Wednesday, October 29, 2008


I have had some stumbles at work. I don't know what to call it. For a while I said I kept screwing stuff up by being, I don't know, too... too... too 'deferential'.

Is that it? Is it being out of the work setting for two years and lacking confidence? Or it is the gaps in credibility with the current trends, etc.

I think it might have more to do with that idea deference. Deference and authority. When I became mother-woman, I recognized I changed. Changed caste in a way. At home the buck stops with me. I have now settled into this authority. But it has not been easy.

The unease of it has reverberated through my return to work. As I navigate new circles of influence, industry and action I delay, defer and abide. I guess because I can, and face it I'm tired. And because the idea of facing a matrix of status and rank where the buck doesn't stop with me is out of sync with where I'm at right now.


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Grrrr Mother Bear, and yes that is a stereotype!

As many of you know I am not fond of the 'princessification of girlhood'. This is a capital hypocrisy on my part. Case in point the box of Princess Di memorabilia I have hidden in the basement. Oh to be 9 in 1981!

But for the record. I'm over the princess-phobia.

No longer, do I, eye-roll at my kids's mention of Belle or Ariel. We still do not purchase any of these materials but neither do I destroy them when others might bestow them. I have found my peace with Snow White and Cinderella. Miss Fancy will, in fact, be a truly fancy Snow White this Halloween. (God Bless her grandmother for volunteering to make the costume that my topic sentence might hold true at this point.)

This week we have greatly enjoyed the book Greece! Rome! Monsters!** In opposition I have a new perspective on the Disney brand. It falls into the, you'll like this CC, "get over yourself mo-wo category". I mean look at Zeus, he was pretty harshly branded, wasn't he? Yes, the princesses are insipid, but they are fantastic and ethereal. Just keep the ethereal and fantastic going for her and toss in graver and graver degrees of the moral along with characters with more than one dimension, ta-da! Everyone's happy!

Now let's see if I can remember this the next time someone remarks on my kid's, and I quote, "get-up" just because she got kept wearing her cloak that day instead of being late for their kids Thomas the Tank themed birthday party. Or say, when my big fat feminist ego is jibed repeatedly for 'having a little princess'. Just makes me want to trap them in a room in a tiara beset by my daughter and her bug collection or say the enduring fascination she has with the crucifixion.

Few things can piss me off like assumption, judgment. I'm a libertarian. Don't oppress me! Worse, yet. Don't oppress my kid. Squarepants! Now that I've gotten over the princess phobia, I just left with dealing with parent-intellectuals watching me squirm through my comfort zone. Seriously, some people just seem to have it in for dress-up, but not me. We're talking about a four-year old dress up is good.

I am thinking of changing my tagline. Mother-Woman, an endless array of angst to explore!

ps... isn't child media literacy fascinating?? I mean it's not just me, yanno.

** Also, Greece! Rome! Monsters! is ok but I think it's more a library loaner. Don't buy this book necessarily.

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Sunday, October 26, 2008

D.E.A.R. and National School Library Day

It was a busy week at work last week for a lot of the normal mundane reasons. But there was (and is) something special, too. Monday October 27th is School Libraries Day in Canada and we go the extra mile around my place to hoot and holler about it!

I am often tired and only rarely not stressed by working for school libraries in this City but I am always proud. I have worked in all kinds of libraries but K to 12 is fantastic. I work with people who intimately recognize the reading wants and needs of hundreds of people in their school. I live for the passion engendered by the business, and struggles, of maintaining school library service. School libraries are the only libraries every citizen is guaranteed to see. In some ways they reach a broader number of library users than their public counterparts. I hope my kids will have a great school library and that yours will too. I hope that you will support having all manner of information at school. Not just a gesture to route a kid to 'look it up' on a computer somewhere!

For National School Libraries day British Columbia has a special celebration in store. Everyone, it's official now the Premier even said!!! everyone.. is invited to drop-everything-and-read for 20 minutes on Monday the 27th. I am personally grateful to our local newspaper for challenging him about not speaking up before!

