About Me

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I am a new parent. My interests are secularism, learning, parenting, religion, career planning, and adult education.

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Dilemna of Santa

When I first left faith behind me, I felt duped by religion and felt that I really had to learn to protect myself from getting duped again. One of the things I thought that I would do to prevent my future kids from "being duped" was to never lie to them. At the time I thought that might mean not creating the illusion of Santa Claus at Christmas - because I would have to lie to my child to get them to believe in something that isn't true.

Whether or not to "do" Santa during the Christmas season is a common discussion point among atheist and non-theist parents. There are plenty of arguments to go around...

Against Santa
  1. Telling my kids that Santa is coming is lying
  2. Santa has too many religious connotations (ie. based on a catholic saint, imaginary figure that is judging your goodness or badness, etc.)
For Santa
  1. It's fun!
  2. I don't want my kids to miss out on this mainly secular part of the holiday.
  3. It's part of the magic of Christmas
  4. It's an opportunity to see how humans are fully capable of falling for a socially-acceptable myth and figure out the truth on their own.
It's funny, but I am swayed by all these arguments - both for and against. These are all reasons I can understand and appreciate. Really, at the end of the day, I don't think it really matters in the big scheme of things how you spend the holidays - christian or not (as long as you're not encroaching on anyone's human rights).

So, as I said, when I first left faith behind me, I thought I would go the no-Santa route. In talking with my mom and others about this over the past two years, I have seen some push back, but none-the-less I thought, given my values and personal belief,s that I could make Christmas special without Santa, and I think I still could. memories of Christmases growing up are powerful!!!! My parents put on a really, really good show at Christmas and I LOVED IT! Coming out of my room early on Christmas morning, being so tickled at the sight of a filled stocking, new presents under the tree, and feeling so mystified by how it all happened was pretty magical - and then it hit me!

Magic requires a magician!!!! My parents were magicians!

People who create an illusion without giving away their secret are magicians. We know people aren't really magic, but we still enjoy the illusion. And just like learning about how to do a magic trick - whenever we want to, with some effort and a willingness to let go of the "magic" in exchange for knowledge, can we figure out the trick!

So, I decided to never actually tell my daughter there is (or is not) a Santa, but there will be a filled stocking, a special present that wasn't there on Christmas eve, some eaten cookies, and a lighted, decorated tree on Christmas morning. Society will fill in the rest about who is leaving these gifts and how it is done. Whenever I am asked "how is it done?" "Can one man really fly around the world in one night?" and "is Santa real?", I will turn the question around (as Dale McGowan says) and ask "what do you think?" and give her a chance to take the veil from her own eyes. And hopefully she won't feel tricked or wronged by the illusion - hopefully I can help her understand how fun the game is and what we can learn from it.

And hopefully, she will take those lessons out into the world for her own use.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

One Year Old

Dear Boo Boo,

You are one year old! How fast the time did fly. The last two months have been a whirlwind of development for you and getting ready to go back to work for me - craziness. As always, you have handled  all the change splendidly. Your caregivers adore you, you are your normal happy self, and just a joy to be around, whether we are playing, laughing, crying, or snuggling up. 

Through October, we enjoyed the final weeks of our music class, where you were just a little social butterfly. We usually got to class first, and now that you can get around with the funniest little crawl, you would greet each baby and mom as they arrive, very much like this...

You also would go around to test out all the different babies musical instruments during song time. It was adorable and lucky for us, everyone thought it was cute and fun! 

We had a nice long fall this year, which was so great, and I liked to take you outside to play in the leaves.

Thanksgiving was a blast because you got to hang out with your distant (but close) cousin, and the two of you are making fast friends.

And you also, stood all by your self for the first time!

Halloween was next and you rocked a kitty costume!

And then we were soon outfitting you for winter!

Then it was time for mommy to go back to work. We have a great childcare arrangement that allows you to be cared for by a loving woman and spend time with your great-grandfather, as well as see lots of your grandma and grandpa. I love that you have this opportunity to know your grandparents and that they will know you in some of the ways that I know you.

The first week you cried when I dropped you off, but three weeks in, you go willingly, with no tears. You are happy and secure in the presence of your caregivers, and I'm just so proud of you. Leaving you with others, even family, has been much harder than I ever imagined. I miss you, even though we have special time together everyday. I want you to know that even though women can have it all these days, there is always some sacrifice, and it isn't easy, but I want you to know that you have the choice to be and do whatever you want, in whatever way you want to do it. You want for nothing, and you have many, many people to love you and care for you - but always remember, no one will ever love you like I will.

Happy birthday, my beautiful, funny, cheeky girl.

Love Mama

Loving you birthday gift from Mama and Dada


who me?

So typical, get a gift, play with the box!


