Tuesday, November 29, 2011

What it feels like when you discover that your daughters’ doctor has been charged with producing child pornography

You can probably guess what it feels like, but I’m going to tell you anyway.

Horror. Until May of this year Alyce and Shira saw a pediatrician in Delaware. He was kind, accessible, and we were sad to say good-bye. When we chose to make Canada our permanent home I was on the hunt for a family doctor for the whole lot of us (in Canada children only see pediatricians for more complicated problems). But today is not the day for ranting about what I dislike about health care in Canada, because, unfortunately, today is a day for thinking about how my daughters’ doctor might have been hurting children. I will say that choosing a doctor here isn’t so much about choosing anything, but about finding the one doctor in the area who is accepting new patients and then asking nicely if they will pretty please take you on as a patient. So we were given our doctor and I hated him immediately. Ask anyone has has had to listen to my complaints since my first appointment and they will tell you: I did not like our new doctor. He was distracted, dismissive, and rude. Since our first visit I have been searching for a new doctor, but changing doctors here is impossible difficult (see above re: lack of choices). Just last week I was thinking about how I didn’t want to bring Alyce to him in a few weeks for her check-up.

And then.

Panic. A few nights ago my mum mentioned that a doctor at my clinic was charged with viewing and producing child pornography. What’s your doctor’s name again? I’m sure it’s not him, she asked.  Except that it was him.Our doctor was charged with possessing and producing child pornography at the same time as my husband and I had trusted him to care for our children’s bodies. Let me say this again, because I still can’t quite wrap my head around it: my children’s doctor has been charged with hurting children. Can’t compute. If he is guilty of these charges (I’m trying my hardest not to presume guilt, but it’s not an easy thing to do in this situation), then this so-called doctor has been looking at child pornography and producing some of his own. He has exploited beautiful, innocent children for something so very dark and terrible. What if he had hurt my children? How do I even type those words?

Rage. In the days since I found out the news, I’ve been running all our encounters with Dr. Speight through my head. There was that time when I took Shira to see him for a terrible diaper rash. He examined her naked body and I’m so angry about that. But then I remind myself that he barely even looked at her (a complaint I made loudly to my husband after the appointment). Another time he went on and on about how cute my girls are. He didn’t give me or my own medical questions the time of day, but he had plenty of time for my children. Just imagining the internal thoughts of a child pornographer, praising my young children for their beauty, makes me want to vomit. How dare he even think Alyce and Shira that way. They are are not for you, world, I think to myself. They are only mine. I grew them and nursed them and my job is to keep them safe. That their safety was threatened in this way, even though I feel confident that they were never personally harmed by this man, brings out feelings of anger I’ve never experienced before.

Sadness. I feel a terrible sadness for the children he might have exploited, for the parents who feel helpless, and for wonderful men I’ll be suspicious of in the future because of all this. I’ll never bring Alyce and Shira to a male doctor again (outside of an emergency situation), and in this way I’m charging all male doctors with the crimes of one. I know that I can’t possibly protect my children from the world, I really do. I don’t scare them with tales of scary strangers or poisoned candy, but I have already begun to teach Alyce about how wonderful her body is, and how it is for her alone, and I will do what I can to reduce exposing them to men--men who should be trusted--that might use their positions of power to harm them. I don’t want to be suspicious of people, but now, tonight, I will forgive myself a few assumptions in order to keep my girls safe.

I’m not sure what the next step is in all this. He will be in court this Friday but I don’t know yet if there will be a trial. The Cambridge clinic where he practiced (and where we are patients) has promised to look after everyone, but I just want to run away from that place. I’ll be looking around for another doctor, but like I said, that is no easy task. Mostly I will remind myself that Alyce and Shira are safe. I will send out my best thoughts to those who have been hurt by all this this.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

I was hiding

Hello there. Where have you been?

Oh, right. That was me. But I'm back, internet! I've missed you so! Especially with so much happening. It's late Sunday night and I have a date with Matt and an episode of Dexter, but I'll be back tomorrow, and the next day I hope, to keep you posted on what's going on around here, both the good and the not-so-good. We're also in countdown mode until Alyce's birthday next weekend. So much to discuss.

