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.