Monday, August 8, 2011

Why We Are Cleaning Up Hunter's Bay Trail, An Answer To Councilor John Davis.

This morning we put on our work gloves, one pair extra large, one pair small and two pairs of teeny tiny. The whole family was getting ready to participate in our first clean-up which was organized by Danial McCoy, with the Huntsville Environmental Group. The idea was that we would dig out and recycle the plastic shavings that had blown over from KWH's back lot and settled into our beloved Hunter's Bay Trail bank.

Kyle Kralik, Karin Tarizano, Danial McCoy

To say I felt overwhelmed would be an understatement. If the first 20 minutes of raking, it became very obvious that we weren't looking at one foot or so of plastic shavings. There were layers upon layers of it. The tiny roots of plants had grown entangled around them. We had bitten off more than we could chew. The more we dug the more plastic we found. We realized we would have to stop digging due to the threat of washing out the trail. Wheelbarrow by wheelbarrow we rolled the piles out to the parking lot and filled two 60 square foot boxes donated by KWH itself. When we realized we could not dig any further without compromising the bank we dug a small trench and lined it with logs to slow any erosion.

Layers upon Layers, this saplings roots have grown in and around these shavings.

John Davis, Brendan and Rudi Stade

Scott Gilson

Among the members of the Huntsville Environmental Group a few other faces made an appearance, John Davis and Karin Terizano of the Huntsville town council came out to do some digging. Karin got straight to work and helped to fill many wheel barrows. John was shoveling as well, but was obviously conflicted about the trail clean-up. At one point I heard him ask "Why are we even doing this? It's just fine the way it is." He pointed out that the PVC pipes these shavings came from carry our water, he didn't believe the shavings to be a threat. I'm glad he brought these thoughts forward, for I am sure there are many others who believe that plastic formed in 3 inch thick tubes buried below the frost line and not exposed to the hot summers and cold winters of Muskoka leach chemicals at the same rate as these thin shavings do. However, when discussing considerations when disposing of PVC states : " ...attention should be taken to the fact that PVC may leach out toxic chemicals and contaminate soil and water." Lenntech is a respected environmentally friendly water and air filtration system designing company in the Netherlands, and has worked with Shell and the US army. (for those of you who are sceptical of Internet information and where it comes from as I am).

So to answer your question, Councilor John Davis; I can not tell you why all of us were "doing this" but I can tell you why I was. I helped to clean out 120 cubic feet of PVC from a river bank because I was worried about chemicals leaching into the water way my children play in. I sifted through piles of shavings and dirt pulling out organic material with my children to show them that it is our responsibility to clean up the environment. I raked down clumps of plastic knowing that there was no way we could clean it up in one day because I believe that every journey starts with one step, or in the case of the Hunter's Bay clean-up; 5 rakes, 5 shovels and a small group of people who are not scared of a little hard work.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Bye Bye Beautiful Hair.

I have beautiful hair. No really I do, see:

Completely natural ringlets. I never have to comb or brush my hair with anything more than my finger tips. Just Tea tree shampoo, no conditioner, no haircare products at all. In fact if I get out of the shower and not touch my hair in the slightest it dries looking like this. So why the hell do I have this urge to tease it, knot it and crochet it into funny looking bundles all over my head? I had dreadlocks 6 years ago, I cannot explain the feeling of having them, I cannot explain how it is that I feel more feminine with natty snakes pointing ever which way outta my head then I do with my curls blowing in the breeze. I do know however that whenever I dreadlock my hair there is usually some other big change or commitment in my life happening at the same time. So after eating some disgusting pieces of fatty pork tonight, I turned to my partner and told him, "Tommorow I become a vegetarian, again" Which is kinda messed-up cause we plan on raising rabbits for meat when we build our self-sufficient farm. Well cross that ethical blood and fur covered bridge when we get to it I guess. Wish me luck, it begins tonight...

