April 2008

Four of you lovely bloggy peeps have e-mailed me the link to last week’s Globe and Mail article on mommyblogging. Thanks for thinking of me! I haven’t been into my feed reader recently, but I’m sure the article has been discussed ad infinitum throughout the momosphere. For those of you who missed it, the article asks whether we have the right to blog our children’s stories, and whether it is “exploitation” to tell their stories for our own edification or, in some cases, fiduciary gain. While I think it’s a good question, and common sense to be aware that what you put out on the Internet stays on the Internet forever, I think the Globe was fairly exploitative in framing the question of privacy against a backdrop of “mommybloggers are earning $40K a month to blog about their children’s potty training.” I wish!

I’ve said before that when I started the blog one of my primary intentions was for it to be a sort of a digital scrapbook, mostly because I didn’t have the time or patience for the fancy scissors and pretty paper. It’s a version of the story of me, of my thoughts and observations and opinions, and of my life. In my life, there is a cast of supporting characters that include Beloved, the boys, my folks, my friends, my relatives, my neighbours, the cashier at the drug store, the guy who sold us our van, the mailman, and a chorus of other characters. Inasmuch as their paths intersect with mine, I feel I have the right to tell their stories. In the case of the boys, at this point their stories are so deeply intertwined with mine that they are practically the same story. But that’s beginning to change.

As they are growing up, I can see where they are beginning to own their own stories. Her Bad Mother took a lot of flack in the comments on the Globe and Mail site over her quote about her daughter being “my property, my work of art.” I’ll admit that while I cringed when I read this, I remember feeling the same way when Tristan was a baby. I think this particular feeling is something all new parents have, and you grow out of it as your children grow, just about the time you begin to realize how very little control or contribution you have over their personalities — that they really are their very own person and not just an extension of you.

I think the key here, as it often is, is moderation and discretion. There are bloggers out there who could use an editor, but that’s not restricted to the niche of parent bloggers. I don’t see a problem telling you stories and anecdotes from our daily life, as long as I do it with respect and consideration of the boys’ future selves. From the start, I shared the link with friends and family, and have been fairly liberal with our identities, both of which have kept me honest and made me conscious of what I was putting out onto the Internet. I have loosely followed the old rule of thumb from my day job in communications: don’t put it out there unless you’d be comfortable seeing it on the cover of the Globe and Mail. (Heck, those of you who know me well know I’m *aspiring* for the cover of the Globe and Mail!) In other words, I’d never tell a story on the blog that I wouldn’t tell to someone face-to-face. And the very few times I’ve tried to use blog for nefarious purposes, it has come back to bite me in the ass rather spectacularly. Lesson learned.

Sometimes I worry, though. So many people have asked me how I can be so open on the blog that I wonder if maybe I am a little too honest and open. And I’m more liberal with my own stories than I am with the rest of the family’s. I mean, I have no problem telling the Interwebs that I wet the bed, but I don’t see the need to ever tell you that one of the boys has done it. And though I dearly wanted to, I did not in fact publish the photo I snapped of Tristan “nursing” Simon on the rocking chair in my room. Just to be sure, every now and then I’ll google the boys’ full names to see if the blog comes up in the search results. It doesn’t. If it ever does, I’ll probably go back and see if any of the old stories need to be pruned, but on reflection I can’t think of anything in particular that I’d take down.

This is not a new issue; remember the blogstorm from about a year and a half ago, when the question of ads on blogs first came up? If I remember correctly, it was right around then that Jen from MUBAR made the statement that was picked up in the article, about how her children’s stories are now their own and she doesn’t feel comfortable blogging them. I have a lot of respect for Jen, and have been considering what ‘ownership’ I have over the boys’ stories ever since. It was also right around then that Marla said she wouldn’t put ads on her blog because she wasn’t comfortable “selling” her daughter’s story, nor the eyeballs of the readers who perused her blog. Both excellent arguments and perspectives that I’ve been conscious of in my blogging ever since.

What do you think? Are we exploiting our kids, or creating a record of those moments that might otherwise be lost to the speeding blur that is their childhood? Has or will your blogging style change as your kids grow up? Would you want your teenager to read your blog, now or in fifteen years? Will we be using our meagre blog profits, as some have observed in the comments section of the Globe article, to fund family therapy years from now?


