Saturday, November 28, 2009

Kids Photos on Social Networking Sites

So, I had a kind of creepy experience today. I went to check my email, and there was someone requesting to be my contact on Flikr. This happens once in a while, as I am quite an active Flikr user. Most of my photos relate to crafts, swaps, and quilts that I am working on. Mostly the people who want to be my contacts are swapping with me, or are other people who do crafts or make quilts and who hang out in the same groups as I do. But this person was someone unfamiliar to me -- I had never received a comment from them or "seen" them on any of the craft-related and swap-related groups I generally post in.

Flash back: A year or so ago, before I had my laptop, I thought my desktop computer was going to crash because it was slowing down so much. It was a dinosoar and did not have a drive that could write anything to cd, and Yahoo! photos was shutting down and being overtaken by Flikr. So I paid my subscription fee and transferred all my family photos for the last 3 years to Flikr, without thinking much about it. Most of them I transferred with a "Private" Setting, but a few files had photos of quilts and crafts and my kids, so I left those whole files as "Public", meaning to go back and change them later.

Flash forward to today: So, I go to check out the profile of this stranger who wants to be my contact. And do you know what is in their favorites? Exclusively photos of little boys, mostly with blond hair and blue eyes, like my boys. The person is a single male, whose photos are all of dogs and vacations. Creepy. I think I will block you, thank you very much.

Guess what I spent the afternoon doing? I rifled through my entire Flikr account, making almost all the photos of my boys private. Weirdly enough, I found two photos of my boys that have not been posted in any Group that I know of that had between 100 and 200 views each - generally my photos have 2 or 3 views, and my quilts sometimes have 30 or 40. Where did those people come from? Who were they? And what were they doing looking at photos of my children?

That is my cautionary tale for today. Be careful what you casually post on the internet. Those of us who hang around in the friendly mom and craft and food and decorating parts of the web can sometimes forget that it it not really a safe place.

Monday, November 23, 2009

" Hurry Up and Wait"

In the film and tv industry (and to a lesser extent, in theatre rehearsals) actors often have to be on set, in make up and costume, with their lines memorized, ready to get in their places. Once they have achieved this state, they must wait for the camera to be focused, the shot to be set up, the lights to be properly adjusted, and many other technical details to be worked out before they actually get to go on set and do their bit.

The last few weeks of pregnancy are kind of like this. You get everything ready for the baby, make all your plans for who will go where during your delivery, get your bags packed, and then . . . you wait. The rest is up to your body, not you.

This is the stage we are in right now -- the hurry up and wait. Some days I feel like I'm going into labour, some days I don't. All trips out of town have been suspended. The smallest cramp or contraction or gas or sore back is closely monitored by me, in case it is actually a contraction. I've already been to the hospital and back once. Every night at bed time and every day as he goes to school, Andrew asks, "Do you think the baby will come before I wake up/ get home?".

There is very little you can do in this stage, especially once all the major preparation is complete. All you can do is keep up the dishes and laundry, fend off the curious phone calls and emails, and try keep a nice balance between being busy and well rested.

With my first son, since I did not have any other kids to care for, and I was on summer holidays from my job, and it was really hot. I watched all the extended editions of the Lord of the Rings movies, and all the special features (yes, it took me a whole week) while I hid out in our basement suite. In the cool evenings I would go for walks.

With my second son, I was so busy chasing my oldest son and getting ready for Christmas. Then I obsessively researched natural birth and breastfeeding for a few weeks before the birth. I had a terrible cold and could hardly walk, though, so mostly I was just waiting for the pain to end.

This time I have been sewing and sewing and sewing .

The main point is to find something to do to keep you from obsessively thinking about the coming baby. What have you done to keep yourself busy in this ending, hurry up and wait, stage?

