Tuesday, November 22, 2011

How On Earth Does a Toddler Know About Chocolate Packaging!

This morning we went to the grocery store to get some Almond Milk and Aias saw a bin of these:

He ran up to the bin and said: "Yum! Chocolate Num! Eat! Me Eat!"

Seriously? Aias has had chocolate and candy probably... 6-7 times in his short 2 year life. Never once has the chocolate or candy looked like this.  We've never even owned a piece of chocolate that looked like this.  I have no idea how he can look at these shiny, round, colorful balls and have any idea that chocolate is inside them, unless he can secretly read. 

What the heck! How does he know that it isn't peas or salmon eggs wrapped up in there? How on earth can he possibly know that these are foiled wrapped chocolates?

Maybe I will buy myself some Christmas foil and wrap up some healthy foods.  Something tells me he will be onto my game regardless.

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Monday, November 21, 2011

The Gems and Jewels of Occupy Vancouver

We support the Occupy movement and have from the beginning.  We took a few trips to Occupy Vancouver over the past few weeks just to have a look and to check out the general assembly.  Politics and debate over Occupy aside, I wanted to share a few little gems and jewels of occupy Vancouver that I found particularly heartwarming/community oriented.  These are the things we will remember about the movement here.

1. A Geodesic Dome!
By the time we got to photograph this it was almost completely dismantled, but the frame of this structure is what we love the most anyway.  All of those domes we have made in the past were really just practice for someday making a dome similar to this one.  Look closely at the awesome connecting points!

And of course, a lovely branch hanging from the center of the dome:

2. A Library
The first time we dropped in to Occupy to have a look, we went into this little library, "the people's lovely library," and had a look.  Inside were books that had been donated, materials to help people access social services, zines, and resources.  There were children's books donated for families in the family zone and the volunteer running the library was very sweet to us and Aias.  People were sitting and reading on couches in the back.

3. A Free Vegetarian Cafeteria
This blew our minds: a full functioning, outdoor vegetarian cafeteria.  The food is free or by donation and it sure smelled delicious!

4. An Open Place to Share
I  love this because it shows a little bit of organization in what people perceive to be a sea of chaos.  
5. More Organization
Faded over the weeks...

6. The Red Tents
Red Tent is a national campaign to end homelessness initiated by Pivot Legal Society and allied organizations who believe the time to end homelessness is now. We'd never seen these tents before. 

7. The Signs
I wish we had taken more pictures of the signs. Morgan took this one because he thought it was particularly funny, but maybe that's us just being snobs since we actually can't name a single Kardashian sister (who are they! what do they even do!). 

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Sunday, November 20, 2011

What Every Crayon Wants To Be When It Grows Up...

I saw this on Pinterest and I had to do it. I am so happy I did... I love this project so hard.

You need:


You glue the crayons where you want them (with or without the wrappers on), put the crayon covered canvas on newspaper to avoid a mess, then just run the hairdryer on them until they melt in the way you desire.

This project feels so gratifying.  As you run the hot air over the crayons, you can find little techniques and angles to direct the hot wax in the way you want it.  It's really addicting and halfway through this one I was planning my next. The next one is going to get glitter thrown on it ;)  I would never in my life have guessed that gluing crayons onto a canvas and melting them with a hairdryer could be so therapeutic.  I'm going to do the next one when Aias is awake because I think he will get a kick out of this.

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Thursday, November 17, 2011

Easy, Non-Toxic Homemade Finger Paints for Busy Toddlers

Around our place, finger painting is an activity reserved for the bathtub.  We've tried a couple varieties.  First, the type from the dollar store, which seemed ok until I thought a little too hard about what may be in them (made in China, lead, who knows). Another time I purchased a fancy organic variety which were nice but would be too expensive to do on a regular basis.

I came across an article with instructions on making your own homemade finger paints so I figured I'd give it a try, and I'm glad I did!

The finger paints took about 10 minutes to make.  Here's how you do it:

You'll Need:
- Small saucepan
- 3 tablepoons sugar
- 1/2 cup cornstarch
- Food colouring
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups warm water
- Containers for the different colours

You simply put the sugar, cornstarch, salt and water in a pan and warm until it starts to thicken.

At first it will look like watery milk and as it thickens it turns quickly to a clear jelly as if by magic.  Once it's all clear jelly, take it off the heat. Divide it into cups that will be different colours, add food colouring, cool and use.

We only used 2 drops of food colouring in each cup so ours weren't very dark.  He just uses them for 30 minutes or so in the tub and then they get washed away so I didn't see the point of using a ton of colour.