The idea is that we take 20 minutes to value AND ENJOY what school libraries stand for and offer, reading, learning to read and liberal access to literature and information. Between 11am and 11:20 everyone I work with will drop everything and take a book break. I invite you to join in. If you do let us know at the blog or on the Facebook page.

Over-excited nerd librarian, out.

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Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Dark

We took a very late trip to the swings. It was really too late to be out and about but I called it Halloween training. And it was fun.

Girl Friday: Why is that guy out in the dark?

Mo-wo: Well, he has to walk his puppies. (Had two little long haired terriers). Dogs need walking all times of the day. They need to go far and they need to well, poop and stuff. We're lucky. We have cats. Cats are small. They don't need to walk as far. And, they can poop and pee in a litter box and that works pretty well.

Girl Friday: I remember when I was just three. One time Filip [the cat] peed on the bathmat, Daddy was R-REEL-EEL-LY mad.

ps.. like that new sidebar picture? Vancouverites please note Westham Island Herb Farm is the best pumpkin patch! The mud, the pumpkins, the flocks of snow geese, and then the most fantastic carrots, spotted prawns cheap, a donkey!! Am I wrong?

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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Flashing Green

When our dear nonlinear ones were here from the United States of America last month they asked me "What are the flashing green lights for?" I explained that is our great Canadian universal socialized street crossing scheme. The scheme that says, hey I have the right to cross the street at many many many intersections. And, I expect the government to help me do it!


I was driving to work today. Shame. Shame. The back route I usually enjoy has been less enjoyable since school got back in. Today around the corner near the high school it was entirely clogged. Rainy and a bit dark near eight there were cars everywhere. Slow, silly cars.

When I was a kid no one drove to school. Before the age of 16 anyway, then it was the ultimate coolness. My parents lived in the house I grew up in for a long time and I remember when the phenomenon hit my old street (a block and a half from my elementary school); the street would clog up with cars. Lots and lots of cars. Then fancy signs about how/where/when to stop -- and not stop. I thought it was weird, not for the logical environmental reasons, but more because I thought schools were put close to people so they could walk there. I love right now that my kids can walk to day care and that I get a walk around the block myself is a mental/physical health bonus, too.

Today in my self-conscious mode of analysis of the drive to school culture wondered what it would will take for my kids to walk to school. I have often wanted to wander the edges of what I consider to be a very expensive form of helicopter parenting; the safety conscious stuff. Count me keen to avoid the mode where I had to go to the 'safety store' to childproof A LOT. The busy inventories that, while they may suit others, would land me in the loony bin should I engage even a bit with that sort of worry. The hypoallergenic everything, the super-safe toys and overall pursuit of purity that raises my suspicion. I was shocked as a parent to discover one of the biggest brands is something called SafetyFirst. I felt like I'd been dropped into some junior Coast Guard brigade with poop! How much of it is about actual risk and how much is just a sales job for already overly freaked out parents? Of which I am one. I always enjoyed the "look offspring X really just loves poking around with a stick", or "offsprings y-z, don't they just love to wash dishes". It is liberating and practical and cheap and more....!

But, today, I looked at all those cars this morning and I got it. I realized that I could be one of them. I hope it's just a matter of perspective and conditioning. Maybe it is just my current separation anxiety, which is considerable, but looking at all those cars I sort of thought, yeah. I guess I should get off my high horse and admit driving the kids might be the way to:
1.) see my kid until the very last minute.
2.) know they are safely at school.
3.) deliver them to a school that we think is the absolute best option for them.

I hope that I don't drive the kids to school. From the get go I want school, like everything they do, to be a permissive developmental bargain. You will conform to this institution in exchange for an additional measure of independence, discernable in the following ways.... I will make you go to school but I will at least trust you to walk the six blocks to get there. I will trust you to learn the right routes and to obey crossing signs. I will teach you to respect yourself and begin to protect yourself from the earliest possible age. I will support you as a member of this community to achieve the degrees of safety you deserve.

