Stop Touching My Baby

Touching my babyExcuse me, but why do you think it’s okay to touch my baby? I know you mean well and my baby is super cute, but just because she’s a baby doesn’t mean it’s appropriate to invade her personal space. In greeting a stranger do you start with a caress of the cheek? Soft fondling of the hand? A rubbing of the noses à la Eskimo? My baby smiles in response to your cooing because she likes the attention, however she doesn’t know that the world is a dirty place and you are likely dirty too. Don’t get me wrong, chances are you’re lovely and I do get a kick out of  people wanting to interact with my child. In fact, when people are unmoved by a gorgeous baby like mine I think they’re probably sociopathic. Like puppies, it should be impossible to look at a smiling baby and turn away in indifference. However, touching my baby is not cool. I don’t know you, and even if I did, I don’t know where you’ve been today. I don’t know if you touched that subway pole upon which someone just sneezed their unvaccinated snot. I don’t know if you’ve just licked your fingers at the first tinglings of a raging cold sore. Plus, my baby has very little control of her faculties. She sucks everything: my shoulder, her feet, her fists…anything you put in front of her mouth. She doesn’t have the judgement to keep from grabbing your finger and trying to eat that, either. So just don’t. Absolutely smile at my baby and try to make her laugh. Coo at her and tell me how gorgeous she is. But keep your face and digits to yourself.

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Leaky Hunters

leaky-hunters-best-size-2I paid $165 for Hunter rain boots about two years ago. It took me a long time to decide to buy them because I’m good with money and I always think Do I really need this? But I loved them, I saw them everywhere, and I had bought much cheaper boots that had leaked, so I thought SCREW IT! I’m getting Hunters! And it’ll be a great investment because they’ll last a lifetime! After all, their supposed quality is what has plucked them from an old, well-respected brand to the trendy one that has emerged in the last several years.

I wore my Hunters pretty sparingly – realistically about once a month, and not for anything taxing. That is, they endured pretty light use. So imagine my rage when I was out immersing my feet in puddles with my toddler and FELT MY LEFT SOCK GET WET. Hunter, are you kidding me?! Rain boots. Right? RAIN boots. How hard is it to make a boot that completely keeps out water? For more than a few dozen uses? That is their ONLY FUNCTION. So, I posted my irritation on Facebook and several friends commented that their Hunters have also leaked. This is UNACCEPTABLE. It’s basically a shoddy product. It’s not just me and my over-use, scuffling my feet along rocky cliffs and a compulsive habit of kicking holly bushes. It’s routine, mild use. I contacted Hunter and they said that they only honour a one-year warranty.

I’d like to think the next pair would be different, but my small Facebook sampling says otherwise. I’m sick of companies decreasing quality while increasing price. It disgusts me because it once again takes money from the Little Guy and gives it to the Big Guy. You suck, Hunter.

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Vancouver Housing Affordability Complainers

Housing Affordability smallI just read an article in Vancouver Magazine about how BC Liberals have “picked their side – against affordability.” Writer Max Fawcett talks about Liberal MLA Laurie Throness’ recent justification for his party’s obvious stance on the housing crisis (after presenting a budget last week that did as close to nothing about the affordability problem without actually doing nothing) when he said that people who can’t afford to live in Vancouver should just live elsewhere. He also said that companies and the jobs they offer would end up following them. I, like Fawcett, am scratching my head at this. So, who’s going to start this trend? Who’s going to quit their job downtown, buy in Abbotsford, and wait for the exodus of companies from the city to the suburbs? Throness says he, too, couldn’t afford to live in Vancouver so he sucked it up and bought in Abbotsford without complaining. Well, good, Laurie, but you’re the MLA for Chilliwack-Hope, so wouldn’t it make sense for you to live there? Also, most people don’t pick the company they work for, the company picks them. That is, there are not so many oodles of jobs out there that one can afford to be picky and only take work that is within a certain radius of one’s home. How utterly absurd it would be for me or my husband to turn our noses up at a job because it’s not within a short commute. My husband has a one-hour commute to his job downtown. We bought a 35-year-old townhouse that far out because that’s what we could afford. However, buying in Abbotsford would at least double that commute. And that’s if he were lucky enough to be able to take transit, which, of course, from Abbotsford would be ridiculous.

