June 2007

This has been bugging me. I’ve been re-reading the entire Harry Potter series since some time in February or March, and I’ve got three weeks to finish re-reading Half Blood Prince before the last one comes out.

If you are even remotely a fan, I highly recommend doing this, by the way. I read the first three books back in 2000 or so, and have read each subsequent one as it came out. (That and blogging may well have been the only two times in my life I was even incrementally ahead of the pop culture bandwagon instead of running behind it, begging to be let on.) Anyway, re-reading them has made me even more of a fan, and I’m going to be hugely disappointed when the last one is done and there’s nothing left to anticipate.

But something is bugging me – well, aside from the central question around the ending of Half Blood Prince, which at least will likely be answered by the last book. But in the Order of the Phoenix, they have those flying skeletal horses – Thestrals? – that you can only see if you’ve witnessed death. Harry can see them by the beginning of the fifth book because he’s witnessed Cedric’s death in the Triwizard Tournament. But the central mythology around Harry is that when Voldemort tried to kill Harry his mother’s love protected him, so Voldemort killed his parents instead. Wouldn’t Harry have therefore witnessed his parents’ death as well, especially since when he encounters the Dementors he talks about hearing his mother screaming? So hasn’t he technically witnessed his parents’ death as well?

This kind of things are keeping me up at night…


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Yay day!

by DaniGirl on June 27, 2007 · 26 comments

in Tristan, yay day

See how nice I am to you? I’m about to brag blatantly, but I’ll turn it into a yay day so you can brag, too.

We got Tristan’s report card this week. They ‘grade’ them on a four point scale, from “needs to work on this skill” to “beginning to develop” to “meets developmental expectations” to “exceeds expectations”. He met developmental expectations in most areas – math and science and art. He knows all his letters except for Q, and can count past 40 in English and to 28 in French. He can also follow simple directions in both languages, and remembers his vocabulary in both languages well.

(I must admit I’m still just a little bit entertained that they grade four-year olds in junior kindergarten on math and science and art, to be honest. I kind of expected to get a report that said either ‘does’ or ‘does not’ eat paste and colour within the lines. They take this educational stuff pretty seriously right out of the gate.)

He got a few “beginning to develop” in some areas where we already knew he needs to put in a little more effort – writing his letters, for one, but mostly in areas like following instruction and social skills. He still follows his own mind a little more often than the teacher’s instructions, but he’s come miles and miles from that first week, where we got called in for “the talk.”

So while I’m proud that he did well overall, and the comments reflect a bright, happy little boy who is a pleasure to have in the classroom, who enjoys role play and music and story time and interacting with his peers, there were two areas where his teachers said he excelled. He got a ‘4’ for exceeds expectations in oral communication and reading. I’m really not surprised that my boy is particularly literate, given that I can say without modesty that he comes from exceptionally literate people, but I’m proud nonetheless.

We survived the first year. The lovely part is not so much that I’m looking forward to the next year of challenges, but that Tristan is. That’s my boy.

And now, after all that, I turn the microphone over to you. What makes the sun shine in your world today?

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Knock knock

by DaniGirl on June 26, 2007 · 16 comments

in Life, the Universe and Everything

Tristan told his first joke the other day.

“How do you stop a cat from meowing in the back seat?”

“You throw him in the front seat.”

I laughed, partly because lame though it was, I’d never heard it before, but mostly because I was delighted that Tristan joins a long line of ancestry in love with bad jokes.

Of course, that was immediately followed by a thousand nonsensical and increasingly unfunny versions from both boys, including “How do you get a pepperoni to stop pizzaing in the back seat?” “You put it in the front seat.” If nothing else, they got the format down pat.

Previously, knock-knock jokes reigned supreme. My repitoire for knock-knock jokes is unparalleled.

Knock-knock.
Who’s there?
Isabelle.
Isabelle who?
Isabelle broken? I had to knock.

Knock-knock.
Who’s there?
Police.
Police who?
Po-lice open the door, it’s freezing out here.

Knock-knock.
Who’s there?
Dwayne.
Dwayne who?
Dwayne the bathtub, I’m dwowning!

The boys are good at memorizing them, but also favour the non-seqitor over an actual pun. For instance:

Knock-knock.
Who’s there?
C3p0.
C3p0 who?
C3P0 ate spaghetti for dinner!