We have of late read the excellent book LonPoPo**. My daughter asked me today, at the age of four, if I would leave her at home with the door latched while I went to pick up her brother from childcare, a half a block away. The trip would take me 5 minutes or less. I said no, but I would think about it. I felt she asked me because she wanted to show me she knows a new risk and can keep herself safe, alone. She wanted to prove it. I believe she feels the liberty because she knows the danger. (Or maybe she just wanted to totally act out and role play the risk [highly likely] at the moment, so... no we won't leave you at home Princess Smartypants!)

Where do you stand on these dangers? Is there a definite right age for your children to be alone, apart from you as a parent? Do you think safety is an important factor in your decision to drive -- or not to drive -- your child to school? October is walk to school month. Tell me, will/do, your child(ren) walk to school?

** Young, Ed. Lon Po Po : a Red-Riding Hood Story from China. Scholastic, 1990.

Dedication: "To all the wolves of the world for lending their good name as a tangible symbol for our darkness."

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Sunday, October 19, 2008

Recommended Title: One witch

One witch / Laura Leuck ; illustrations by S.D. Schindler.

Walker, 2003, 2005
Subjects: Witches -- Fiction ; Halloween -- Fiction ; Counting ; Stories in rhyme
ISBN: 9780802777294 ; 0802788602

Just in case you are not all ready with a great holiday book here ya go.

Don't get dismayed with all the schlock holiday formula drek on the bookshelves this October. There are still great Halloween books to use just get past those new titles lists. We have a few favorites but when pressed to recommend we just have to introduce you, if you don't know, to One Witch. Totally excellent ink and watercolour illustrations coupled with rhyming couplets in a counting story for Halloween!! What more could you ask for? Lovable even under the age of one and transfixing for ages two and up.

One witch on a hill had any empty pot to fill...
get thee to the library and find out about her gruesome brew. (For even more book ideas see the list from kittenpie.)

ps.. tell me, have any of you ever used the worldcat searches? I mean I do think it's pretty cool you can just type in your zip or postal codes and find a book right in your library. But ya know, I'm a geek and all.

*** Our report from the pumpkin field coming soon. ***

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Saturday, October 18, 2008

Me and Barack

I did watch a bit of the US Presidential debate this week. It was truly delightful to watch Barack with new eyes. He has really cracked the "I don't yet have anything firmly in common with mo-wo" barrier.

I mean does this guy even want to do this anymore? Maybe not. In fact, I think it is not entirely unlikely he's started to kick off his days the same way I do...

"Note to self... Go my own way. Stop thinking I should try something just because Oprah thinks it's good for me."


Thursday, October 16, 2008

The one

I bought the boots for Ciocia's January funeral. My long black boots. They're wearing out now. It was nearly three years ago I stood on that hill; p-man walking the stroller around. Naptime.

Ciocia's funeral was the first road trip we took. The Girl Friday was 16 months and I was 3 months pregnant. My girl traveled well to her Great-Great Auntie's funeral. They had met only once. In a hallway for just a moment when my girl was 3 weeks old. That was at funeral too.

This summer we traveled the same road to splash in the lake and buy cheap peaches by Ciocia's old house. A bliss for the children, pains for me.

Ciocia is the one for me. That person who existed beyond the pale. Equally loved by her family, her friends, co-workers, neighbours. A six foot tall, athletic, dark haired, baby sister of my grandmother she had no children. The world could scarcely know a greater misdeed, in my view, than what stood between her, and my Uncle John's, parenthood. A light of motherhood, hidden could not have been more wrongly shaded.

She was the one, as I say. She taught me to give till it hurts but she would not for one minute have carried on about it; I can't think how, or if, she ever said it to me. Just example. Purely empirical. Exemplary.

When we go away I often feel the pain of not traveling more. Not going to see family and friends more carelessly and freely. It is mostly because of Ciocia. My dearest most special aunt. A dream of turkey dinners, and fresh homemade doughnuts; stuffing ten dollars in my hand at each visit; sage beyond sage for every wayward worry I might indulge. I turn over how I wish my daughter might have known her. Her earnest and sincere friendliness, her generosity and boundless love-giving. I connect with the guilt of how I should have gone at least a couple times after Girl Friday was born and while Ciocia was alive.

