The Great Parental Debate

Before we had kids my husband and I didn’t really give flying whatsit about how people were as parents. We would see all sorts of things and judge in a way we had no basis to do so. Living in a city I see a lot of kids being brought up by nannies because Mum and Dad are working. For many this isn’t a choice if bills are to be paid and for others a career is too important. The weekends are clearly a massive nightmare for the biological parents and some simply don’t know how to handle their kids; we once over-heard a father says to his small boy, “Behave yourself! Stop acting like a child!” His son could not have been older than 6 years old. Perhaps this father works hard to provide for his family and was tired that particular day, I don’t know, but to tell a kid to not act like a kid…?

Anyways, my husband and I are parents to two fantastic children who are rambunctious, fun, artsy and loud. They are also two of the most loving and caring kids I have ever known. My youngest son adores his older sister and follows her around like a puppy while my daughter pretends not to enjoy the constant attention and bosses him around like a diva! As parents we haven’t really attempted to mold our young breed too much as we want them to learn for themselves, we just like to guide them and try to stop them from nearing danger so it stuns us when we see other parents going against the grain and doing things that we feel is potentially dangerous and incredibly selfish.

Everyone is entitled to parent in their own way but I ask you this: is putting your child’s health at risk because of your beliefs really worth it? For example, not getting your child vaccinated because of all the hype around autism. I recently listened to a parent on CBC news radio claiming vaccinations weren’t safe and posed more of a risk than the disease itself. ‘ARE YOU CRAZY!’ I screamed at the radio. If you decided not to vaccinate your child, are you really keeping them safe or are you potentially putting them at even greater risk? Do these parents stop to consider just how  lucky they are to have access to these potentially life saving drugs? Do they stop to consider how many children and adults have died throughout history before vaccinations were found? How many parents would have begged for a way to save their dying child? Some of the diseases and illness are still around today and children do die so flip that coin and ask the question: Do I want to protect my child or do I want to put them at risk?

I feel the same way about parents who try to mess about with feeding young infants. I read an article on the web about a mother who kept her 6 month old daughter on breast milk alone. No other foods. She went on to say she knew her daughter was hungry all the time and woke up every 1-2 hours through the night yet she continued to say nothing was better for her child than what she was giving her. Well, correct on the breast milk but NO to consciously letting your child be hungry. Again, there are children in countries that don’t have the access to foods and here is a mother actively denying her daughter nutritional foods. Iron, Vitamins, essential nutrients are all babies need for healthy development and it can be found in egg yolks, bananas, vegetables. Why, why, WHY do people do this? Why doesn’t she try living purely on breast milk and see how far that gets her before she keels over?

I understand there are some children who, for heath reasons, really can’t have the vaccinations and I know of children who have such severe allergies that their diets are a minefield of trial and error so I understand that some parents and children just don’t have a choice but for all the others, there is no excuse. Do the research, learn about Andrew Wakefield and his little ‘conflict of interest’ while putting out his so-called research on the MMR vaccine and it’s ‘link’ to Crohn Disease and Autism. Look for those magical words that say, ‘no real evidence has been found,’ because it pops up quite a lot.

I am no doctor, healthcare provider or medical guru; I am a mum who knows that I will let my kids be as healthy as they can be by putting their needs first before my own. I will vaccinate them so they can go to school  and travel easily, I did eat peanuts and sushi while pregnant and I even had a beer – all in moderation. My kids adore couscous and quinoa and snack on bananas, not because I force them to but because they like it and want it. I let my kids try anything once so they learn what they like or don’t like and of course I stop them from trying to eat a whole tub of Nutella! Parents are bamboolzed by ‘expert advice’ and some of it is complete rubbish. Global news reported last week that ‘experts’ are now saying pregnant women shouldn’t be driving because they are more at risk of having an accident. Again, no real evidence to support this and pregnant women are at risk no matter what they are doing and sometimes they can have something go horribly wrong while sitting at home, reading a paper.

Right, that’s my 2 cents – if you have a view, if you think I’m wrong then I’d love to hear why. As I said previously there are two sides to the coin. If you are expecting your first child, what horror stories have you been told? If you have kids have you had people try to sway you into a different mindset? Which side are you on?

Why crap on anyone’s parade?

I’m not a huge follower of many things but I have a few select YouTube videos I like and a select few bloggers I find fun to read, I have Instagram and Twitter and the book of face. While reading a blog the other day I noticed there are quite a few people voicing concerns about publicly posted negative comments and the effect it has on them.

