It’s Not All Mary Poppins

These Guys are Called ‘Scrapers’, right?

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Remember the Bitacle mess? I’ve just been hit by another such group. The website is peruseme dot com, and I’ve found at least one of my posts, in its entirety, in the /parenting section. Continue reading

February 13, 2007 Posted by | random and odd | 10 Comments

Snow Play, So Fun!

Winterlude is still on, and you lot being largely parental types, I thought you’d enjoy some pictures of the activities provided for the children.

The kids can have their pictures taken as pretend Inuit:


Or maybe they’d like to build their own teeny, multi-coloured inukshuk:

kids at play

Stephen and I went to a downtown park on the weekend for another look at the ice sculptures. After dark, they are lit and can be quite spectacular. For a peek at a bunch of them, check out Outside the Box.

February 13, 2007 Posted by | Ottawa, outings | 6 Comments

Let’s Make an Association – but could we make it one that works for everyone?

Coffee shop on Sunday. Young family with two-year-old boy at the next table. Two-year-old starts to act up a bit. (The worst thing about this family is not the slightly fractious tot, it is the mother, whose loud, carrying voice is impossible to tune out.)

It is two in the afternoon, prime nap hour. The tot – whose name, the entire coffee shop has come to discover, is Robbie – is, to my mind, showing the effects of fatigue. His volume, negativity, and aggressive behaviour with his parents is not extreme, but it’s rising, and totally in keeping with a tired tot.

Parent eventually twigs to this.

“Robbie, are you tired? Because you’re sure acting tired.”

Ah, good. Parent has noticed. Home to a nice comfy bed for weary Robbie! Except… Parent leans in toward child and scowls. Voice is stern.

“Robbie, if you don’t stop that, you’ll go Straight To Bed.”

Damn. I recognize this dynamic. Parent knows what the problem is, but parent wants to spend a little more time, and is trying to coax/manipulate/threaten their way to another ten minutes. Who says toddlers are the only ones who do this?

Robbie starts kicking his mother’s chair.

“Robbie. Did you hear me? You be a bad boy, you’re getting a nap.”

All right. Let us pause in this happy scenario, and consider the dynamic. Child is tired and needs a nap. Parents are enjoying their coffee and want to stay. Child begins to misbehave because of weariness. Parent attempts to rein in the rising negativity — by using as a punishment the very thing the child most needs!

You know, I’ll bet he puts up a heck of a fight when naptime arrives. Why shouldn’t he? He knows it’s the punishment for ‘bad boys’. Not only is this particular nap being unnecessarily postponed, but parents are ensuring that every nap be resisted and resented. This is known to parenting experts as “shooting yourself in the foot”.

Contrast this with a similar scenario in a different coffee shop the week before. Weary, fractious tot, mild but increasing misbehaviour. Parent turns to tot, smiles and says,

“Looks like we have a tired boy. How about we go home for a nice nap?”

Child protests a bit. He’s two, he’s tired – of course he’s going to protest. At this point, he’d probably protest if you offered him a cookie. Parent doesn’t blink, just smiles with greater affection as they poke the child’s arm into his coat sleeve.

“I know, you like being out. We’ll go home, have that nap, and then you’ll feel so good. What will we do after your nap?”

And out they go, planning the wonderful things that can happen when you’re rested and refreshed.

This was terrific. There wasn’t opportunity to say anything to this family, though I did send them a smile. The child was fragile enough that if I’d interrupted them to comment, he might well have escalated into a true tantrum. What did I want to say? I wanted to congratulate them on how well they handled the Nap Issue. Nap is not a punishment, it’s a positive thing, something that makes us feel better! The parent didn’t enter into the child’s negativity by threatening or scolding, but observed and diagnosed — then acted on the diagnosis promptly.

It was lovely to behold. When we talk about naps at Marys house, they’re always “nice naps”, or “lovely naps”. Always. When this second family left, their child was drooping a little forlorn against daddy’s shoulder, but he was calm. With a couple hours’ snooze in him, he’ll be bouncing and happy again, and everyone – maybe even the little boy – knows it!

And poor tired Robbie? When he left the coffee shop yesterday, he was on his way to get Greg from the arena, pick up a treat at the grocery store, and then go see Nana!

Poor Nana.

Poor Robbie.