Tuesday, October 25, 2011


I really enjoyed reading the following about secularism and wanted to share it. I yearn for this kind of culture in our global soceity.


     Several people have asked me the meaning of this term.

     Secularism is the religion of humanity; it embraces the
affairs of this world; it is interested in everything that touches
the welfare of a sentient being; it advocates attention to the
particular planet in which we happen to live; it means that each
individual counts for something; it is a declaration of
intellectual independence; it means that the pew is superior to the
pulpit, that those who bear the burdens shall have the profits and
that they who fill the purse shall hold the strings. It is a
protest against theological oppression, against ecclesiastical
tyranny, against being the serf, subject or slave of any phantom,
or of the priest of any phantom. It is a protest against wasting
this life for the sake of one that we know not of. It proposes to
let the gods take care of themselves. It is another name for common
sense; that is to say, the adaptation of means to such ends as are
desired and understood.

     Secularism believes in building a home here, in this world. It
trusts to individual effort, to energy, to intelligence, to
observation and experience rather than to the unknown and the
supernatural. It desires to be happy on this side of the grave.

     Secularism means food and fireside, roof and raiment,
reasonable work and reasonable leisure, the cultivation of the
tastes, the acquisition of knowledge, the enjoyment of the arts,
and it promises for the human race comfort, independence,
intelligence, and above all liberty. It means the abolition of
sectarian feuds, of theological hatreds. It means the cultivation
of friendship and intellectual hospitality. It means the living for
ourselves and each other; for the present instead of the past, for
this world rather than for another. It means the right to express
your thought in spite of popes, priests, and gods. It means that
impudent idleness shall no longer live upon the labor of honest
men. It means the destruction of the business of those who trade in
fear. It proposes to give serenity and content to the human soul.
It will put out the fires of eternal pain. It is striving to do
away with violence and vice, with ignorance, poverty and disease.
It lives for the ever present to-day, and the ever coming to-
morrow. It does not believe in praying and receiving, but in
earning and deserving. It regards work as worship, labor as prayer,
and wisdom as the savior of mankind. It says to every human being,
Take care of yourself so that you may be able to help others; adorn
your life with the gems called good deeds; illumine your path with
the sunlight called friendship and love.

     Secularism is a religion, a religion that is understood. It
has no mysteries, no mumblings, no priests, no ceremonies, no
falsehoods, no miracles, and no persecutions. It considers the
lilies of the field, and takes thought for the morrow. It says to
the whole world, Work that you may eat, drink, and be clothed; work
that you may enjoy; work that you may not want; work that you may
give and never need.

                         The Independent Pulpit, Waco, Texas, 1887. Robert Green Ingersoll

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Problem with Pretending to Know the Future

Whenever I come across religious or psychic statements about the future, I am reminded of why I think religion is harmful to society. Recently, I came across this

On the surface, most people, even less religious people, will say - "ah that's nice to believe that good will always overcome evil in the end," but we really don't know that for sure, do we? Seeing what we see on the news everyday, we can see that evil often overcomes good and there aren't a lot of good reasons to believe that this will magically change one day, just because a prophet, the bible, or whatever said so. The only way to ensure that good overcomes evil is to work towards it ourselves by creating a society based on human compassion, social justice, and logic and reason.

Pretending to know the future, in my opinion, is one of the biggest problems with religion and why more people need to speak out against ideas and statements that are of no help to a society that desperately needs it. It is important to challenge these ideas, because the more we let these ideas pass around without comment, they more these religious ideas will sink into the public conscience through social consent for religion.

Believing in an apocalypse, end of times, or even just a final judgement and destruction of this earth are common in North America - it is a tenet of Christianity and many people take it seriously. The biggest problem I see with believing this, is that whenever the world gets in trouble - wars, financial crisis, environmental threats, natural disasters, is that rather than respond to these problems in a constructive way, folks read everyday happenings as "signs of the times" and get busying praying, preaching, and getting people "on the right side" instead of acknowledging that Christianity and all its sects have been predicting the end of the world since the 33 AD and it hasn't happened yet. All these actions are misdirected time and energy that would be better used in solving problems the problems that face us.

And statements like the one made by Jeffrey Holland are only comforting to those on "his team" is divisive and exclusionary. Let's face it he's not talking generally about good guys and bad guys - he's talking about those who agree with his religion and those who don't.

There is no way to know the future, but we all have the power to create one that is better for all human citizens and the ones who come after us.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

In Honor of "Read-In Week"

In honor of Read In Week, I would like to share the reasons I love to read and express gratitude to my parents, teachers, and friends who encouraged a love of reading in me as a child.

