Wednesday, April 30, 2008

I had a nightmare

I had a nightmare that we were drowning in "STUFF". Actually I just couldn't find anything, including The Sprout who was lost in clutter. Nature Girl was lost in the expanding size of our house. Wild Thing was DROWNING in a room sized bathtub full of clothes that were weighing him down in the water. It was horrible.

Now this dream could have come about because of doing our taxes and searching for misplaced and coffee stained receipts. Or it could have come about as a result of my being behind on the laundry. Or it could be because today is Wolfville's annual "trash" day and over the last few days everyone in town has put everything they no longer want out at the curb and the entire Annapolis Valley has been dumpster diving here (I see this as a good thing btw). Or it could have been a great earth shaking end to Buy Nothing Month. Whatever it was, it had a pretty profound effect on me.

I have spent all day thinking about radical simplicity and having an abundant life, and what form could that take with my family?

I got out a measuring tape and measured all the spaces we use *all the time* in our house, wether they seem too big or too small. I included the insides of closets we use all the time, I included the space my washer and dryer need, but not storage space that is just storage space. For a family of 5 that sometimes expands to 7 (or 8 when my mom visits) we live in a modest house by most people's standards. It is 1200 square feet above grade and the basement has been renovated into living space too. It feels roomy to us. The kid's room echoes because it is so big and empty - 10x14 . Our room feels cramped with a massive pine queen sized poster bed, a crib, a dresser - 10x14.

You know how much of that we really use? 875 square feet.

It isn't efficient space, or well laid out, but that is how much we actually utilize. We're heating the whole thing though. We're paying for the whole thing though. We're cleaning and maintaining the whole thing though. We have to buy paint for the whole thing though. We have reshingle the whole thing though. We feel we need to decorate the whole thing

As I was folding and putting away the accursed laundry I wondered - why do we have so many clothes if they overwelm me like this?

You know what the result of Buy Nothing Month was for us? Absolutely no drop in quality of life, or "stuff". I didn't miss out on anything. There was one unfortunate side effect - we bought and ate more meat - stuff we never would have thought of but the money was there for - like a mountain of organic back bacon. We were gluttons, and you know, it felt gluttonous too. I didn't enjoy it.

I look at our lives and we aren't doing what we really want to be doing with our lives - and the main thing holding us back is the cost of housing - and the cost of having a house big enough to hold all our STUFF. I looked around to see if there was any financial gain in the STUFF, honestly if we had a giant garage sale we'd hardly get ANYTHING for all our STUFF. It just isn't worth that much! Meanwhile I agonize over giving away a box of books to the freecycle "cause I might want to read them again" and you know why *I* personally don't feel I could go live in a tiny house in the woods or on the beach - WHERE WOULD I KEEP MY BOOKS!!!!

I *do* feel as if I am being pulled down by an undertow of materialism. I'm having an affluence anxiety attack here!

So, I'm wondering what the next step is?

I signed up for a paperless May. Big words for an artist. Lets see how I do. Books are made of paper right?

Tuesday, April 29, 2008


24 size 0 Kissaluv diapers for 5-15lbs

I adore these diapers, I've been a loyal kissaluv user since Nature Girl was a baby - then GAVE THEM ALL AWAY.

After Wild Thing outgrew his I DID THE SAME THING!

So this was my THIRD TIME BUYING THEM!!!

Sadly, my Sprout has outgrown them and I'm too broke to give em away this time.

I'm offering them here before I put them up on an auction board.

Retail, new, they're 13-15 dollars EACH
Resale value is 6-7 dollars EACH

I have 24 - a mix of unbleached and colours all in WONDERFUL shape, never ever seen bleach, or harsh detergent.

If someone would like them, I'd like 100.00 plus shipping for them so I can restock with size 2's for my growing boy!

Monday, April 28, 2008

Dark Mirror and I had a great conversation on The Story of Stuff...

and then we discussed An Inconvenient Truth and he told me to watch this: (or NOT TO WATCH IT!!!) Instead watch this: and to pay special attention to the RESPONSES and all of wonderingmind42's responses.

Here's the index/menu of the videos: Make watching this a week's project :-)

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Buy Nothing Month is almost up and I'm going to keep going til next weekend

as I missed the first week.

Here's my run down...

On the first week I went to a benefit for the Granny to Granny program and I bought a cup of organic fair trade coffee. The next morning I bought 10 cast iron hooks at a garage sale for our front closet. I know I am justifying my wanton purchasing, but 1.00 each for second hand cast iron hooks we've been looking for for 4 months, versus 8.00 new ones seemed an environmentally sound bargain we wouldn't see again.

My purchases the second week were second hand - I found out at the last minute that Nature Girl needed a white blouse and black skirt for the music festival. I got them at a thift store, Frenchy's. Before buying them I called around but no one had anything they could spare - her friends are in the same choir. We also put down 40.00 on a pole for our clothes line - at the enviro-depot metal scrap yard. We picked out a 20 ft pole from the scrap and they are welding on a cap and attaching two eyelets for me. Total cost will be 120 including delivery and borrowing their fence pole digger. Oh and I got each kid an apple juice popsicle at the farmer's market when we bought our organic apple juice and apple sauce for the week.

This week I bought 20 heirloom tomato seeds, and apple juice popsicles for the kids at the farmer's market.

I haven't been at a standstill this month either, I'll post pictures later, but we made a storyteller's circle for me with log stump seats, we have a huge stump that'll be my laundry hanging playform when the pole goes it. We built a workbench for me in the basement from more of those closet doors and reclaimed 2x4's, and a kids camp fort from old pallets. Plus the mini mudroom closet bench I showed earlier.

On top of that, we salvaged timbers from the garbage, started seeds for the kids with topsoil that was already here in egg trays and recycled toilet paper rolls, got 8 heritage rose bushes (Acadian roses!), some sorrel, and chives in trades with neighbours. I gave away 3 garbage bags of clothes, carpet remnants, and window blinds on the freecycle.

In the big spring clean up I'll be putting out a 30 year old mattress, and our regular garbage, maybe an extra bag of stuff I haven't been able to classify.

Then there are those things we did this weekend that you'll never be able to buy - meeting neighbours, making dandelion chains, running on the beach with no shoes and collecting rocks and shells.

Friday, April 25, 2008

A reminder to help me get through Buy Nothing Month

If you haven't already, PLEASE see The Story of Stuff.

