okay, Caleb. Don't cry. I know it's rough."


James had just turned off the light while putting Colin to bed, and then sat beside him to sing a lullaby or two. Colin turned over in bed and was completely quiet, so James simply sat in silence, waiting to see if he was asleep. After a few minutes, Colin reached down and pulled his blanket right up and over his head. James was a bit alarmed, wondering if this is how Colin slept every night, and how he could possibly breathe with the blanket tucked in tight around his face. James sat, contemplating what to do, and then after a minute heard Colin's tiny voice rise above the blanket: "Daddy, are you still there?" "Yes, Colin, I am." "Are you worried about me?"


Colin is working hard to play with and include Caleb. Unfortunately, Caleb didn't seem to get the memo that he's not the oldest child. The two lock horns daily in the fight for who is leading the game and how it should be played. I recall a comment from my middle school teacher, who was teaching a split grades 6-7-8 gifted class. My mom asked how it was, teaching the gifted program. His reply: "Imagine trying to teach 20 leaders and no followers." I can see the difficulty arising already between the boys!


Colin, to his 2 1/2 year old cousin who was throwing a temper tantrum: "Erica! Use your words!"


I am constantly amazed at just how particular Colin is about routine. I have seen him forgo favourite snacks, the chance to watch a movie, playing with friends, and many other favourite things and activities because his expectations of the situation were not met. The culmination, however, was Christmas morning. Colin's excitement had been building for weeks as he started to understand the idea of gifts. Now, generally James wakes up with the boys and gets them breakfast, allowing me an extra 15 minutes or so in bed. But of course on Christmas morning I wanted to come down with them at the same time. As I started to descend the stairs, Colin collapsed beside me in a fit of tears. "No, you go back to bed NOW! Daddy and I and Caleb go downstairs and you stay in bed!" Even knowing there were presents waiting for him, and a special breakfast, some new toys and lots of fun, Colin cried on the stairs for nearly 10 minutes. I eventually coaxed him downstairs, but the morning had a cloud of uneasiness hanging overhead.


Colin: Mommy, guess what?! Caleb was trying to get into the garbage!
Mommy: Did you try to stop him?
Colin: Yes, but he was just too quick for me. But then Daddy tried to stop him.
Mommy: That's good.
Colin: And then I stopped him, and then Daddy stopped him, and then I stopped him, and then Daddy stopped him, and then I stopped him, and then Daddy stopped him, and then I stopped him, and then Daddy stopped him, and then I stopped him, and then Daddy stopped him, and then I stopped him, and then Daddy stopped him, and then I stopped him, and then Daddy stopped him, and then I stopped him, and then Daddy stopped him, and then I stopped him, and then Daddy stopped him, and then I stopped him, and then Daddy stopped him, and then I stopped him, and then Daddy stopped him-
Mommy: Oh, that's great, honey. You're a good big brother.

Friday, 26 December 2008

Auntie Terri-Ann

I am an aunt! Yes, I know I have two children myself, but becoming a mother and becoming an aunt are entirely different. I am so excited to have a little nephew.

My youngest sister, Krystal, delivered Alexander a week ago. It was a difficult and long labour (why did we have to have those genes in our family!) but her little baby is beautiful. Krystal is, in many ways, a mirror of myself, so this experience has been a little like watching myself from afar. It's wonderful to see her and her husband take to parenthood so naturally. I myself am reminiscing of those early days with a newborn, where the world revolves around mother and baby, as this new relationship cements its deep bonds.

And I am ever so thrilled with being an aunt. I have showered him with gifts, held the tender bundle in my arms, and passed him back when he starts to cry. I can't wait for the cousin relationship to form between him and my boys. This is a new phase in the life of the family in which I was raised. We are entering a new stage of life, a time when we will share our secrets, joys, trials and tribulations of motherhood.

Thursday, 18 December 2008

Give Something

"We must grow in love and to do this we must go on loving and loving and giving and giving until it hurts - the way Jesus did. Do ordinary things with extraordinary love: little things like caring for the sick and the homeless, the lonely and the unwanted, washing and cleaning for them.

You must give what will cost you something. This, then, is giving not just what you can live without but what you can't live without or don't want to live without, something you really like. Then your gift becomes a sacrifice, which will have value before God."