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

I'm Screwing Up My Kids by Homeschooling

The other week I gave up on homeschooling for 15 minutes. I had a day of frustration in which nothing I introduced them to was sinking in, they did not seem interested at all in my perfectly laid out "this-is-what-I- want-you-to-learn-today-and-this-is-why-you-will-think-it-is-fun-and- therefore-retain-it-all-so-that-in-the afternoon-when-I-ask-you-about-it you-will-re-affirm-my-excellent-teaching-skills" lesson plan. That afternoon when my teaching ego had imploded with lack of impact, I had 15 minutes of "who do I think I am trying to teach my kids? I'm totally going to screw them up, I'm missing something important I know it. They'll have access to so much more in an institution than here." I broke down into tears telling my partner that next year I might put them into school. He calmed me down, he told me I needed more support. He told me that every teacher has bad days where they think they are not doing well enough (or I told him that as he held me and coaxed me on, that's the thing about good listeners you never know where the great advise came from). Either way, I went on the Internet the next day looking for curriculum to help me in my struggle. The Montessori was mostly from 3-6 which I would only need the tail end of. Waldorf had a great art and imagination-based math. However I was not a fan of the use of violent fairy tales in their reading curriculum. For some reason I was feeling that we needed this structure:

I teach, they listen. This is how children learn.

Being in discussions with friends who are institutional teachers, there has always been an emphasis by them on curriculum, grade level and testing. All things that are necessary within the public school system. I began to see a need for these things. I began to base my idea of learning success on the very system that I didn't believe was suitable for my daughter in the first place. How had I fallen into this trap?

I had a play date with another homeschooling mother soon after my little break-down. We were discussing how being within the community is a great place for children to learn and how it was the way children were educated in the first place. Then it dawned on me, why do we call the process of educating our children at home "homeschooling"? As if large teaching institutions (schools) always existed as the normal way to educate our children and in keeping our children with us we are in fact trying to bring this institution into our homes. Where as what we are doing is taking "schools" out of the picture and allowing our children to educate themselves via experience in the world they are inheriting. It seemed so backwards to me. Recently my 5 yrold has been telling people she's home schooled when they ask what school she goes to. Perhaps it would be a more accurate description for her to say "I don't go to school." and leave it at that.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Doulas, and The Men (Or Women) Who Stand Behind Them

It's Friday afternoon, I've been with a client since Thursday morning and it's looking like it may still be a few hours before the baby is born.

I have a 5 year old and 3 year old at home, and I know they are taken care of. I know my partner will drop them off with their grandma before his night shift starts. I know they are well fed, they have practised their music and read their books. I know that I can come home at any time after a birth, climb into bed and take a long nap.

I know that on the ride home after a traumatic birth, I can cry my eyes out. He will not ask questions that I cannot answer, he will not try to "make it better". He will just be there. As a doula I know how hard "just being there" can be.

My volunteer births take me away from my family, they take gas money from our account.

When I'm on-call, so is he. My cell phone lies between our pillows at night. We are a one car family, we have to work around my births and visits. My children are not yet old enough to stay by themselves at home, so while I am at a birth he is responsible for finding childcare if he has to go to work. We cannot travel far when a mom is 37 or more weeks.

I could not do this without him.

This weighs heavily on me. There's been this guilt nagging at me. I ask too much of him. At least I get to witness miracles for all this hard work. What does he get out of it?

Last night he told me that by supporting me in my work he felt he was doing good in the world. That this is how he helped the community.

It got me thinking... how many people are out there standing behind and holding up those who are standing behind and holding up others? How fragile and beautiful this structure is.

It's become apparent that I'm not the only one volunteering for a teenage mom in whole community is.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Truth Lies and Poetry

My partner mentioned that he didn't know the name of my blog.

