Tuesday, August 23, 2011

In Memory of Jack

Yesterday, Canada lost one of our best and most caring politicians, NDP leader Jack Layton, to cancer. A couple of days before his death, Jack wrote this letter, which he left to Canadians. It's a beautiful and inspiring piece. And, just as Jack said, let's be hopeful:

August 20, 2011

Toronto, Ontario

Dear Friends,

Tens of thousands of Canadians have written to me in recent weeks to wish me well. I want to thank each and every one of you for your thoughtful, inspiring and often beautiful notes, cards and gifts. Your spirit and love have lit up my home, my spirit, and my determination.

Unfortunately my treatment has not worked out as I hoped. So I am giving this letter to my partner Olivia to share with you in the circumstance in which I cannot continue.

I recommend that Hull-Aylmer MP Nycole Turmel continue her work as our interim leader until a permanent successor is elected.

I recommend the party hold a leadership vote as early as possible in the New Year, on approximately the same timelines as in 2003, so that our new leader has ample time to reconsolidate our team, renew our party and our program, and move forward towards the next election.

A few additional thoughts:

To other Canadians who are on journeys to defeat cancer and to live their lives, I say this: please don’t be discouraged that my own journey hasn’t gone as well as I had hoped. You must not lose your own hope. Treatments and therapies have never been better in the face of this disease. You have every reason to be optimistic, determined, and focused on the future. My only other advice is to cherish every moment with those you love at every stage of your journey, as I have done this summer.

To the members of my party: we’ve done remarkable things together in the past eight years. It has been a privilege to lead the New Democratic Party and I am most grateful for your confidence, your support, and the endless hours of volunteer commitment you have devoted to our cause. There will be those who will try to persuade you to give up our cause. But that cause is much bigger than any one leader. Answer them by recommitting with energy and determination to our work. Remember our proud history of social justice, universal health care, public pensions and making sure no one is left behind. Let’s continue to move forward. Let’s demonstrate in everything we do in the four years before us that we are ready to serve our beloved Canada as its next government.

To the members of our parliamentary caucus: I have been privileged to work with each and every one of you. Our caucus meetings were always the highlight of my week. It has been my role to ask a great deal from you. And now I am going to do so again. Canadians will be closely watching you in the months to come. Colleagues, I know you will make the tens of thousands of members of our party proud of you by demonstrating the same seamless teamwork and solidarity that has earned us the confidence of millions of Canadians in the recent election.

To my fellow Quebecers: On May 2nd, you made an historic decision. You decided that the way to replace Canada’s Conservative federal government with something better was by working together in partnership with progressive-minded Canadians across the country. You made the right decision then; it is still the right decision today; and it will be the right decision right through to the next election, when we will succeed, together. You have elected a superb team of New Democrats to Parliament. They are going to be doing remarkable things in the years to come to make this country better for us all.

To young Canadians: All my life I have worked to make things better. Hope and optimism have defined my political career, and I continue to be hopeful and optimistic about Canada. Young people have been a great source of inspiration for me. I have met and talked with so many of you about your dreams, your frustrations, and your ideas for change. More and more, you are engaging in politics because you want to change things for the better. Many of you have placed your trust in our party. As my time in political life draws to a close I want to share with you my belief in your power to change this country and this world. There are great challenges before you, from the overwhelming nature of climate change to the unfairness of an economy that excludes so many from our collective wealth, and the changes necessary to build a more inclusive and generous Canada. I believe in you. Your energy, your vision, your passion for justice are exactly what this country needs today. You need to be at the heart of our economy, our political life, and our plans for the present and the future.

And finally, to all Canadians: Canada is a great country, one of the hopes of the world. We can be a better one – a country of greater equality, justice, and opportunity. We can build a prosperous economy and a society that shares its benefits more fairly. We can look after our seniors. We can offer better futures for our children. We can do our part to save the world’s environment. We can restore our good name in the world. We can do all of these things because we finally have a party system at the national level where there are real choices; where your vote matters; where working for change can actually bring about change. In the months and years to come, New Democrats will put a compelling new alternative to you. My colleagues in our party are an impressive, committed team. Give them a careful hearing; consider the alternatives; and consider that we can be a better, fairer, more equal country by working together. Don’t let them tell you it can’t be done.