God loves a good waterslide

by DaniGirl on April 28, 2008 · 2 comments

in Ah, me boys

Tristan is describing the tree house he will someday build. (Given his obsession with Lego and constant speculation on the kind of home — and now tree house — he will build when he grows up, I’m thinking we’ve got a future architect on our hands.)

“And it will have at least two secret passages,” he continues. “And a pool with a diving board. A really, really high diving board, as high as the clouds. And a waterslide. A waterslide all the way to the sky.”

“So the people in heaven can slide down?” Simon asks, causing me to snort coffee up my nose just a little bit.

“Yeah,” agrees Tristan, “so all the people in heaven can slide down. Even God. I bet he’d love to slide down my waterslide.”

“But not Jesus,” says Simon.

I can’t help myself. “Why not Jesus, Simon?”

“Because he’s dead,” replies Simon with all the exasperation a four-year-old can muster.

Hmmm, I guess he’s ready for Catholic school after all.


Pacifier wars

by DaniGirl on April 25, 2008 · 10 comments

in Baby days

Binky. Sucky. Nuk. Soother. Dummy. Paci. Pacifier. Suss. It has a million names, because it is legion. It is evil.

I have a love-hate relationship with the soother. Back in the day, when I was ignorant and childless, I decided that I’d never give one to my child. “You take an adorable baby and stick a hunk of gaudy plastic in the middle of her face. Who would do that?” Who indeed, grasshopper.

My boys have all been suck junkies. I held off for a couple of weeks with Tristan on the advice of our ped and numerous lactation consultants, because of the sorry mess that were my nipples due to questionable latch. For those weeks, Tristan pruned our pinky fingers while we pretzelled ourselves to accomodate him. He was three before he gave up his soothers, using them to “buy” a Gordon tank engine from a very understanding and patient Toys R Us cashier one memorable day. For years after, he’d look at family photos and point out all his favourite soothers. “Look, there’s the blue one. I loved the blue one.”

With Simon, even though my nipples were more shredded than ever, he had a soother in the first couple of days. I cursed my mother for bringing one into the house, then praised her sensibility when it bought me an extra 15 minutes or so of sleep at a time. I specifically bought the fancy Avent ones not so much for orthodontic concerns but so we could easily distinguish them from Tristan’s. At the time, Tristan was still using his at bedtime and I didn’t want him stealing soothers – which he often asked for and was refused during the day – from the baby. Simon was closer to three and a half when he finally gave it up a little less than a year ago. (!!) Seems like forever ago, and just yesterday.

So this time, I capitulated to the suck demons and had bought not just two but four soothers as part of the preparations for Lucas’s arrival. And the damn things are driving me bananas. I don’t remember this with the other boys, but Lucas is two and a half months old and still can’t hold the soother in his mouth. Every time I wrestle him into sleep (this is a child who does not simply “fall” asleep, he has to be wrestled and thrust into sleep with much jiggling and shushing and wrapping tightly of arms) I have to use one arm to support and jiggle him, one arm to pat his back, and one arm to hold his soother in place until he falls asleep.

If you can do the math, you can see my problem.

If he’s particularly frothed, we play the “I want the soother GIVE ME THE SOOTHER what the hell is this thing in my mouth GET IT OUT what are you doing I WANT THE SOOTHER” game. In and out, in and out. Not particularly fun during the day, and downright crazymaking in the darkness of night.

Speaking of night… I’m loathe to admit this one. You know how sometimes a parent will admit that for the first four months they were so desperate to sleep that they would do just about anything to get the baby to sleep, like sleeping on the recliner with baby draped across them like a sash, and you nod sympathetically but are thinking to yourself, “Sheesh, just put the baby down already. He’ll sleep when he’s tired.” You can call this my comeuppance. I now fall asleep every night perched precariously on the edge of my bed, my arm stretched across the gap to the cradle at my bedside and threaded through the rails so I can hold the baby’s soother in his mouth until he falls asleep. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve woken up thinking my arm had fallen clean off, so profoundly numb it was. There have been nights that we have wrestled for more than an hour over the soother: in and out, in and out. I can’t sleep without it, I can’t sleep with it. Talk about crazymaking!

