Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Mean Mommy

Conversation while changing a really awful pull-up in, of all places, a really awful Asian grocery store's public restroom:

Violet: Screams "...Your hair is touching me!"
Me: "Your stinky bum is making me gag."

Then, quiet.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Housewife Hype

I made a great meal last night. It was fast, easy, inexpensive, packed with nutrition and delicious.

Tempeh Chilli
  1. 2 cans black beans
  2. 1 can stewed tomatoes
  3. 1 can tomato paste
  4. 2 large sweet potatoes
  5. 2 small red peppers
  6. 1 green pepper
  7. 1 cup corn
  8. 2 cooking onions
  9. 8 oz package of tempeh
Season with: chilli powder, cumin, s&p, garlic, cayene and a dash of brown sugar
Serve with: Pumpernickel bread

We had a great trip to the local farmer's market yesterday where I aquired all of my fresh ingredients at super seasonal prices. I figure the whole pot cost about $10 to prepare and yeilds 4 meals for 2 adults and a toddler. Violet thought it was... not the best dinner, but she is not one for complex flavors. More than one flavor + BBQ sauce is often too much for her 2 year old palate. My husband thought it was good and ate 2 bowls, but he previously lived a life avoiding all legumes. And most vegetables. I think I want to make it every week and use my extra time writing about what a wonderful meal planner I am and keep the saved grocery money to buy more shoes. Shoes, beautiful shoes.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

True American Spirit

Living in Ontario provides many opportunities for families with young children to come together and feel part of a community. There are many services catering to the health and well being of your child developmentally and socially. I had always found one of the greatest services to be the Ontario Early Years centers. They offer places in every neighborhood for parents, caregivers, and young children to come together and play, exchange ideas, to simply enjoy meeting others. I formed many lasting friendships at the centers my daughter and I frequented and this was important to me because I was new to Ontario and had no family or friends nearby to call on for advice or companionship. So I was truly pleased to find my new community offering such a fantastic rescource. We had been enjoying visiting the Early Years centers since Violet was three months old and I was a weary sleep deprived new mother living in an unfamiliar city, not to mention country. Now living in another new city since June, we have been missing the daily trips to our local Early Years center where we could socailize in an exciting play group setting with toddlers and other stay at home parents. We ventured the 35 minute walk last Friday to our closest location in our new community and here is the complaint letter I issued after my unfortunate encounter:

I am very displeased with a recent visit to a Burlington Early Years center. My two year old and I are new to Burlington and walked to the closest location for our first visit, Cumberland, in hopes of meeting some new acquaintances in our new town. Since my daughter's birth we have absolutely loved attending the early years centers in Hamilton (Melrose, then Ryerson occasionally Queen) where we lived previously. They are (were, as some are now closed) great facilities, all posses a friendly and welcoming forum for everyone. In Hamilton, we quickly found a core group of parents and children and became friends through the program, being able to interact with other new moms and babies as a newcomer to both Ontario and Canada immensely enriched our daily lives. The Early Years Centers in Hamilton provided such amazing support of the new parent & baby, all families and truly strengthened the community. I had expectations of finding the same environment at our local Burlington center, however, it was a fully negative experience and terrible disappointment. When we arrived at Cumberland the room seemed inviting for toddler play and was nearly empty, good conditions for a first time visit with a shy two year old. Leigh greeted us, and immediately escorted us to the door just as my daughter had selected the play area she wanted to explore. Leigh let us know this was a registered program only and "hadn't I checked the center's calendar ?!" There was no structured activity going on in the room with maybe a total of 10 children in attendance at 10:45 for a group that began at 9:15 that morning. Leigh began explaining the center's lottery system (what!?) that allowed use of the resource and stuffing my hand with brochures as she inched us right up to the door. As a closure, she knelt down beside my confused and unhappy two year old and told her 'she wasn't allowed to play here today, this was a special program only for kids who had permission to be there... maybe she could play another day.' I'm unsure how much my daughter understood but it was completely heartbreaking for me to see her upset and still asking which toys she could try as she climbed into her stroller crying. While Leigh was explaining the day's "no admittance" policy to myself and my daughter two other sets of caregivers and toddlers appeared and were asked to leave, not even being allowed to enter the room.

The Early Years centers are intended to provide support, education, to be a resource for all families, and Cumberland is falling very short of that mission. As a community center it should be available to everyone, as everyone pays the taxes I presume facilitate the operation of Early Years centers. A location that is not even close to half capacity is not running efficiently nor providing anything substantial to the surrounding residents and families. I find the concept of a lottery system to gain access to a provincially sponsored children's play group center offensive. Clearly, a better idea would be to offer pre registered classes simultaneously, perhaps in another separate area (as did the Hamilton centers) and allow all children an opportunity to utilize the facility with a first come first served admittance. As a stay at home mom I rely on the Early Years centers to provide my child with new experiences for growth and development particularly through interacting and playing with other children. As a new resident of Burlington I hope to develop new bonds and learn through the exchange of ideas as a parent from the community the centers are intended to provide.

I have seldom written complaint letters in my lifetime and hope my efforts are not a loss, and that some changes or restructuring will be considered in the Burlington Early Years program .Thank you for taking the time to review my thoughts.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Paper? Plastic? COOKIE MONSTER!

Potty training has been going on in our home for some time. We started early, Violet was 16 months old when her Canadian great grandmother bought her a musical, magical princess potty chair. We did use it successfully a few times in those early days, until she became a little freaked out by even the sight of the chair and eventually unraveled the mystery of the music chiming in when she peed. She discovered the sensor, which could be seen as a little red light above the removable bowl, was willing to oblige her need for princess-y and royal celebratory music simply by waving her hand around in front of the light thus placing her hand perilously close to the waste she had deposited into the 'royal potty.' The allure was never again the same and the training idea was put off until a more reasonable time.

