Tuesday, July 31, 2007

10 things I'm loving right now

1. 29ÂșC weather. Sunny. Fabulous. (Sorry to any of you pregnant folk - I know you are probably groaning right now.)

2. Looking forward to the long weekend to be spent with good friends and children at lakeside summer home. Sand, swimming, BBQ, patios, ice cream - all in the best company? Heaven!

3. Sleeping through the night. Shhh... Don't want to offend Cuba.

Craigslist. $100 toy? Nope, $30. And perfect for those wishing to reduce their impact on the earth - recycle those toys and underused baby gear!

5. Harry Potter. Despite this post, I was quite pleased by the final book, which drew on all previous novels,tied up loose ends, and yet still nicely managed to develop characters more fully (complete with moral failings) despite all the action. I particularly like that she wrote in shades of gray. Well done Ms. Rowling.

6. Summer Ontario produce. Is there anything better than a juicy peach? Or ripe tomatoes? Or farm-fresh corn, freshly shucked?

7. Reading critically, as part of this book club. Although I'm not loving the novel, the chance to resurrect my brain from the mush that it was during my pregnancy and post-partum has been fantastic.

8. Hats. Specifically, hats on the Peanut. Like this one:

To be filed during the teenage years under "Mom, what the hell were you thinking?"

9. Restaurant patios. The Peanut doesn't really enjoy the indoor restaurants so much, but will spend hours outside, allowing us some precious dinners out.

10. Joining the blogosphere... Whatever took me so long?

Monday, July 30, 2007

Sweet summertime

I had a post all planned out about how the Peanut has reached so many milestones in the last couple of weeks that I can barely keep track (rolling over both ways, pushing up on her hands, sitting up on her own). But really, is that important compared to an amazing weekend spent completely hanging out as a family, and gratuitous photos of the Peanut?

Look Ma - no hands!

We packed a lot into our weekend. Lunch downtown! Trips to the park! Shopping! Walks on the waterfront! With the fabulous weather, and a very happy Peanut (who loves being outdoors more than anything in the world) we couldn't have asked for a nicer time.

The best part of the weekend though? Getting to know our little Peanut better. In the last few weeks she has really started to show off her personality. She squeals and babbles and flaps her arms excitedly when something catches her attention. She giggles, hysterically, when she's tickled under the arms. She can grumble like the most crotchety old man when she is displeased. She can give the stare down to anyone who talks down to her or gets in her face, or whom she does not find amusing (no public service announcement required here!)

I ask you again - how do you think this is amusing?

And did I mention this?

Conquering Daddy's heart - one smile at a time.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Open mouth, insert foot

Today in Starbucks. A child with beautiful delicate features, gorgeous wide eyes, long delicate eyelashes, big full lips, a cloud of lovely curly hair, the sides tied back into two pigtails.

Other mother: How old is your daughter?
Me: 9 months. How old is your daughter?
Other mother: He's a boy. And he's two. (exceedingly aggrieved tone of voice)

Two pigtails.
Oh boy.

Yum. Tasty tasty kneecap...

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

A public service announcement

To the random strangers I have encountered in the last few months, please do not:
  • stick your head into my daughter's stroller and whistle at her. She is not a dog, but I might act like a rabid pit bull.
  • ask me if I'm breastfeeding. I don't care if you are 82 years old, as you told me, I'm pretty sure you were taught manners. Even if you weren't, seniority does not give you the right to ask.
  • see my daughter fully stretched out in her stroller, or with her head down on my shoulder in her carrier, stick your face into hers and then loudly ask "is she asleep". Well, she was. Thanks.
  • ask me how old she is, and then comment on her size. Are you telling me that feeding her every other day, with a stale saltine for Sunday dinner isn't adequate?
  • walk up to my daughter and in a syrupy voice ask "does your mommy knows that your foot is half out of your shoe, and you are chewing on your foot" and then cluck cluck cluck. Perhaps if we fed her more than every other day she wouldn't resort to eating her flesh, because surely that must be it.
  • look at me and ask "and what store did you buy her in? Because I'm going to have to get my hands on one of you (looking at daughter)." Doing so might cause injuries equal in pain to the labour I suffered through.
  • gush excessively on her how pretty/cute/beautiful/gorgeous she is. It was nice the first time. It was awkward the second time. By the fifth/sixth/seventh time it was getting weird and creepy. Oh, and don't continue talking about how beautiful she is when I am two feet away at the drink pickup counter.*
  • touch her hands. The hands she puts in her mouth. 'nough said. Also extends to pinching her cheeks and adjusting her clothing.
Failure to heed any of the above may result in filthy looks, muttered insults and the possibility of a stroller wheel rolling up your achilles tendon.

