Monday, May 31, 2010

Big Steps - for us, not baby

So Sunday we took the plunge. We left the house, without Oliver. No need to call child welfare, we scored a babysitter. For the first time a non-family member or daycare worker would be looking after the wee man. It was only for an hour on a Sunday afternoon and all we did was go for a bike ride, but it was somewhat liberating. He had a blast (us parental folk can be somewhat boring) and we enjoyed our outing.

Nothing terrible happened (knock on wood), but at least it's a starting point. Look out world, Oliver's folks have found a babysitter! We'll be seeing you In Da Club, and the last time we were there I think that was a cutting edge hit.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Tasty Treats, Delicious Dialogue and Surviving Spin

Thursday night had me commuting out to Mississauga for the Maple Leaf Foods bloggers roundtable. This was the event organized by their PR folks to reach out to bloggers (and their readers) coinciding with the launch of their Food Safety Pledge.

I discussed the details of the situation last week: Listeriosis outbreak, 23 deaths, law suits, independent investigations, damage control.

So there I was, with twenty-odd other parental bloggers at the shiny new Maple Leaf Food ThinkFood! centre. It's an impressive facility, despite being located in the middle of endless parking lot.

Maple Leaf was clearly taking things seriously as numerous key members of senior management were present, including CEO Michael McCain. I was struck that he would dedicate three hours of his evening to speak with us. Now clearly Maple Leaf has an agenda. Although they have regained a good chunk of their market share following the 2008 crisis, they want to reach parents and get out the message of their renewed commitment to food safety. I was still impressed when he opened with:

"On our watch 22 people died." 

Mr. McCain wasn't ducking responsibility. He explained to us Maple Leaf's new approach to food safety emphasizing process, discipline and oversight. He said all the right things with their approach focussing not only on state-of-the-art physical assets and technology, but also the importance of process and people. He spoke of their training commitments, the introduction of a Chief Food Safety Officer, and looking beyond Canada and North America to international food safety best practices.

Following his opening remarks and some comments from Sharon Beals, Senior Vice President, Food Safety and Quality Assurance, they opened the floor to "dialogue". We spent the next hour or so asking questions. And there were some pretty darn good questions. While some of the answers were spun, Mr. McCain and Ms. Beals didn't really dodge anything. They confronted the issue that they had "killed 22 people" and although they couldn't guarantee "perfection" they were going to work as hard as they could to prevent this from happening again.

The general sense I got was that Maple Leaf had made considerable strides since summer 2008. They still have some ways to go, but I honestly believe that they are looking to stay ahead of the curve.

The discussion got more interesting when it turned to the long-term health effects of their products, packaging and processes. I'm still ambivalent on where I ended up on these questions. They do offer choice (thousands of brands, some I had no idea were Maple Leaf). And to a certain extent it is up to the consumer to make their own choices. Mr. McCain emphasized balance and it's true no one is forcing consumers to consume Maple Leaf products. I do think it is incumbent on the company to offer healthy options and to provide the tools to allow for balance in choice, but beyond guaranteeing the safety of their products is it their responsibility to ensure all their products are the most healthy available? I'm not sure it is. There is definitely demand for unhealthy products (heck I love a good hot dog just like Michael McCain). Why shouldn't they meet that demand? Like I said, I'm still torn on these issues.

At the end of the session I was left feeling impressed by the steps they have taken and yes I will buy Maple Leaf products without fear regarding food safety (are any producers going to be safer?), heck I think I already do. I know that this was the goal of the session and I don't want to shill for Maple Leaf, but irregardless of the freebies they loaded us up with and the free dinner, I think I can say this honestly. I'm still torn on the overall health effects of their products, but sometime convenience will win and I will continue to strive for balance in my eating (we do cook most food from scratch).

At the end of the day this was a marketing effort, and that will colour everything, but if nothing else it has prompted me to think about food, safety and health in ways that maybe I took for granted.

Bedtime Battles

Friday, May 28, 2010


This is in the midst of our battle over bedtime this evening. Isn't he cute? It's his secret weapon.