I'm working on a business plan for my toymaking business and this was the reminder I needed to stay with my values, to really stay the course with Buy Nothing Month, to change my attitude completely about consumer goods.

Especially important is not to feel defeated by the machine fuelling consumerism, so here is the list of 10 things that the site lists that you can do to make real change.

1 Power down! A great deal of the resources we use and the waste we create is in the energy we consume. Look for opportunities in your life to significantly reduce energy use: drive less, fly less, turn off lights, buy local seasonal food (food takes energy to grow, package, store and transport), wear a sweater instead of turning up the heat, use a clothesline instead of a dryer, vacation closer to home, buy used or borrow things before buying new, recycle. All these things save energy and save you money. And, if you can switch to alternative energy by supporting a company that sells green energy to the grid or by installing solar panels on your home, bravo!

2 Waste less. Per capita waste production in the U.S. (and Canada) just keeps growing. There are hundreds of opportunities each day to nurture a Zero Waste culture in your home, school, workplace, church, community. This takes developing new habits which soon become second nature. Use both sides of the paper, carry your own mugs and shopping bags, get printer cartridges refilled instead of replaced, compost food scraps, avoid bottled water and other over packaged products, upgrade computers rather than buying new ones, repair and mend rather than replace….the list is endless! The more we visibly engage in re-use over wasting, the more we cultivate a new cultural norm, or actually, reclaim an old one!

3 Talk to everyone about these issues. At school, your neighbors, in line at the supermarket, on the bus…A student once asked Cesar Chavez how he organized. He said, “First, I talk to one person. Then I talk to another person.” “No,” said the student, “how do you organize?” Chavez answered, “First I talk to one person. Then I talk to another person.” You get the point. Talking about these issues raises awareness, builds community and can inspire others to action.

4 Make Your Voice Heard. Write letters to the editor and submit articles to local press. In the last two years, and especially with Al Gore winning the Nobel Peace Prize, the media has been forced to write about Climate Change. As individuals, we can influence the media to better represent other important issues as well. Letters to the editor are a great way to help newspaper readers make connections they might not make without your help. Also local papers are often willing to print book and film reviews, interviews and articles by community members. Let’s get the issues we care about in the news.

5 DeTox your body, DeTox your home, and DeTox the Economy. Many of today’s consumer products – from children’s pajamas to lipstick – contain toxic chemical additives that simply aren’t necessary. Research online (for example, before you buy to be sure you’re not inadvertently introducing toxics into your home and body. Then tell your friends about toxics in consumer products. Together, ask the businesses why they’re using toxic chemicals without any warning labels. And ask your elected officials why they are permitting this practice. The European Union has adopted strong policies that require toxics to be removed from many products. So, while our electronic gadgets and cosmetics have toxics in them, people in Europe can buy the same things toxics-free. Let’s demand the same thing here. Getting the toxics out of production at the source is the best way to ensure they don’t get into any home and body.

6 Unplug (the TV and internet) and Plug In (the community). The average person in the U.S. watches T.V. over 4 hours a day. Four hours per day filled with messages about stuff we should buy. That is four hours a day that could be spent with family, friends and in our community. On-line activism is a good start, but spending time in face-to-face civic or community activities strengthens the community and many studies show that a stronger community is a source of social and logistical support, greater security and happiness. A strong community is also critical to having a strong, active democracy.

7 Park your car and walk…and when necessary MARCH! Car-centric land use policies and life styles lead to more greenhouse gas emissions, fossil fuel extraction, conversion of agricultural and wildlands to roads and parking lots. Driving less and walking more is good for the climate, the planet, your health, and your wallet. But sometimes we don’t have an option to leave the car home because of inadequate bike lanes or public transportation options. Then, we may need to march, to join with others to demand sustainable transportation options. Throughout U.S. history, peaceful non-violent marches have played a powerful role in raising awareness about issues, mobilizing people, and sending messages to decision makers.

8 Change your lightbulbs…and then, change your paradigm. Changing lightbulbs is quick and easy. Energy efficient lightbulbs use 75% less energy and last 10 times longer than conventional ones. That’s a no-brainer. But changing lightbulbs is just tinkering at the margins of a fundamentally flawed system unless we also change our paradigm. A paradigm is a collection of assumptions, concepts, beliefs and values that together make up a community’s way of viewing reality. Our current paradigm dictates that more stuff is better, that infinite economic growth is desirable and possible, and that pollution is the price of progress. To really turn things around, we need to nurture a different paradigm based on the values of sustainability, justice, health, and community.

9 Recycle your trash…and, recycle your elected officials. Recycling saves energy and reduces both waste and the pressure to harvest and mine new stuff. Unfortunately, many cities still don’t have adequate recycling systems in place. In that case you can usually find some recycling options in the phone book to start recycling while you’re pressuring your local government to support recycling city-wide. Also, many products – for example, most electronics - are designed not to be recycled or contain toxics so recycling is hazardous. In these cases, we need to lobby government to prohibit toxics in consumer products and to enact Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) laws, as is happening in Europe. EPR is a policy which holds producers responsible for the entire lifecycle of their products, so that electronics company who use toxics in their products, have to take them back. That is a great incentive for them to get the toxics out!

10 Buy Green, Buy Fair, Buy Local, Buy Used, and most importantly, Buy Less. Shopping is not the solution to the environmental problems we currently face because the real changes we need just aren’t for sale in even the greenest shop. But, when we do shop, we should ensure our dollars support businesses that protect the environment and worker rights. Look beyond vague claims on packages like “all natural” to find hard facts. Is it organic? Is it free of super-toxic PVC plastic? When you can, buy local products from local stores, which keeps more of our hard earned money in the community. Buying used items keeps them out of the trash and avoids the upstream waste created during extraction and production. But, buying less may be the best option of all. Less pollution. Less Waste. Less time working to pay for the stuff. Sometimes, less really is more.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

I got flack for moving from Ottawa to a rural town across the river in Quebec, and even more when I moved to Nova Scotia

This was filmed *right outside my house* in Ottawa.

Cumberland Street. I'm not exaggerating, I am staring at my house right this moment in a scene with police questioning a high 16 yr old and her pimping 40 year old "boyfriend"

I'm so glad I decided to give my kids a small town upbringing! I wanted to the entire time we lived there.

Watching this, I'm reminded of how frustrated I was at the attitude that somehow my children's lives would be *impoverished* by living in a small town over a big city!

