Monday, 31 March 2014

Man or Muppet

Last week Chris and I took advantage of a vacation day and went to go see a matinee.  One of the benefits of daycare and vacation time is that you can take advantage of a pre-paid day date.  Chris and I both love children's movies, unfortunately the minions don't have quite the attention span for us to make a movie a family outing just yet, so we'll often preview movies know to monitor the appropriateness for Molly and Jack and also because we love them.

Movie Review:  Muppets Most Wanted

Movie Review Muppets Most Wanted
Image courtesy of Wikipedia

What's in it for the Kids?
An introduction to the world of some great classic Muppet characters: this movie highlighted Kermit, Piggy and Animal.

What's in it for the Adults
There is some entertaining music created by one half of Flight of The Conchords duo Bret McKenzie and some celebrity cameos that are meant to please.

Best Parts of the Movie
Tina Fey steals the show as prison warden Nadya who wants to impress her colleagues during the prison's annual talent show.

Worst Parts of the Movie
Some of the slapstick and wit that makes the Muppets awesome was missing.  The plot was slow and the concepts were tired.  The movie lacked some of the passion and strength that Jason Segel brought back to the Muppet franchise in 2011's The Muppets.  Since this movie was the official sequel I found it to be a bit of a let down.

Overall Rating
I would rate this movie 3/5.  I wouldn't buy it and probably wouldn't watch it again unless it was on TV and I stumbled across it.  I would recommend that movie goers who are Muppet fans hold off on seeing this and maybe buy the 2011 edition to get your modern Muppet fix instead.

To read my thoughts on why Miss Piggy is a great role model click here

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Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Boys Don't Cry

When we bought our house we mentally went over the future floor plan.  The middle upstairs bedroom was ear marked as a nursery/bedroom for the ONLY child we would have in a few years.*  When I found out I was expecting twins, the nursery automatically moved from the cute middle bedroom with the perfect nook for a single bed/crib to the larger room at the back of the house.  I knew right then and there that down the road I would eventually either lose my office to one of the minions or that we would have to move or renovate.

When we found out we were having girl/boy twins, we designed a gender neutral nursery with the theme: Nursery Rhymes and Storybooks.  We decorated it with artwork inspired by Jack and the Bean Stalk, The Princess and the Pea, Alice in Wonderland and The Princess Bride.  Since the nursery doesn't have a closet we opted for a series of dressers alongside an old IKEA armoire that previously encased a television that we converted into a children's wardrobe.  Only three items remain from the conversion of this room from spare room to nursery: the off white linen curtains**, the PEZ themed light switch cover and a giant "The Cure" poster situated behind the armoire promoting their 1979 Album Boys Don't Cry.  We debated moving it, but I was keen on the idea of  having a picture in a nursery that had the Motto - Boys Don't Cry embossed on it.

Giant Classic Boys Don't Cry Poster
Not necessarily the most traditional nursery decoration

Two nights ago Jack woke up in the middle of the night freaking out and absolutely inconsolable.  It was Chris's night on-call, so after three attempts to get Jack back to sleep he ended up crashing out on the couch downstairs with Jack in his arms.  The only person who managed to sleep through the 90 minute ordeal was Molly.

The next morning Chris and I were talking about why Jack was up and what was bothering him.  Chris mentioned that he kept on talking about the closet and that he explained to Jack that there was no closet in his room.  As the day progressed I thought more and more about Jack's issue - I was convinced that it had to be the poster.  I called Chris and asked him if Jack had mentioned anything about the poster.  "Yes, he kept on asking about the man" and explained to him that the man was Robert Smith and he is a singer from England.  Chris had previously told me that he was terrified of some movie posters (ET and Star Wars) he had in his room at night (during the day they were fine) as a child, so we really should have clued in sooner, but didn't and I'm going to blame it on being sleep deprived.

When we returned from work that evening I asked Jack about the poster.  He informed me that he did not like it.  So when I asked him if he wanted us to take it down, he said yes. We removed Robert from the wall that evening.  Jackie was happy that "the bad man*** with the eyes is gone."   Molly was indifferent and couldn't care less and even asked to visit the man in his new home.  The next day Jack told me that, "The man that lives in the picture is happy now."