February 12, 2007 Posted by | outings, parenting, sleep | 9 Comments

In case you were wondering…

If you have a blogger account, and you’ve set your comments to deny anonymous commenters, I can’t comment, either, because I’m coming from a WordPress account.

So, my commenter who comes from Trivialissimo, it’s not that I don’t care, and it’s not that I’m not thrilled you found your little guy’s sleep sweet spot, I just can’t TELL you so on your blog!

February 11, 2007 Posted by | random and odd | 6 Comments


These pictures are so unbelievably cute that at first I didn’t.

“Those aren’t real. Those are toys. Those smiling Chinese people in blue lab coats? They’re just to add a touch of authenticity to the hoax.”

A bit of googling, though, showed me that there is indeed such a place as the Wolong Nature Reserve, and that they do indeed have a panda breeding program. Normally they only produce 6 to 11 babies a year, but this year, they had a bumper crop:


Okay. I’m done talking. You can all just revel in the cuteness…



February 8, 2007 Posted by | random and odd, the cuteness! | 20 Comments

Why I haven’t blogged much this week…

One of the mothers: You’re looking better today.*

Me: I’m wearing makeup.**

Mum: It’s very effective.

Me: Thank you. It’s my disguise.


* I’ve had The Cold that Would Not Die for two weeks now, complete with the Lauren Bacall throat – not necessarily a bad thing – the Niagara Nose and the All-Night Tickling Cough – definitely not good. The sleepless nights have added a sepulchral shade of blue to the hollows beneath my brown eyes, nicely set off by their reddened rims – which matches the red of my poor chafed nose. For at least a week, I have looked, as my gran would have put it, like the wreck of the Hesperus.

** I wear makeup during working hours a few times a year. This particular mum has likely never seen me in the stuff.

February 7, 2007 Posted by | eeewww, the dark side | 7 Comments


So, have you been to see the Ice Sculptures yet?

February 6, 2007 Posted by | Ottawa | 2 Comments

Winterlude is here again!

(You watching, Mo-Wo? You did give me my marching orders, and ever the diligent blogger, I’ve come through. Actually, my sweetie has come through. These are his pictures.

Update: if you want to see more, he’s got some great pictures of the ice sculptures, with a short video clip of one being made. Well, being begun! Go now! Have a look – they’re great.)

For the rest of you who may not be familiar, we’ve begun our annual “making lemons from lemonade” festival. Given that winter lasts a solid five months in this city, we’ve learned to make the most of it – the result? Winterlude.

Much of Winterlude occurs on the Canal – the world’s longest skating rink. (Really. Guinness World Records made it official in August 2005.)

world's largest skating rink billboard

Boats don’t frequent it this time of year, so the city grooms it for ice skating instead.

skating on the Rideau canal

That’s the still shot. Here’s the live action version:

After an hour or two of freezing your butt off, it’s traditional to warm up with a deep fried beaver tail.

Beavertails hut on the Rideau canal

Finally, I can’t resist sharing this photo with you. The streets are not filled with Inuit folks, even in Canada. Some have migrated to the urban centres, but most still live in the far north. But these two guys were here to see a friend of theirs, whose ice sculptures were being created in a neighbouring park.

Want to see some sculptures? You can go here, and later, after work hours (because just as I don’t drink during work hours, he doesn’t blog during them!) check out here.

Inuit, Ottawa

February 5, 2007 Posted by | commemoration, holidays, Ottawa, outings | 11 Comments

Last Post on the Topic

…but it has to be said.

It’s about the infamous “babysitter” comment. When one of the two Silly Women asked Melissa,

“Would you let your babysitter drink while she was caring for your children?”

Everywhere throughout the blogosphere, mommy bloggers are uniting in indignation. “Of course not!” they shout. “And we’re NOT babysitters!”

I’m a childcare provider (NOT a ‘babysitter’, thankyouverymuch). I’m also a mother. I live on both sides of that great divide.

You know what? I thought the question was perfectly reasonable. (Though the follow-up, “Seriously. What’s the difference?” was unnecessary and insulting. It was also stupid, because it put the emphasis in entirely the wrong place. The questioner did not mean ‘what’s the difference between a mother and a babysitter?’, but that’s what just about everyone heard.)

