Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Sweating Buckets

Yus, yus, yus! I sweat and indeed I DO sweat.* I've whined about it before on this blog.

What I haven't yet explained is that I am no ordinary sweater, er, person who sweats. As I wrote in my post about taking antidepressants,
They make me sweat like an icy beer on a humid day. Not pretty. (I have actually corroded the enamel on my hair clips.)
I sweat with the very least exertion. And it's not just the ole pits, which would be fine. Antiperspirant covers that. It's my fricking HEAD. 

Today, for example, I had a very simple task: drawing lines and writing text on sheets of Bristol board. Easy-peasy. There was not enough room at my cubicle (where I have a strategically placed fan to cool me), so I was working in an air-conditioned meeting room. 

After ten minutes, my hair was drenched, my face was dripping onto the Bristol board. SPLOT ... SPLOT ... SPLOT. And that's with taking breaks to go back to my fan (which I could not move because of an awkward plug location) to cool down.

My particular affliction is a mild case of "serotonin syndrome." I say "mild" in the sense that my sweating is not life-threatening, which true serotonin syndrome can be. The obvious treatment is ... to stop taking the drug. However, when I stop taking my antidepressant, I become depressed, which, in my case, is a life-threatening (and life-enjoyment-threatening) condition. 

So, I stay on the drugs. Side effects are worth the cost, but let me tell you, it is MISERABLE! (Just because I've accepted the side effects doesn't mean that I have to be happy about them or that I can spare you from sharing in my misery!) The only thing I have found that really works is fans.

Add menopausal hot flashes to this mix and I fear that I am at serious risk of spontaneous combustion (like my barbecue), which just happens to be Allie Brosh's solution to accidentally responding to someone who isn't talking to you. So, um, I guess I've got that going for me.
Magnificent artwork by the inimitable**
Allie Brosh at Hyperbole and a Half.
Fortunately, I currently have a small fan pointed at me, and a cold glass of sangria by my side, so I'm good right now. But I'll let you know if I do burst into flames. 

* A reference to Beatrix Potter: "Yus, yus, yus! they eat and indeed they DO eat!" said Aunt Pettitoes, looking at her family with pride."

** I just learned that I have been using "inimicable" incorrectly all these years, when I really meant "inimitable." So embarrassed. 

Monday, August 29, 2011

Remain calm.

I have called the fire department three times in my life. Three times! But.

The first time was totally lame.

About 20 years ago, I saw huge, billowing, white clouds streaming up along the wall of the end unit of our row-house. Of course, I called the fire department. Turns out it was just the steam being vented from our hot-water-heated buildings. Oh. Yeah. Didn't know they needed that.

The second time, I was a fricking hero. Looking out my kitchen window while preparing supper, I noticed grey smoke (definitely not white, and definitely smoke), coming from my neighbour's kitchen window. I didn't call the fire department right away this time, not after my humiliating encounter with the fire department the previous time. Besides, this neighbour was a little flaky, so it could have been a massive offering of patchouli or pot, for all I knew.

But when it started wafting out the back door, I figured it was probably a good idea to call in the professionals. Turns out, no one was home; they had to bash down the door to get in. There was indeed a fire — in the oven where my neighbour had left a steak broiling when she popped out to the library. (Like I said: a little flaky.) She did thank me, but neither wine nor chocolate were included, so I'm not sure I would've called the fire department for her if it ever happened again. (JUST kidding!)

Today, when our own barbecue burst into flames and I was unable to turn off the propane, I again called in the big guys.
This is pretty much exactly what it looked like,
but closer to the house. Like, right against the house.
(This fire in this photo was at my son's school a few months ago.)
Three fire trucks pulled up to our house and half a dozen men strode into the back yard. The flames had, of course, died down by then, but I was still terrified that the residual heat could cause the propane tank to explode. (Propane is extremely explosive, you know.)

The big, burly firefighter used his shoulder-mounted walkie-talkie to call back to the station and tell them they wouldn't need any reinforcements. Then he sauntered over to the barbecue, reached into the cabinet and told me, "It's already off."

"No," I insisted, "It's jammed." I think the fire may have burned up the rest of the fuel in the tank.

So he tried again and confirmed that, yes, the valve was defective. Then he simply turned the other knob — the one I've never touched because of my conviction that to do so would send invisible clouds of explosive gas billowing across the yard.