I am now sharing my office with Robert Smith.  It was bound to happen sooner or later.

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*Guess that was never in the cards, not that I'd change a thing.
**I am currently looking for new, darker curtains in hope that it will make for a more suitable nap environment and am welcoming suggestions.
***Or Batman, he doesn't always enunciate is words.

Monday, 24 March 2014

The Only Thing That Looks Good On Me Is You

I've been keeping my eyes out for some great accessories for spring, so when I heard that the Vintage Clothing Show was coming to Toronto I drooled over the thought of retro jewelry, scarves and trinkets. While I love planning kid oriented activities with Molly and Jack, I think it's important for the minions to recognize that they are not the centre of the universe and not everything is play time.  When they tag along for things that are practical like errands, meals in non-kid focused establishments or something that is for mom or dad it teaches them appropriate ways to behave in public and everybody wins.  That being said, we've had some outings that have been huge failures, fortunately that didn't happen this weekend.

vintage clothing show finds
Jack sporting mom's new necklace

Here are my 8 tips for surviving a Market Fair with toddlers:

  1.  Choose your time of day wisely.  We usually pick mid-to-late morning for these adventures as the kids have eaten their breakfast, had their morning "constitutionals" so we can avoid gross potty training mishaps and this is generally when they are in the best moods.  
  2. Bring multiple options for toddler transportation.  We let them walk with us at first (secured by their harness backpacks - Molly has a pink poodle one and Jack has a bat one)*.  When they got tired we used our hiking toddler carriers to keep our arms free and our backs in tact.  Not only did this keep everyone happy, it also prevented us from blocking narrow lane ways with bulbous strollers and kept "sticky" fingers away from delicate vintage wares.  Several people stopped us, mostly vendors, to tell us how clever our carriers were, who were happy that our kids were keeping their hands off of the merchandise and not blocking other people who were trying to solicit their booths.
  3. Move quickly and deliberately.  Go with a plan of how you're going to navigate the floor plan and don't dawdle, a meltdown could be imminent.  
  4. Let your kids hold (and wear) some of the items that you buy.  After we let Molly and Jack each wear a necklace I had bought, we were rewarded with an extra half hour of good behaviour. This also resulted in me having to clean chunks of minestrone soup off of a necklace later that afternoon, but these are sacrifices I'm willing to make. 
  5. Bring snacks.  We all get a little hangry when our blood sugar gets low, plus it's harder to complain when your mouth is full of granola bar.     
  6. Use clothes shopping short-cuts, I suggest the following time saving tricks:
    1. Have at least one more adult than children present to run point while you try on that amazing shirt.
    2. Dress the part....slip on shoes make foot ware easy to try on.  Wear clothes you can try things on over top of:  Ladies - leggings and tank tops are a great way to make any space an impromptu change room and avoid line-ups.
    3. If you want to know if a pair of pants or skirt is going to fit your waist without trying it on: wrap the waist band of the item in question around your neck, if the pants fit around your neck, they'll fit your waist.
  7. Know when to fold em....Kids are like parking meters, don't wait until they expire before you leave or you'll get a ticket.  Quit while you're ahead.  An hour to an hour and a half seems to be the maximum time that we can push adult focused trips with the kids.  If you know you'll need more time than your kids can handle, get a sitter.
  8. Praise them when they're good, everyone likes to be told how awesome they are, kids aren't an exception to this rule.  

 There are a lot of great shows and exhibitions like the Vintage Clothing Show Coming to Toronto this Spring, in case you want to check them out here are a few listed below:

One of a Kind Spring Show  - March 26-30th 
The Spring Cottage Life Show - March 28th -30th
Creativ Festival - April 25th-26th 
Junction Flea Market - Monthly starting May 18th.

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*I ordered Jack's bat harness/backpack online because he has a tendency to just run with the reckless abandon of a squirrel that becomes road kill.  I can't get him into a plain harness without an epic battle, but once we showed him his"Batman Backpack" he couldn't wait to wear it.  Unfortunately he looks more like a Flying Monkey circa The Wizard of Oz, than the Dark Knight, but he's never seen either movie, so I'm not concerned.

