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When Maya was born, J’s entire extended family showered us with gifts, which was very nice of them. Several people gave us ruffly pink dresses and those pink headbands you put on naked baby heads so everyone knows you have a girl. We got pink sleepers, t-shirts, jumpers saying, “Little princess.”

I wrote out thank you notes and then took everything but the sleepers to a consignment store. I could not bear to put them on my baby, especially the dresses, which J and I called baby armpit warmers.

As she aged, I put her in dresses and girly things – black dresses, blue dresses, green dresses. No pink. Most of the non-dress stuff I got was gender neutral in case I had a boy next time. That was my excuse, anyway.

We have no Disney movies, so Maya had limited ‘princess’ exposure and it never caught on with her, to my great relief. When someone gave her a viciously pink book of Disney princess stories for her birthday, I nudged it under the couch the moment she was distracted by the next toy and she never saw it again.

She soon asserted her independence, of course, demanding only shirts that demonstrated some sign of femininity, like flowers or hearts. She feel madly in love with Barbie and much as I hated them, I figured making them forbidden fruit was worse.

So she got girly. But at least she wasn’t princessy. For her 3rd Halloween, she went as a biker chick, with a faux leather jacket from her aunt and wee cowboy boots from a friend.

Asher came along and loved pink more than Maya. Perversely, I was happy to dress him in the pink sleeper. Then I steered him towards gender neutral stuff too, not wanted him to be abused by his peers. He had his own dolls (named Sam and Sleeping Baby) and wore nail polish, but I managed to distract him from the bright pink raincoat he was set on with a colourful but less pink umbrella.

I don’t just hate pink because people have irrationally assigned it to only one gender (oddly, in the 1800s, the colour was considered to be too strong for girls and was almost exclusively for boys). I just don’t like it.

I weakened a bit when Boo was born, because she had dark hair and looked pretty nice in pink. Limited, non-ruffly pink.

Despite the fact that we still don’t have any Disney movies, she found out about the princesses. I have no idea how. That’s the problem with the third kid – you have no idea what’s going on with them, even when they are little.

Last year, she wanted to be a princess for Halloween. Maya has been a witch, a ghost, a unicorn, a cat and a biker chick. Asher has been a wizard, a witch, a magician and a vampire. I sighed and told myself that at least she didn’t want to be a specific princess, like Cinderella, and bought her a cheap blue costume dress.

This year, she has decided on being a fairy princess. She already has the pink wings, but the blue dress is too small.

The other day, I was in the Children’s Place and saw this:

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It has that gauzy stuff underneath to make the skirt stick out all the time, like they do with wedding dressed (and which I took off mine), and you can’t see it well enough, but the front is all this brocade-type patterning. It’s really quite well put together, and it was on sale for $15.

I ignored it and went around the store collecting $3 skirts and $7 pants, and brought the entire pile up to the cash, where I spotted a knight’s costume for the same price and decided to get it for Asher, who is sick of being a wizard.

Then I stood in line and stared at the princess dress. I hate pink and I hate princesses, but Boo loves pink and princesses and as far as pink princess dresses go, I recognized that this was a good one, and for a good price too. I knew I could find her something I hated less and that she would like, but I also knew that she would love this dress.

I sucked it up and bought the dress. It isn’t me dressing up for Halloween, it’s her. And she was just as happy as I imagined she’d be when I showed it to her. She put in on immediately and wanted to wear it everywhere.

So there you go. It took me 11 years to slide all the way down that slope from giving away all the pink gifts and forbidding my mother-in-law to buy anything that colour to voluntarily buying my kid a pink princess dress. Now she’ll never be Prime Minister.

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Okay, what’s with the obsession with luck lately? For the past couple of weeks, the post that is getting the most hits is an old one about four-leaf clovers. Lots of people are searching for luck on google, which I find just weird.

The other search string I get a lot is a variation on Dalton McGuinty’s hypocrisy. Seems there are a fair number of people out there who think he’s a hypocrite. And a fair number who just plain hate the guy. Also, a good number of people have popped on asking what school his kids go to. I like to think they aren’t stalking him, rather, they are just confirming that in fact his kids do go to Catholic school – the source of his hypocrisy.

But despite the people finding their way to me, polls show that the majority of Ontarians are still against funding other religious school. In the paper today, someone said right out in a letter that it will allow Muslims to more easily set up terrorist training camps. McGuinty must be delighted.