Violet began telling us each time she needed a diaper change so I thought it was totally time to train and I'd be lucky enough to have one of those rare babies who was using the potty 100% of the time before the age of two. Really what happened was her bossiness developed to a more mature level and demands increased all around, not the desire to free me of changing diapers. Around this time we relocated and decided that changing homes was enough stimulus and emotional strain for our toddler and forgot the idea again. After everything was settled from the move and her second birthday passed she was showing signs of interest in being " a big girl" so out came the seat... and that was June. Most days now she uses the potty all the time while we are in the house and needs only a single pull up for long outings and one for bed. Some days are horrible, when the siren song of Little Bear is too much for her to break free from for the brief 6 step jopurney to the bathroom in order to NOT pee on her little foam couch, and on those occasions it takes up to two soakings. The cover is washable... and ugly. It's covered in blotchy bright patterns of primary colors with a giant picture of that super dork, Calliou. So, no harm done when it's soiled as I look forward to the day when I can declare the couch unusable and toss it in the bin. This week the training pants, the couch and the toddler are staying dry. I stumbled onto a working system to prevent accidents! We ran out of both clean training pants and diapers this week... so much laundry during this process... and Violet had to wear one of her very special Sesame Street panties. Knowing that these underwear are not at all absorbant and I would surely be cleaning pee off something if an accident occured I asked her to please not get them wet as I put them on her and quickly added "Cookie Monster will not like it if you pee on him." She looked up at me a little concerned and agreed to stay dry.

Here we are a couple days later with the blue furry cookie loving image and that of his cohorts Elmo and Zoe remaining totally dry. I can't believe something this simple is working this well.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Smooth Operator

Three years ago today I crossed the Canadian border with my husband(then my boyfriend), 2 elderly black cats and several large totes filled with all my favorite clothing. I had taken a leave from my job in Clevelend a month earlier with the intention of traveling for a couple months and returning to, probably, my same old job, same old life. So, it was a tense crossing as we weren't sure exactly how long I was really staying in this country. According to customs and immigration Americans are allowed to reside in Canada up to 6 months without a visitor visa or permanent residency, but saying so at the border would automatically qualify you for a long grueling inspection. Particularly so considering the timeliness... one day after the 9/11 remembrance. I felt nervous and sick to my stomach for hours preceeding the stop at the Canadian border, anticipationg the long wait and possibly being hauled into customs. A friendly 20-ish girl was inside the customs booth and cheerfully asked the usual questions and cooed at the confused cats in the backseat, who had endured a vet visit and some vaccines to be granted their certified bill of health which permitted their entrance in to the country. "How long will you be in Canada?" Easy enough... "two weeks" we replied in unison from the car. And then another unexpected question, "How are you leaving Canada?" My eyebrows rose slightly and my mouth opened, but no sound came out. My charming and very quick witted husband smiled and easily answered "I'm driving her." Several thank yous later we were on the other side of the border and feeling much lighter, relieved and very relaxed. Now that all the governmental dealings were all done, the tension was fully allevieated from the car and everything seemed to have easily fall into place. We were feeling tranquil, very pleased to be heading home. I had something to tell my husband... "I think I'm pregnant."

Friday, September 08, 2006

Working? Not working.

Today, I am angry. Having recently signed on to a major retailer for some contract work, I somehow expected getting paid would be part of this " contract ". This is week 3 of employment and I've yet to see the fruits of all my hours whiled away in their gossip 20-something cosmetics department. Ordinarily an events make up artist for a popular brand of skin care based cosmetics, I get paid weekly. WEEKLY. Waiting nearly a month to line my pockets with 21 hours worth of toil in the local mall is...Ridiculous? Pathetic? Annoying? A full combination of all states. A stay-at-home-mom needs to get paid people, and by people I mean salary hoarding stingy retailers. Seriously, I find it impossible that I just somehow slipped through the Human Resources crack that leads directly to non-payment. Truthfully, I was warned. I believe no less than 4 wide eyed (and well lined) emphatic employees urged me to make sure and make sure again that everything was in alignment for my bank account to swell with the goodness that is hours converted to wages. This mysterious missing pay thing was a known possibility, how silly and greedy of me to expect my paycheck on time!

Now I have to plan a course of action to recover the lost, missing, overlooked whatever funds. I am hoping that this store will willfully and even cheerfully write a check from the in store account to restore my faith in the popular idea that going to work = monetary compensation. I am also hoping I don't act like a crazed and impoverished lunatic when I call and blast the unfortunate recipient of my call with all the warnings I'd received about their deadbeat reputation. Okay: Lotus blossoms and bunny rabbits. Lotus blossoms and bunny rabbits. Lotus blossoms and bunny rabbits....

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Hickory Holiday

Tuesday and the regular routine arrive, too early and too plainly. The long weekend, always anticipated and never quite long enough, was filled with mini-trips and and BBQ sauce. While waiting in line at the bank this morning Violet was reading a shopping"list" ( a scrap of religious propaganda she found at the park) she recited: " chicken, BBQ sauce, milk, BBQ sauce, ribs, chicken BBQ sauce." That sounds about right. At least we have unraveled the mystery of her mostly non existent appetite... Honey smoke flavored BBQ sauce renders anything delicious enough for our toddler. Now to continue my long and winding search for the ultimate sauce recipe, something with strong black coffee, toasted spices and molasses?