We bought our modest place eight years ago, and units like ours did not go up in value the way detached homes in the rest of the market went. Fine. We were diligent to pay our mortgage and that’s a forced savings, so we have that equity. I don’t begrudge not having increased our equity by 100% because in any other market that would be an unreasonable expectation. And so should it be for any homeowner. Those who have made huge gains in their home equity have simply won the real estate lottery. They did not, as Christy Clark says, “painstakingly” build the equity in their homes. She says that her government is not going to do anything that may compromise the equity homeowners enjoy. I have earned good money for years and “painstakingly” saved, been frugal, been actively and successfully involved in the stock market, been financially diligent…and yet my investment equity is down 30% since last year because of world markets. Who’s going to prop up my RSP so that I don’t lose MY equity? The housing market went up by 20% in Metro Vancouver in the LAST SIX MONTHS. So, even if the government took modest measures and the market corrected by as much, the vast majority of homeowners would not lose any equity that they didn’t receive in an artificial market in an absurdly short period of time. Artificial, because true supply and demand means that average incomes in Metro Vancouver would be adequate to buy an average home. However, residents here have a median income of only around $70K. So, anyone who was lucky enough to have bought at least 15 years ago got a home for fair market value and has seen their equity grow since then at a rate that could not reasonably be expected with any other investment. If the market corrected so that their equity rose only 30% in the last decade instead of 100%, they would still enjoy a solid increase. The problem is that homeowners have stars in their eyes seeing how much their properties are now worth, so anything less than that will somehow feel like “losing”. They are not losing. They just wouldn’t get the great windfall. And it would only be a windfall if they were to sell and move to Sparwood. YOUR BUYING POWER IS NO GREATER JUST BECAUSE YOUR PROPERTY WENT UP IN VALUE. Because who cares if you have ten million dollars’ equity in your home if every other home costs as much? Further, a home is a long-term investment. Anyone who “loses” equity today will be fine a decade (or typically longer) from now when they decide to sell. I don’t take much notice to my investment portfolio that’s down 30% because it’s supposed to be a decades-long investment. Also, it’s the risk you take buying ANY investment.

In addition to moving far out of the city, the government feels that people should just stop whining because it’s not everyone’s God-given right to own a detached house in Vancouver. Well, I guess it’s not my God-given right to own a detached house in North Vancouver, Burnaby, Coquitlam, Delta, most parts of Surrey, Langley, and much of Abbotsford. I guess it’s only rich people’s God-given right to take that opportunity away from those who for decades were able to buy average homes in most of these areas. I suppose that despite this fraudulent game the rich are playing we should all just be happy to work like assholes our whole lives to put every nickel into an already over-priced condo. That, instead of paying fair market value and having a reasonable commute, enjoying the occasional Starbucks, having room for kids, and saving for retirement.

This government, and idiots like Throness, are deliberately distracting from the actual problem of affordability and fraud. They claim they cannot take any measures that would cool the market down. Yes, of course they can. But they don’t, because when homeowners lose their false equity and get all angry about it because they thought they were rich and now they’re just average they will call for each Liberal’s head. And the federal government does nothing because they know with years of low interest rates, people have racked up personal debt to record levels and would be screwed if interest rates went up. So, government created a terrible situation and now feels forced to keep the party going and leave that disaster for a future date instead of dealing with the disaster now. I cannot believe that even equity-rich homeowners don’t see this for what it is. They SHOULD want the government to intervene. Why? Because this whole situation is based on greed, fraud, and blatantly favouring the rich, and even their children will not be able to buy a decent home here. How do you not see that?

