Saturday, January 31, 2009

Happy birthday, So You Think You Can Dance Canada, and The Reader

First order of business, HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my dearest cousin Sara. Another year wiser! I love you, I miss you, and I wish you a year full of blessings, love, and family togetherness. I hope you had a wonderful birthday. I'm so glad I have you. xo

Last night I went to see the live tour of SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE CANADA!! Superfantastic! I went with two friends, and while we were there saw several more friends, and Brent's sister Cherilyn. We had kick ass seats. I lost my voice from screaming. I had SO. MUCH. FUN. I even left Riley with Brent for the evening. This was the longest I've been away from him (4 pm to 10:30 pm) and I know he doesn't like to take a bottle and he doesn't like to be apart from me in the evenings and at bedtime. It was a gamble. I knew Brent was up to the task, and he was generously happy to give me a night out with the girls----Riley slept for 1 hour, played for one hour, and then screamed blue murder for 2 hours before sucking back 3 ounces of pumped milk and reluctantly falling asleep.
I told Brent: don't call me (there's nothing I can do from Vancouver!), but tell me the truth when I get home. I texted him on the drive home: "How is he?" and I got back "We're good." Total lie. But like Brent said, "This is #3, I can totally handle it." And he did. Three cheers for awesome husbands who go the distance! Love him.

Though he just nagged me about a pile of cardboard and sheets and a bucket and other odds and ends in our laundry room. "You can't do this, Meliss! The dryer needs air." WTF? Why, I would like to ask, is this bothering you tonight, after 6 years of accumulation? Why is it my fault? And why, dear one, don't you clean it up yourself?
And this, my friends, is wedded bliss.

Anyways, Riley's suffering (tongue in cheek) aside, the show was awesome. Canada can DANCE, dudes. There were 11,000 people in GM place to see a DANCE show, people! AND we saw Twitch from the U.S. show in the audience during the break. He got slightly mobbed. Oh, it would suck to be famous. You couldn't go anywhere without being conspicuous.
Oh, it was fun.

Tonight I went with several girlfriends to a birthday party, then out for dinner, and then to a movie (with Riley this time). We had a blast this evening, too. Though I must say Riley is JUST on this side of being too old to go everywhere with me anymore. He's less portable, more intrusive. He has never been that great at sleeping anywhere outside of his own bedroom (a.k.a. our bedroom), but now he won't sleep with any noise or lights, and only rarely in the car. So running around like I did tonight interferes with his sleep needs and makes him crankier. And he's noisier. And he wants to play with everything at the table in the restaurant, and talk all the way through the movie!
Ah, babies.

Anyways, we saw The Reader and I must recommend it to everyone. VERY good movie, about a woman who was an SS guard at Auschwitz. A very contemplative movie with some difficult themes. No violence. Disturbing, though not like you would expect it to be. VERY good. Kate Winslet does an amazing performance. I am very glad I went.

Good night.
Sleep tight.
And if you have time, leave me a comment. I haven't heard much from you lately.

Friday, January 30, 2009

better late than never, and photogs

For New Years this year, I made two resolutions.
One, to give to charity on a regular basis, starting with $20 a pay period.
Two, to write more often in my journal.
So far, I've given to charity once and written in my journal every night. Since I started blogging 2 years ago I have been decidedly lax in my journal writing. Which doesn't make sense, because my most private angry, sad, or conflictual moments don't make it to my blog. I'm pretty transparent, but I don't write about EVERYTHING. Which means I had no written outlet for those most private feelings. They are pouring out of me now, I tell ya. Nothing profound or deep, but I feel VERY good about revisiting my journal. It is good for my soul.