I think we need some new material. Care to dip into your repretoire and share your fave kid jokes?


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You think he learned this in school?

by DaniGirl on June 25, 2007 · 7 comments

in Ah, me boys

We’re driving back from the Carp Farmer’s Market, a bag containing fudge and homemade salsa and fresh cukes and tomatoes at my feet. The boys are chattering in the back seat as we meander through the back roads bisecting rolling countryside.

“Mom, I know how to say cow in French,” Tristan informs me as we pass a herd of Holsteins noshing in a nearby field.

“Oh yes?” I ask. “How do you say cow in French?”

Vache!” he announces with authority. I confirm he’s right, and tell him that the French word for horse is cheval. The boys continue to discuss French and English for a while, until out of the blue, Simon asks me the French word for penis. I am neither entirely that the version of the term I know colloquially is the appropriate clinical translation nor sure that my 3 and 5 year olds need it in their vocabulary, so I tell him I’m not sure.

“R-3-8-H-M,” says Simon. “That spells PENIS!”

I decline to comment. Tristan does not.

“No, no, Simon,” Tristan says. “This is how you spell penis.” He thinks for a minute. “P-E-N-N-E. That spells penis. Oh wait, there’s an S too. Um, P-E-N-N-S. That spells penis. Yep, P-E-N-N-S spells penis.”

I shoot a look at Beloved, who is concentrating very hard on the empty road in front of us, the little muscle in his jaw flickering in the effort not to laugh. Personally, I’m conflicted. Spelling words out loud is a new talent of Tristan’s. Do I praise his effort? Celebrate the mentorship over his younger brother? Correct his spelling? Feign deafness and ignore the entire exchange?

Some milestones are more ignominious than others. We continue through the pastoral countryside, both boys misspelling penis at the top of their lungs. I can hardly wait for the 10-hour road trip.


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The title to this post is a bumper sticker from the American College of Obstretricians and Gynecologists quoted in an article about “freebirth” in today’s Citizen. The article discusses the apparently increasingly popular choice of some expecting mothers to deliver baby at home with no medical professionals in attendance – no doctor, no midwife, no doula.

Um, no thanks.

(I’m sure my mother is breathing a sigh of relief right about now.)

I guess I’m a moderate on this particular spectrum. I have to admit, I’m a little cynical of people who choose “convenience” c-sections. (We had an interesting discussion about this last year.) And note here I’m talking about convenience c-sections and am in no way being critical of c-sections in general – hell, that’s how I debuted almost 38 years ago.

On the other hand, while I can appreciate on an intellectual level why someone would choose an unmedicated child birth, I’d no sooner choose to have my wisdom teeth pulled without medication than try to birth a child without it. The irony is that my body is particularly unresponsive to the epidural, and after hours of tinkering with the “cocktails” both boys were fired out pretty much without the benefit of anesthesia.

While I would never choose a home birth, and certainly not an unassisted one (and again, please let me say that this is not a criticism of those who do – just one girl’s humble opinion on what’s best for her parts and her babies) I have to admit that for the first time I’m idly considering switching from an obstetrician to a midwife.

(My mother is shaking her head in dismay.)

I’ve actually always rather enjoyed my obstetrician’s clinical professionalism. If I remember correctly, she once served at the chief of obstetrics at the hospital where the boys were born. We’ve had some pretty traumatic moments with her, from the elevated risk of Down syndrome with Tristan to the miscarriage last year, and while she was never exactly warm or comforting, I was always reassured by my faith in her capability. And yet, because of the nature of her practice, she hasn’t been present at the birth of either boy.

A midwife appeals to me because of the extra attention implied in midwife care: the extra hand-holding, extended appointments, and after-birth care. Truthfully, I don’t even know that much about midwives and the regulations that govern them here in Ontario. Last I heard, if you have a midwife in attendance at a hospital birth, you are encouraged to leave soon afterward, as opposed to the 48 hours that you stay if you have an OB in attendance. Is that right? And midwives are covered under OHIP (public health insurance), right?

Anyway, I likely won’t change – but I’m curious. Where do you find yourself on the continuum – freebirth advocate or convenience c-section or somewhere in between?


