Happy Holidays!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, everyone!

(and happy Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and all other holidays)

I probably won't be near the computer much for the next week or so, so I figured I'd extend my holiday wishes now. See you in the New Year!

Where can I find this song?

This morning I heard a song on the radio about a Christmas turkey. It was so cute, and I'd like to get a copy of it, but I can't find out anything about it!

In the song the turkey talks about how he's so happy that a family is having him (over, or so he thinks) for dinner. He figures it must be really nice at their house, because none of the other turkeys who went have come back (hee hee).

Does anyone know the artist or title? The only Christmas turkey song I've found so far is by the Arrogant Worms, and it's not the same one.

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The Christmas... elephant?

We made up tins of Christmas baking for friends and family this year, which were very well received. They seemed to enjoy the treats, but my sugar cookies caused some raised eyebrows.

See, the thing is... I don't have any Christmas cookie cutters. I thought I did, but after I rolled out the dough, I realized - nope! So I made cookies in the shape of hands, feet, maple leaves and elephants. Hubby's cousin's son (follow that?) asked "Mommy, why do these cookie look like feet?"

So I imagine next year I'll get more Christmas cookie cutters than I know what to do with. I saw these cookie cutters at Weary Parent, and, in keeping with the 'unconventional cookie' theme, I'm tempted to buy them!

Might still raise a lot of questions from the kids though.

Movies I watch over and over

...and over again!

A neat idea started at The Burble; these are perennial favourites of mine. I'm the type of person who watches movies multiple times (usually, I'd prefer to watch a movie I've already seen than something on TV), but these are all-time favourites that I've watched so many times I can practically recite the lines. Yes, I realize that most of it's fluff; not all-time great movies, but that's the thing about favourites, at least, for me: they're comforting, safe, and like an old friend that you want to visit again and again.

Aladdin (1992)
Almost Famous (2000)
Annie (1982)
Back to the Future (1985)
Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961)
Chasing Amy (1997)
Cinderella (1950)
Gone With the Wind (1939)
The Many Adventures of Winnie The Pooh (1977)
The Princess Bride (1987)
The Sound of Music (1965)
Star Wars (1977)
When Harry Met Sally (1989)

Seems obvious, but apparently it's not!

This weekend I got an email from Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood which had a link to this year’s TRUCE (Teachers Resisting Unhealthy Children's Entertainment) Toy Action Guide: Toys of Value list, released in time for the holidays. While Hubby and I aren't at the stage where we're buying many toys for the baby-to-be yet (although I can't seem to resist books!), I found the list interesting, and I really like that it reinforces the value of non-electronic toys. While every child will have some battery operated toys, I find a lot of the ones on the market (even the so-called 'educational' toys) to be glorified babysitters which don't give kids much human interaction, and don't let them be creative. I'd prefer that my children have more traditional toys that foster imaginative play.

The email I received also linked to an article that talks about the Toys of Value list, and the prevalence of electronic toys on the market today: Kids Don't Get Building Blocks of Learning from High-Tech Play, which made some interesting points:

Contrast [the Toys of Value list] with the Toys ‘R’ Us 2006 Fabulous 15 Best of the Holiday list, which includes only two toys that don’t use batteries or a screen, or with Hasbro’s Something for Everyone 2006 Holiday list, which boasts the return of the Baby Alive Doll, whose updated version requires four batteries so she can ‘‘eat and poop, just like a real baby,’’ and Star Wars Force Action Lightsaber, ‘‘the most authentic lightsaber-playing experience ever,’’ batteries not included. Of the 26 toys included, all but four are electronic or require batteries.

Levin and others who study the relationship between toys, play, and development say toys with electronics bypass the process by which young children learn about cause and effect, including cause and effect of the human kind, such as body language and nonverbal clues. The more high-tech toys a child has and the younger he or she is when they’re introduced, the bigger the potential problem. ... "These kinds of toys entice parents ..... but they undermine the process of being an active agent, of being a problem solver," Levin says.

"There’s a critical part of the brain thought to be responsible for reading signals and feeling empathy and relating to other people, part of the orbital prefrontal cortex, that develops early on. But it needs input from real-life people," says Healy, author of Your Child’s Growing Mind.