Other things I am looking forward to in 2009 include;
Watching Riley grow.
Visiting the tulip festival in April...we are planning an overnight getaway in Seattle including a Mariner's baseball game and the tulip fields and a hotel stay which should be wonderful. Not quite HAWAII, but a nice getaway nonetheless.
Water park fun.
Riley's first birthday!! Already planning it!!!
Nerdfest 2009 in August.
Ayden entering first grade in Sept!
Matthew entering kindergarten!
Watching Matthew's speech improve in leaps and bounds. I always knew he was smart for his age but nobody else could access his intelligence through the foggy haze of his stuttering, babyish speech. He has come SO FAR and surprises his speech pathologist every week that we go with his improvement in leaps and bounds. We are now able to correct his grammar! Believe me, before there were so many layers of problems that grammar was WAY down on the list of priorities, but now we work on it every day. Whew! What a blessing!
Breastfeeding more, and transitioning into a more enjoyable, less tethered, food-plus-breastmilk diet which will make our breastfeeding relationship more pleasant for me.
Taking some courses next fall/winter to prepare for going back to school.
Applying for UBCs midwifery school for the fall of 2010 (deadline Dec 31st, 2009).
Going back to work (I'm dreading this, actually, for the first time ever...)
Possibly finishing up the renovations on our townhouse and purchasing a new house? We will have to see...but it is on the table for discussion just about every day.
Watching my aunt Lynne and my grandma KICK BREAST CANCER'S ASS.
Running in the Run for the Cure this September, no excuses this time, I'm doing it.
Visits to Victoria and Vernon.
Hooray for 2009!

Now for some photogs:

Riley's first foray with a sippy cup and water:

oh, didn't like the taste of that...but going back for more!!!

Paige has given up on affection from us, and resorted to cuddling with a crocodile:

Start them young. Storytime is the best part of our day.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

a day in the life

Riley has recently switched up his sleeping schedule. He used to sleep til 10 or so, then go down at 11:00, I'd have to wake him up at 11:30 to walk the boys to school, then he'd go down again at 1:30, and I'd have to wake him up at 2:00 to walk to pick up the boys from school. Then he'd be up until 4, sleep for an hour, and be up until about 9.

Now he wakes up at 8, poops, and stays up til 10. Then he wakes himself up around 11:20, just in time to walk the boys to school. MUCH BETTER!

So, this morning he woke me up at 8, pooped, then stayed up til 10. At 11:20 he woke up, we hustled out the door, and walked in 5 cm of fluffy new snow with flakes as big as my palm cascading onto our faces and shoulders. We walked Ayden to school, and then Matthew, Riley and I walked a further kilometer to the Community Centre to return some library books, have lunch, cross the street to the bank, cross the next street to Blockbuster to return some movies, and then BOOT IT to the bus stop to catch the bus home. I have a pack of bus passes in my diaper bag so I can use them whenever I want and not have to worry about change. That has been the best way to get myself to use the bus system more often--to not have to worry about payment! We RAN to the bus stop and were still about 50 feet away when the bus came and I was totally the crazy dorky lady who runs, carrying one kid and dragging the other behind her, flagging down the bus with her arm. I had to laugh at myself. Yup, call me Dorkus.
We made it home just in time to eat a snack, and then went back out in the snow to walk to pick Ayden up. Today, Matthew and Riley and I walked over 4.5 Kilometers, and rode the bus for 6 minutes. I've done this trip before, where I walk the boys to school and then continue on to the Community Centre or somewhere in town, and I tell ya, it is great, and I'm glad I do it, but it is sure an AWEFUL LOT of effort that saves only a VERY LITTLE greenhouse gas! But it's also good for us. Healthy. And it is nice to savour things as we walk along. You know, underneath the chatter. In fact, I kind of think it is sad that in Ayden's school only 50 out of 400 kids walk to school on a regular basis. Pick up and drop off times are a traffic zoo filled with noxious fumes! Happily, I have not seen any wild, dangerous, speedy, or jaw dropping driving in Ayden's school zone (unlike at his preschool last year, which bordered on the insane...I actually saw people pull illegal U turns in school zones without shoulder checking or looking in their mirrors. People sped at 60-70 kph ALL THE TIME in that school zone!!!), just a ton of traffic volume at pick up and drop off. When the snow was at its deepest it was the worst, because there was no street parking and the small parking lot at the city park next to the school wasn't plowed, so people literally sat in their cars for 10 to 15 minutes waiting for the chance to pull into the school driveway. Plus, more people were driving to pick up their kids because no one had the wherewithal to shovel the sidewalks in front of their houses so there was literally nowhere to walk. The snow was unbelievable. And we don't usually have much snow so it doesn't really get cleared the way it should. Anyways.
After picking Ayden up from school I left the bigger boys with Brent and RAN to the grocery store in a panic to cram in a week's worth of shopping in an hour before Brent had to leave for work...
I mean, I didn't actually RUN...I mean, I drove quickly and speed walked around the store with my grocery cart, muttering and cutting people off.

