4 Very-Serious-Things I am thankful for

A friend tagged me in a Facebook gratitude challenge whereby I was asked to post 3 thankful things for 5 days. Then tag 3 more people, do the hockey-pokey and turn myself around lest I desired to bring forth 7 years of locusts unto my descendants… or something. I gave thanks for 3 consecutive days, choosing family, faith and friends as my themes. I never met an alliteration I didn’t  love and thus running out of f-words I could share on Facebook, I decided to take the gratitude to my blog. And maybe, possibly because I take a stab at –oh — roughly 2/3 of my Facebook friends in today’s first item. By publishing it on my blog, I give them the courtesy of not having it show on their timeline. I’m nice like that.

Today, 4 Very-Serious-Things I am thankful for:

1. Perspective. Because my Facebook and Twitter friends love to share how hateful the leaders of Canada and the U.S. are. One for shutting down rural post offices, the other for trying to introduce health care insurance. And all I think about are the real people trapped on Mount Sinjar who had 4 hours to flee their homes of face barbaric extermination. “Hateful” is what’s happening in Iraq and Syria. “Democracy” is what’s happening in North America. Perspective is appreciating the difference.

2. Flexibility. Someone once told me “We have to be flexible because we can.” Flexibility, the ability to adapt, to roll with the punches, to accept changes without fear, is a gift.Blessed are the flexible for they shall not break.

3. Fertility, childbearing and breastfeeding. I made a commitment to Natural Family Planning 14 years ago and learning the ebb and flow of my whacky cycles has been a struggle. I was once told, in reference to an unplanned pregnancy, that I had a “fertility problem” and I have felt sorry for myself. But I have also seen many people close to my heart struggle with infertility and repeat miscarriages. As I enter my forties, I can see the pain and sadness that infertility wreaks all around me and I am thankful and deeply humbled by the gift of fertility. I have never lost a pregnancy, never had a caesarian birth or an epidural, I have given birth naturally 9 times, including a breech birth and a multiple birth. I have been able to feed my children from my breast and grow them into healthy, chubby wonders. I have experienced, without even asking for it, the natural and peaceful births that other women fight tooth and nail to have. My body is truly fearfully and wonderfully made. When people ask me if/when we will get “fixed”, I always answer “We’re not broken!”

4. Privilege. I received an inheritance I did nothing to earn when I was born white, healthy and loved in Canada. Every day I am reminded of the little things that are made easier for me just because I was born in a privileged situation. As I pass this inheritance down to my children, I try to remind them that to whom much has been given, much will be requested. We do not feel guilty for our privilege, but we honour it by recognizing it and spreading it around.




Random Bullets

– Have you been following Senator Mike Duffy’s expense claim kerfuffle? The claim form confusion seems to be affecting many Senators and, if I may add, their staff. Because who are we kidding here? It’s not like Mike Duffy fills up his own claim forms. But a mistake was made and monies will be repaid. The same week Mike Duffy was ducking TV cameras and avoiding embarrassing questions, I received a letter at work. It’s a letter I receive all too often, coming from a desperate taxpayer who suddenly finds him/herself in the cross-hair of the Canadian Revenue Agency. They owe taxes, in small or large amounts. They got confused filing their forms, like the Senators. They never tried to evade the taxman and that’s probably why they are in such trouble: if they were professional tax-evaders, they would know how to stay out of CRA’s radar. But no, they paid their money, or rather what they thought was their money, and sent it to CRA with their home address and vital information. Only they didn’t send enough money. And last week, they received a letter asking them to pay their taxes before close of business or else. Or else. And the “or else” is not trivial. Unlike Duffy, they never had the option to repay. They are not only taxed but fined, threatened with a garnishing order – which in some businesses, like bank employees, means a loss of employment – or foreclosure. So make my day Mike Duffy. While Senators think they are doing the honorable thing by repaying pocket change and keeping their jobs, the bureaucracy is putting the tax base through the ringer. And nobody bats an eyelid.

– Speaking of taxpayers’ dollars, my city was hit by a major snow fall. The quantity of snow was significant and the mild, slightly above zero temperature, made it heavy and water-logged. More than 200 city buses got stuck and jackknifed in the white stuff.  Even my minivan with its kick-ass winter tires got (shortly) jammed in the fluff.

