Category Archives: Uncategorized

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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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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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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I’m Happy For You

JealousAre you really? Or is there a small piece of your heart that sinks to your gut when you hear my news? Do you justify that sinking feeling by telling yourself that my news is not good, not smart, not socially responsible, or not financially sound?

Maybe you want to have the same news. Or any good news.

I caught myself doing exactly this. I have to watch it because life has a way of bringing things full circle based on the attitude you put out there. Are you really well off, don’t work, but take all the credit for what you have? Did you get pregnant immediately after ditching the pill? Did you get that fantastic job even though I know you’re not that talented? Did your parents leave you a massive inheritance but you talk as if you earned the money yourself? Does your kid get to go to private school? Did your husband do something super thoughtful and you are super vocal about how great he is? Did you pick the absolute right stock at random?

I think very few people deal with that sinking feeling, I think most of them believe the justification. Shame.

Be happy for people. It’s good for you.

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Flirting With Cops

I’m flirty like anyone else, I suppose, in that I have on occasion used my feminine wiles to get what I wanted. But I think I’ve learned when to let it loose, and when to reel it in. Otherwise, you’re displaying all your goods inappropriately or toward someone who is clearly uncomfortable.

Take my Sunday speeding incident. I was racing down the highway at 8:30 in the morning, trying to get to church on time. I hate being late for things, especially church because then you can’t get a good seat and then it’s easier to let the mind wander. So, of course I get pulled over. The man was older, and gruff. He really lit into me about being irresponsible with my “precious cargo” (aka my daughter), at which point I started to tear up. He barked, “Do I have to remind you how unsafe you were being with that little girl back there?” I shook my head, no, my eyes wide and wet. “Do you even have a driver’s licence?” he snapped. I nodded yes (maybe blubbering like an idiot makes you appear younger) and produced my card. “Which part of all those signs back there did you not like? Do you know you were in the excessive zone? That’ll cost you $360 and I’ll give you another for making a sloppy lane change. Is that worth it now?” I looked down at my lap and shook my head again. I honestly almost never speed. “Where were you going so fast anyway?” he yelled. I paused several beats, then answered, “Church.”

He eyed me, I think a bit taken aback that I would try that. I opened my palms upward and shrugged my shoulders a little. I think we could both appreciate the irony. After a pregnant pause, like he was considering what to do with me, he snarled, “You’re getting a warning for this run around, and I want you to think real hard about what you’re doing with that little one in the back. Do you hear?” I nodded and looked away, my tears set to betray me. I didn’t want to push my luck. “Have a good day,” he finished and sauntered back to his cruiser.

I could hardly get control of myself as I pulled back onto the highway with excessive caution. My daughter was perfectly silent for fifteen minutes. Later that day she asked, “Mommy, why were you speeding?” Because speeding plus crying plus religiosity equals ridiculous.

So what was my point? Ah yes, I ended up doing what most women typically do to get out of tickets, without even trying. So, is it flirting if my efforts produce a slobbery, unappealing mess in lieu of a desirably distraught woman?

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My Book & Show-Offs

I’m not much of a show-offy person. This is something most hold as an endearing trait, and few have much patience for the opposite. Especially in Canada, we kind of feel like nobody should stand out. And if you bring attention to something you do well, you run the risk of rubbing people the wrong way.

I’m not sure why we hate show-offs so much. Maybe it’s linked to not being truly happy for other people’s successes. Because if we’re not happy for someone it means we’re mad we don’t have something ourselves.

When I was in Grade 8 we did a gymnastics rotation in gym. Each girl had to come up with a floor routine. I had done gymnastics for years and although I wasn’t fantastic, I was probably better than everyone in my class. I could do flips and walkovers and I was really bendy. But you know what I did? I performed a lame-ass routine that didn’t showcase any skills at all. I didn’t want to bring attention to myself. How pathetic.

A friend of mine is always saying what a disservice it is to not bring attention to your strengths. And he’s right. We don’t have to be arrogant about it, we just have to be appropriately proud of our accomplishments.

I have written a book. It is very hard for me to put it out there for everyone to see like this. Not only does it give readers a glimpse into my mind, but it opens me up to be hugely criticized. Some people will like my book, some people will dislike it. I just hope people understand how much work it takes to finish a book, and how embarrassing it is to put something subjective like this out there.

Enjoy.

To buy the book, click here (for Kindle users) or here (for other ereaders).

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Why I Have A Beef With Pharmaceutical Companies & How To Get Rid Of Lice (All In One!)

My kid and I got lice a while back. God only knows where she picked it up because she’s not in daycare, but whatever. So I did about 17 loads of hot laundry, bagged up some toys and couch cushions and proceeded to buy the de-lousing shampoo from the drug store.

Having now had the nasty things I have a big beef with the companies who make the lice treatments. It is 100% unnecessary and ill-advised to buy this shampoo.

