Friday, December 31, 2010

You Know What's Awesome?

You know what's awesome?

It's awesome when you're not all that upset over something. And so you start recounting it to your husband, and as you recount it, you start getting upset. In fact, you get really upset. And by the time you're done, you're really, really upset over this situation that honestly didn't bother you all that much ten minutes ago. And there you are, fulfilling every bad stereotype about women and convincing your baffled husband that you're totally crazy and/or care far too much about coupon specials.

For some reason this inevitably happens to me on Fridays.

Also fun: forgetting you have a third child until you're halfway across the parking lot.

Also fun: when you suspect that a neighbourhood child isn't allowed to play at your house.

Possibly because her mother is convinced I'm a crazy person. Just like my husband.

Monday, December 20, 2010


Since this unpleasant "boycott Israel" nonsense has come up again, via Lady Gaga flash mobs (I'm not making this up), I thought I'd repost this video. But first, this is why the other side sucks:

And now:

Canadians can fight boycotts by participating in the Buycott Israel program.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Less than success

Today was not a great day.

Here I am in the morning, after Firefly woke me. Early. Which is why it's dark. I'm knitting. He's helping. Isn't he helpful?

I couldn't find my purse. So I stick Firefly in a sling and go out to the car to look for it. It's not there. I find the purse. But in the process I drop my keys. I get all of the children ready to go out. We're on the curb. It's raining. I don't have my keys in my purse. I don't have them anywhere.

Did I mention that neither of them would go outside without the plastic castle each got for Channukah? So it's me, three children, two plastic castles, the assorted and sundry things it takes to get the children out of the house, and a pile of packages to deliver.

Genome's got his coat on upside-down.

Munchkin has no coat on. She rejected a coat in favour of her fleece flower-power-style sweater. It has a hood, so it's totally the same as a coat, right?

I can't find my keys, and then Genome trips, falls, and cuts his lip. Profuse amounts of blood. Munchkin starts crying. I start nursing Genome, which makes Firefly angry because he's still sling-side. But Genome is quiet and I'm successfully talking Munchkin down by asking her questions about times she bled, but recovered, as Genome surely will. Unfortunately she starts thinking about having gotten stitches, which scared her, so she starts crying.

I call my mother to come mind the children so I can go inside and find. my. keys. Things are, at this point, very bad.

She brings the kids and puts them in her car to get dry. I get down on the road, right in front of the grill of her car, to look under the cars to see if my keys are there.

Right then, Genome honks the horn five times.

Do you know how loud a horn is when you're right next to the grill of a car?

I start crying. HE starts crying, because he's sorry. Munchkin starts crying because . . . well, any excuse in a storm.

I go inside. Find the keys. They'd fallen out of my purse while I was putting Genome's socks on.

In my mother's car, Munchkin is singing thusly to Firefly:
"Don't cry baby,
Don't cry Firefly,
Mummy and Daddy will take care of you
Mummy and Dadd won't let you float away."

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Question Period

What's an instant way to summon a two-year-old boy?

Take out your lace knitting. Child will appear instantly on your lap.

Genome's hair is in his face all the time, and he won't let me pull it back into a ponytail. The other little boys wear ponytails. Why does mine scream and yell NO GIRL as he yanks out my least feminine attempts?

Lots of Christian blogs are talking about Santa Claus and gift-giving right now. Munchkin asked her Tatty who Santa Claus is. He replied that Santa Claus was a man who was important to the Christian Church and died many years ago.

Yesterday I overheard her telling her little friend that Santa Claus died, but when Moshiach comes, Santa Claus will come back with Grandpa.

A+ theological understanding.

Friday, November 26, 2010


If you bake a bundt cake for Sabbath, and you told your child not to touch it, and she says she did not touch it but rather licked it, and the child is an unreliable reporter so she may or may not have actually licked it, and you haven't got time to make another because you have six loaves of bread and a brisket to get on, is it immoral to serve that cake to immediate family members without mentioning the possible lick-age?

A. Yes.
B. No.
C. Yuck. I'm never having kids.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Toy box

She's still odd.

When I go out, Munchkin says, "good bye mummy! Be careful and don't let any of the monsters get you!"

You'd think she'd be neurotic, given that she thinks that monsters lurk everywhere, but it doesn't seem to bother her.

She thinks we should get an octopus. Baby tried to roll off of the bed? "What we need is an octopus. Then the octopus could catch Firefly when he tried to fall."

I left my purse at a restaurant? "We need an octopus that's big, and also medium. It could get mummy's purse for us."

Well it could, dear, but it would also require a large tank and a variety of amusing activities. I'm too lazy to own a dog. I'm not ready for any varsity level wildlife.

I think that the reasons my headphones keep breaking is that my baby keeps trying to gnaw on them.

I went down to the US drop box to fetch the packages for the family this month. Allow me to demonstrate why the employees at the drop box, very nice people who are evangelical Christians of the t-shirt-wearing variety, think that my family is a family of loons. Our pick-up list:
- 5 lb soy milk powder
- 2 doll wigs, new
- 1 used doll wearing ugly gauze disco dress
- 1 Star Trek themed plastic wallet
- 1 snow suit and boots
- 4 ties (my BIL's, and therefore of excellent taste)
- 1 Fisher Price brand seventies-era plane

Monday, November 15, 2010

This is Why You're Anxious: Saturday Morning Cartoon version

Does anyone remember Captain Planet and the Planeteers?

Now that I've refreshed your memory. Really, Ted Turner, really? I know the fellow is rumoured to be a bit off, but I'm not sure whether the show is strangest because:
- it's clearly political indoctrination of a certain worldview;
- it confronts topics that the viewers are in no way intellectually or emotionally prepared for; or,
- the premise makes no damn sense. Pollution is now a problem of going and beating up pollutors! A magic man should do it! And he should be summoned by the personified spirit of the earth! Well phew, I'm so relieved. I thought it involved a lot more paperwork than that.

As Luci from Chez Luci pointed out, I had forgotten the hole in the ozone layer. The ozone layer was opening up a giant hole over the arctic and as a result, we would all be burned to a crisp. As a result we should stop using anything in a spray can.

What else . . . over population! I remember that too! Kind of a strange one to teach a bunch of small children, but we learned that the world was running out of space. This is the kind of thing that can only seem remotely plausible to the youngest Canadian because again, space we've got. Obviously whatever anti-population message they were trying to share with me didn't quite take.

We were running out of oil. This used to be a really big concern, back before we learned to be more concerned with the people on top of the oil we want to use, and their wacky political theories.

And of course, there were drugs. On Fridays after dinner, my father used to take us to rent a video. One of the videos was a completely animated one-hour movie wherein the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and a bunch of other cartoons I don't remember teach us all an important lesson about drug use.

Cartoon All-Stars to the Rescue

You really can find anything online.

Anyhow, the message of the story is that primary school children are regularly offered marijuana and should be ever alert to the possibility.

And smoke. Smoking would kill you, your mother, your father, and your little dog too. It was your duty as a child to weep pitifully that your father not smoke because you didn't want him to die. Not conducive to happy parent-child relationships.

We learned not to drink and drive. I started crying in a Chinese food restaurant wailing "please, daddy, don't drink and drive. He didn't think that one light beer rendered him un-roadworthy, but again, one for the family memory books.

Someday I hope that my children, too, will misapply what they have learned about health and safety in order to humiliate me in public.

Speaking of which, how do I teach my four-year-old that when she falls, she should say "I've fallen and I can't get up!" She should not substitute the near synonym, "I'm on my back and I can't get off!" Really.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

This is Why You're Anxious

Yes, it's four a.m. The boys woke me.

I was talking to my husband a few, well, hours ago. We were discussing what it was like to grow up and go to school in the late eighties and early nineties.

I began compiling a list of all of the things that I was reasonably sure would kill me.