Social media, as we all know, is a double edged samurai sword. It can be brilliant, it can be positive, it can be productive but it can also be deadly, vicious and extremely negative. Prime examples of late have been the heart-breaking stories of teenagers committing suicide due to ‘cyber-bullying’. The scary part is the the Trolls who take the time and effort to be down right vile can be anyone in the world; one teenager in the US who committed suicide was hounded by classmates along with someone in Europe, a total stranger. It’s disgusting. What makes a random stranger feel the need to act out like that?

I follow quite a few tattoo artists on Instagram and I really enjoy looking at posted pictures of various forms of tattoo artistry. Some I look at and think ,’Eeeew!’ and others I will stare at for ages, marveling at the detail/color/image depicted on a persons body. My opinions are mine and I recognize that one persons’ likes won’t mirror mine but I wouldn’t dream of slamming a person publicly through social media, which is exactly what I saw happen to a very talented artist who goes by the name Paul Acker. He did a stunning Harry Potter leg piece which would have taken a lot of time and patience to complete. Looking at it, anyone worth their salt would say, ‘Wow! That’s quite something.’ Apparently some people did not think so and posted on his Facebook page their negative thoughts – some individuals didn’t like it, slammed his talent and said he had done a bad job all because the characters didn’t look exactly like the actors portrayed in the movies.


As a free thinking world we are entitled to opinions but to slam someone because they didn’t draw Harry Potter ‘properly’? Did J.K. Rowling feel the same when Daniel Radcliff was cast as her protagonist? He was probably as close as you could get to the character but it he would never be the Harry Potter we each, individually dreamed up as we read the books. To declare an individual persons’ expertise incompetent because it doesn’t match your personal opinion is so wrong! Do the haters take into account the actual level of capability artists possess when it come to tattoos? Sure, there are definitely people who should never be allowed near a tattoo needle, but in this case Paul Acker has serious talent. Just look at his work – it’ gruesome and not my kinda style but even so, I was amazed by some of the pieces he’s done.


Flip the coin; if you are going to put yourself out onto the world wide web then you have to expect an audience to have many views. You won’t please every singe person. I learnt that when I took a children’s book writing class through the University of Toronto. We all had to learn to accept that people will read/see/hear/think things totally different to what we originally wrote and sometimes it was really frustrating. With Social media there are a lot of voices, each with their own opinions and thoughts, but why get nasty? What’s the point? If you don’t like something, move on, don’t take time and effort to crap on someones parade!

One more person I am going to highlight, it’s to do with make up. This girls talent is MIND-BLOWING! Her name is Alexys Fleming, her YouTube Channel is here and she has, in my humble opinion, a stunningly good talent as an make-up artist and body painter. I will freely admit her accompanying music can be a bit harsh and personally I find her thick Chicago accent funny to listen to, but all that aside she can do brilliant work! With that said, she also receives hateful messages through her Instagram/youtube account and it gets nasty. Individuals will leave comments saying her voice is horrible, her music choices are terrible, her art is worthless…why the hell did the hater watch the video in the first place?! Positive feedback far outnumber the negative and her loyal followers will tell the haters where to go but still, why go to the trouble of writing it in the first place?

Anyhoo, that’s my two-cents on the matter. I know one day I will probably get someone voicing their disapproval of my thoughts but hey, their entitlement and if it gets nasty I will tell them to bugger off! I wonder though how many people, normal, regular individuals, deal with this sort of behavior on a regular basis? What’s the worst thing someone has written about your blog and how did it get handled?


Mind The Gap ! All change, please. All Change!

If you come from the UK, London in particular, you’ll know exactly what the title means. For those unfamiliar with the phrase it is used on trains to alert people that the train they are on will be terminating at the station and everyone needs to get off! I miss hearing that but was delighted by the tales told by my Aunt and Uncle who had recently had a wonderful holiday in London and I think they may have fallen in love with it; when they arrived at their destination they were amazed by all the color and freshness that greeted them. I had to stop them and make sure they were talking about London, the actual city! Daffodils and Crocus were everywhere and they had sunshine and warmth nearly everyday. I was jealous, absolutely green with envy! They marveled at how easy it was to get around and loved the fact you could use one travel card for every trip. However they did laugh at how polite the underground system was; here in Toronto the TTC is bloody awful. Sorry, but it is. Apart from two bus drivers whom I have met in my nearly 8 years of living here, every single TTC employee is a Grumpy Gus. London Underground practically runs itself – automated EVERYTHING! I am going to try and explain the comparison between London and Toronto. Here goes:


Pro: To give the TTC it’s dues, $3 gets you anywhere in the city and as long as you have a transfer ticket it will let you travel between subway and above ground without having to pay more.