I hope you have a wonderful week, and that it's filled with all the things that make you happiest, like Nutella brownies or a new approach to scrambled eggs (extra yokes!). Or maybe that's just me.

P.S. This photo was taken in our new minivan. The Children already love it. We all sort of have a crush on it.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Daily communication

Matt and I used to spend a lot of time together. Between the flexible hours of his previous job and my staying at home with The Children, we rarely spent time apart. Now that I'm back at work (at my temp job for now), we've had to change how we communicate. No longer able to just wander in the kitchen for a conversation, now, with thanks to our beloved iphones, we send texts and photos back and forth all day long. Matt sends me updates about his day and photos of Alyce and Shira (do you like her new winter coat?), and I send him photos of recipes I write down on post-its, hoping he'll start dinner before I get home. As mundane as our messages can be, they keep me sane. I need the reminder right now, that some things haven't changed. When my life feels so upside-down, I rely on these constant little messages from home. We're still here. You're missed. Alyce just asked for her millionth snack. Where are Shira's boots? I receive these details on my phone and all feels right in the world. 

What keeps you sane when you're away from home? Do you want Matt to send you messages, too?

Sunday, November 20, 2011

We're still around, just a little quiet.

New favourite shows include The Backyardigans, Toopy and Binoo, and Manon.

Package of dry beans + pots = Very Serious Fun
Shira would like you to know that she can do it herself, re: brushing her teeth.

While I can't say the same for Alyce and Shira, I've been feeling a bit quiet lately. I'm working a lot at my temp job, still not loving it,* and dealing with a few too many grown-up type responsibilities. There are a few changes happening around here (alas, not on the job front), and I'll be posting about these in the next couple of days. But the week has not been all bad, including the following:

-Indian food and birthday shopping for Alyce with mum
-A wonderful afternoon spent with a dear friend I haven't seen often enough these last few years
-An excellent case of the giggles
-We got a minivan. I KNOW! More on that later, too. In the meantime, I need to cover it with bumper stickers and racing stripes. 

Sleep tight. I hope it's the best of weeks!

*Just so we're clear: understatement of the millennium.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

For her birthday present, we're thinking of giving her three cats

Mum and wee Alyce, December 2007

Internet, please wish my mum a Happy Birthday. Technically mum's birthday was November 16 (yesterday), but seeing as my grandmother, the woman who gave birth to her, celebrated her birthday on November 17 for my mum's entire childhood (I just couldn't remember, it was late, my grandmother will tell you if you ask), I don't think she'll mind. I think a two-day birthday sounds just about right.

If you're ever looking for a mum who listens to all the things you have to say, who will support anything that might make you happy, and who will fly all the way to the moon and back if you needed her to, well, you can't have her. She's mine.

Happy Birthday, mum. How lucky I am, how lucky we all are, that you're always there to make the world kinder, more filled with joy, and an all-around lovelier place to be. All of those things that you do every day, we notice. We always notice.


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Why I don't want you to call me a girl

I have a vagina. There, I've said it.

I love being a woman. I'm sure being a man is fabulous, too, but I know nothing of being a man. I also loved being a girl. Sure, there were some downsides, like the pressure to be thin and having to put up those obnoxious guys in school who rated your sex-worthiness as you walked down the hall between classes (note to self: fix the world so that doesn't happen anymore), but there were so many other wonderful things about my years as a girl. I got to wear dresses and pointe shoes, have slumber parties, fall in love, and have girlfriends. You know another great thing about being a girl? Dreaming about all the things you'll be and do when you grow up. At various points in my own girlhood I considered paleontologist, flower arranger, ballerina, doctor, lawyer, ballerina, and professor. Scratch that last one.

And I still love girls, especially MY girls. I completely lucked out having two perfectly delicious daughters who, I hope, will also come to love being a girl, however that looks to them. While it seems that Alyce has planted herself firmly on the side of princess, maybe Shira will enjoy being a girl because of the sports she will play or mountains she will climb. Either way, Alyce will still probably make her wear a Cinderella dress while she does all these marvelous things. 