Yesterday I ran! I'm up to run 2 minutes, walk 3, times 7. Feels good! I want to do an aerobics class soon too. Maybe tomorrow?

A day in the life.

I also have been wanting to post about this contraption I discovered:

(photo credit goes to Sara, thanks babe)
It's called an Ergo carrier and it does front, back, and hip carry. I love it! My back started to hurt with the Bjorn at about 17 lbs, especially in the snow. But mostly I got it so I could carry Riley while I was cooking. I needed something so he could go on my back and be safe while I cook, because if he's up while I'm cooking he always wants to be held that time of day.
It is very ergonomical. It might be a bit hot in the dead of summer, but otherwise I can't think of anything I don't like about it. You can do skin to skin with it too. It goes up to I think 35 lbs? So I could but Matthew in it if I wanted to. Here's a picture of my cousin's husband, Leigh, with his baby Ryen on the front:


Check it out here

For Tonya

To help you out ;p
I am posting Obama's inauguration speech so that you can read it. It is more inspiring to listen to, but reading works too!

Barack Obama's Inauguration Speech

My fellow citizens:

I stand here today humbled by the task before us, grateful for the trust you've bestowed, mindful of the sacrifices borne by our ancestors. I thank President Bush for his service to our nation, as well as the generosity and cooperation he has shown throughout this transition.

Forty-four Americans have now taken the presidential Oath. The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace. Yet, every so often the Oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms. At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because We the People have remained faithful to the ideals of our forbearers, and true to our founding documents.

So it has been. So it must be with this generation of Americans.

That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood. Our nation is at war, against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred. Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age. Homes have been lost; jobs shed; businesses shuttered. Our health care is too costly; our schools fail too many; and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet.

These are the indicators of crisis, subject to data and statistics. Less measurable, but no less profound, is a sapping of confidence across our land -- a nagging fear that America's decline is inevitable, that the next generation must lower its sights.

Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America: They will be met.

On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord.

On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics.

We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to "set aside childish things."2 The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.

In reaffirming the greatness of our nation, we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned. Our journey has never been one of short-cuts or settling for less. It has not been the path for the faint-hearted -- for those who prefer leisure over work, or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame. Rather, it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things -- some celebrated but more often men and women obscure in their labor, who have carried us up the long, rugged path towards prosperity and freedom.

For us, they packed up their few worldly possessions and traveled across oceans in search of a new life.

For us, they toiled in sweatshops and settled the West; endured the lash of the whip and plowed the hard earth.

For us, they fought and died, in places like Concord and Gettysburg; Normandy and Khe Sahn.

Time and again these men and women struggled and sacrificed and worked till their hands were raw so that we might live a better life. They saw America as bigger than the sum of our individual ambitions; greater than all the differences of birth or wealth or faction.

This is the journey we continue today. We remain the most prosperous, powerful nation on Earth. Our workers are no less productive than when this crisis began. Our minds are no less inventive, our goods and services no less needed than they were last week or last month or last year. Our capacity remains undiminished. But our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions - that time has surely passed. Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.

For everywhere we look, there is work to be done. The state of our economy calls for action, bold and swift, and we will act -- not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth. We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together. We will restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology's wonders to raise health care's quality and lower its cost. We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories. And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age.

All this we can do.

All this we will do.

Now, there are some who question the scale of our ambitions -- who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans. Their memories are short. For they have forgotten what this country has already done; what free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose, and necessity to courage.

What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them -- that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply. The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works -- whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified. Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end. And those of us who manage the public's dollars will be held to account -- to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day -- because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government.

Nor is the question before us whether the market is a force for good or ill. Its power to generate wealth and expand freedom is unmatched, but this crisis has reminded us that without a watchful eye, the market can spin out of control. The nation cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous. The success of our economy has always depended not just on the size of our Gross Domestic Product, but on the reach of our prosperity; on the ability to extend opportunity to every willing heart -- not out of charity, but because it is the surest route to our common good.

As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our Founding Fathers -- Our Founding Fathers, faced with perils that we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience'[s] sake. And so to all the other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born: Know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman, and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity. And we are ready to lead once more.

Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with the sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.

We are the keepers of this legacy. Guided by these principles once more, we can meet those new threats that demand even greater effort -- even greater cooperation and understanding between nations. We will begin to responsibly leave Iraq to its people, and forge a hard-earned peace in Afghanistan. With old friends and former foes, we will work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat, and roll back the specter of a warming planet. We will not apologize for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defense, and for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken. You cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you!