The subway system is very easy to navigate using the compass – there are only 4 lines, 2 of which are the main lines which run North, South, East or West. If you know whether you are heading downtown or uptown, East or West, there is very little to confuse you. Same with the above ground system. Buses and Streetcars operate East, West and in between. Click here to see a map.

Con: Nearly every employee is a Grumpy Gus and treats public like they are stupid (although I have seen times where it is justified!) I think there is a mutual dislike on both sides between public and employees.

Very little is automated and the fare process is very archaic. Exact change/tokens/tickets go into a little box outside a booth in which said Grumpy Gus is sitting before you push through a turnstile into the station. If you don’t have exact change you can either ask for change or for a token/ticket. For example I have a $5 note. I slip this under the security glass to Gus and ask politely, ‘can I have change back please?’ Gus will give me $5 back, in change, through which I will then need to pick out the correct fare ($3) and place inside the little box outside the booth. If I had asked for tokens, the same would have happened; Gus gives tokens + change, I give token back into the little box which Gus then collects back later on. He gives you money, you put into box, he takes back money…doesn’t that seem slightly…silly? Why not just keep the fare and return the change? I’m sure the TTC is being taken for a ride itself with the amount of people not paying properly. Incidentally if you are on a bus, even worse: exact change only. No exact change, no ride.  Yes, there are monthly travel cards but they are extortionate and they are only good value if you use the system a lot.


Pro: Go to machine, select destination, pay for ticket, retrieve ticket, go on fabulous journey. Even better than that – Oyster cards; Refillable travel cards. No messing around. Swipe the card in any station it will automatically deduct your fare, plus, those amazing beauties work on virtually any transport, even trains!! No more booths with Grumpy Gus’ inside.They went a long time ago. Once inside the station, you head to your platform and upon your trains’ arrival a wonderful, deep voice alerts you to, “Mind The Gap!” before you alight onto your carriage. Perfect!

The system is enormous so you can get practically anywhere in London by underground, even from the very outer reaches of the city. You can even get to the airport using the underground. Fabulous!


Con: To a newcomer the underground can be overwhelmingly confusing! It’s a puzzle of lines running every which way so if you don’t really know where you are going, it can be daunting. If you have never seen it before, look here

London Underground is also very expensive. The system is divided into Zones 1-8 with Zone 1 representing central London and Zone 9 is out to Heathrow Airport and Watford Junction. The further out you go the more expensive your trip gets. Zone 1 starts at £4.70 ($8.70) and if you are planning on going to Zone 9 you can expect to pay up to £12.50 ($23) If you are really intrigued to see the pay scale you can find the link here If you have the Oyster card the rates are lower but if you’re thinking of dodging the fare or ‘accidentally’ paying below the right fare, the barriers at your destination will not open to let you out until you have paid the proper fare through a little booth. Having said all that the actual service of said underground can be less than desirable at times, but then no service runs completely 100%.

Nothing is ever perfect but I did enjoy hearing the tales of adventure on the Underground! I’m hopefully heading to London in October and I will relish every moment I spend on the tube, regardless of how crappy the service might be!

{On a side note, as I write this glowing blog for London Underground, they have just gone on a 48 hour strike. That sucks. Sorry Londoners.}



Thieves, Wall-Lickers and Hello Kitty Enthusiasts.

Those are just a few of the delightful creatures in my daughters class at kindergarten. When I was going through the processes of signing my little girl up to go to school, never in my wildest dreams did I think I would be entering her into a world of the weird, slightly odd and down-right bizarre habits and traits small children have. Within the first few weeks I watched as a small boy, waiting in line to go in for class, started to lick the outside wall he and his mates were leaning against. He did it slowly, as if every lick was like the best ice-cream he’d ever had. My eyes then wandered further down the line to a another little boy who clearly had a cold; his nose was dripping like a melting icicle…and then he sneezed. The sneeze hit a poor, unfortunate little girl next to him smack  in the face…and she laughed. He laughed too, snot and goodness knows what just all over his face. Ugh!! I looked at my little angel-child at the back of the line and thought despairingly, ‘what have I done?’

My family and I have never been so ill as we were that first winter while my daughter was in school! Constant colds, sniffles, sneezing and general grossness engulfed us and we wondered if we would ever be at full health ever again. Mind you, the parents weren’t much help either; ‘hey, your kid is sick and yet here they are in line, coughing their little germy heads off into the mouths of their friends.‘ I know some parents claim to not be able to take time off to look after their kid but in my humble opinion children should be more important than work, you know? There was a time last year when my husband witnessed a child vomiting in the playground at the beginning of the day and rather than take him home, his mother left him at school. She practically ran away from him before his teacher came out. My husband called the school to warn them of the situation, they then apparently called the mother back and told her to take her sick kid home – they were pretty disgusted she would leave him and angry she would put the rest of the class and teachers in such a situation.

Now we are into Senior KG and things are getting ruthless. My daughters immune system is crackerjack strong and we have only had about 3 confirmed sniffles all winter, which is pretty good considering the fact we have had a reeeeeeally long winter. Now we have a new foe to deal with: Snitches, thieves and the power of Hello Kitty. Every generation has their fads and they can change quicker than anything and right now we are heavily into Hello Kitty. Previously it was Disney Princesses and we had to have everything that remotely hinted of pink, princess, sparkles, you name it. Now it’s stickers, sparkles and all things hinting at the little white cat that has as many careers and hobbies as Barbie. My daughter has quite the collection now and every month or so she has her Special Helper Day in which she gets to do Show and Tell. Naturally she will bring her latest HK toy and proudly show it to all in class before placing it back into her backpack for safety. However, while she is doing this there is a very small, 5 year old girl who is watching her with something close to lust and she is trying to figure out the perfect time to quietly snitch the pretty object from within my daughters backpack and stealthily place it within her own backpack. This has happened a few times now. At one point the girl in question tried to physically take something from my daughter while she was showing the teacher. The teacher realized the plot and decided the Hello Kitty would be safest on her desk! A few days ago we were not so lucky; my daughter was walking home with me when all of a sudden she burst into tears, declaring her favourite plush toy had been stolen from her backpack. We knew exactly who had taken it but declined to accuse until the next day when her teacher came to us and gave us the toy in question. Thankfully this delightful girls parents had found the toy and upon interrogation, realized what had happened and returned it the next day. Our suspicions were confirmed and the teacher decided it was time to have a stern talk with the class in general. Now we make sure nothing of any special feeling goes to school! I tells ya, you can’t trust a 5 year old with a serious Hello Kitty obsession.

If this is how things are going down now, what on earth should we expect later on?! These kids are 5-6 years old! I left the best story until last though. My daughters first term was difficult. She got picked on and bullied a lot by a bigger boy in her class. He was not a nice kid and the teachers had a lot of trouble with him. Unfortunately, his background was not a supporting one and his mother was just shy of a complete tramp who clearly didn’t give two whatsits about her son. This was made very clear one afternoon when I walked past the playground and heard him yelling at another little girl, (Warning – offensive language) “F**K YOU, BITCH!”  Not long after than he was removed from the class and ultimately left the school altogether. I have to say I felt sorry for him – it wasn’t his fault he was the way he was. Nevertheless, my husband and I taught our daughter to stand up to bullies and she does, for both herself and her friends and she is now one of the most liked kids in class! Pretty cool :)

Happy Spring! Now get out the snow shovel…

Seriously?! Do you know what I did this afternoon? I spent an hour chipping away at an ice block that had frozen my garden gate shut.  A block that was about 12 inches thick and about two feet long. Ridiculous. Once in, to my utter dismay, I discovered a raccoon had started rolling back my lawn, AGAIN! My beautiful new sod, laid in July last year to replace the mud pit we had inherited upon moving, was destroyed by the disgusting vermin just before the freeze set in in December, apparently searching for tasty grubs. I’ve never hated an animal quite so much! I am seriously considering getting my Trappers license so I could ‘deal’ with the problem…

Yesterday saw the first day of Spring and it was cold, sleety and miserable. Today, BEAUTIFUL sunshine, warm sunshine, happy sunshine! Then I stupidly went and listened to the news as I was making my son his lunch and heard the words ‘snow’, ’15cm’, and ‘freezing rain’. All that is coming tomorrow. And there I was thinking I had finally put my snow shovel away for the last time. Silly, silly woman. The last time it snowed (last week) my kids got so upset! I suggested making a snowman and neither of them wanted anything to do with it. My son stamped his foot and said “NO! I NO LIKE SNOW!” We all agreed with him and stayed inside for the day.

I guess the looming snow-spoiled weekend will be a chance to continue my garage over-haul. Spring cleaning in effect! I managed to get rid of three boxes that have sat in a spider/cricket/ant graveyard corner for 2 years so I figured whatever was inside couldn’t be that important. Turns out there were a few photo albums of my husband in his childhood that were put together by his Mum. The kids got a right laugh out of seeing their dad with a gap-tooth smile, playing in sand or in a tree-house. It’s funny how children find the idea of their parents being children once so amusing! I showed a photograph of a 6 month old me with my Dad, their grandpa, to my daughter and she thought it was the funniest thing she’d ever seen. “You look silly!” she giggled.  She did have a point though…