I was so sure that the world would end, I thought it was just a matter of what got me first. In retrospect, this contributed a great deal to my skepticism of global warming. I'm still sure that the world is going to end. I'm much less sure that we'll know about it in advance. And if we do, my money's on Iran and not carbon emissions.

Anyway, I present to you the following list: THINGS I WAS TOLD TO BE SCARED OF IN PRIMARY SCHOOL

- Nuclear annihilation. At any moment we would be annihilated as a side event to the war between Russia and the United States. I owned a picture book called DISARMAMENT with the requisite cover photograph of a mushroom cloud.

- Environmental disaster. Because we were bad and littered, acid rain was going to rot the skin off of our bones, and whales were going extinct, nay, were probably extinct already. Literally no science-themed activity was free from the closing refrain that the coral reefs may be nice now, but we sinful, reckless human beings were destroying them.

- Fire. Every year, we all took turns going in the fire safety trailer. You lay on the bunkbed in a mock up of a children's room, and when the alarm went off, you practiced rolling out of bed and crawling on the floor to safety. You touched the doorknob to see if it was hot before proceeding out of that door. Since my bedroom was on an upper floor, I spent a lot of time worrying about this.

- Quebec leaving. As a child, I somehow got the idea that Quebec was an island, and if she voted to leave the union, we'd cut the moorings and set her adrift towards France. Quebec has never seemed all that important to me, but I gathered that this was something to worry about because the adults I knew talked about it a great deal. The reason that Quebec was going to leave was because schoolchildren in British Columbia were insufficiently diligent in learning French.

- Divorce. At school I was given a paperback called Dinosaurs Divorce, full of cartoon dinosaurs abandoning their children, living in post-divorce poverty, and so on. I was terrified that my parents would divorce. I probably beat the odds in that they did not. As a six-year-old, I would have preferred that our house be set on fire by acid rain caused by the atom bomb to my parents divorcing.

- People who touched me in my bathing suit area. This one was always a little vague, but I learned that there are people who wanted to touch you in your bathing suit area and one wasn't to let them. We sang a little song about it: "My body's no-body's body but mine! You have your own body; let me have mine!"

- Saddam Hussain. He invaded Kuwait. British Columbia could be next.

- Litter. Amazingly for someone living in Canada, I had been convinced that we were running out of space to put trash. It was crucial that I recycled and used reusable sandwich containers. Failure to do so would speed our burial in piles of trash.

- AIDS. Again, I was vague on the details of this one, but it had something to do with being an adult and sudden death.

- Earthquake. We had earthquake drills by hiding under our desks in preparation for "the big one." We did this a lot.

Actually, now that I've compiled the list, it's surprising I only have as much anxiety as I have. It's also amazing I had time to learn about anything other than certain destruction.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Memorial Day

We are a family of holiday births. We have one person born on American Memorial Day, one on 9/11, one on Purim, one on Flag Day, and one on Lag B'Omer.

That said, this is one of the few secular holidays that I do make an effort to observe. Canadians wear red poppies in memory of the war fallen. Munchkin is old enough now to wear a poppy as well.

The homeschooling group was on about "white poppies." It's nice to know that the "peace movement" hasn't been shamed by its defense of Communist atrocities, or appeasement pre-WWII.

With that in mind, I present some of my favorite war poetry:

A Song of Defeat

THE line breaks and the guns go under,
The lords and the lackeys ride the plain;
I draw deep breaths of the dawn and thunder,
And the whole of my heart grows young again.
For our chiefs said 'Done,' and I did not deem it;
Our seers said 'Peace,' and it was not peace;
Earth will grow worse till men redeem it,
And wars more evil, ere all wars cease.
But the old flags reel and the old drums rattle,
As once in my life they throbbed and reeled;
I have found my youth in the lost battle,
I have found my heart on the battlefield.
For we that fight till the world is free,
We are not easy in victory:
We have known each other too long, my brother,
And fought each other, the world and we.
And I dream of the days when work was scrappy,
And rare in our pockets the mark of the mint,
When we were angry and poor and happy,
And proud of seeing our names in print.
For so they conquered and so we scattered,
When the Devil road and his dogs smelt gold,
And the peace of a harmless folk was shattered;
When I was twenty and odd years old.
When the mongrel men that the market classes
Had slimy hands upon England's rod,
And sword in hand upon Afric's passes
Her last Republic cried to God.
For the men no lords can buy or sell,
They sit not easy when all goes well,
They have said to each other what naught can smother,
They have seen each other, our souls and hell.
It is all as of old, the empty clangour,
The Nothing scrawled on a five-foot page,
The huckster who, mocking holy anger,
Painfully paints his face with rage.
And the faith of the poor is faint and partial,
And the pride of the rich is all for sale,
And the chosen heralds of England's Marshal
Are the sandwich-men of the Daily Mail,
And the niggards that dare not give are glutted,
And the feeble that dare not fail are strong,
So while the City of Toil is gutted,
I sit in the saddle and sing my song.
For we that fight till the world is free,
We have no comfort in victory;
We have read each other as Cain his brother,
We know each other, these slaves and we.
G. K. Chesterton

The Children
Author: Rudyard Kipling [More Titles by Kipling]
These were our children who died for our lands: they
were dear in our sight.
We have only the memory left of their home-treasured
sayings and laughter.
The price of our loss shall be paid to our hands, not
another's hereafter.
Neither the Alien nor Priest shall decide on it. That is our right.
_But who shall return us the children_?

At the hour the Barbarian chose to disclose his pretences,
And raged against Man, they engaged, on the breasts
that they bared for us,
The first felon-stroke of the sword he had long-time
prepared for us--
Their bodies were all our defence while we wrought our defences.

They bought us anew with their blood, forbearing to blame us,
Those hours which we had not made good when the Judgment
o'ercame us.
They believed us and perished for it. Our statecraft, our learning.

Delivered them bound to the Pit and alive to the burning
Whither they mirthfully hastened as jostling for honour.
Not since her birth has our Earth seen such worth loosed upon her.

Nor was their agony brief, or once only imposed on them.
The wounded, the war-spent, the sick received no exemption:
Being cured they returned and endured and achieved our redemption,
Hopeless themselves of relief, till Death, marvelling, closed
on them.

That flesh we had nursed from the first in all cleanness was given
To corruption unveiled and assailed by the malice of Heaven--
By the heart-shaking jests of Decay where it lolled on the wires--
To be blanched or gay-painted by fumes--to be cindered by fires--
To be senselessly tossed and retossed in stale mutilation
From crater to crater. For this we shall take expiation.
_But who shall return us our children_?

Kipling is on my mind today because I was reading the Just So Stories to Munchkin and Genome. Genome was clearly bored by the whole exercise, but Munchkin seemed rather enchanted at parts.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Half Moon Post

Munchkin shows me what a girl looks like, in case I forget. Genome finds this so entertaining he just has to sleep through the whole thing. Wait, why is everyone in my bed?

I should make a proper post. But I'm not uploading any photos. (ETA: Okay, fine. One photo). Because I'm very jittery about the election tomorrow, and it's going to be a big one (they all say), and I want to see what happens.

If you haven't had children yet, or you only have one of each gender, it would be wise to stay with one gender. Boy or girl, it doesn't matter (boys are easier).

When I had a girl first and a boy second, everyone told me how fortunate I was to have one of each. But since then I've discovered a number of advantages of having them in, at the very least, regular lots of like-gendered children. For example:

Inventory Control
Like-gendered children, at least small ones, wear the same clothes. So I still remember where I put the boys' clothes when I need them again. Munchkin's I need to store, which I have yet to do, but there's a lot of it. It looks intimidating, I never get it done, and I'm always finding little pink socks.

Appropriate playtime activities
My girl and my boy don't play well together.