Reasons I love to read:

  1. Enjoying the quiet time to sit and read a good book - this is the best "me time"
  2. Exploring new ideas and different ways of seeing the world, a different culture, or a particular issue without having to leave the comfort of my own.
  3. Learning about the world, I read at least 1-3 non-fiction books a year.
  4. Researching advice on topics of importance to me to solve problems
  5. Informing myself about the world
  6. Finding new things to talk about with my friends and family
I mostly read for enjoyment, learning, and entertainment. Yesterday, I was reading a blog post on books that groups and organizations have lobbied for banning certain books from American libraries. I was overwhelmed with anger and sadness at these efforts to ban some of my favorite books, including such works as those like To Kill a Mocking Bird, 1984, Animal Farm, Lord of the Rings, Beloved (and other books by Toni Morrison), and Of Mice and Men (and other books by John Steinbeck), as well as many, many others. Someone in the comments of the blog I read said, "If picking up a book is the worst thing your child does, consider yourself lucky." I agree!

So I quickly googled Banned Books in Canada how this list of books being challenged. Now, don't get me wrong, some materials are not age-appropriate for children, and there are definitely some controversial issues discussed in some of the books by the sound of some of the titles but that isn't a good reason for censorship - especially when books like Harry Potter, Star Wars, and the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn are included. Also, considering how awesome some of the challenged books on these lists are, I think I'm going to choose a couple of books from these lists for my own "To Read List" and this I do in honor of Read-In Week.

Are some of your favourite books on these lists? I'd love to hear from you!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Ten Months

Dear Boo Boo,

You are exploring the world in new ways now. You are crawling, pulling up to furniture and walking around it, and getting into drawers and cupboards with a sense of curiosity and determination that is both adorable and frustrating.

Then there are the quiet moments while I snuggle you as you drink your bottle or drift off to sleep, which I enjoy so much now that you don't want to be held as often because of your need to explore. Those are the moments that I stop and appreciate the way you hold on to my fingers as you drift to sleep and marvel at the beauty of your small hands, you soft hair, and your big brown eyes with those thick dark lashes. I stoke your belly as we play All Around the Garden...Tickle you under there and we share smiles and giggles as you settle into your nap.

I also enjoy your playfulness, and the way your nose and eyes crinkle up when we are bouncing on the bed while singing, and when you are delighted to copy your grandparents or dad or me by waving, clapping, or throwing your arms up in the air while we say hurrah! You also cover your eyes now to play peek-a-boo and you look so proud of yourself when we clap and laugh with you. You get so excited and do a little bounce dance on your bum - very cute!

Your Abeulo and Tita from Mexico came to visit you this month and we had lots of fun with them. You were delighted to have two more people in the house to love you and play with you. You made them laugh and smile and I bet this was one of their favourite visits with us. We showed them the river valley in our little city and took fall photos of you.

Then we took you and your grandparents to Drumheller to see the hoodoos and dinosaurs and then off to Banff to enjoy the mountains in the fall. You travel so well and we had so much fun.

You are truly the love of my life (next to your Dad) and I cherish your sweetness, energy, health, smiles, laughs and every milestone along the road. As you graduate to toddlerhood, childhood, and adulthood, I hope you will always remember you are my baby. Whatever you grow into you, I loved you before you had anything to prove, or became whatever you will become - and I will always love you. I know these are days you'll never remember - but I will keep the memories and sweetness of this time for both of us.

Love Mama

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Science Doesn't Require Faith!

Every couple of years it seems I have a conversation with a religious person about some scientific principle or theory. Now, I'm not a scientist myself, but I do enjoy learning about the world and what scientists have discovered and what they continue to find. And even when I was religious, I never equated "believing in science" with "beliving in God". I believed what science said, because I could really review the evidence for myself. I believed in God, well because I wanted too and had reasons for doing so that had everything to do with magical thinking regarding interesting coincidences in my personal life and a great amount of confirmation bias that caused me to only "see" the things that confirmed my faith and to ignore the things that contradicted it. Of course, I didn't see it that way at the time.

So I can't for the life of me understand why, when the topic of evolution comes up, religious people often end conversations on the topic of evolution vs. creationism with "well, you have faith in evolution and I have faith in creationism - it all comes down to faith." It doesn't.

Let me put it this way. I actually do think the bible defines faith quite well in Hebrews 11:1

"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."
Faith is all about hope and a substitute for understanding the things that can't be seen. Science, on the other hand, can be described as this:

Science is the process of asking questions, and testing hypotheses through observation, experimentation, and data collection, which produces evidence to discover and explain what can be seen.

I really think that if science classes in primary and seconday school focused more on scientific process rather and memorization of scientific facts, people would see that scientific "facts" are grounded in observable evidence and do not need to just be taken on faith. Enough ranting for now.