Back SAHD-it

Yup another day of unexpected SAHDing it. Today's cause - the wee man has some sort of tummy bug. I won't bore you (or embarrass him) with the details, but let's just say firmer would be better (and yes I think it's only a coincidence that I went to the Maple Leaf Foods food safety thing last night).

So it was me and him at home for the day, and the evening. Mommy was out at SATC2 - I just figured out the acronym (a hint for those Dads whose wives don't have them on baby duty this weekend it stars four ladies who are still pretending to be twentysomethings in NYC).

Again I have to admire the daycare staff. Everyday we drop him off in one outfit and he is returned to us at the end of day in the same outfit. We have spares at daycare, but he doesn't seem to need them. Not really a big deal, except he has two meals and three snacks in the intervening time. And he paints.

Now whenever it's my turn to serve up some grub, despite whatever precautions I take (bibs, napkins, garbage bags, ponchos, dry cereal only) he emerges covered. Like a food bomb went off. He gets food into places that I didn't think he could reach. His key move is the hair smear. Fine. It saves on styling product. For both of us.

Fatherhood Friday at Dad Blogs

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Green Ham, No Eggs

In 2008 the headlines were grim.

Canadians were being forced to question their food safety as hundreds of people feel ill after eating tainted meat. The culprit: an outbreak of listeriosis.

The outbreak was traced to a Maple Leaf Foods plant in Toronto [in] summer [2008].
All 220 meat products produced at the facility were recalled and the plant was shut down while company and health officials tried to determine the source of the contamination.
Maple Leaf CEO Michael McCain has said two slicing machines are believed to be the most likely source of the listeria bacteria. McCain apologized for the outbreak and said his company would take full responsibility.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Of Ear Infections and Other Medical Miscellany

The little man has not been himself this week. A fever, followed by troubled sleeps has kept him home from daycare and mom and dad home from work. Today he was at the doctor's office to get the once over, his parents need their sleep. But a positive diagnosis for an ear infection has all of us seeing light at the end of the tunnel (rather than the 4am of the past few mornings).

Despite it all, the wee man still has quite some spunk. On top of learning to climb onto to various pieces of furniture of precarious heights (and choosing not to heed the lessons frequently imparted by gravity), he decided that the doctor wasn't going to be the only one doing an exam. So after looking in his ears and listening to his chest, the doctor had a look inside his mouth. Now the little guy keeps his mouth on pretty tight lockdown, except of course when he is trying to take a chunk out of whatever appendage you have foolishly left unprotected. Most of it is due to the eruptions taking place across his gum line.  To accomplish her task, she employed that most dreaded of weapons - a tongue depressor.  After having a successful look around, the doc handed the implement to the little guy, a classic gesture of good will. She then turned her back to access his chart.

A critical error.

With pointed determination and absolutely no hesitation, the munchkin proceeded to use the tongue depressor and poke her. In the back. Repeatedly.

He surprises us every day - he is aware of a lot more than we sometimes realize or give him credit for. He's just growing up so fast. Mom and Dad best watch their backs, and not only for rogue tongue depressors.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Friday, May 14, 2010

Family dins on the danforth

A Lament for 14 Little Eyjafjallajokulls

Fatherhood Friday at Dad BlogsThe technical term is "Tooth Eruption". It's a pretty good name as far as these things go. It's not a multisyllabic obfuscation of the realities of the process, or the pain it entails.  It's actually bang on. Each little tooth is a personal Eyjafjallajokull. You think that's a mouthful, try twelve of them in under six months. And then add two more. Granted the wee man doesn't have plumes of ash (like a real-life smoke-monster) spewing from between his lips, but honestly at this point I dont think it would be any more dramatic.

Quite frankly I'm pretty tired of this whole system. Poorly designed, I say. Sure there are some advantages (less nipple damage, cute photos of gap toothed smiles), but overall is the pain really worth it? And why does it never end? Like waves pounding the beach, one pokes through for another to follow on its heels. Please Jaws, end it quickly!

Last week the top two molars broke through the surface, shredding the last threads of gum early this week. Then the bottom molars made a full court press for the surface. Now some canines are barking at our heels.

