April 2005

Adventures with Ann

by DaniGirl on April 29, 2005 · 6 comments

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Yesterday, I was lucky enough to meet someone in person whom I feel like I have already been friends with a long time. I met Ann Douglas, famous (and infamous?) Canadian parenting expert, writing mentor and blogging queen, and let me start out by assuring you she is even sweeter in person than she seems in her books and blog. Hard to believe, isn’t it?

My account could never be as exciting or detailed as Marla’s story of her meeting with Ann in Toronto, although I think it would be a good contest to see which one of us could outlast the other for sheer verbosity some day!

Ann was giving her talk about four ways to help improve kids’ health at a local Chapters store. I managed to get there a little bit early, and found Ann already looking poised and relaxed in the lecture area, chatting with some official looking people who I later found out are her “handlers”. Hmmm, I could use some handlers in my life!

Just as I was about to approach her, I got a case of the shys, but Ann’s quick smile and friendly hug put me right at ease. That, and she had a “present” for me – my free autographed Mother of All Parenting Books, plus lovely smelly bath salts and soap, that I won from my entry in her parents in the movies contest. I love presents! We chatted for a few minutes, but I figured I’d best stop completely monopolizing her time when a local TV news crew showed up and started setting up.

I met up with a couple of girlfriends (Hi Robin! Hi Anna! Hi Sharon!) and we settled in to hear Ann’s lecture. She spoke about things you can do to help tip the health roulette wheel in your kids’ favour – good nutrition, including family dinners together; regular exercise; practice good handwashing techniques; and, consider getting the recommended immunizations for your kids. (See Ann, I was paying attention!)

Here she is doing the Q and A portion of her lecture. Doesn’t she look professional? She’s a great speaker by the way, if you don’t mind the fact that she gets distracted by cute babies (don’t we all?)

The aforementioned news crew filmed most of the talk and the Qs and As. My not-so-subtle friend Robin kept poking me during the Qs and As, encouraging me to ask a question so the camera would turn our way and she could lean in and be on TV. Which I did, because I am such a good friend.

When I later related this story to Beloved, he was amazed that I in fact needed to be goaded on this. He said he was surprised I wasn’t standing on my chair waving to get the camera’s attention, thrusting my travel-sized photo album of the boys toward the lens. I am thinking maybe I am getting the reputation of being a little bit of a media whore. I’m going to have to work on that.

Here’s a nice picture of Ann and me together that Robin took.

It was really great having the opportunity to meet Ann in person, and of course to collect my free stuff! I have a small collection of autographed Canadian literature, so Ann will take her rightful space on my shelf along with Douglas Coupland, Mordechai Richler, Margaret Atwood and others.

I was reading the first few pages of The Mother of All Parenting Books as I waited for Beloved earlier this afternoon, and having just chatted with Ann in person I was blown away by how well the books capture her voice exactly. I think that’s what I’ve enjoyed about all the “Mother of All…” books – the friendly voice that makes it seem more tips and thoughts from your sister or best friend than pedagogic lectures from a self-important expert.

Thanks, Ann! I hope you enjoyed your brief visit in the nation’s capital, and I hope you make it back this way soon!


Spring cleaning

by DaniGirl on April 28, 2005 · 7 comments

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What it is about spring that makes me so antsy? Gotta gotta clean up the yard, gotta loose some weight, gotta reinvent blog…

Okay, maybe not reinvent blog, but I’ve been thinking about making some changes. When I started blog, I wanted a simple style that was fairly minimalist. This template from Blogger was good enough to get me started, but after surfing around and seeing some other great designs, I think something more colourful might suit me better. Colourful, but not in-your-face colourful, and not too girlie-girl either.