Munchkin sets up a tea party. Genome wants to play Superhero fights monsters. Munchkin wants to play princess. Genome wants to play superhero fights monsters. Munchkin wants to engage in age-appropriate developmental play. Genome wants to throw developmental materials at imaginary monsters while wearing the only thing he ever wears, the top of his Spiderman pajamas.

They're stuck with each other, and they work it out ("Fight off the monsters attacking the princess"), but I can tell that Genome covets the attention of another boy. He keeps trying to get Firefly to hold a toy weapon. And not chew on it.

Greater child satisfaction
I already mentioned that Genome is very eager to have another walking-sized boy. Munchkin has gotten downright alarming in her desire to have another girl. She says she programmed her sister's number into her (toy) cell phone.

Last night my husband explained again that even if G-d gives us another baby, that doesn't mean it will be a girl. He said, so, do you want another baby?

Yes, she said.

You do?

Right. A baby sister.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Pirates of Penzance

Friday we went to the Maritime Museum. They have quite a host of activities; it's much better than when I used to go as a child. The main attraction is still the fully assembled 1920-era ship, around which the museum was built. It's a ship built for going through the Northwest Passage.

My children adore this museum. They attend about once a week.

Munchkin, in her perpetual mixing of metaphors and active fantasy life, enlisted her brother to play "Pirate Princess fights monsters with karate."

Genome, on the other hand. Well, he's lucky he's even allowed back to the Maritime Museum. When he was 18 months old, he made a credible attempt to climb the rigging.

Firefly mostly slept or looked bemused at the whole scene.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Internet Continues to Open New Worlds to Me

I am not now and have never been Catholic. I attended one Catholic service. It was in Latin at a monastery.

I was aware of the bare bones of the current controversy in the American church: after Vatican II American churches changed the way they gave mass. Some of them changed it quite a lot. At the very least the Latin Mass basically disappeared and priests started facing forward and giving a much more accessible service.

Lately the pendulum has swung in the other direction. The papacy has been made aware of quite how liberal things had gotten in some parts of the world (very) and clarified certain things. In addition, mine is a reactionary generation and many of us prefer things to happen in foreign languages.

Orthodox Jewish Services are inaccessible in a way that makes the Tridentine Mass seem like a Unitarian ecumenical service. There are no instruments and no choir. Everyone faces in the same direction and mumbles at high speed in Hebrew. It's entirely in Hebrew except for the speech. They don't tell you what page your own. People bring their own prayer books and pray from them. Some people do their own tradition rather than that of the group. Everyone makes actions at times but you won't know when, unless you're following along, which you can't unless you are very familiar with the service and the language thereof. Women are separated from men by a balcony, curtain, fence, change of level, or several of the aforementioned (I could do without this). Women do not participate in and cannot always see the service. And some people don't bother sitting down or standing up and just stand the whole time (I do this). People wander in and out, especially the ones with small children, especially women. They come late and start up when they show up, praying what they missed (I do this too). There are children wandering freely. Sometimes the leader sings the entire prayer. More often he just sings one or two sentences to let you know where you ought to be up to, if you're following along, which you might not be. Oh, and different congregations use different tunes to the prayers. There are no hymns, no programs, no English, no "let us stand."

I would be so distraught if we all decided to go to English. I don't know if I could even pray anymore. It was very hard to learn to pray in Hebrew. But I love Hebrew.

It is easier to have sacred space when it is strange. I think this is one of the reasons for the long-standing preference that many people have for the King James Bible. It sounds sacred. Praying in English makes me feel self-conscious.

I can see why Catholics found it so hard to see theirs shaken up. And that's without going into some of the less-sanctioned stuff that seems to have gone on. Like this:

I have been reading What Does the Prayer Really Say, a fascinating conservative view of these things with bonus Latin and religious studies geekery. Truly, the internet contains worlds within worlds.

Monday, October 18, 2010

So I got myself Bright Sided by Ehrenreich. We shall see if she indeed agrees with my premise that it's silly to expect life, parenting, or anything else to be fun. Roller coaster rides are fun. Mothering is work. Of course, compared to most work, it's pretty good work. I wouldn't call paper pushing "joyful and fun" either. On the other hand, none of the papers I pushed ever pooped in the bathtub.

Speaking of work, a much better blog than this one called Hyperbole and a Half has an entry that I think describes an awful melt-down tantrum frmo the child's point of view. The child wants to eat an entire cake. Her mother, cruelly, prevents her from doing so. The child behaves in such a way as to interrupt the grandfather's party. The child thinks about how the mother will be sorry if she's dead, and so on.

I had no idea my children read blogs.

My children do not eat entire cakes. They eat raw bread dough. They absolutely adore raw bread dough.

When an Orthodox Jew has one of the many millions of little Orthodox Issues that arises in the average life, she calls her rabbi and asks a shaila, question. I suspect (but do not know) that my rabbi has a little asterisk next to my name to remind him that this isn't your average problem. A number of years ago, I was baking the challah and, as is the practice, I set apart an offering of dough with a blessing. Confusingly, the offering is also called challah. We are supposed to burn it. I did not burn it. Munchkin (I assume, it may have been Genome) ate it. I did not know what the practice is when your child eats your challah. Take more and burn that? Burning the child wouldn't work.

The answer, should you be waiting with bated breath, was "don't do anything. But be careful with the child and raw dough when it has eggs in it."

So my children like their baked goods, but they like them unbaked. You wouldn't know it given that they sabotaged my mixer, but there you are. Remind me to come back to the end of the mixer story soon.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Desperate Housewife

The note I left my mother after clearing a mysterious recurring paper jam from her printer.

Thursday I got myself in a bit of a flame-skirmish at True Femininity, where a woman just out of college tells you that with the right attitude, it will be fun when your toddler poops in your bathtub. Or something.

She thinks it's a cliché that parents say non-parents are clueless. I think it's a truth. Some things are said a lot because they're actually valid.

Luckily for me, I didn't spend much time with kids before I had them. As a result, I cultivated few opinions. Had I had opinions, I would definitely have run at the mouth and embarrassed myself. Of course, blogging wasn't as big when I was younger, so there probably wouldn't be written evidence. I was particularly careful to avoid forming any opinions while pregnant. I've seen this movie; I know how it ends: mummy, crying on the couch.

Mummy still cries on the couch sometimes, but no one can say "I told you so."

I think it would be hard to be that certain brand of Christian that seems obliged to be happy all the time. Has anyone else encountered these people?

Have you read Barbara Ehrenreich's book on the subject of positive thinking? I normally dismiss communists, but maybe she addresses this.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Take heart!

Firefly is five months old.

Roughly, childhood phases go like this:
Birth until social smiling (birth to about four months) -- Baby is a fetus that has been unkindly shoved out into the cold dark world. He is unimpressed with the development. Every two hours he forgets everything that has ever happened to him, ever, and must be fed-changed-soothed again. This is assuming he doesn't have colic. If he does, batten the hatches and don the rain gear.
Social smiling until tantruming (about four months until 17 months) -- Baby is becoming a transitional person. He smiles. He giggles. He hangs out. He begins to give positive feedback. He learns to move and makes a hobby of trying to put deadly things in his mouth. His mother starts to feel like she can get the hang of this. This isn't going to be such a disaster, after all. Maybe she can even take a shower.
Tantruming until talking (about 18 months until 2.5) -- Child is furious about that which he is unable to explain, or things that cannot possibly be fixed. Possible reasons for total meltdown include improperly sliced fruit, incorrect superhero offered on t-shirt, rain, no rain, bedtime, morning time, bathtime, etc. Child throws tantrums in a wide variety of public places. Child becomes a refusenik -- he refuses to put his coat on, or put his shoes on, or walk, or leave.
Talking until attitude (about 2.5 until 3.5) -- Child gets out of diapers. Child talks enough to convey important information. Child can be of help in small ways. Child idolises parent in charming way. This phase continues until the child develops a withering way-pre-teen attitude, somewhere around just before four years old.