The Toys of Value guide lists specific toys, both "good" and "bad", and offers some general tips for choosing and avoiding children's toys. The 8-page report has some great suggestions and insights, and I encourage you to read it, but since I know some of you won't, I'll list some of the DOs and DON'Ts here:

Choose toys that promote:

photo by Anissa ThompsonDramatic play
Helps children work out their own ideas about their experiences. Provides a powerful way of learning new skills and a sense of mastery. Blocks are a classic toy that children never outgrow. Adding props encourages, inspires, and extends children's play. Props have the ability to help children recreate real life experiences as well as invent imaginary ones.

Manipulative play with small play objects
Develops small muscle control and eye-hand coordination. Teaches about relationships between objects, essential for understanding math and science. Examples: construction sets and toys with interlocking pieces (Lego, Lincoln Logs), puzzles, pegboards, miniature models, parquetry blocks.

Creative arts
Encourages self-expression and the use of symbols, a vital skill for problem solving and literacy. Develops fine motor skills. Examples: poster and finger paints, assortment of blank paper of all sizes and colors, crayons and markers, scissors, glue, recycled materials, stamps, clay, weaving kits.

Physical play
Promotes healthy body awareness and coordination. Provides opportunities for social interaction. Ideas for toy swaps: bikes, scooters and other wheeled toys, climbing structures.

Game playing
Teaches about taking turns, planning strategy, sequencing, rules, and cooperation. Examples: board games like checkers and chess, card games, jacks.

Try to avoid toys that:

Exploit parents' desire to be "good parents."
Take advantage of parents by promising to make kids smart by teaching the alphabet or numbers at too young an age. These toys undermine the development of appropriate play.

Turn TV into the controller of play
Toys that plug into TV sets so children interact with the TV screen, turn playtime into “screen time.” Frenzied pace and programmed actions can increase children’s expectation for elaborate bells and whistles and make children observers rather than participants in their own play.

Lure infants and toddlers into the electronic media culture
These toys control and limit play and creativity and get children used to being entertained. Very young children learn best by interacting with people and seeing their effect on real things. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends no screen time before age 2.

Make appearance, makeup and sexiness the focus of play
Channel girls into very narrow play scripts where how you look—including being thin and wearing make-up and skimpy clothes—and what you can buy is what matters most. Focus on highly sexy appearance and behavior confuses children.

Heighten gender divisions between boys and girls
Dictate that specific toys and interests are only for boys or only for girls. Encourage rigid gender divisions and stereotyped play. Lead to choosing toys based on gender, not play value of a toy.

Make violent themes the focus of play
Often linked to TV programs, movies, and video games, these toys make violence seem entertaining and fun. Channel children into imitating violent TV scripts and anti-social play that undermines positive lessons caring adults try to teach.

Link non-nutritious food to toys and play
Create an easy market for unhealthy, brand-named foods and their logos and early brand loyalty. Products like these undermine healthy eating and contribute to obesity and eating disorders.

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The White House spends U.S. tax money on a dog film

I wonder how much money it cost to film and produce this holiday movie about President Bush's dog, Barney?

Yes, that's right, this is the FIFTH one.

I think I can hear Bin Laden laughing from here.

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Feel-good story of the day: Rare coin dropped in Salvation Army collection kettle

Coin dropped in Salvation Army collection kettle may be worth $14,000

And nope, it wasn't an accident!

The donated 1908 Indian head coin has a face value of US$2.50, said Capt. Louis Patrick. But it's worth at least at $250 and possibly as much as $14,000, according to a preliminary analysis.

The coin was enclosed in a protective plastic case.

Even Santa needs to read the fine print

New MUN website

Memorial University (of Newfoundland) has launched its new website.

Happiness poll finds bliss in New Brunswick

Woo hoo, good place to live!

Is this why I'm so happy lately?

Maybe, but it probably has more to do with my wonderful husband, a baby on the way, and the Christmas spirit (yeah, yeah, you Grinches out there, I am sickeningly happy!). Now, if only I could finish this report for work and didn't throw my back out lifting strollers in Toys R Us last night, things would be perfect! lol

Days of importance to Canadian women. Oh, and breastfeeding is "lowerclass".