Two days later, it was time for the giant snow blower to remove the snow from the main arteries. I have readers in tropical climes — or so my statistics tell me — so let me educate you.

When a Canadian city is hit by a major snowfall, the roads need to be cleared progressively while the snow is still falling. The snow is first pushed to the sides of the road by snowplows driving up and down major arteries.

Snow plow pushing the snow to the side of the road.
Snow plow pushing the snow to the side of the road.

All this snow creates big walls of snow on each side of the road and must eventually be removed by a snow blower.

Snow blower blowing snow in a very big dump truck. It has a big, gas-guzzling engine.
Snow blower blowing snow in a very big dump truck. It has a big, gas-guzzling engine.

The snow blower blows the snow into several very large dump trucks who then take the snow to a snow dump.

Another day at the snow dump...
Another day at the snow dump…

Because it takes more time to make a round trip to the snow dump than to fill a dump truck with snow, several dump trucks take turns filling-up while the others go to the dump and come back. It’s like a giant snow-removal-tag-team operation. When the City removes the snow, cars cannot park in the streets. So the City puts snow removal no-parking signs to warn people. And people don’t pay attention and park in the streets anyway, hence the need to tow cars out of the snow blower’s path.

If the little no-parking sign doesn't make sense to you, this is what will happen.
If the little no-parking sign doesn’t make sense to you, this is what will happen.
Does this make sense to you?
Does this make sense to you?

Last week, I drove past 4 giant dump trucks idling on my way to the vegetarian restaurant.  As I got near the restaurant, I saw two more giant dump trucks idling behind the snow blower. The snow blower sat empty, on a forced coffee break, while the tow-trucks were towing one car after the other. And as if the waste of taxpayers’ dollars wasn’t mind bending enough, a pick-up truck from the City of Ottawa was accompanying the tow-truck, no doubt to deal with disgruntled car owners.  In front of the all-organic-all-the-time vegetarian restaurant, a Toyota Echo and a hybrid Ford Focus were being towed. How’s that for a lifetime of greenhouse gas savings blown away over lunch? I hope that the irony of having half-a-dozen heavy-duty diesel-powered engines idling while their energy-efficient matchbox dinkies were being towed away wasn’t lost on them as they digested their local organic kale.

– I started writing this post 3 week ago. That’s how slowly I write, in case you are wondering why I am posting about the last snow storm on a beautiful sunny day. Not only that, but why would I be posting about manly trucks on International Women’s Day? I listened to a few radio interviews today in between hosting a weekly meeting for my local babywearing group. Yes, women who choose to be attached to their babies as much as possible. From what I heard, Women’s Day is all about abortion and contraception and how hard it is to get either. Isn’t there more to being a woman than to be sexually available and artificially infertile? Because my experience as a woman who raised and gave birth to 8 children, running a home and occasionally a slew of volunteer activities is worth nothing in today’s economy. My degree is outdated, I am unemployable to most but the friend who gave me my part-time job, and I can’t even get a biology credit to return to University without going back to high school. As if I hadn’t learned more putting my kids through school than is required to enter the midwifery degree I so long to get. But hey, what is really keeping women down is not having enough pills. No: What is keeping women down is the belief that women have to be barren like men to succeed and that childbearing and child-rearing are impediments to equality. So that’s your International Women’s Day reflection from a women who is not using artificial birth control out of principle. And while I call myself a feminist for my radical view on the beautiful integrity of the feminine body, ovaries and all, I know that most feminists would be ashamed to count me as their own. Cheers!

Faits divers

1 Un bien méchant virus: L’influenza, cuvée 2012-2013. Nous y avons trinqué pour le jour de l’an. Nous voici tous les trois avec nos pompons et notre champagne…

Écrasés sur maman pendant 3 jours
Deux bébés malades, c’est beaucoup de bébés!
Dieu merci pour le portage: les bébés n'ont pas voulu être déposés pour 3 jours!
Dieu merci pour le portage: les bébés n’ont pas voulu être déposés pour 3 jours!