What's amazing is that each time a child enters a new phase, I go into whiplash. What happened? Yesterday you were reasonable! Now you're tantruming! Now you've stopped! I'm a horrible failure as a mother! Or maybe not!

What's even more amazing is that I've spaced my children to ensure that I hit the hand-over-the-cyanide phases with all the children at the same time. But you know what? It's never as bad the second time. And it's even easier the third time.

Except the colic. That bit.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Question Period

My husband asks me random questions. He reads very widely. He has chosen questions as his preferred rhetorical method, I think, because he knows I'm a type-A, over-achieving, anxiety-addled teenager at heart. As soon as I hear the inflection in his voice, all the alarms go off in my head: competition! Quiz! Test! All brain cells engage!

He has three types:

The Open-Ended Answer
Why are boys diagnosed with ADHD more often than boys? Why do left-wing people generally support the IRA?
These are invitations to discussion on a topic. He likes to ask them over dinner. If he hits a topic I know anything about, he's stuk listening to me opine for a good twenty minutes.

The Needful Thing to Know
How many years is 10,000 days? Who are the gubernatorial candidates from California? How are judges chosen for the Supreme Court of Canada?
He asks me these because I might know, and it's easier than looking it up on Wikipedia. Sometimes he asks me _as_ he looks it up on Wikipedia. Sometimes he checks me with a calculator. This is a teensy bit insulting, as I hate to think for no reason.

The Trivial Pursuit
Name the poet who wrote these lines. Which sitcom character was a drummer for The Beach Boys?
He asks me these questions because . . . well . . . I have no idea. I'm face-blind and therefore cannot identify people in movies. I identify members of my own family by their hair. And I could not now name a single drummer for any band at any time. Was Ringo the drummer in the Beatles? I don't even know. I think that there's someone in Red Hot Chili Peppers might be named Flea. But that might be someone else in the band. And it's not really his name, I hope.

What my husband doesn't know (until he reads this) is that I keep track of how many of each type of question I miss and which I get right. Somehow, it turned out that the seventh grade imprinted on me, and has become the lens through which I see the entire remainder of my life.

Question time: from which Canadian political institution does this post take its title?

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Soldier Boy

The other day my mother was discussing siblings with Munchkin. She was telling Munchkin that Munchkin has a responsibility to look after her brothers. Munchkin said, very seriously, "with great power comes great responsibility."

My husband tells me that this is from Spiderman.

Can someone tell me what objection Genome has to clean clothing, especially the variety of clothing that lacks a Spiderman design? I can't get the kid into anything that doesn't have a superhero on it.

I ask him to wear dress clothes twice in an average week: Friday night and Saturday. This is not, to my mind, extreme. Every other hour of the week he can wear something with Spiderman on it. He has Spiderman pajamas.

He cannot wear Spiderman to synagogue.

None of the other children at Synagogue are wearing Spiderman t-shirts. Or in Genome's ideal world, a Spiderman pajama shirt, a diaper, and running shoes sans socks.

Most days I let them pick their own clothes. In fact, they pick their own clothes, and they get dressed alone. Munchkin helps Genome. I thought that this was handy, but now I'm reaping what I have sown.

A4V: A horrible idea

Hello everyone in blogland. I'm taking a moment from post Yom Kippur let's-dig-ourselves-out-of-the-holiday-mess to share this with you all.

Once upon a time, I articled for a summer in a large firm. One thing led to another, and I discovered one of my province's most prolific lay litigants: one John Ruiz Dempsey.

Mr. Dempsey is an "independent legal specialist." He is not a lawyer (or at least was not, at the time the judgements I'm reading took place. There is an off chance he attended law school, wrote the bar, etc., since then). Mr. Dempsey says that he does not call himself a lawyer because "he does not "practice" law and therefore he does it for real" The Law Society differs with him on this point: they say that he did hold himself as a lawyer and is not allowed to, because he hasn't passed the bar or been admitted to the law society.

I wrote Mr. Dempsey off as a highly eccentric personality, and filed the wonderful judgement The Law Society of BC v. Dempsey 2005 BCSC 1277 away in my personal "best of" file.

Imagine my surprise when I discovered that there is in fact a whole movement of Mr. Dempseys. It's called the Freeman Movement. I might post a bit about the Freeman Movement later, but right now let me just summarize: Freeman Movement people believe that the legal system is not as it appears. It is all a sham and has been since the Federal Reserve of the US was established, and/or the US went off the gold standard.

According to the Freemen, the entire political system is voluntary. If you don't want to submit to the police, you don't have to. If you got a loan and it wasn't in actual gold, it's not a real loan. You don't have to pay it. Fiat money is imaginary and any debts accumulated under that system are null and void. If you have a mortgage on your house, you don't have to pay it: It's all pretend money!

So why do people pay their mortgages, tax bills, and so forth? Well, it's because they don't know the correct way not to pay them. What should the Freeman do? That's where the A4V, Accepted for Value process comes in.

It's hard to get good information on this, because everyone is out to make a buck. Here's a summary of one fellow explaining it. This guy is selling his version. George Tran here is trying it, and selling coaching, even if it doesn't seem to be working for him. There are bunches of youtube videos. There's a forum. On the internet, there's a forum for everything.

Short version: When you get a bill, write "ACCEPTED FOR VALUE" on it. Send it back. Voila! You're done!

Long version: When the IRS/CRA/bank fails to honour your "payment" of the bill with "Accepted for value" on it, try some other wrinkle. Maybe you need to try again. Maybe you need to use a different colour ink. The variations are endless.

To save time, you can purchase an "Accepted for Value" stamp!

So let's get to the point.

These remedies do not work.

They do not work.

They are a horrible idea.

Let's grant that the Freeman understanding of the law is the correct one, or as correct as any other. I think it's all a bunch of nonsense, but fine, work with me. All we're talking about is, if you write "Accepted for value" or something similar on your bill, will you still have to pay it? YES YOU WILL. And you will get yourself a lot of trouble to boot.

Canadian judgements refer to this as a "debt protest approach" and they don't like it at all. Here is what they say about it when one Simon Marples tried it: "this Court has clearly stated that such an approach is completely devoid of merit and will lead to special costs." Mr. Dempsey had to pay special costs too.

You interject, But Stealth Jew! Those are BC cases! I reside in another province!

Not so fast!

One I. Kovacevic tried the "Accepted for value" approach in Ontario in order to maintain possession of his Mercedes-Benz. It did not work. It was a spectacular failure, and Mr. Kovacevic when to prison, a surprisingly hard thing to do here in Canada.

Trying these "remedies" is like posting a great big target on your butt. Don't do it. There's no free lunch, and you do have to pay your mortgage.

As an added reason to avoid the whole mess, negative indicator Casey Serin is now working the A4V process to avoid paying for his parents home, and has a blog so you can follow along.

Anything Casey Serin does is a bad idea.

Don't do it.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Catching Up

The recent dearth of posts has been to the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanna, which this year is part of a three-day food-fest to kick off the High Holiday season.

Last week I did not make a blog post. Instead I baked 19 loaves of challah (with no mixer -- thanks kids!), one loaf of rye, three honey cakes, two marbled vanilla cakes, and three batches of cookies. Plus two roasts, a salmon baked in salt, a stock pot full of chicken broth, carrot-ginger soup (husband's new favorite), three kugels, and innumerable side dishes.

I also fastened about 500 tiny buttons, and unfastened them, reaffirming our choice of being a button-free household on the day-to-day clothes of anyone who can't button. The man or woman who invented the elastic waist is one of the little Saints of modern motherhood.