He’s got a new trick now. Little bugger has figured out which neurons to fire to turn his head (damn developmental milestones) and so he takes the soother while turned toward me, and before I can push my thumb up against it to keep it in place he flings his head to the side with such force that when he expels the soother he sends it flying over the cradle rail where it lands on the floor and takes a wonky bounce, never to be found again.

I can’t tell you how many hours of the past two months have been spent pretzelled into various positions as I try to hold that traitorous soother in place, whether with my back pressed against the driver’s side door in the car (one hand on the steering wheel and one hand snaked over the headrest and the canopy of the car seat) or crouched beside the cradle or swing, hoping hoping hoping that he’ll settle into a nap that doesn’t involve using me as a piece of furniture.

I’m always a little bit perplexed by parents who say their baby never took a soother; it’s a concept beyond my comprehension and just a little bit unnatural, kind of like elimination communication. Soothers are as essential to baby care as are diapers, at least in this house.

It seems like Lucas shares my love-hate relationship with the soother. Moreso than with the other boys, there have been times when I’ve wondered if I should just do away with the darn thing now as it often seems to irritate him more than soothe him. Likely because there is no milk coming out of it, I imagine. (I’ve really got to get a few more cuddling positions in my repertoire, because when I assume the “here comes the bottle” pose, which is coincidentally the same as the “here comes the soother” pose, and the “oh for the love of god, just go to sleep already” pose, he gets a little, um, ticked off when no milk is forthcoming.)

But other times, I can’t imagine how we’d do without it. His little eyes practically roll up in his head in blissful relief when I stick the plug in his mouth some days, and his limbs will stop flailing and relax completely the instant his lips close around it. For about two minutes. Until he spits it out. And starts rooting around for it. And then starts wailing for it. And the wails turn indignant when I try to put it back in his mouth. So I take it away again. And the wails turn hysterical with desire for it. Until I give it to him.

Repeat, ad infinitum, all… day… long.


When Tristan was a newborn, our weekly highlight was a Thursday trip to the Well Baby Drop-In at the local community centre. He’d had weight-gain issues (though not as severe as Lucas’s) and the weekly weigh-ins provided me with an empirical validation that we were in fact doing at least something right. It was also the only time I spent with other moms, as most of my friends at the time were either childless, had older children or were people I met through the Internet. Online friends are great for emotional support, no doubt, but as one of my friends said, sometimes you still need someone to hold the baby while you pee.

Anyway, nothing would prevent me from my weekly visit to the Well Baby Drop-In, even though I was intensely intimidated by all the other moms. It was a lot like high school all over again — seemed (to me, at least) a little clique-y, like everyone knew everyone else and was inviting each other over for coffee or out for a walk. Even though most of them were first-timers too, they all seemed to be more comfortable in their roles as mom-on-the-town — and they all seemed to have better fitting pants, cooler strollers and fancier diaper bags, too. I tried not to care, not to feel inferior, but I did. I’d chat with some of the other moms, but I never felt part of the in-crowd, even when Tristan was an old man of 10 weeks and a new mom would show up with a pink and wrinkly two-weeker. It still seems a little sad that as a woman in my thirties, accomplished and confident in my career and in life, I felt this way.

When Simon was born, there were no weight-gain issues. When you feed every two hours ’round the clock and are so chubby your rolls have rolls, there’s no doubt you’re doing well. And, Tristan was all of 22 months old when Simon was born, so it was more work than it was worth to visit the Well Baby Drop-Ins. We’d go to the playgroups at the Early Years Centre so Tristan could play while I nursed Simon and pondered the limits of human sleep deprivation, but there was never the same feeling of inclusion or exclusion among the moms there — maybe because many of them were caregivers instead of moms, or perhaps I was just too sleep deprived to notice.

So when the ped was finally satisfied that Lucas’s weight-gain was back on track at his two-month appointment and said, “Good work, see you in two months,” I was a little bereft without our weekly weigh-in. I tried to go to the Well Baby Drop-In last week, but we were late arriving and had to leave to pick up the big boys from school before our turn came up. I planned a little better this time, and we managed to get Lucas weighed at least. The public health nurses actually seemed a little put-off by my rather abrupt “weigh him and go” attitude — she asked me three times if I was sure I didn’t have any other questions or concerns, and I kept saying, “Nope, just his weight thanks!” Maybe I looked like I needed help or an intervention of some sort?