I’m doing my little TV show tomorrow on the topic, with a Jew, a Christian and a nice Muslim woman terrorist on to discuss it. God, people are stupid – not the nice Jew, Christian and Muslim I’ll be talking to, of course, but the idiots who think Muslims are all terrorists.

I’m in an extra bad mood because it is 1:40 am and I am conscious. I have insomnia.

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Today, Asher was in a bad mood after school, crying over not being able to find a snack he wanted. I asked him if anything bad happened in school today and he said, “Nothing unusual, just the same old shit. They make me work there and I don’t like work.” He said it so casually. At this point, I’ve pretty much given up on trying to stop the bad language completely and am just trying to compartmentalize it, I must confess. Just don’t swear around the grandparents and teachers, please.

I am an awful mother.

I don’t remember any kids his age swearing when I was young. None. According to him, all his friends swear this way. Not Maya’s though, and she’s older. I wonder if it is a boy thing.

Oh, this reminds me of a funny, though. In the summer, a good friend rented the cottage next to ours for a couple of weeks with a friend. We’d pop over regularly. Her friend really loves Jasper and once when Asher showed up there alone, my friend asked Asher, “Where’s your dad?” Asher answered, “With Jasper.” Her friend then asked, “Well, where’s Jasper?” Asher replied, “Taking a shit on your lawn.” They were appalled, but I thought it was hysterical when they told me. That’s the problem, of course. I am not appropriate shocked, and my kids see right through me when I try to be.

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Okay, one last thing. I promised to say why Jasper avoided a buzz cut. I’m sure no one really cares that I haven’t followed up on it, but it’ll eat away at my soul until I honour my promise.

That’s all bullshit, of course. I just want to share with the world, or at least the doodle owners who surf onto here, the amazing discovery I made. A couple of months ago, Jasper started to mat like crazy, which apparently doodles do when their adult coats come in. Everyone goes on about how great it is to have a non-shedding dog, but no one mentions that it means you get a clumpy mess if you don’t really take care of it. I don’t mind, though. I love to brush him and hack off the hair growing over his eyes and such.

But I brushed and brushed, and still he matted. I cut the mats out, but he finally reached the stage where his hair wasn’t successfully covering the bald spots and the only answer I could come up with was shaving him down. As he has white skin and red fur, this was not going to be pretty.

The problem was, what to do when his hair grew out? Would he just start to mat again? I put the question to an on-line doodle group and one guy pointed me to a line of brushes with the stupid name of Les Pooches. These things aren’t in regular stores, requiring one to order the $85 brush from New York and then pay shipping and duty, without even testing driving the thing. Ouch.

However, a little more poking around as I looked for reviews allowed me to make the discovery that there is one store in all of Canada that sells these brushes and it is, unbelievably, about 20 minutes drive from here. I drove straight over. The nice store lady demonstrated the brush, miraculously brushing out several mats right there. And, to top it off, she was charging $10 less. I never have luck like that.

I bought it (expensive, yes, but less than the price of a single grooming session) and chased poor Jasper around for days, brushing out all the mats. And now my boy has long, soft, tangle-free hair. He was lying in the school yard today with about 6 children surrounding him with their hands buried in his hair, saying, “He’s so soft.” He’s still my pretty boy.

Gratuitous cut kid shot. They all look so happy. They all were so happy:

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I’m really bloody tired.

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I’m sorry I abandoned you, internet. I had a good reason, though, or seven. One, it was Rosh Hoshanah, which means the kids were home and there was kugel to be made. Then I got sick and spent the actual two days of Rosh Hoshanah sleeping between throwing up. I didn’t even get one picture of my adorable children all dressed up in their High Holiday finery, which kind of kills me, because they were so cute.

Also, there was the show Six Feet Under, which I have never seen. I impulsively rented the first disc of the first season. I played it on the laptop, allowing me to watch it while convalescing, or making kugel, or singing lullabyes (using earphones and my remarkable skill to sing “Hush Little Baby” without engaging my brain in the process at all, so I can read or watch a DVD at the same time). I’m almost finished season two now.