For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus -- and non-believers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth; and because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation, and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace.

To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect. To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society's ills on the West -- know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. To those -- To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.

To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds. And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to the suffering outside our borders; nor can we consume the world's resources without regard to effect. For the world has changed, and we must change with it.

As we consider the road that unfolds before us, we remember with humble gratitude those brave Americans who, at this very hour, patrol far-off deserts and distant mountains. They have something to tell us, just as the fallen heroes who lie in Arlington whisper through the ages. We honor them not only because they are the guardians of our liberty, but because they embody the spirit of service; a willingness to find meaning in something greater than themselves. And yet, at this moment -- a moment that will define a generation -- it is precisely this spirit that must inhabit us all.

For as much as government can do and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies. It is the kindness to take in a stranger when the levees break, the selflessness of workers who would rather cut their hours than see a friend lose their job which sees us through our darkest hours. It is the firefighter's courage to storm a stairway filled with smoke, but also a parent's willingness to nurture a child, that finally decides our fate.

Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends -- honesty and hard work, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism -- these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history. What is demanded then is a return to these truths. What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility -- a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task.

This is the price and the promise of citizenship.
This is the source of our confidence -- the knowledge that God calls on us to shape an uncertain destiny.

This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed -- why men and women and children of every race and every faith can join in celebration across this magnificent mall, and why a man whose father less than sixty years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred Oath.

So let us mark this day with remembrance, of who we are and how far we have traveled. In the year of America's birth, in the coldest of months, a small band of patriots huddled by dying campfires on the shores of an icy river. The Capitol was abandoned. The enemy was advancing. The snow was stained with blood. At a moment when the outcome of our revolution was most in doubt, the father of our nation ordered these words be read to the people:

Let it be told to the future world...that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive...that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet [it].

America: In the face of our common dangers, in this winter of our hardship, let us remember these timeless words. With hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come. Let it be said by our children's children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God's grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations.

Thank you, God bless you, and God bless the United States of America.

Monday, January 26, 2009

sleep--woot! woot!

dudes, I put my baby to bed last night at 9 p.m. and he slept until 7 a.m.
At 7, he rolled over and grunted at me (at which point my overly full leaking boob squirted him in the face), I fed him without really waking up that much, and we both fell back asleep until 8.
Double woot woot!
So, since I went to sleep around 11:30 last night, I had a good, solid 8 plus hours of sleep last night. Seven hours uninterrupted. This is a first since August, and I am relishing the energy.
Dana is green, I know it. Her youngest is 27 months old and just in the last few weeks slept thru like this for the first time since he was born. But don't get too green, girl. One night does not a pattern make. One night a reprive makes, but not a pattern!
I'm just grateful for what I can get!

I find it interesting that for a few days right before I get my period, my milk supply drops. Riley is usually up every hour or two during those few days, wanting to drink what little I have and fall back asleep, only to wake up shortly after, hungry again. And then the few days after my period is gone, I've got milk by the dozens. And then he sleeps longer stretches. So interesting how the hormones work!
Most women get a reprive from their period when they breastfeed. Not I, said the fly. No no. My reprive is apparantly just the 9 months of pregnancy, and then a few weeks afterwards. Those first few cycles are hormonal roller coasters, let me tell you. I'm a dragon. You won't want to live with me, talk to me, drive on the same road as me...

Anyways, I thought I'd share my sleeping miracle with you!

Also, I wanted to post this: for my birthday the boys told Brent they each wanted to get me a gift especially from them. So he asked them, 'What do you want to get for her?' Ayden hmmmd and haaaaad and wasn't sure, but straightaway Matthew said, "Me want get mommy wine." "Wine?" Brent asked. "Yeah, mommy like wine. Me know mommy like wine, I want buy mommy wine." Okey, dokey! So on my birthday this petite little boy runs in with a big bottle of wine for me, "Here wu go mommy! Me got wu wine! Happy birfday!"
So funny.
I do like a half glass of wine here and there, but I'm no wino! So funny! Dang, he's cute.
Ayden got me a teapot. I loved that, too.

Riley got me a diaper full of poo. But what else is new?