2 Deux manifestations de mécontentement: Le mouvement Idle No More et les moyens de pression exercés par les professeurs ontariens. Qu’est-ce que j’en pense vous vous demandez? L’ennemi de la démocratie, ce n’est pas Dalton MacGuinty (Premier Ministre de l’Ontario) ou Stephen Harper (Premier Ministre de Canada). L’ennemi de la démocratie, c’est l’apathie. Je suis donc contente de voir les gens se sortir de leur torpeur et se soulever pour tenir tête au gouvernement. J’ai une opinion nuancée sur les revendications autochtones du Canada et une piètre opinion de la Chef Theresa Spence, dont la grève de la faim est d’une cruelle ironie lorsqu’on apprend que le taux de suicide chez les jeunes autochtones est 6 fois plus élevé que chez les non-autochtones. Je ne suis pas assez éduquée pour vous offrir une solution sur les “affaires indiennes” mais je ne suis pas certaine que se laisser mourir de faim avec grande fanfare est le meilleur moyen d’inspirer une génération qui est déjà désespérée. Les professeurs ontariens ne sont pas contents non plus, ayant été allégés de leur droit de grève le temps que le gouvernement leur impose un contrat qu’il n’arrivait pas à faire passer par la négociation. Certaines écoles sont fermées aujourd’hui et j’ai vu plusieurs grand-parents prenant un petit café avec leurs petits-enfants au hasard de mes promenades. Ça m’a fait sourire.

3 Trois outils pour vous aider à garder vos bonnes résolutions. L’application MyFitnessPal vous permet de garder un “journal alimentaire”, un peu comme Weight Watchers mais gratuit! Je ne documente pas chaque bouchée à long terme mais une ou deux fois par année je garde un journal alimentaire afin d’avoir un point de référence. À chaque fois, je réalise que je mange (1) beaucoup trop, et (2) pas aussi bien que je ne le pensais. L’application RunKeeper est une excellente manière de suivre la progression de votre entraînement. Je l’utilise depuis 1 an. Et finalement, si vous ne voulez pas payer pour les meetings Weight Watchers, rien ne vous empêche de tirer avantage des média sociaux comme Facebook. Si vous n’êtes pas du genre à partager vos exploits de par le monde, vous pouvez vous créer un groupe privé ou secret (qui n’apparaîtra pas sur votre ligne de temps) avec des copines et vous en servir pour partager vos conquêtes, vos défaites et vos défis. C’est beaucoup plus amusant en groupe! Voici mon défi: le bol sans fond d’amandes au chocolat et son partenaire, le bol sans fond de Jelly Belly que mon excellent patron met à notre disposition. J’ai pris 17 livres cet automne (oui!), 15 venaient du bol d’amandes, j’en suis persuadée! IMG_2183

Berger allemand mangeur d'homme
Berger allemand mangeur d’homme

4 Quatre pattes, ça aide les grandes filles avec leur devoirs… Et ça aide à nettoyer le plancher après une “recette”…

Berger Allemand mangeur de Corn Bran
Berger allemand mangeur de Corn Bran

5 Cinq doigts bien haut pour le groupe de portage d’Ottawa et la boutique The Extraordinary Baby Shoppe, qui m’ont aidé à acheter et embellir ces deux porte-bébés pour mon amie Johanne et sa famille.

Deux Manduca pour deux bébés bien spéciaux...
Deux Manduca pour deux bébés bien spéciaux…

December Mixed Nuts

It’s been one nutty month! January is coming and we will be making some important changes to our family routine to make it more manageable. Or, more accurately, to make it more manageable by happy, competent parents. Right now we are grouchy, unhealthy, harried and exhausted parents.

(1) One thing we are doing well by necessity is Advent. No, we haven’t figured out the Jesse Tree or even the Advent calendar. We don’t even have an Advent wreath this year! The twins are 15 months and I am more tired and overwhelmed on a year of sleep deprivation than I was after 3 months (fancy that!). What we have achieved through being too busy to worry is a very simple lead-up to Christmas. “What?” you ask, “Why a simple lead-up to Christmas?” Well, because we are Catholics and this is how it was meant to be. Here is a catchy little video that explains what Advent is about. My favorite part? “If you are sick of Christmas by December 25th, you didn’t do Advent correctly!” We must have done something right then!