September 25: Canadian government cuts 40% (5 million dollars) of Status of Women Canada's administrative budget

October: Women's History Month

October 3: The word "equality" is removed from the Status of Women mandate

October 18: Persons Day

November 25: International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women

November 29: Conservatives close 12 out of 16 Status of Women regional offices

December 6: National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women

December 10: International Human Rights Day

Well, it really sucks if you live in the North, a rural area, or anywhere except the 4 cities which will still have regional Status of Women offices after April 1st: Ottawa, Edmonton, Montreal and Moncton. It's not an April Fool's Day joke, unfortunately, just a grim reality.

Offices closed, millions in funding cut, "equality" removed from the SWC's mandate... I hear the government saying that it wants to create programs that treat men and women equally, without preferential treatment for women, but the reality is that no matter how much we'd like to think things are equal, there are still a lot of barriers and prejudice towards women. Less in some areas of the country, more in others, but when Canadian women are on average making only about 71 cents on the (male) dollar, there's surely something wrong, and I don't think that this government is taking the issues seriously. It's not terribly surprising though, considering the way some MPs speak out about their female colleagues. When well-educated, highly paid women are publicly maligned by government officials, what hope is there for single mothers, female immigrants, or women trying to break through the (still existent) glass ceiling?

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On an even more progressive note, yesterday Saskboy wrote about about a charming commenter one of his previous blog posts who has declared that breastfeeding in public is "shameful" and "lowerclass".

Holiday programming

If you're anything like me, you look forward to seeing your favourite Christmas specials on TV at this time of year. Sure, they may be cheesy, old fashioned, and I may have seen them a dozen times each, but it just doesn't seem like Christmas unless I've seen a few of them.

My personal favourites are How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Mickey's Christmas Carol, A Charlie Brown Christmas, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, and The Santa Clause. I also love The Little Drummer Boy, and The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus, although I don't watch them as often. Hubby's favourites are A Christmas Story and National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation.

If you're wondering when your favourite specials will be on TV, check out the holiday programming guides linked below.

Music from my grad year

Here's an interesting music meme that I haven't seen before, borrowed from the blog Thinking About.... Google the top 100 songs from the year you graduated from high school, bold the ones you loved (then, anyways!), strikeout the ones you hated, and leave the others plain.

Wow... 1997 was a REALLY crappy year for music!! I've highlighted even the embarassing songs that I liked, so you can all have a chuckle at my expense (are you brave enough to own up to your favourites?!). It's weird though, I worked in a record store, so I'm pretty familiar with music from that time, but there are some songs on this list that I don't remember! Most of them I'm just really indifferent about.