I know just enough HTML to be able to tweak the colours and fonts on the templates, if I decide to do it myself. (This is a motif in my life: every time something needs to be done, whether it be shingling the roof or cleaning the toilets or buying pre-made Christmas ornaments, a voice in my head says, “You could do that yourself and save a tonne of cash. Plus, it will be FUN!” Then another voice in my head, which sounds remarkably like my mother, says, “Are you kidding me? For the love of god, just pay someone to do it and be done with it.”)

I stumbled across this blog design site, and I really think some of their stuff is fabulous. But, I honestly can’t justify $89US (I think that’s more than my annual salary) on blog wallpaper. Blogger has a new template called Jellyfish, which I might try. It’s free, after all.

And speaking of things that are free and not free, I am also toying with changing blog platforms. I am pleading here for some guidance from those of you who have some expertise in this matter. I have two itches that are not scratched by Blogger. First, I would like to archive by category. Second, I would like to be able to incorporate photos and other graphics into both the overall design and individual posts. Even something as simple as a personalized banner would be lovely. I think the second itch would be scratched if I hosted blog on my own server, which provides me with some-odd number of megs of space as part of my cable internet account. But that would cause me two further points of grief: I would lose my current blogspot URL, and I think I would be further complicating my already complicated life. (Narrator’s voiceover: Here, the specimen clearly demonstrates her deeply ingrained fear of change.)

So, faithful reader, do you have any advice? Thoughts? Tips and pointers? Since by virtue of being here you have a vested interest in blog, what are your thoughts on design and the things that blog lacks? (Isn’t it so nice of me to be considerate of you and not foist change on you while you weren’t looking?)

While you discuss, I’ll be off stalking Ann D…. tune in tomorrow for an update!


Sigh. I can’t ignore it any longer. I really am starting to pudge up uncomfortably.

I thought maybe the pounds (whoops, kilos) would magically disappear when I wasn’t nursing full-time. Then I deluded myself into thinking that when I returned to work, all that walking to and from the bus stop would do the trick. No such luck.

I told myself that when it was spring, we’d get out of the house more in the evenings, and I’d walk more on my lunch hour. Both are true, but the weight isn’t budging.

I had hoped that once my life stabilized a bit, I would be able to work in some weekly time for workouts at the gym. Nope, that’s definitely not happening.

What to do? The gym costs too much, both from a financial and temporal perspective. I just don’t have the resources to devote to it right now. I could theoreticaly work out on my own at home – I’ve done it before, I’ve got some free weights and therabands and even a big medicine ball. Heck, I prefer weight training to aerobic exercise anyway. But when? I already get up at 5:30 and can barely stay awake until the kids go to bed as it is. Yes, working out would probably give me more energy and stamina, but I can’t justify more time away from them at this point. Mommy guilt scores again.

I skimmed through Dr Phil’s Weight Loss Solution book, and the one thing I took from it is the idea of a no-fail environment. Sounds like a fabulous theory. Except living with a junk food junkie and his preschooler protegés leads me too easily to temptation.

The thing is, I completely and utterly lack will power. I understand that I eat for emotional reasons, and that I medicate myself with food. I totally see that for me, junk food is an entitlement thing – I deserve it! I work hard, I am a good girl, goddammit the least I can do at the end of a long and stressful day is enjoy a handful of pork rinds without making a federal case out of it. Sad, but so very true. And let’s face it, when three out of the four people in a house love McDonalds for dinner, and the fourth person is too tired to be anything but ambivalent, it’s easy to make the wrong choices.

I am toying with joining Weight Watchers online. There’s no way I can commit to going to WW meetings, but the online thing might work, at least from a time perspective. The problem is, I’ve never believed in diets. Perhaps since I’m about (revision: at least) 15 lbs overweight and have always had weight struggles, I shouldn’t be so proud to say I’ve never been on a diet, but it’s true. I’m hoping the WW online thing will help me learn to make better choices, and ideally, will help me teach the men in my life how to eat better, too.

What do you think? Have you tried WW online? Did it work for you? Any other thoughts?