Mother Teresa, "A Simple Path"

In this Christmas season, I am glad to be reminded about what is truly at the heart of giving. Don't stress over the perfect gift to buy, how much to spend, and whether or not they will like it. No gift can ever have the same impact as one that is truly a sacrifice. I read a touching story of a husband and wife who had no money to their name for their first Christmas together. Knowing of their situation, the husband's grandparents sent each of them a separate cheque, with instructions to by themselves something nice for Christmas. The wife immediately set out to buy a gift for her husband, and tears of joy were shed Christmas morning when she realized that her husband had spent his money on her.

The best gift we will give is ourselves.

Tuesday, 16 December 2008


Immersed in the "Anne of Green Gables" book series again, I have been struck by the industry of the people a century ago. From dawn to dusk there was work to be done, and they simply went about it.

Me, I find a sticky floor or a neglected bathroom or a growing pile of laundry and feel exhausted just looking at it. I look back on my day and know I lacked industry and organization. There is a list of projects that needs attacking, always growing and never receding. I steal an afternoon nap and lose time afterwards to the grogginess of reawakening. I pick up after the family in an ever losing battle for tidiness. I rationalize about young children, home businesses, sleepless nights, overflowing schedules. And yet I feel condemned by my conscience. Modern conveniences have eased the burden of work considerably from years gone by, and yet I feel it has only bred an attitude of laziness in me.

Perhaps it is the cold, melancholy of winter which descends upon me, and I do not give myself enough credit for the bustling busyness of summer, but I am not optimistic. Rather I feel spurred on to change. Maybe I am finally shedding the modern habit of idleness from this moment of enlightenment.


Toy guns has been an issue with me since Colin's birth. I grew up in a family of all girls - hence we never had any toy guns, or toy swords, or any toy that mimicked violent actions. James grew up in a family of all boys, so toy guns were an extension of their hands.

My natural tendency is to not allow these types of playthings in our house. I would hope my boys would understand the difference between fantasy and reality, and confusion between the two is not why I don't want toy guns in my home. I just don't personally like the idea of shooting another person for fun.

As I talk with friends who have older children (mostly boys), I realize that there is something hardwired in boys to play with guns. One friend spoke of how she didn't allow any toy weaponry in her home, and then one day her son bit his peanut butter and jam sandwich into the shape of a gun and "shot" his brother across the kitchen table. Other friends have stories about how even if there aren't guns, they will pick up tree branches, hockey sticks, recorders or pretty much anything at their fingertips and use it as a gun.

Some friends laughed at the notion of trying to keep toy guns out the of house; other friends claimed they are still holding fast to their rules and doing what they can. In the whirlwind of conversation, I find myself agreeing with both points of view and seeming to lose my own standing as I'm tossed back and forth in the debate.

Most boys have natural aggression pent up in their little bodies, and need a way to release it. And certainly all references to violence don't automatically translate into hurting another human being. That being said, as a parent I know I have the right and responsibility to guide my children the best I can.

And so my current stance (and somewhat of a compromise with James) stands as: no toy guns, but those Super Soaker Blaster waterguns might find their way into the backyard toy bin.

Friday, 12 December 2008

Hotel follow-up

It seems this topic is hot on my mind, and I see remnants of the idea in conversations everywhere. At a gathering of friends the other morning, the topic of "coping with holiday business" came up, and the forefront concern was getting all the regular household chores done on top of all the added bustle. The conversation meandered along, leading to a dissection of how we as moms and wives handle chores in general.

Spurred on by my recent "Hotel or Home" post, I piped up quickly that my children would participate in things like laundry as soon as they could understand how to do it. I threw in the age of 8 or 10, just to be specific. I was met, however, with a hoard of disbelief. All sorts of comments arose, but the gist of them all seemed to be this:

"My children could never do it just the way I want it done."

Very, very true. And yet, in my opinion - very,very irrelevant. Currently my kids clothes are kept in their own laundry basket, and at the end of the week I toss it all into the washing machine (yes, unsorted), wash it, then toss it all into the dryer (no special treatment for one shirt or another), then toss it all into a laundry basket and haul it back upstairs. It is then folded and stored in one of four drawers (socks and underwear, pajamas, shirts, pants). Any 8 year old could handle this.