I am no longer a girl. And this post is dedicated to the man in my office who continues to call me one as he passes by my desk each day. "How are you girls doing today?" he asks me and my temp-mate (we're both on a short-term contract with the company), probably unaware of how my blood boils with each passing question.

I am no longer a girl. I have worked for years in school, earning two degrees (and some of a third). I have grown and birthed two babies. I have a family and I am responsible for them. I worry about how to put food on the table and clothes on their backs. I am a grown woman who deserves respect for all the things that I've done and all the things I might do. I might be temp who enters boring data all day into a computer, but I am not your office girl. I am also about ten years older than you, so zip it.

I am struggling with so many things right now. I still can't find permanent, non-terrible employment. Matt still can't work outside the home and faces his own challenges staying at home with the girls each day. What I don't need to struggle with is this condescending crap at work. I have earned so much more than that.

Monday, November 14, 2011


I don't need to give you a list of all the reasons I love fall.  Crisp air, crunchy leaves, root vegetables, apple cider and hot chocolate, scarves, and that's just the beginning (wait, was that a list? It's like I make them in my sleep. I'm list-addicted). But is there anything better than throwing The Children into huge piles of leaves? Between the giggles and the pleading for more leaves, Papa, it was my highlight of the weekend.

Now that I'm a grown-up working Monday to Friday (by the way, I'm not totally thrilled with being a grown-up, but I'll save that complaint for another post), the weekends are key. But now I'm faced with the dilemma of doing so many things on the weekend, trying to cram in as much time with my friends and family as I can, that I'm finding myself exhausted by Sunday night. This weekend, between preparing a birthday dinner for mum, cleaning up the craft shelves, nursing Shira every twenty minutes (don't ask), going to the park, heading to the store multiple times because I just kept forgetting everything on my list, has left me exhausted. I need to work on this strange new weekend phenomenon.

But I'll take a busy weekend any day of the week! Preferably every day.

P.S. Mum's birthday dinner menu: Asparagus and pea risotto, thinly sliced steak over greens, and a lemon birthday cake with vanilla icing. It all turned out beautifully. Happy Birthday mum!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Good thing I'm always hungry

It's no secret that I think about food a lot. I mostly blame the internet, though, with all its temptations and good ideas. Here are this week's offenders:

-Chicken Pot Pies are a weakness of mine. These individual pot pies are inspiring me to eat them more often.
-A soup made with roasted, caramelized cauliflower. My Sunday afternoon should be filled with this soup, except that we got hungry and ate the cauliflower for Shabbat dinner on Friday. We have no one to blame but ourselves.
-I was on the hunt for a good blueberry muffin recipe and found this one. I'm often disappointed with blueberry muffins, but these were not too sweet, the good kind of crumbly, and worked well with my frozen blueberries. I used whole wheat flour and no one was the wiser. Now if someone can please tell me how to store my muffins so that they aren't all gummy and sticky on top the next day, I will love you forever.

I'm looking for some good ideas for meals that store well in the fridge over the week. I've been in the habit of making a batch of something on Sunday that I can take to work for lunch a few days that week. So far I've made chili and a chick pea stew. I think it's time for something non-tomatoey. Any ideas?

Going on a bed hunt

On my way to bed last night I saved a llama and a lemon from drowning in the bathroom sink,

battled a dinosaur on my dresser,

brawled with beasts next to my bed,

and then settled in with a good book.*

In our house you must come prepared for adventures at every turn. And as much as I fight against it some days, this is exactly how I like it.

