Amy (old posts, page 25)


Well. Didn't take long for that train to come off the tracks. I haven't gone running since last time I posted, which was about a century ago. First I got sick, then once I was better it was all icy and cold, and then I just couldn't carve out a good time. Augh.

Ah well. Reset. Try again. And again and again and again.

Long Weekend Report

We just came off a long weekend - Friday was a PA Day (which means school is closed for those of you who aren't from 'round here), and Monday was "Family Day", a merciful and much-needed mid-winter Ontario statutory holiday. The weekend was full; Friday the girls and I got together with friends. Saturday we had music class, and then Delphine, Blake and I left Cordelia with Auntie Morgan and Uncle Erik, and headed down to The Beaches for a birthday party for one of Delphine's classmates. While she was partying, we went to Dufflet and enjoyed a tasty slice of cake while an orange and white cat had a large and, I can only assume, satisfying poo in the garden outside the window.

It was great to hang out with Delphine by herself for a while. Both girls are really charming by themselves: Delphine is thoughtful and interesting, Cordelia is intense and funny. Together they are often irritating, to each other and thus to us. So to take a nice long transit ride with Delphine and get to hang out with her and see the city was a real treat. (How old do you have to be before the view from the Bloor Street Viaduct stops blowing your mind? Older than thirty-three, anyway.)

After the birthday party we came back uptown and dropped Delphine off at Baba and Zaida's, with Cordelia, for a sleepover. Then we went out to a movie! We saw Coraline, in 3D. (The movie was great but the 3D was gratuitous.)

Sunday we slept in, then went in search of breakfast. On the way home we picked up some groceries, and then relaxed for an hour or so before the girls came home. Later that day Kat came over, and the whole family joined us for Sunday dinner. After the girls were in bed, Kat and Blake and I watched every Being Erica so far. (Conclusion: good for now, but Erica is going to have to stop saying stupid things if she's going to keep our sympathies. Moving the plot along by making your protagonist repeatedly screw up is lazy writing.)

Kat slept over, and the next morning we went skating together. In addition to her already-dizzying array of talents and accomplishments, Kat is a Can-Skate instructor and figure skater, so she taught both Delphine and me some cool tricks. I now have muscle aches where I wasn't previously aware I had muscles.

Kat headed home in the afternoon (after a long and nearly fruitless search for an open grocery store), and the weekend wound down quietly.

Going out to see a movie was a nice treat, but the best part of our date was talking to Blake before the movie, and on the way home, and the next morning when we went out for breakfast. It was exactly like we were before the girls were born, a relaxed, easy repartee. We talked about all kinds of things, we laughed at each other's jokes, we worked on the cryptic and teased each other. I was literally shocked at how happy I was to be away from the children. As I alluded to above, the girls have been a little annoying lately and I guess it's been making me tenser than I realized.

No, it's worse than that. I felt more like myself when I was away from the girls. I felt like I was the real me, the me who has a tidy house and isn't mad all the time, the me who talks to her husband about something other than tomorrow's agenda and who is going to give up what in order to take somebody somewhere.

I don't want to be one of those mothers who is delighted to get away from their kids! I love my kids! They are charming and clever and fun. I'm just overwhelmed by them - five-and-a-half-years of almost non-stop childcare is a lot. Maybe next year when Delphine is in school five hours a day, and Cordelia is in school half-days I will have enough breathing space that I can properly enjoy their company. I want to like being with my kids, and I want to feel normal when I'm with them, not all stressed and crabby and resentful.

But in the meantime, thank goodness for sleepovers. No; thank Baba!

MMR Study Fixed

Just a quick link to a blog post on Rational Moms about how the data in that one study which linked the MMR vaccine to autism was manipulated.

I hope the lives of those two children weigh heavily on Dr Wakefield's conscience. I bet they don't.

Professor Banned From Campus For... What?

There was an article in yesterday's Globe about a University of Ottawa professor locked out of his office and banned from campus. The article implies that he was suspended from teaching because of his unorthodox teaching methods: he doesn't like to give grades, he altered course curriculum with student input.

It was not his job, as he explained later, to rank their skills for future employers, or train them to be “information transfer machines,” regurgitating facts on demand. Released from the pressure to ace the test, they would become “scientists, not automatons,” he reasoned.

Which, frankly, to me, sounds freaking fantastic. It's exactly what Alfie Kohn recommends: student-led learning, no evaluations.

I'm pretty sure we're not getting the whole story, though. A quick Google shows that this guy is a bit of a pain in the ass, so maybe the university has other reasons to can him. It would sure be nice if they would step and say so, if they do. In the meantime, it seems like they're being idiots.


Cordelia and I are sick. According to the Venn diagram of misery I have either a cold with muscle pain, fever and headache, or a flu with sneezing and runny nose. Maybe I have a cold and flu simultaneously! Whatever I have it's mild enough to allow me to get up and make myself useful while still being severe enough to make me miserable.