Mothers who heard that were justifiably insulted. Caregiving is a 9 – 5 job. (Huh. I wish, but it does have start and end times.) There is not a second in the day you are not a parent, not a second in the day you are not ultimately responsible for that child in a way a caregiver is not. I understand that – I’m a mother! I know the difference between caregiver and parent. But that question…

Anyone curious to know how this Babysitter (hate that word) Mommy would have responded to it?

“Would you let your babysitter drink while she was caring for your children?”

My answer?

“Well, it would depend on the sitter.”

Because, well, wouldn’t it?

You’re okay with yourself drinking around your kids. You’re probably okay with your mother, too. Oh, and your sister — and Cousin Ron and Aunt Ida. Oh, and of course your best friend… and that lovely neighbour across the street.

You see? There’s a heightened level of trust that has to be present for you to allow this behaviour, but there are probably a reasonable number of people you trust in this manner. Why should your caregiver arbitrarily be excluded from this trust, simply by virtue of her job description? Or simply by virtue of the fact that she does it for pay? It may well be that you just don’t have that level of trust with her. Or, it may just be that you do.

The thing is, if it was wrong for the Today Show plastic people to suggest that an entire group of people be forbidden a certain behaviour simply by virtue of their ‘job description’, surely it’s also wrong when it happens to a different entire group of people.

So. Do you let your sitter drink? If it’s someone I don’t know well enough, someone I don’t know personally, no. No, I wouldn’t, because there wouldn’t be enough trust. But… If it’s my sister, my best mommy friend, or the woman I’ve had in to care for my child for the last two years, I may very well pour her drink myself.

February 4, 2007 Posted by | controversy, individuality, parenting, parents, the dark side | 19 Comments

It’s Time to Take a Stand. Make a Statement. Have a Contest.

I was telling a group of mothers about the Cocktail Playdate outrage, the shocking reality of Mothers Who Drink.

They were all suitably horrified.

“Outrageous!” they fulminated.
“This can’t be allowed!”
“They can’t be allowed to get away with it!”
“Something Must be Done!”

Then we all put our heads together to figure out what WE, a group of loving, responsible, nurturing mothers, could do to rectify the injustice, to balance the scales, to Right the Wrong.

And we did it. It is BRILLIANT, I tell you. Utterly brilliant. It will test our ingenuity, stretch our creativity, expand our skills in the kitchen. All good qualities in Quality Mommies, wouldn’t you say?

We are going… oh, this is just so good! We are going to create the World’s Best Designer Drink, the creme de la creme of Momtinis.

We have a few possibilities so far. There has been some lively discussion as to the best base. Tequila is giving vodka a stiff challenge, and then there’s the whole wine contingent. There are strong opinions as to the preferability of tart over fruity, mint over lime, the merits of crushed ice vs cubes, tonic vs soda. There are so many choices!

In fact, we’re leaning to having a number of categories, because we all know that, just like our children, every Mommy is different and special. So perhaps a sweet/fruity concoction AND a tangy/sour one? A dessert coffee category? Drinks with bubbles and those without?

We’re hunting for just the right accessories. Because a true Momtini requires accessories – teeny umbrella too kitschy for you? How about coloured straws? How about ice cubes in the shape of teeny lego pieces? And to identify glasses? None of those little beaded wine glass charms for us, we’re using beaded diaper pins. Pink for mommies of girls, blue for mommies of boys. You can have as many as you have children.

You can join in, too! Would you like to? Send me your recipes, and my team of impartial, dedicated, professional Mothers will personally taste-test each one.

But wait. That’s a lot of work, even for a group as dedicated as my team. Why, then, why don’t you, in YOUR city, start your very own Cocktail Chapter? Maybe we could have regional entries – I’m sure all you southern mamas can come up with something cool and heady, and all we northern ones can manage something to warm us on cold winter nights. I’m sure there are maritime and Pacific specialties. (With apologies to all you Newfoundlanders, however, I don’t think anything based on screech can be called a ‘cocktail’.)

It can be the National Mommy Project of 2007! Heck, if Kat, Karyn, Jenny and Z want to get involved, it can be an International – a global! – Mommy Project.

You’ll have to come up with a name for your entry, but you can’t have mine. I’ve already got a name for our group’s not-yet-invented confection.

It will be named, pending approval of the appropriate authorities, “Surburban Bliss”.

February 3, 2007 Posted by | individuality, Mischief, parenting, random and odd | 10 Comments