Sunday, January 25, 2009

Addendum #2

Thanks for your input and comments Asheya and Tonya! Yes, I think Tonya is on to something by pointing out that Canadians are more comfortable with socialism--a democratic socialism, of course! She said,

Basically, I think Canadians are more comfortable with socialism. Right? (Crap, am I opening up another can of worms?) Americans typically are not. I am more than happy to give money to food banks, homeless shelters, etc - more than happy to give to those in need. But, if the gov't continues to raise taxes and ask us to pay more that way, then I have no say over how that money is given or used. Guess I'm just a control freak. :-) One example is that Obama has already lifted the ban on US money going overseas to pay for abortion (including partial birth abortion). Since I'm morally opposed to abortion, I would rather not have my money go there.

and earlier, after my first post, Lori said,

I am all in favor of helping each other out, especially those unable to care for themselves, and of true learning from birth to death. I just don't think those things are governments' responsibility, and when government does get its fingers into five thousand things, it costs way too much money and all face-to-face accountability and interaction is lost. People are no longer accountable to their families, their communities, because they are receiving a check from the nameless, faceless government or their children are being held to the education standards of the nameless, faceless government with little regard to local customs, time tables, preferences, and locally practical subject matter.

And I think both of you make good points. I think what we have is a political philosophical difference here. For example, as a Canadian who lives with lots of nameless, faceless government agencies, I would agree that accountability is our system's greatest weakness. I work for a government agency and I can't tell you how many, many people I have worked alongside who are (a) putting in their time, (b) lazy as shit, (c) feeling entitled, (d) treating people like dirt and getting promoted/retained despite it, or, in rare instances, (e) dangerously incompetant, distracted, or burnt out. I work in a job that has remarkably little accountability which is something that I love for myself personally, but added to the fact that we are a government agency and you have a remarkable lack of accountability. I have often thought this to be our greatest weakness as an Ambulance Service, and have seen that this is true in other government agencies, too. For sure. But I don't think avoiding government is necessarily the answer to this weakness. I believe pretty strongly that if we as people apply some good ingenuity and imagination to the accountability issue, we could solve it within the frame of 'government agency.'
Because for me, who as a Canadian is much more comfortable with socialism and government involvement in my life, the trade off is worth it. No one in my country gets destitute without the hefty weight of addiction to drugs/alcohol pulling them down, and even then there are plenty of government funded programs to help these people out. (the system is far from perfect, but it exists). In the U.S. millions of people in the lower middle classes live without any medical insurance. Thousands more have terrible insurance from horrible companies that deny cancer treatments to people who need them, etc, etc.
Any American with good insurance is better off than any Canadian, who has to line up behind everyone else for middle quality health care in overrun understaffed hospitals. But that's not good enough for me. I would rather line up for middle quality care than have excellent care and live alongside someone in my neighbourhood or the next neighbourhood over who has absolutely no access to health care, or even simply access to Medicaid which is pretty poor quality from what I understand. Of course Americans feel as much compassion as we do for the next guy, it's just that this compassion makes a more socialist structure acceptable to us. I would guess American people would prefer to fix the existing system than pay higher taxes for a national health care system because the price of socialist structure (monetary and otherwise, including lack of accountability, autonomy, choice, or individual say) is too high for them.
Am I on the right track here?
I mean, in Canada, we have a government program for just about everything you can think of. And we tend to look to the government to solve problems, infuse cash, or create safety nets for us when things go wrong. It seems that Americans do a bit more individual planning and pulling up by the bootstraps when things go wrong. And they probably help each other out voluntarily more. Because here, if you have a problem, well you can just go see the agency that addresses that problem. I pay taxes, why should I help more?
Or, for example, if I want to go to University, over 95% of our post secondary education institutions are government subsidized. If I want to go to University, I simply apply and pay a couple thousand dollars a year, and I get an education. But rather than save up for said education, most of us take out student loans and apply for government bursaries, etc. Most Americans save for years for their childrens' or their own University education and thus minimize their dependance on loans. Just a difference of philosophy, which manifests itself in different ways.

I welcome more thoughts!