*My Friends, by Taro Gomi, is one of my all-time favourite books for little ones. I learned to march from my friend the rooster. I learned to kick from my friend the gorilla. Isn't it always nice to learn new things? In preparation of the upcoming holidays (and birthday, for one very excited little girl), I'm working on a post about our favourite books. Coming soon!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

A declaration

Winter is coming, and I'm ready to declare, unpopular as I may be, that I'm excited for it. Bring it on.* I know, I know, it's cold in winter, and everyone would rather be warm and sunny, but let's take a moment to think about just a few of the wonderful things that winter brings us:

-snow to play in
-warm houses from which to watch snow falling
-open season on hot chocolate
-ice skating
-twinkly lights
-soup season
-kids in snowsuits
-the change to regroup, to get ready for next spring

I think you'll all admit that I'm right about this one. What are your favourite things about winter?

*With the exception of winter driving. I could do without that.

Go Sooners

Guess who has a blog? Let me be more specific: guess who has a blog about the Oklahoma Sooners basketball team and various other college basketball gossip? My husband, that's who, and he is very excited to share his obsession passion with the internet. His new blog, Moving Without the Ball, is wonderful, especially if you happen to know anything about the Sooners (note: I'm not entirely sure I know what a sooner is). Here's just a sample of what you'll find over there:

What, then, can we learn about the stylistic preferences of OU’s new coach? There is no simple template for winning--except, perhaps, scoring inside the arc, limiting 2 pt. field goals on defense and corraling defensive boards--and consequently playing fast or slow on, high pressure or restrained on defense, tells us very little. It is how those stylistic choices are designed and implemented by the coaching staff and executed by young men in the their late teens or early twenties.

Can you believe it? Can you even understand it? I'm so proud of him. Matt is the sort to regularly fall asleep at night clutching some hot-off-the-presses book on basketball statistics, and it's about time he joined the larger conversation online. Now I happen to be an excellent basketball-watching spouse, and I'll happily knit watch a game almost any night of the week, but Matt needs more. He needs the internet.

So head on over and say hello! He's very friendly and soon to be my favourite blogger, I'm sure.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

There are always two of them

I didn't grow up with a sibling. So when I hear Alyce declare loudly that Shira must also play princess, and that they must both be Cinderella, I'm sort of speechless. When I watch Shira eagerly follow her big sister around the house, happy to put on whatever costume is necessary as long as she can be included, I watch and learn. And when Alyce throws her entire body weight down on Shira's head because she just wants to "give Shira a hug," I wince and try to take it as it comes. For the most part I can delight in the development of big and little sister, take both of them in my lap and enjoy these tiny people. But soon, probably sooner than I realize, they two sisters are going to realize that power that comes in numbers, they're going to smell my vulnerability, and they are going to take me down.

P.S. Speaking of sisters, have you heard? Dreamy.

For my littlest one

I finished it. I finally finished it. I started this blanket as my second-ever knitting project with the help of my friend, Heidi, and I'm so happy with it. It's taken me months to finish, but Shira finally has her very own blanket. There is something awfully lovely about making something for another person, and something extra lovely about making something for your baby. I think she likes it.

Now to begin the next project!

Monday, November 7, 2011

An experiment

I should warn you, this doesn't end well.

Shira's not sleeping again.

I should clarify: she's not sleeping between the hours of 4:00 am and 7:00 pm, with the exception of an afternoon nap (which I am not usually around to enjoy, stupid job). Why is sleep so complicated for young children? It's a lovely thing, I tell them. I tell them this a lot.

The Children have always been early risers. These are the kind of children I grow, it turns out. Alyce was up at 5:00 am for two years at least, every single morning. Her little face was always bright and ready to start the day no matter what strategies we tried. No matter what time we tucked her in for bed the night before, no matter how much we let her cry or not cry, no matter her nap schedule, Alyce would get up before the sun. After fighting with her about it for a few months, we decided to give in to her demands for the sake of some peace in the house. We got used to early bedtimes and the free evenings that came with them. Honestly, I think I even started to think 5 am wasn't so bad.

We weren't really surprised when Shira took after her sister. We might have held onto a few ounces of hope in the beginning, but we didn't really fight against it when it became clear that she, too, was eager to start the day before the sun. And don't tell Matt, but I actually love being up with Shira early in the morning, just the two of us. Especially now that I'm going to work every day, our mornings together can be quite lovely. We sneak downstairs after having some milk in bed, she toodles around the living room and kitchen showing me all her toys while I make coffee and start the oatmeal, and we slowly start the day.