The reason even the manufacturers suggest doing the treatment once, and then again in 7 -10 days, is because it does not necessarily kill the eggs. If the eggs aren’t killed they will hatch in a few days and you’ll have the problem all over again.

There are a number of things wrong with pharmacists suggesting this treatment.

First of all, it’s expensive. Where I live, it costs almost $20 for one treatment.

Second, the bottle is really small, so if you have long, abundant hair like mine it will often not be enough.

Third, it’s made of questionable toxins that they advise you don’t get in your eyes or your mouth. I don’t know if you’ve tried to wash a child’s hair, but the chances of doing exactly that are great (especially on a toddler who doesn’t like her hair washed).

Fourth, lice eat your head and leave lesions, even if you don’t scratch. The chemicals burn on these lesions, causing not only discomfort for the 10 minutes you have to leave it on, but also concerns over those toxins entering your body through those scabs.

A treatment that is cheaper, healthier and equally, if not more, effective: don’t poison the lice, suffocate them.

After a horrendous experience de-lousing my toddler with the lice shampoo, I asked the pharmacist if there was a viable alternative. She told me to use a thick substance (cheap conditioner is easiest, mayonnaise is also good) and coat it over your whole head. Really heap it on. On my hair it took a half litre of conditioner. Wrap your head in plastic wrap and go about your business. I don’t know how long it takes to smother bugs so I left it for a couple of hours.  Then, drag a fine-toothed comb through the hair to remove the carcases. This step is easier using conditioner, but if you’re using mayo, just dip the comb in vinegar before each swipe to break up the coating and make it easy to comb through.

Often, the eggs are too small to be removed with the comb. And similar to using the toxic shampoo, they will not likely be dead. Now this is where I have a real problem with the instructions on lice shampoo. Re-do the treatment after 7 days? In my experience, the lice had not only already been able to hatch in that time, but also lay more eggs of their own. My advice? If you’re anal like me, do the gooping conditioner/mayo treatment every other day for a week. Although, I’m sure doing it every 2 or 3 days for three treatments would suffice.

I’m not spouting nonsense. It is only logical that this works because insects cannot live without oxygen. Also, I tried it and kicked the problem in the ass.

Speaking of kickers: you have to be diligent about washing/putting in plastic bags any other items in your house that may have been in contact with the infected person’s head. It’s not that you have to go overboard, you just have to be aware and take precautions. Wash whatever you can in hot water and put couch pillows/stuffed animals/hats in air-tight plastic bags for a couple of weeks.

There is no reason to spend upwards of $40, intoxicate yourself and keep our elementary schools dealing with this disgusting problem. This way is safe, it works like nobody’s business, and it’s cheap. Don’t listen to your pharmacist.

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Incompetent Employees

The following hypothesis might explain why an employee at a bathing suit store recently asked me, as I was perusing a rack of bathing suits, if I was shopping for a bathing suit.

I have mentioned before that I got fired when I was fifteen from an athletic shoe store. The manager told me that I wasn’t outgoing enough. If I’d had the balls I have today I’d have asked him to compare my sales numbers with my co-workers’, but maybe that’s just because in my older years I’ve come to enjoy making people uncomfortable.

I bring up the fact that I was canned to express frustration over how many people DON’T get canned for doing really, really bad work. I can’t tell you the number of times I have seen how shoddily a co-worker has performed their duties only for them to skim under the radar or get lucky time and time again with the lack of oversight from their supervisors.

My husband and I have talked about this at length and have come to the conclusion that most people are fairly incompetent. That is, most can DO their jobs, but few can do it very well. Just think of all the companies you’ve done business with to order an item, retrieve information or request a service only to have the employees seriously fail to do what is very likely their only job description.

In most places of work there is a three-month probation period that I have yet to see taken advantage of. I don’t know if bosses hate the hiring process so much that they just let it go and hope the idiot employee just gets better, or if they are so incompetent themselves that they don’t see it in someone else. I would venture that it’s a combination of both, plus the embarrassment at having to admit they’d wasted company resources hiring and training said idiot due to a serious lack of good judgment. Anyway, it’s unfair for all those people who need jobs and can work well.

I think a lot of people fall into jobs out of pure chance or necessity and perhaps weren’t created specifically for it. In fact, I would call that the majority given the number of people I have met who would say they are not working in their dream job. This isn’t a particularly bad thing. However, it becomes a terrible waste when a person lacks the work ethic and integrity to at least make their best effort on the job.

I know the reason many people keep their jobs or get promoted despite not being good in the first place is often because they are either well-liked, or because they are unethical. Being popular and/or having no scruples often does wonders for one’s career.

I would switch with Stephenie Meyer any day. That is, mine isn’t my dream job. But I hope that most days I come into work I take pride in what I do, both for my own fulfillment and for the satisfaction of those who pay me well to do it. I don’t want anybody saying “CRACKERS, that Laura sucks ASS” behind my back, because if they did then I’d have to take a good long look at how grateful I am for having a job at all.

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