Tristan goes to the dentist

by DaniGirl on April 26, 2005 · 7 comments

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Tristan had his first visit with the dentist this week. He did amazingly well – frankly, I was shocked. Even I don’t usually sit still that long without fidgetting. He sat not only through the examination and scaling (where they scrape the placque off with a metal tool – I hate that part), but through an entire tooth polishing as well. He only balked at the very last minute, leaving one lonely tooth unpolished.

I’d like to think me sitting beside him smiling bravely kept him from being afraid, but frankly, I think it just didn’t occur to him to be scared of the dentist. Personally, it took me 10 years of seeing my current goddess of a dentist to get over the preceding 25 years of dental misadventures.

As a very young woman, I had one dentist who had a horrible stutter and a worse temper, and when I kept insisting that the freezing he was injecting wasn’t taking despite his best efforts, he pitched a tantrum and threw one of his tools across the room. One of my first dentists lost his licence to practice for misprescribing medication, among other mistakes. The only thing that really holds my teeth together anymore is the fillings, veneers, caps and crowns – I think I have more artificial stuff in my mouth than natural enamel. So needless to say, I have issues of my own, and am making a Herculean effort not to pass them on to my boys.

Sadly for Tristan, what I have passed on is crummy, decay-susceptible teeth. He’s three years old, fer crissakes, and has pits in his left and right upper molars that need to be filled. Who knew they even did fillings for baby teeth? My stomach aches at the thought of him having to go through this.

My dentist has recommended he see a pediatric dentist, partly for the specialization and partly so he doesn’t associate the trauma (please excuse me while I sob just a little bit) with his regular dental visits. Apparently they’ll probably give him gas or something to make it easier. But, will they give me some, too?

My dentist wants to talk with the pediatric dentist in person to discuss options before we commit to a treatment plan. But she said if we don’t do something now, even if it is as simple as covering the pits without drilling, the pits will develop into full-fledged cavities requiring fillings within six months.

Oh, and one other bit of trivia – he has too many teeth. On the top, he has what looks like five incisors, an extra one on the top left. Hmph. There’s probably something witty to be said there, but I’m a little too freaked out by the idea of this whole fillings-for-my-three-year-old thing to see it just now.



What’s up, doc?

by DaniGirl on April 25, 2005 · 5 comments

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Sunday morning found us dealing with yet another feverish baby, this time my elder son. That’s one sick kid for each and every weekend since Easter – it’s wearing a little thin by now.

So we cuddled up on the couch together, watching early morning cartoons. Usually, when we’re not watching DVDs or tapes, we watch non-commercial television like TVO (the Ontario equivalent of PBS), but I noticed they were playing Bugs Bunny on one of the regular cable channels, so we bent the rules.

Does everyone of my generation feel that same nostalgia for Bugs Bunny? Of all the animation that’s come since, I don’t think anything holds a candle to those old shorts. I remember Saturday afternoons in the 1970s, watching Bugs Bunny with my folks and their friends, just before my dad went out to barbeque some hamburgers for all of us. (It’s weird to look back and realize I’m older now than they were then.) The first movie my father ever saw was a Bugs Bunny cartoon, on the boat coming over from Holland in the mid-1950s, matter of fact. Man, those things have staying power!

I was pleased when Tristan said, “Hey, that’s Bugs Bunny!” Of course, I live with an animator and we have a pretty decent collection of cartoons on DVD so I shouldn’t have been surprised that Tristan knew of Looney Tunes already. We got to see a couple of golden oldies: the one with Elmer Fudd and the music from the Barber of Seville, and one of the ones where Sylvester battles the baby kangaroo masquarading as a giant mouse. Watching them is like being seven years old again!