1. Candle In The Wind 1997, Elton John
Foolish Games / You Were Meant For Me, Jewel
3. I'll Be Missing You, Puff Daddy and Faith Evans
4. Un-Break My Heart, Toni Braxton
5. Can't Nobody Hold Me Down, Puff Daddy
6. I Believe I Can Fly, R. Kelly
7. Don't Let Go (Love), En Vogue
8. Return Of The Mack, Mark Morrison
9. How Do I Live, LeAnn Rimes
10. Wannabe, Spice Girls
11. Quit Playing Games (With My Heart), Backstreet Boys
MMMBop, Hanson
13. For You I Will, Monica
14. You Make Me Wanna..., Usher
15. Bitch, Meredith Brooks
16. Nobody, Keith Sweat
Semi-Charmed Life, Third Eye Blind
18. Barely Breathing, Duncan Sheik
19. Hard To Say I'm Sorry, Az Yet Featuring Peter Cetera
20. Mo Money Mo Problems, Notorious B.I.G.
The Freshmen, Verve Pipe
22. I Want You, Savage Garden
23. No Diggity, BLACKstreet Featuring Dr. Dre
24. I Belong To You (Every Time I See Your Face), Rome
25. Hypnotize, Notorious B.I.G.
26. Every Time I Close My Eyes, Babyface
27. In My Bed, Dru Hill
28. Say You'll Be There, Spice Girls
29. Do You Know (What It Takes), Robyn
30. 4 Seasons Of Loneliness, Boyz II Men
31. G.H.E.T.T.O.U.T., Changing Faces
32. Honey, Mariah Carey
33. I Believe In You And Me, Whitney Houston
34. Da' Dip, Freaknasty
35. 2 Become 1, Spice Girls
All For You, Sister Hazel
37. Cupid, 112
38. Where Have All The Cowboys Gone?, Paula Cole
39. Sunny Came Home, Shawn Colvin
40. It's Your Love, Tim McGraw and Faith Hill
41. Ooh Aah... Just A Little Bit, Gina G
42. Mouth, Merril Bainbridge
43. All Cried Out, Allure Featuring 112
44. I'm Still In Love With You, New Edition
45. Invisible Man, 98 Degrees
46. Not Tonight, Lil' Kim
47. Look Into My Eyes, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony
48. Get It Together, 702
49. All By Myself, Celine Dion
It's All Coming Back To Me Now, Celine Dion
51. My Love Is The Shhh!, Somethin' For The People
52. Where Do You Go, No Mercy
53. I Finally Found Someon, Barbra Streisand and Bryan Adams
54. I'll Be, Foxy Brown Featuring Jay-Z
55. If It Makes You Happy , Sheryl Crow
56. Never Make A Promise, Dru Hill
57. When You Love A Woman, Journey
58. Up Jumps Da Boogie, Magoo And Timbaland
59. I Don't Want To / I Love Me Some Him, Toni Braxton
60. Everyday Is A Winding Road, Sheryl Crow
61. Cold Rock A Party, Mc Lyte
62. Pony, Ginuwine
Building A Mystery, Sarah McLachlan
64. I Love You Always Forever, Donna Lewis
65. Your Woman, White Town
66. C U When U Get There, Coolio
67. Change The World, Eric Clapton
68. My Baby Daddy, B-Rock and The Bizz
69. Tubthumping, Chumbawamba
70. Gotham City, R. Kelly
71. Last Night, Az Yet
72. ESPN Presents The Jock Jam, Various Artists
73. Big Daddy, Heavy D
74. What About Us, Total
75. Smile, Scarface
76. What's On Tonight, Montell Jordan
77. Secret Garden, Bruce Springsteen
78. The One I Gave My Heart, w Aaliyah
79. Fly Like An Eagle, Seal
80. No Time, Lil' Kim
81. Naked Eye, Luscious Jackson
82. Macarena (Bayside Boys Mix), Los Del Rio (although I still remember the dance and can be convinced to do it at weddings, now!)
83. On and On, Erykah Badu
84. Don't Wanna Be A Player, Joe
85. I Shot The Sheriff, Warren G
86. You Should Be Mine (Don't Waste Your Time), Brian McKnight Featuring Mase
Don't Cry For Me Argentina, Madonna
88. Someone, SWV
89. Go The Distance, Michael Bolton
90. One More Time, Real McCoy
91. Butta Love, Next
92. Coco Jamboo, Mr. President
93. Twisted, Keith Sweat
94. Barbie Girl, Aqua
95. When You're Gone / Free To Decide, Cranberries
96. Let Me Clear My Throat, DJ Kool
97. I Like It, Blackout Allstars
98. You're Makin' Me High / Let It Flow, Toni Braxton
99. You Must Love Me, Madonna
100. Let It Go, Ray J

More about breastfeeding on planes... "a lot of these nursers are fat"

Last week, I wrote about my frustration with the anti-nursing crowd; people who think its disgusting and inappropriate for women to breastfeed in public, and the folks who got streamed up over this Baby Talk magazine cover.

Well, hold onto your hats people, check out the comments after this Nashville Scene blog post, where you'll see some real gems, including comments like:

"I certainly don't [want] anyone nursing their baby next to me. Anyway a lot of these nursers are fat. Decency should trump the need to travel by air and, IMHO, let them drive the van to wherever they are going."
"These 'nurse in' women should stay home and nurse; not run the streets protesting, flying all over the country and talking about their boobs."

Ahh... what an enlightened world we live in.

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Dirty dancing and days off


I'm loving the blog IzzyMom. She has a couple of great posts up right now, which I heartily agree with. Click on the quotes below to read the full articles:

On "freak dancing" (the latest form of dirty dancing):

"...the kids are not to blame. I mean they have their noses rubbed in sexual imagery from childhood on and then we go and sexualize our little girls and then we give them numerous forms of media that are saturated with sexual content and imagery of the most base variety, as well as all manner of negative gender stereotyping and then when they freak dance, we call foul? What the hell did we EXPECT them to turn out like? Nuns and monks? They’re simply products of their environment and you can’t really fault them for that."
I totally agree with that. While I think freak dancing can get pretty gross and degrading, and I'd hate to see one of my teenage cousins doing it, it's not surprising given how much sexual content kids and teens see on a daily basis. I guess the challenge is trying to teach them about healthy body images and gender issues, and hope that they act responsibly.