Thursday, 20 March 2014

True Colours

About a month ago Jack started rejecting clothes that he routinely wore all of the time.  I'm not a stranger to picky toddler clothing preferences - Molly still holds a love hate relationship with leggings and jeans that I doubt I'll ever understand.

Jack's recent foray into the role of savvy fashionista coincides directly with daycare teaching all of the kids about colours and the rainbow.  I slowly came to this realization as I created a pile of repeat offenders (rejected shirts that Jack has refused to wear for nearly a month) in the rainbow palette of navy blue, dark green, black and grey.  Molly and Jack generally have their own clothes during the day now (mainly because Jack is significantly bigger than his sister), with the exception of most of the pyjamas we have available that are a free-for-all for either child.  Essentially we just allow each toddler to select whatever they want for bed time so long as it fits and is seasonally appropriate.  Jack's growing frustration over being able to wear bright purple Dora pyjamas at night and then being offered an army green shirt with a monster truck on it to wear during the day, something he isn't vaguely interested in, is understandable.

toddler at the batting cages Centennial Park Toronto
 Jack at the batting cages last summer

Over the weekend Jack selected something of Molly's to wear in the morning: A pair of bright fuchsia pants (that were two sizes too small) and a mauve cardigan (also two sizes to small) with no shirt underneath, I let it slide.  Molly gave me attitude for letting him do this, because he was wearing her clothes and she didn't want to share. Chris was unimpressed because I'd encouraged our son to dress like a cross between someone from the cast of Priscilla Queen of Desert and our own neighbourhood hooker*, especially once the boy had added in some Mardi Gras beads. I accused Chris of acting like a dad in a 1980's sitcom who was upset because his son wanted to wear pink or play with dolls and he countered by saying I was using my son to pursue a personal agenda by allowing him to wear something ridiculously ill fitting, something I would never allow Molly to wear.  The truth of the matter was we were both right, and both wrong.

Within an hour Jack had smeared blueberry yogurt all over himself so I needed to get him into another outfit, no matter what my feminist ideals were telling me.  He was a mess and needed to wear something else.  He selected a bright green shirt and pair of jeans.

Molly at the batting cages

Later that night I asked Jack what his favourite colours were: yellow, purple, green, pink and bright blue, but mostly purple.  He went on and on about how amazing purple is.  The next day I went online and to some stores in search of brightly coloured clothes with no success.  In shopping I faced the issue that maroon is not the same as grape purple and navy is not bright blue and nothing else is available.  Anything in the colours he wanted were uber feminine with flowers, ruffles and bows.  What ever happened to the gender neutral gym uniforms we were forced to wear?  Even Osh Kosh B'Gosh is genderizing their overalls these days. I'd hit a dead end, so I called in the reinforcements: Nana and Papa.

I arrived home from work the other night to a bag full of brightly coloured shirts from a variety of thrift and bargain stores, including a bright purple sweatshirt and bright purple dinosaur T-Shirt.  As I showed Jack his pile of new clothing, Molly tried to make claim on everything grape coloured.  I kept repeating that these were Jack's clothes...finally we compromised after she selected a bright blue shirt that said something "sassy" about being awesome that Jack was generally indifferent towards.

The more exposure I have to childrens clothing, the more annoyed I get.  The selection is great if you are that little kid who loves monster trucks and tools, or bows, tiaras and frills: but that seems to be the majority of what's out there.  Yesterday Jack told me he wanted a pink shirt to wear that wasn't Molly's, so back to the mall we go.

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*Welcome to the Junction West.  Yes we have a neighbourhood hooker.

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Blessing in Disguise

The first time I noticed it was about a year and a half ago.  I was at a house party and suffering from one of the many plagues that infected our family in the first six months of daycare (at this particular time I believe it was pre-diagnosed strep throat).

Chris and I were attempting to maintain some semblance of a life by going to a house party: all I wanted to do was pour a pot of boiling hot water mixed with Purell down my throat in hopes that it would "kill everything evil" that was crapping down my throat and all over my life, but we went out anyway.   Since I was feeling terrible and possibly contagious I opted for wallflower status as I politely made small talk from a distance and counted down the seconds until I could be home in bed.  I believe Chris was downstairs playing beer pong, he somehow managed to escape Step Throat Fall 2012 unscathed, jerk.