But is all mirrors and clocks. A trick. This was the summer. This was the summer my girl would have remembered. This was the first year we would have had mountains of brownies and hours of fun. The year little boy-o would have giggled and giggled. The trips I missed were photo ops. I can worry I was too timid but what would Ciocia care. She was practical beyond practical. Babies she'd seen but people are a bit different. No elusive nerve for wayfinding of mine would have made her live these extra years. Nothing would have bridged the righteous and swift death that I know she rest assured would reunite her with her most beloved husband, John. Away from me and my little family.

I miss her so. Someone so pure of heart, a giver of every uncomplicated kindness, that's nice to have. I bring her forth when I can. I so wish the children could have had the blessing of her. Will try again tomorrow.


Wednesday, October 15, 2008


I know everyone thinks that having three elections in four years can turn folks off but... I was a scrutineer yesterday and a few times I was sorta, WTF?

Today it irks me. Did we have the lowest turnout ever? Or did the system turn folks away? There were a few things but mostly I am starting to believe that the hasty new id rules indeed might have had an impact. Staffing, hours and rules about registrations at the poll might have played as much a part as voter apathy.

Great. Soon we'll have to run election observer exchanges with the DRC?


Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Results are in

My mother grew up in a small Alberta town. A little Ukrainian burg where English was the second language. When her younger brother got a fancy gov't job the RCMP did the rounds to check him out. It is a tale, still, that day the men from the Gouvermendt came round to ask about Vladmir, no matter that he'd changed his name to something much more Anglo by then.

As many a Canadian knows, men from the Gouvermendt are not really to be engaged. The ones in power are to be equally respected, suspected and feared. Those on my Baba's side lived in Canada long enough to know men interred for their former citizenship in nation's disdained and fled. On my papa's side the memories of imperialist terrors were as fresh as the day a sister might be attacked or a big brother led to the gulag gates.

On my paternal side I am lucky to have a connect with the right to representation and to represent. A tradition -- in my lifetime -- of opportunity; to be heard and to participate. I am glad that the alchemy came to me that I could work on this campaign.

I stood tonight in a musty elementary school gymnasium listening to a friend's name be called out most often, ballot after ballot. A man who once carried a box of my underwear has been elected!! A member of the family who were the first to visit us as new parents is now a member of parliament!!!! Believe it or not as of tonight we can say one of those men in the Gouvermendt is a friend of ours. That's something.


Monday, October 13, 2008


Last week I was irritating people on the phone asking about support for a local candidate. One call was remarkable. It was a conversation I had with a voter who wasn't impressed with the campaign website. I won't go into deep detail but suffice it to say she was the most articulate of the many many people who gave me the impression they were doing the majority of their final decision making based on reading candidates websites. Seriously? You gotta know I loves me some internet but holy!!! Those candidates better get it together. Online electioneering is, so far, a pretty analog race. (Still, there maybe hope.)

Today I was out on the streets in the rain, workin' the election. Haulin' my partisan ass up a few stairs, speakin' up and out for my favorite candidate, but get this... I don't entirely care who you vote for, I don't really even care how you decide. But, I do care if you vote.

Do it people! Let's see how this turns out.

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Friday, October 10, 2008

52 reasons: the liberation that binds

There must be something in my Catholic upbringing ??? or my Presbyterian heritage ??? or my feminist orientation or ??? my feminist short-comings or something ??? ... that embarrasses me for my imperfection; and, I like it. It is a part of my identity??? The endless being at loose ends of unknowing and the addictive blamelessness of being put upon.

To stay-at-home, for me, presumes a surrender to a sort of non-victimizing imperfection I have erstwhile not known. I realize today that this is another imprint I took in a time before of why I would not be a stay-at-home parent. To finally take a pass on being the failure. To risk authority and leadership and all manner of grubby words of powerful and accountable identity.
To say home would mean, in some greater measure, an admission that:
1.) I will never be the best parent there is.
2.) But, I am the best parent, or caregiver, my children can have.
And other such things of knowing.