My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world.

All my very best,

Jack Layton

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

This'll be the day that I die..

If you like lipdubs, you will love this. And this is the first time I listened to the words of this song beyond the chorus. Rather melancholy, no?

Monday, March 21, 2011

The one in which baby acts like a bobblehead doll and also has a bald spot

When Baby D was born, one of the mos noticeable things about him was his full head of black hair. It was everywhere on his head, beautiful and thick. Each nurse would note it when she came in to check on us or take his temperature.
After a few weeks though, it started thinning all over his head except right on top, so that soon he was down to a faux-hawk... Now, I've heard that babies often lose the hair they're born with, and that eventually it gets replaced with their "real" hair, so basically, you don't know if the colour or texture is going to stay the same. I've also heard that sometimes they're totally bald in between the two stages, and other times the old hair is falling out while the new hair is growing in, so you can't really tell it's happening.
All I know now is that, after thinning out for some time, Baby D's hair has been seeming to grow back in for the last three weeks or so. Of course, when you spend as much time, continuously, looking at something or someone, you usually can't see the change. It's like trying to figure out on a day-by-day basis if you're gaining or losing weight. It's basically impossible. So, while the hair on the sides of his head is maybe-sort-of growing back in, the hair on the back of his head is gone gone gone!
That's right ladies and gents. Baby D has a bald spot. It's not on the top, it's right on the back of his head. It's what my older sister lovingly refers to as a "pillow spot" and is apparently common with babies who sleep on their backs (which is basically the safe way for all babies to sleep)... Until they start sitting up, a lot of babies spend so much time on their backs that they essentially rub their heads clean of any hair there. Of course, the truly hilarious aspect of all of this is that he has hair again at the nape of his neck, so it looks like a really hilarious rat tale situation. I call his hair situation "the reverse mullet": it's party in the front, business in the back (and then a rat tale - heheh).
The other hilarious thing about him now is the bobblehead situation. While he learns to hold his head up, he's in this in-between stage where he seems to think he's a bobblehead. If he's sitting, he's bobbling constantly. I've seen this with all babies I know passing through his age and stage, so you'd think I'd get used to it, but instead, it never ceases to amuse and amaze me.
So, I have a balding, bobble-headed little man to take care of. And I couldn't be happier :)

From the Mouths of Babes (part 4)

This one comes to you from the UAE, courtesy of Abu Dhabi Angel.
The setting:
Angel is watching a program on TV in which they are eating hot dogs. At the same time, Abu Dhabi Mama is cooking burgers in the kitchen.

Angel (in utter amazement): "Mama, I can smell the food from the tv!"

Monday, March 14, 2011

Ode to Skype

About a year and a half ago, I wrote this very frustrated post about a skype catch-22 wherein M and I lost our credit and couldn't call our family in Egypt. Well, since that time, I've become a super avid Skype user, and I felt they deserved a much-love shout out right here. It's only fair, since I took them to task when they were making me unhappy.

Ode to Skype:

My sisters live two airplanes away
timezones, miles, landmass and oceans between us
hours of sleep and waking upside down
or inside out
Days and nights reversed
Lives inverted

My sisters who
shared my room
whispered late into
the night with me
were the cause of my drowsy eyes
at the kitchen table
my sleepy smile

My sisters who know my secrets
who keep me grounded and help me fly
who giggle better, hug better, bake better, tease better
than anyone I know
My sisters who gave me
the nieces and nephews
I long for all year
who keep me counting down to summers together
when we can laugh at the kitchen table
over breakfast, eyes half open
bleary but dragged to life by the kids
who slept at eight

until the kitchen table
until the hugs in person
until the wiping off each others' tears
I see them through the screen
the kids running to and from the computer
voices ringing with excitement
saying hi to their cousins
cooing at babies
shouting to be heard over the din
of all the voices

and the kitchen table spans three continents
an ocean
twelve hours worth of timezones
(some for breakfast, some for supper)
and we're still together
despite the world of bustle in between.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Of Grocery Shopping and Cake Baking