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For more than a year, Beloved and I have been talking about getting a digital SLR camera. We started talking about it in abstract terms, a “someday” kind of wistfullness. Beloved is a master at overcoming my resistance to the purchase of new home electronics – I was opposed to the DVD player, the laptop, and our current point-and-shoot digital camera, to name just a few of the things I completely opposed in principal and have since come to know and love. But over the last six months, the “someday” wistfullness has crystalized into me searching sites for product reviews, best prices, and feature comparisons.

The problem with the digital SLR is that I really, really want one. I took a couple of photography classes over the years, and I was just getting comfortable using my dad’s 20 year old Canon AE1 hand-me-down when we capitulated to the world of digital point-and-shoot cameras back in 2003. I think I’m a pretty good photographer, and I already know my way around f-stops and focal lengths and aperture, and would really like to have the chance to try out those skills on a digital SLR. I want one, but I can clearly see that we don’t need one.

I do love our little Canon Power Shot (or is it a Sure Shot?) and it’s done us well over the year, but I fear after a scant four years, it’s on its way to meet its maker. They have a bad reputation for the LED screen dying after just a few years, and ours has already lasted longer than some other friends of ours who have the same make and model. At the time, we spent more than $500 including taxes and warranties, so if we’re going to have to get a new camera anyway, it seems reasonable to me to spend the extra and splurge on the digital SLR.

And then my cheap side speaks up and chastises me for coveting something so expensive when we already have a perfectly functioning (so far) camera that takes lovely pictures. And I start thinking that for the price of an entry-level digital SLR (and the taxes, and the warranty, and whatever accessories we absolutely must have) we could replace our ugly, unmatched and quickly deteriorating living room furniture. Or we could do a really good job of turning our partly finished basement into a kick-ass playroom/family room. Or we could replace the ugly sky-blue carpet that I hate so much with at least laminate on the main floor, if not hardwood. Or, you know, we could do the responsible and adult thing and pay down some of our rather outrageous consumer debt. Yah right, as if that’s going to happen.

In my brand and feature comparisons, I’ve narrowed my choices down to a basic Canon Rebel and a Nikon D40. Since we already have a Canon, I understand that the couple of hundred dollars’ worth of memory cards we have would be compatible, which is a definite selling point. Plus, as I said, my dad has a lovely if not antiquated Canon AE1 with some very cool lenses, some of which may (or may not) be compatible with a new theoretical Rebel, should we be able to convince him to donate them to our cause.

I even toyed with the idea of picking one up while we’re down in the States, but Beloved loves his extended warranties, and I’m not sure how well they’d translate cross-border. Besides, with the Canadian dollar creeping towards par, I’m not sure the savings would be huge or worth it.

I’m on the fence, but canted dangerously at an 85 degree angle towards capitulating to my desire. So, whaddya think? Do you have a digital SLR? Do you have any recommendations, tips or thoughts? Go on, convince me. Beloved will thank you for it!

Edited to add: Thanks for all your comments and opinions. You twisted my rubber arm. We are now proud owners of a Nikon D40. I’m in love!


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Bloggy navel-gazing

20 June 2007 Memes

I started out writing this post thinking about a meme I saw over on Mad Hatter’s blog a while back. I thought it was a neat question, and I loved Mad’s answer. Mine isn’t so impressive as Mad’s, but I still thought it would make good blog fodder. 1. Go back to your first or […]

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Mitigating risks

19 June 2007 Postcards from my uterus

When I posted yesterday about eating meat straight out of the bag in the Farm Boy parking lot, Loukia commented that pregnant women are not supposed to eat cold cuts. Hey, I never said they were cold cuts – it was raw steak I was snarfing in the hot June sun. Okay, so that’s not […]

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7 1/2 week update

18 June 2007 Postcards from my uterus

How do you spot the pregnant chick in the Farm Boy parking lot? She’s the one rooting through the bags recently deposited into the back of the station wagon, eating the meat directly out of the package. *** I’ve just been for my first ultrasound, and everything looks great. One wee baby snuggled in just […]

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Blogger hiccups?

15 June 2007 Editorial asides

Hmmm, I seem to be having some trouble publishing my posts. Well, I’m fine but Blogger – not so much. A couple of weeks ago, someone mentioned that although they could see comments that obviously related to a post from that day, the most recent post she could see was from two days before. The […]

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