Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Earth Day 2010

I hadn't given a lot of thought to Earth Day Celebrations for this year - it's always a busy time of year with birthdays and events, so the Earth Day celebration often gets pushed aside. Plus, we try hard in the day-to-day to be conscious of our impact on our general environment, so many of the suggestions I read about don't really work well. Between Isabelle's Sparks and school, we're participating in two park clean-ups, so the fairly easy stuff is already covered. And falling on a Thursday where both Dan and I have several commitments means that a car-free day or activity with just Tom aren't going to happen (I could move the appointments, but the symbolism isn't worth the upheaval, forgive me).

So, this year we're going to focus on local - really local and plant some areas of our gardens with some sustainable local plants. I started last year replacing a shady area that used to have annuals in it with trilliums. After having most of them die off, I've figured out why and am going to try again.

Since our municipality started collecting compost, we've stopped doing our own composting (except egg shells). But the Star recently revealed that not very much of what we're giving them is actually turning into usable compost. And I've always wanted to try out vermi-composting - a bonus that Isabelle and Thomas have developed a sudden (and uncharacteristic for our family) love of worms. So, we'll be setting that up in honour of Earth Day too. Just don't tell my husband: he's not a lover of worms or my projects that involve rotting garbage.

What are you doing?

ps: This post was written as a part of the Earth Day Challenge hosted by The Canadian Mom Blog Network in Partnership with Mom Central, Majesta, and Fenigo.com. 
earth day

Monday, April 19, 2010

Art doesn't always imitate life

Isabelle and I settled into her bed with a book she got out of the school library (ie: one that I did not have a hand in choosing). The story was roughly how being a big sister is more fun than being a baby brother. Cool by me.

In the day to day, I mostly live my life in circles where babies are routinely born at home, breastfed until they are 2 and beyond, sharing their parents bed(s). The babies in my world are carried, not strolled and their mothers worry about the pattern of their next sling, not the crib bumper. It's easy for me to believe this is the norm. I try hard when chosing books that address family to find stories that look like our home. This is a handy bibliography from LLLI that I've used: not sure if there's anything more up to date out there these days.

So, page two of our happy book sees Daddy preparing a bottle and Isabelle says, "That's right - big girls eat food, but babies drink from bottles." WHAAA? Deep breath. I try not to freak out and just focus on bringing this back to our experience. "Did Tom drink from a bottle?" "No, he had na-nas: he never drank from bottles ever." "Do you think you drank from bottles?" Tough one, since she doesn't remember, but she's getting the drift of this. "No, I think I drank just milk from na-nas too.... (lightbulb) So, just the baby in the book drank bottles, our babies drink milk from na-nas." I like the way she says our babies.

Next page doesn't improve much - a separate nursery with a crib for baby. Isabelle loves the mobile! "But Tom never slept in his crib." "No - he slept with me and Daddy. And so did you. Sometimes you still do!" "Yes, I think it is nice to sleep cuddled with your Mommy." Me too, kiddo.

And so it goes through the book. The stroller. "Do all babies ride in strollers?" "Sure they do - that's how they get around when they are too little to walk!" "Did Tom always use a stroller? Do you remember his favourite place to be when he was baby?" "Oh, yes. Your red sling! He was so cute." "Yup - you rode in a sling too - Daddy carried you a lot too." "Oh really. Yes, I remember I loved my sling." (Not likely, but I'll take even contrived memory).

So, the pause, then the question. "Our family is not much like this family is it?" Well, sure they are: they have a mommy and a daddy and a big sister and a little brother. They even have an aunt. But there are lots of ways our family is different too - and I'm ok with that reminder.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Prideful Prejudice

How's that for a blog post title? And after so many months of abandoning you!

So, about that, sorry. It's been busy and I am trying to sort out how to fit all the stuff I need and want to do. Writing is definitely in the 'keep' box, but it's also something that requires me to have a chunk of quiet brain space and I just haven't been carving that out very well lately.

But I'm back and I'm going to talk a little bit about judgment. Not judgment of me (knock yourselves out if you want). No - these are the judgey pants I wear out in the world and I am afraid I have order in a size 6X, pink.

We were driving down a major road recently and Isabelle spotted a young boy who was sitting in the front driver side of a parked car.

"He's in the driving seat and not even in a car seat! He has BAD PARENTS, huh Mom?" Her first instinct is a spiteful 'j'accuse' of "BAD PARENTS". Spiteful. And confident that she is right and they are wrong. I recognize the anger and confidence - 'cause I have felt it many a time, about car seat safety, about feeding choices, about discipline, about, well, pretty much anything that another person might chose that I get to know about.

Six year olds are so much about rules and categories of right and wrong - Isabelle doesn't see a lot of gray in the world. I get that: it's a stage of development, not a character flaw. I like to think I'm more subtle than that (being well past 6 and all), but my first instinct was the same. Yes, yes, he does have bad parents - leaving him sitting in the driver seat while they were on the sidewalk.

In the next breath, I know there are a million reasons why a good parent might have allowed that. Heck, that I might allow it. So we talk about those reasons and why it's not safe most of the time, but it might be the right choice for a mommy or daddy to make. At six, she can already raise a skeptical eyebrow at me like a pro, but we decide that we can't really say that they are or not. And also, we will not be playing in the front seat in our family.

So, we kind of settle that one. Yet...

Peggy O'Mara has famously been quoted as saying that "Judgment is not always wrong" - I believe that. Human nature is imperfect and humans are vulnerable: we have a duty to protect each other. But there are so many times in my life that I feel that "j'accuse" and then the uncertain retreat and then.... do I settle on the right place before I open my mouth? For the "accused"? For my values? Does it even matter what I say when my visceral reaction is to condemn? Do my eyes speak louder than the carefully chosen words?

And which one tells the truth?