Wrong: it is a safety valve and automatically shuts off the gas as soon as it is loosened. D'oh!

As he lifted the propane tank away from the heat, the firefighter assured me that the same thing had happened to him. (I'll bet he says that to all the ladies.) He suggested we keep the barbecue four feet away from the house.

So that was the beginning of my Monday evening. So. A couple of new items on my to-do list:

  • Buy a BIG fire extinguisher (we left our previous one in Colorado)
  • Clean the grease out of the barbecue.
  • Move the entire unit further away from the house or at least get functioning wheels on it (the movers broke the wheels when they brought it from Colorado).

Sunday, August 28, 2011

You are Worthy of Love and Belonging

According to researcher/storyteller Brené Brown, the message we need to give our children, and anyone we care about is not, "You are perfect," but rather, "You, [I, we] are worthy of love and belonging."

Donna Karlin, my once-upon-a-time shadow coach, shared this video, which I have seen before, but which does not lose its power to make me think. It's a 20-minute talk, so it'll take a while, but I encourage you to get a cup of tea or a glass of wine and sit down and watch. I kept wanting to stop the tape and take notes.

With great humour and, yes, vulnerability and openness, she tells us that she has learned that the people who are happiest, who live their lives the most wholeheartedly, are also the ones who embrace vulnerability, risk and uncertainty.
"To feel this vulnerable means I'm alive." ~ Brené Brown, Ph.D
Not an easy place to be, but absolutely worth the effort. Enjoy.

Friday, August 26, 2011


Britannia Beach
We live near a beach, a lovely, sandy beach on the Ottawa River, with a gently sloping shoreline. It's about a 20-minute walk away.
A fun place to learn how to skip stones.
I like going there, but it is highly improbable that you will catch me actually swimming. I swim in chlorinated, "dead" water where the only living things are people. There are a few reasons why.

First of all, I grew up in Burlington, Ontario in the 1960's. Burlington is nestled on the shore of Lake Ontario. In the sixties, seventies and eighties, the steel refineries upstream in Hamilton contributed to a lot of pollution in that lake, with the result that the shoreline was perpetually carpeted in fish corpses. Rotting, stinky, and possibly double-headed fish bodies. That was my introduction to "fresh" water — not exactly enticing, though I will admit to having swum in it. I'll probably end up with toe cancer now.

Second, the beach we live near now is prone to dangerous levels of e. coli bacteria caused by the burgeoning population of pesky seagulls. It's not enough that they try to steal my food (No! Not my perfectly browned, twice-fried French fries!), now their sh*t is making the water poisonous. So, there's that.

Third — and this is the first time I've confessed this to anyone other than my husband — I am afraid that a living thing will actually swim. Up. My. Vagina. Skinny-dipping is out of the question, of course, but even with a bathing suit on, very tiny waterborne creatures come into contact with mucous membranes. And it doesn't make me happy.

It probably has something to do with repressed sexual memories or something Freud would have a lot of fun with, but there you have it: I'm afraid I will be fish-fncked.

I've never heard anyone else mention this fear, but how can women not worry about this?

I'll stick with my idyllic pool.
Now THAT's more like it.
(And don't worry. I'm totally not thinking about what living things might (or might not) be swimming up towards YOUR mucous membranes.)

Sunday, August 21, 2011

In the Mood and Bored

I found a couple of beautiful things online this weekend.
Original artwork, for sale on Etsy

I love glass art. This also was for sale on Etsy, but has now sold.
I pinned them to my Pinterest board, and then started thinking that they would make a great leaping-off point for a living room decor.

We've had the same living room furniture and colours for about nine years. I quite liked them, but am growing tired of the red-green-gold plaid and oversized chairs. I'm ready for a change, but there is absolutely no budget for that. So I decided to fantasize.

I learned a new expression this year: mood board. It refers to the collection of colours and ideas that interior decorators put together for their clients. I first saw them on Young House Love, a great blog for people interested in interior design.

Anyway, I put together a couple of mood boards using these two blue-and-gold items. Here they are.
A relatively formal space, with emphasis on the gold.
The wall colour would be the blue-grey in the background.
The accent colour (gold) would go on the wall over the fireplace,
behind the painting.
I was thinking of this as a more relaxed space, but I don't think it is, really.
The walls would be in the linen colour, with the accent blue going
behind the painting over the fireplace.
As I said, this isn't actually going to happen, but it's fun to fantasize. The Internet is such a great source for window shopping! This could become a habit.