What benefits are there to living in a big city when you are poor or lower middle class? Public transportation, density of services, anything else?

I decided to take a cab to the school last night for Nature Girl's concert and it cost me 8 dollars return. It took us less than 10 minutes to get there and then the same back including wait times after we called. We do have bus service here but it's on the hour and I wasn't into waiting. I checked OC Transpo fares. The same trip would have cost me 9.00 - I adult, one child 6-11 and two children under 6.

I have all the regular, and alternative medical services (and choice in providers) I could want within walking distance of my house. If we needed emergency care or hospitalization we'd have to go a little further, but it would be the same distance as someone travelling from the east or west end of Ottawa into a central hospital in Ottawa, and with closures people in Ottawa need to do that.

What are the benefits???

I mean, when Nature Girl runs in breathless and says "GUESS WHAT I SAW ON MY WAY HOME!!!???" I ask a genuinely excited but non fearful "WHAT?" and the answer is ALWAYS something like "over 139 worms, that's as high as I can count!"

In Ottawa it could easily be a huge blood slick and police tape( it took a week for the rain to wash it all away), a hooker flashing her wares (more than once), needles and used condoms thrown in our yard were always a concern but not as scary as some of the people we were exposed to daily.

I feel, elitist saying that. We weren't yuppies looking to "revitalize" a working class neighbourhood and dismayed at the problems the inner city had because it affected our investment. We lived there because we were the working poor and what we saw around us was a formerly nice working class neighbourhood braced against the incredible problems that poverty brought with it - slum landlords, crack houses, prostitution, drugs, weapons, an increase in crime. The shelter around the corner from us had the hardest hit clientele in the city - people who clearly were dealing with absolutely dehabilitating mental illnesses. We actually talked to and knew the names of the ones who were gentle - I've always felt that when you live around homeless people you need to treat them as the *neighbours* they are. There were others - homeless or not, who were downright scary in an impenetrable alien way.

The reality of our day to day life in a small town is that when my kids face homelessness in our community, its a community that actually knows that family, and because it is so visible, because it is so ... manageable ...the community does something to help. Its the same with mental illness. Its the same with addiction issues. It isn't that small towns are above or insulated from the ills of the world. You just deal with them in manageable human scale packages - individuals. In the big city its so much bigger than you you can't help but try to insulate your family from it, and when being poor doesn't leave you the freedom to do that, you barricade your family away behind closed doors to escape it.

This is what I was thinking about as Nature Girl got ready for school, dressed in her pyjamas, and with pockets full of change to donate.. Today is a fundraiser for a family that lost everything in an apartment fire. They didn't have any insurance. I know the names of these people, Nature Girl and their kids travel the same walking path to school. She isn't blind to their hardships.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Crayola's Form Letter Response

Thank you for your recent inquiry. Crayola is the manufacturer of high quality creative expression products marketed primarily under the Crayola and Silly Putty brand names.

Crayola is continually evaluating opportunities to make our products environmentally friendly. We currently take steps to address environmental health and safety issues by reducing, reusing and recycling our materials. For example, at least 90% of Crayola Crayon packaging is made from recycled cardboard and nearly all Crayola product packaging is made of recyclable materials. For years, Crayola has remelted crayons that do not meet our high quality molding standards and reused the wax. All Crayola facilities comply with local and federal clean air standards.

I am sorry to disappoint you, unfortunately, Crayola twistable plastic casings are not recyclable at this time.

Be assured your comments have been shared with our marketing and manufacturing teams.We appreciate your contact. If additional assistance is needed, you may reach us by telephone at (800) 272-9652 weekdays between 9 AM and 4 PM Eastern Time or e-mail by visiting

Best wishes for a colorful future!

Colorfully yours,
Christina NeighConsumer Affairs RepresentativeCRAYOLA

They didn't answer my questions AT ALL, and worse yet, I now find out their casings aren't EVEN recyclable!!!

I think it's time for a Crayola boycott.

Oh and just a point of clarification here in case anyone is fooled into thinking remelting wax crayons that were malformed is a decision they've made for the environment. I work with encaustic paints (beeswax mixed with pigments and natural resins) and you can remelt them a million times without losing anything in quality. Its a simple cost saving method! Why on earth would they throw them away?

I worked in a glass factory while I was at university - same deal, they remelt down malformed glass to recover the silica, not to do anyone else any favours.

I have an earth day rant (one day late)

Crayola is on my hit list these days. Why? Twistable crayons. I don't understand how in this day and age ANY company could come out with a crayon or crayon pencil that is encased in a non reuseable PLASTIC casing.

Nature Girl's old school insisted on them so we have a bunch here (her new school likes crayons and pencil crayons - both of which have next to no waste and the waste they do produce can be COMPOSTED) and every time I find an empty twistable casing my stomach TWISTS with the wanton waste involved in these things.

I went looking for "Every Day is Earth Day" crafts this morning and the first thing to pop up was - this from Crayola's site, yes they specify you are to use twistable crayons to draw your nice little earth day card!

I'm furious and I'm writing a letter! I[ve been ranting about twistables since they came out with them and well this was the little slap I needed to push me into action.

I was shocked to see an earth day craft on your site featuring Crayola Twistable Crayons as an art medium. It was suggested that children could make earth day cards (drawn with Twistable crayons) to send to lawmakers to remind them to support environmental protection policies.
My children and I decided we should write to Crayola instead.

Crayola Twistable Crayons and Pencil Crayons are environmentally unfriendly. Crayons and pencil crayons are an environmentally sound product depending on the source of wax and wood. They create very little waste, and the waste they do produce is compostable.

Twistables are encased in plastic. Plastic waste is a huge concern as it does not biodegrade, it fills landfills and is creating a huge pollution problem in our oceans, and it requires nonrenewable oil reserves to produce. Twistables are not even refillable. They produce a huge amount of waste because of this!

Are twistables made with recycled plastic? Why can't we buy simple refill packages of crayons to put in the holders? Why haven't the casings been made of something like recycled cardboard?

I look forward to your answers

Thank you

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Earth Day 2008 - Wild Thing on Gardening

I's going to show you how to plant things. Okay?

You get some dirt...

You put it in youse little pots....

You find some seeds...

and you dig them into youse dirt. Youse got to tidy up too, member that! Okay, bye!

The Annapolis Valley Music Festival

Oh mummy I look like a grown up girl!!!!

"You sure do honey!" Wait for Nature Girl to show TRUE colours...10,9,8...