The big thing is letting go about "the way I want it done". If the clothes aren't folded squarely, if they aren't in the "proper" drawer - so what? If the kitchen floor has a crumb or two left after sweeping, or a fingerprint is left on the TV - resist the urge to "do it right" and therefore negating the effort put forth by your child. They can do this - they should do this. As a part of the family, it is nothing more than pitching in where they live. I have a favourite t-shirt that reads "M is for Mom, not Maid" and I intend to make sure my kids understand this.

Today Colin (3 years) vacuumed with me. I pushed the massive beast around, but he used the hose to clean against the walls and furniture. I didn't do it first and then let him "vacuum" up after, and I didn't take the hose from him after to pick up what he missed. I provided instructions ("look for all the little crumbs") and then let him go to. He also matches socks for me, picks up his own toys, puts his clothes in the hamper and makes his bed. Okay - he still need reminders, he is only three after all, but he's starting to get the idea.

Stay tuned for a post coming up on "The Parenting Breakthrough". I wrote about this book a while back, and now that Colin is three I have compiled a list of responsibilities and abilities that we will work with him this year to learn. He is starting on the pathway to independence.

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Child care

The following are excerpts from a Toronto Star newspaper article. I initially started to read the article curious about the quality of Canada's daycare system. But as I read, the focus of the article became apparent, and I became just a little ticked off. Good quality and available childcare is important, don't get me wrong. There are certainly family situations that require both parents to work (or, more urgently, a single parent to work) and in these instances child care is necessary. But I firmly believe in the importance of raising your own kids. I know many families (mine included) that went without luxuries in life so that my mom could stay home with us. It's not always an easy life, but if a parent can be the one to raise their children, they should not be casting off that responsibility to another.

Note especially the last two paragraphs here, which talk about the importance of a child's development in early years, and their rights to the best formative education. Experts agree that a child at home with a parent is the best option for early development. So why aren't governments helping moms to stay home with their kids by offering tax incentives?

Because of one reason, a reason that is clearly the focus of this article, and a reason that absolutely enrages me is the focus of providing good childcare: it is a booster to the economy, allowing parents to work and pay taxes.

Here are some excerpts, or go here to read the entire article.

"Canada ranks last in the first comparison of child care services in 25 developed countries, according to the United Nations Children's Fund."

"Canada's poor showing represents a lost opportunity for economic growth at a time of economic uncertainty...Building a system of high-quality early-childhood care and education creates jobs and allows parents to work and pay taxes."

"Toronto mother Laura Garrido knows about lost opportunities. The former hairdresser would love to be working full-time, but has been waiting since last spring for a subsidized child care spot for her 4-year-old daughter, Paola, who started kindergarten this fall. "I have always worked, but my daughter is only in school for 2 1/2 hours a day. I have no one to care for her the rest of the time and child care is too expensive," she said yesterday. With her husband's long hours in construction, Garrido makes do with the odd part-time shift at her local community centre. "I'm lucky to have that. But with child care I could do so much more," she added."

"[The study] notes high-quality child care has the potential to boost school success and enhance the cognitive, emotional and social development of children, as well as advance women's equality and mitigate the effects of poverty. However, poor-quality care, especially for infants, can do great harm, the report warns."

"The benchmarks, which represent the first attempt to evaluate and compare early childhood services for children younger than 6, describe a set of minimum standards for protecting the rights of children in their most vulnerable, formative years, the report says."

Hotels or homes?

"Many kids are being raised in hotels instead of homes today."

I heard a great "Focus on the Family" broadcast the other day about parenting techniques today. The observation was made that many parents are making their homes like hotels for their children. The cleaning, the cooking, the tidying all done by parents wanting to raise "happy kids". Is there anything wrong with wanting to raise happy kids? No. But are kids really happy these days? No. The harder we try to make our kids happy, the unhappier they seem. It stands to reason then that the things we are doing to "make them happy" are in fact having the reverse effect.

We talk, cajole, explain, and reason with our kids. We treat them as equals, try to see their point of view, and try to be their friend. We let them explore, test boundaries, and reason with us.

And somewhere along the way, we seem to be forgetting one thing: that we are the parent and they are the child. Sometimes the answer is no "because I said so".

Caught up with many of the current parenting books, I have adopted the "talk to your kids about what you're doing" approach. I have explained to my three-year old why it is wrong to hit and why it is important to share. I have spent hours calmly finding out the reason for a meltdown and working through it with him. I have given my one-year old latitude because of his age. I have met his every whim because babies have needs, not wants.