(2) Two Christmas dance open house(s)…. My oldest daughter started teaching Irish dancing this year and I wasn’t able to attend her first open house as a teacher but I did attend her dance class. I don’t have digital pictures of her first Christmas open house, 10 years ago or I would post a “This was then, this is now” I am so, so proud of my children. No words can describe this feeling. Here’s a little reel for the season (or a hornpipe? I feel like I should know…)


(3) Three … O Christmas Tree. My son told me this joke and because I’m a French speaker, it took me a while to “get” it: Why couldn’t the French man count to 10?” – “Because there’s a ‘tree’ in the way”… Ok, ok. We took an afternoon to go to our country acreage and chop down a piece of evergreen. The tree is too floppy to carry light garlands but it is unique. It’s ours.

First snowfall. Time to get a tree!
First snowfall. Time to get a tree!
On our way to find a tree
On our way to find a tree
This is part of the bluff where our house will be built.
This is part of the bluff where our house will be built.
Having fun in the sleigh
Having fun in the sleigh
Coming home!
Coming home
Eve is helping
Eve is helping

(4) Four days of intense batch cooking. I subscribed to Once a Month Mom, a meal planning tool that takes the thinking out of batch/freezer cooking. The “Once a Month” is for a “normal” family of four. For a family of 10, it’s an exhausting 4 day kitchen marathon. It would have been worth it except that our oven is broken and our landlord unresponsive. My freezers are full, FULL, and I’m still making supper from scratch almost every day. But the recipes from the Whole Food menu are delicious. I plan to write a full review post soon. In the mean time, here are my two middle daughters making tortillas from scratch. Adjusted for a family of 10, it starts with “Pour 27 cups of flour into a large bowl.”

Making tortilla from scratch with a big bowl!
Making tortilla from scratch with a big bowl!

(5) Five older children got a special treat this season. The Parliamentary Dining Room is a fine restaurant located on the 6th floor of the Centre Block of Parliament. It is accessible to Members of Parliament, Senators, and selected members of the Parliamentary Press Gallery. Once a year, it opens its doors to Parliament staff and their guests. This is the second time that my husband and I treat our older children to the Christmas buffet at the Parliamentary Dining Room. We leave the littles with my mother and we have some good civilized fun with our table-mannered children.

Some fine looking young people
Some fine looking young people
"So then I told Transport Canada 'Why don't we regulate more stringent car seat guidelines every year. It will prevent people from passing them on and recycling them' Our bottom line could use a boost... Get it? A boost!"
“So then I told Transport Canada ‘Why don’t we regulate more stringent car seat guidelines every year. It will prevent people from passing them on and recycling them’ Our bottom line could use a boost… Get it? A boost!”
Drama in the vintage wood-paneled elevator
Drama in the vintage wood-paneled elevator
The Rotunda in Centre Block: All decked-out!
The Rotunda in Centre Block: All decked-out!


So That’s what we did this Advent season. What about you?

Beauty and the gargoyles
Beauty and the gargoyles

Friday’s Mixed Nuts

1 One long woven piece of cloth is all I need to get around with the twins. It takes up a lot less space than a double stroller and the babies are happier in there. They are getting heavy now at 20 lbs a piece and I can only wear them comfortably for 30-45 minutes. Read more about the weird and wonderful world of woven wraps by following this link to The Weird and Wonderful World of Woven Wraps


On our way grocery shopping!

2 Two baby carriers (one woven wrap and a Boba structured carrier) replaced one double stroller and two high chairs on a recent overnight trip. That’s what I call efficient use of space. Who said that traveling with baby required a semi-trailer?

On our way out! Nobody is crawling on dirty floors here! Or licking public bathroom doors!
At breakfast at the Sleep Inn, high chairs need not apply. Not that they had any.
Restrained by a strategically placed woven wrap
Restrained by the Boba carrier

3 Three slow cheers for me: After a great month of August and beginning of September, I had achieved my goal of running 4 times a week, twice 10 km, one fast 6 km and a long 15 km. I was also going to the pool twice a week. Heck, I was even running 4km to the pool and back! I had energy despite the lack of sleep, I felt great. Then the twins went through a hell of a teething and cold episode and I stopped sleeping completely for a few weeks. It’s been almost two months of no exercise and my energy is in the tank, my sleep patterns are shot  and my spirits are low. I have started gaining weight again. It’s time for the proverbial kick in the you-know-where!