I kept Cordelia home from school today because she woke up during the night all hot and coughing, but now that she's awake she seems more or less fine. I'm sure she will hit a brick wall sooner or later. Hopefully I can get someone to pick Delphine up from school so Cordelia can have a nice long nap.

Now I'm going to set the children up with the obligatory Sick Day TV.

Science Groupie For Hire

This morning while I was hanging up laundry in the basement, I was thinking about stuff. Mainly I was thinking about the clever, interesting people at the party yesterday and trying to figure out how I could spend more time with, or maybe work with, clever, interesting people like that. (Not that I didn't work with clever, interesting people in software; in fact, that's one of my favourite things about software. Love me some geeks.) I was casting my mind about, musing on this and that, on academia and science and research and clever people doing interesting things, when it came to me:

I don't want to do science.

I don't know why that seemed like such a bombshell, but it seemed very exciting at the time. (It doesn't take much when you're hanging cold wet t-shirts in a cold wet basement.) I love science, I love facts, I love knowing about the latest studies and ideas, but I don't want to do the research myself. I'm more interested in getting things done (with the best new knowledge) than in finding things out. I love that other people are finding things out but I just want to know what they've got.

So a career in dusty academia is not for me, which makes this not much of an epiphany because I never thought it was. However, hanging out with Greg Wilson's clever friends made me think that I would like to work close to science, applying or disseminating the latest studies and discoveries. Blake's suggestion was science outreach, and I also think science writing could be cool. The other idea that popped into my head was urban planning. I feel like there must be some way to take scientific knowledge and apply it to public policy, maybe try and get us out of this mess we're in.

So many ideas.

Shiny Happy People

This weekend Blake and the girls and I went to Greg Wilson's housewarming party. Wow. I have never in my life been surrounded by so many accomplished, interesting people. Scientists, professors, a guy who was writing a book, millions of PhDs. The woman who owns Bakka books was there, for Pete's sake. Everyone was very clever and cool and I, predictably enough, felt pretty boring and lame. I think I aquitted myself fairly well, though, mainly by not saying very much.

It was a weird situation. In a way I felt totally out of my depth, completely outclassed, but in another way I felt like I could fit in pretty well. For example, I read New Scientist magazine. I have never knowingly met anyone else who reads New Scientist. (Apparently my friend Dmitri reads it too but it's never come up when I've talked to him.) At yesterday's party, three of the people in one particular conversation all read it, not counting me. But does that mean that I'm in their league or does it just make me a wannabe?

I dunno. On the one hand I think I'm pretty smart. On the other hand, I have nothing to show for it. Maybe I'm like one of those people on American Idol who swear they're great singers because their friends all tell them so, and then they open their mouths and it sounds like someone's violating a corgi.

Anyway, I'm not particularly good with other people's parties at the best of times so I think I did pretty well yesterday. I talked to several different people about different things, and I didn't make too much of an ass of myself. I even made people laugh a couple of times. The children behaved themselves and were gorgeous. And I have serious appliance envy for Sadie's induction cooktop. Gas is pretty and all but that shizznit is fast.

One More Run

I did another 3K in 2-and-1s this morning. It was two degrees above, so mild I had to unzip my jacket to cool off, and sunny! I don't know what we have done to earn this nice day, and on a weekend to boot. (This is an anomaly, though, this afternoon it's going back to ball-freezing cold. But at least it's not January any more!)

It was a pretty rough run; two minutes seemed really long and difficult. I had a long day yesterday, though, and went to bed late and was awoken at 2 am to find a lost sippy cup. All these things make for harder runs.

Next week I'm going to forge ahead with 3.25 K in 3-and-1s and see how it goes. I realized this morning that I've already screwed myself with my schedule: I was planning to run on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons, but then I forgot and offered to help in Delphine's classroom on Tuesdays. So maybe I'll run on Tuesday evenings. That way I'd get one afternoon run, one evening run and one morning run a week, which would provide some welcome variety.

Also I'm not going to blog every single run. It's just not that interesting. I'll try and check in every week, to keep me honest.

Two Picture Books We Love

Peepo by Janet and Allen Ahlberg is my absolute very favourite picture book ever. It's a rhyming story about a baby's day and all the things he sees. He wakes in the morning and sees, from his crib, "his father sleeping in the big brass bed, and his mother too, with a hairnet on her head." Later in the day "he sees a bonfire burning, pigeons in the sky, his mother washing windows, a dog going by". (I'm doing these from memory so they might be a bit off. I'm tired.)

The book is set in World War II England and the illustrations are exquisite. Janet Ahlberg researched them meticulously and each picture is rich with period detail. I took this book with me last time we went to visit my Mum, who was a child during the war. Mum loved the book so much I bought her a copy of her own to pore over. Repeated readings are rewarded with new details, and the text is so charming and evocative of everyday family life that it is no hardship to read it over and over (and over and over). I buy this book for every new baby I know.