What really surprised me, though, was the commercials. Twenty-odd years later, and they’re still hucking the exact same things they used to pitch when I was a kid on Saturday mornings: Frosted Flakes with Tony the Tiger, Froot Loops with Toucan Sam, Strawberry Shortcake dolls (are those really back?) and, my favourite, Star Wars toys! Except when I was a kid, they didn’t have a lightsabre that changed colour so you weren’t always stuck being Obi Wan, nor a mask that changed your voice so you sound like Darth Vader. (We’d best change the subject before I begin to pine for my Han Solo action figure and long-lost full set of Empire Strikes Back cards. FULL SET! Can you imagine what they’d be worth on e-Bay? I could retire!)

So we survived the siren song of an hour of commercial TV, and I didn’t see one plug for Beyblades (I know, they’re probably passé already) nor one commercial done in animé (god, how I despise animé). The ads didn’t really seem to phase Tristan at all. But, um, please excuse me while I go search the Toys R Us Web site to see how I can get a light sabre that changes colour…


Today, I am mother of the year

by DaniGirl on April 22, 2005 · 7 comments

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So you thought U2 was the hottest ticket in town? Check this out, baby. If you have preschoolers in your life, this makes U2 seem like your high-school boyfriend’s garage band.

We just scored tickets that will make us the coolest parents in the universe, in the estimation of three-year old Tristan. We scored tickets to go see A Day Out With Thomas. A life-sized Thomas the Tank Engine that we will actually board for a jaunt around lovely St Thomas, Ontario. Can’t you just imagine Tristan’s little head exploding when he gets a look at that?

I’ve mentioned Tristan’s Thomas obsession before. Thomas and his friends have played a role in the milestones of Tristan’s life, not to mention his coming-of-age as a consumer. We have wooden trains, we have metal trains, we have plastic trains (in four sizes, no less), we have DVDs, we have VHS tapes, we have books, we have stickers. We have burned CDs of downloaded Thomas music, we have several Thomas Web sites bookmarked. For my THREE year old. We even have a Thomas pillow on his bed, for goodness sake.

I guess they have a couple of these Thomas extravaganza road shows travelling around North America each summer, but they rarely venture into Canada. St Thomas, for those of you not familiar with Southern Ontario, is just down the road from London, where I grew up. It’s a six hour drive (or sixteen, if you are driving with two preschoolers) that I used to make once a month before my folks moved up here in 2003. So we’re hauling the kids across the province in July to see a big blue train. And I’m as excited about this as I have been about any vacation since our honeymoon. Wait, this is the first vacation since our honeymoon!

So when we pull into the Elgin County Railway Museum this coming July and set Tristan free in the mecca of all things Thomas, I will be for that shining instant, the coolest mother in the world.
I hope this isn’t the pinacle of motherhood for me. I hope that some future day in my sons’ lives, I will be as cool as I am today. I doubt it, but I am still hoping.


Boobies, boobies, everywhere

21 April 2005 Uncategorized

So I’ve been noticing breasts a lot lately. Other women’s breasts, that is. Um, maybe I should mention this right up front, this is probably going to be another one of those posts where we talk about girlie stuff. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. But those of you both with and without a penis […]

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Poop-dogs and other rites of spring

20 April 2005 Uncategorized

I don’t know what the weather has been like in your neck of the woods, but it sure has been fine around here lately. (Yes, as a Canadian blog, it is once again time to discuss the weather as per the Canadian Blog TOS. Rules is rules.) I am a summer kind of girl. I […]

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Viruses = bad; Girl Guide cookies = good

19 April 2005 Uncategorized

Poor Simon. We’re on day four of a barforama. He couldn’t even keep down water at more than one point in the past very long few days. As if barfing every couple of hours and a fever and the squirts weren’t enough to score the misery trifecta, he’s got a tremendously green snotty nose. So […]

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50 ways to love your liver

18 April 2005 Uncategorized

Did you know April 18 to 22 is National Organ Donor week in Canada? In late October of 2001, I was just about five months pregnant with my first son. I had been over at the grocery store buying Halloween candy for us — er, I mean, the neighbourhood kids. When I came in the […]

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