 

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Unfriending

UnfriendingI recently noticed, in the same way everyone does in this situation, that a particular “friend” on Facebook hadn’t posted anything that I could remember in a while. So, I took a look at her page and saw we were no longer friends. She is still friends with many of our common friends, just not me. Interesting. I’ve had this happen before (I think everyone has, no?) but on those few occasions I didn’t care much or take it personally because I chalked it up to them wanting to pare down their friends to only include a closer circle. Valid enough. If I haven’t seen someone since high school and I was never really friends with them to begin with, I can see them not really caring what’s happening in my life.

It’s when the following criteria are met that unfriending makes you question things about yourself:

– You were once good friends but life grew a distance between you

– No falling-out happened

– They have 500 other Facebook friends

– They had commented on your posts, and vice versa, on occasion in the past

When any such conditions are met it’s a WTH situation. The kicker is how many friends the person has. When people have over 500 friends I suspect they accept friend requests from just about anybody. Then you have no choice but to accept that your former “friend” just doesn’t like you anymore and wants nothing to do with seeing anything about your life. Ouch!

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Kids At My House

Kids at my House

Kids are freaking loud. I know people know this, and you probably shouldn’t have kids if you don’t expect your auditory nerves to be grated most minutes of the day. I mean, you can tell a kid to be quiet and exactly five seconds later—no exaggeration—they will forget. Or something. Who knows why the attention span of the young is so very short?

Actually, I think it’s less that their brains can’t retain instruction, and more that they are insular beings who don’t really see past the end of their own nose.

But holy Hannah, my daughter has two friends over right now and I have to hold myself back from scolding them every minute about something they’re doing, the volume they’re doing it at, and the mess they’re making in the process. I have to, because I know my daughter goes to their houses a lot and probably does the same thing. And I don’t want to be that scary parent who keeps everyone from having fun. I had one of those growing up, and then nobody wants to come to your house. I want my kids to have the kind of house that all their friends feel comfortable in, where they have the most fun, where they ask to hang out at the most. I almost never had friends over to my house growing up. We couldn’t watch TV or listen to music, we had no furniture in our rec room so there was almost nowhere to hang out. We usually had such popular after-school snacks as raisins, carob chips or fruit. And my dad was always home by 4pm (too early) and everyone was scared of him because he was strict (still is).

Don’t get me wrong, I refuse to be a permissive parent. I will not let my kids watch anything on TV just because it will embarrass them to turn it off in front of their friends. And I won’t be buying cupcakes when a whole-grain banana loaf will do. And I certainly won’t say come do pot at our house and not at the elementary school playground Friday night so that I can ensure your “safety”. I can’t permit things I feel are bad for my kids, just because I fear they will be exposed to it anyway or otherwise think I’m lame. But I do want to have the house that, despite getting turned upside down during a rousing game of Let’s Make a Potion in the Livingroom Using Mud, Leaves and Bird Poo! welcomes kids and makes them  want to be here.

I have to remind myself of this right now. Two of the friends were in the bathroom shrieking and I did not hear a toilet flush, nor water running. I have to physically turn my head away from every place their hands are now touching. I must ignore the dirt being tracked in every time they run out to the deck to get more “ingredients” for their potion, knowing I’ll have yet another mess to clean up later. And I especially have to refrain from comment when they can’t keep their voices at a reasonable decibel when the baby is napping. Which means I may not get my break. But my kids will be happy if I exercise some restraint here, and that’s half the battle when raising kids, right?

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What Women Must Do For Men

Women Accommodating MenMarriage is a tricky thing. We’re supposed to think of our partner’s welfare more than our own, which is not natural. We want to look out for ourselves and what we want. However, if both parties actively seek out what’s best for the other then the marriage has a lot better chance of surviving.

I agree with this principle and believe it necessary to make marriage great. And I don’t think I have to give up anything that I want for myself in order to do it. But I do have a problem with how we all typically have to go about it.