I'll take more pictures tomorrow night at the concert at the school. Today she performs at the University Theatre!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Wild Thingisms

So Wild Thing has hit that oh so lovely preschooler stage of swearing. I blame Dark Mirror. For a week or two every frustration was met with "YOU IDJUT!!!" which we tried very hard to ignore except to say "I don't like that word".

Well Wild Thing is a patently Nice Boy (tm) and like biting in frustration, I knew it wouldn't last long.

I was right, he now meets every frustration with as much vehemence and the cry "YOU APPLE PIE!!!"

Challenging Times in Buy Nothing Month!

I am really proud of Papa Pan and myself! We are doing really well with Buy Nothing April.

The real challenge in this is that it is spring, and all winter we've been itching to get to the home reno projects we want to do to make this house a home.

We swore we would never live in a house that didn't have a mudroom again. We bought a 1970 bungalow with no mudroom. No mudroom and 3 small children is CHAOS. No mudroom and a climate that means you have fair, foul and blizzard conditions to consider all at the same time is completely INSANE.

Not only do we not have a mudroom, this house is full of totally dysfunctional closets. The doors grab toenails and rip them off. You can't get into the closet and they are dark and cramped once you do. So we started removing closet doors.

In this picture you can see a closet that has been untouched (this closet will be drywalled in this summer - the space will be co-opted for our bedroom closet which will be enlarged) and a closet that has had the doors removed and a curtain hung over it. I can finally get a towel out without wrestling! I'm looking for a neat fabric to put as a contrasting band on the bottom of the too short curtains.

The front hall closet became a real "issue" because it looks onto the livingroom from its no mudroom place of glory by the front door. It encouraged one and all to sit on the livingroom couch to wrestle into and aout of winter and wet weather gear.

So this month making that closet into a miniature mudroom was on the agenda.

Look what we did for 10.00.

It isn't "done" yet. I'll be painting out the upper shelf and the metal clothes rod. I want to get baskets for up top to hold all our mitten and hat crap, bike helmets, etc.

But the bench is made from those same acursed closet doors. The hooks were a dollar each (yard sale) and when we have people over we'll still have the rod for holding a thousand coats. But in normal times we finally have a coat and boot disembarking zone! Woohoo! I'm so proud of it I don't want to curtain it off anymore!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Advantages in my life...

This was on radical mama's blog, which was on Charlotte’s blog.

She says:

“I saw this at the Noble Savage today. She got it from What If No One’s Watching, who got it from Mostly True Tales. The original authors of this exercise are Will Barratt, Meagan Cahill, Angie Carlen, Minnette Huck, Drew Lurker, and Stacy Ploskonka at Illinois State University. If you participate, they ask that you PLEASE acknowledge their copyright.”

Bold the true statements. You can explain further if you wish.

I thought it would be neat to see how things are different for my kids than they were for me, so I am going to paste it twice: once for me, and once for the kids.

Being a blended family and from a blended family, my answers are kind of complex


1.Father went to college
2. Father finished college
3. Mother went to college
4. Mother finished college
5. Have any relative who is an attorney, physician, or professor.
6. Were the same or higher class than your high school teachers. (my mom is a teacher)
7. Had more than 50 books in your childhood home.
8. Had more than 500 books in your childhood home
In my mother's home yes, but between the ages of 7 and 12 I lived with my dad and there weren't any books there ... unless you count Penthouse magazine!
9. Were read children’s books by a parent
But again, only until I was 7.
10. Had lessons of any kind before you turned 18
11. Had more than two kinds of lessons before you turned 18

12. The people in the media who dress and talk like me are portrayed positively
13. Had a credit card with your name on it before you turned 18
14. Your parents (or a trust) paid for the majority of your college costs
15. Your parents (or a trust) paid for all of your college costs
16. Went to a private high school
17. Went to summer camp
18. Had a private tutor before you turned 18
19. Family vacations involved staying at hotels
20. Your clothing was all bought new before you turned 180
21. Your parents bought you a car that was not a hand-me-down from them

22. There was original art in your house when you were a child
my grandfather was an artist
23. You and your family lived in a single-family house
24. Your parent(s) owned their own house or apartment before you left home
25. You had your own room as a child

26. You had a phone in your room before you turned 18
27. Participated in a SAT/ACT prep course
28. Had your own TV in your room in high school
29. Owned a mutual fund or IRA in high school or college
30. Flew anywhere on a commercial airline before you turned 16
31. Went on a cruise with your family
32. Went on more than one cruise with your family
33. Your parents took you to museums and art galleries as you grew up
34. You were unaware of how much heating bills were for your family

For the kids I'm answering from the perspective of our family here, which is more highly educated, but comes from a lower socio economic background than their entire family.

1.Father went to college
2. Father finished college
3. Mother went to college
4. Mother finished college

5. Have any relative who is an attorney, physician, or professor.
6. Were the same or higher class than your high school teachers. Papa Pan is a teacher!
7. Had more than 50 books in your childhood home.
8. Had more than 500 books in your childhood home
9. Were read children’s books by a parent
10. Had lessons of any kind before you turned 18
11. Had more than two kinds of lessons before you turned 18
12. The people in the media who dress and talk like me are portrayed positively

13. Had a credit card with your name on it before you turned 18- this will NOT happen even if it were possible!
14. Your parents (or a trust) paid for the majority of your college costs
15. Your parents (or a trust) paid for all of your college costs- this also would not happen, even if it were possible!
16. Went to a private high school If its possible they will have the opportunity
17. Went to summer camp
18. Had a private tutor before you turned 18

19. Family vacations involved staying at hotels- We would camp even if we could afford to stay in hotels instead, we've done a house trade at Christmas, if we had fewer kids we could afford it though.
20. Your clothing was all bought new before you turned 18
21. Your parents bought you a car that was not a hand-me-down from them- again, this will not happen even if we could afford it!
22. There was original art in your house when you were a child
23. You and your family lived in a single-family house
24. Your parent(s) owned their own house or apartment before you left home
25. You had your own room as a child

26. You had a phone in your room before you turned 18
27. Participated in a SAT/ACT prep course Umm, something different one kid is an IB program, and one will likely do a prep year after high school at a private school to prepare her for university if she isn't allowed to attend private school in middle/high school.
28. Had your own TV in your room in high school - no way, but the teens have their own computer
29. Owned a mutual fund or IRA in high school or college
30. Flew anywhere on a commercial airline before you turned 16
Between Ottawa and NS fairly regularly
31. Went on a cruise with your family
32. Went on more than one cruise with your family
33. Your parents took you to museums and art galleries as you grew up
34. You were unaware of how much heating bills were for your family- heating bills worry us at times and the kids know that thats why we turn down the furnace and heat with wood. They don't know how much we worried about needing to refiull the tank this winter though.