In other news, Riley woke me up this morning at 4:30 to take an enormous dump. I had to change it because Brent had to get up for work early in the morning, while I would be able to sleep in til about 9. But then Riley woke me up again at 8:00 with another dump.
And then at church he puked, narrowly missing the knee of the guy sitting behind me, whom I barely know. I think I have had enough of the bodily fluids to last me a lifetime, dudes.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Addendum to previous

My husband informed me last night that my post regarding the president wasn't very good.
This caused an emotional kerfuffle, which has now been resolved. However, it made me want to defend myself here. So, I wanted to say first of all that I wasn't trying to be particularly intelligent, or articulate, or pose any sort of argument to sway anyone else's opinion. I was just answering Tonya's question with what came to mind. I rarely have time for long posts at this juncture in my life, so the longish ones come out unedited just as it comes out of my mind.
The reason I brought up the abortion debate was for two reasons. (1) It is an example of a domestic issue that I think is less important than international issues and human rights issues, and (2) It is an issue that those of a more republican frame of mind tend to get wrapped up in. Personally I have no idea what the personal opinion of my country's leader regarding abortion is. I have no idea what any of the contenders' opinions are. I don't much care, unless there is pending legislation regarding abortion. Which there isn't. And if there were, I would expect said leader to make a decision based on Canadian values, rather than his or her own personal ones. Anyways. That was why I brought up that issue, because I tend to think some Americans get tangled up in that one issue and not devote enough energy to other issues.
And my answer to Tonya's question wasn't deep or intelligent. It was simply that I am a global citizen and I care about what happens in the world as a result of the actions of our world leaders.
Thus far, Obama has earned my respect by pledging to unite Americans regardless of party politics and tackle the problems at hand. He has strengthened that respect by starting the process of closing Guatanamo Bay and issuing a ban on torture tactics and a clampdown on CIA tactics. I like that in his inauguration speech he included 'non believers' in his list of diverse American religeons. I love that he is charismatic to the point that I stop remembering that his speeches are written prior to being presented, and I just settle in to listen and engage as if he were speaking off the top of his head about something he is passionate about. And he has a more temperate approach to international relations than his predecessor.

Nuff said.

And thank you to those who responded. Very thoughtful! I found it interesting that two American friends responded that they preferred less government involvement in their lives and that Obama represents a MORE involved government paradigm. This is incredibly interesting to me. I am Canadian. Everywhere I turn, the government is involved in something to do with my life. Taxes are high to pay for our many programs. But I never feel constrained by this. I am free to homeschool my children, or send them to private school if I choose. If I choose these methods of education I recieve tax credits to offset those provincial taxes I pay towards public education. I enjoy a mandatory 52 week maternity leave paid for by the same government agency that pays out employment insurance and welfare. So although I pay into it I benefit from it. Not to mention those who are unemployed and/or need financial assistance whose income I don't mind contributing to! Health care is free. Free. To everyone. We all have access to it. No user fees, no deductable, no nothing. Actually, depending on your income you do have to pay a monthly fee for 'health care' but it is a maximum of $54 per month, but if your income is low or you can't pay for some reason you still get access to health care. Maybe I don't understand exactly why government involvement is a bad idea? As long as we continue to have freedom of speech and the freedom to opt out of state education (as long as we replace it with something), isn't government involvement okay?
Help me out here!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Why I care so much about who is in the oval office