This public service announcement brought to you by the b*babbler, who is currently considering a name change to the bitchy*babbler.

* this is not false modesty. Most babies are cute, and while I happen to think my daughter falls into this category, I'd prefer her to have her self-worth based on more than just her looks.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

In the dead of night

2 a.m. The Peanut is restless - whimpering, crying and disconsolate. Swiftly, she is brought into our room by Daddy.

Gently laid down beside me, she clutches lovey-bunny. Her eyes are shining with tears, but she has stopped crying. She looks at me and sighs deeply, her expression one of the deepest gratitude for being rescued from whatever disturbance lurked in her crib this night of nights. She turns her head to look at Daddy and sighs deeply. Then turns back to me, reaches out with her free hand, and places it oh-so-gently on my cheek. And with that gentle touch, with physical connection restored, her eyelashes flutter and she drifts off to sleep.

And just like that, a memory has been created. For although the Peanut has slept with us many times before, and likely will many times again,
this sigh, this touch, this final thankful look grip my heart and the moment is frozen for ever.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Oh Harry...

Oh Harry. How I've enjoyed watching you grow up, how I've watched you evolve from the precocious boy who grabbed the Philosopher's Stone to the often sullen, angry boy fighting the great Voldemort. How you've amused me, scared me, tickled me. Oh, and your friends too... the sweet, but slightly daft Ron, the most excellent and brainy Hermione (who, really, I would love to be best friends with). But I have a confession.

I'm ready for your story to come to an end.

I've spent hours re-reading your story in preparation for the upcoming final installment. Then again, all my reading these days seems to revolve around you as you are in every newspaper, on most blogs, in the magazines.
Your most recent movie was also released, so even the gossip pages are about you. Even TV isn't safe these days as you infiltrate newscasts. Really, you are reaching a critical mass of overexposure, dearest Harry.

So this is why I'm ready for your story to end. I'm looking forward to picking up and reading a non-Harry book. I have stacks of reading I'm behind on as I reacquaint myself with your story in preparation for July 21. I'm looking forward to the book reviews and articles featuring literature to not be about you. I'm even looking forward to not seeing your face in my gossip pages.

Goodbye Harry... It's been fun.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

BlogHers ACT Canada!

Imagine, if you will, that you are a child and have lived your life in fear. You fear the harsh, angry words. You fear the feelings of worthlessness. You fear the neglect. You fear the violence that is part of your life. Perhaps you are one of the luckier ones - if you can be called that - perhaps your bruises are only emotional. Perhaps you aren't as lucky, perhaps you are the last one to change after gym, hiding the bruises from the other children. And perhaps you are one of the children who "make the news", your story so horrific that you serve as a brief reminder to those who live their lives outside the shadow of violence of the dark side of humanity.

Then a hand reaches out and pulls you out of the darkness. Society has stepped in and given you the protection you need - the protection you deserve. And after the turmoil, it should be a time where finally you can feel safe, where you can heal, where you can start to trust again. But now the true betrayal begins, because now you have entered The System.

For if you are out of infancy, your odds of a permanent home are very slim. Instead you face a life of little to no consistency. There will be very little love and attention. You will, in all likelihood, be shuffled from home to home to home. Chances are your home is no home at all, but instead are a group facility filled with 6-8 other children, rotating in on a weekly or monthly basis. Even should you be lucky enough to find a loving and caring family, to whom you grow attached, at any time you may be moved as your "bed" may be required for another, more desperate child. Your foster parents and social workers (all overworked with too-heavy case loads) change frequently, each one taking time to acquaint themselves with your file, and through each staffing change you fall a little further into the crack.

If you entered The System as a teenager, or have been shuffled around and are now approaching your teenage years, you will be prepared for Independent Living. Beds in foster and group homes are expensive, and in short supply, so you will be "prepared" for life on your own when you are between 16-18 years of age. It is far cheaper, you see, to give you a cheque for $750 a month to live in an apartment on your own, than to pay for your room, board and the caregivers who watch over you in a group facility. But this only lasts until you turn 21 - then you are cut off for good, regardless of whether or not you are still in school (assuming, that is, that you've managed to stay in school and have found the money to attend college or university).