4 Four Crying Out Loud David Petraeus! What is to be concluded when a charismatic and uniquely talented individual throws away a brilliant career based on his strategic judgement and acumen, a career rooted in reliability and trustworthiness, loyalty and commitment to his country, for an extra-marital affair? That fame and power pale on the scale of human needs compared to love and affection? That the smartest people are not always that smart? If the director of the CIA conducts an affair over a Gmail account, what hope is there for the rest of us?

5 Five (sarcastic) fingers way up for Canadians who are indebted to record levels, and even higher for the analysts I overheard on the radio saying that it wasn’t such a big deal since default rates remained relatively low. Basically saying that Canadians may own less than they owe but hey, no biggy. There is no need to worry until the collection agencies are calling. In Kelly McPharland’s words:

“Joe Average Canadian now owes $26,768 (on top of the mortgage, remember). Worse, Joe’s carrying $3,573 on his credit card, which is just flat-out nuts unless you consider being gouged at usurious interest rates a boon to society


But Canadians? Hey, we’re not worried. Income growth is stagnant, the housing market is cooling (meaning we’re not as rich as we think we are) and Flaherty says he can’t balance the budget after all because commodity prices are suffering. But people are still managing to cover the monthly payments, so why worry? We’re already borrowing four times faster than the rate of inflation, and Christmas is coming, so let’s all just stick that concern in a sock and put it in a drawer until later.”

So as Christmas approaches, I would like to remind you that your children don’t need nearly as much stuff as you think they do.

Faits divers du vendredi un lundi matin

1 Une motion qui promettait de faire couler beaucoup d’encre. Chose promise, chose due. La motion 312 présentée à la Chambre des Communes par le député Stephen Woodworth demandait la création d’un comité parlementaire afin d’étudier si la définition d’« être humain » du Code criminel devrait être élargie afin d’inclure le fetus. Si vous lisez les journeaux et partuculièrement les média sociaux, vous pensez probablement que le vote de la semaine dernière était sur la criminalisation de l’avortement. En fait, la plupart de mes connections Facebook pensent que le vote de la semaine dernière était directement sur la criminalisation de l’avortement. Vous ne lirez pas cette mise-au-clair souvent mais en tant que juriste formée en bioéthique il m’importe que les débats et discussions publiques sur les enjeux de cette envergure soient définis de manière claire, précise et non-partisane. La motion 312, qui soit dit-en-passant n’a pas été acceptée, demandait une réflection sur la définition d’être humain dans le contexte du Code criminel canadien. La ministre du Statut de la femme qui a voté en faveur de la motion 312 n’a pas voté “contre l’avortement” tel que plusieurs le pensent mais en faveur d’une discussion publique sur la valeur éthique et légale du fetus. On peut avoir des opinions bien ancrées sur le sujet, mais ça ne devrait pas excuser les pires accès de démagogie et d’aveuglement volontaire. Vous êtes tous des adultes intelligents. Évidemment. Puisque vous lisez mon blogue, he, he.

2 Deux nouvelles qui m’incitent à vous donner un petit cour de procédure parlementaire et un coup d’oeuil dans le fonctionnemetn d’un bureau de député. La semaine dernière, le ministre de l’Immigration et de la citoyenneté Jason Kenney a fait la manchette lorsque son bureau a envoyé un courriel vantant le travail du gouvernement canadien dans l’avancement des droits des gais et lesbiennes sur la scène internationale. Le email en question, qui ciblait les gais et lesbiennes canadiens, a été mal reçu, les récipiendaires se demandant entre autre comment le gouvernement savait qu’ils étaient homosexuels. Ceci me ramène à la deuxième nouvelle qui était en fait la première, la motion 312 et les “pétitions” demandant à un député ou ministre de voter pour ou contre quelque chose, de faire ou de ne pas faire quelque chose, d’avancer ou d’ignorer une cause ou une autre. Lorsque vous signez une pétition en-ligne, ce que vous faites en réalité c’est envoyer une lettre formulaïque contenant votre nom et votre adresse email à un député, parfois le votre (si la “pétition” vous demande votre code postal), parfois les 308. Une véritable pétition doit être soumise à la Chambre par un député après avoir été aprouvée par le clerc des pétitions pour sa véracité et sa conformité. Lorsque vous signez une pétition en-ligne, vous envoyez votre nom et votre adresse ainsi qu’un polaroid de la cause qui vous tient à coeur à des politiciens qui sont toujours à la recherche d’un moyen de se faire connaître et d’établir un contact avec l’électorat. En d’autre mots, Jason Kenney sait que vous êtes gais et que les droits des gais vous tiennent à coeur car vous lui avez dit. Et il peut vous rejoindre car vous lui avez envoyé votre adresse courriel. La pétition que vous avez signé disait sans doute quelque chose comme “Cher Ministre Kenney, je suis gai et les droits des gais me tiennent à coeur. Voilà pourquoi… bla, bla, bla…” Vous ne vous en rapellez sans doute pas car comme 200% des gens qui envoient ce genre de lettre, vous ne l’avez pas lue.Voilà. C’est simple, non?