I would describe privilege with different things than were chosen with this list. Stuff like access to medical and dental care is a HUGE one and this list totally sidestepped it. I understood it was originally made for university students though, and recently, so that likely influenced the list. The list doesn't accurately reflect just how advantaged my children are either, I mean, no, I don't buy new clothes for them often, but that is a conscience choice. What they do get new is Fair Trade and often organic! Like I mentioned decisions we've made regarding what we'll fund for our kids are made consciously, not based on finances primarily. There's more than books here too, they're exposed to music - live music. Wow there are tons of other things too - they've been able to experience city life, rural life, town life. It goes on and on.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Spring in Scott's Bay


We came back windswept, and with pockets full of rocks, shells and seaweed.

I love it here.
Posted by Picasa

Friday, April 18, 2008

A book review and a plea: Atwood! Stick to adult fiction!!!

Bashful Bob and Doleful Dorinda by Margaret Atwood

I swear this was the most horrible children's book I've ever read!

Having been accidentally abandoned in a shoe store as an infant, I was prepared to like Bashful Bob and Doleful Dorinda.

Bashful Bob was accidentally abandoned outside a beauty parlour by his mother and is subsequently raised by dogs. He's a little shy around humans as a result. Doleful Dorinda is raised by abusive distant relatives after her parents disappear in an accident. They meet, Dorinda teaches Bob to speak, and they rehabilitate a buffalo who thinks he's a begonia. After this hits the news both sets of parents show up and reclaim their children.


Add in PAINFUL alliteration and I wanted to vomit ... or "bomit" as Atwood would have written to keep the flow going.

How do we change people's attitude about Fair Trade?

I just read an article on a reality television show out of Britian that sent people into Asia to work in the shops that are making the clothes they wear.

read it here:

I wasn't surprised at all by the sweat shop conditions, by the incredibly low pay, by the long hours, by the child labour they discovered.

I was surprised that they made these young britons out to so incredibly selfish and self centred. I'm sure the participants were, but why profile this as an issue of young fashionable people living high on the backs of Asian garment workers? Where's the mom who shops at Walmart, or Sears, or Zellers, or Gapkids? Lets face it, it takes a pretty conscientious effort to NOT live high on the backs of Asian garment workers.

Yesterday Nature Girl came home from school and I found a crumpled reminder that her choir is performing in a festival this coming wednesday. She needs a white blouse and black skirt. This child lives in rainbows. There wasn't a black skirt or white shirt to be found in the house. I had no black cloth in sewing stash either.

So we drove to the closest Guy Frenchys (second hand thrift shop that is everywhere here in Nova Scotia) and I spent 40 minutes searching for a white cotton blouse and a simple black skirt (If I'd wanted her in a micromini with "dancer" written in fake diamonds across her little 7 year old behind we'd have been out of there in 5 minutes). Anyhow, on the way home I was thinking about the MOUNTAINS of barely worn, previously trendy clothes that fill the bins at thrift shops and how hard it is to find simple, built to last, classic clothes ANYWHERE.

Then I read this article this morning, and I am so glad that we went to the thrift store instead of Sears. If I hadn't been doing "Buy Nothing April" I likely would have just gone to Sears, its closer and the clothes are on racks and I wouldn't be searching for the elusive size 8 for 40 minutes right on the cusp of bedtime.

If anyone knows where I can get shoes for kids that aren't made in suspect conditions PLEASE tell me

Thursday, April 17, 2008

I am actually going to do a cleaning product review!

Papa Pan and I do not see eye to eye on cleaning products. I believe in the immune boosting qualities of a little dirt and bacteria, he thinks you should sanitize the bathroom.

I swear by soap, vinegar, and baking soda.

He loves a big ol' bottle of bleach.

I've gotten him off the antibacterial handsoap addiction he had, but he still wants to bleach the bathroom, even though he is the first to admit that the kids and I should leave the house when he does it.

I don't think cleaning products should run me out of the house.

I decided to meet him halfway. I decided to buy a bathroom cleanser.

So after trying their handsoap at my mom's I bought some Method all purpose surface cleaner.

First off I have to say I HATE their advertising campaign. I hate advertising that implies I'll be cool if I use something. It makes me not want to use it.

But the stuff works, it doesn't stink, it smells really nice (I got the grapefruit one) and the smell is GONE quickly too. This is a huge issue for me. They also make an unscented version which I'll buy if I see it.

The ingredients are LOVELY, I'd even let Wild Thing use them - they aren't on the label but they are at the website -

corn and coconut derived surfactants
soda ash
potassium hydrate
biodegradable surfactant
fragrance oil blend
purified water

AND they make flushable wipes with it on them. My favorite way to clean my bathroom is to spot clean it daily with babywipes. Now I can do that with Papa Pan's approval. (He doesn't believe a baby wipe is strong enough to clean the toilet)

AND I just discovered they are making a toilet bowl cleaner which I'll try if I see it (we have REALLY hard water here and I need to regularly turn off the water, empty the toilet bowl and let it soak in vinegar to get the scale off) The ingredients in it are not at all scary -

corn and coconut derived surfactants
lactic acid (mineral dissolver)
sodium lactate
natural thickening gum
fragrance oil blend
preservative (under 1%)
purified water

I still want that goddess cleaning stuff though. It doesn't claim I'll be cool if I use it.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


In planning our kitchen reno on the cheap - a lot of paint, lino squares, a new counter top and a pantry is all I'm likely getting folks! I was trying to decide on a theme - right now it is the original 1970 kitchen - and it wasn't a trendy kitchen then. It is cottage-y and cramped and I keep our food in the hallway in a linen closet.

I was thinking of going with a 50's kitsch theme, but I rebelled against my own quirkiness with my more political quirkiness and decided to go with a less common kitschy kitchen theme.

Soviet Propaganda.


Yes! Communism will free you from household drudgery with the promise of spa days!

My dishes are in these colours but damn it I NEED a soviet red sink!