The isolation from other kids - after all you are different when you are a kid in care. The stigma and prejudice that you experience - from other children, from other children's parents, from teachers. The low expectations that society has of you, being a child in care. The lack of everyday emotional support. Even the lack of touch - a hug on a bad day. Someone to hold your hand when you are sick.
All this, and I've barely scratched the surface of the myriad challenges you will have to navigate as a child in care.

So what does all this really mean? How does this relate to the other issues that Canadian bloggers feel we need to act on, issues such as Aboriginal rights, child poverty, children's mental health, child abuse, domestic violence, homelessness, teen/single moms?
  • Aboriginal children, in places where metrics are kept or disclosed, make up a disproportionate percentage of the children in care (38-68%). There is not currently enough communication and co-operation between the Children's Aid Societies and the Aboriginal communities to meet the needs of Aboriginal children in care
  • teens who are moved into Independent Living programs are kept in a state of government condoned poverty (rates vary across Children's Aid Societies), but most children find that they must work at least one job (and often more) to meet their basic needs
  • many former children in care who are transitioned into the Independent Living program end up homeless, through lack of preparedness, lack of support and lack of funds once they move out
  • a disproportionate number of teens in care go on to become teen mothers
  • with little to no support, and a lack of good family role models, many former children in care go on to repeat the cycle of violence, entering into violent relationships and in turn abusing their children, who later end up in care
It is my fervent wish that we could stamp out child abuse entirely. However, until that time, children deserve a safe, healthy, loving, normal environment where they can grow up. It is an understatement to say that The System, in its current form, requires massive improvement and change. I challenge everyone to come forth and to force change on this issue - to act on behalf of those who can not speak for themselves and to make a difference in the lives of children who desperately need it. Judy Finlay, the Chief Advocate for Children, has taken the first step by address many of these issues in her 2007 report. Now it's time for us to challenge our lawmakers to make the changes that are necessary and required.

This post is part of the BlogHers Act Canada initiative. My apologies for its long-windedness, but this is a topic close to my heart, that I am passionate about.

You can read Judy Finlay's (the Chief Advocate for Children) fantastic June 2007 report on the issues facing children in care, here. You can read more about the issues facing children in care in the National Children's Alliance 2003 report.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

One of those days

So, today was one of those days. You know the type. Everything is going fantastically well. You get a good nights sleep, the baby wakes up in a fantastic mood. You have a great time during the morning. Nap occurs on time, and goes very well. Lunch comes, you try a new food (peas today) and the baby loves it - smiles all round! You go shopping, and the baby spends the entire time cooing and babbling at you. Afternoon nap comes around and its a bit short, but the baby still wakes up in a good mood. You go for a walk and enjoy the fabulous weather. This is the kind of day you imagine before you become a parent, where the weather is always good and you are the perfect parent to the perfect child. And then...

And then... it all goes to hell in the proverbial handbasket. Out of nowhere, the baby starts crying for no reason. Crying turns into all out sobs. The last hour of the day is pure torture. Before you know it, your baby is having a complete meltdown, and you have no idea where it came from. You hug, you kiss, you cuddle, you try to soothe away the tears. Finally, you resort to rocking the baby to sleep, her lovey-bunny clutched tightly to her chest.

And then you look forward to tomorrow.

Peas mum, peas mum!

Monday, July 9, 2007

The cast of characters

It feels like something momentous should be written here, as a beginning to this venture into blogging. At the very least it seems that it should be charming, witty, captivating, or at the very least well-written. Alas, for this first post I shall stick to basic cast of characters...

I live in big city Canada (that is *not* an oxymoron) with my busy husband, GreatG, who works in communications. In my pre-baby life I was a workaholic in the publishing industry. Now, I am a recent-ish new mother to The Peanut, now nearly 9 months old. I'm currently at home on maternity leave, and after several months (okay, many months) of sleep deprivation I have finally pulled my head out of the sand and joined the incredible community of online women.

What will this blog will be about? A bit of everything I hope. Pretty much anything is fair game.

So, if you're reading this... welcome!

The Peanut

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