IzzyMom on Mom's elusive day off:
"...when is MY day off? He doesn’t GET that if he had to be “on duty” every second of his life, he’d be resentful, too. In my opinion, he’s the lucky one because he knows that no matter what, I will be in the background making sure everything, as in EVERY DAMN THING, is taken care of. Who wouldn’t want that? Shit! I want a wife, too."
A familiar argument between couples with children, I'm sure! It's not even necessarily a stay-at-home-Mom issue; it's one I've heard many times from mothers with all kinds of jobs. To be fair, I'm sure some Dads feel this way too, but I haven't heard any talk about it!

Update: Vicky chimes in with some great points about the myth of a day off.

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Thoughts for a Monday morning

Canadian Idiot

Weird Al Yankovic has a new song out: Canadian Idiot, a parody of Green Day's American Idiot. It's actually pretty funny, talking/singing about Canadians from the point of view of an American who believes all of the silly stereotypes.

There isn't an official video out yet, but the YouTube player below has the song, and to help you follow along, I've pasted the lyrics below. Enjoy!

Don't wanna be a Canadian idiot
Don't wanna be some beer swillin' hockey nut
And do I look like some frostbitten hose-head?
I never learned my alphabet from A to Zed

They all live on donuts and moose meat
And they leave the house without packin' heat
Never even bring their guns to the mall
And you know what else is too funny?
Their stupid Monopoly money
Can't take 'em seriously at all

Well maple syrup and snow's what they export
They treat curling just like it's a real sport
They think their silly accent is so cute
Can't understand a thing they're talkin' "aboot"

Sure they got their national health care
Cheaper meds, low crime rates and clean air
Then again, well, they got Celine Dion
Eat their weight in Kraft macaroni
And dream of drivin' a Zamboni
All over Saskatchewan

Don't wanna be a Canadian idiot
Won't figure out their temperature in Celsius
See the map, they're hoverin' right over us
Tell you the truth, it makes me kinda nervous

Always hear the same kind of story
Break their nose and they'll just say "sorry"
Tell me what kind of freaks are that polite?
It's gotta mean they're all up to somethin'
So quick, before they see it comin'
Time for a pre-emptive strike!

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This story really makes you reflect on courage, family, love, and the meaning of "in sickness and in health". Prayers to you, Katie.

CaringBridge: Katie Ferrarias

via Life in a Nutshell

The importance of living in the moment.

Okay, I'm essentially posting a forward here, but I think it has a lot of good wisdom for life - things that we tend to forget as we get caught up in the rat race, striving to be perfect, make lots of money, and keep up with the Joneses.

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If I Had My Life to Live Over

Reportedly written by Erma Bombeck after she found out she was dying from cancer.

I would have gone to bed when I was sick instead of pretending the earth would go into a holding pattern if I wasn't there for the day.

I would have burned the pink candle sculpted like a rose before it melted in storage.

I would have talked less and listened more.

I would have invited friends over to dinner even if the carpet was stained, or the sofa faded.

I would have eaten the popcorn in the 'good' living room and worried much less about the dirt when someone wanted to light a fire in the fireplace.

I would have taken the time to listen to my grandfather ramble about his youth.

I would have shared more of the responsibility carried by my husband.

I would never have insisted the car windows be rolled up on a summer day because my hair had just been teased and sprayed.

I would have sat on the lawn with my grass stains.

I would have cried and laughed less while watching television and more while watching life.

I would never have bought anything just because it was practical, wouldn't show soil, or was guaranteed to last a lifetime.

Instead of wishing away nine months of pregnancy, I'd have cherished every moment and realized that the wonderment growing inside me was the only chance in life to assist God in a miracle.

When my kids kissed me impetuously, I would never have said, "Later. Now go get washed up for dinner." There would have been more "I love you"s. More "I'm sorry"s.