In related news, the children's book Evolution: How We and All Living Things Came to Be by Daniel Loxton has been recognized as the Best Canadian Science Book for Young Readers. I highly recommend it!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Nine Months

Dear Boo Boo,

This month you are becoming quite the little mover. You haven't quite figured out crawling yet, but you are so close. Although, if you have someone to crawl over or up, you are quite proficient! You have also mastered push with your arms while on your belly, sending you backwards - much to your dismay! You are pulling up on everything, and even letting go with one hand, and quickly learning that you will fall if the other hand is tempted away from whatever you are keeping your balance on. Luckily you're a tough kid and bounce back quickly.

This month, Grandma finally wore me down and I cut your bangs so your hair wasn't always in your face and now you really do look like you're up to no good.

You are an adventurous eater and have taken to wanting to feed yourself when mealtimes come, no longer wanted mommy to spoon feed you. You really gobbled up the curry squash, tomato, chicken, rice dish we make - that was a mess!

You are staying up longer between naps now, but when you are really worn out, you like to really take it down a notch and relax.

And finally, we met up with our friends, Jordan and Kim, and their kids and took you camping in Drumheller. You did amazing in the tent and really it seems like we can take you anywhere and you are happy to oblige. Although this time you wanted Mommy in the backseat with you to play with and keep you company.

Love you so much!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Eight Months

Dear Boo Boo,

Time is speeding up. Eight months ago, the days and weeks moved past like a dream in slow motion - enjoying every minute of cuddling you, and caring for you, and those quiet night-time feedings while we listened to lullabies by Jewels, but always looking forward to the days when I could play and laugh with you. Those days are here now, we play, we laugh, we go places together and I get to see you become a little person with likes and dislikes. Your face lights up when you see people you love, and you shy away with strangers now, waiting to see if they can coax a smile from your lips. You love other children and get so excited when I bring you to the mixed age music class - I know you just want to get up and chase those kids and have fun with them. They love you too - and come to hold your hands and dance and sing for you - and you LOVE IT!

You have also discovered that you have a "friend" in the mirror. Oh how you get soooooooooo excited when you see yourself in the mirror. You have never been a baby who spontaneously laughs, you usually need someone to tickle you first, but earlier this month, while we were coming home from the store, we heard you laughing your head off, we turned to see what was so funny, and could see you in the backseat mirror waving and laughing at the baby in the mirror. It will be a few months before you realize it is you that you see - but I am glad that you like what you see. Since then we have spent more time in front of the mirrors in the house, and you always have a smile and wave for the baby in the mirror.

This month, you have mastered waving, and getting onto your hands and knees from a sitting position. You keep throwing your toys away from you and then challenging yourself to go get them, reaching further and further each time. You are creeping a bit on both your stomach and back. You get further on your back, on your stomach, you just mostly go in circles, but I know that you'll be crawling soon. You are also pulling up on everything you can get your hands on, which is kind of terrifying, as there have been a few spills, but they haven't left any marks....yet.

 Your daddy and I love you so much and we are so happy to have created a family with you. We are very happy and will do all that we can to remain so.
Love Mommy

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Public Schools Introduce Anti-Discrimination Policy for GLBT Youth - Christian program doesn't like it

I've been following the news regarding Edmonton Public School Board's (EPSB) decision to create policy that would protect Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgendered (GLBT) youth from harrassment, discrimination and bullying at school. Unfortunately, in order to spin a story, the Edmonton Journal chose to focus not on why this policy is needed or how it will help and protect GLBT students, but instead on how the Christian LOGOS program are concerned that the policy "could have a significant, negative impact" on their programming.

With a little searching, I found a discussion document on why the EPSB decided they needed to develop this policy. The rationale for creating such a policy, outside of regular school anti-bullying policy, includes the following points:
  1. research that shows that GLBT youth experience significantly more physical and sexual abuse and harrassment in school, have run away from home, have trouble with harmful substances, report more sucidal thoughts, and suicide attempts than their peers.
  2. The Alberta Government was the first in Canada to name homophobic bullying as an education concern (surprisingly progressive for Alberta!), in addition all public funded schools in Alberta are legally mandated to provide discrimination-free educational environments
  3. Courts are encouraging school to do more than just discipline bullies, but must also "address a pervasive school-wide culture of homophobia, transphobia, and heterosexism."
  4. And finally, and to me, most importantly
"Contemporary research demonstrates that vulnerable minority groups have needs and concerns that are seldom effectively addressed by broad “catch all” policies. (...) A specific LGBTT policy and accompanying regulations are necessary to help provide teachers and administrators with the necessary knowledge, strategies, and resources to create safe, caring, equitable, and inclusive learning environments for sexual minority students and employees. In addition, these policies also provide important support for heterosexual students who may come from same-sex parented families. Importantly, the development of specific policy and regulations will also create recommended actions and outcomes from which progress can be measured and evaluated. ... However and perhaps most importantly, as an invisible minority, a standalone policy visibly signals to the LGBTT community that they are a valued and respected part of our school communities.
At the end of the day, GLBTT students and students of GLBTT parents, experience bullying for very different reasons than heterosexual kids. It's often not an issue of just dealing with the class bully who is lashing out - but from overt and subtle discrimination and harrassment from many students, teachers, counsellors, and administrators. This kind of bullying, harrassment, and discrimination comes from a place of bigotry, fear, and homophobia: it is not the same as your run-of-the-mill school-yard bullying (although it can be that too). Teachers and students need different resources and training to deal with these issues to make school a safe place for GLBTT.