What was most surprising to me was how intimidated I was to be back in a waiting room full of new moms and babies, and I found myself again sitting by myself in the corner, too shy to join in any of the conversations going on around me. Once again, they all seemed to know each other and were making plans to strollercize together or to go to the stroller-screening at the cinema. (I’m so glad to live in the kind of neighbourhood that has these things, even if I don’t avail myself to them!) On one hand, the whole thing left me feeling a little lonely and isolated again. Even if I were to start chatting with some of the other mothers, I wouldn’t really be able to socialize with any of them during the day. We’re finally letting the nanny go at the end of this week, and Lucas’s and my days of quiet leisure are at an end as Tristan and Simon will be home with me starting next week. It didn’t seem like any of them had older children at home, and there seems to be a vast chasm between mothers of new babies and mothers of older children sometimes.

On the other hand, though, I was a relieved to not be those new, inexperienced and frightened mothers anymore. I remember how much I looked forward to the interaction with other moms at the drop-in when Tristan was born, and how lonely I was on the other days I stayed home. I remember how eavesdropping on the conversation of other moms was so satisfying, even if I didn’t say anything to myself. “Oh, she’s having a hard time with nursing, too… it’s not just me.” And, “Oh, her baby is only sleeping two hours at a time? Tristan is sleeping all night, I guess I should be grateful!” (Snicker. I had no idea how good I had it at the time!) I’m glad now to have more confidence in my mothering skills, if not my social skills.

The best news is that Lucas continues to gain. He’s up to 12 lbs 14.5 oz, which is a gain of 20 oz in two weeks. The norm is 0.5 oz to 1 oz a day, so he’s doing some great work catching up. We still have two weeks left before Lucas is too old and “graduates” from the well baby program. If I’m feeling especially social, I might drop in next week or the week after to check his weight gain once more. Or maybe I’ll take the time to catch up on a few blog posts – mine or yours. While I may sit in silence when faced with actual people, for some reason I’m never too shy to comment in the blogosphere…


Because the last quiz was so much fun…

by DaniGirl on April 23, 2008 · 21 comments

in Memes

You know I love my iPod. You know I love memes. You know I love quizzes that compel you to comment. How could I resist an iPod-shuffle-meme-lyric-quiz? Thanks to Alison for this one!

The Rules:

Step 1: Put your music player on shuffle.
Step 2: Post the first line from the first 50 songs that play, no matter how embarrassing. (I got to 35 before the baby woke up)
Step 3: Bold out the songs when someone guesses both artist and song title correctly.
Step 4: Looking them up on Google or any other search engine is CHEATING!
Step 5: If you like the game post your own.

And, after seeing what the iPod coughed up, I am adding Step 6: Do not mock my taste in music!

  1. Baby we can talk all night But that ain’t getting us nowhere: Meatloaf – Two out of three ain’t bad
  2. My friend assures me, “It’s all or nothing.”
  3. Love makes me treat you The way that I do: Billie Holliday – Baby Ain’t I Good to You

  4. Come out Virginia, don’t let me wait: Billy Joel – Only the Good Die Young
  5. Summer has come and passed The innocent can never last: Green Day – Wake me up when September Ends
  6. Throw away the radio suitcase That keeps you awake: Our Lady Peace – Clumsy
  7. This thing called love I just can’t handle it : Queen – Crazy Little Thing Called Love
  8. love I get so lost, sometimes: Peter Gabriel – In your eyes

  9. Bill Barilko disappeared that summer: Tragically Hip – Fifty Mission Cap
  10. Wake up maggie I think I got something to say to you: Rod Stewart – Maggie May
  11. And the men who hold high places will be the ones to start: Rush – Closer to the Heart
  12. Sundown in the Paris of the prairies: Tragically Hip – Wheat Kings
  13. I can see her lyin back in her satin dress: Gordon Lightfoot – Sundown
  14. The heart is a bloom, shoots up through the stony ground: Beautiful Day – U2
  15. How do you document real life When real life is getting more Like fiction each day: Rent soundtrack
  16. I’m trying to tell you something about my life, Maybe give you insight between black and white: INdigo Girls – Closer to Fine
  17. Take me out tonight, Where there’s music and there’s people: The Smiths – There is a light that never goes out
  18. Stayed awake all night toss and turnin’, Now my blood shot eyes are burnin’
  19. Twenty-twenty-twenty four hours to go: Ramones – I wanna be sedated
  20. Standing in the dock at Southampton, Trying to get to Holland or France: Beatles – Ballad of John and Yoko
  21. Everyone who sees you thinks you should be smiling: TPOH – Hard to Laugh
  22. When I think back on all the crap I learned in high school,
    It’s a wonder I can think at all: Paul Simon – Kodachrome
  23. Every now and then I get a little bit lonely and you’re never coming round: Bonnie Tyler – Total Eclipse of the Heart
  24. At home drawing pictures of mountain tops with him on top: Pearl Jam – Jeremy
  25. I I will be king And you You will be queen: David Bowie – Heroes
  26. I’m so cool, too bad I’m a loser: BNL – Falling for the First Time
  27. Lying in my bed I hear the clock tick, and think of you: Cyndy Lauper: Time after Time