My cousin Tonya, who is American, asked me a question after my post about Obama's inauguration that I found striking enough to devote a post to. She asked me, "Why does this matter so much to you? I guess I'm ignorant, being an American, I don't see how much US politics affect other countries, is that it? :-)"
I don't think ignorance has anything to do with it. I think it's just that you don't have an experience like mine, where you live in a small country next door to a large country whose actions influence so much of the world. Your neighbouring countries are Canada, whose politics are rarely interesting to non Canadians, and Mexico, a culturally rich but politically small player on the international field.
You are an aware, intelligent, articulate person. No ignorance. But your experience is different, which makes you wonder why I, as a Canadian, would watch U.S. politics so closely as to comment regarding the presidency on my blog. For instance, you would not generally find Canadian politics so interesting that you would seek out news regarding it online and follow a prime ministereal race to its conclusion and post about it on your blog. But my perspective is different, and for several reasons.
Firstly, I think I blog regarding just about anything that crosses my mind. Subjects don't need to be of utmost relevance to my daily life for me to mull them over on my virtual paper, so perhaps I care less than you percieve. But probably not. I care an aweful lot about who is the President of the United States. And this is why:
I feel a great connectedness and moral obligation towards this earth and the people on it. This takes precedence for me over national domestic issues, particularly when looking at politics in other countries. For example, I would care more about a politicians' stance on the environment and international relations than I would about his or her stance on abortion. I believe abortion is unethical and incredibly sad, but I also believe strongly in women's reproductive rights, and I react VERY strongly towards men who have 'opinions' regarding women's reproductive lives. I know this is a dichotamous view to hold, at least at first glance. But suffice it to say that I think abortion is unethical but should not, at this point in time, be illegal. I also think this argument a moot point in politics. No one is going to overturn the legality of abortion. It is a waste of political energy to try and choose politicians based on this one issue. In fact, it is a waste of political energy to choose any politician based on a single issue.
Because I feel a sense of connectedness and moral obligation towards all the people on this earth, I strongly oppose American military involvement in Iraq. Particularly as a response to terrorism, since military aggression creates more terrorism than it prevents. However, I would not be at all opposed to having a yellow ribbon magnet on my vehicle that says, "Support our Troops," because I believe that we should support our troops no matter what they are deployed to do: Afganistan, Iraq, Vietnam, or Europe. The idea is to endorse people doing their necessary and heroic jobs in the military, and to protest at a political level if I feel the military is being mis utilized. For example, since I am Canadian and my troops are in Afganistan, I would drive with a "Support our Troops" ribbon on my car and simultaneously write letters to my MP and Prime Minister and Minister of Defense protesting the war in Afganistan.
This is because I feel that aggression in Afganistan is breeding more aggression.
This is even more true in Iraq, since the idealism behind entering Iraq doesn't even exist (WMD), and the sub-idealism (anti terrorism) is not best addressed with more aggression.
Also, Guatanamo Bay is a human rights atrocity. No one should ever be detained at length without trial, anywhere in the world, for any reason.

We live in a global world, and are starting to recognize our interconnectedness. We are starting to realize how it matters where our clothing comes from, or what fuel we burn, or how much garbage we create. This means that I care about living conditions for people in India, and Thailand, and Cambodia, and Taiwan, and Toronto, and the streets of Surrey (the next town over from mine: and notorious for its pockets of poverty and attendant crime rate). George W. had a very poor international relations record. He placed priority upon domestic over international concerns, always, always. This is the opposite view to mine, which is international concerns over domestic concerns (for developed nations), always, always. So you can see why I disliked his politics.

The initial seed of discontent within me regarding George W. was planted years before he was in office, and had to do with a single issue (which I acknowledge, as per my previous argument, should not be enough to sway one either way policially, and to which I will say: this was only the first thing that swayed me against George as a politician). That issue is a contentious one, particularly between Canadians and Americans. When George W. was governor of Texas, part of his responsibility as governor was to review each death row case before a death sentence was carried out. More people on death row were executed in the time he was in office than was humanly possible for individual review.
This is problematic for me simply because I think the death penalty unethical.
You may rightly argue that I cannot oppose a politician for propogating the death penalty and ALSO NOT oppose the same politician for propogating abortion. You are right, ethically. I simply think this is not the right TIME in history to illegalize abortion. A good look at the root CAUSES of the NEED for abortion and some damn good listening BY conservatives TO women pro-choicers is needed first. Otherwise it's like trying to hold back a river with a snowball.
Anyways, this was the FIRST thing that made me think that perhaps I didn't like this particular politician, way back in the day before he was President. I didn't write him off though. He inarticulated his way out of my good books all by his poor international relations self.

Though, I must confess, I am more partial to Democratic party rhetoric than Republican party rhetoric, and I think this is because I react so strongly against the conservative religious undertones of Republicanism. I am a Christian myself, and most liberal people would probably look at my life and my beliefs and say I was ultra conservative. But for a conservative, I'm pretty liberal. I believe God created evolution. I believe he cares little what we DO in life and much more who we ARE: rules, laws, structure, and directives in the Bible being an example of the healthiest way to live as opposed to the only way to live that will place one in God's People/Church/Chosen ones/Saved/People who are going to heaven. Thus, you can 'be a Christian' and still 'do something against Biblical teaching,' in my opinion. I have trouble believing homosexuality is wrong. I'm a feminist. etc. etc. But I think the strongest thing that drives me away fom Republicanism and towards Democratics is my foundational belief in the separation of church and state. There is just too much Church in the republican version of State.