3 Trois jours par semaine, 5 heures par jour, c’est mon horaire de travail. C’est tout juste faisable avec une grande famille mais évidemment, on ne peut soudainement perdre 15 heures à sa semaine sans en subir les conséquences. Le pliage des vêtements propres semble être passé par la fenêtre. Ouch…

5 jours de lavage propre pour 10 personnes, ça ressemble à ça.

4 Quatre pattes, non les jumeaux ne marchent pas encore. Et c’est parfait comme ça! (Mais ce ne sera pas long).

5 Cinq  doigts bien hauts (“high five”) si vous vous êtes rendus à la fin de cet article malgré la mention d’un débat sur l’avortement et du Ministre de l’Immigration. Vous démontrez une maturité et une ouverture d’esprit notable.  Vous vous méritez une petite visite de relaxation sur You Tube pour aller rire des frasques de mon fils aîné:

Le retour des faits divers

1 Une bête noire — c’est-à-dire un “pet peeve” en anglais : les acteurs, chanteurs et autres personnalités des arts et spectacles qui utilisent leur popularité pour nous dire comment voter. Comme ça:

Bête noire #2675

Ce n’est pas parce que les vedettes n’ont pas le droit à leur opinion. Quoi? Tu as écris ou interprété une chanson populaire? Les gens aiment le son de ta voix, les arrangements de tes chansons? Mon frère chante bien aussi mais personne ne lui demande pour qui il vote. La popularité artistique n’est pas un gage de jugement politique, ça m’emmerde quand les gens se donne le droit de se mêler de mon droit de vote parce que les électeurs ont acheté leur album (ou vu leur film).

2 Deux-ième bête noire (tant qu’a y être et parce que Marie-Denise m’en donne une si belle occasion). “Il est à peu près temps qu’on fasse confiance à une femme pour gouverner le Québec…”? Pourquoi? Juste parce qu’elle a des ovaires au lieu des couilles? Comment est-ce que les organes de Pauline la rendent plus apte à gouverner que ceux de Jean ou de François? Voter pour Françoise David ou Pauline Marois c’est donc équivalent? Peut-être qu’il est temps que le Québec fasse confiance à une personne de principe? Quelqu’un avec un leadership solide? Quelqu’un avec une intégrité indiscutable? J’sais pas… Ça vaudrait peut-être la peine d’essayer Québec?

3 Trois jours avant la rentrée scolaire! Ma plus vieille me disait hier: “Je m’ennuie du temps où l’été était interminable. Aujourd’hui, c’est comme si j’avais pris la fin de semaine de congé et je retourne à un casier différent.” Et oui, c’est un signe du temps qui passe et des années qui s’accumulent: les jours passent comme des minutes et les mois comme des jour.

Derniers lambeaux du mois d’août


4 Quatre semaines avant le premier anniversaire des jumeaux. Parlant de temps qui passe. Il semble qu’hier j’étais enceinte de 35 semaines, en plein mois d’août, dans la chaleur. Puis c’était la mi-septembre et je ne me rappelle de presque rien. Heureusement que j’ai pris une tonne de photos!

11 mois et finalement mobiles (quoique ça ne m’ait pas manqué)

5 Cinq doigts bien hauts pour ma grande fille de 10 ans à qui j’ai demandé qui méritait un “High Five” et qui a répondu “moi!” C’est vrai qu’elle le mérite: elle s’occupe bien des plus petits et réussi à les faire coopérer là où d’autres se cassent le nez. La voilà en train de finir le maquillage de sa petite sœur .