The truth of the matter is there is a nostalgia for me in decorating around images of feminist uprising. My childhood kitchen was decorated around a poster of Whistler's mother...holding a submachine gun It said WOMEN'S LIBERATION - IT'S GONNA GET YOUR MAMA, AND YOUR SISTER, AND YOUR GIRLFRIEND. I'd hang it in the kitchen, but there isn't any wall space. I kinda think my male family members might feel a tad threatened too.

Happy Birthday Dark Mirror!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

When Papa Pan gets home we'll scan in a baby picture or 20.

Imagine that Dark Mirror - the digital camera did not exist when you were born!

15 years ago today, I became a mother. It has been the best thing in my life.

Thank you for choosing me as your mum. I feel so honoured that you did!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

A bittersweet portrait of my Wild Thing

Oh my. I see the boy he is becoming, the baby he was in this picture. Tears well up in my eyes because I can't freeze time, and just savour this point a little longer. My sweet little Wild Thing, who has never had his hair cut. If I hold my breathe can I keep him like this forever, right on the cusp of being a real boy?

Since Spring decided to push out Winter yesterday...

We decided today was a good day for the first picnic of the new year!

"You are going to share that banana with me right???"

"I really haven't decided yet."

"Mama go get me my own banana"

Monday, April 14, 2008

The weather here is always a surprise

One of my favorite things about our move is learning about the weather here. It is so different here in the Maritimes than it was in the Gatineau Hills.

I woke up this morning feeling groggy and grey (Sprout is teething) and looked out at a groggy grey day. The sleet was turning to flakes as I got breakfast on the table for the kids. I steeled myself for a grumbly sort of day, and started a fire to ward off the clammy chill. I made a big pot of tea and put on eggs to boil (Wild Thing can always be tamed with a nice egg and toast snack).

Then I looked out a north facing window and was DAZZLED by the image of Cape Blomidon in blazing sunlight. 30 minutes later the sunshine is just down the street, maybe a kilometre away, and the flakes are still falling from that lead bellied cloud above us.

So I got out the camera and waited 10 more minutes to get this:

Once the leaves are out on the trees I doubt I'll be able to see the Cape anymore but for now it's a favorite sight each day. Well each day that we aren't blanketted in fog.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

This movie touches so many of my interests it is bizarre!

Okay, so I haven't even seen it, but I just assume I'm going to love it!

It's a "really obviously CANADIAN film - and not in the bad way".

It's set in rural Nova Scotia.

It was filmed in a Waldorf School (and there's only one here - so lets just say it - South Shore Waldorf School!!!)

It's about a photojournalist who uncovers environmental wrongdoing.

I mean how much more perfect could it be???
Anyhow, it is called "A Stone's Throw"
I'm off to look for it...

The Great Granny Revolution

"One day an army of grey-haired old women may quietly take over the world." - Gloria Steinem.

We went to a benefit screening of The Great Granny Revolution last night. I can't say enough wonderful things about this documentary. It follows the start of the Wakefield Grannies and how they partnered up with a group of Gogos (grannies) who are raising their AIDS orphaned grandchildren in the South African township of Alexandria for moral support (and some financial support) and how the concept has spread through 15 affluent countries now and there are Granny to Granny programs all over the world now. Besides making me homesick (I know all the Wakefield Grannies and a lot of the other people in the film) it just impressed me to no end how these Gogos are parenting and how they are now leading policy changes all over Africa for the benefit of these children.

These women, who raised their families under the oppression of apartheid, are taking on parenting another generation in their 60's and 70's and 80's. Four of them came to Canada two years ago for an international AIDS conference hosted by the Stephen Lewis Foundation (you can give your air miles points to the foundation to support exchanges like this btw) and gave a workshop on how they needed to change their parenting techniques to stay with the times.

One of the Gogos had me in tears when she talked about feeling her silence, her shame about her daughter's HIV infection, killed her. That if she'd been vocal, God would not have taken her daughter from her. That Gogo? She has gone back to school and has become a social worker and is now working in the township on AIDS education. The best thing about the Granny to Granny programs is not the money, its the love and support that these remarkable women get from far away. The psychiatric nurse who runs the Gogo support group that the Wakefield Grannies partnered up with spoke in Wakefield about how sad it was that they had to go all that way to find such unconditional love and support. It isn't in their community where fear and superstitions run rampant, it isn't coming from their leaders and the policies they direct.

Angelique Kidjo spoke with passion about how the most important thing that people can do in the face of such a devastating pandemic is see that these are HUMAN BEINGS not numbers. If you focus on the numbers you feel powerless. If you focus on the people - even if your focus is sharing news about your families with just *one* other person - the joys, the sorrows, the celebration of new babies, the grief of losing one - you are making a difference.

It was an incredible film, about incredible women, ordinary women. So if you get a chance to go to a screening, do. The DVD is sold in support of the Grannies and is 30.00. You can purchase it from the Production Comany here -

Friday, April 11, 2008

The Not So Happy Homemaker

I struggle with "homemaking".

I think I know why, its because when I do it well, it makes me invisible.

When its just me, my house is oh so clean and ORGANIZED and tidy, and there are little personal touches, like some flowers on the table. When I say just me, I mean to say me and the kids. I'm not talking about being alone and there only being my own mess to worry about. Except for right after a baby arrives, my life with JUST kids (no matter the number) runs along smoothly with a nice flow, in breathe, out breathe...when life gets complicated I simplify. When life isn't complicated I enrich the flow with extra stuff.

But when I'm not alone (as in Papa Pan is there) he has expectations - like meat included in dinner - which overwelm me on a complicated kind of day, but I do make that meat dish..

But if everything looks like it's just going along swimmingly he doesn't notice that I'm floundering and the "flow" is becoming an undertow thats dragging me down. He doesn't think to help because I appear to have it all under control. Then I rebel and I am unwilling to clean up the mess he left in the kitchen in the morning (cause some invisible little house fairy always magically cleans it up) and he comes home to the mess and at least NOTICES that I didn't clean it up and I finally get to point out all I do do in a day by NOT doing it one day.

Of course, he's peeved that the place is a mess then. But its a mess because I need some acknowledgement that I'm the one who keeps that mess at bay all the time! I know, its a temper tantrum, but there you go.

This is what I need to hear -

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Stuff I Need but have found for free...

Buying Nothing is good for meeting the neighbours. A lot of the ppl on my street have been here, well, forever. The houses were built in 1970, and many original owners are still here. They're all super nice profs at the university or retired profs, and do they have some nice gardens :-) Teachers tend to have nice gardens I find, they have time off in the spring/summer to do the work necessary.

