August 2006

We got an e-mail from my 16-year-old nephew the other day. Turns out it was one of those hoax messages about MSN being shut down if you don’t forward this message to everyone in your contact list, and Beloved sent back a patient explanation that it was just a hoax, and an old one at that.

The message we received was a forwarded version of the one my nephew sent to all his friends, and so I could see the e-mail addresses of everyone in his contact list. I’m not hyperbolizing when I say it was a terrifying insight into being a teenager in the 21st century.

There were a lot of the kind of thing I would have expected:

Now, I was pretty much a good kid at that age (you are doubtlessly shocked by that revelation) but I was into Dungeons and Dragons and other mischief, and I get the whole teenage angst thing; I get the whole exploration of the dark side, even as you still have your Air Supply album cover taped on the wall. (I’m really digging a hole for myself here, aren’t I?) But really, I do understand the whole teenage need to be cool, to shock, and the black lipstick and fingernail-polish rebellion.

But when I read some of the e-mail addresses these kids are using, it honestly made me sick to think about it:

Maybe I’ll never be the cool mom I thought I would be. Maybe it’s time for me to start showing up for the 4 pm blue plate special and wearing socks with sandals, but if I found out my kid was putting out e-mail under the name “fuct up kid” or “barbie gone crack whore” … well, actually, I’d have no idea what to do. But it would definitely involve a suspension of e-mail priviledges, locking said child in his room until he goes off to college, and a lot of therapy for at least one of us.

What do you think? Am I so painfully unhip that you fear for my future teenagers, or do you find this as disturbing as I do?


We’re at McDonalds (I know, I know) and we’re making an event out of it. We’re not zooming through the drive-thru, we’re actually in the restaurant standing at the counter. We’re about to have a little picnic lunch on the patio, because we have time to kill and it’s a beautiful day.

So I place our orders with the painfully blasé seventeen-year-old girl behind the counter, and I tell her I would like one “Hummer” happy meal and one “Polly Pockets” happy meal. And she says, “Okay, one boy and one girl happy meal.”

And I straighten my shoulders and set my feet and say, with a pointed glance at my two boys, “No, as a matter of fact, I would like one HUMMER meal and one POLLY POCKETS meal, thank you.”

She takes a long, evaluating look at me and decides not to mess with the wigged-out suburban granola cruncher taking up space at her counter. She shrugs dismissively and says a quiet, “Whatever” as she punches our order into her cash register.

And you know what? By the time the fries were cold and the hamburgers had been gormandized, the Hummer toy was lying to one side, forgotten, as the boys argued over the Polly Pockets doll.

All of which begs me to ask: why is McDonalds gender stereotyping in their Happy Meal toys? Why segment the market like this? We also frequent Harveys and Wendys (yes, we eat way too much fast food – but that’s another story) and they don’t gender-segment their hamburger-snarfing clientele. Harveys is my favourite by far; they offer little cans of play-dough and crayola markers that have become staples in the ‘entertainment-on-the-go’ pocket of our diaper bag.

I knew Simon would love the Polly Pockets doll. When we go to our local toy store, Tristan is magnetically drawn to the train table, but Simon tends to drift after a moment or two over to the Calico Critters dollhouse. And if you asked me, I’d say Tristan is the sensitive one. Simon has just always had a thing for dollhouses. I’m thinking about getting him a set for Christmas, but at two-and-a-half, I’m betting this phase won’t last. Unfortunately.

At least now I know. Next time we go to McDonalds (because, despite my best intentions otherwise, there will be plenty of ‘next times’) I’ll be ordering TWO Polly Pocket happy meals, for my smart, sensitive and oh-so-comfortable with their masculinity sons.


Best bedtime-avoidance excuse ever

by DaniGirl on August 29, 2006 · 8 comments

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Tristan just crept down the stairs, maybe 10 minutes after Beloved tucked him in and finished tonight’s chapters from Captain Underpants.

