It’s Not All Mary Poppins

She’s Anita Renfroe …

… and if you arrived too late for the YouTube link, you can see part of the clip at her very own website, right here. The premise? She’s condensed everything a mom says to her kids in 24 hours into 2 minutes, 50 seconds. Too bad this clip starts half-way through what the YouTube clip showed. Drat.

But you’ll get a taste of it anyway — better than nothing!

September 30, 2007 Posted by | Mischief, parenting | 3 Comments

Who is this Wonderful Woman?? (updated with posting instructions)

If this hasn’t hit 90% of the Mommy-blogosphere within 24 hours, I will be ASTOUNDED.

I will not tell you how much of myself I heard in this…

[For those of you who want this in your blog, but don’t know how:

1. Go to your dashboard. Get into the Edit screen.
This is important. You can’t do this from the Compose screen.

2. Open another tab, go to the YouTube video.

3. To the right of the video, you should see two SMALL boxes, one labeled “URL” and one labeled “embed”. You want “embed”.

4. Copy the code from inside the embed box, and paste it into your Edit screen.
5. Save as usual.

Done. That’s all there is to it. Good luck!]

September 28, 2007 Posted by | Mischief, parenting | 14 Comments

My Latte Life

Hello! It’s Friday, and I’m tired and looking forward to the weekend, so, for your entertainment, my Latte Personality. It’s about 60% accurate, I’m figuring…

What Your Latte Says About You

You are easygoing and pretty simple to please. You don’t put up a fuss… ever.

You can be quite silly at times, but you know when to buckle down and be serious.

You have a good deal of energy, but you pace yourself. You never burn out too fast.

You have a healthy relationship with caffeine. You’re definitely not dependent on it.

You are responsible, mature, and truly an adult. You’re occasionally playful, but you find it hard to be carefree.

You are complex and philosophical, but you are never arrogant.

What Does Your Latte Say About You?

I’m not much with the silly, though I do mischief pretty well; do NOT have a good deal of energy – which is why, yes, I do pace myself well; second-last one (responsible, mature, playful, not carefree) is dead on, I think; and complex and philosophical, yes; the less flattering adjectives? Well, it reminds me of that game…

You know the game? The one where someone throws out an adjective, then you take turns coming up with increasingly less flattering variants?

“I’m curious; she’s nosy, they’re intrusive.”
“I’m organized; he’s anal; they’re obsessive-compulsive.”
“I’m relaxed; she’s laissez-faire; they’re inert.”

That game? It can be a lot of fun. (Right Jen and Sam?? Sam is particularly skilled at it.)

Well… You can see why it came to mind. I’m confident, you see.

September 28, 2007 Posted by | food, individuality, memes and quizzes, random and odd | Leave a comment


If you walked into Mary’s house right now – well, really? A couple of hours ago. Right now it’s naptime, but I like to write in the present tense – so, if you were to walk into Mary’s house, you’d think you were stepping into a sea of contentment. Happy children, playing happily. The quiet murmur of little voices. The rattle of toys. Industrious harmony. So peaceful!

It looks like that. But really? What you see are separate, and probably armed, camps.

After a morning spent squabbling, squabbling, squabbling, and Mary teaching negotiation, empathy, patience… Mary lost patience. “Right, then.”

“YOU. Play with this toy. NOT that toy. THIS toy.”
“YOU. Here’s your toy. Play HERE. Not there. HERE.”
“YOU. Have some shapes. No, not you, YOU have the cups. Go play with the cups.”

Course, as soon as you say “If you can’t play nicely together, you can’t play together,” then all they want to do is PLAY TOGETHER. Which, most days is a lovely idea, in fact, most days it’s one of the top items on the agenda, but today? Today it’s just not working, and for the next half-hour we’re all going to TAKE A BREAK from all the togetherness, okay?

Peace? No, my friends. What you see here is detente.

September 27, 2007 Posted by | aggression, daycare, manners, power struggle, socializing | 9 Comments


Mir is a very wise woman.

September 26, 2007 Posted by | controversy, individuality, parenting, peer pressure | 3 Comments

Here’s a question

A few years back, I was the Network Leader for our local association of home childcare providers. My role was to provide phone support for caregivers and to arrange social and professional development events for the women in my network. Once in a while, a parent would phone up, looking for childcare. I would happily pass on names, with the caveat that I was not providing recommendations, only information. (Because, frankly, there were women in the network I would never recommend. My job wasn’t to screen, either: just give names and numbers and the rest was up to the parent.)