It's really very hard to believe that I've already been off work for three months. I started Mat leave on December 3rd, and when I think about what I've been doing with my time "off", I have to remember to change my perspective significantly...
Left t0 my old ways of thinking, it's tempting to say 'I have nothing to show for the last three months', but, uh, HELLO, I have a two and a half month old baby to show for it! And that's what I mean by a shift in perspective. Because after you've spent your whole life in school, followed by 6 years at an office job, you measure productivity by deliverables. For as long as I can remember, I've had something to submit: homework assignments, first drafts, book reports, lab results, presentations, standard operating procedures, flow charts, meeting minutes, work tickets... The list goes on and on and on.
This project though, the one I'm working on write now, project Little Boy, is not "deliverable based". I don't get to submit Dude to anyone for evaluation every two weeks. I don't file a report nightly ('today Dude slept 10 hours and was awake 14 hours. He had 8 diaper changes, 10 feedings and a bath. He spent one hour being burped, one hour in his baby swing, and 15 minutes doing tummy time. He looked at me and laughed 7 separate times. He cried 12 separate times.')
No, Dude-raising is a long term project, a VERY, long term project, and while there are milestones by which I can assess how I'm doing, there are also a million little repetitive tasks that fill up the day before I add anything extra, like, say, cooking, or laundry.
Still, on the one hand, though my tasks now never end and my time isn't mine any longer, on the other hand, my schedule is as open-ended as it's ever been. At this age for Little Dude, so long as he's fed, burped, changed and warm, he really doesn't care about anything else. And so I can decide at 1:30 pm that I will do some grocery shopping at 2, or bake a cake on the fly, or try a new recipe I've never made and spend 40 minutes going through the store aisles painstakingly searching for ingredients. I can spend all day reading a book while I feed, burp, wrap, and rock the Little Dude. And that is what I have to show for the last three months, because soon this stage will be over: he'll be crawling or teething or talking or going to playgroups and my schedule will be tied down again, and 2 a.m. will no longer be the same as 2 pm., so I'm enjoying it while it lasts...

Friday, March 04, 2011

An interesting video....

I really quite enjoyed this little video by the folks at National Geographic. Take a look...

Abu Dhabi Baby Angel Update

Stop the presses! Start the baby-proofing! Baby-boy is crawling!!

Monday, February 28, 2011

From the Mouths of Babes (or actually second graders: part 3)

When my mom was still here in January, Cali Angela, who's now 7 years old, would call often to chat with her Grandma, and check up on Little Dude. Cali Angela's pretty used to having her grandparents around for a couple of months every winter, and the fact that she was Grandma-less meant that she spent a great deal of her phone calls to us devising ways in which we could all go down to Sacramento and visit her and her family, instead of the current arrangement wherein we were all in Montreal, so far, which made no sense at all.
During one of these phone calls, M had just come home, and she was explaining to the rest of us that we should come with the phone on speaker when she heard him enter. After saying "salaam" to him and filling him in on her brilliant travel plans, he broke it to her gently.
"The problem is that I have work, so I wouldn't be able to come to California".
"That's not a problem," Cali Angela replied, un-phased. "My dad goes to work every day. You could just go with him."

Oh Angela, if only it were that simple...

Saturday, February 26, 2011

From the Mouths of Babes (part 2)

This little gem comes to you courtesy of Dubai Angel, whose name is now Abu Dhabi Angel, thanks to their move to the UAE Capital this year. Abu Dhabi Angel is now 3 (like his little cousin, Cali Angel), and an avid cook who follows his mother into the kitchen every chance he gets, planning to help her in whatever meal she's about to make.
My sister tells me that the other day, they were all out shopping at a mall, and passed a store with a set of pots and pans in the window display:
Abu Dhabi Angel stopped dead in his tracks and called her back over, his voice extra excited:
"Mama!" he said, "when I grow up and get married, I want you to bring me right back to this store, so I can buy this set of pots and pans, so I can cook for my wife!"