Munchkin, Still Odd

I don't know what world my daughter lives in.

I know where she doesn't live: She doesn't live in my world. I'm a literal person. I frequently miss the joke. I get bothered by historical details being awry in movies. I almost never read fiction, and when I do, it's only because a non-fiction writer referenced it. I never once had a real role in a school play. I have actually been cast as both a bird, and as a snowflake.

The other day we went downtown to run some errands. She chose her own clothes, in this case, Sabbath clothes: a light blue button-up, blue pleated skirt, knee socks, and light brown lace-ups.

So basically I took a Catholic school refugee downtown shopping.

I bought her new fairy wings (we won't talk about what happened to the last set). She opted to wear them immediately. So I had an enchanted Catholic school refugee.

You know you're making a scene when people on the bus start snapping photos.

Included here is one of the photos one man took of her. He emailed them to me. He's very talented.

I think we may need to keep a handle on the fantasy materials. She says that a bad boy with a kazoo is following her, peering in windows, and telling her she's dead. I said I'd pull the blinds. Is this reinforcing her delusion? I don't know. She said magic people can see through blinds. At least she knows that it's not a _normal_ person with a kazoo, right?

Yesterday she leaned against me and said, "mummy, I don't know why I did that. I'm a funny, funny girl."

My mother understands Munchkin perfectly. I think I may have been raised by, and be raising, a lunatic.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Babes in Toyland

How many toys do you have that your children don't play with?

I would have liked children who played with aesthetically pleasing toys, the type hewn out of rough wood. They could gently wave their play silks in an interpretive dance before creating a little toy town out of wooden blocks. Although I've never really understood why Waldorf makes so many things out of felt (see A Toy Garden for examples of everything Waldorf), I have to admit that the aesthetic speaks to me in the same way that Martha Stewart does. It tugs on my heartstrings. My heartstrings are woven from estrogen, cash, and appealing colour schemes.

Genome does like blocks, though Munchkin has never seen much use for them. But Genome also enjoys Spiderman action figures.

One area I've been particularly unsuccessful in is baby toys. For the uninitiated, baby toys have ridiculous names and surprisingly hefty price tags. Through the indulgence of relatives, I have more or less tried all the trendy toys. A Whoozit. A Sophie the Giraffe. Enough stuffed animals to open a stuffed-animal zoo with representatives from all continents. They amused the kids for ten minutes, tops. Long enough to go to the bathroom, maybe, but not long enough to take a shower.

Husband bought Firefly a baby toy, and he likes it. He really likes it. It is called Captain Calamari, and it's made by Lamaze. Back when I was a kid, Lamaze only produced ineffective breathing techniques. No matter. Captain Calamari's name suggests otherwise, but he is actually an octopus. But he is a fabulous octopus. He is an Octopus that can entertain my son for, and I am not exaggerating, two straight hours. And then, after he's fed, two hours more.

Captain Calamari is my very favourite octopus in the whole world.

How much do I love you? Not that much.

Some of you might be aware of the very sad case of Jani's Journey. Long story short: the older child is very mentally ill and about eight years old. In order to avoid sending her into residential care, the parents live in two different apartments. The mother lives in one with the younger son, whom Jani attacks. The father lives in the other with Jani.

I do not think that I would do that for my child.

If one child attacked one of the others, I wouldn't put the family into two separate apartments. I just don't love my kids that much.

In fact, I dont' love them enough to do a lot of things, as my daughter sometimes reminds me:
- I don't love them enough to let them watch Spiderman before bed.
- In fact, I don't love them enough to mother after 7:30 p.m. That's when mummy goes off duty, and if you're going to be up all night you're getting very subpar mummy.
- I don't love them enough to be a natural birth. I know that there's a lot of debate about whether natural birth is better or not, but my answer is: I don't care. Unless an epidural is very, seriously, dangerous to me or the kid, I'm getting it. Causes baby to be born drowsy? Makes labour longer? Couldn't care less.
- I don't love my son enough to let him wear a Spiderman t-shirt to all occasions.
- I don't love my kids enough to explain to him why he can't wear a Spiderman t-shirt to all occasions. If he doesn't get it yet, he's not going to.
- I don't love them enough to pay full price for their clothes. If you want full-price clothes, you have to reliably wear them for more than five minutes.
- I don't love them enough to let them self-wean. I tried once, and the kid went so long I was going to be nursing three. I don't love my kids enough to nurse three kids at once. Now I start working towards weaning at two.
- If you spend two straight weeks screaming at the top of your lungs, I will still hold you, cuddle you, rock you, swaddle you, clean your butt and bathe you. But until you stop screaming, I won't like you that much. I don't love you enough to be immune to your behaviour -- whether or not that behaviour is your fault.

I guess I love my kids. But I'm not head-over-heels in love with them.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Stealth Jew does not approve

Some almost ten years ago, when I was in college (yes I'm old shaddup), the big thing in online Christian circles was a type of Amish fetishism. There were even a bunch of novels, Christian lit, published about Amish situations. A whole bunch of blogs appeared about being "plain" and "plain-living."

Fine, some Christians like Amish people. So what, Stealth Jew? Can we go back to talking about how you screwed up your kids this year?

I'm going somewhere with this.

Now the trend is Jewish fetishism. Everyone and his uncle is eating challah, wearing tzitzit, and blowing shofars.

It's Jews for Jesus writ large.

Does Jews for Jesus still exist?

Stealth Jew in principle supports the right of all people to practice their wacky religion in any wacky way they want, as her own practice involves wearing a wig over perfectly good hair, and thus she lives in the proverbial glass house. But in practice I have a powerful negative reaction to the, what's the lefty term, "cultural appropriation" of Jewish traditions by Christians. Those are ours. There are a lot fewer of us than there are of them, and I don't want to be drowned out. In addition, this kind of cultural soup has been used to aggressively seek Jews for conversion.

Plus it's a theological mess, profoundly un-Jewish, un-Hebrew. Judaism is not about you, a Bible, and a high-speed connection. It is by its nature experienced in community. Not a virtual community. A real community, one where people show up unannounced and observe what a mess your house is. One where people are up in your business all the time and you're limited in what you can do by what people will think. Further, Judaism involves submission to an authority. Everyone is to make himself a rabbi (that doesn't mean 'become a rabbi'; it means to find one).

I hope they all move on to something new soon. How about Catholicism? I think rosaries are pretty nifty.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Second Coming

Munchkin wanders out to sea. Yesterday, her mother wanted to wander out to sea and drown herself.

This is going to require a little backstory, but it will be worth it.

My mother has a serious spinal injury that has deteriorated over the years. Long story short, she has rather fewer vertebrae now than she once did. This injury requires her to be on some serious and controlled medication. My mother takes the type of medication that periodically becomes the subject of an MSNBC documentary called PERCOBENZOMETHADOT: Scourge of America's Small Towns. It is really just a fancy version of morphine. The morphine is released gradually over the course of 12 hours. Regular morphine must be taken every four hours. This requires the injured person to develop a baby-minding sleep pattern, waking at least once during the night to 'dose up,' a further waking in the morning feeling terrible. So percobenzomethadot is well worth the trouble, and I salute the big pharma giant who came up with it.

The problem is that if you are up to no good, you can crush your percobenzomethadot. Then you get all that lovely morphine at once. This is not the idea. Apparently it makes people much happier than doctor-prescribed medication ought to make them. Of course, people with chronic pain are unlikely to use their percobenzomethadot this way, because it rather defeats the purpose, now doesn't it?

In order to prevent my mother from misusing her percobenzomethadot, my mother, like all people taking it, must receive regular scripts. No refills allowed. The doctor must see her in person to give her the more complicated prescription. Then that prescription must be called in to the pharmacy days in advance of when it is to be filled, as the pharmacy keeps a very limited stock on-site, as they do not want to be hell up. But she can't wait too long, because the super special prescription expires in seven days.