And then, there was the soapstone. In the summer, a family friend brought little bits of soapstone left over from her high school art class to let the kids play at shaping. They loved it, and so did I. Before I had kids, I used to carve soapstone as a hobby, but haven’t done so for years. But the bug re-bit me, so a few days ago, we found a local placed that provides small blocks and bought one. J cut it into smaller pieces so every one had one and we all sat at the kitchen table and carved and filed. Even J got into the act.

Maya is making a loon.

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Asher started out with a seal, but it wasn’t going right and a little examination made it clear that a bird was emerging from his rock, so that is what it now is.

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Boo wants a whale, which I am carving with her help (she files for a bit when she gets the urge). J is making a dolphin. Everyone is now at the sanding stage except for me, because I have to keep stopping to help the others, as the resident ‘expert’ (ie, the only one with a clue as to what to do next).

We are having so much fun. We’ve spent hours at the table, the whole family, carving and talking. Boo collects and plays with the powder created from filing and gives opinions as to how the carvings are going.

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I would have never imagined this as a family activity, but we all like it so much it is hard to tear ourselves away.

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Man, summer went fast. When I was a kid, it went on for ever and ever. But I’m old now and zip – all gone. I know I’m supposed to love it when the kids go back, but I don’t so much. I like the freedom of late bedtimes and sleeping in and going off on day trips. I don’t feel like we did all we wanted to this summer.

And I hate hate hate the homework grind, and the driving back and forth, and figuring out when the spoiled rotters will eat for lunch (day one here and already Maya wouldn’t eat anything we had).

Boo doesn’t start for two more days, as they are having each kid meet the teacher individually first. This is a waste for us, as the teacher has know Boo since she was an infant (and Asher was in her class), and every time we saw her at school since then, she’d run over to Boo and say, “Are you going to be in my class next year yet?”

But at least we get two days of mommy/no-longer-a-baby bonding time. As we walked Jasper at the off-leash park, with Boo biking wildly ahead, I wished she weren’t going in two days and I’ll be back to reading my paper as I saunter after the dog. I like our discussions. I don’t think I’ll cry when she goes, as for us the break has been gradual rather than abrupt, but I’ll miss her being around.

That wasn’t what I planned to talk about, though. What I wanted to mention was school supplies. Dreaded school supplies. The weirdest thing happened to me this year. To start with, the school did not send insane lists. I’m used to lists requiring camera film, paper towels, boxes of kleenex, ziplock bags, rags, 80 sharpened pencils.

These ones didn’t. No paper towels or kleenex, only 20 pencils. I can’t figure it out. And every year they all ask for 4 tennis balls (to stick on chair legs to quiet them). I can never figure out what they did with last year’s tennis balls. But this year, only one kid’s list had that (I’ve never sent them in anyway).

The school supply gods continued to smile down upon is as we headed to the store at the end of last week to buy what we needed. I expected there to be a mob at the place, as I’ve always experienced in other years. But it was downright quiet. And pretty much everything was easy to find and – get this – we got everything we needed. Just like that, in one place and one visit. I walked out in shock.

Actually, I exaggerate. We couldn’t find one thing – some particular notebook that could NOT have coils. No coils, got it? Everywhere we looked, there was the book we needed, but coiled. Maya said, “Why are they asking for something that doesn’t appear to exist?” I explained, “Because they want to drive us crazy, honey. They always have to put one impossible thing on the list each year, just to make us nuts.”

But I am a veteran school supply shopper now, and I don’t fall for it. I bought coiled anyway. Ha! I spit in the eye of the system!

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The W*bk*nz people are back. Go away, W*bk*nz people. How many letters do I have to take out of that name before they stop finding me, looking for those stupid, non-existent cheat codes?

I’ve been negligent here, I know. It all has to do with taking my few computer moments to try to write something I’ll actually get paid for, the second installment of my series on conversion. This one is supposed to be why people convert. I have about 750 words to discuss this topic in and I need about 4000. And so it slowly goes.*

We also welcomed friends home from China on Friday, with their new baby girl, T. The kids and I and a couple other friends and decorated their house before they returned. We had a blast. We got flowers and helium balloons, regular balloons, streamers, posters. The kids had so much fun covering every inch of the place. We put little duckie stickers in the bathtub, even.

We then joined a group of about 15 people waiting at the airport, holding up “Welcome Home” signs Boo coloured and a huge butterfly balloon. I forgot my camera and was kicking myself until I realized there were at least 4 other cameras present.