Ha! Here's hoping he remembers this when he does get married, because if he does, right now there's a little girl out there who's going to be VERY happy some time in the future.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

From The Mouths of Babes (or should I say preschoolers)

The latest and greatest tidbit from the youngest Cali-Angel...
Grandpa is currently there visiting, and he and our youngest Cali-Angel have many opportunities for bonding (Grandpa drives him to preschool everyday, so that car time is just for them). The kids are used to seeing both my mom and dad together when they go to visit, but right now of course, my mom is preoccupied with the newest grandchild here in Montreal, aka, my son "Little Dude".
So what does Cali-Angel, now a glorious 3 and a half years old, say upon seeing his grandfather at the beginning of this latest visit?
"Hi Geddo (Grandpa). Where's your friend Teta (Grandma)"?


Saturday, January 15, 2011

A Great (and Scary) Article

My friend posted a link to this on Facebook and I had to share. So worth your while to read. Great, great piece of investigative journalism, and something to consider before you take your next prescription pill:

"Prescription drugs kill some 200,000 Americans every year. Will that number go up, now that most clinical trials are conducted overseas—on sick Russians, homeless Poles, and slum-dwelling Chinese—in places where regulation is virtually nonexistent, the F.D.A. doesn’t reach, and “mistakes” can end up in pauper’s graves? The authors investigate the globalization of the pharmaceutical industry, and the U.S. Government’s failure to rein in a lethal profit machine."

Read it all here.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

The Case of the Magical Mommy

This is a belated Thanksgiving post, not because it was supposed to be written at Thanksgiving, but because there is just so much to be thankful for. M and I were blessed with a little boy a little over two weeks ago... The Little Dude (henceforth to be referred to as LD) is an absolute joy - it's amazing how much fun can be had looking at an infant make silly faces, open and close his eyes, turn his head... It's also amazing how someone so tiny can completely shift your entire schedule: eating habits (what to eat, when to eat, how to eat), sleeping habits, noise around the house - everything changes... Through out my pregnancy, I was rather lax with my food sensitivities... I felt sick whether I had wheat or not, so why not enjoy that croissant... Now, if I feel sick, so does Little Dude, and if Little Dude feels sick, he doesn't sleep, and if he doesn't sleep... well, you see where this is going. I haven't been this good about avoiding my food intolerances in over a year. He's re-introducing discipline to my life.
Of course, just because I eat right, doesn't mean he will sleep either. In fact, so far LD has a habit of sleeping during the day and waking up at night ready to par-tay! Most days from 1-6 a.m., he's like "Mama, this is where it's at!" and nothing, not eating, changing, swaddling, being rocked, being burped, or playing will change his mind. And this is where part two of the Thanksgiving comes in... My mother has been hear with us since before LD arrived, waiting for his arrival, coaching us through the arrival, and coaching us since his arrival.
Sore and in need of a back-rub? Have no fear, super-mommy is here to indulge you, even if it's past midnight... Baby won't settle down at 2 a.m.? Super-mommy to the rescue - hand the baby over once he's fed, and she'll take care of the burping, swaddling, rocking and changing. Don't want to eat take out, but have no energy to cook? Mommy's been keeping us going with amazing, healthful, home-cooked food that tastes great on top of it... and it's not like she has all the energy in the world. She does this on the little sleep she gets between each Little Dude hand-off...
I wake up at 5 a.m. for a feeding and she's got a little breakfast in bed tray set up on the night table: Kamut bread with sheep's milk cheese and tomatoes, or salmon salad, clementines, prunes, water or herbal tea. I can't imagine what I would do without her here.
I'll be home with LD this year on Mat Leave, and bit by bit I plan to get the hang of this whole 'sleeping enough with a baby' thing. But for now, having super-mom around is just a God-send. She's always been super mom, but there's nothing like becoming a mother yourself to really show you how amazing yours is.