And I'm seeing now how much it is not working.

I'm seeing how our problem areas are mounting, and how my kids are not the understanding, grown-up happy children I was promised they would be.

So I'm trying something new.

If I recorded my house for a day, I think I would be shocked at just how much I talk at my kids. I'm forever trying to explain life. And I forget that kids hear nothing more than the first five words before they tune out. Especially if my voice becomes a white noise machine. So I'm vowing to talk less, and let actions speak for words.

Yesterday Colin started screaming at me to stop playing the piano while I was practicing. I had not been playing more than 5 minutes, and I have told him before that crying and screaming while I play is not acceptable because Mommy is busy right now and I'll be with him in a few minutes and I just want to finish this song and to play with his toys for 5 minutes and...and...and...

So instead, I just picked him up, took him upstairs, sat him on his bed, closed the door and came back downstairs. He screamed. He screamed for a good 45 minutes. And then he stopped. At this point I went back upstairs, opened the door and announced that he could come back downstairs to play. We didn't talk about what he'd done, why it was inappropriate, why he was removed from the situation, and why he was now allowed to come downstairs.

I was nervous about it at first. Would this really work?


Later on while I was practicing a song with James, Colin started to fuss. But within seconds he stopped, looked at me, and said "But I'm not going to cry now, because then I would have to go upstairs again like this morning."

I kid you not. I was shocked and amazed and overjoyed. He got the message, loud and clear. And there were no more meltdowns while I played the piano.

This philosophy begins and ends with actions. Here's one more example of how it's worked for us. I picked Colin up from nursery school the other day, and he ordered me to carry his bag to the car. He is plenty old enough and big enough to carry it on his own. I told him that. He hit the floor kicking and screaming and crying. The nursery teaching assistant tried to talk, cajole, and coax him into carrying the bag. I simply sat silent. After a few minutes, I pronounced that it was time to go and if he didn't want to carry his bag, we would leave it there. But that would mean he would have nothing to bring his snack tomorrow in. In the end, I partially gave in by putting the bag on his back and whisking him away. I paid for that, though, because when we arrived at home, he ordered me to carry the bag inside. This time I dug in my heels. I left the bag in the snow. After 10 minutes Colin came inside sans bag. I quietly sent James out to rescue it and hide it in the garage. I told Colin if he left the bag outside someone else might very well carry it off. And that was it. The next morning, Colin came downstairs ready for school. He looked me square in the eyes and said "I have to carry my own bag, or another kid might take it."

My home is not a hotel where the customer is always right. This is my domain, and my children are my responsibility. And they don't have to be happy all the time. They are loved, they know they are loved, and they know this because I am raising them to be responsible, loving, caring adults.

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

3 car garages

I am amazed anyone out there still scrapes ice off of their cars. I remember days of frozen fingers gripping a long ice pick, snow chips flying into my face. I recall sweeping inches of snow from the top of the car into my boots. I hate the cold, and there's nothing worse on a cold, dark morning than having to spend half an hour digging my car out before trudging off to work.

But we bought a house with a garage. It's not a large garage, but it fits our car. And there is no way I would stash boxes full of stuff in there instead of my car. When we pulled our snowless car out of the garage after last year's first snowstorm, our neighbour remarked that we are the first ones in 20 years to use the garage for a car.

And yet the majority of people do not use their garage for a car. For some insane reason, they would rather waste time scraping ice and snow off their car than part with the unknown contents of a few superfluous boxes. What is our fascination with stuff that creates this anomaly in human behaviour?

Not only are all houses built with garages now, but most are built with two or three car garages. And still the driveways look like parking lots. Well, at least I found my sanity in the frigid weather of winter.

Sunday, 7 December 2008

Reflections of Christ

I saw this beautiful artistic piece today. It is a collection of photographs depicting the life of Jesus Christ, set to an inspiring interpretation of "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing".

I am amazed every day at the power that art has in our souls. It speaks to our spirits on a level unattainable by our communicative mind. It conveys something to our very depths. It reaches in and stirs emotions that you didn't realize were there.

This is the reason why a haunting melody, a touching movie scene, words on a page, the lyrics of a poem, the colours of a painting or the captured life of a photograph can bring literal tears to our eyes. They touch truth.

