Pre-Christmas celebrations are in full swing at our house!
The gingerbread house, tree and cookies have all sustained a bit of damage, but that's the fun of Christmas with kids! Claire is so excited about everything, even though she can't really understand the holiday, and she's a joy to be around!
This is just sick.
Surging Shoppers kill New York Wal-Mart Employee
I've never experienced any shopping trips so horrible and sad, thank goodness, but I do remember the crazy Boxing Day shoppers in Canada. It wasn't too bad at Sam the Record Man, but when I worked at Future Shop in BC, people camped outside the store all night on December 25th and raced into the store in the morning of the 26th. I remember kneeling on the floor getting something from a cupboard, and a guy actually jumped over me in his rush to get to a different department.
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.
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.
Christmas baking season is almost upon us, and it's time to stock the freezer again, both with sweets and with healthy meals that can be heated up quickly!
So far this week we've made marinara sauce and chicken chili (thanks Gillian!), and as soon as I get some more eggs I'll make cornbread muffins. Last week I made a very tasty (and easy) apple crisp. The cookies will come soon!!
I also stumbled across the Whole Foods recipe index, which has some really yummy looking recipes that I'd like to try.
For a not-too-sweet apple crisp, try the recipe below. It's a combination of recipes and comments from allrecipes.com, and it turned out really well, if I do say so myself!:
* 10 cups baking apples, peeled, cored and sliced
* 1/2 cup white sugar
* 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
* 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
* 1 cup quick-cooking oats
* 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
* 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
* 1 cup packed brown sugar
* 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
* 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
* 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
* 1/2 cup butter, melted
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degree C).
2. Mix the white sugar, 1 tablespoon flour and ground cinnamon together. Stir into bowl of sliced apples. Place the apples in a 9x13 inch pan.
3. Combine the oats, flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda and melted butter together. Crumble evenly over the apple mixture.
4. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for about 45 minutes.
Check out the Cool Mom Picks safer toy guide for 2008. I love that the guide has so many toys that are wooden, handcrafted or BPA free. And nothing requires batteries!! I'm having major toy envy - I wonder how many of these are available in Canada?
I love the Green Toys sets (available at Chapters!), the Villac animal stacking tower, and I'm thinking of making a superhero cape for Claire's birthday.
This should make for good U.S. election night comedy!
Notorious Quebec comedy duo talks politics in prank call to Sarah Palin
I love looking at old photographs. I love the architecture, the clothes, and the everyday things we see in photos. Claire loves vintage books (think Dick & Jane, Ladybird readers and Elf books), and I'm quite fascinated with the simple, everyday illustrations as well.
Browsing BoingBoing.net, I came across a great vintage photo site, with really crisp, clear photos. Have a look at Shorpy: History in HD. The full size photo of the drug store is really cool - you can see so much detail!
A This Hour has 22 Minutes reporter was forcibly removed from a Conservative press conference. The part where Stephen Harper asks her if she likes handcuffs creeps me out every time I see it! Eeewww eeewww EEEEEWWWWWWW!!!!
Politics is no place for adults:
Stephen Harper and the ATM baby.
Wow, only a year and a half, and Claire has already had her portrait painted!
This was a surprise - I sent Mom a picture of Claire splashing in the puddles this spring, and she loved it so much that she had her niece-in-law paint it!
Check out more of her work here: Angela's Art.
It's been a very busy few days at the Atlantic Summer Institute on Healthy and Safe Communities in PEI!
After the Institute I'm taking a couple of days off - pray for nice weather! I've been feeling like summer has left! Here's hoping we have some beach weather this weekend so we can take Claire to the beach!
This is the first post in a new series. It will be fun for me to share some of my favourite music with you, and hopefully you'll find some hidden gems!
You gaze down upon your newborn, sweetly snuggling in your arms as you rock her to sleep, while a soft lullaby plays in the background. As you hum along to Braham's Lullaby, it suddenly occurs to you that your child's musical tastes won't always be so innocuous.
The Wiggles! Elmo!! Barney!!!
It's enough to fill any parent with terror.
I'm a bit of an oddity, never having lost my love of kid's music. I have quite a Disney collection, and probably know as many children's songs as most kindergarten teachers. But while I can sing "The Eensy Weensy Spider" with the best of 'em, I like to think that I have some standards.