I would also venture to guess that GLBTT youth need these policies even more in a relgious enviroment. GLBTT youth who come from religious backgrounds often don't choose their schools - their parents do. Potentialy, these youth cannot get support or help with their feelings from their own family members who may believe that homosexuality is a choice and a sin - wouldn't it be nice if they could find support, help, and community at school - since they might not be getting it at home or church?

I am sad that the publically funded LOGOS program is more concerned about their teachers' rights to "freely [express] their Christian beliefs in the classroom" and thereby contribute to a homophobic culture than to protect the vulnerable youth that are certainly in their midst. Perhaps they can just focus on the many positive Christian beliefs they hold regarding love and charity - and keep their views on homosexuality to themselves in the classroom - leave those beliefs to be taught at church, in the political arena if you feel you must, and in your home. Maybe keep them from vulnerable children who are just trying to discover who they are and get comfortable in their own skin. Although, perhaps you might just choose to focus on your own sins, rather than the percieved sins of others, who may not share your view anyway.

My heart aches of GLBT youth - let's see if we can't help them make it through high school without being tormented - and everyone else too.

For a great opinion piece on this issue please see this.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Seven Months

Dear Boo Boo,

Last night you surprised us all. While playing with a fun toy at Grandma's you learned that in order to activate the mechanism that spins the wheels, you need to put a ball into a hole. Daddy showed you how it worked a couple of times and in no time, you were doing it yourself - you were sooooooo excited to make the toy work. Your fine motor skills are really picking up now! Another fun moment from last night, your Daddy was blowing your hair out of your eyes, which was making you laugh and then during the last "blow" you fell back. While we were all worried that you would cry - you smiled and laughed instead - ha ha - Daddy blew me down!!

I'm starting to enjoy dressing you up in girly clothes, and you look so adorable. Grandma and I picked out 4 new dresses for you yesterday, and I can't wait to bring you to a family wedding next month to show you off. You like playing with the skirts! And you really are such a pretty baby.

Oooh! Pretty!
This month, you have had some firsts - your bottom two front teeth are coming in - and as per usual, except for a couple of night wakings and a cranky day, you are handling it so, so well. We are able to see them when you smile now, that is, when you get your tongue out of the way, but haven't been able to catch them on camera yet.

You are also starting to wave and clap your hands together and life is getting so fun with you. You are also making strides towards crawling and can rock back and forth on hands and knees and sometimes try to pull up using some toys for leverage. Pretty soon, you'll be on the go - I better get baby-proofing!


Watch out! I'll be on the move soon!

Sometimes mom just doesn't understand the difference between tired and hungry.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Lessons from a Tiger Mom

A Review of Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chau

A few months ago the blogosphere was ablaze with criticism of Amy Chau's parenting style, which she calls being a Chinese mother. While I agree with many of the arguments that Amy is harsh, demanding, strict, and controlling; upon reading her book, I quite was taken aback by how fiercely she loves her daughters and how much she believes in their talents and abilities.

Now don't get me wrong, I totally disagree with her reasoning that shaming a child when they displease you will motivate children to improve. In fact, she justifies shouting stinging insults because

The Chinese parent believes that their child will be strong enough to take the shaming and to improve from it. (And when Chinese kids do excel, there is plenty of ego-inflating parental praise lavished in the privacy of the home).
Amy points out the difference between a "Western" parent and a "Chinese" parent in this example

If the child comes home with a B on the test, some Western parents will still praise the child. Other Western parents will sit their child down and express disapproval, but they will be careful not to make their child feel inadequate or insecure and they will not call their child "stupid," "worthless," or "a disgrace." ...If a Chinese child gets a B ... there would first be a screaming, hair-tearing explosion. The devastated mother would then get dozens, maybe hundreds of practice tests and work through them with her child for as long as it takes to get the grade up to an A.

Now, I disagree with shaming a child, but I do believe Amy has a point here. Children are strong enough to hear the truth, I just think it can be done respectfully. If I think my child is capable of doing better, there is nothing wrong with telling her and then working with her to show her what she can really do. The part about this I really admire is the belief and willingness of a parent to devote time and energy to helping the child improve. It is not all about the child and the child's effort - the parent jumps in and makes sure the child has the resources, and more importantly, the practice to improve.