Also by the Ahlbergs is Each Peach Pear Plum, a simpler book for younger babies with two lines on each page: "Each Peach Pear Plum / I spy Tom Thumb." And then, "Tom Thumb in the cupboard / I spy Mother Hubbard." The smallest listeners will enjoy the rhythms and rhymes and pretty pictures, and older children can find Tom Thumb, or finish the lines for you. This book introduces lots of characters from nursery rhymes, fairy tales and folk tales which children will be delighted to encounter later: Bo-Peep, the Three Bears, Baby Bunting, and others.

Apparently this book has fallen out of favour because the Three Bears go hunting, and Baby Bear is prone to tripping over and accidentally firing his gun. I say pish.

Each Peach Pear Plum gets bundled with Peepo in my baby shower gift bag (along with "Breastfeeding Made Simple" by Nancy Mohrbacher and Kathleen Kendall-Tackett). There goes the surprise if I ever come to your baby shower.

The 15 Minute Career Test

I looked on the internet for some kind of career counselling or guidance and I came across Career Joy. I got them to send me one of their FREE 15-Minute Career Test which promises to help me identify my key strengths and find the right career for me! Well, I've taken the test and I still don't know the right career for me. I think that might take a bit more work. But I did figure out a couple of interesting things. Here are my results.

Step 1 - Personal Inventory

1. Talents. What am I good at? What do others say I am good at?
  • reading
  • writing
  • organizing
  • baking/cooking
  • talking to people
  • making people feel comfortable
  • understanding what people know, explaining things to them
    • explaining things verbally
    • explaining things in writing
  • proof-reading
  • spelling
  • typing
  • looking things up / research
  • managing the household:
    • finances
    • activities for four people
    • food - nutrition / purchasing / cooking
  • singing
  • dealing with children
  • understanding and using computer software
  • understanding concepts / smart ("I'm clever!")
  • visualizing / spatial / math

(This is going to sound a bit weird, but if there's anyone reading who can think of anything I'm good at that I've missed, or if you think I'm not actually good at something that I listed, please comment. I'm supposed to know what others say I'm good at.)

2. Passions. What do you love? What do you read about? What do you get angry about?


  • family
  • science and ideas
  • facts / truth
  • music
  • children
  • books
  • food (Shut up, I do love food. I would marry it if I could!)

Angry about:

  • climate change / sustainability *
  • justice: hunger, human rights, health care

(I put a star by climate change because it's really, really important and if I'm to be any use to the world it should probably be my first priority.)

Read about:

  • childhood development and parenting
  • memoirs/other people's lives
  • climate change
  • science
  • sociology -- how people and systems work
  • psychology / happiness
3. Values - what do you value in other people? What do you believe strongly in?
  • truth / honesty
  • conscientiousness -- doing what you say you will / ought to
  • fulfilling your responsibility as a person or citizen / being a grown-up
  • kindness and consideration for others / taking care of the earth
  • being good and moral
4. Lifestyle - what do you want from your lifestyle?
  • right-size house (3 br, 2 bath, 2 office areas, lr/dr, den, backyard, shed)
  • short / bikeable commute from midtown Toronto
  • time to be with family
  • time to read
  • you know what I would really love? I would love a job where I could read the newspaper as part of my job! That would be cool!
  • two children (I already have those but I'd like to keep them if it's all the same to you.)
  • no additional property
  • no car
  • occasional vacation
5. Ecosystem/Environment - what atmosphere/environment do you work best in?


  • clean
  • organized
  • quiet
  • indoors
  • personalized (my pictures, etc. around)

(I'm a real princess, eh?)


  • friendly
  • cooperative, not competitive or political

(And a delicate flower, too, apparently.)

STEP 2: Measuring Your Career Joy

This is the step where you measure your current or previous career according to what you determined about yourself, on a scale of one to ten.

How well did software technical support utilize my best and most important talents? 7/10

How well did software technical support engage my passions? 2/10

How well did software technical support meet my values? 4/10

How well did software technical support meet my ideal lifestyle? 9/10

How well did software technical support meet my ecosystem desires? 9/10

TOTAL: 31/50

This is where it gets like one of those quizzes in Seventeen, because they tell you what your score out of fifty means. My score gets "Needs improvement. What is your lowest score? What action(s) do you need to take to make improvements?" Which is a little unhelpful - aren't you supposed to tell me that? Well, clearly my lowest score was in the area of Passions, which I knew, but what is interesting to me is that the software career scored so high in Lifestyle and Environment, which is probably why I stuck with it so long.

Well, it was enlightening to think all this stuff through and write it down, but I am going to need more help to sift through this information and decide which direction to go in. Onward.