I feel privileged to have been part of the welcoming party and been among the first in Canada to meet little T. She was snuggled up to her Dad in a carrier and peaked shyly out at the huge crowd. I expected tears at all the fuss, but she just calmly checked us all out. We brought some of their stuff home (as an excuse for my kids to see their reaction to the decorated house) and were rewarded with some little smiles from T as she saw the other balloons tied up everywhere. She also reached out from Daddy’s lap to grab Boo’s hand.

We also got a small taste of the sort of nonsense they are going to face as a multi-ethnic family. As we prepared for the airport, a repairman arrived to fix our screen door. He spotted the decorations we were preparing and asked my son if someone was having a birthday party. Asher said no, that our friends were coming home from China today, and we were going to the airport to meet them and their new baby.

“Oooh,” the guy said, jovially. “Are you going to have chop suey there?”

What kind of dumb ass thing is that to say? Fortunately, Asher put him in his place, staring at him in confusion for a moment, then saying slowly, “No. It’s an airport. I don’t see why there’d be Chinese food there.” Then he left, rolling his eyes in the universal sign for “what an idiot” as he did so.

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* Yes, I know I split the infinitive. I felt like it.

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A new milestone

Boo is sick. She woke up repeatedly last night, but to really make her point, she woke me up this morning by screaming her way into my room and vomiting on me from the side of the bed. I was jolted into consciousness and immediately tried to catch the vomit. Yes, I am Mom.

I thought I’d already proved my Mom-ness when Asher was nine months old and really sick. After returning home from the doctor, I accidentally mixed up his instructions and gave him about three times the Dimetapp I was supposed to. I phoned the doctor, who assured me that he would be fine and probably just sleep a lot. Asher had other plans. As I hung up, I heard his stomach begin to gurgle ominously.

Realizing he was about to blow, I calmly removed my slippers and stepped from the difficult-to-clean carpet to the easy-to-clean kitchen floor. I let him puke all over me, then cleaned us both up.

But today, I’ve reached new heights. Boo was lying on the bed complaining of a sore tummy and drinking great amounts of water. As I leaned over to comfort her, she projectile vomited all over my face and hair. Thankfully, my mouth was closed.

I backed up, stripped off my shirt and used it to clean my face and hair, then turned my attentions to Boo, laughing at the awfulness of it all. That’s it, I just laughed. Now, let me point out that since all she had ingested was a lot of water, it was more like baby spit up than big kid puke, otherwise there may have been some sypathetic vomiting going on.

As I took us both into the shower to get cleaned, I told her she had totally won the puking price in this family. She said, “Great! I think when I feel better, my prize should be three lollipops.”

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¬†One of our birthday rituals is to weight and measure the birthday child. We have, as I suspect many people do, a wall with all our kids’ heights over the years marked. Asher is delighted that even though his big sister is much bigger than he is, he is taller than she is at every year, and catching up.

Boo wanted us to measure her a few months ago, although we didn’t mark it then. She saw that she was right at Maya’s line. Her goal became to reach Asher’s line by the time she turned five. Of course, there wasn’t actually anything she could do, but she still hoped. So when we put her up against the wall a couple of days ago, she said again, “I hope I beat Asher’s line!” And sure enough, she was right at Asher’s line. I marked her as a smidgen above, just to make her happy. And she was: “Look, I’m taller than he was! I actually made it to taller than he was.”

No one pointed out to her that she had just made it past the lines we made when Maya and Asher turned four.

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I planned the summer perfectly – first the family vacation, then 3 weeks of camp, then 2 weeks of hanging out time. The hanging out time begins today. We have made a list of fun activities, like the wave pool, museums, conservation parks, that we plan to go through. So, of course, I was woken up this morning with Boo puking on me.

Now I’m trapped in the house with one sick child and two bored ones whose friends are all in day camp. Oh dear.

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I have occasionally mentioned the weird search string used to reach my site, but I think I have a new winner for weirdness: Africans cutting right arms off pictures. In all capitals. Beyond the fact that I don’t believe I’ve ever mentioned the word African on my site, or even right arms, and therefore cannot figure out how that got the searcher to my site, I cannot figure out what this person wants. Are the Africans cutting off their own right arms? Does it have to be right arms? Are they cutting off other peoples’ right arms? And why would anyone want to see a picture of that?

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