As I walked around the party, I noticed a pocket of party goers in the living room: all pregnant.  They sat in a circle, drinking herbal tea, rubbing their bellies in that way that only pregnant women can and talking about EVERYTHING gestation centric.  I watched from a distance and anthropologically observed like I was writing  a paper on  female bonding among pregnant women in their early thirties.

Since I was the first person in my group of Toronto friends to have kids and was carrying twins, I often considered myself a bit of a pregnancy unicorn.  Friends who "weren't there yet" in terms of child-rearing would sheepishly ask if they could touch my belly, while they celebrated their freedoms, toasting mixed drinks as I drank Sprite and orange juice and watched my ankles swell.  The nearest age of any child in my closer circle of Toronto friends is a year and a half younger than Molly and Jack, which meant that no one was pregnant at the same time as me, not even close.

6 months pregnant with twins photo
This is a photo of me when I was 6 months pregnant with the twins...I know what you are thinking and the answer is yes, I always dressed that fancy.

My friend KJ, lives in the suburbs and has twin boys who are a year older than Molly and Jack.   I would call her up every time I had a panic attack to find out whether or not the insanity my body was facing was just a normal part of twin pregnancy or if I needed to haul a$$ to my doctor; but these were whispered calls during nap or Google chats, while she tried to navigate the early days of twin parenthood.  I guess what I'm saying is there was no communal tea sipping or belly rubbing involved - it was all panic based reactive situations where she had to talk me down from the ledge.   That being said I was enthralled with this grouping of gestating women.  Since I didn't join any mom groups, multiple or otherwise, until post-pregnancy their was no blessing* of mothers to commiserate with.

A year later I was at another party, with a different group of friends and a similar circle of mama bears formed in the living room, drinking herbal tea and lovingly rubbing their bellies.  I watched for a few minutes before I went and played figurative beer pong (drank copious amounts of rum punch).

Sometimes I lament on how I missed out on this nesting right of motherhood among my peers, that I somehow was robbed of this right of passage.

A few weeks ago I was at a birthday party for my friend's one year old and a grouping of parents (some friends, some acquaintances) stood in a basement supervising their children while they attempted to scarf down their own lunch, all while simultaneously feeding their offspring and quashing any toddler/child related hi jinx and shenanigans.

Someone I knew a long time ago once described your wedding party as a snapshot in time...I guess the same can be said about these random celebrations** of pregnant women.  In the end, one day, we'll all be in a basement, scrubbing orange sauce off the floor while my son acts like I've stabbed him in the heart because I made the fatal mistake of cutting a meatball in half so he wouldn't choke on it.

To all you pregnant ladies, sipping your tea and rubbing your bellies, enjoy this warm decaffeinated moment, even though I know your feet hurt. Savour it because it's probably one of the last hot beverages you're going to enjoy at its intended temperature.  I'll see you in the basement in a few months, I'm the one covered in red sauce trying to put a meatball back together.

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*Name for a grouping of unicorns.
**Did you know that a grouping of polar bears is called a celebration?  Me neither.

Monday, 17 March 2014

In the Jungle (The Lion Sleeps Tonight) - Indoor Playground Review

In case you didn't know, it's still really cold outside in Toronto. The kids got outside for a few days last week and then the deep freeze hit again, just in time for the weekend.  

Behold, hopefully one of the last for 2014, the winterized version of my playground review series, The Indoor Playground Review!  Come on spring.

My park review disclaimer: If you don't live in the area I hope you enjoy the pics and can use some of the ideas to inspire and explore in your own city. If you have any recommendations for great playgrounds ideally some in Toronto proper (indoor or out or new criteria I haven't thought of) please post a comment on this post or email me:


3250 Harvester Rd #5, Burlington (you need a car to get there, or to live close enough to walk -it's a 35 minute walk from the Go Station)

Lil' Monkeys Indoor Playground Inc. Review
 Overview of the play structure

There is a decent amount of parking in the lot, but you may have to walk a ways if it's busy.

