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“...and this is my garden”

by Katherine - 0 Comment(s)

I love documentaries. And I'm suggesting that if you see only one documentary this summer, you make it “...and this is my garden”. It’s not new. It’s not big budget (how many documentaries are, though?). But it’s fantastic, fantastic, fantastic!

Actually, I cried as I watched it. It’s not a sad story at all - on the contrary, it’s about an entire community that benefits when its children are taught to tend their own gardens. This is a film about the earth, community, wisdom sharing, food, and self sufficiency, but I can’t describe how uplifting it truly is. After seeing it, I was energized and hopeful and really overwhelmed by the beauty of what can be accomplished with nothing more than water, sunlight, and care.

You must check it out for yourself! We've got it in our catalogue, and here's the film's website.

Blue Cheese at 9 Months?!

by Katherine - 3 Comment(s)

I’m reading French Kids Eat Everything (and Yours Can, Too): How our Family Moved to France, Cured Picky Eating, Banned Snacking, and Discovered 10 Simple Rules for Raising Happy, Healthy Eaters by Karen Le Billon, and it’s fascinating! It’s much more than a manual to cure picky eating and family food fights. It’s an insightful examination of attitudes towards food, eating, and nourishment, and how they differ between the French model and the American (and by extension, Canadian) model.

I’m young (for a little while longer, at least) and single (likely for eternity) and it’s my prerogative to eat dinner alone, standing over the sink. Or sitting on the couch, channel flipping. Or at midnight. Or twice. Because there’s no one watching me, my eating routines lack both a social component and a sense of restraint. According to the author’s mother-in-law, my normal habits are a recipe for obesity. So, apparently, is snacking, using food as a reward or punishment, allowing your children to dictate what or when they’ll eat, and eating at any place other than the table, surrounded by your family.

Le Billon observes that French parents are firmly in control and by refusing to let their children eat the same thing every day, or complain about the food they’re given, French children wind up eating a wider and much more balanced range of foods. They are more willing to try new foods, and they don’t whine or throw hunger induced tantrums. Even children 5 or 6 years of age will sit patiently in a restaurant, while their parents linger over a nice long meal. This is because French children are taught that food is exciting and interesting; part of a familial set of rituals; and an aspect of their national identity about which to be proud.

It’s a very far cry from exasperatedly stuffing greasy McNuggets into the whining maw of an angry 7 year old, en route to a hockey practice.

Check out this book whether you have children or not. As long as you’re someone who eats, it will provide you with lots of interesting ideas. Food for thought, if you will.

I noticed a woman on the C-Train, jotting down the title, as I read. We started chatting and it turns out she is French. She said that in her family, they always made sure to eat together at the table, at a very precise time. Sure enough, she was slim. Maybe the French are on to something...

A Zoltan by Any Other Name

by Katherine - 0 Comment(s)

A colleague of mine is pregnant and was recently flipping through a baby name book. There were classic names like Victoria and Katherine; Biblical names like Joshua and Daniel; no nick-name names like Claire and Emily, and tons of other categories. From Aida to Zoltan, nearly every conceivable name was listed.

I happen to believe that names are hugely important in determining an individual’s success. Can you really argue that a Misty will be taken as seriously as an Elizabeth? Who’s likely to be the CEO: a Robert or a Timmy? Names suggest age, capability, and even social status.

For an interesting exploration of “white names” versus “black names”, check out the chapter about names in Freakonomics, by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner.

If you don’t want your son to go through school being one of the four Liams in his class, then check out this link for information about Alberta’s most popular baby names.

Finally, browse section 929.44 in your local library branch. We've got lots of baby name books! If you’re not expecting yet, then use them to choose a name for a character in your next novel, or maybe even the cat or dog you just adopted. Think beyond Fifi and Rex!

The Other F Word: Frugality!

by Katherine - 3 Comment(s)

One of my goals is to manage my money more effectively. So I typically browse through basic books or blogs on budgeting (spot the alliteration, kids!). In the reams of top 20 lists and collections of tidbits and tips, one piece of advice resounds again and again: use your library. Libraries allow you to borrow books for free, but it’s much more than that. Here are some more ways that your library allows you to stay frugal:

Libraries might encourage you to cancel your magazine or newspaper subscriptions, because many of these can be read online, with your library card. You might decide to borrow a movie rather than renting one, or perhaps you’ll attend a free screening in the library’s theatre. You might learn a new skill by attending a free program – perhaps one about budgeting – or renting an instructional DVD. You could use library books or databases to learn about fixing a car, bike or appliance, and spare yourself the cost of buying a new one. Explore our collections about cooking and learn to prepare healthy, frugal meals. Home cooking is a huge opportunity to exercise frugality! Attend some of the library’s special programs and speak with a lawyer, doctor, or career coach, for free! Check out the program guide for free concerts, and free access to our Writer in Residence.

Not all of our entertainment and enjoyment need be expensive. In fact, the library is a great place in which to instill a sense of frugality in your children. And children who have a sense of how money can be saved in simple ways will be well on their way to managing money when they’re adults.

To Spank or not to Spank?

by Katherine - 0 Comment(s)

From the very beginning, parents are faced with countless decisions.

What to eat when pregnant? What to name the bundle of joy? How to discipline with love?

When I was a grade 7 student, I was sent home from school with a survey for my parents to fill out. The school was interested in knowing which methods of discipline were being used at home. Interestingly enough, my mother left the survey blank. At that point in our household, there wasn’t any discipline to speak of, really. I was lucky, insofar as we simply “talked it out” whenever there was a problem. For some parents, however, the question is how to win the war without beating (literally!) the kids.

The next time you’re at your library, browse our collection for resources about parenting.

We’ve got hundreds of books, an enormous range of magazines, new DVDs, and an e-library filled with thousands of academic articles. We’ve even got free programs for your wee ones!

So, will you spank? Take away privileges? Impose a curfew? Talk things through? The way that you discipline your children could influence their mental and emotional health for years. Visit your library and make informed decisions about parenting.