Take a moment to watch this short five minute presentation called "Reflections of Christ". I have been touched by paintings and film scenes before, but seeing these photographs today brought home to me the very realness of the life of Christ. He lived on this earth and walked the roads. He spoke to the people and touched their lives. He lived, and he died, and now he lives again. There is a reality to this that is often missed, and as we come into this holiday season that exists because of Him, I hope this will help remind us not of the abstract elements of faith, but the true fact of his life and existence.

"Reflections of Christ" (slideshow)

Friday, 5 December 2008

Coming to a Kindergarten class near you...

I would be remiss to let the current political situation pass by without throwing in my two cents about it. Canadian politics is generally fairly uneventful and even borders on boring. We don't produce the characters so common in American political elections, and our "close" races usually end up being fairly predictable within minutes into the results coming in.

Therefore, I third minority government, an opposition coalition, the governor general's involvement and a proroguation of parliament have all added up to some spectacular news-worthy events this past week.

So then, what to make of it all? Personally, if I was the governor general, I would take the four party leaders by the ear and drag them down the the Principal's office. I would tell Stephen Harper (Conservative) to start playing nicely with the other children. I would tell Stephane Dion (Liveral) to stop being a sore loser. I would tell Jack Layton (NDP) to sit down and be quiet. And I would tell Gilles Duceppe that if he doesn't want to be in the school, then he shouldn't get much say about how it is run. Then I would tell them all to get back to Parliament and work together to govern this country through the economic crisis as the government the people voted for. If 5 year olds can learn to get along, surely grown men can also.

This all stems from my indignation at Harper for not at least trying to get along with the other parties. He can't pretend he has a majority by making everything a confidence vote. He deserved the protest from the other parties. But I'm outraged at the coalition which was obviously in the works before the economic statement was released. I do not believe that every time we have a minority government the opposition should choose to gang up on the winning party to thrust a losing leader into the Prime Minister role.

Most importantly, if we take the Liberals and NDP at face value and acknowledge that their concern is about moving immediately about the economic crisis, then I really don't agree with them. If this recession (or depression) lasts years (or a decade), then what we don't want to do is work for only a few days on a plan. The economy is complicated. Even I know that. Even for experts, it's complicated. So I would much rather they take some time (6 weeks is not long, considering the length of time this could last for) to come up with a solid plan - the best of what everyone can come up with. A hasty decision may put us deeper in crisis than we already are.

One final comment. I laughed with scorn the other day as I heard one analyst remind us that the Canadian economy and banks had actually weathered the first part of the storm fairly well. We would be affected by outward pressures, but within Canada we were pretty solid. That is, until the politicians created their own mini drama. Then we lost confidence internally. Way to go, guys. I can only imagine how other leaders on the world stage view us. If we can't keep it together internally, how can we expect to be consulted about the world economy? I wouldn't trust this unstable government, and don't see how others would either. In many areas, Canada has always seemed to have to jostle for position in the world. Now I doubt we're even being thought of.

Thursday, 4 December 2008

Guided path

Every day I am faced by decisions. Some are larger and more important than others. Some are simple. Some need a lot of my attention. Some just need to be made.

I had never realized the potential seriousness of the consequences that result from each decision I make. I had never realized that there are generally three different courses of action to take, and that each choice has such a drastic result. Then I read this passage yesterday and the imagery stunned me into recognition:

"In meeting these challenges, spiritual submissiveness is fortunately and helpfully adroit - sometimes helping us to "let go" of things...other times to "hold fast," and still other times to use the next stepping-stone."

I imagined myself stranded in the middle of a rushing river, balancing precariously on a stone. The cold water courses past me and I am alone in a wilderness. I have three choices. The first is to "let go". I am not strong enough to swim against the powerful current, but if I let it carry me downstream, just around the bend and out of sight perhaps it empties into a calm, shallow pool. The second choice is to "hold fast". Perhaps instead of safety, at the end of the river is a plunging waterfall that would hurl me into danger. But if I were to cling with all my might to the rock, I could wait out the high season of water and eventually the river would recede to a depth which I could wade through to the shore. The third choice is to "use the next stepping-stone". Maybe this river always runs high and fast, and I would only expend all my reserves of energy by clinging to the stone. This would leave me with no choice but to try and leap from one rock to the next, up or down stream, and eventually to the riverbank.