We followed this recipe exactly and ours ended up very, very solid and jelly like.  In fact, after a little while of playing it basically became a slime like jelly solid.  It sort of felt like vaseline.  Anyway, it worked perfectly for what we used it for, but if you want to use it on actual paper I'd suggest lots of dye and less cornstarch.

Aias kept tasting it and saying "NUM!" but the girl who created the recipe said she wouldn't exactly market it as a snack or anything. 

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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Virtues of Earplug Use In Parenting Your Toddler

When people found out I was pregnant with Aias, they'd sometimes say "better get yourself some earplugs!" to which I would always smile and nod, and then make a mental note that said person was horrible in obviously advocating that I put earplugs in as my child screams.  Smile and nod... smile and nod...

In all honesty, I didn't really need earplugs in parenting Aias because we never really let him cry and he's never been very loud to begin with. That is, until this past week.

Aias was quite sick for the first time ever and part of this sickness was a cold.  Unfortunately, the snot was (of course) trapped in his nose because a young 2-year old won't often allow you to suck snot out of their nose and is also a tad too young to effectively teach them nose blowing. During the day, Aias's nose sounds fine, but at night...

OH.MY.GOD.SO.LOUD.  It sounded like the snoring of 10 full grown men. In case you don't believe me, turn up the volume on your computer, put your head against the speaker, and play the video below.  Oh, and don't worry, the sound isn't coming from his chest, just his nose. 

Two nights ago we all went to bed at 10pm, Aias between us as usual. Morgan fell asleep immediately.  Aias fell asleep immediately. And then it began... the loudest snoring I have EVER heard.  You could hear it from the furthest points in our home, even with the door closed.  But of course, the snoring was RIGHT next to my ear.  Granted, I was thrilled my kid was still breathing, especially after being so sick. Unfortunately, I basically need silence to sleep.  I stewed for a couple hours listening to the loud snoring, and then I tried to pull a ninja move in an effort to go sleep on the couch.  It was no use: the second I moved Aias was crying because I had left the bed.  I did the worst thing I could have done and picked up him and carried him into the living room with me. Instantly he was awake.  He asked to play with the play-doh, I allowed it (I'm weak when exhausted I guess).

So there we were, at 1am, Aias playing on the living room floor with the Play-Doh and me frantic and tired out of my mind.  I desperately Googled alternatives to earplugs. The only results that came up were cotton balls, and a bunch of people saying they had used silly putty followed by pages and pages of comments on how this is the stupidest thing in the world you could possibly do. I seriously considered the Play-Doh... but managed to resist.  I found myself desperately trying to think of something... ANYTHING... that I could stuff in my ears. 

It was 1:30am and the store wasn't a possibility (no car, nearest open pharmacy a good km away).  While earplugs were only 50 cents away, I couldn't get to them.  After about 30 minutes I decided I would wrestle Aias and get the saline spray up his nose. I was victorious, but only half, because the entire thing pissed him off to no end.  At least before that he was in a good mood!  To add insult to injury, the saline didn't make it better... it was equally as loud, just now more disgusting sounding.

We took to the toddler bed, where Aias was willing to lay down and nurse, all the while snoring as loudly as ever.

And there we spent the next 6 hours, myself mostly awake, far worse off than I was in the bed because now I couldn't even stretch my legs.

The next day I went to London Drugs and bought earplugs. Last night I wore the earplugs and IT WAS GLORIOUS!  Not only did I not hear the snoring, but I didn't have to hear other things such as drunk people outside or our dog licking his butt.

Now, I wouldn't suggest earplugs for every parent... earplugs are small and if they fell out of your ears at night your kid could conceivably choke on them. You could also not hear a fire alarm or your kid getting hurt or calling out to you, etc.  However, there's a time and place for everything and let me tell you, this was the time and place for earplugs.

So yeah, you are having a baby? Better get some earplugs.

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Monday, November 14, 2011

A True Story About a Toddler and a Dog Crate

I was just thinking of hilarious moments with Aias and I remembered this one.

We moved in September and it was HELL unpacking and moving with a toddler. He was seriously into everything; I think it literally took 5x as long to do it all.  If it weren't for a few friends helping us look after him during the whole process, we'd still be unpacking.

We basically had 1,000 things to move/unpack, but the last thing we unpacked was our dog's crate (because we don't really use it).  I set it up in the bedroom so I could put the dog in it while we moved some big things in and out of the apartment.  Immediately upon setting it up, Aias crawled into the crate. He didn't want to get out.  He stayed in the crate with his Lego for 40 minutes straight.  He only got out in the first place because I had to lure him out. 