Theme of Park:
Jungle themed indoor playground.  The largest indoor playground in Southern Ontario

$10 per child for kids 2-4 years old, children 5-12 pay $11.99, kids under 1 are free when with a sibling.  (We used a coupon from the Toronto Entertainment Book that got us 25% off one entry on the weekend).  Parents/Guardians/Sitters (over 16) are free - maximum 2 guardians per child.

Lil' Monkeys Indoor Playground Inc. Review
 One of the climbing walls

 Variety of Equipment for different ages:
This playground is open to kids aged one year to twelve years old.  There are two toddler themed areas for kids aged one to three and the climbing walls, giant play structure, indoor mini basket ball court and arcade is for older kids.  You know that Goodlife Fitness commercial about trying to stay fit so you can actively play with your kids?  Well Chris and I could relate to the need to stay fit to keep up after tagging along behind Jack in the giant climbing structure. 

Lil' Monkeys Indoor Playground Inc. Review
Jack Climbing

Lil' Monkeys Indoor Playground Inc. Review
 The Arcade

Best Part(s) of the Park:
The variety of things to do for kids at almost any age.  After a while, when Molly got bored, we discovered a room at the end of the playground called "the library" which had a variety of books, a play house and kitchen toys for kids who don't want extreme acrobatics for their entire visit.  There are large couches for supervising adults to unwind and watch from a distance.  At the front cash they posted a sign that stated a series of eight visit passes may qualify for the government of Canada's children fitness tax credit.  As a parent in a chaotic setting I also appreciated their security precautions to help keep kids safe.  They track a families last name with the entrance ID bracelets to ensure the kids leave who they came in with.  Chris, completely oblivious to the system, nearly got tackled at the door by trying to get Jack out of there quickly and quietly when Jack didn't want to leave.  He later admitted how a screaming toddler, tucked under the arm of a fast moving adult could raise some red flags.

Lil' Monkeys Indoor Playground Inc. Review
"The Library"

The atmosphere is a little consumer centric.  There are extra costs for tokens to play the arcade games and win prizes and snacks available which were mostly junky carnival food like pizza and slushies.  Since our kids are toddlers and don't know any better they were easily lured to our car for snacks of dried trail mix and apples.  In a year or so we wouldn't be so lucky.  As the playground is so big it can be a challenge to supervise younger kids, but that is toddler specific.  Chris noticed that in some of the toddler areas sharp corners have been padded with duct tape. 

Lil' Monkeys Indoor Playground Inc. Review
Molly and Spiderman

Overall Rating:
I rate this playground a 3.5/5 based on value of money and distance. It was huge, with something for everyone and I think the kids will get even more out of it in a year or two (and we will go back), but at that time you'd have the added expense of actually letting them play the arcade games* or eating tons of processed sugar, which kind of defeats the purpose of the whole indoor gym.

To Read my review of other indoor playgrounds in Mississauga click here.  To read my indoor playground review from a Toronto centre click here.  If you have suggested playgrounds for me to review, please leave a comment.

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*I don't know how she did this, but my mom convinced us that it was almost as much fun to use our imaginations and just pretend we were playing the video games after we ran through the two quarters she gave each of us.  I think basically because we knew if we complained we'd get zero quarters the next time.

Thursday, 13 March 2014

When Irish Eyes are Smiling

I have always loved St. Paddy's Day, I can't quite explain it.  Maybe it's because it's the Super Bowl of drinking holidays that somehow marks that winter is coming to an end.  It's a chance to drink Guinness, maybe sit on a (heated) patio and pretend I'm more Irish than my pseudo Irish maiden name.  One of the first times that I really felt like I was missing out on having a drink was the St. Paddy's Day when I was four and a half months pregnant with the minions.  It was one of those rare days when I wasn't throwing up in a snow bank and I really felt like I was missing out.