I'm a fan of Sesame Street, and I'll confess that I actually like Elmo in small doses, but you won't find The Wiggles, The Doodlebops or Barney in my house (okay, that's a lie. There is a Barney book shoved way back in our storage room).
I've always thought that kids can appreciate all kinds of music. 50s and 60s pop were staples of my music collection as a child, and growing up in Alberta even gave me an appreciation for country music. But while we play many different types of music for our one and a half year old daughter, she still seems to prefer children's artists right now. CDs have to pass our test before they get played more than once, though!
Our daughter isn't a great car traveler, and if you drove with us very often, you'd realize that the phrase I say most often in the car is "Thank God for Raffi!". I loved Raffi's music when I was little, and his music is one of the few things that can calm Claire down when she's really worked up in the car. Thank goodness his voice is pretty soothing for us too!
He's best known for "Baby Beluga", but he has about a dozen albums - all great! He doesn't have any music videos, but here are two YouTube creations:
Raffi - "Baby Beluga"
Raffi - "All I Really Need"
A new addition to our children's music collection is Justin Roberts, and I can't say enough about him! He has catchy songs that kids love, and which parents find pretty funny too. My husband even likes him! Here's a video from his new album: "Pop Fly".
...and a simple little tune from his first album: "You Got One".
Ahhh... children's music for a new generation. Because no one should have to listen to Barney.
Excuse me while I try to find the missing background of my blog (so you can read the white title again)!
Update: Okay, green title for now, while I try to track down the missing image. Everyone using a version this blog template is having the same problem.
PETA tries to run ad comparing Manitoba beheading to animal rights abuses
This ad is just sick. They obviously have no respect for the family of this poor man.
Looking at my blog stats, approximately 98% of the hits on my website for the last day have been from people Googling "most depressing songs you've ever heard."
Now listen people, I know things aren't all that great out there. There are wars, poverty, crime and loneliness. But for so many of you to be looking for depressing songs all at once? Yikes!! Sadly enough, it's the post I wrote that gets the most visitors!
(Update: wow, I just looked at Google and Yahoo, and I'm #3 for that search string. That's kind of creepy.)
For those of you wondering what I wrote about depressing songs, I'll link you to the post in question, a blurb I wrote in 2006 about a book called: I Hate Myself and Want to Die: The 52 Most Depressing Songs You've Ever Heard.
On a related note, this winter I was listening to As It Happens on CBC Radio, and the hosts were asking people to call in with their votes for the most depressing song. Interestingly enough, the song that received the most calls is not even on the top 25 list in the book mentioned above!
The winner: Gloomy Sunday.
Frankly, I like the song. It's gloomy, obviously, but I guess I didn't pay enough attention to the lyrics. Reading them now, it is rather creepy! The song has even garnered a reputation as the "Hungarian suicide song", due to reports (or urban legends) of high rates of suicide after listening to the song.
For your listening pleasure (posted with a warning), I bring you 2 versions of the song:
The incomparable Billie Holiday:
and a personal favourite, Sarah McLachlan.
Now, go watch Human Tetris and have a laugh!
Pssst... have you ever done it?
The blogs are hopping about renting car seats, and the consensus seems to be: if you have any choice in the matter, never rent a car seat.
Parents report receiving old, dirty, and potentially unsafe car seats when they have rented infant and toddler seats from rental car companies. And we're not just talking about an isolated incident, or one rental company.
I wrote about this the other day, and since then, I've seen more on the topic. Click here, here and here for stories from parents and former rental company workers that will make you want to scream and never let go of your car seat again.
Okay, so we're all agreed that you could be risking your child's safety by renting a car seat from a rental car company (I'm sure some of their seats are safe, but I don't think I'll ever trust one again after reading these stories).
But what about taxis?
I've never taken a taxi with my daughter, but I'm curious about whether taxi companies provide car seats (I assume some must), who installs them, and what condition the seats are in. I tend to think that the situation would be similar to rental cars, but maybe I'll be pleasantly surprised!
What has been your experience?
Cross-posted on BlogHer
Monday's post on Z Recommends talks about car seat rentals with Advantage Rent-a-car, and the unclean, unsafe seats they have been found to offer their customers. Reading the post made me so mad, because it brought up memories of a horrible experience we had with a car seat rental.
After our experience and reading the comments from other readers of the post, I strongly urge you to always bring your child's car seat when you travel. Don't rely on rental companies to keep your kids safe!