Don't get me wrong, there are many cringe-worthy moments in this book. Some of the language and tactics Amy uses to get her girls to practice their instruments, do well in school, and make the best birthday cards are way too harsh for my personality style; and I do think that that kind of speech can harm a child (and it passes on bad habits to children who often grow up and imitate their parents). I'm sure however, that we can take some lessons from a Tiger mom, who really was the most stirring example of a hard working, involved parent that believes in her kids that I've ever seen in my life. Plus, Amy is an awesome storyteller and her book is a good read - even if you will cringe at her parenting style - and you probably will.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Six Months

Dear Boo Boo,

You've come a long way in six months, baby! In short six months, you have gone from this

to this

You've reached that magical age of babyhood where smiles, giggles, laughs, babbling and playing are the epitome of baby cuteness and you bring joy to everyone who encounters you. We often go to Tim Horton`s to meet Grandma, Grandpa D, Great Auntie June and Uncle Ray for coffee and all their friends and many strangers come up to tell us what a good baby you are. You never cry there, and enjoy playing with a paper cup and having Grandma make you laugh while Grandpa D gets to make funny faces at you. You always have a big smile for Grandpa D.

You're eating habits have changed now that we have introduced you to solid food. Your favourites so far are banana, apple, mango, and peas. Sometimes you would rather just chow down on your bowl though!

Your Grandpa E. likes to come over some mornings to help me feed you. You melt his heart every time.

Grandma often reminds me that each baby is unique and personality traits displayed now will continue to become more apparent as you grow and that I should try to remember as much as possible from your baby days - and oh - I so want to remember every bit.

You are a very sweet-tempered baby - really only cranky when you`re tired, which you probably get from me. You are cautiously willing to try anything so far, all the food you`ve been presented with, the toys from the exersaucer to the jolly jumper, long car rides, etc. You are happy and seem to be content with your life - a quality I hope remains with you. You already have the ability to exercise patience, a trait you have probably received from your father who is the king of patience. You are very bright and curious as well, which is a common baby trait, but one I hope to nurture anyway.

Recently, you have become quite interested in people, particularly other children. Whenever you see another small person there is always a smile, a hand reaching out to connect, and a watchful gaze as you grasp that there are lots of little people in the world.

You`ve become more independent in the past few weeks, which is making it easier for me to get more done around the house, although you often find me at your side to play and laugh with you. You love patty cakes, and kisses behind your ear that make you laugh. You are sitting independently now and we have built you little play nests in the living room and office where you and sit and examine your toys.

You have also been trying to get into the conversation with shrieks, coos, and babbling of which na,na,na and da,da,da have become frequent. It's so adorable and a welcome addition to the cozy noises in our home.

Continue to grow, learn, and love.


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Parenting and Feminism with Humour - A Review of BossyPants

When I first picked up Tina Fey's new book Bossypants, all I expecting was a good laugh and an insider's view of working at Saturday Night Live.

What I did not expect was an inside view of an intelligent, successful woman who has the ability to speak about important issues like feminism, equality in the workplace, the stress of "having it all" in terms of working and motherhood, and parenting with humour, compassion, and honesty - all without being preachy.

I think comedy takes the edge off when discussing important issues - even when she's being snarky. She explains it well when describing her first sketch as Sarah Palin:

This sketch easily could have been a dumb catfight between two female candidates...however [it] was two women speaking out together against sexism in the campaign. In real life these women experienced different sides of the same sexism coin. People who didn't like Hillary called her a ballbuster. People who didn't like Sarah called her Caribou Barbie. People attempted to marginalize these women based on their gender...Not that anyone noticed. You all watched a sketch about feminism and you didn't even realize it because of all the jokes.

And that is pretty much how she handles discussing many of her views in the book. I was particularly touched by her discussion about experiencing sexism in the workplace, how she handled it, and how it changed over the years. She showed through humorous stories that sometimes sexism and inequality exist because some people do not actually think that women can do what men do as well (eg. women aren't as funny as men), or they just do not understand what women are talking about (eg. a hilarious account of getting a Kotex Classic sketch produced, but men didn't know how it could be produced because they didn't know that women used to wear belts to secure their pads!). Although I haven't experienced much sexism in my places of work - with the exception of a board member who seemed to think it was my job to make his coffee because I was a woman - it was an interesting part of the book to read. Her advice is to ignore it if that particular person isn't acutally standing in your way of getting what you want, and to go over, under, through if they are. Her view is you can't change people, so don't waste your time. Focus on your goal, your talents, your accomplishments and prove you value that way. Then when you get to the top - don't hire the assholes who are stuck in the past.