It seems to me that in many life scenarios (marriage, work, friendships, peer relationships of all sorts) it’s women who shoulder the bulk of the burden to “understand” men and thereby accommodate them. Men typically think a certain way and approach life in a certain fashion that is different from women. It’s why there are so many books out there attempting to decode the myriad differences between the sexes. And although there is a lot of overlap, there is certainly a reason Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus and books of that ilk have been so popular. However, I want to bet that the VAST majority of those books are read by women, and not just because women are more wired to want to work on relationships.

I have discussed all sorts of male-female relationships with friends and even counselors and the one thing I have heard so often is, “Laura, if men (your husband included) approach this problem in XYZ fashion, how can you tailor your behaviour to accommodate them?”

I heard one form of this or another so many times that at one point I started to wonder, how come the woman has to accommodate so much more for the man? Why are we always told we have to understand men and how they are wired and to make allowances for that and suit our behaviour accordingly? How come nobody says that to men?

I don’t mean to say men are never told that they have to seek to understand women, but the situation is seriously lopsided. Women are always presenting information in a certain way, lilting their voice just so, analyzing their man at length so they know what to expect and not be offended. We say men have to feel like they’re in control, like they’re right. We say men don’t pick up their socks because when they were growing up they had other chores like mowing the lawn and painting the house. We say that men just need sex because it’s part of their DNA. We say that men are natural navel gazers so ask them lots of questions about themselves and don’t be annoyed when they don’t ask your opinion. Women are told to understand men correctly in order to not get hurt or be fine with how a man behaves. And women do all of this really, really well, even without taking acting lessons.

Okay. That’s totally fine, but ONLY IF MEN HAVE TO DO ALL THAT AS WELL. It is true that men are told that women are more emotional, that they like to talk things through, that they need to feel cared for, and that they will need to feel romanced to want to have sex. And it’s true a lot of men understand that and accommodate the women in their lives. But I don’t think they have to do it nearly as often as women, and I think more often than not women are ALL IN with their efforts at accommodating men, whereas men tend to give this tedious responsibility a cursory nod. It’s as though women see the tendencies of men as adventurous codes to decipher for the greater good, whereas men see the tendencies of women as irritants they must endure.

Maybe women are beaten over their heads with the message of accommodating men’s tendencies because they are simply better at it, and that for relationships to work it’s women who simply have to bear the bulk of that burden. Hmm. I guess all us gals can rail against the reality, but…yeah, we’ll probably just keep accommodating. It’s not worth it.

Don’t misunderstand that I wish men were more like women. The good Lord made men different from women and I celebrate that. It would just be better if the efforts on both sides were more equal.

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Harried New Year?

Happy New YearPeople often say how fast time flies. I have not found this to be true at all. I almost never think, “Gosh, where did the time go? How am I thirty-six?” No, I feel like time has progressed at exactly the appropriate pace and I’m grateful for that. I don’t want life to scream by. A friend of mine recently referred to an old author who penned something along the lines of how life moves slowly when you have moments on which you can “hang your hat”. That is, life feels like it’s fully experienced or lived when significant events take place at regular intervals. I can look back over the majority of the last decade and think, yeah, I had at least one major event happen in that year that sent ripple effects throughout my life. I have not had one year in memory where the status quo directed my existence. I am someone who really likes stability, but also challenges, and I have been lucky to have those.

I don’t think only great events are worthy of hanging your hat on. I think life feels fully lived and fulfilled when hard things happen, too, particularly when you can get through them with some kind of great consequence.

It actually bugs me when people say, “I bet the last four years have just raced by since your daughter was born.” No, they haven’t. I feel like she is exactly four and a half years old. I feel like I have not missed any significant stage with her. I feel like so much has happened since 2009.

All this being said, the one thing I did not think much about that I wish I had been more present for was labouring with my daughter. I remember it all, but this spring I think I will be more aware of the implications of what is happening. Three months to go!

(Also, on a totally different note, can we all remember that it’s “Happy New Year”

and NOT

“Happy New Year’s”?

The latter doesn’t make any sense. The news anchor on my station keeps saying it. Thanks! Have a fantastic 2014!)

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