Celebrating Everything March and Irish
Image Courtesy of Wikipedia

Here are 5 Things (mostly) worth celebrating as we await the spring equinox:

  1. The Return of McDonald's Shamrock Shake - Finding a location that carries it on March 17th is an adventure in itself...This minty treat has been around since 1970!
  2. Pi Day - Since 2009, March 14th commemorates everyones favourite mathematical constant Pi. Next year Pi Day will have special significance on 3/14/15 at 9:26:53 a.m. and p.m., with the date and time representing the first 10 digits of Pi.  Enjoy a slice for me because I don't like pie or most pastry for that matter - I'm not joking.  Tomorrow we are celebrating my mother's birthday and she unknowingly requested Pie for dessert on Pie day, which will make it really hard to find.  Since she spent the majority of my life making me a special serving of pie filling in a dessert bowl without dreaded pastry, I guess I owe it to her to fight the nerds of Toronto in search of apple pie.  If all else fails she's getting chocolate cake.*
  3. Root Beer Floats - This is what I drank on St. Paddy's Day 2011 when I was expecting.  It wasn't quite the same, but it was a fine substitution.
  4. Male Valentines Day - Apparently some radio DJ created this day to help celebrate what men really wanted for Valentines Day: steak and satisfaction.  Various meat retailers are offering coupons should you choose to participate, or just really want a nice T-Bone before you enjoy your Pi Day dessert.
  5. It's Maple Syrup Season - That's right "Tap into Spring" for an outdoor activity and demonstrations on everything maple.  Most Festivals run from early March to Early April.  For Ontario syrup events listings visit here 

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*Take that Pi Day!

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Piggy in the Mirror

When I was a kid, like many children of the 1970s and 1980s, I loved the Muppets.  My favourite characters were Gonzo, Animal and Rowlf the Dog.  Although I enjoyed the show I somehow felt that there was always something missing from my Muppet experience: I longed for a female character that I could relate to and the two most prominent female leads annoyed me.  I couldn't quite articulate why I was neither Team Janice or Team Piggy.  I mean really, was I supposed to embrace the burn out hippy or the overbearing boar who isn't complete without her man?  Miss Piggy really got under my skin in a way that Janice was just incapable of...she was bossy, overbearing, desperate, loud, aggressive and self-centred: everything that little girls aren't supposed to be.  And the faux French, come on!

Chris is a huge Muppet Fan, so a few years ago when Jason Segel's The Muppets came out, we went to see it.  I enjoyed the movie and throughout found that I was also enjoying the complexity of the character Miss Piggy.  I soon came to the conclusion that Miss Piggy wasn't written for little girls, she was written for women everywhere, flaws and all, because she's real, maybe even in a Carrie Bradshaw kind of way.  Sure she can be misguided and desperate at times (she still makes me cringe a little), and there are some rage issues, but nobody's perfect.

why miss piggy is a great role model muppets
Image courtesy of Wikipedia

Here are my Top 8 Reasons Why Miss Piggy Is A Great Role Model 

  1. She's one smart little piggy.  She ultimately became Fashion Editor at Vogue Paris.
    "The early bird gets the worm – which is what he deserves." Miss Piggy.
  2. She's a fashion icon with her own make-up line, nail polish line, clothing deals and has been in numerous fashion magazines.
    "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and it may become necessary from time to time to give a stupid or misinformed beholder a black eye." Miss Piggy.
  3. She is an advocate for being fabulous at any size.
    "Style comes in all shapes and sizes.  Therefore the bigger you are the more style you have."  Miss Piggy.
  4. She's tough, knows karate and can bend steel with her bare hands.
  5. She's loyal.
  6. She knows what she wants and she's isn't afraid to fight for it.
     "This, you see, is my ultimate ambition – to live a simple life with the frog I love." Miss Piggy.
  7. She's Funny.
    "How far should a girl go on the first date? Tucson. However, if you live in Texas, you can probably go a bit farther." Miss Piggy.
  8. She knows who she is, owns it and accepts it.
    "I don't care what you think of me, unless you think I'm awesome.  In which case you are right." Miss Piggy.

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Monday, 10 March 2014

More Than a Woman

Saturday was International Women's Day: designated over 100 years ago to celebrate women, mainly in a political and human rights themed manner, as designated (and designed) by the United Nations.