Wee man, you are braver than I. And at least it's now easier to chew.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


Nature is a cruel mistress.

She lays the trap. Time passes. You are none the wiser.

She lurks quietly, waiting. Minutes, hours, days tick by. Victory will be hers.

Enough time elapses that the memories start to fade. Nightmares recede. You begin to feel rested, alert even.

Cue the music.

Now you are right where she wants you.

The little man is over 13 months now. That means it was over a year ago that we went through that whole process known as "labour" (I'm not sure that even that term does it justice). Sleepness nights are the exception rather than the rule. We're no longer stumbling around the house murmuring how we understand sleep deprivation as a form of torture. No more waking in a cold sweat, tripping over the sheets to check if the tiny bundle is still breathing. Days are spent with a smilling, burbbling, interactive little person that is truly rewarding.

It's not long until the musings begin. The wee one needs a sibling, doesn't he? It wasn't so hard! They're so great! So cute! They learn so fast! What's not to love?

Now we're not ready for another one just yet, but we can see how the idea creeps back in and takes hold. So thank you Kenny Loggins. Your refrain serves as our reminder . . .

Highway to the Danger Zone
Gonna take you
Right into the Danger Zone

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Friday, May 7, 2010

Building Blocks

Today is Friday, May 7. It's high time this week came to an end. With a historic plunge on Wall Street, electoral outcomes unsure in the UK, and oil still pumping into the Gulf of Mexico, it seems we could all use a little break.  The economic crisis in Greece seemed to have passed, but is still rocking markets. Terrorism still haunts us all. Maternal health is a fiercely renewed debate in Canada's Parliament. And rumours abound that Chris Bosh is about to exit the Raptors.

It's times like these when I relish a lazy Saturday, playing with the little man. His life is so joyous. Sure he faces frustration daily, trying to overcome a series of perpetual hurdles (next up walking, talking and some pesky molars), but he does it with such abandon, such pure spirit that it always makes me smile. I stack some blocks, he'll knock them down and we'll both laugh ourselves giddy.

Thank you, wee one.
Fatherhood Friday at Dad Blogs

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Sometimes you need a little solace

Summertime in the City

Boys Night In!

Mommy has a work event tonight so it's just the little guy and me at home ce soir. Boys Night In! Hopefully, if all goes well we will eat dinner, get bathed and get to sleep on time. I'm really not bothered which of us falls asleep first either.

Now I was a SADH (Stay-at-home-dad) for more than three months, and for all that time we didnt have a problem being organized, getting errands and chores done, having fun, squeezing in some nap time and having random awesome adventures. There was lots of laughing and learning too. Now somehow you throw some 9 to 5 into the mix everything is much more difficult. Just getting the wee man home (via grinding commute), fed (well past hungry and into meltdown mode) and bathed (where crankypants wants in the bath until he wants out again and in again and out . . .) now seems like an odyssey. An epic repeated five times a week.

Let's just hope tonight's chapter leans towards Heracles rather than Sisyphus.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010


So the little guy has become a bit of a demando. His Uncle, Aunt and cousins got him a splash table/sandbox for his birthday, but this weekend was the first where the weather was nice enough to use it. And boy does he love it. Maybe a little too much. When we got home from daycare yesterday the only thing he wanted to do was play in the sand. Too bad it was dinner time and with his food and energy reserves running low, the meltdown wasn't far behind. He still managed to suck back some dinner between sobs, actually pretty impressive. The net effect,  however, was to prolong dinner and diminish the quantity he consumed. And yes, we relented. Our parental fortitude simply gave out. As a compromise he got to play in the sand and mommy and daddy had a glass of wine.

This morning was the same deal (not the wine part). He woke up early (must have been dreaming of the sandbox) and sped straight to the backdoor. Getting him ready and out of the house this morning proved difficult as the back door seemed to have acquired the pull of a super-magnet. I'm anticipating the same when we return home tonight. I thought the tantrums weren't supposed to really start until the "terrible twos". He just turned one!