Tristan, sotto voce: “Mommy, where’s the fermoliter?”
Me, searching mental databanks for ‘fermoliter’: “Uhhhhhh…”

Tristan: “Because I have the hiccups.”
Me: *bursts into laughter*

Ohhhhhh, the fermoliter!!!! Now I get it.
Fermoliter = thermometer, which is needed to combat the dire symptom of hiccups. Right, makes perfect sense.

He’s since been downstairs once more with the eucalyptus chest cream. For the hiccups, you see.


Saturday at the SuperEx

by DaniGirl on August 28, 2006 · 24 comments

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I love fall fairs. I totally don’t get people who haven’t been to the fair in years – how can you not love them? Since I was a little girl, I don’t think I’ve missed a year. I’ll admit, I love the Western Fair, in my hometown of London, Ontario, best of them all. London’s inability to shake off its agricultural background makes the Western Fair a true fall fair with lots of livestock barns and pavillions full of exhibitors selling all manner of weird stuff, from hot tubs to acres of land on the moon.

The SuperEx is Ottawa’s our region’s biggest fall fair, but there are probably a dozen more in each of the small outlying communities like Metcalfe, Richmond, and Navan. It’s the inconveniently-located SuperEx that I never miss, though. It rarely changes, and that probably has a lot to do with why I love it so. And yet, this year was undoubtably one of the best years ever.

I don’t ride the midway rides much anymore, but now the boys are old enough to enjoy them, and I get to ride the merry-go-round for free and without feeling a little self-conscious. I did feel a little self-conscious riding bareback on a pony with Simon, but that was only because the 12-year-old girl leading the horse seemed overly concerned about my welfare, and her partner held on to my leg more tightly than they held on to Tristan riding by himself ahead of us. (And trying to hold on to a pony with your knees while balancing a two-year-old in front of you and still looking confident in your equestrian skills for the full five minute duration of the ride is more complicated than it looks – my knees still hurt.)

This year was the first time we were told that Tristan was too big to ride on a ride. Too big. He’s four years old, for goodness sake. And it didn’t look like a baby ride by any stretch of the imagination – it was a bunch of little cars made up to look like heavy machinery like backhoes and dump trucks and whatnot. What four year old wouldn’t love to do that?

They were both big enough to walk through the fun house by themselves, which I personally thought was a bad idea. They were fine all the way through, but Simon looked increasingly distressed at the noise, and the traffic backed up behind him as he oh-so-slowly navigated the shifting floor panels. I finally had to go in and rescue him to get him through the rolling barrel of a tunnel at the exit. It brought back memories of being scared half to death and getting stuck in a haunted house back when I was eight or nine, and standing at a window crying until my dad came in and escorted me out.

If I had to choose one thing, I’d say it was the games that I love the most. I like the squirt-the-clown’s mouth games, and the roll-the-balls to move your gravatar games, and especially the bet-on-the-horses game where you win loonies instead of dollar-store toys. The big hit for the boys this year was a shiny, multicoloured bead necklace remnant of Mardi Gras. Who would have guessed?

I love the exhibitions, too, especially the animal ones. We were admiring this large yellow snake when the handler draped her (him?) across my shoulders. Very cool, but it was a struggle convincing Beloved to come close enough even to snap this picture.

The most amazing part of the day was how the boys behaved. Granny and Papa Lou were with us, so the boys were deprived of nothing that caught their eyes, but they seemed to take everything with a grace that I don’t see every day. I was so proud of Tristan’s attitude, especially toward Simon. It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of the noise and the lights and everything else, but his manners never failed. He was especially considerate of Simon, too, making sure he saw the cool stuff and helping him on and off the rides. A whole day at the fair with no squabbles – I didn’t think it was possible.

Best day at the fair ever, no doubt. Even the long walk back to the car, parked a few blocks away in the leafy district, was pleasant. Even Tristan seemed aware of the magic, as he referred again and again to our “most special day” at the fair.

Sure, you can complain about the cost, or the noise, or the inconvenience, but I would – and will – do it all over again just to make sure the boys’ mental photo albums are filled with happy days like these.


