Monday, June 22, 2009

Summer is here and the living is easy

Kids hanging out with homemade pink lemonade in the shade. Good times!


Juice of 2 lemons
1/4 cup grenadine (you can use pureed strawberries/raspberries too)
Sugar syrup to taste (dissolve 1 2 cups sugar in 2 cups water, boil and store in fridge)

Juice lemons, add grenadine - fill jug half way with ice then water to 3/4 full. Taste and add sugar syrup to taste. The sugar syrup makes sure that it dissolves fully.

For grown-up drinks, I make a separate jug sans grenadine with mint leaves and vodka. But keep it labelled!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Why the dog is so high-strung

Ah-ha! He has a secret Starbucks addiction - he stole this half empty cup out of my car and snuck off to drink it. Busted.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Sometimes I need more than one reminder

I feel like maybe the universe is trying to show me something.
First, a couple weeks ago, I was shocked and distraught to learn that a blogger, Emily McDonald, that I had been following for a long time was alledgedly purposely harming her fragile preschooler in a potentially fatal bid for attention (which all of us on the Internet had given her). Then a similar story came out about another blogger, Rebeccah Beushausen, who just made up her 'sick baby' story.
This week, a fellow mom tweeter came across a horrible, racist employment ad on Kijiji.... in following up, I learned that it was actually a malicious smear attempt. Phew.... sort of. Phew, that no one actually thought it was ok to put "Blacks and Asians need not apply in a want ad, but scary at how long that ad stayed up and how many people might have thought it was legitimate.
So, what's the universe trying to tell me?
Well, I think it's a reminder about thinking critically - that facts aren't always truth, especially when you can't experience it for yourself. How much am I teaching my kids about this? That what they see on TV, in books and on the radio is someone else's representation and that they need to decide whether that representation is right, every time. Do I challenge them to do this enough? Challenge myself? Perhaps not.
I don't blog a lot about the business, mainly because I'm figuring that my readers (if they are any out there!) probably won't find the day-to-day minutiae of running a little online business that fascinating. But these past few weeks have also been a good lesson in brand protection. I've checked my Google Alerts to make sure that I see when our name pops up and kept an eye on analytics to see who is coming to the site and why. The Google tools are easy to use and free - a no-brainer for me.
Battening down the hatches and hiding isn't an option - I need to be "out there" learning and sharing and I enjoy it too. By being out there and authentic, it protects our brand too - because my genuine voice is easily distinguished from those with malicious intent.
I've never been good at paranoia - I believe in karma and that if you think the best of people, they'll usually deliver. And even on the internet, that's true - this is the first time in many years that I've ever encountered truly scary people. That's not to say that caution and good sense won't serve well both in the internet's wild west or the quiet streets of Toronto.
So, ok, universe, I got the message. Back off, now, ok?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

NIP, no tuck

Welcome to my contribution to this month's Carnival of Breastfeeding - the theme is nursing in public. Read on, then hop on the Carnival Ride of links at the bottom of this post!
Nursing in public, or NIP as it's known in internet speak, is one of those red herring subjects for me. Just the fact that it has its own internet acronym tells me there is something wrong - after all, there's no acronym for babies leaving the house, is there? In a normal world, if babies leave the house, then they breastfeed in public. Period.
But it's not a world where breastfeeding is as normal as it should be and that leads to all kinds of weird and contradictory dialogue among women and mothers. A very common comment I hear is: "Well, of course, you should be able to breastfeed your baby, but you should be discreet about it."
I would like to meet these legions of women who revel in the idea of shaking their milk-filled boobies and post-partum bellies in the faces of horrified strangers. Those would be interesting mamas to chat with. The reality is that breastfeeding mothers are just that - mothers who are trying to feed their hungry babies and comfort their sad/tired ones.
Discretion is in the eye of the beholder, really. What's discreet and comfortable for one nursing couple might be crazy exhibitionism for another. The trouble becomes that as soon as you allow a third party to decide what is and isn't acceptable, mothers lose the power to nurse their babies when they need it. They just do.
In 2007, I attended the LLLI Conference in Chicago. It was an amazing, fantastic week, so nourishing to be surrounded by women and their nurslings/slinglings - it's how the world should always be. But in the conference materials, there was a little warning box - reminding participants that we would be showcased and to exercise discretion in breastfeeding our babies outside the conference areas. It still bothers me that that was in there - though it didn't seem to change anyone's behaviour.
About that, I don't have a ton of pictures of me nursing in public (or nursing at all, really) - flashes and nursing babies don't get along so well. But here are a few of my favourites from that Chicago conference:

Tom having his dinner between courses at the LLLI Closing Banquet. Look how little his head is and how bald he is!

Nursing at the top of the Navy Pier Ferris Wheel

Same spot, different angle so you can a bit of the city. One of my favourite pictures EVER.

Want to read more? Hop on the Carnival 'ride':

Friday, June 12, 2009

Friday Five: Cute Things

I need a little light and happiness this weekend - there's been a lot of dreary, bad news of late. So this week's friday five are things that I find so cute, they make me smile every time.

Little Boys with Big Backpacks

Babies Sneezing

Kids Napping Together

Babywearing Daddies with girly Carriers

Nursing Puppies

Enjoy your weekend!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

More bad mothers

I've been thinking some more about good mothers, bad mothers and how you tell them apart. And why "bad mothering" gets a better rap in some circles than parents who are doing their level best.