But I think that, in answer to your question, the reason why I care so much is simply because American international policy and political priorities have a great impact on the world. Can you not see how we are all interconnected? Can you not see how America's actions affect the philosophical tides all over the earth? It affects my world. The world I care about, which includes Canada, but also envelopes every nation, all resources, poverty, human rights, the cleanliness of the ocean we share and the air that whips around on jetstream winds, sustainable living, future suicide bombers growing up in Afghanistan and Iraq and SEEING that America and Canada are deserving of hatred because our bombs kill their loved ones, nuclear disarmament in Russia, which increased in the 90s but decreased since George W.'s inauguration, individual right to fair trial within a reasonable amount of time, debt relief, and social responsibility to work towards education for all, health care for all, and a minimizing of poverty and a sharing of resources.
Some of these things George W cared about, and some of them he did not. He professed to believe in education for all but his "No Child Left Behind" policy only heightened the gap between rich and poor municipalities and "left behind" more children than before its inception. So even when we agree, we don't agree.
It is disempowering to sit by and watch without being able to have a voice in something that affects my world. So, I blog.

I haven't spoken much about Obama. This is because (a) I am holding a 'wait and see' policy on him. Idealism and rhetoric are inspiring, but they are not the change I want to see in the world. So I am holding off just yet, and (b) because this is turning into a very long post!

I wanted to open this discussion up to other readers. Why do Canadians care so much about American politics? Why do we care whether Obama or McCain is in leadership? Why would anyone but Americans care about American leadership?

[as an aside on McCain: inarticulate, stiff, ultra conservative, Political with a capital P, awkward, irritating man....I realize that this political race was not a contrast between Bush and Obama, but mostly the strength of my embrace of Obama was driven by my dislike of Bush]

So that is why I care.
Any thoughts?

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

More Milk Shirts...I love these...I want them all!

Love this one:

And for my friends who hafta pump:

Extended breastfeeding supporter:


Milk Bank Donation Awareness (I donated when I had Ayden):

For my friend Asheya, who tandem nurses, and also I suspect for Tonya:

And Tonya's favourite:

More Breast Milk Bank Donations:

One of my absolute favourites:

For the raunchy:

And the raunchier:

President Obama

I just listened to President Obama's inaguration speech online. I love that man. For the first time in MY memory, a political leader in the United States has cut throught the politics to lead with idealism I respect. They say this next 100 days will set the tone for his entire presidency, and so I am sure we are all going to closely watch what happens in the coming weeks. I'd say he's off to a good start. He doesn't openly criticize repulicans or former President Bush, but cuts through the hairsplitting fruit throwing slander that has become the overwhelming tone of political races in the U.S. in recent years, and addresses the problems we would all like to see tackled with one eye on human ingenuity, imagination, and potential, and the other eye on traditional American ideals such as hard work, determination, education, freedom, democracy, and the preservation of human dignity. Tall order. I think that, of anyone, Barack Obama is the man for the job.

I know I sleep better knowing George W. is out of office, no matter who his successor is, but I sleep all the better knowing his successor is an inspiration like Obama. Now, we watch and see, hopeful that his idealism will take wings and inspire positive change.

Yes, we can!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

birthday celebration

So last thursday was my 31st birthday, which i mostly just wanted to ignore or pretend wasn't happening. My cousin Sara came over from Victoria with her two little sweethearts, and Brent's mom and dad and sister Cherilyn met us at the Keg for dinner that night. It was perfect. Exactly what I wanted. Family, a good steak, some hot horseradish, and some garlic mashed potatoes. And some cake. Which was yummy, and free, but not as good as the Keg creme brulee which is what I really wanted and should have ordered, in retrospect. Anyways, here are some pix of my birthday:

Good times had by all. And I got some great gifts, as well.

Here are some pix of the rest of our visit from Sara and her gang (when the seven of us go anywhere, it is like we are a noisy crowd with flailing arms and legs and the odd screech going from place to place. So fun!)

And some of my baby:

I haven't been posting as much as usual lately. It's a mixture of us being sick, Sara visiting, and it being winter which puts me in a funk and makes me feel like I have nothing interesting to say. Plus, I'm reading more and computing less. I have a stack of books I'm working thru--some on anxiety, some on midwifery, and some fiction, so I guess I've had my nose in a book every chance I get!
I keep telling myself that I only have to get thru one more month. Usually around here by March the flowers are blooming. April is the tulip festival and by May we're well out of winter.

Crying baby! Gotta go!