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Thinking about others

It's Operation Christmas Child week at Samaritan's Purse. If you've never heard of the program, you are in for a real treat. The premise is simple. Fill a shoebox with a variety of items that would be of use and interest to a child in a developing country (such as crayons, colouring books, small toys, soap, toothbrushes, t-shirt, hair barrettes and other small items). Attach a label that tells if the gifts inside are appropriate for a boy or girl and the age. Include a small donation ($7 per box) to cover shipping costs and drop it off at your local collection agency. It's a really easy way to teach your kids about the importance of giving to others in need. They can be involved by shopping for the items inside, deciding what the boy or girl would really like to have for Christmas. The Samaritan's Purse website has all the information you need to know about what kinds of things to include (and not include) as well as small videos to show your kids what the program is all about and the kids in need. You can find out more at the Samaritan's Purse website

Want to get your kids interested in helping in others, but think that you don't have enough time to fill a shoebox this week? Here's another suggestion for you. Try FHI's Gift Catalogue. FHI stands for Food for the Hungry International. It is a non-profit organization whose purpose is to work in developing nations with the idea of training the people there to overcome poverty. Their gift guide includes everything from chickens and seedlings, to bed netting and school supplies. You and your kids could have a lot of fun looking through and deciding what gifts to buy kids and families overseas. You can visit the FHI website at

Organizations like Samaritan's Purse and FHI not only allow you and your kids to get involved in helping others, they also help educate your children to become more globally aware of the living situations of others in our world.

Friday, November 6, 2009

It's Potty Time

Want to start a good old mama debate real fast? Ask how potty training is going. Here's a list of possible topics that can come out of this:
-when to start?
-are they ready?
-just underwear?
-right to the toilet?
-what about at daycare?
-what about leaving the house?
-night training?
And the list goes on and on and on. I don't claim in any way to be an expert at potty training. I have ideas. I have experience with one child and I'm starting to get experience with my second. To our great surprise and wonder, our second has decided to start training on his own. I really don't know how this happened and I have no idea how to make your child decide to do this. Our boy is 2 and a half. We struggled training his older brother until he was 3 and a half. We tried everything. We read potty books. We filled him with liquid and sat him on the potty every hour. We tried reward charts and treats. We paid out so much money in pull-ups that I should have taken stock in the company and nothing worked. He simply wasn't ready. Do you want to know what finally did it for him? Hockey underwear. He loves hockey and decided that he didn't want to get the hockey players dirty. That was it. That was his big motivator and it worked.
I think our second is being motivated simply because he wants to be a big boy like his brother. We've had the potty out for a while now and let him sit on it when he wanted with no expectation for anything yet. The hope has been that we would work on potty training at some point before he's three and the new baby comes along (I really don't like having 2 in diapers). Last weekend, he shouted to me from the bathroom, "Mommy, I peed!" and I had this little naked boy running excitedly around the house. Sure enough, on his own initiative, he had ripped off his diaper and peed in the potty. I was shocked. And very excited. The next day I went searching for training pants. The thick white cotton kind. He told me he wanted to wear underwear - so that's what we did. He wears the training pants first with pair of little underwear over top. He's extremely proud of this. At this point we are only doing this while we are at home. He hasn't yet gone potty at daycare and we're not pushing it. He's still wearing a diaper when we go out because I don't think he's ready for that next step yet. Once he's a little more consistent with using underwear and making it successfully to the potty then we'll venture out diaperless.
How has it gone since that first time last Saturday? Pretty good. He's gone potty at least once or twice each day when we've been home. The times where he hasn't quite made it there, he's almost made it and told me he has to pee or has run into the bathroom and just didn't quite give himself enough time. We're taking the stance of being relaxed and encouraging about it. It's a learning process. We know he's starting to pick up his own body cues which is great, and now it's just a matter of putting it all together. Sure there's extra laundry to do, but it's to be expected at any stage of potty training (just wait until it's sheets for night training, then the extra pants won't seem like much). At this point we're not buying him pull-ups, but that's not to say we won't at some later point. I like that he feels wet immediately with the training pants, but they soak up enough that it doesn't leave a mess behind. Training pants can be harder to find these days (not like when we were kids and that's all the option our parents had), I believe I found ours at Zellers. They are basically a thick underwear, made out of a similar material to long johns.
As with anything potty training is something that you need to find what works best for you and your child. I don't think there is a perfect way to do it. Just take a deep breath and relax, everyone gets it eventually.



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