Here's our story:
We had a very bad experience with renting a car seat at Hertz, and I hope we never have to rent a car seat again. We now have a Radian folding car seat that we bring with us when we travel.
We flew into Hamilton, Ontario and drove into Toronto last summer. We rented a car from Hertz because of a recommendation by CAA and the promise of having an infant seat provided at no charge and having it installed by "special trained personnel". In addition to the installation, CAA touts the "safety, security and convenience", and says that "Hertz field personnel have been extensively trained on the proper installation, cleaning and inspection of the car seats and will install the seats in the vehicle".
HA!!!! Our experience contradicted all of that!
We reserved our infant seat weeks ahead of time, and when we picked up the rental, we were given a car seat to install ourselves. The employee wouldn't install it for us, and she didn't have an instruction manual. My husband mentioned to the clerk that their website said that the seat would be installed by trained personnel. She said that she had taken the course for installation but said she wanted nothing to do with it. She said that she didn't want to end up in court if we got in an accident!
She (and Hertz corporate, when we later contacted them) said that they would be changing the website information shortly, but they still haven't changed their policies.
And even worse than all of that, the seat was FILTHY. I've never seen a car seat so dirty. There was rust all over the bottom of the seat and some in the car base as well. Who knows how damaged it was! We didn't feel safe using the seat for our baby, so we asked for a replacement, and were told that there were no other car seats. The employee also refused to call another location to reserve a seat for us to pick up.
Thankfully, when we drove to the Toronto airport location the next day, they gave us a brand new car seat with an instruction manual (which we again had to install ourselves), but that didn't make up for the inexcusable service and condition of the original car seat, which we had to use, driving for an hour on Canada's busiest highway!
My advice: BRING YOUR OWN CAR SEAT WHEN YOU TRAVEL.
I've been quoted on BlogHer! Read more car seat horror stories on Mir Kamin's post: Think twice before renting a car seat for your child.
I also posed the question: What about taxis?
And check out 2 posts from the woman who started the blogs buzzing about this topic:
Danger for Rent: Car Rental Agency Puts Infant At Risk. She took photos of the damaged seat she received. I wish we had thought to take photos of the seat Hertz gave us!
Safety Tips for Renting a Car Seat
Oh my goodness, the summer has been a whirlwind! Lazy days with no plans have been interspersed with traveling and many family events, and it's hard to believe it's almost August already!
A few highlights:
- Claire is becoming quite the traveler. She's losing her shyness (well, the burst-into-tears shyness, she still has the I'm-going-to-hide-behind-Mummy's-legs shyness), and she's getting quite used to sleeping in a playpen in various locations.
- I was a bridesmaid in my cousin Tara's wedding in Newfoundland earlier this month. It was beautiful, and we all had a good time. The photographer had us trekking up steep rocky hills (he's obviously never had to do that in in high heels!) but the photographs should be amazing. I can't wait to see them! It made Hubby and I think of our wedding (almost 4 years ago, wow!), and how much fun we had having so many people we love together in one spot. We had a fantastic photographer too, and you can see some of our photos on his website.
- Our Newfoundland trip was crazy busy. I love visiting, but I'd love to have some downtime on our trips, and actually do some sightseeing. Little Miss was sick for a few days while we were gone too, so that was tough. Poor thing!
- Our vegetable garden is growing like crazy, and we have already had a crop of broccoli and lettuce. Peas, green beans, carrots, squash, tomatoes, peppers and sweet potato are on the way! Mmmmmm.......
- We finally put a clothesline outside. Sheets are drying in the wind as I type.
- My friend Nancy and I took our little girls strawberry picking a few weeks ago. I think the picture speaks for itself:
I hope you're enjoying your summer, too!
Hubby and I have been using disposable diapers on Claire since she was born, but we keep tossing around the idea of trying cloth diapers. Mainly, it's the "ick factor" and the fact that we can't keep up with our current load of laundry that has kept us with disposables.
We alternate between Huggies and Seventh Generation, which we buy on trips to Maine (they're almost double the price in Fredericton!). When Hubby went on a camping trip in Maine this past weekend, he came home with a couple of boxes of gDiapers to try out.
gDiapers are a pretty great idea. They have the comfort and look of cloth diapers, but are almost as convenient as disposables. The (cute!) cloth pants have a flushable absorbent liner inside, so, provided you don't have a finicky toilet, you need not have a smelly diaper pail!