I'm getting tomato seedlings from one neighbour and chives and oregano and thyme from another. Woohoo!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

My buy nothing resolve is already being tested

This is what I want to buy - Rowan organic cotton in this lovely green, isn't it beautiful????

I found the cutest FREE pattern for hoodies for my little boys - spring hoodies. I would knit them in the green and do the pompoms (which are attached by i-cord to the hoodie peak) in white eyelash wool (which I have in my stash) or dandelion yellow - they'd be dandelion flower fairies!!!!
Alas I do not have any green yarn in my stash at present.

Quick Note

I've started another blog for my latest venture "returning to doing childcare"

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Buy Nothing Month

Usually, this wouldn't be such a big deal, but with a move and a change of season we have things we need to do in the next month so I thought this would be an EXCELLENT time to face this challenge, because it really will be a challenge.

I'm not committing Papa Pan to this, but I promise not to ask him to buy anything for me.

How Being a Breastfeeding Nazi Saved My Life

A neighbour with two babies died in a car accident two days ago, and her babies (3 and 10 months) escaped the crash with only minor injuries because of their car seats. I have been making myself feel better *knowing* that she is thinking from heaven - "thank you God for sparing my babies" - and then sobbing because those babies lost their mommy, and then I automatically wonder if she was nursing them and cry even more.

Over at Frog and Toad Are Still Friends Beck wrote about her near death experience (no come into the light stuff, stuff on understaffed rural Ontario hospitals and the colour her pee was, and her utter detachment from the whole thing at the time).

It got me thinking about my own near death experience...

I had postpartum psychosis after Wild Thing was born. I was bona fide suicidal.

I'd had postpartum depression in the past, so I was already "medicated" as a precaution and I think being on an SSRI actually made it worse because I wasn't an emotional basket case. I was coldly calculating. I actually used the internet to research the best possible way to kill myself so that not only would I definitely die (albeit slowly), but my kids would not be traumatized by the actual act with finding me dead or anything. I was counting on kidney and liver failure.

Thankfully, I had this *inkling* that maybe my meds weren't up to snuff. For some reason there's some societal taboo about suicide.

So I asked my mom to take me to the doctor. We dropped the older kids off with a friend and took the baby with us. Once there I told her I thought I needed more medication and calmly told her my plans. She looked, more than a little worried and insisted I go immediately - under my mother's care - to the emergency room. So we did.

At the ER they do their little triage questionnaire and I explained why I was there and they sent me out to the waiting room with an enormous linebacker of an orderly to watch over me and my mom. He outweighed the two us combined by at least 20 kilos and he wasn't smiling. I got the feeling that I was not going to be allowed to leave. "Whatever" I thought, and nicknamed him "Lurch".

Then they put me and my mom in a private examination room and we waited forever for the on duty psychiatrist to see me. I was in good enough spirits to joke with my mom about the wisdom of leaving a suicidal person in a room with a bucket of used sharps.

Hours later the psychiatrist shows up, a forensic psychiatrist. You know the ones that figure out the mental stability of axe murderers. There was no hand holding or sympathy coming from this guy. I explained again, my predicament and my plan and he said "Okay we're admitting you" and asked my mom if she was taking the baby home with her.


I piped up "When the postpartum depression clinic was at the Queensway Carleton the baby stayed with you"

"Not here, we just put you in the general psych ward, and that is no place for a baby"

And off he went.

This was the first time I'd really felt any emotion in all of this (depression isn't an emotion - its a state of being where nothing matters at all, more like realizing you have no soul) I wasn't worried about my mom looking after the baby. BUT WHO WOULD FEED HIM?????????? He was NOT getting fed formula!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I started planning my escape, baby tucked under arm like a football. Will mom be on my side, or will she sound the alarm? How agile will I need to be to outmaneuver Lurch?

I started crying, quietly at first, and then more and more hysterically. Until that point, I think I "passed" as a sane person who could have been in the ER because of a broken finger. Now I was a shreiking wailing banshee.

A nurse came to ask me if I was okay and assurred me no one was going to take my baby from me, but I knew she was lying.

Eventually I simply wore myself out and sat there in a little puddle.

The psychiatrist came back.

I weakly tried to say I was not going to leave my baby. He needed to nurse.

He countered sternly with "Well if you're dead he's not going to be nursing is he?"

Don't try and confuse me with logic man!

I started crying again. My mother at some point offered that I could stay with her and she and the psychiatrist went over every possible thing I could kill myself with at her house and she promised not to let me near them.

Then he sent me off with her with a follow up visit the next day and...I think they were horse tranquillizers that passed the Hale's lookup.

For two weeks I didn't comb my hair. I don't remembering showering, and my mom cut up my food and hid the knives. It was a big drug fog. All I remember was staring at Wild Thing for hours, he was the most fascinating thing on the planet.

And then I felt better.

But ever since there's been this dark ..."afterthought"... that's remained. I used to have a few "BUT I MIGHT DIE!!!" phobias, like driving in the fog, heights, answering the telephone if I didn't know who was on the other end. It erased my phobias (except for the one about fish).

There's a creepy calm acceptance that yeah, someday I will die, and then beneath that, worry about my kids and Papa Pan, and what will happen to them if I'm gone.

Monday, April 7, 2008

mommy blog metablogging

So over at Bottles Barbies & Boys she's posted about her husband being incredulous that she could finish a phone conversation after the baby peed down her side.

It's that dad panic that *I* don't get!

Okay the baby spat up on you... he does that about 24 times a day. You just deal with it, that's why there are spit up rags all over the house.

Then he asks "Why don't you wear them on your shoulder?"

And he asks me this...almost every day.

"Well Papa, where did he just spit up on you?"

"My crotch."

Yeah, I'm not into wearing cutesy printed flannel hazmat jumpers for the next year.

From my perspective, the spit up stains are less obvious than the remedy.

I met a neighbour today, and in typical fashion I've forgotten her name - but she has a beautiful 5 year old Landseer Newf bitch named Cleo! Cleo flung drool all over my top and her "mom" looked horrified ...kinda like I would if Sprout spewed all over the neighbour - but I said "Oh don't worry, I have 5 kids I'm used to it" Her response was genuine, and had no tone to it, but this is what she said...