I also appreciated her honesty about the struggle to balance being a mother and a career woman. She openly admits that there are tradeoffs - that there are times (approx. 3 times per year) she sits in her office sobbing when she realizes what she's missing at home. But then she remembers,

This was interesting to me because I am currently in the process of looking for child care when I return to work and I fully expect to be sad some days while I'm missing my little girl. But, like Tina Fey, ultimately this is what I need to remember:

"There are many moments of my work that are deeply satisfying and fun. And almost as many moments of full-time motherhood that stink like Axe body spray on a brick of blue cheese."
Having introduced Boo Boo to solids, I think I get the reference!

Anyway, I found the book  not only full of laughs, but interesting and thought-provoking too.
"Of course I'm not supposed to admit that there is triannual torrential sobbing in my office, because it's bad for the feminist cause. It makes it harder for women to be taken seriously in the workplace. It makes it harder for other working moms to justify their choice. But I have friend who stay home with their kids and they also have a triannaul sob, so I think we should call it even....Also my crying three times a year doesn't distract me from my job anymore than my male coworkers get distracted..."

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Grief and Atheism

I have experienced grief on both sides of faith. On one hand I can totally understand the comfort faith in an afterlife can be; but on the other hand, there is an equally comforting belief that there is none. We are born, we live, and we die as part of a process that has no director, no meaning but that which we give it, and that death and disease is just a part of life.

I have lost people dear to me both when I was fully convinced there was a God and an afterlife and now that am fully convinced of the opposite (no God, no afterlife). I have actually found grief to be more straightforward now. People die, can die at any time, and there is no reason for it except that it happens to everyone. I can be sad and I can rejoice in my memories of the people I love who are gone. I don't have to wonder where they are; if they were "good enough" to be in a better place; if they are watching over me. They are in my heart and in my memories - and when I miss them, that is where I will find them - always.

As an athiest, I no longer feel the need to reconcile with God when I lose someone. I don't question why young mothers are taken from their families who need them so badly - I no longer have to make sense of why God would take them, when it seems so unnecessary and God presumably has a reason for doing so. I don't have to wonder why God wouldn't step in and save someone from a crippling depression that caused her to take her own life. These things just happen and they are sad.

After I left faith in God behind me, I often wondered if perhaps I would miss it in hard times. If I would wish faith back into my heart when I experienced pain, loneliness, or grief. When I finally experienced grief as an atheist, I was surprised to find that my lack of faith was actually a relief. I no longer have to try to understand why a supposedly loving God would let bad things happen to good people. I don't have to assume "He" has his reasons. Now, I can just accept that bad things happen, without reason, and be grateful for the people who touch my life, for the love that we shared, and be sad without feeling guilty for wishing they were still here, instead of some kind of paradise.

As an atheist/agnostic, I find death and grief more straightforward now. All I need to deal with are my own feelings and the feelings of those around me. My comfort is my memories and the hugs and community of those who also loved the people I've lost. I no longer feel the need to understand tragedy, but have just accepted it as a part of life. I find my heart comes to peace easier as an atheist than it ever did as a believer.

Last night, I read a blog post that a friend of mine linked to on facebook. It was written by Derek K. Miller who died of cancer. He intended for this to be posted on his blog when he died. He was diagnosed with cancer in 2007.

He was an atheist and wanted to leave some final thoughts regarding his beliefs and love for his family and life. I found it very moving, courageous, and poetic.

It turns out that no one can imagine what's really coming in our lives. We can plan, and do what we enjoy, but we can't expect our plans to work out. Some of them might, while most probably won't. Inventions and ideas will appear, and events will occur, that we could never foresee. That's neither bad nor good, but it is real.

I think and hope that's what my daughters can take from my disease and death. And that my wonderful, amazing wife Airdrie can see too. Not that they could die any day, but that they should pursue what they enjoy, and what stimulates their minds, as much as possible—so they can be ready for opportunities, as well as not disappointed when things go sideways, as they inevitably do.
Anyway, I thought it was beautiful. He obviously lived life believing it was his only shot, found love, enjoyed family and friends, and pursued his dreams and goals. And then he faced disease and death without fear or even hope for more.

What I found even more interesting though is the comments section of this post. As we all know, those who believe in a god vastly outnumber those who do not. Some of them loved and knew Derek, or just read his blog. Many people expressed their condolences, but also added their own hopes and beliefs that Derek perhaps discovered he was wrong, having now "arrived" on the other side. Inevitably, those who share Derek's beliefs were offended on his behalf, finding it disrespectful for Christian to now imposes their beliefs on Derek's experience, his goodbye, his final words. I think its too bad that a feud is now tarnishing Derek's final goodbye.