Gasp! Responsibility! Now there's a reason I thought I could not be a stay at home parent. Still, to unburden myself of all my childish self-centredness and my long-standing focus on failures -- gripping in the darkness every potential for failure -- could I do it? It would bespeak of a paradigm shift come of parenting, most certainaly. It can be pretty alluring. Especially when the blessings we have are adequate in number as to offer such a diminution of risk even a scaredy cat like me has a good chance to overcome. Hmmmm....

Wishing you all many blessings and for the success of every heart's hope this Thanksgiving. xoxox my pretties! love mo-wo

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Wednesday, October 08, 2008


I was 17 minutes late for the World at Six. I always like to listen to the World at Six on CBC radio. The only news done well half the time. I think I have heard it about twice in the last month.

It eludes me. My routine.

I crave it; sure it is only a day away. We'll finish breakfast at.... We'll dress in shifts. It will all dovetail with duplo and workbooks. Drop off then work. A clockwork orange. I will pu and there I'll do my one-on-one with the kids 5:00 to 5:30, oooh puzzles. P-man 5:30 to 6:00ish. While I put the food out (hey how did I make the food???) they can set the table. Hup-two montessori'ed minions. I'll hear the World at Six. We should go to the Y on Sundays, all swim, I'll step on the scale then. At least once a week. I should make two large meals for freezer and leftovers Sat/Sun/Mon etc. We'll bake once a week, not buy muffins, it saves the planet.

It seems simple. Widgets and timelines.

But it never happens. The days just flow, overflow actually. I chew and chew and chew my lip. Bristle at sniffs at my tenuous time management. A point of pride; stuck deeply. I feel a mess. Sniff sniff when someone might observe most of us are still in our pajamas 10:13 on a Saturday morning. What??? What are they saying, I'm lazy.

That's what I figure. Me, sloth. But how can I be lazy when I feel so tired?

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Sunday, October 05, 2008

A new me

I have an interest in a number of new jobs posted this month. My retread 5 year old resume really needs help.

Do you have any advice, as an employer or job seeker, that I need to know?? My old resume is about 3 pages long and documents every damn thing I can do. I think I need to add a bit of mystery to the process... and brevity.

What do you know? (recommended websites for resume guidance would be really excellent too.)

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Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Zone Defence

Hockey season begins.
Baseball as much as come to an end.
My son and my daughter are dreaming of the day they'll be part of a soccer team.

I cringe. I know nothing of athletics. P-man? He's all over it. Lithe and sportsmanlike, in his day. A natural coach. I wonder what they'll do. I hope they do enjoy it. But it won't be for me having a clue. I am at a loss when they hang on the monkey bars.

But arts performance?? I'm all over that. I signed Miss Fancy up for the coolest ballet class ever (community centre!). She has a great teacher she loves who has a beautiful -- huge -- tattoo on her shoulder of Isadora Duncan. (All the kids get stamps on their shoulders now, not their hands, when they're finished. Cute. huh?) It is fun to dance stories, my girl thinks. Yes, ma'm!

I will love the kids experiences in the arts, a lot I think. Dance, theatre, music. YOu? Love and contemplate, it seems.

A year or so ago I finally realized that a fine arts education, sorry to all my arts peeps, is REALLY REALLY REALLY important. When I examine what bugs me about INFLUENCE and my kids growing up I look to defend them. But really the best defence they'll have is a healthy base of the arts. The spine they might gain from creating things, from composing ideas and representations (instead of having them foisted upon them.) I value opportunities for them to play with identity, philosophy, politic, etc etc. Last week my son was 'drawing'. I chided his Dad a little for helping too much. Making logical suggestions for tableaux. Let him do it. If he is demanding of his drawing, if he is reckless in his image, okay. If he erratic or illogical with his imagery. At this SO WHAT! He can have that liberation!! (And, at the age of two -- trust me -- that little guy is looking for the liberal windows he can get out of his parents, big time.)

What about you? Can you tell by now if you will gravitate to arts or sports extra-curricular? Or both? Or neither. Any of it figure for ya?

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