Friday, August 19, 2011

The Spelunker and the Hot Pixel

The other day I went spelunking (cave-wandering) with some colleagues. I've actually been in quite a few caves, some of them mighty impressive.
The entrance to the Carlsbad Caverns which we visited in 2006.
But eastern Canada is not known for caves and the one we visited this week is known as the largest cave in the region. Let me just say that it was cozy. None of those huge vaulted ceilings framed by "drapery" stalagmites (sometimes called "cave bacon."). No elevators to whisk us back to the fresh air.
This is the rather bucolic entrance to the cave we visited this week.
Can't you just hear the birds singing?
Instead, we got more of a feel for what real cave explorers might experience. Most of the time we were able to stand upright, but there was one corridor where we had to crouch. But the most interesting thing about this cave (for me) was that it is a chimney - a mostly vertical shaft - with some offshoots. That meant we did a fair bit of climbing up steep, metal stairs (more like well-tilted ladders, really), while grasping handrails that were cold and slippery-sweaty. The bats were all gone for the day, I assume, though I didn't really investigate. It was FUN!

Actually, it was interesting, despite my describing it as arduous and uncomfortable and scary. Don't listen to me. I have no plans to change careers (probably wise, given that there is really only one cave in the area, and it appears to be fully staffed).

Not surprisingly, I brought my camera with me and tried to take some pictures. In other caverns I'd been through, the mineral formations were all scenically lit, but here they gave each of us a hard hat with a light - just like real miners would wear, y'all! From a photographer's perspective, that meant anything we were all looking at would be moderately well lit, but if I shot towards anyone, I was shooting into the light, which is pretty tricky.

I did get a couple of pictures I liked, though.
f/1.8 1/60s ISO/3200
You can click on this picture to see it bigger.

(Looking at the picture now, it occurs to me that they were both looking at a BAT.)
But when I looked closely at the pictures, I found something odd: a red dot. In the same place in each of my cave pictures.
It's called a hot pixel. (Note: that link goes to a good website for
photographers, but he does have a truly stunning amount of
advertising before you get to the content.)
While Ken Rockwell says I should just live with it, that all digital cameras will do this eventually, I'm not convinced. My cheap-o point-and-shoot camera never developed a hot pixel (and I did use it in low-light situations where I used a high ISO which is when these things often show up).

Yes, yes. It is but one pixel of the many, many thousands of pixels in the picture (3,730,784 of them, to be precise). But now that I know it's there? It will bug me. Also? Steve paid a bucket-load of money for this camera and we expected better than this.

What would you do?

Monday, August 15, 2011

Regiment, regimen, regime, regimental

I just started using Twitter. And let me just advise you that if you find the grammar, syntax, and spelling on Facebook (and various blogs) to be preposterous, you will find Twitter that much more so. Here's the tweet in question:
See, now, I can't retweet that because, there really is no such thing as a workout regiment.
THIS is a regiment.
What he really meant to write was regimen. Wikipedia defines it nicely.
regimen is a plan, a regulated course such as a dietexercise or medical treatment, designed to give a positive result. A low-salt diet is a regimen. A course of penicillin is a regimen.
I've also heard the expression, "workout regime." Nuh-uh. It is not a thing. I won't let it happen. Most often, the word regime is used in reference to a political structure that kicks humanitarian rights in the teeth. Wikipedia does give other uses for the word, but, trust me on this, none of them has to do with improving your physique.

This is a picture showing the results of a totalitarian regime in Uganda.
I've never heard anyone use the word "regime" in a positive sense.
As in, "He wielded gentle justice in his kindhearted regime."
Now, just to leave you smiling, I include this picture of someone "going regimental" in a kilt.
In this context, it means according to the rules of the regiment.I have not asked, nor have I checked, so I do not know,
whether Steve went regimental when he wore his kilt.

[I was going to write that he was going sansculottes, but learned that this word has all sorts of overtones and implications, though its literal translation is "without pants."]

[And, no, I did NOT write this entire post, just so I could use that last picture.]

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Not functioning at full potential

Night and Sleep    |    Evelyn De Morgan
This print may be purchased through Illusions Gallery
I'm not sick, but for some reason all I want to do today is sleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep.