Also, people taking percobenzomethadot for their disintegrating spine are not encouraged to operate motor vehicles while under the influence. So mum needs a ride.

During the work day, because that's when the doctor works.

Since my brother is currently gainfully employed, I and the three woodland creatures bundled into the car to take my mother on this monthly errand.

We handled the doctor's appointment with aplomb.

At the pharmacy, things fell apart.

Munchkin wanted to ride in the cart. I had let her ride in the cart at the grocery store this morning. This is because the grocery store carts are big proper carts, and the pharmacy carts are little pretend carts, the sort found at liquor stores. They could not hold a four-year-old.

She started to whine and melt down.

I told her to stop. She didn't. I took her out front, leaving my mother with Genome (Firefly was strapped to me). Out front of the store she proceeded to shriek as loudly as she could and make a variety of interesting and dramatic gestures. She was attempting to communicate that I was the worst mother in the entire world.

Need I mention that there was regular foot traffic to shoot me disapproving looks? We were also right in front of a homeless man selling the homeless periodical.

After a few minutes of this I realised it was not going to taper out on its own.

So I smacked her butt, and told her if she shrieked again I'd smack her again. She shrieked again. I smacked her again. She stopped, opting instead for soft-ish weeping on a bench.

Now I had _really_ gotten some horrible looks.

I used to read childfree groups sometimes. One of their tropes was that parents think that they are entitled to be treated better than the disabled. A surprisingly high number of the childfree identify as disabled in some way.

They are wrong. Being four is a terrible, terrible disability. If an adult acted this way, we'd either sue him, or commit him.

I think that Munchkin committed at least two torts against me, including the intentional infliction of emotional distress.

When the crying was more or less under control, I dragged Munchkin back to locate my mother. The prescription was not filled, running 30 minutes late at this time. She went back to the pharmacist and stressed the important of having it right now, for the well-being of everyone in the store. He filled it. We all went back to the car. I realised that I had left some vital object upstairs. Went upstairs. Genome sees me walking away and starts to cry. Found item. Went downstairs. Leaned against car. Cried. Drove mother home. Called husband. Cried again.

My mother points out that no one took down her license plate number, and it's unlikely anyone called CPS because they had no way of identifying me.

"Hi, child protection? There's this woman in black . . . yeah . . . looks about ten days dead, to be honest."

But if I disappear, you'll know where I've gone

Sunday, August 22, 2010

He's cute when he's sleeping.

Right before Shabbas this week, I did the ridiculous. I went to sit down with the baby. My husband had to run out and do a work errand. Everything was ready. All that was necessary was for Genome to not destroy anything for a 25 minute period.

We explained this clearly to Genome.

Some ten minutes later I heard a crash, and Munchkin's dulcet tones: "you weren't suppossa do that!!"

Genome had found and open a package of miniature Israeli croutons. If you don't know these, they're about a half cm square, hard as rock, and neon yellow. They are said to be some sort of condiment. I have my doubts. My husband likes them. My son thought that my house had too few of them.

Immediately the two older children began crushing the croutons into the floor, the carpet, the couch, and so on. Genome was also eating the occasional crouton off of the floor.

So what if it's twenty minutes to Shabbas? I maintain few standards, but one is that crunching beneath my feet should not be an indoor phenomenon.

As I vacuumed, I had a problem. Munchkin wanted to help. So she ran in front of the vacuum. Genome did not want to help. So he took pieces of our vacuum (it's one of those space age transformer models in neon green and electric blue) to use as weapons.

Then Munchkin fed one of my slings into the vacuum. I smelled smoke.

Then everyone got sent to his or her room with strict instructions that mummy _bites_.

Missives from my increasingly strange oldest child:

"I was having fun at shul, but then I got tired, and so I ate my shirt." (She had indeed been chewing at her shirt. I don't know if she digested any of it.)

In response to the question, "Why did you do that?"
"Because . . . because . . . because I don't know why because!"

Friday, August 20, 2010


My little boy is turning into a bigger boy. Today he told me "mummy doesn't love me anymore" for the very first time. Apparently I don't love him because I made him change clothes. He is following closely in the steps of his older sister, who told me that I didn't love her approximately five times a day for what seemed like an entire year of her life.

It's so exciting when a child enters a new stage.

He's not very good at the entire hysterical breakdown business though. He kept trying to giggle while he said it, and he had forgotten the entire incident within sixty seconds. His sister had much more staying power. Now that girl could really throw a tantrum. Still can.

I asked her what she wanted to be when she grew up. She said either a butterfly, or an astronaut. A friend said that those are connected because both involve flying.

I think they are both implausible. I heard on the radio that President Obama intends to phase out manned missions in NASA. I didn't say that to my four-year-old; don't worry. Cross that bridge when we come to it.

Firefly is doing a lot better and crying a lot less BH.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Baby Book

Stealth Jew hates Dr. Sears. Dr. Sears answers questions at Ask Dr. Sears.

Actually, I hate a lot of those people: Penelope Leach, whomever or whatever wrote What to Expect When . . . , Brazelton.

But I particularly hate Dr. Sears. And I particularly hate him today, after Firefly has been crying without stop for four days. Because today I had occasion to read his advice on COPING WITH COLIC. I mentioned Firefly has a touch of colic, yes?

First, "You try to cuddle, but baby stiffens in protest. You try to nurse, but baby arches and pulls away. You rock, sing, and ride. The soothing techniques that worked yesterday aren't working today. And inside your head the familiar refrain, "What's wrong with my baby? What's wrong with me?" plays over and over again."

Dr. Sears, nothing is playing in my head. IF anything is playing in my head, I can't hear it. My baby is screaming too loud. On the odd occasions that I can pawn him off on someone else to scream at, what do I hear in my head? Ringing. I have always had tinnitus, but I think Firefly is making it worse.

"When an adult hurts, the doctor and patient do some detective work to track down the cause of the pain, so they can fix it." Well, sometimes. But sometimes they just administer something for the pain. Do they know what causes fibromyalgia? Can they 'fix' the pain after an operation? Maybe what my baby needs is morphine. Why can't my baby have morphine? If it's unsafe for him, give it to me.

The problem with the epidural is that they took it away and made me keep the baby.

"By viewing your baby as "hurting" instead of "crying," you're more likely to be empathetic, like you would a baby who was hurting because of an ear infection, rather than viewing crying as an annoying tool babies use to manipulate their parents into holding them a lot" Dr. Sears, we passed empathy so long ago. The only way I'd empathise with Firefly mid-scream-fest is if he were making another little firefly and birthing it into his diaper. Crying for 48 hours is more than annoying. It is a form of torture. My baby is torturing me.

"Carrie, a mother in our practice, had a colicky baby who was content as long as she was in a sling. But Carrie had to return to work when her baby was six-weeks-old. I wrote the following "prescription" to give to her daycare provider: "To keep Tiffany content, wear her in a sling at least three hours a day."" That's an awesome idea. Except that Firefly is worn in a sling, well, all the time. Because he cries all the time.

The other day I had a migraine. I was lying on the bed with a pillow over an ice pack over my head. Firefly was next to me, screaming. Round about four a.m., I was so tired that I swaddled him, put him in his bassinet, and just left. I couldn't do any more. I went into the other room, and over his crying, I fell asleep.

I don't know how long he was there. My husband woke up and held him for awhile, and brought him to me to nurse at around 5:30 a.m.

When I started thinking of Firefly and me as a tragic dyad, conjoined twins who hate each other, I realised it was time to visit grandma.

He really likes his grandmother.

I believe in the sun when it's not shining, right?