The Boring Mother
She will not play trains (despite having done so for hours this morning), she will not fill up the sand table with water and she insists that paint needs to be applied to paint brushes and to paper only. She sits at the kitchen table sorting papers that have NO pictures, taps at that TV thing that doesn't even make sounds and her pens are boring colours like black and blue. Her children have to make their own fun, apparently - no playful parenting here.

The Angry Mother
She has a short fuse - but no one knows which spark is going to set it off. Transgressions are dealt with harshly and not quickly forgotten. There is yelling. There is intolerance. There is no allowance made for mitigating factors (such as being 2). Stay out of the way, play quietly and neatly and certainly, most certainly, do not whine. Whining around Angry Mother is like waving a bright red flag in front of an enormous, sharp-horned bull - very unwise.

The Worried Mother
With a vague sense that something is amiss, she frets over every detail. She watches her kids like a hawk for any symptom of whatever the diagnosis of the hour might be. She carefully weeds out undesirable toxins from foods, body care products and clothes - and scares off undesirable playmates too. Every new study is taken as the new truth - as long as it includes something new to be worried about. She spends more time researching than playing and certainly more time worrying than nuturing. Eye rolls commonly shadow her at playgroups.

The Devil-May-Care Mother
The other side of the Worried Mother coin is this mother. She knows all the same things as Worried Mother (well, many of them - Worried Mother does a lot of reading), but she's burnt out worrying about them all. And while Worried Mother sees headlines that show risk reduction in %, Devil-May-Care wonders how high the risk really is if everyone is doing it and their kids are just fine. Rather than try to figure out what's important and what's not, she passes the cheesies to the 8-month-old and sips her red wine anytime.

The Lazy Mother
Her kids do nothing but watch TV all day, eating prepackaged foods on paper plates as they sip drink boxes. Their clothes are mismatched and unironed, their hair isn't brushed and no one is checking their teeth either. Her threats of discipline (if any) are as empty as the drawers as the laundry piles up. Plan your own crafts because she's certainly not getting the paint out for you.

There are more: the Self Absorbed Mother, the Tired Mother, the Overindulgent Mother.... but I think you get the point. Any parent who is honest enough could probably write a few of these - or see themselves in the ones I have. Just because we're all there at some point and it doesn't kill our kids, doesn't mean it's good for them or for us. Kids are resilient and they're built to thrive - but mothering matters, too.

A very wise friend responded this:

"I think I'm an ordinary human mother, who like all of us has good and bad moments. I don't think other mammals worry about whether they are good mothers or bad mothers, they just take care of their babies the best they can."
Here, here.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

You can't believe everything you read

I've been preoccupied with a story this week - and I've been trying to decide what it means. For a long time, I've followed themcdonaldfive blog about a family with three kids, the youngest a medically-fragile, beautiful 3 year old. I've been reading vigilantly thorough the spring as little Dakota has had a string of health problems and things looked pretty dire. Then, the unthinkable happened: someone sent me this link. Emily Beth McDonald, 23, was arrested after allegedly smearing feces in her daughter's central line, causing a series of serious life-threatening blood infections.
My first reaction was to think that this is what you get when you believe what you read on the internet - I felt silly and duped for having worried and empathized. I wondered whether it makes sense to spend my time reading blogs and twittering with other mothers. But, I suppose it's true that any abuser would gets away with their behaviour is doing so secretly and has a good front story - or they'd never get away with it to begin with. This woman had tricked a good many people in her real life as well as with her internet persona. Her light, beautiful pictures and apparently honest, straightforward recounting of day-to-day life were easy to enjoy - the triumph of family over adversity. Of course, the allegations currently only relate to the last few weeks - so who knows how long it has been going on or in what ways the increasing attention she and her blog were getting fed into her attention-seeking.
Annie, over at PhD in Parenting wrote a post this week about "bad mothers" and had a feature on it. I've been thinking a lot about that in light of Emily McDonald and her family. How good mothers turn bad, how we judge each other and how we protect each others babies when bad really means evil. Hug your babies tight and keep your eyes open.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Planting the seeds to share the harvest

Tomorrow, June 2, is National Hunger Awareness Day: what are you doing to address hunger in your community?

Isabelle has been quite enjoying our little vegetable growing project - while growing it herself hasn't induced her to actually eat lettuce, she's pretty into it and so am I. Thanks to my friend, Rosemary (@sufficiency) I heard about the Plant A Row/Grow A Row project where gardeners plant an extra row to donate to the hungry.

Sounded like a great little project for us - and my parents donate a little space in their garden to do it. Especially with the news this week about the food banks hitting records (not good records), I hope our little project leads to a healthy harvest.

Red Cabbage:

Tomato Plants:

Sweet & Hot Peppers:


Turnip Seedlings:

The whole shebang:

If you've already planted your garden and would still like to do this, try just desginating a little portion of the garden - it's surprisingly satisfying to feel like there's a bigger purpose to all that weeding. Anything can be donated, but it's most effective to stick to vegetables that don't require refrigeration after harvest and can keep for a few days.
You can find details of your local program here: In Toronto, the City has created a brochure to help you plan your row and figure out how to get it to those in need: