Blog-o! Notes from

Sat, 31 Dec 2005
Becoming Three

Delphine is going through changes: she's gradually transforming from an obstinate and contrary two to a considerate and obedient three. She no longer says "No!" automatically. She wants to please: when she is misbehaving and Blake or I am annoyed she asks "Are you happy?"; the two-year-old sometimes wins out, though: "Are you happy?" "No, Delphine, I'm not happy." "Yes! You're happy!"

On Thursday she suddenly started asking "Why?", and it's a favourite conversational gambit now. It makes a pleasant change from "No".

She makes me laugh all the time. The other day as I was getting dressed I put a couple of breast pads on the bed. Delphine seized them and trotted away, saying "I need pads because my boobies are dripping", and clutched them to her little proto-boobs.

Sometimes she doesn't like being laughed at, especially when she's angry. So she says "Don't laugh!", except it comes out "Don' yaff!" Which of course makes me yaff all the more. Poor thing.

We haven't got anywhere with potty training; I was going to put her in big girl pants this weekend because Blake's got some time off, but I haven't yet. It just seems like a lot of work. News at 11! Parenting hard! I have to get on with it, though, because Delphine's totally ready. She spends ages making her Little People go to the bathroom in her new Little People house. All they seem to do is take turns peeing, complete with pulling down of pants, and wiping with toilet paper and washing hands. She declares "I have to pee" often. The only thing she doesn't do is actually use the toilet, and I figure that's only because so far she hasn't had to. A couple of accidents might convince her to figure it out.

Tomorrow. I swear we will start tomorrow.

[Posted at 19:05 by Amy Brown] link

Cordelia turned three months old on Tuesday, and on Thursday she rolled over from back to front for the first time. She worked really hard at it, starting with her legs and twisting her torso. She had trouble figuring out what to do with the bottom arm for a while, but she finally got it, and now she turns over as soon as you put her down on her back on a flat surface.

The problem is that then she can't get back onto her back, and she inevitably spits up and then gets really pissed at having to lie with her face in a puddle of regurgutated milk, so she protests until you flip her back over. At which point she rolls over and starts the whole process again.

Generally she continues to be a really smiley baby. She only cries when she has some particular need, and even then she's quite polite about it.

The exception to this is evenings, when she yells vigorously for no apparent reason. We alternately rock her, nurse her, change her and set her down until she finally gets tired of it and falls asleep. I think once we institute a proper bedtime early in the evening this problem will be solved (because she will be sleeping). I don't know when that will be, though. Weissbluth says you can start putting your baby to sleep on a schedule at four months, but I'm not sure when I can expect her to get through the night without nursing.

I put up some pictures and a couple of videos of Cordelia. Enjoy!

[Posted at 19:05 by Amy Brown] link
Sat, 24 Dec 2005
December Books

My list of books read but not written about is getting unwieldy:

Death Sentences: How Cliches, Weasel Words and Management-Speak are Strangling Public Language by Don Watson

I think Don Watson is just a cranky guy. I thought this would be a good book, along the lines of Eats, Shoot and Leaves, but it was mostly just Watson complaining vaguely about the way public figures speak these days.

Don't get me wrong; I hate management speak and blather and bafflegab. I wish marketers and athletes and politicians would use plain language and say what they mean. (Yesterday on TV they were interviewing the super of a building which had had flooding due to a water main break. The interviewer said "What about the possessions of the people with basement apartments, are they destroyed?" The super said "Well, there was extensive flooding in the basement area of the building and that would include the apartment areas, so the residents will experience some property damage." What would be wrong with "I'm afraid so, yes"? Don't want to cut short your fifteen minutes by being concise?

The problem with Watson's book is that he doesn't give enough examples of what he doesn't like, and suggestions for improvement. He also asserts that this kind of imprecise language leads to imprecise or even deceitful behaviour, but he doesn't give any examples or concrete basis of any kind for that assertion.

I would give this book a miss.

102 Minutes: The Untold Story of the Fight to Survive Inside the Twin Towers by Jim Dwyer and Kevin Flynn

I felt a little bad about reading this book. I thought, "I guess it's been long enough since September 2001 that I can read about the destruction of the World Trade Center for my amusement". But this isn't all that sensational; it's a description of how various individuals coped, helped, and escaped (some of them) the attack.

The book also details how the attack and the collapse happened, with a focus on the myriad things which were done incompetently, or not done at all. Do you know when they tested the fireproofing for the steel beams in the Towers? Summer of 2004. Yeah. Although it probably all shook off from the impact of the planes, anyway. Generally it was a collosal fuckup in many ways.

The book is well- and engagingly-written and sheds light on how decent people can be in a crisis.

Who should read this book: I think Morgan might like it; normally her thing is natural disasters but the man-made kind are interesting too.

Making The Cat Laugh: One Woman's Journal of Single Life on the Margins by Lynne Truss

This is like a really well-written blog of a clever, funny, single English woman. There's not much else to say about it, but I liked it very much.

Who should read this book: my brother Dave would probably like it; in fact I tried to send him a copy but my local Indigo didn't have it. Kathryn should definitely read this book; I think she will really enjoy the humour, and the English-ness of it.

Stiff: The Curious Life of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach

This is a book about all the things that happen to human bodies after they die. Roach covers the usual stuff: burial and cremation; but she also goes into some weirder options: being rotted to study how to determine time of death, being smashed into in the name of crash-test research, being dissolved in lye or composted, being used to teach anatomy, being cut up so your organs can be used to extend the lives of others, being plastinated... being dead is almost as interesting as being alive.

Roach is a very funny writer, and I look forward to reading more of her work.

Who should read this book: I think Kate from The Usual Suspects might like it; I think she liked corpse, which is a similar sort of thing. Maybe Morgan, too.

Why Gender Matters: What Parents and Teachers Need to Know About The Emerging Science of Sex Differences by Leonard Sax

This is a book which refutes the hippy-dippy idea that boys and girls are naturally identical and any difference between their behaviour is socially constructed, a fact which anyone with small children could have told you is nonsense. In fact, it's surprising it took this long to throw that idea out the window, since there's a pretty quick refutation:

See, the hippy idea is that the kid thinks something like this:

I am a boy.
Boys play with trucks and balls.
Therefore I must play with trucks and balls.

The problem is that kids as young as eighteen months show gender differences in play, and eighteen-month-olds don't know if they're a boy or a girl. Delphine is two-and-a-half and she still asserts her boyhood sometimes.

Sax starts out with a description of what we know about the differences between boys and girls, then he gets into how to apply that knowledge when raising or teaching children. The advice seems pretty sound, although he strays pretty far from gender-based advice later in the book.

Who should read this book: Beth (thursday) because it might give her some insight into her (very boyish) boys, Kathryn because she has to deal with boys and girls every day at work, and Ellen because I know she's interested in this stuff.

[Posted at 13:57 by Amy Brown] link
Fri, 16 Dec 2005

Yup, it's the third Friday of this month, and so it's time for another call out. This time the random name generator has come up with Leontine. (I tried telling it that you weren't really a silent lurker, and that you already post stuff on your own weblog (mmm, pretty pictures...), but being a piece of software, it wouldn't listen to me. Cursed Artificial Non-intelligence.)

[Posted at 10:26 by Amy Brown] link
Fri, 09 Dec 2005

Potty Training Your Baby: A Practical Guide for Easier Toilet Training by Katie Van Pelt

I didn't actually get all the way through this book. I threw it across the room on the page where she suggests you don't have your child wash their hands every time they go to the toilet because you don't want them to think that peeing and pooing and private parts are dirty. I have news for you, stupid lady: peeing and pooing and private parts are dirty. And if they aren't, your bathroom probably is. If you can't get straight in your head the difference between literal, germy dirtiness and figurative, sexual dirtiness then may I suggest you have a problem? Also, I'm not shaking hands with you.

She also suggests that there is an epidemic of adult constipation caused by parents being negative about their kids' poo in childhood. She provides no evidence, of course, but apparently if you so much as wrinkle your nose at your child's fetid diapers, you will damage them and their bowel health for life.

And last but not least, she says you can't possibly begin potty training until nine months, which directly contradicts the Trickle Treat book, which incidentally comes off as the height of reasonableness compared to this one.

Honestly, I'm almost sorry I read about potty training. I got more value out of a conversation I had with another mum at the library than I have out of these books. I have decided I am just going to switch Delphine to big girl pants in the new year, and clean up messes until she figures it out. What the hell, I launder diapers anyway, and it's not like I have expensive carpets.

Incidentally, both I and a friend with kids the same age have decided we will put our babies on the potty as soon as possible this time around. No more waiting for them to figure it out on their own. In fact, her six-month-old has already peed in the potty more times than her two and a half year old.

Men's Style: The Thinking Man's Guide to Style by Russell Smith

Russell Smith is a men's fashion columnist for the Globe and Mail, and he has written this book about men's fashion. He covers the history of modern men's fashion and gives instructions on such things as how to tie different tie knots, or what "black tie" means, as well as giving his opinion on various style options. As such this is a useful reference book and I might even buy a copy.

It's also very funny, particularly when he says "if you do such and such, you will look like a..." whatever. I already sent the book back to the library so I can't give you any quotes, you'll just have to read it yourself.

I can't agree with all his style opinions, though. I think a man in a sweater can be very attractive, and rust is a fine colour. He's right about three-piece suits, though: SEXY.

[Posted at 15:55 by Amy Brown] link

I am having something delivered to my parents' house, and apparently they need the street address to deliver it. But no-one in rural Saskatchewan gets mail delivered to a street address, so I only know their PO Box number! I had to use Canada411 to look up my own parents.

[Posted at 14:21 by Amy Brown] link
Wed, 07 Dec 2005
[14:50] Skiff: о
[14:50] Skiff: привет
[14:51] Skiff: сообщения дошли?
[14:51] Coder: I'm afraid I don't speak Russian.  Perhaps you were looking for someone else? 
[14:51] Skiff: omg :)
[14:52] Skiff: do you have a GLATCO Credit Union enroll accounts?
[14:52] Coder: Nope. 
[14:53] Skiff: sorry
[14:53] Skiff: b
[14:53] Coder: No problem.  I get it all the time. 
[14:53] Coder: Have a nice day. 
[14:54] Skiff: thx :)

Well, that was odd. Can anyone translate the stuff at the top, and leave a comment letting me know what it says?

[Posted at 15:01 by Blake Winton] link
Tue, 06 Dec 2005

... but you can't take the mathie out of the girl. The Globe and Mail's review of the movie Rent ends with the phrase "a series of hand-waving production numbers."

Vague, unconvincing production numbers?

No, wait! Hand-waving production numbers! (Girl waves hands.) Now I get it!

[Posted at 15:55 by Amy Brown] link