We started using them this afternoon, and the first two went pretty well! They were easy to use, and the first one flushed well. The second one had a minor clog, but I think that was my fault. No leaks so far, even with a dirty diaper, and so far I'm impressed! We'll see how it goes from here on in. We may need to make a trip to Maine to get some more!
I read about The 350 Challenge on IzzyMom's blog, and noticed that Treehugger has also posted about it. It's a neat program, and really simple.
All you need to do is post the 350 Challenge badge on your website or blog, then send them a message, and Brighter Planet will offset 350 pounds of carbon in your name. That's the equivalent of turning off 100 lightbulbs for a day, or going two full weeks without using your car!
They're aiming to get at least 350 bloggers to post the badge, so spread the word. It's a small way to show your support for action to prevent climate change. It may be just a "drop in the bucket", but every bit makes a difference!
Other easy things you can do:
- Carry your own water bottle instead of buying single-use bottles
- Use cloth napkins instead of paper napkins, and rags to clean up spills instead of paper towels
- Bring reusable bags to the grocery store. We use a miscellaneous collection acquired over years of going to conferences, but I really like the Compliments (Sobeys) and President's Choice (Superstore/Loblaws) grocery bags - you can fit a lot in them!
- Replace your lightbulbs with CFL bulbs, which last longer and use less energy. Remember to bring burnt-out bulbs to your hazardous waste depot, or to a Home Depot CFL recycling bin
- Buy local food as much as possible. You'll be supporting your local economy, and getting fresh food that doesn't have to travel thousands of miles to get to your table! Our latest Atlantic Canadian discovery is the Speerville Flour Mill in New Brunswick, which makes and sells flour, cereal, oils, pasta and a bunch of household products, and a lot of it is also organic! We didn't realize until recently, but their products are sold in most of the large grocery stores here.
- Spring is here, and I can feel summer in the air. Claire and I spend a lot of time outdoors, running in the grass and picking dandelions. And her nose is healing after a tumble on the sidewalk!
- Nan's funeral was sad, but really beautiful at the same time. There were a lot of songs, tributes and messages, and even a video of her singing last summer. She would have liked it. I'm going to miss her!
- More job reassignment at work! I'm sticking with "consultant" on my business card - I've had so many changes in job title already!
- I love love love my DVD recorder!
- I bought myself a sewing machine, and made a bunch of cloth napkins (we try not to use paper napkins anymore), and a pair of legwarmers for Claire. So easy! (or sew easy, if you want to be really corny!)
Hi everyone! We're all alive here, and we weren't carried away by the flood! Things have just been very busy here lately! I'll post an update soon, but in the meantime, I just wanted to pass along a tidbit of information.
A friend called this morning to tell me that Zellers stores are giving refunds for any product which they've pulled off their shelves due to BPA (Bisphenol A) concerns. I called the store, and as far as I can tell, products do not have to be in their original packaging, nor do you need to have a receipt. They will give you a gift card with your refund on it. This is only until Friday though!
I'm going to bring back our Avent bottles and a few other things this afternoon, so I'll let you know how it goes!
For a comprehensive list of which products have BPA in them, check out the Z Recommends BPA Report.
I didn't have any trouble returning my Avent bottles, and I received a $95 gift card in return! I kept the nipples and sealing caps though, because they fit on the Klean Kanteen sippy cups (which use Avent sippy cup spouts). Also, I figure that Avent will probably make bottles without BPA that can use the same nipples, so that may save me some money when we have another baby.
Another spring, another flood here in Fredericton. We've been having a lot of rain this week, with more forecasted, and it has combined with a ton of melted snow and ice jams. Result: the Saint John river is spilling over. It looks like this year's flood will be the worst it's been since 1973!
We don't live very close to the river, so our house won't get flooded, but we may have a visitor later this week! Hubby's aunt lives a few streets away from the river, and if the water rises over 8 metres (as predicted), her basement will flood. She has already had her furnace shut off to prevent a fire overnight. This shows how much of the city will be flooded at 8 metres. The flooding elsewhere along the river is worse than in Fredericton though, and a lot of people have been evacuated from their houses already.
I haven't taken any pictures, but if you're interested, check out nagzi's Flood '08 photostream on Flickr, or the CBC slideshow of viewer photos.