  28. Now I’ve heard there was a secret chord that David played: Hallelujah – Leonard Cohen

  29. There is freedom within, there is freedom without: Crowded House – Don’t Dream It’s Over
  30. I can’t stand to fly, I’m not that naive. Five for Fighting – Superman (It’s not easy)
  31. She’s got a smile that it seems to me, Reminds me of childhood memories: GNR – Sweet Child Of Mine
  32. Here they come, walking down the street: Monkee’s Theme
  33. 1 2 1 2 3 Yeah I was working part time in a five-and-dime: Prince – Raspberry Beret

  34. Music is a world within itself With a language we all understand: Stevie Wonder – Sir Duke

  35. Well, I don’t hate my parents, I don’t get drunk just to spite them: TPOH – I’m an Adult Now

I found this one way easier than the movie quote quiz. What do you think?


This is how I picture it.

Lucy is a business student, doing a one-week internship with a company that manufactures baby gear. After spending most of the week contributing to the company’s success with tasks as challenging as making coffee and filing year-old shareholder reports, she is asked by the production design manager to fax some design specifications for a new stroller over to the marketing department.

Curious, Lucy reads through the entire document. She doesn’t have kids herself, and by the time she’s finished reading through the design specifications she wonders if maybe once you become a parent you lose your mind.

“Market research tells us that the next hot parenting trend will focus on upscale strollers,” says the first paragraph of the introductory notes. “In consulting with other industry researchers, we have determined that parents will buy strollers that incorporate the latest advances in technology. They will want a high-end stroller with luxury finishes.”

Some of the key design features of the new stroller include:

  • computerized navigation panel with GPS
  • faux-leather seat liner with heat and shiatsu massage modes
  • iPod docking station with hidden speakers
  • drop-down DVD player built into the sunshade
  • lilac and vanilla or green tea aromatherapy options

Lucy, emboldened by the fact that it’s the last day of her internship, asks her boss if she can ask him a few questions about the design. “Sure,” he replies, “but you have to be quick. I’m on my way to a meeting with the marketing team.”
[click to continue…]


I thought for sure I’d be the dash — or, the ellipses…

18 April 2008 Memes

Filched from Toddled Dredge, deep in my unexamined Bloglines account: You Are a Comma You are open minded and extremely optimistic. You enjoy almost all facets of life. You can find the good in almost anything. You keep yourself busy with tons of friends, activities, and interests. You find it hard to turn down an […]

11 comments Read the full article →

Young love

17 April 2008 Tristan

It started with a note in Tristan’s communication folder, the yellow laminated folder we send back and forth to school each day containing notes from me to his teachers in one direction and notes from the school, art projects, and homework in the other direction. “Tristan, did you draw all these hearts?” I asked, admiring […]

5 comments Read the full article →

Your phrase of the day: “Curling parenting”

16 April 2008 Life in Ottawa

First, there were hockey moms, and then soccer moms. Some time in 2005, the term “helicopter parents” was coined to describe those parents that hover over their children. And now, a new favourite of mine, “curling parents” — those who sweep the ice in front of their children. I only have a couple of seconds […]

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You were right!

15 April 2008 Baby days

It’s on days like these that I truly love my one-year sabbatical in SAHM-land. I started the day with a coffee date with Andrea, who gets sweeter every time we meet. She took the most gorgeous photos of Lucas… I stole this one, but you should pop on over to her site to take a […]

19 comments Read the full article →