I got up, had breakfast and coffee, then lay down for a nap at 11 a.m., and woke up at 2:30 p.m.! And still, all I want to do is climb into those cool sheets beneath the slowly revolving fan and drift off into that nowhere Land of Nod.

It feels like there is a lead weight in my forehead that wants to turn me horizontal; my neck has all the strength of cooked pasta. My breathing tends toward sighing. I have siren-like flashbacks of those daytime dreams (which, oddly enough, were a continuation of my morning dreams - I've never had that happen, even when I wanted it).

But if I sleep now, I won't sleep tonight. Then getting up tomorrow will be misery.

Our cat, Elly, curls with her paw over her nose, and snores lightly, taunting me with her liberty to sleep wherever and whenever she wishes.

I wonder what my sleep cycle will be like when I have retired, when there will be few occasions when I must rise by a certain hour. Will I be like Elly, a narcoleptic sloth? Or will I have to wait for heaven to experience that?

Monday, August 8, 2011

He Says, She Says

Our 45-year-old house has crappy ventilation, which is especially noteworthy in summer, when all the nicely cooled air settles on the main floor and basement, and our bedroom becomes a sauna.

We've tried various things to remedy this:

  • New air conditioner
  • Dehumidifier
  • Ventilation fan on at all times
  • New roof and an extra attic vent
  • Blocked off most of the ducts in the rooms that don't get too hot
  • Installed a fan in the ductwork that leads to our bedroom
And STILL I was a puddle of sweat every night. 

So today after work, I stopped at Home Depot and bought this.
Steve and I lay down on the bed as the air wafted gently over our sweaty bodies. 

"Thank you for buying the fan," Steve said.

"Thank you for installing it right away,' I murmured.

"Yay! We can have sex again!" Steve quipped.

I paused and enjoyed the cool air.  I sighed. 

"Yay!" I said, "We may never need to have sex again!"

(It's our anniversary 27b on Thursday.)

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Division of Labour

In our house, Steve does the grocery shopping. There are three reasons for this:

  1. He is awake and at the store before most of the crowds, whereas I am usually asleep and snoring long after said crowds have hit the linoleum.
  2. He buys what's on the list, and only what's on the list, whereas I consider the list to be a starting point.
  3. I strongly dislike grocery shopping. 

The second point is the biggie. He saves us a lot of money, and we've known this for a while. Today, I proved it.

Steve and Brian have been out camping all week. When they get back this afternoon, I'm pretty sure Steve will want to shower and unpack and put all his crap away. At least, that's what I want him to do.

So this morning, despite my loathing of our dimly lit food emporium (they're saving energy, y'all), I popped out to the grocery store to stock up on the essentials -- milk, cat food, brown sugar, soap.
Yup, got them all. (Pop is so an essential.)
But while I was there, I ran across a few other things.
There's a tub of chocolate-chip cookies hiding behind the corn.

  • Chips
  • Pistachios
  • A long butane lighter (have been needing one of those for a while now)
  • Cottage cheese (lasagne this week?)
  • Cherries (holy hell, those things are expensive! But did you know they are also soporific*? Apparently, they have melatonin, which makes them a good bedtime snack.)
  • Cat toys - Elly's favourite kind, because I love her and she keeps losing them.
  • Crusty, fresh bread
  • Corn on the cob
  • Cookies
  • An extra thing of hand soap because I hate going all the way to the washroom to get the soap to refill the kitchen dispenser (lazy).
  • A brown sugar softener - this is something I didn't know existed, but which I need!

Here's the damage.

Total bill: $117.13
Amount not on list: $58.49
Amt should have been: $58.64

So, I pretty much doubled our grocery bill. It occurs to me that I could probably quit my job if I just promised never to go shopping again. But then ...
Where would we be without cherries?
*Here is the explanation for soporific. (I've never used "lettuce" in the plural form, myself.)

Thursday, August 4, 2011


What will he remember about that trip?
Last night, I fell asleep thinking about memory and a potential blog post. Not surprisingly, I doubted that I would remember it this morning. But I did, so here you go. There are three tidbits of information bouncing around in my brain, and I'm trying to reconcile them.

First up: my friends Joe and Mary recently educated me on the fallibility of memory. It seems that human memory, especially for details, is terrifically inaccurate.