But mostly, given another shot at life, I would seize every minute... look at it and really see it... live it and never give it back.

Don't worry about who doesn't like you, who has more, or who's doing what. Instead, let's cherish the relationships we have with those who do love us. Let's think about what we are blessed with, and what we are doing each day to promote ourselves mentally, physically, emotionally.

Odie triumphs!

Woman kicked off plane for breastfeeding her baby

We don't have all the facts about this situation, but if the information about her location on the plane is correct, I don't think anyone was justified to compell her to use a blanket while feeding her child, given that breastfeeding is not illegal in that state (and don't get me started on places where it is illegal). Frankly, I don't even think she should have been compelled if she was sitting in an aisle seat, but I understand that some passengers might be uncomfortable and unable to switch seats.

Why do some people still think it's inappropriate for women to breastfeed their children in public?! It's not like they strip down or whip out their breasts for amusement, and you can be discreet without using a blanket to cover yourself up.

Some people are so strangely squeamish, like the people who were outraged at seeing the breastfeeding picture on a Baby Talk magazine cover. People called the photo gross, sexual, and some shredded or hid the magazine for fear that the men in their families would see it. You see more breast watching Fashion File, the red carpet photos at the Oscars, and any number of TV shows. Some people seem incapable of thinking of the breast as anything but a sexual object, even in un-sexy situations.

Some places have nursing rooms for those who choose to use them, but that's optional. Many places don't have comfortable, clean, designated nursing areas, and when that's not available or desired, I don't think a mother should be forced to go to the car to feed her baby, or worse, go to a public restroom. Would you eat in the bathroom? I can't imagine a stranger approaching me to criticize me for how and where I feed my child. Let's hope that when Baby is born I won't have such unpleasant experiences!

It baffles me that 57% of respondents surveyed for the article about the Baby Talk cover don't think that women should have the right to breastfeed in public (!), and people freak out about that beautiful photo, yet seeing a celebrity almost naked on the cover of a magazine is accepted as commonplace.

Strange world we live in. The Baby Talk article examined why women don't nurse longer - is it any wonder?

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Presidential speech clouds

Here's a really cool link I stumbled across at Grrrl Meets World:

Presidential Speeches: Tag Clouds

The clouds show how often certain words were used in major speeches by U.S. presidents, from 1776 to today. Move the slider along the timeline to look at the trends in speeches throughout history.

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Shopping for the baby

Hubby and I went to Winners last night to check out the baby section, and I was pleasantly surprised with the selection there - Winners has cool kids' stuff! I only bought a couple of board books and a baby mobile ($15!), but I saw a lot of things that I'd like to get for the baby.

I really liked the selection of infantino toys. I'm not a fan of noisy toys (generally, I'm of the opinion that if it needs batteries, don't buy it), and it frustrates me that almost everything in the toy stores these days makes noise, and doesn't have a volume control. Anyways, there were some really cute (non-noisy) infantino toys at Winners, and even more neat things on thieir website! I really like a lot of the Discovery Toys products too. Their website isn't great, but they have a lot of neat developmental toys.

But I just can't handle Tickle-Me-Elmo!! This is my version of hell.

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A five year old's diet tips

So cute!

Click here for the wisdom

The politics of marketing (or the marketing of politics)

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Remembrance Day

In Flanders Fields

by Dr. John McCrae

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Related: Best commercial ever (Hat tip: Helmut)

A Soldier - His Prayer

As the story goes, this anonymous poem was blown into a slit trench in Tunisia during a heavy bombardment in the early days of World War II. Who its author is, or was, cannot be determined, but it is certain that he had a gift for poetry which he used to express his great faith and sense of hope.

Stay with me God. The night is dark
The night is cold: My little spark
Of courage dies. The night is long;
Be with me God, and make me strong

I love the game; I love a fight.
I hate the dark; I love the light.
I love my child; I love my wife.
I am no coward. I love life.

Life with its change of mood and shade.
I want to live. I'm not afraid,
But me and mine are hard to part;
Oh unknown God, lift up my heart.

You stilled the water at Dunkirk
And saved your servants.
All your work is wonderful, dear God. You strode
Before us down that dreadful road.

We were alone, and hope had fled;
We loved our country, and our dead.
And could not shame them; so we stayed
The course, and were not much afraid.