"Oh yes, its like my friend xyz, she has 10 month old twins and a 3 year old. She doesn't care at all what she or the kids look like, as long as they can get out of the house all together at the same time."

Meanwhile Wild Thing is mooning her behind my back. His pants - without a diaper inside - are now too big and I haven't switched him to big boy undies yet, and he's going commando. A belt would be disastrous with all the racing to the potty so ...well so, there you go.

I've been reduced to spit and urine soaked clothes and children who show their bums to public, as we meet the neighbours.

And you know what? It's true, I don't care! I was so happy to be having an adult conversation it didn't bother me at all!

Saturday, April 5, 2008

"Scary tigers still like to have their bubbas you know."

Posting this here, cause you know, Facebook would say this is obscene because there is breast in it, and this may count as beastiality. My lactivism post for the week.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Hey I resemble that comment!

"Stuff white mommy bloggers like from my favorite cranky feminist blogger.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Feminism and homeschooling...

This is a really excellent article.

I've written, then deleted, my response to this a bunch of times. Lets just say I'm still feeling betrayed and that I still feel Nature Girl was betrayed, and while we're making the best of a rotten situation, it still stinks.

To add to my glum mood the admissions officer at Shambhala School in Halifax called and invited us for a visit. Its the school that Enki Education's curriculum was developed for initially.

I do not think public education - anywhere - is the way to go with Nature Girl. She needs to be in an environment where ADHD is not addressed as a *behavioral issue*. Her teacher loves her, but in the classroom Nature Girl is singled out as a classroom management problem - she has to sit at the front away from distractions and friends. Her teacher is always having to redirect her attention and the Aide works with her sometimes. The Aide only works with kids who are "different, who are special". She gets segregated from her class for extra help in a resource classroom with one other child. Her spelling lists and math homework are different than the rest of the class'.

At Shambhala the curriculum addresses all learning styles as equally good and valid and "special". At Shambhala they have addressed the needs of kinesthetic learners in a way that ADHD is not an issue in classroom management or teaching style.

We also have a school at the end of our street - Landmark East - that is geared especially to the needs of kids with learning disabilities and ADHD is recognized as one by the province. We can even get bursaries from the province for her to attend. The girls there are THRIVING emotionally, and academically are getting all the support they need to make sure all their options are open come time for university.

I'm not against "school", in fact, I think a democratic free school is the perfect educational setting. We initially moved to Wolfville because of Fairfield School - a sudbury Valley School that had to close do to low enrollment (*cough* *cough* DELETE DELETE DELETE) but as long as school means the things discussed in this article -

" of the most troubling features of today’s public education system is the pervasiveness of sexism and sexual violence in schools. In fact, a recent report by the Toronto District School Board found that “violence against girls and young women is a pervasive problem” in Toronto public schools. Sexual harassment of girls by boys is too common; sexist attitudes and stereotypes continue to negatively affect the self-confidence and personal development of girls and boys; and the influence of peers, teachers and curriculum tend, in both overt and subtle ways, to pressure children into restrictive gendered boxes that distort the way they think, act, and try to look. So, yes, boys are harmed by what happens in schools today. But the problem is too little feminism, not too much. In fact, if the public system were really pushing a feminist and queer-positive agenda as the Fox article alleges, my son would probably be sitting in a cold, hard desk seat right now."

- it isn't a healthy place for boys or girls...when you add in a learning difficulty usually seen as a "boy" problem in a girl - it is a double whammy. Girls with adhd are more likely to fail academically, to engage in risky behaviours, to get pregnant in high school, to drop out.

There's only so much I can do to protect her self esteem and her sense of self after school and on the weekends....and the age where her peers opinion matters more than mine, well its fast approaching. I try to fill that precious time with kids who are learning in freedom. I want her peers to be the kids I know being raised by feminists, homeschooled girls and boys who have strong rolemodels at home and in the community. Its a whole lot healthier than the one I see on the public school playground.

Have I mentioned that Papa Pan is a public school teacher, working in Special Education, and he agrees with me?

Wednesday, April 2, 2008


The yard, March 31st in the afternoon...

The boots, resting after kicking out March.
Yes those are clear sunny skies - too bad the picture can't capture the wind! It is 7 degrees out!
The last chunk of snow is from the snowman that Nature Girl and Wild Thing made on Saturday.

I know Sprout looks like he's being tortured...

But I LOVE this picture. This totally captures their relationship!
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Checking in from land of the sick...

Nature Girl got the same virus that felled Dark Mirror, Wild Thing, and Papa Pan.

In her case it ended up giving her a middle ear infection. After waiting the requisite 48-72 hrs before demanding "Someone DO something!" I took her in and we got antibiotics. I waited precisely 64 hours actually.

The 39-40 degree fever (with taking tylenol for the pain) wasn't my tipping point in the "must treat this allopathically" decision. I relish a good infection fighting fever. It was the aching bones in her head - and if I had a chiropractor here I'd have taken her in there first, but while I'll experiment with chiropractors (they're all so different) with my skeletal system, I want to feel good about that person before they lay hands on my kids.

This is the first time I've really missed Chelsea since moving to Wolfville.

Our new clinic here (a co-op) is very nice and I *really* like the nurses and our new doctor is gentle and listens and is respectful of the fact that I don't use allopathic medicine as my primary care. But I miss my old doctor, I miss her humour and how she knows if I'm there, its serious, and I'm there for advise first and foremost, not a magic pill.

I miss my *two* fabulous chiropractors. My personal first choice was my chiro in Wakefield. He just was wonderful and intuitive and closed his eyes while he felt your spine. But he and his wife unschool and his hours weren't great so I also saw a chiropractor in Chelsea who specialized in pregnancy and children. She was within walking distance of the house and was my first line with anything like this.

The doctor agreed the issue was that her swollen lymph glands were causing more congestion in her inner ear by interferring with the tubes, and my children's chiropractor was GREAT at relieving that with a lymphatic massage. I wish I knew how to do it!

If I get this virus I'll miss MY mommy too.

And for my mommy, a more serious picture of the Sprout, this is his "I can impart great wisdom, if only you'll look into my eyes" (insert russian accent) look.

My least favorite thing as a mom is peeling oranges for kids, followed by peeling potatoes and peeling boiled eggs. My NEXT least favorite thing is entertaining kids who are too sick to go outside but too well to nap. I'm getting good at it, but I still don't enjoy it...the secret is to let them make a nice big mess somewhere...

Then stick them in the tub for an hour or so.