Now, I wouldn't normally suggest crating a child (duh) but I have to admit... knowing what I know now, if I had to do it again, I'd be unpacking that dog crate first.

Evidently the dog will be happy to trade spots any time...

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Saturday, November 12, 2011

Nothing Tylenol, Pedialyte Popsicles and A Few Balloons Can't Fix...

Aias isn't feeling well today; at one point he even had a fever of 40.5C.  We gave him some Tylenol, Pedialyte Popsicles, and a few balloons to cheer him up...

Hurry up, dad! Blow up my balloons!

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Friday, November 11, 2011

My Thoughts on Remembrance Day...

Today is Remembrance Day. For a week or so, nearly everyone in the city has been wearing a red poppy pinned to their clothes in honour of this day. On the 11th hour of the eleventh minute, participants will take a moment of silence to honour fallen soldiers.

I've been talking about Remembrance Day and the poppies with quite a few people in the past weeks, and most of what I hear is really respectful and in favour of this day.  Of course, a few people I've spoken with have said they feel disgust and shame toward Remembrance Day because they feel it glorifies war. I'm not a big fan of war myself so I can understand this perspective, and as always, I respect everyone's right to their own interpretation and opinion of the world around them. 

Here's what I think of Remembrance Day:

As a parent, I think of Remembrance Day as a day to remember a group of people who have had their lives cut short.

It's not about loving war, or blood lust, or whether wars are just or unjust.  It's about a man or woman, son or daughter, husband or wife, grandparent, cousin, friend, lover, sister, brother, who lost their life.

Whether you think they gave their life for an important reason or if you think it was entirely in vain, at the heart of Remembrance Day is the fact that every soldier was, at one point, a precious child.

The pride and joy of a family.

A person who spent time in the body of an anxious and excited pregnant mother, a person whose family gathered in celebration when they were born, a child who took first steps as their parents watched with a smile on their face, a child who looked at simple things in wonder and a child with dreams.

A child whose parents held their breathe at the sight of their child tripping over a rock or scraping their knee, and breathed a sigh of relief upon realizing their child was ok.

A child whose parents worried about the safety and future of that child 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, from the second they knew they would become parents.

A child who grew up, joined the military for whatever reason, and lost their life too soon.

On this day we remember people who were precious to many and who never returned home.  Whether you "believe" in war or not, the loss of any person is a tragic and sad thing, and we take the time today to remember this.

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Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Reproductive Freedom is a Two-Way Street: 20 Kids and Counting

I'll start this by stating a few things:

1.  This post isn't in regard to any specific thing I've read on anyone's Facebook or blog (ie: this blog post isn't a passive aggressive response to something anyone I know wrote about this topic)

2.  Everything I know about the Duggar Family is from the Wikipedia aticle I just read today (we don't have cable so I am not up to date on all these reality shows)

This morning I checked my social network feeds on my phone and I was bombarded with tweets, texts, facebook status updates and blog entries all about Michelle Duggar of 19 Kids and Counting.  The news? Michelle is pregnant with her 20th baby.  The Duggar family has been in the spotlight over the last few years because of having 19 children.  In fact, their reality show, "19 Kids and Counting," was originally titled "17 Kids and Counting" and then "18 Kids and Counting."  The Wikipedia article and a simple Google search yield all sorts of interesting facts, such as photos of their giant house and details on how they get by everyday.  Interesting stuff for sure, definitely the sort of thing good reality shows are made of.

So how were people reacting to this news?  Well, in various ways*:

- Michelle Duggar should be fixed
- It's disgusting/selfish/ridiculous for her to have so many kids
- Michelle is irresponsible for having another child when her youngest child was born premature and had many health problems
- It's none of anyone's business how many children people have as long as they aren't asking for "a handout"
- Someone should force birth control on Michelle Duggar
- It's "ok" for her to have more kids because the ones she has are well behaved
- Michelle Duggar should get an abortion
- Michelle Duggar should be forced to get an abortion

*These aren't actual quotes, they are just examples of the types of things I've seen written in response to this pregnancy announcement