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Stealth Jew can paint by numbers

This week we are at war with the wood paneling. It turns out that I was right and husband was wrong: we have actual wall back there. Granted, it is plaster wall that is older than the two of us put together. But it's in reasonably good condition (a little patching and painting) and, more important, not wood paneling.

In keeping with their commitment to dated and questionable aesthetics in each and every home decoration decision (yes, I recognise that they may not have been dated at the time, but it wasn't great foresight), the walls behind the wood paneling are painted mauve and mint green.

Let that sink in.

For imagination's sake, the mauve of the wall is approximately the same colour painted on Munchkin's face, above.

I am using this opportunity to throw things out. I use every opportunity to toss things. I am the only natural predator of stuffed animals, plastic toys, and mailings found in our household environment. If they overcome me, you will see the remainder of my family on some future episode of Hoarders.

I will represent for you a conversation my husband and I have more or less weekly:
Husband (tensely): Sweetheart, have you seen the Passover dishes?
Stealth Jew: Oh yes. I gave them away.
Husband: Why did you do that?
Stealth Jew: Well we haven't used them in six months. I figured we couldn't possibly need them that much.
Husband: . . .
Stealth Jew: I don't know what you're so upset about. You'd think you want to live in clutter.
Husband: . . .

In my defense, this is the man who kept an unopened package of VHS tapes through four moves because they were in perfect condition. Also, a television aerial. Also, a garden gnome. And he still has the garden gnome; I saw it in his study.

ETA: My husband correct me: it is not a garden gnome but rather a "squeaky elf."

Thursday, August 5, 2010


These are two stone rabbits. They come from my mother's garden. Munchkin has always liked them. Really, really liked them. First she would sit with them and pet them. then they started to come into her playhouse for tea. Eventually the rabbits moved inside, and lately, they've been appearing in various locations around my mother's home.

Most alarming was when she woke up to two rabbits on her bedside table.

Strange child. Maybe they're just following her.

Speaking of Munchkin, would someone tell me what she has against the number five? Never have I seen a child have such a vendetta against an innocuous number. We must have spent half an hour before I finally had her convinced to stop counting six fingers on each hand -- and that was only with copious bribing.

The number five is very important information. There's just no workaround for five.

I said that to a rather, well, computer geeky friend of the family. He suggested teaching her to count in base two. This is not helpful.

I can count to 1023 with my fingers. I used to do this in law school during the more boring classes. You should learn to do it too.

Admit it. You read here for all of the actionable information.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Amusing Ourselves to Death

Over the weekend, we had a family outing to an amusement park way, way out in the burbs. Possibly past the burbs. We were going to one of those family attractions/amusement parks, but "amusement park" might be an overstatement. Six Flags this ain't. It advertised itself as being the "only X in North America," where "X" is a small category for a reason -- say, "the only theme park in North America devoted entirely to spam," or "the largest corn museum west of the Rockies."

In this case there was a dinosaur theme.

Why, you may ask, why did we troop three children 90 minutes out of town to take them to what I surmise is the most lackluster theme park extant in the province? It's my husband's fault. He's powerfully attached to anything that reminds him of his childhood, and he loves for his children to participate in the same activities. He is aided in this by our powerfully provincial natures. We both live in the same city we grew up in. We can walk to our parents' house (note: not the same parents! That would be a differently themed blog. His children attend the same synagogue that he attended. And they haven't redecorated the sanctuary. It's very seventies.

Anyhow, the kids had a fantastic time. It was exactly their speed. They have no ear for tacky, and so they loved the dance party with Teenagers in Mascot Costumes. Apparently it was a "Justin Bieber Dance Party." Until last month, I did not know who that was either. My mother told me. I am less cool than my mother.

Actually, that's not new. My mother's always been pretty cool.

I took my big camera to the amusement park, in order to better capture the experience for your vicarious amusement. I fit right in with the fathers. My husband and I seem to have reversed the usual pattern as to who actually enjoys the experience, and who compulsively records it with twenty pounds of recording equipment.

Firefly was on my back the whole time, so he didn't get into any pictures. If I ever look back on photos of the event, I'll probably wonder -- wait -- was Firefly born yet then?

Monday, August 2, 2010

Not Enough IKEA

We were on a family outing that required about 90 minutes of driving each way. Because we are deeply, deeply citified people, who both grew up close to downtown, we rarely go out to the suburbs.

On the way back home, Firefly began screaming. This is a trope of his.

Side note: it amazes me that it is illegal to drive while talking on the hand-held cell phone, but legal to drive with children. A few months ago I was driving with a newborn Firefly, Genome, and Munchkin. All of a sudden Genome, a bit under two, started yelling "help! HELP!" I pulled over. He was . . . fine. I still don't know what he had been upset about.

I am a neurotic person. I am a nervous driver. I do not need Munchkin instructing me how to drive, Firefly shrieking, and Genome yelling "HELP!"

End of diversionary side note. So we pull over into the suburban IKEA. And this IKEA is huge. It is three times as large as our local IKEA. We stopped in the parking lot. We were in "Q." That is how large this IKEA was.

What's in it? I have never said, when shopping at IKEA, gee, there's just not enough IKEA here. There should be three times as much IKEA. No. It seems, in fact, much larger than it needs to be. The entire display section could go. So could the apparently resident bands of slow-moving people traveling with tantruming children.

Anyway, we pulled over and I fed Firefly, but he started screaming again less than five minutes later.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Stealth Jew's children have boring names

Genome, who probably has the best of the IRL names

I was a bit nervous about naming my children.

Most names are selected for aesthetic reasons. IYH, my children will be stuck with these names for many years. What kind of aesthetic decisions were you making 20 years ago? Twenty years ago, I was seven. I thought that high fashion included matching pink sweatpants and a Rainbow Brite belt. What about decisions made 30 years ago? We bought our house from people who last redecorated circa 1975. Their vision could be summed up as as, "wood panelling." Everywhere. The basement has wood panelling on the ceiling.

So I dodged the issue. All of my children are named for recently-dead relatives. We didn't even get creative. They all got the exact name, first and middle. This way, their names may be dated, but they are still family-dated. In fact, two of the names are arguably dated already.

Genome, though, dodged a bullet. Had he been a girl, he would have been "Bella." Only when I saw that Isabel/Bella was the number one girls name in his year did I realise that something was up. Gee, I thought, these kids can't all be named for my great-aunt.

Well, no. It actually had to do with a series of novels featuring sparkly vampires. A series of novels I had never heard of at the time Genome was born.

Children have a way of putting you out-of-the-loop.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Stealth Jew Can Get Out of her House

Sooner or later, it comes time to leave our humble little quarters. Generally this is done to procure food, to transport the children to grandma, or to just let the little rotters destroy the great outdoors, rather than my indoors. Remember: if you pee on the grass, that doesn't make extra laundry.

Getting out of the house, though, requires a vast quantity of packed goods. Also, the children have a limited attention span. If it takes too long to get everyone ready, I risk that the first child prepared may have wandered off, taken off her shoes and coat, and become engrossed in some non-portable activity. So how does the lazy, disorganized mummy get out the door?

I always keep my diaper bag packed. I unpacked it to take a photo for you: Firefly sized diapers, fresh underwear for Genome (who is potty training), baby wipes, large wetbag, small ziploc for anything disgusting, extra sleeper for Firefly, extra hat for Firefly, receiving blankets (they are endlessly useful).

The diaper bag goes in the coat closet. Baby carriers hang on the hook by the coats.

Tada! If I only had one child, I could be out the door in five minutes.

Of course, when I only had one child, I didn't know to do helpful things like this. It still took me an hour to get out of the house.

They say that G-d doesn't give you more than you can handle. Whether this is true in my life depends on how you define "handle." Broadly, everyone I am responsible for seems to eat, move their bowels, and approximate a state of hygiene. This is good. But if "handle" implies "handle with grace and dignity," then I definitely flunk.