Dear God, that nightmare road! And then
That sea! We got there - we were men.
My eyes were blind, my feet were torn,
My soul sang like a bird at dawn!

I knew that death is just a door.
I knew what we were fighting for:
Peace for the kids, our brothers freed,
A kinder world, a cleaner breed.

I'm but the son my mother bore,
A simple man and nothing more.
But - God of strength and gentleness,
Be pleased to make me nothing less.

Help me, O God, when death is near
To mock the haggard face of fear,
That when I fall-If fall I must-
My soul may triumph in the dust.

Music shuffle! Discover forgotten tunes

Most of us have so much music, but we tend to get into ruts; phases of listening to the same stuff over and over. My current phase is female singer songwriters (Patty Griffin, Joni Mitchell, Maren Ord, etc.). LLD at What It Do NB? posted her iPod shuffle, and came up with some old gems that she had forgotten about.

Here are the random 10 that came up in my (iPod-less) music shuffle:

Steve Earle - Copperhead Road
Cake - I Will Survive
Jim Carey - I am the Walrus
Dixie Chicks - Long Time Gone
Edwin - Alive
Kilt - Come on Eileen
Christina Aguilera - The Voice Within
The Champs - Tequila
Runrig - Big Sky
Ian Tyson - Alberta's Child
What are yours?

Banana bread

Okay, Apartment Girl has already heard this weirdness-of-my-life (actually, she knows all the weirdness of my life - poor girl), but what the hell, let's broadcast it to the masses.

I like banana bread. The thing is, I don't always have the time or inclination for baking. But nevertheless, when we have bananas that are getting spotty and mushy, I throw them in the freezer, with the intent to make banana bread later.

Hubby was defrosting the freezer yesterday, and came in with TWO SHOPPING BAGS FULL OF BANANAS.

I've gotta get baking.

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Quick roundup of interesting things:

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Dryer care (yes, it sounds boring, but useful!)

Here's a handy (true) tip I received from my Mom this morning:

Washing the lint filter in your clothes dryer can help extend the lifespan of the appliance.

Apparently dryer sheets create an invisible film over the lint trap mesh which causes your dryer's heating unit to burn out more quickly. The best way to keep your dryer working for a very long time (and to keep your electric bill lower) is to take the filter out and wash it with hot soapy water and an old toothbrush at least every six months. That makes your dryer last twice as long.

Read more information here.

I'm also interested in using dryer balls instead of fabric softener sheets. Has anyone tried them?

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Need a hug?

Free Hugs Campaign

Via IzzyMom

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Recipe for the season

I always make these muffins around this time of year. They're a nice Halloween/Thanksgiving treat (because of the pumpkin) and they're good for Christmas baking too. I usually bake some in a mini-muffin pan to make bite-sized muffins to give out in Christmas tins with cookies.

These freeze well. In fact, we often grab a couple from the freezer, and give 'em a zap in the microwave for a quick dessert!

Pumpkin Chip Muffins

4 eggs
2 cups sugar
1 can (16oz) pumpkin (real pumpkin, not pumpkin pie filling)
1 ½ cups vegetable oil (you can substitute unsweetened apple sauce - I usually do 1 cup apple sauce, 1/2 cup canola oil)
3 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

In a large mixing bowl, beat eggs, sugar, pumpkin, and oil until smooth.

Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt; add to pumpkin mixture and mix well. Fold in chocolate chips.

Fill greased or paper-lined muffin cups ¾ full. Bake at 400 F for 16-20 minutes or until muffins test done.

Cool in pan for 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack.

Makes about 24 standard-size muffins.

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Halloween Tricks & Treats

A few Halloween classics on this spooky day...

My favourite Halloween clip! Donald Duck faces off with a witch. Guess who wins?! (Link)

Disney - The Legend of Sleepy Hollow (Link)

Disney - Sweet Dreams (Link)

Michael Jackson's Thriller (Link)

Disney - Lonesome Ghosts (Link)

Garfield - Scaredy Cat (Link)

Disney - Monster Mash (Link)

Happy Halloween!

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Busy busy busy busy....

No time to write, so I leave you with pictures of fabulous libraries. I'd love to spend days wandering in these!!!