First off, let me just state that I will never have 20 kids.  20 kids is not for me and I don't think they'd all fit in my apartment.  My gut reaction to this pregnancy announcement is "wow I'm glad that's not me" and maybe a little of "wow their carbon footprint must be enormous." I'll even admit that some of the comments above appeal to my inner judgmental jerk.  However, I've spent some time today thinking about some of those comments and what it really comes down to for me is that above all, I'm a huge advocate for reproductive freedom:
Reproductive rights rest on the recognition of the basic right of all couples and individuals to decide freely and responsibly the number, spacing and timing of their children and to have the information and means to do so, and the right to attain the highest standard of sexual and reproductive health. They also include the right of all to make decisions concerning reproduction free of discrimination, coercion and violence.[2]
I'm very pro-choice.  Part of being pro-choice means that I think a woman should have the right to choose that they do not want to continue with a pregnancy and that women should have the right to end an unwanted pregnancy. On the other side of this, I believe that a woman should have the right to choose to continue with a pregnancy, choose to have a child or children if she wants to, and that it is NO ONE'S choice to decide otherwise for her. I'm sure a lot of people think that pro-choice individuals are in love with abortion and birth control, but this simply isn't the case. The reality is being pro-choice is really all about...choice.  The ability to choose EITHER WAY about reproduction. Sometimes that even means accepting that someone may want to fill a 15 passenger van with their own children. 

Now I want to just revisit some of the statements above, and view them from the perspective of not only respecting a woman's reproductive rights but from the perspective of the liberal feminist socialist hippy that I obviously am.

- Michelle Duggar should be fixed/Michelle Duggar should get an abortion/Michelle Duggar should be forced to get an abortion/Someone should force birth control on Michelle Duggar
These statements probably terrify me the most.  The idea that a woman should be forced into using drugs or reproductive methods against their will, be forced into aborting their child or be sterilized against their will absolutely disgusts me.  I'm not sure how many more details I should really need to get into on this topic. 

- It's disgusting/selfish/ridiculous for her to have so many kids
Part of respecting reproductive freedom is respecting the idea that yes, some people are going to have more children than you would choose to have.  The key term here is "choice."  I realize we're at 7 billion people on our planet. I realize there are some environmental criticisms of having multiple (or any) children.  Again: choice. I highly doubt anyone would feel it's their place to tell a friend or family member how many children they should have, so I'm not sure it's very prudent to pass judgment on someone you have never even met.

- Michelle is irresponsible for having another child when her youngest child was born premature and had many health problems
I personally know many people who have given birth to premature infants or infants with health problems, and it would never in a million years occur to me to tell them that they shouldn't have another child because of that.  In fact, as someone who knows how stressful it can be to give birth to full term healthy infant, I can't imagine the strength it must require to have lost a child or have given birth to a premature or ill child and then be able to go forward with another pregnancy.  I personally had to make a choice of whether or not to get an amniocentesis in my pregnancy due to a screening that indicated that Aias had a high chance of having down's syndrome and I went through with the pregnancy not knowing what the outcome would be. I didn't do this haphazardly or with my head in my ass.  Rest assured the Duggars have thought this one through.  Finally, I can't imagine the sting it must feel to parents of premature or unhealthy children when they read a response like this one.

- It's none of anyone's business how many children people have as long as they aren't asking for "a handout"
This bothers me on a political and economic level because I truly believe that all human beings deserve not "handouts" but social services in form of compassion, food, a safe place to live, health care, etc.  Yes it's ideal that the Duggar Family makes enough money to pay for their children, but families with 1+ children that accept social assistance should not have to be made to feel like they are lesser beings or that their children are any less valid.  In short, a person who receives social assistance is not any less valid as a human than a person who never receives it.  To take this a step further, I don't think a person's income should dictate whether or not they are entitled to have a child should they decide they want to.  I don't think a rich person should have freedom to reproduce but a poor person should have to leave that decision up to someone else.

- It's "ok" for her to have more kids because the ones she has are well behaved
Two parts to this: first off, it's no one's role to validate this pregnancy for Michelle Duggar because it's HER body and HER choice to have another child if she wishes.  Whether it's "ok" or not for her to have another child is up to her.  Second, her children are autonomous beings and while it's very impressive how polite and well behaved her children are, their behavior doesn't make them any more or less valid as human beings. 

I realize I may be looking too deeply into some of these comments, and I know that the people I know who have criticized Michelle Duggar meant it 100% tongue in cheek and as a gut reaction and would never actually you know, force abortion or birth control on a human being.  I also know that it's sort of fun news to gossip about at work or with your friends and it does seem a bit outrageous when you hear about it for the first time.  At the same time, I really enjoy thinking about news like this in a different light as it gives me a chance to exercise my mind and really put my values in check and I suggest you do the same. While the idea of someone having 20 kids may seem like a tough pill to swallow for someone concerned about the environment, overpopulation, etc, it's important to remember that reproductive freedom is an important battle to fight for as well.
Image by Keith Freeman

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