"Don't you ever read it?" I asked.
"No." he answered as if any other answer should have been unexpected.
"You read the post about my horrible ER visit, didn't you?"
"Well, yeah because you asked me to, but really I was like; I was there, why do I have to read about it?"
Sensing the cold radiating from my emotionless face he went on to explain further.
"Listen, I'm not good at the reading thing. Remember all those poems you wrote me when we first got together?"
I did remember them, fondly. All that new love poured out onto the screen and sent immediately to his inbox. He told me his favourite lines, that he liked that I sent them to him...
"-Well they could have been shit for all I know."
Pure silence, I mean even the crickets shut-the-fuck-up. I can't remember the rest of his explanation, something about "not getting it"

Have I ever mentioned that my partner and I write music together? That I sit and listen to him play the same thing over and over again until he's got it just right and cheer him on? That my poetry that "could be shit for all he knows" becomes the lyrics. Every song I had ever written lyrics for that he had said he liked... You all know where this is going.

So, it started with a little bit of an act, "ooooh I like your poetry" (which really was probably like oooh I like you in your tight jeans and you're sending me poetry about water that sounds like it might be dirty, so I better act like I like it cause I don't want you to think I'm stupid) Turns into a full blown "Yeah that's great we should definitely make that into a song..." Then into "Amber writes the lyrics but I write the music..." which I used to believe was pride in me but now I'm thinking it was more about avoiding embarrassment on his part.

Should he have kept up the facade? Should he have remained dishonest? Should I tell him I wrote a blog about him? Will he read it then? Is that a bad reason to tell someone you wrote a blog about them?

I am feeling hurt by his dishonesty and I no longer write him poetry or lyrics. The question I've got to ask, was it because I gauged how good I was on his response to my poetry and now I lack confidence? Is it because writing lyrics reminds me of the lie I used to believe? Is it out of spite and punishment and now he's got to come up with his own damn lyrics?

I think it's a bit of everything all thrown into one garbage can overflowing with crumpled up half finished "You lied about liking my poems" poems.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Sluts, STIs and Other Myths That Harm Our Children

I just saw a trailer on fb for a movie in production to spread awareness about the possible side-effects of Gardasil vaccine. I thought it was a great idea and I scrolled down to see the comments. There was one idea shared in particular that always seems to get my sensible yet sexy cotton knickers in a knot. "Lets teach our children to stop acting like animals and having sex with everyone who comes along and be responsible for these types of life altering decisions" Though I do agree with this commenter that we need to teach our children to be responsible for their decisions. One must ask what sort of impression does one leave on their child about the spread of STIs. If that talk begins with the idea that STIs are spread by acting like animals and having sex with everyone who comes along. Then they may think: "Well, I'm not having sex with everyone, I'm having sex with my boyfriend who I've been with for a year and he's only been with one other person once, so I know he's clean. I'm getting on the pill, so I won't get pregnant" It only takes 1 time for an STI to spread. It's not like you get 1/10th of an STI per sexual partner. Then say this child starts having symptoms of an STI, is she going to go to her mother and talk about it? Or is she going to be too full of shame knowing that her mother thinks that only people who have sex with everyone contract STIs?
Also people WE ARE ANIMALS. Though society currently frowns upon teenage sex, evolution has not yet caught up to our social sensibilities and still floods our bodies with hormones that make us want to pro-create in our teen years. We cannot suppress our children's hormones.
We can guilt them into not having sex...nope that hasn't worked. We can threaten them with eternal damnation...still not working. We can lock them up in their rooms until they are 20...illegal. Like it or not your child is highly likely to have sex as a teenager, even have more than one partner. Accept it and prepare now. Prepare by treating your child's body with respect, so that s/he will learn it is worthy of respect. Have open conversations about sexual attraction, that it is normal not shameful to want sex as a teenager. Talk about repercussions and I don't mean that "bad reputation" thing (many a virgin in my high school was labelled a slut after dating the guy every other girl wanted). The whole "other people will think badly of you" is just another guilt tactic and gives permission for your child to judge and thus feel judged by his/her peers. The most important thing you can do to protect your child from STIs, and unwanted pregnancy is to talk openly about sex, pregnancy, STIs and precautions as well as raise them in an environment that promotes confidence and individual thought.