(click on the photos to see enlargements and other libraries)

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Less than a week left

In only a few days, the Canadian Breast Cancer Network's online auction will be over. Check it out now to buy some great Christmas gifts while contributing to a worthwhile cause.

They're auctioning tickets, trips, books, music, artwork, toys and much more!

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OJ Simpson tells how he might have done it...

Totally creepy.

OJ Simpson is reportedly writing a book called If I Did It; a hypothetical account of what might have happened if he had murdered his ex wife Nicole and Ron Goldman (via Sympatico/MSN and MSNBC).

At this point, he has nothing to lose, due to double jeopardy laws which prevent him from being re-tried for the murders.

It will be interesting to see if this report is true. If it is, it proves that he is one sick man.

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Rick's rant

Click here to watch Rick Mercer's latest comedic rant on the Clean Air Act (which is actually only a Bill).

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5 things feminism has done for me

Scott from Progressive Bloggers asked me to write a list of 5 things feminism has done for me. For those of you who haven't read one of these lists yet, here's the background: Despite having a $13 billion surplus this year, the government has cut $5 million of funding to Status of Women Canada. In response, many Canadian bloggers have been posting lists of '5 things feminism has done for me', to show their support for the goals of the SWC.

Before I begin, I'll say that although I support women's rights and equality for all, I've never really considered myself a 'feminist'. I'm not quite sure why.. perhaps it's because today feminism almost seems to have become a dirty word. It seems like a lot of people associate feminists with radical man-haters, although that's certainly not a universal trait. But, while I may not agree with every stance of feminist groups, I value the changes that women's groups have made in our society, and many of those that they continue to lobby for.

5 Things Feminism Has Done For Me

1. It has made me realize, from a young age, that women can do anything.
Women can be politicians, scientists, astronauts and firefighters, and they can do their jobs as well as men. We need not be forced into predetermined gender stereotypes.

2. It has made me realize that while women can do anything, we don't have to do everything.
We can be anything we want, but we don't need to force ourselves to try to be superwomen. To me, feminism is about recognizing your options, and making the choices that work best for you. Someone who is a stay at home mom isn't necessarily less of a feminist than the CEO of a large company. We all advocate in our own, different ways.

3. It has made me expect to be judged on my merits, not only my looks.
Realistically, almost everyone is judged on their looks these days - men included. But I'm happy to see that most women no longer expect to get (or not get) a job because of the way they look. They expect employers to read their resume and evaluate their relevant skills. Thankfully, in many professions, employers do that.

4. It has made me proud to live in a society where I have the freedom to speak my mind, regardless of my gender.
I have the right to vote, debate in a public forum, enter politics, and challenge my husband or father if I think they're wrong. I need not keep quiet because of my gender.

5. It has shown me that while we like to think that we live in an equal society, we still have far to go, and must continue working.
The funding cuts to the Status of Women Canada are a big one here, but two big (personal) moments of enlightenment for me were firm interviews, and also hearing young, well educated male university classmates scoff at the idea of pay equity. We still have far to go to reach equality in practice, and in people's minds and hearts.

Wikipedia entry for feminism

Over at Progressive Bloggers, they're suggesting that everyone who writes a list should 'tag' 5 other (male or female) bloggers to see if they're willing to participate. I'd like to invite Apartment Girl, Vickyth, Becky, helmut, and Heather.

Thanks to Politics & Poetry for the link to Status Report.

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Score one for Belinda

I can't say that I'm a big fan of Belinda Stronach, but I found myself appreciating her recent zinger at the Conservatives.

Referring to the recent cuts to the Status of Women Canada, etc., apparently Belinda asked during Question Period: "Why does the government insist on turning its back on women's rights and the groups who advocate on their behalf?"

Conservative MP Lynne Yelich responded:

"I would like to remind the member that it was a Conservative government that gave women the right to vote in 1917, a former Conservative government. The first female cabinet minister was in the Diefenbaker cabinet. The first female premier in British Columbia was from a Conservative government."

Belinda responded:

"Mr. Speaker, may I also remind the House that they also took the word “progressive” out of the name of the party."

Thanks to Liberal Catnip for the chuckle!

Offensive T-shirt pulled from stores

I'm so happy to hear that this T-shirt was pulled from at least one chain of stores carrying it!

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