But one time, I had a call from a mother who wanted to attend one of our meetings.

“Oh, I think you’ve misunderstood the role of these meetings. They are support meetings for childcare providers. The association does provide information nights for parents, if you’re interested.” I offered her the phone number of the co-ordinator.

“No, no,” she explained. “Yours is the meeting I want to attend. I would like to meet with caregivers, not other parents. I think we’d have so much to learn from each other.”

I held my ground, primarily because I knew my network would flay me alive if I invited her. We were discreet and professional when we met in public, but when our meetings were in someone’s home, top item of conversation is almost always “horrible parent” stories. How could we have a convivial bitch-and-vent session with a parent in our midst?

I mentioned the call at our next meeting. It was greeted first with horror, and then with puzzlement.

“We could learn from each other?”

Ranged round the room were women with anywhere from one to five children of their own each, children ranging in age from two years to thirty years. No one in the room had less than four years’ professional childcare experience. Many had a couple of decades.

It was clear that this woman (mother of a seven-month-old baby, with no other childcare experience) could stand to learn a lot from us. The question of the hour was: Could we have anything to learn from her?

It was an interesting discussion.

What do you think? Any thoughts?

September 26, 2007 Posted by | daycare, parents | 26 Comments

No surprises here…

From Florinda says I'm a Cool History / Lit Geek.  What are you?  Click here!

September 25, 2007 Posted by | memes and quizzes, random and odd | 9 Comments

Considering the Big Picture

We mill around the front hall, getting ready to go. Hats are on, shoes are on, diapers in the bag, everyone has their water bottles. Water bottles, water – pee. Who needs to pee? Malli is sent upstairs to pee — no, wait! Mary is going to go first, because Malli always gets some pee on the seat. Not sure how she manages it, but she’s 100% consistent. Always.

… Okay… NOW Malli can have a pee…

Meantime, I do a quick check of the diapers to see if anyone needs to be changed before we head out. Disposables are easy: there’s a squooshiness, a weightedness that tells you if, and how much, is in there. The sniff test tells you what.

Do you ever sometimes stop and really SEE what it is you’re doing? Peel back the veneer of unthinking familiarity and look at this objectively? As if you’d never done it before? As if someone else were doing it to you?

“Squoosh test”, “sniff test”. Let’s stop and consider this for a moment, shall we?

How many jobs are there that allow – never mind require – one to squeeze half-a-dozen people in the crotch several times a day? Which, put in bald terms like that is kind of gross. Never mind the sniff test, favoured by the neighbour’s disreputable dog. Sheesh.

All diapers are – hurrah! – light and crinkly, so we can proceed as soon as Malli returns downstairs. And there she is!

“All set? Okay, let’s go sit on the porch!” Anal Retentive Methodical Nigel halts in the door as an Important Thought comes to him. He turns, eyes wide with urgency.

“Mary, you didn’t check Malli!”

“I don’t need to check Malli. She can pee on herself — I mean, by herself.”

Some while later, I discover my first mis-statement was in fact no mis-statement at all. Urgh. That does it. The girl will be using the potty for another month or so, at least. HOW she manages to get a quarter cup of pee on the seat and under her toilet ring I do not know, but taking a potty upstairs to tip out and clean cannot be any more work than scrubbing off the toilet ring and seat and disinfecting everything. And there’s far less chance of me inadvertently setting my butt down on a pee-sticky toilet.

You know? OTHER people don’t squeeze crotches as part of their work life (and I’m thinking that if they did it as part of their love life, it would be a pretty short-lived love life); OTHER people don’t play “pee-or-water?” six times a day; OTHER people perform sniff tests on roses, chocolate and fine wine, not backsides.

I have a weird job.

September 24, 2007 Posted by | daycare, potty tales, the dark side | 10 Comments

The Comfort Station: Soother-weaning 101

Anna’s parents have decided it’s time to deal with their child’s addiction. Anna is being weaned from the soother.