Some say there are no atheists in foxholes; Derek is just one example that they do indeed exist.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Five Months

Dear Boo Boo,

Sorry about missing the the Four Months letter, but we were on vacation - in Mexico - enjoying your first real dose of nice weather and sunshine - it was glorious, so who wants to sit inside at a computer when you can sit on a beach, play with you, and have ice cream? So you will just have to forgive me.

You have already gone further than I ever did by time I was 21, which was how old I was when I first boarded an airplane; you were just under four months. You travelled really well and didn't even seem to notice your ears popping. I love your easy-going nature and am glad that a major change in rountine for a couple of weeks didn't wreck havoc with it.

Your Tita (it's a nickname for little grandma) and Abuelo came to visit us at the resort in Puerto Vallarta. And you and Tita really enjoying seeing eachother again!

The next day, you were introduced to your new cousin, Alex. And your Tia (aunt) and Teo (uncle) got to meet you. Alex is two months younger than you.

Our trip straddled your transition from 3 months to 4 months and it seemed like you developed by leaps and bounds in just two weeks. With a little help from Daddy or Mommy, you can get from a laying down position, to a sitting position, to a standing position. It was so cute to watch you lay on the bed and try to sit up on your own - you can't do it yet, but it looks like you're doing ab crunches when you try. Soooo cute and your Auntie Sheri, who is the work out queen, will be very pround of your strong muscles.

You continue to be a social little thing and offer dazzling smiles to almost everyone you meet. And sometimes smiling at strangers gave us the opportunity to chat with some great people while on vacation. You remain fairly quiet but enjoy babbling from time to time. Laughing has come to you, but you usually wait for someone to tickle you and that doesn't always work. Just in the last week, you have laughed at things you think is funny - like my reaction to what's in your diapers - without a tickle and that was cute.

Lately, I've been thinking about how wonderful it is to be your mommy. Although I know intellectually that you are developing like most children do, I do think you are just spectacular. Although everyone agrees that you are very loveable, no one gets to appreciate you the way that me and your Daddy do. We get the radient early morning smiles, the snuggles, the quiet moments, the way you grab your toes while we're trying to change your diaper, the tentative way you approach bathing. I am just at a loss for words when trying to describe how lucky we are to have you and how you continue to endear yourself to us.

Love Mom

Thursday, March 10, 2011

30 Day Challenge Update

I worked out 23 days out of 30 - so not a stellar performance but not bad either. 3 of those days where trip to see a friend. Travelling with a baby with lots of people to see made those days impossible for a workout. I didn't lose a bunch of weight, but I feel so much better about myself and my energy is returning, which is a great start.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Be a Better Spouse: Challenge #3

One of my new favourite blogs, Motherhood Uncensored, is challenging parents to be better spouses and giving out daily challenges. Today is all about remembering the good stuff, as it can be lost in parenthood. It's not about appreciating the parent they've become, but about remember what you loved about them before you became parents - why you fell in love with your spouse. So, as I'm low on blog ideas lately, I decided that this would be a chance to remember the good stuff about my amazing husband.

  1. He makes me feel important.
  2. He makes me laugh.
  3. I like the way his eyes crinkle when he smiles.
  4. He gave me the best compliment of my life when he said, "You are beautiful because you shine from the inside."
  5. He is neat and orderly and helps out more than his share around the house.
  6. He is affectionate and this has not faded over the years.
  7. He is great with my family and has made them all love him.
  8. He is surprisingly insightful when I least expect it.
  9. He is hot! (although he disagrees with me on this point)
I love you babe! I'm so glad we're doing this crazy thing called life together.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Three Months

Dear Boo Boo,

Yes, your official nickname now is Boo Boo, not Bebo - you've evolved! You are growing so fast and becoming so much more social now. You have discovered how to make new sounds, and you are cooing, gooing, ah-ing, and razzing while trying on different levels of volume. I can tell you have a lot to say, although I can't figure out what yet. Your "talking" seems to be pretty content so I thinks it's okay. You're dad really likes to interpret your talking though, which is usually pretty hilarious. Who needs Bruce Willis (aka "Look Who's Talking") when we have your dad. You dad is so adorable with you - he's teaching you valuable lessons like how to scatch your butt and wear pants on your head.

Your hair, your crowing feature and the one everyone stops to comment on, is getting long enough now that it doesn't stick up any more, but that doesn't stop me from making it stick up in the bath tub.

But don't worry, you are cute as a button again after the bath.

One of my good friends was finally able to come by and visit you. A series of events made it seem like it would never happen. But she came to see us and gave you the cutest hat.

Later in the month, we went to see her - your first road trip! And daddy tried out the new baby carrier!

You are getting stronger everyday. You have excellent head control, and love sitting up (supported) and putting weight on your legs. In fact, you are getting less and less content in your little rocker chair and demand to see the world from our point of view.

Your smile continues to light up my world. I love you so much Boo Boo. Stay happy and healthy.