I do not have the ability to see what lies beyond the river bend; I do not have the knowledge to determine if the high water levels might subside; I do not know if there are enough stepping-stones to lead me to the shore. Which decision should I make?

Each of these decisions is drastically different, each holding it's own path and consequences. Seeing this image in my mind so clearly speaks to me the importance of not relying on my own limited experience and knowledge to make the decision. Why would I want to? There is someone omniscient, with a much better grasp on life than me. Why do I put myself before God, trusting in my "arm of flesh" over his all-seeing eye? Why do I see spiritual submissiveness as a weakness, rather than a strength?

It makes no sense. And yet it is a lesson I'm still learning...

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Happy Birthday Colin

Today marks three years of Colin's journey of life on this earth. I look at my little boy and his eyes and face betray his growing older. His thoughts are more purposeful, taking in and understanding and processing much that seems beyond his years. And yet there are times when he still crumples in a ball of tears and frustration that reminds me he still is only a little boy.

His imagination is so vivid. Surrounded by a plethora of toy cars, he will build a small garage out of blocks and then build a small car to go into the garage. He recreates scenes from favourite movies. He finds a quiet corner to devour a pile of books. He's not much of an outdoor kid yet, but he loves to have a playmate. He is starting to see his younger brother as a possible friend. He watches out for Caleb, warning him of danger, or taking his hand to show him a new game. He explains the rules clearly, expecting his brother to understand as clearly as he does himself. He loves music of all kinds, and will request everything from pop to disco to classical to Show Tunes to children's music. He enjoys the symphony of musical instruments at his fingertips to play, from the piano to the drums to the flute. He loves to dance and can pass more than half an hour this way. He is starting to understand God, especially through music. He feels the difference of a spiritual conversation as opposed to another.

He is growing, growing, growing. He is imitating his parents, he is absorbing the world around him, and his photographic memory permanently imprints everything onto his forming mind. This is one day to commemorate, but it reminds me to celebrate him every day.

Happy Birthday, Colin.

Sausage rolls

Over the past six months or more, I've had a concentrated effort to buy, cook and eat better food for myself and my family. In tangible terms, this means that I try to buy whole, unprocessed foods. It means that I make homemade chicken nuggets and fry up my own french fries. It means making a lot of bread and even my own pizza dough. It means baking once a week to make homemade treats. It means shopping "peripherally" in the grocery store, where all the fresh foods are, and staying away from prepackaged items. It means giving up the convenience of many frozen meals, like chicken fingers and sausage rolls.

But this week while doing my grocery shopping, I passed by a box of sausage rolls on sale. And they looked so yummy! I actually passed it by, and then retreated to consider the purchase. I didn't stop long - I simply threw a box in the cart and continued on my way. I was tired, I didn't feel like cooking what was on my menu that night, and really, I'm not a die-hard cling-to these new food habits. We're just trying to do better overall. We still grab a hamburger at A&W once in a while, and the occasional bottle of pop shows up for a movie night.

That night we threw in the sausage rolls and cooked up some homemade fries (we just can't seem to go back to frozen now!). I set the table and served the meal. I even made myself an extra sausage roll, wanting to indulge in this treat so long denied.

And then I bit into it and it was...okay. Actually, in the end I only ate half of what I'd put on my plate. This once coveted comfort food, one of my favourite staples as a university student, was no longer the delectable treat I once thought it to be. As I nibbled at my food, I found myself wishing for something whole and fresh.

Ah well. At least I was able to console myself with a homemade chocolate chip oatmeal cookie.

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Colinisms and Calebites

Caleb's favourite book is "Pat the Bunny" (which, incidently, was one of Colin's favs also). Caleb is much more interactive with the book, pattin gthe bunny, playing peek-a-boo, smelling the flowers, playing peek-a-boo, feeling Daddy's scratchy face, playing peek-a-boo, reading the book, playing peek-a-boo...you get the picture. But the funniest part is the end. The last page has Paul and Judy waving goodbye, and asks the reader to wave goodbye also. Caleb loves this part, and always waves enthusiastically. Then yesterday we were reading an Usborne book about Farms (the only other book Caleb is interested in). We flip through all the pages, backward and forward, backward and forward, until he's through. Then, when he closed the book, he waved goodbye. It was hilarious. Now whenever we finish a book, he waves goodbye to it.