At Mary’s, Anna has a soother for her naps. Otherwise, it either hangs from her peg or sits safely in her bin. She doesn’t think about it, she doesn’t ask for it, because this is Mary’s house. The moment mummy or daddy walk through the door, she needs it. Instantly. Passionately.

Nothing they’re doing wrong, just an association: home=mummy/daddy=soother. Nor is there anything wrong with a just-turned-two having a soother, unless it were interfering with her speech. Which it manifestly is not. Girl can talk the ears off a brass monkey, to adapt one of my grandad’s pithier phrases.

Still, they’re tired of it and they want it gone. However, Anna (like many twos) is hard to say “No” to. Anna (like many twos) does not take “no” graciously. What to do?

When desiring to remove a soother from a child’s life, there are as many approaches as there are families. I’ve known parents who “accidentally” left it behind at gramma’s, families who give them to baby cousins (so mama’s sister can dispense of them), families who do it cold turkey, families who do it gradually, limiting them to bedrooms and naps.

I’ve even heard of families who package up all the soothers with pretty paper, ribbons and bows, to mail them to The Soother Fairy. (What he/she does with mountains of well-used soothers, drool-crusted is anyone’s guess, but, if we can have a Tooth Fairy collecting detached and bloody teeth, we can have a Soother Fairy. Fairies, evidently, are an eccentric lot.)

I suggest my tried-and-true soother response: The Comfort Station technique.

It’s a gradual rather than a cold-turkey approach. With this approach, you set up a Comfort Station. You choose a safe corner of the house. You take a soother and tie it with a short length of string to something immovable – a heat vent, a cup hook in the wall, a piece of furniture. You surround this spot with a couple of cushions, a blanket, a soft toy and a few books.

Whenever the child needs the soother, they head over to their soother spot. You are not denying them their comfort, but neither are they able to wander around with it. When they ask for their suss, you cheerfully direct them to their soother spot. (Do not make the mistake of staying there with them the first time or two to accustom them to this new regime, or you will set a counter-productive precedent! The idea is to wean the child from the soother, not to tie mommy to the wall with baby…)

It won’t be too long before their desire to be up and doing will overcome their willingness to sit with the soother. Forced to choose between their addiction and the big, wide world, the world will win.

Since Anna has always been allowed a soother at naptimes, she will continue to have one in bed at night, too. She also gets one in the carseat and the bicycle trailer. She is, however, steadily breaking the association between “home” and “constant sucking”.

Anna’s dad comments that she heads for the soother first thing when she gets home. “She’s like a smoker, taking that first big drag first thing in the morning. And then she just gets on with her evening.” She makes periodic trips over to the Comfort Station, but she never stays there for more than a minute or so. Anna is getting used to being without, and her parents are happy, too.

So far, so good!

September 21, 2007 Posted by | Anna, behavioural stuff, soothers and pacifiers | 17 Comments

Ye Canna Change the Laws of Physics

Timmy brought a balloon to daycare today. A lovely, blue helium-filled balloon from a birthday party he attended last night.

Of course, you bring something to Mary’s house, you share it. (Exceptions made for true lovies.) Balloons are not lovies. It was a bit traumatic, but after giving everyone else a go, the balloon was returned to a shaken and trembling Tim.

Who then proceeded to continue to share it. I am so proud. He is so weird.

The balloon amuses one and all for the rest of the morning. It is tossed and punched and bounced and sat on. It is dragged and dropped and bounced off heads. It is a wonderful, wonderful toy. It is also slowly but inexorably losing its helium. It no longer floats, it limps. Furthermore, it is now encased in dustballs and cat hair.


Shortly before lunch, the others having finally tired of the balloon, Timmy amused himself by pinching the largely-deflated latex hairball. He’d draw his fingers slowly together, then let the pinched latex go with a SNAP. It makes a hideous sound, latex does, when it’s pinched.




Screech! Gigglegigglegiggle…


The giggles are cute and all, but they’re not as cute as the SKREEK-ing is awful. I squat down in front of the boy.


Gigglegigglegiggle… There is a glint of silver…


The balloon vanishes. HOW did THAT happen???

Timmy eyes the twist of shrivelled latex dangling from the pale lavender ribbon in his hand. And bursts into…


He looks once again at the bit of blue, looks at me, still laughing.


He took the bad news very well.

September 20, 2007 Posted by | Mischief, Timmy | 7 Comments