I thought long and hard about what this day means to me and what it will eventually mean to Molly.  I debated writing a letter to Molly about this day in a post, then I decided that this post should be for both of my children in the hope that I raise Jack to care about women and women's issues just as much as his sister.

toddler with red balloons, chudleighs apple orchard and farm Milton

On International Women's Day (and every day) I want you both to know the following:

You are both 100% of everything.  I hope neither of you has to struggle with earning 81% of  anyone because of your gender, orientation, class, age or any other demographic.

The other day (Molly) when you told me that you played princess all day I had to stop myself from rolling my eyes and sighing.  You then explained to me that Jack was a princess, daddy was a princess and mommy was a princess.  When I asked you what a princess was, you told me that it was someone nice, who sings, dances and likes animals.  I'm pretty okay with your interpretation of what a princess is, especially compared to the Disney version in my own head.  My issues with princesses are my own, clearly not yours.

You can be anything you want* and we will both support you.

toddler with balloon

This International Women's Day I am thankful for the following things:

Books that support princess boys and princess girls like: My Princess Boy, 10,000 Dresses and of course The Paper Bag Princess

The Bechdel Test: Essentially it's a test for movies to support better gender representation.  To qualify or pass this Swedish film rating system, your movie must:
  • Have two or more women
  • These women must talk to each other...
  • About ANYTHING other than a man. 

I am especially thankful for movies like Despicable Me and The Hunger Games that bring us strong women role models who pass the test.

Jack, your love of pink teddy bears and Molly, your insistence that you are in fact Batman, help your dad and I both unlearn a lot of the gender stereotypes we are guilty of every day.

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*Within reason and I'll support you: I hear there is a shortage of clowns, just don't become drug dealers or prostitutes (literal or figurative). I can't handle that.

Friday, 7 March 2014

Girl You'll be a Woman Soon

I read an article a while ago that talked about perceived age and that inside our heads we envision ourselves generally between the ages of 16-25 years old.  I don't know if there is actual "science" behind it, but I often forget that I am a grown up in my mid-thirties, but then sometimes I am reminded.

World's biggest muskoka Chair
Me in the "world's biggest" Muskoka (adirondack) Chair

11 Ways to Know That You Are A Genuine "Grown-Up" Woman:

  1. You resent being called M'am just as much as being called Sweetie, Hun or Honey.
  2. At least one of your parents calls you regularly for advice.
  3. You no longer draw straws with your spouse/ friends to see who is designated driver.  Someone just offers.
  4. You are executor of a will, an appointed guardian or emergency contact person to a non-family member.
  5. You have your own mechanic, plumber, chimney guy or landscaper.
  6. You've upgraded from $10 to $20 splurge wine, and it lasts all week.*
  7. You own more scarves than mini skirts.**
  8. You relate to the Ultra Downy Forever Young Ad so much that you almost cry whenever you see it.  Okay you totally cry.
  9. Your friends leave behind their beer in your fridge after a party and it's still there the next time they come over.
  10. A key requirement for a great work purse is that it has to be big enough to carry a spare pair of shoes, your lunch,  1-2 commuter books and your e-reader. 
  11. You eat cereal for dinner for the fibre. 

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*Who am I kidding....that's happened like twice.
**To see 7 Reasons why I think Scarves are amazing click here

Thursday, 6 March 2014

You Ought to be in Pictures

In the mornings, when we're trying to get everyone out the door, lately Jack has been a wreck.  He's been non-communicative, indecisive, emotional and inconsolable.*  During a particularly rough meltdown Jack turned bright red and wouldn't stop crying no matter what I tried.  As he stood there in his crib, refusing to let me any where near him or telling me what was wrong, I was reminded of the toddler character Toby from the movie Labyrinth with his incessant crying.   Toby's non-stop crying drove his petulant, whiny half sister Sarah to wish that the goblins just take him away.  Fortunately David Bowie and his cod piece have not made an appearance in our nursery, yet.

crying Toby Labyrinth movie
This is Toby from Labyrinth, not Jack.

I began to think about other moments I've experienced, in frustration, as a parent and how they've been reflected throughout fiction and the media.  The only other display of the sheer frustration of parenthood that came to mind was the infamous scene in Alice in Wonderland where Alice stands helplessly while the crying baby turns into a pig: this scene embodies every little girl feeling of helplessness that I felt during the months of colic with Molly.