I have taken to calling Caleb "Cay-Cay" on occasion, usually when he's crying. Now Colin has started calling him Cay-Cay to ease those frequent tears. But the other day, Colin paused after calling his brother by this nickname, then said:

"He's Cay-Cay, so that means I'm Ca-Ca."

(To be fair, the first syllable in "Colin" is pronounced more like "Ca" than "Co")

I burst out laughing, and tried to explain why he maybe shouldn't refer to himself as "Ca-Ca". He either didn't get it, or didn't care, because he kept laughing and calling himself Ca-Ca all day. Oh, this is just the beginning of the toilet humour prevalent in raising boys. I wonder if I really missed much not having any brothers?


Colin has a new game, thanks to my beloved husband. With the (very early) release of the trailer for the new Star Trek movie (it doesn't come out until next spring!), sci-fi fever is running rampant in our home. James pulled out two of his large Star Trek ship models, and now Colin loves to fly the Enterprise around our house. That would be cute enough, but of course our little guy takes it that one step further to make it adorable. James has shown him one or two scenes from Star Trek movies, and so Colin now reenacts these scenes, complete with soundtrack. That's right, my little three-year-old runs around the house, taking the ship to "warp speed" and singing the "Star Trek: The Next Generation" theme song in all its movie-score varieties. Priceless.


I took Caleb grocery shopping yesterday. This is something I never do, because wrangling children while shopping is not something I wish to battle through. Nonetheless, there we were. I struggled to get him into the cart, then pushed my way over to the produce section. As I turned the cart, Caleb's eyes widened and his mouth dropped open. A smile spread wide across his face as he took in his surroundings. I could almost hear the words forming in his mind: "What is this place, this heavenly place where food piles up in glorious mountains of deliciousness all around me?!" As I navigated through the fruits and vegetables, he stretched his little arm as far as it would reach, desperate to get his fingers on some of this wonderful food. He was like a kid in a candy store. Or rather, a kid in a grocery store...

Monday, 1 December 2008


Flipping through the Sears wishbook today, trying to get ideas to go on my Christmas list. First of all, finding it very difficult to come up with ideas. I have lots of things already, do I really need a whole bunch more? As I flip I come to the women's clothing section. I'm impressed that most of the models are actually wearing clothes that cover their bodies. The style this year seems to be layers and length, which is nice to see. One model is wearing long shorts, tall boots and a shirt that ends above her belly button, and I wonder who on earth wears this during winter?

Flip, flip, flip. I start to notice a trend. Model #1 seems to be saying "Look how sexy I am in my evening gown!" Alright, evening gowns are supposed to be stunning and alluring. Model #2: "Look how sexy I am in my tight sweater." The sweater, previously designed for warmth, has evolved with fashion to also be enticing. Model #3: "Look how sexy I am in my jeans and t-shirt." Sorry? Aren't jeans and a t-shirt the epitome of casual, laid-back, lying around the house outfits? Model #4: "Look how sexy I am in my oversized, large winter jacket." Now I'm really confused. Was I supposed to buy my winter jacket based on its sexiness quotient, rather than the ultimate, warm, covers-me-all-over model? Model #5: "Look how sexy I am in my very, very short dress with low cut neck and short sleeves." I'm sorry, I forgot to check over my shoulder out the window, but it's still winter, right? Model #6: "Look how sexy I am in my pant suit and dress shirt." What job do you have that requires you to give that "Look how sexy I am" look? Model #7: "Look how sexy I am in my belted sweater, arm "leggings" and old tights, a look inspired by the hobo." The outfit looks terrible, and the face still says sexy.

I'm appalled by the catalogue. I didn't even get to the lingerie, and every single outfit I saw was selling sexiness. Somehow this is the only criteria for buying an item of clothing. How can we wonder why young girls wear what they do, act the way they do, and portray themselves as sex objects toward boys? I would hope there was no woman on the advertising team that created this catalogue, and yet I know that is untrue. Women are all over the advertising industry, and they are only abetting the scenario. Even the young girl models, under 10 years old, display their clothing with sass - not quite sexiness, but the underlying message is the same.

Looking good, being well-groomed, and wearing clothes that fit nicely are far cries from the need to look sexy in every outfit. And yet, somehow and too often we fall victim to the marketing schemes and need for approval that plagues so many of us women.