They told this story to illustrate:
A couple, while stalled in traffic, witnessed the stabbing of a bicyclist on a parallel road. By the time the passenger got through to 9-1-1 a minute or so later, traffic had moved and they could no longer see the crime scene. While talking to the operator, the driver and passenger could agree on only one fact: a bicyclist had been stabbed. They disagreed on everything else: physical descriptions of perpetrator and victim, clothing type and colour, colour and type of bicycle. 
Can you imagine the implications for legal proceedings?

I've also been told (in my Psych 101 course, oh, so many years ago, so this is subject to the vagaries of memory over time), that children remember the things and moments that are exceptional. So a child will remember the one time you totally lost your cool and spanked him, but will forget the innumerable times you breathed deeply and sent him for a "time out." How unfair is that?

Finally, oh, crap, what was the third one? I just had it! Oh, yes. A personal observation: when I hear an answer that doesn't jibe with what I expect or want to hear, it doesn't "stick." For example, I can't remember how many times I asked my mother to share the story of my own birth before I finally remembered her answer. I realized that it wasn't a happy story. Her central memory was of my father leaving her at the hospital so that he could go back and close the windows as it was starting to rain. And I think she also said something about being in a hall listening to all the other women crying out in pain.

It didn't answer to either of the things I selfishly wanted to know: what was childbirth like (what might it be like for me?), and did she love me as soon as she saw me (was I worth the pain?).

And - oh! - I've just had a tiny epiphany. This phenomenon is really the result of cognitive dissonance (another thing I learned about in Psych 101): that feeling where conflicting "truths" vie for brain space. The human tendency is to give weight to one, and to discount the other, often based on which truth is more attractive or comfortable, or to adapt our belief system to new information (much less likely).

I think cognitive dissonance also has a lot to do with repressed memories which one might think would be all the more memorable for being outside the "usual," as per my second point.

I'm still left wondering two things:
  1. How reliable are my memories of my own youth?
  2. What will my own children remember?
While I have reason to doubt the specifics/details of memories, I do think that the feelings aroused when we reflect back are quite reliable. I have no foundation for this belief - haven't heard or read anything about it.

What do you think? Have you experienced any of these "failures" of memory?

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Gol-darn it! They smashed our shrub!

This morning was not a good morning, as those of you who are my Facebook friends already know. Just before I left for work, I posted this status:
Morning is already off to a failing start. Daughter went out in the middle of the night. We're out of cat food. Mulch was delivered before I even had my coffee. Had to move SIL's car so it wouldn't be blocked by the mulch, but I couldn't reach the clutch pedal. (Good thing our driveway is on a slope; I just rolled it.) Truck driver ripped the side off our shrub. 
Here's what I left behind.

they smashed our shrub!
And that's just one close-up.
There's a chunk taken out at the base of the trunk.
(Does anyone happen to know what kind of bush this is?)

Poor little bird's nest!
I think it had been vacated, but still.

There was significant leaf destruction.
It's kind of ironic (I think ... Jeff? Am I using "ironic" correctly?) that, with all the trucks, loaders, wheelbarrows, tree-cutters and deliveries we had for the pool and back yard landscaping, not once did any of them harm this poor little bush, though I was braced for it. (They did damage some bricks at the back corner of the house, but they repaired it almost immediately.)

In the end, we got our humongous pile of mulch, which Katie will spread over the back garden over the next few days.
That is one shirtload of pine mulch.
I will call the company tomorrow and find out what they can do for our poor bush.

Oh, and in case you're wondering about why I couldn't reach the clutch of my sister-in-law's car, it's not that my legs are short, but that my SIL is tall, as is anyone else who regularly drives her car, so she hasn't had to move the seat forward in so long that the tracks have rusted. Seriously thick rust, from salt-sprinkled winter boots. So I had to scrunch down to depress the pedals, while peering over the steering wheel.

It was stupid and possibly dangerous. Emily sagely asked me why I didn't ask the truck driver to move the car for me. But given what he did to the shrub, I'm not sure it would have turned out any better.

And the missing daughter (who left a note, so I knew where she was) turned up before noon, and Peter picked up some cat food. So all's well. Sort of.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Things I Learned from Other Mothers

Most new parents lament that babies do not come with instruction manuals. However, if we're lucky, we can learn a thing or two from the other mothers around us. I know I sure did.