I didn't quite realise that motherhood would leave me permanently flustered.

No wonder old ladies can seem flighty or batty. The children have been eating my brain. By the time I get to retirement (IYH), there won't be that much of it left.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Destruction Junction

See what's happening in this photo? That's a rough approximation of what Genome does to my house.

On Friday I was making the dough for the challah when I (you can see what's coming) went to the bathroom. Silly mummy! I left two children, Genome and Munchkin, dutifully observing the bread dough going round and round in the mixer. They looked quite charming, actually. A sibling activity. I felt that Maria Montessori or Rudolph Steiner would have approved of my morning activity. All we really needed was something made of felt, perhaps, or bark.

When I returned, my mixer was making the most alarming sound, which I will render as "chunka-ca-chunka-chunk." And it was not going round and round anymore. It was stopped. The gears are now exposed, about half-an-inch worth, between where the dough hook is attached and the body of the mixer.

I can still make it stir as long as I keep pushing up the hook, but this makes baking rather tedious.

I don't know what he or she did. I don't know who did it. They both say nothing happened, but Genome isn't much of a communicator and Munchkin's grip on reality is fanciful.

Husband says he'll take it to get fixed. This person seems to suggest I could do it myself. I'm not very handy though. I'm the type of wife who calls her husband to plunge the toilet. I once, in a moment of panic, asked him to come home from a society meeting and unfold the stroller. By "once," I mean "two weeks ago." My adjustment to a new child is always a bit rocky.

I'm distressed. Even if my mixer is fixable -- it has to be fixable! -- it seems unlikely I'll have it ready for challah this week.

Today I had Genome knead the (non-challah) bread for me. This seems only just, because I'm fairly sure that it was he who worked his magic on my mixer. He did a pretty good job, too.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Sisyphus' Baby

As soon as Firefly was born, he needed something to suck on. At first he would only sleep while he was sucking on my finger. If you've had a baby, you may remember that babies prefer to suck on fingers with the fingernail down, towards the tongue. Try this with your hand. It's moderately awkward. Eventually, you might want to get up, use the bathroom, feed yourself, or any of the other myriad activities that is surprisingly difficult to accomplish with one hand in such a position. Also, Firefly would take personal offense to any attempt I made to move. As soon as his father came to visit him, I dropped Firefly into his lap and took off to find a pacifier.

Now the Maternity Hospital does not sell pacifiers, out of some belief that they impede the initiation of breastfeeding. As I already knew from previous experience, initiating breastfeeding is not a problem for me. Weaning is a problem for me. Initiation? Definitely not. So I was quite comfortable giving my child a piece of plastic to suck on, and all the various physical and psychological issues attendant thereto. Nevertheless, because of the Maternity Hospital's position, I couldn't buy one at the gift shop.

No matter! An intrepid aged lady working at the gift shop directed me to the attached Children's Hospital. There, she said, they did stock pacifiers. In fact, pacifiers were often recommended by pediatricians, and so she regularly directed patients to the Children's Hospital to purchase them. Off I went, down the world's most depressing hallway (neonatal intensive care and pediatric cardiac), and into the Children's Hospital giftshop. Not fifteen minutes later, Firefly was sucking on his very own neon green plastic pacifier. It's the very same one you can see in his photo.

As soon as I popped it into his mouth, his entire tense little body relaxed. "You," I told him, "are never allowed to even approach a cigarette." When Freud described the oral fixation, he may have been on to something.

So why Sisyphus' baby? Well, when Firefly drifts to sleep, he relaxes even more. And the pacifier pops out of his mouth. He then realises he's lost his pacifier and begins flailing about, whimpering, and generally working himself into a lather. Unless someone is next to him to replace the pacifier, he will quickly get quite upset. When the pacifier is replaced, he must begin again the process of drifting to sleep. Drift-slip-wake, drift-slip-wake.

It is 12:58 in the morning. We are on cycle number 27 in a row.

Sisyphus' baby.

Friday, July 23, 2010


I sometimes feel as if Munchkin is only a periodic visitor to our world, drifting in and out from wherever she actually resides. Nonetheless, there are issues on which she is absolutely firm. She is adamant that we must all Follow the Rules, and failure to do so upsets her.

I was driving home with Munchkin, Genome and Firefly when I made a right turn. As I turned, she began to cry. I was confused. Did I jerk her? Did Genome throw something? Anything was possible.

But no. She was crying because "you're not supposed to go on a red light!"

I will interject at this moment that it is impossible to explain nuances of context in driving to a four-year-old. We quickly reached an impasse. I maintained that it is indeed legal to turn right on a red light in most places in North America, including in our city. She maintained that it is always wrong to proceed on a red light. We finally settled on "don't tell mummy how to drive," which she could agree on, and "mummy knows how to drive," which I suspect she still doubts. But she doesn't pop up saying so, and that's good enough for me. As my own mother used to say: think what you want, but do as I say.

If you're wondering, the photograph is of Munchkin tossing water into the wading pool near our house.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Stealth Jew needs an imaginary friend

Recently a friend of mine has taken her child to the doctor. He appears to be suffering from hallucinations. This is obviously very serious and very sad, and I hope he can be helped. That said, the whole incident has concerned me somewhat, as I realised that if Munchkin hallucinated I would have absolutely no idea.

You see, Munchkin's barrier between fantasy and reality seems permeable at the best of times. When I was pregnant with Firefly, she was convinced for months that she, too, was pregnant. With a baby panda. A girl panda. She laid out an outfit for the girl panda, and I was starting to get concerned that when said panda failed to materialise, she would be worried or terribly disappointed. You see how the unreality of a four-year-old has a way of sucking me in.

Someone suggested that perhaps she is just creative. This is possible. But she has an imaginary friend named "Imaginary," which seems rather literal.

Yesterday Munchkin informed me that I was going to have a girl baby next (she tries to slip this in at various intervals, as she is a believer in the power of suggestion and positive thinking). I said something about being helpless against the force of her preference. She said, "yes, forest. The baby girl is in the forest."
"In the forest?"
"Yes, in the forest. Waiting for G-d to put her in your tummy. But she's not afraid."

All right then.

Little does Munchkin know that there's a whole world of imaginary friends out here on the internet. I could use one today, because Firefly has colic. Colic can bite me. In fact, Firefly can bite me, too, if only he'll stop crying while he does it.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

StealthJew's Adventures in WallyWorld

Three children is too many to take to Walmart. In fact, three children is exactly three too many to take to Walmart. Isn't that a coincidence?

Children are ill-suited to big box shopping:
- Four-year-olds have bladders the size of pins;
- Two-year-olds find everything endlessly fascinating, especially that which is located in the opposite direction from the direction in which mummy is currently proceeding; and,
- Two-month-olds eat/sleep/poo on a cycle that automatically resets every twenty minutes.

It was a mistake.

I tried to explain to the children that there comes a time in every woman's life when she must purchase men's athletic socks in bulk quantities. She must do this because she is too lazy to match socks but too cheap to pay retail for 20 pairs in one go.

This is not the first time that I have laid down my mental health on the altar of economy.

When did I realise I had made a mistake? I realised it when two-year-old came down the aisle with a toy wheelbarrow full of Nair.


I love my two-year-old. Who else would choose Walmart as the place to say, "you know mom, I really think you need to do something about your body hair. Such as bathe in a cut-rate price wading pool filled with depilitory cream."

My husband asked, is it always like this?

Of course not. Usually, the four-year-old has an adult-sized bladder. The newborn endures Ghandi-like fasts (with less urine consumption). The two-year-old recognises that other Walmart shoppers may wish to tame their own bikini lines, and purloins the Nair in moderation.

Of course it's always like this. Given that no one cried and no one disobeyed (even when told to abandon a wheelbarrow full of Nair), this was pretty good.