When I asked Chris why he thought there was a pointed absence of crying babies from fiction or media his answer was simple, "Because it's annoying." Fair point (see above plea to Jareth the Goblin King).  No wonder parents feel like failures: we are constantly surrounded by near perfect TV or movie babies who act like accessories.

Below are 8 ways popular culture has lied to me about being a parent:
  1. Maggie Simpson: She's quiet, undemanding and she's capable of leading an uprising army of babies.  None of the above are true of my children, except for maybe the third one.
  2. John Cusakesque "babies are great epiphany moments": I have yet to meet a real life male species who has one of these legendary male kicks to their figurative biological clocks with children that don't even belong to them.
  3. Commercials for Pull up diapers:  Any potty training parent knows that there a lot more instances of said child peeing on the floor or all over your suit jacket right before a meeting than there are of high fives and giggles.
  4. The Silent Toddler Boy Twins: How undetectable the toddler twin boys are in the early seasons of Everybody Loves Raymond should be frightening to any parent.  Although having twin toddler boys may be somewhat of an explanation why the character of Deborah is such a giant B.**
  5. Celebrity mom's on Magazines: I get it you're beautiful when you're pregnant and during your post-partem reveal: I'm talking about you Kate Middleton with your toned abs and down to earth vacations while you dote on baby George.  
  6. Do you remember Rachel and Ross's daughter Emma on Friends?:  Me neither because she appears, barely, in only 21 episodes of the possible 45 since her birth, usually silently, the only reason she ever causes a ruckus is because Rachel chooses a Manny (male nanny).  I literally had to look up her name.  
  7. Don't get me started on Ross's son Ben:  That poor bugger only gets 16 episodes over 10 seasons. 
  8. There are a lot of unbelievable things about Breaking Bad:  Chris gets particularly miffed over Skylar's ability to get in a full day's work at the office bookkeeping with her infant daughter at her side.  Lesson learned, Who needs daycare anyway?  If your boss complains, just sleep with him?
 That being said if all we saw were babies turning into swine or screaming Toby, maybe we wouldn't have children in the first place.

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*Pretty much like his dad in the morning.
**She knew what she was getting into when she married into the family.  You can't tell me that Doris Roberts sat silently in the corner during the courtship stage of their fictional relationship.

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Never Gonna Give You Up

Pancake Tuesday is something that Chris and I have celebrated ever since we've been together.  It's not that we're loading up on 'cakes so we can fast for 40 Days and 40 nights for Lent*, but because it's always been a break from the winter blahs and something we've always done with Chris' sister and her family.  Pancake Tuesday has always been a bit of a "Winter is almost over" celebration for us.

The thing about Pancake Tuesday is that it roams, just like Easter, all around your calendar so it's not like you know that it happens on March 17th each year like St. Paddy's Day.  Side bar: Can you imagine the increased level of green beer induced debauchery should the two ever collide?  I'm guessing Catholics who give up something for Lent aren't usually found at the local pub swilling green food colouring  followed by a stop at McDonalds for a Shamrock Shake on March 17th.**

toddler with shamrock st. paddys day hat

The thing about our Pancake Tuesday celebration is that it's almost never on the correct day.  Winter illness, work schedules and other activities often prevent us from hitting the date.  This year Chris and I forgot that it is Shrove Tuesday until 7:45 in the morning during daycare drop off when a three year old gleefully boasted of the pancake feast he was about to enjoy.  Chris and I curiously looked at the menu schedule at daycare to see why this kid was so jazzed about breakfast before it dawned on us.

Unfortunately, once again we are not able to connect with Chris' sister and family today to eat breakfast for dinner, although we will feast on pancakes together soon, mark my words.    Tonight we will celebrate alone as there is bacon, eggs and strawberries in my fridge and syrup and pancake mix in my pantry.  We will bring out Chris' grandmothers' old griddle and cook:  Flap Jacks, order up, large size!

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*Do your remember that movie 40 Days and 40 Nights starring Josh Hartnett where he gives up sex for Lent?  Whatever happened to that guy?
**It's impossible...I already looked it up....the latest Shrove Tuesday can fall is on March 10th.