Odette is a mother of four children who lived next door to us in St-Jean-sur-Richelieu. We've lost touch over the years, but I was always astonished by how calm she was, how well behaved her children were, and how clean her house was. When we first met her, Steve and I only had two children - and that was plenty. Watching her juggle four inspired us to take the plunge and have a third.

So here are some of the things Odette taught me.

If you tell a child to do something, make sure he or she does it, even if it requires you getting up, holding the child's hand, putting the hand on the toy, closing the child's fingers around the toy, walking the child to the toy box and dropping the toy in the toy box. Several times. The message here is: I am serious about this, and it's not about my being too lazy to do the job myself. (This works best with very young children; teenagers tend to bite harder.)

The baby! It has teeth!
(Julia Roberts as an infant.)
Five minutes at a time. There are days when life just slides off the rails. Everyone has the stomach flu, the baby's teething, hubby is traveling for work, and the toilet stopped working. If you're like me, it's easy to get mired into thinking that things will never get better, that your husband will come home to find you and the children dead and surrounded by vomit and backed-up toilet, except for the baby who will have sprouted a full set of teeth.

You can tolerate almost anything for five minutes. I can't tell you how many times I've encouraged myself to hang in for just five more minutes. Often, the worst is over by then. Sometimes not, and you have to bear up for another five minutes. But it's JUST five minutes. On the bright side, I've had friends show up with dinner, or colicky babies fall asleep when I thought there was no end in sight.

One of Odette's paintings
Make time for you. We've all heard this one, but we mothers don't always do it, or don't really understand how that plays out. (Does taking a bubble bath count?) Odette was a self-taught artist who painted in acrylics and oils. She made time to be creative, whether that meant scheduling a weekly naptime date with me or going to the community centre in the evening. She also went to the gym regularly.

I remembered her lesson when I was a weekday single mother with four kids under the age of eight at home (Steve was on a course in Toronto for nine months). I booked a babysitter and signed up for a stained-glass course. It helped immensely!

My Aunt Vera had seven children and a seemingly boundless supply of energy. Honest to goodness, I have no idea how she coped, but she did more than just cope, she thrived as did the people around her.

Here are some of the things Aunt Vera taught me.

Always cook extra. I don't think I ever witnessed a meal at her home where it was just the nuclear family. (I suppose my being there already made it extended family, at least.) Usually there would be cousins from one branch or another, plus a couple of teenagers or kids she was watching for a neighbour. The food wasn't fancy (they were far from rich), but it was like the parable of the loaves and the fishes - it just never seemed to run out. What it meant was that young people, especially young adults, always had a place to be part of a family, because that's what the meal meant.

Make time for hubby. My Uncle Doug was fortunate to live within walking distance of home, so he came home for lunch most days. After eating, he would lie down on the couch with his head in Aunt Vera's lap. I realize this sounds exceedingly gross, but she would clean his ears. I think he just found it soothing, and more than anything, she was just being there for him.

Aunt Vera's hair was also red and piled on her head
in a series of stacked and interlooped rings.
Just because everyone else does things a certain way doesn't mean it's right for you. Aunt Vera never got a driver's license*. Imagine: seven kids and no driver's license! And she didn't get a washer and dryer until most (all?) of the kids had left home. Instead, Uncle Doug (or later, one of the older kids) would drop her off at the laundromat in the morning once a week. She would load nine people's worth of laundry into the machines then go next door to get her hair done. (It was a Marge Simpson affair, stacked like a wedding cake atop her head. It was not a loose updo like we have today, but an architectural construction fortified by hairspray and bobby pins. It probably took most of the morning for the stylist to wash, colour and set it.) She would be picked up at the end of the day having spent time looking after herself as well as taking care of housework. Brilliant!

*Note: Not having a driver's license never served as an impediment to her ability to direct the driver. She was a very participative passenger.

I also learned some things from mothers I never met.

From Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish, authors of "How to Talk so Kids Will Listen and Listen so Kids Will Talk", I learned some empathetic communication techniques. They have been known to defuse a bomb once or twice, though our kids would probably not know it. One of my favourites is the echo of wishful thinking: when a child is whining ("I don't want to go to pre-school!"), instead of stating that he or she has to go, try voicing the child's fantasy, "Wouldn't it be nice if we could go to pre-school only on the days we felt like it?" Surprisingly, I don't recall this ever backfiring on me.

I may do a "part two" on this topic, because I'm sure I've forgotten some of my mentors.

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