But before you start thinking that I've completely lost it, let me reassure you that even I have my limits. When Shira started waking up at 4:00 am last week, yes, 4:00 am, I quickly changed my tune. 4:00 am is clearly still night time, not the morning. There are no roosters at 4:00 am because they are all still in bed. Starting the day at 4:00 am is just simply a terrible, impossible idea.

After three days of this, three days of hoping and praying that she'd fall back asleep, we thought we'd get this under control. Are you laughing yet? Me too. On Saturday night we decided that we'd keep The Children up late and "force" them to sleep in just a bit longer. Because if Shira went to bed at nine instead of six, surely she'd sleep in until at least five, right? (Yes, I just typed that sentence. It's all about perspective, isn't it?) We are such fools. Of course it wouldn't work. We know that sleep begets sleep and that a tired baby is more likely to wake up early and even more tired. But we are tired fools, and willing to try anything. Did I mention that we had to also put the clocks back that night? Are you pointing and laughing at us yet?

Shira didn't wake up at 4:00 am on Sunday. She got up at 3:30.

Why do we do such silly things?

P.S. Hope you slept better than we did. You'll need all that energy to babysit The Children this weekend so Matt and I can get some sleep.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

A list, if you will

 Alyce, self-portrait

1. Is it just me, or has Alyce become quite an artist? I'm finding her soulful self-portraits fulfilling on many levels. The arms, you'll notice, seem to be growing directly out of her head. She's always challenging me to think outside the box. Mostly, I just love her silly grin.

2.  This list is far greater than my own.

3. I've just fallen in love with Coeur de Pirate. Also, her cover of Katy Perry. Don't judge me.

4. Do you think I could make this Pumpkin Challah before I leave for work in the morning? Probably not, but I should probably try anyway.

5. Speaking of work, I've applied for a job that I would really, really, really like to have. Universe, help a girl out, would you?

6. I've been doing a lot of writing lately, planning for some potential freelance articles and even for the book I hope to write about my grandmother. The past six months have been *challenging* to say the least, but I've never put so much energy into my writing before*. I like it. I like it a lot.

7. Have you read Jonathan Franzen's Freedom? I started listening to it on CD during my commute to work everyday, and I have to admit, I hated it. The book is spread out over 19 CDs, and I made it all the way to disc 13, but I just couldn't do it anymore. I wanted to like this book, I really did. But the characters were mean-spirited, the outlook dreary, and I just couldn't handle all the whining. I hear enough whining from my three year old. I usually finish books no matter what, but I just couldn't do it. Did you like it? Are you one of those readers who finishes a book no matter what?

8. If you don't already, I suggest that you head over here. Ryan from Pacing the Panic Room, along with his wife Cole, are taking photoblogging to an impressive level.

9. I think Shira might be heading in the direction of non-breastfeeding. But I don't really want to talk about this, so I'm just going to sit in the corner for a little while.

10. The following things have made me smile this week: Alyce's interpretive dancing to Eddie Vedder's Ukulele Songs, Shira's new vocabulary, especially when she tries to say Alyce, carving a Halloween pumpkin with the girls, Matt's newly discovered talent at roasting brussel sprouts.

It's Thursday, everyone! That means tomorrow is Friday!

The weekend. It's coming.

*Note to self: This might be why that whole PhD dissertation never quite worked out.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

An handsome man

Trying to charm me on my birthday, and relieved to be free of The Children. That's not a small glass of wine, either.

This post is dedicated to Matt, hands down the world's greatest (and most handsome) stay-at-home Papa and house husband. He loves his girls more than anything, I know, but I also know that he'd like absolutely nothing more than to be working (far) away from the house. At a job where he gets paid actual money. Is this too much to ask? Hardly.

So please join me in reminding my husband that he is doing an incredible job staying home with Alyce and Shira. Things feel hard some days, but we are all thankful for the things you do. xxx