Soccer fields are underwater, with only the tops of goalposts visible. Farmland and graveyards are flooding, and boats can't get under the bridges anymore (if anyone would be crazy enough to go boating with the strong current!). I also heard that several of the ramps leading to the bridges have been closed, so traffic is much worse than usual. And one poor woman at Hubby's work has to drive an hour out of her way to get to work, because the most direct route has flooded.
And the irony of it all? The Emergency Measures Office is pretty damn close to the floodplain!
Well, not really, but I do wish I qualified for this fantastic deal!
Microsoft Canada is offering students a limited-time deal to buy Office Ultimate 2007 for $64! The offer ends tomorrow (April 30th), so check out the details now to see if you qualify for the offer.
Other locations have similar deals - in the USA it's $59.95. Click on your flag at the top right-hand corner of the screen to see the offer in your country.
Gillian's video of The Electric Company made me think of The Edison Twins:
Which had a link to 30 minutes of 80s cartoon openings:
A few years ago, Hubby and I hosted an 80s cartoon night. It was so much fun! We got dressed up like 80s cartoon characters and watched a bunch of cartoons, ate junk, and had some drinks. Yes, I know, totally geeky, but fun!!
There are also a bunch of clips of kid's programs on YouTube... even the Polka Dot Door! I had no idea this was a TV Ontario program!
I still haven't gotten around to trying to crochet a Klean Kanteen cosy, but I found a bunch of neat (free!) patterns for different types of crafts on Craft Magazine's pattern podcasts.
Some favourites: Baby booties, Spiderweb skirt, 'Maddy' top, and this awesome 'Zoe' dress!
Seriously, I may never be able to make these (I don't even have a sewing machine!), but a girl can dream!
- Sign the petition to urge Clorox (the makers of the Brita water pitcher) to make their plastic filters recyclable, reusable, or to create a take-back program.
- For those of you who complain that your Klean Kanteen water bottle is too cold, check out Yvette's crocheted Klean Kanteen cosy/cover. I've bought yarn and needles, and plan to try it! (This is very ambitious for me. I bought two balls of yarn, because of the inevitable disaster that will happen to the first!) I also bought a neoprene bottle cooler, pulled out the stitching and folded it so that it fits on C's Klean Kanteen sippy cup. Functional, but not as pretty as the crocheted cover!
- Here's a cute little book for kids called Michael Recycle, which I read reviews of on the blogs Fake Plastic Fish, and Nature Moms.
- The Green Parent (and my non-affiliated pharmacist hubby) would like to remind you to bring your expired medication to your pharmacy to have it safely disposed of. You should be able to do this at any pharmacy, with prescription and over-the-counter medication. Reduce the amount of meds showing up in our water supply!
As most of you have heard by now, Canada has declared the chemical bisphenol A (BPA) a toxic substance, and plans to ban the use of the chemical in baby bottles. In my opinion, this is a positive step, although BPA is still used in many other plastic children's products (sippy cups, soothers, teethers, toys, dishes and utensils...).
This evening I found a GREAT resource to help parents make sense of the recycling symbols and the confusing claims from companies selling children's products. Head on over to Z Recommends for current and frequently updated information on BPA, PVC/vinyl, phthalates, and other nasty chemicals in children's products. They have comprehensive reviews of:
- BPA in children's feeding products and pacifiers (this is a fantastic resource - click on each company's name to get a list of which products include BPA, and which are BPA free. They've even created a text message service to get you info while you're shopping!)
- A guide to safer teethers
- A guide to safer bath toys
I was very happy to see that the plastic sippy cups we use for C do not contain BPA, although we're using her Klean Kanteen more often anyways, and plan to buy another one (who knows what other chemicals in plastic will be declared toxic in the future?).
Z Recommends also reviews new and interesting children's products, and posts interesting tips. A very handy site for busy parents!!
- - -
Also handy for parents to know...
What to do when your child goes nuts with a marker:
Life as I know it has changed... literally, and figuratively!
Over the past year and a half, I have dealt with pregnancy and its complications, cared for a newborn, had a year off work, jumped back into work with both feet, and celebrated my little girl's first birthday. Currently, I'm trying to balance family life and part-time work, while running after a mischievous (but oh-so-lovable) toddler!
I've been thinking of getting back to blogging, to share some of my thoughts, feelings, and great things that I run into online.
I still haven't had enough time to join Facebook, along with almost everyone else I know, but I'm hoping to be able to post here every week or so. Here goes! ;)