Bad sweater day

by DaniGirl on August 25, 2006 · 30 comments

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There’s no comment game today. Sorry about that. I can never tell if you are playing along because you’re humouring me, or if you genuinely like those things. Let me know if you really enjoy them, and I’ll find some more.

Then again, there’s not much else today. It’s been a long week and my brain is pretty much fried this morning. That, and I’m having a bad sweater day, and I’m feeling peevish about it.

Do you have clothing that pisses you off? I’ve had this sweater for (stops to count on fingers) way too long. Maybe six or eight years? And I can’t stand it. It’s acrylic, which makes my skin hot – not to mention the static cling factor, and it’s a litte bit fuzzy, which is kind of annoying in a tickly sort of way, and it’s cut about an inch and a half too short, so that it makes my belly look like a third boob hanging a little too low.

So why am I wearing it? Because when I look at it on the hanger, it’s a lovely sweater. It’s a nice light knit in a creamy white. I love the neckline and the way it hangs. It is in theory a perfect light low-maintenance sweater for summer, but in actual practice, it feels yucky and is very unflattering on me. And I cannot reconcile these two views of the same sweater, so I leave it hanging in the closet year after year, and about every six months it finally wears me down enough that I pull it off the hanger and try it on, and usually, like this morning, I’m only considering it because I’m already late and short on choices and don’t have time to iron anything else, so by the time I get it on and realize how much I can’t stand it I’m already late for the bus and I have to run so there’s no time to switch it for a less offensive sweater. And then I spend the whole ride into town on the bus sulking about being duped into wearing my bad sweater and scheming about how I can find a spare minute to sneak into the Rideau Centre to buy another shirt just so I don’t have to put up with this annoying fucking sweater any longer than I have to.

That happens to you too, right?


Discount coupon to support First Book

by DaniGirl on August 24, 2006 · 2 comments

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Just got this reminder in my in box. I blogged about it a few days (weeks?) ago.

Dear Friends of First Book:
A few weeks ago we emailed you to announce National Benefit Days promotion taking place in Borders and Waldenbooks stores on August 26 and 27. With these dates just a few days away, we wanted to remind you to bring your shopping lists – and this coupon – to your local Borders or Waldenbooks store this Saturday and Sunday.

Just $25 spent on back-to-school shopping, a couple of great beach reads, or the latest CD or DVD release will help get one child in need his or her very own, and perhaps very first, new book. Borders will donate 10% of the proceeds from your purchases to First Book, who will use those funds to provide new books for children nationwide. You will benefit not only from the 10% taken off your purchase, but from the knowledge that you personally are giving children from low-income families the opportunity to read and own their first new books!

Thank you for your support of First Book!


Again with the French lessons

24 August 2006 Uncategorized

So I’m still taking French lessons. Four hours a day, two days a week. I think I’m improving, because the voices in my head speak an endearing Franglais for a couple hours after each class, so that’s got to count for something. I’ve taken a LOT of French lessons in my life. Took it in […]

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Warning, shameless bragging ahead

22 August 2006 Uncategorized

It’s been a good week. First, the public annoucement of the whole Motherlode conference thing, and the flurry of planning that resulted when we all realized it was a scant two months away. (My heart is thumping just thinking about it.) And then this morning, I was playing in the referral logs again and realized […]

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New tricks: Blogger Beta and Squidoo

22 August 2006 Uncategorized

I had no idea that anyone was listening. I must be an important cog in the Blogger machinery, because the very week I lamented Blogger’s lack of categories and started my first cautious exploration of other blogging platforms, the Google folks behind the screen unveiled a new and improved iteration of Blogger called Blogger Beta. […]

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The quotations meme

21 August 2006 Uncategorized

It’s been a dog’s age since we’ve had a meme around here. Don’t you think we’re overdue? Filched from Pilgrim/Heretic by way of Phantom Scribbler. “The idea behind this meme is that you’re supposed to click on this page, generating semi-random quotations until you find the five that best express who you are or what […]

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