Do not buy this Spinning Top


All toys have an Irritant Quotient (IQ). A toy with a low IQ is enjoyed by the family for years.  The pain of stepping on the bricks garners Lego a medium IQ score; its existence is tolerated in our home. When a toy scores a high IQ score, I get chest pain thinking about it and cackle as I hand it over to the unsuspecting staff at the thrift store.

I never really know which toy is going to have a high IQ.  The cause of irritation isn’t obvious at first.  Sometimes it’s not so much the toy itself that grates on my nerves but how the girls play with it.  Or it could be the impact the toy has on our home.  Take Play-Doh for example. The girls are occupied for ages rolling it out, making shapes and chopping it into tiny pieces. Brilliant: low IQ.  Then they sweep the tiny pieces onto the floor, grind it into the carpet and Harriet eats a wad and sticks her jaw shut.  Suddenly terrible: high IQ.

This brings me to the lovely spinning top.  Harriet spotted it and asked for it. It didn’t cost much and it looks so vintage and cool, I thought it would raise the tone of our toy box.

It’s all rattling metal and bang, bang banging.  Super high IQ.  I hid the top in the closet within an hour of bringing it home.

So, with Christmas just around the corner, here are my toy shopping tips for parents:

  • Never impulse buy a toy your child asks for.  It will always be a mistake
  • Press every single button on a noisy toy and bang all toys on the floor a few time to make sure they’re not too loud for you
  • Take off your socks and shoes, stamp on all toys and kick them to make sure you can cope with the pain.  As well, hit yourself over the head with it a few times to make sure it doesn’t leave a scar if your child uses it as a weapon
  • Only buy paint, pens and crayons that coordinate with your décor
  • If you’re looking for a vintage spinning top you can pick one up cheap at the Salvation Army on 4th

My Little Pony Pizza

Poppy and I were reading a Curious George book where George and his friends made various shaped pizzas at someone’s birthday.  You may know the story; it’s like all the others.  George is invited to an event where he was expected to understand social mores only to act like the inquisitive monkey he is, resulting in drama and people being assholey to him.  But then he saves the day and all is forgiven.

I digress.  We read the story and Poppy was inspired to eat pizza without complaining that she doesn’t like the crust, tomato sauce or cheese on it. I seized the day, threw some dough together, prepared the toppings and invited Poppy to make her pizza. Continue Reading

Even being robbed is bizarrely uplifting in Vancouver

Poppy taking a breather while she goes for a spin on her Strider bike.

Poppy takes a breather while going for a spin on her Strider bike.

Friday could have been a horrible day. Someone stole my purse while I was helping Poppy test ride bikes.  I couldn’t believe it happened.  Was someone shopping, spotted my bag on the ground and thought, you know what I should steal that and run!  Or are thieves casing the joint? If yes, why?  Seriously, adults at toy stores have kids, so they don’t have money.

But Friday wasn’t a bust.

First the Toys R US team was the most enthusiastic I’ve ever seen.  When I alerted customer service of my predicament, a cry went out, a team came running, and a search party fanned out to find the purse.  Perhaps they were just excited to leave shelf stacking for a while, but whatever their motivation they hunted with gusto. Continue Reading

Being one with nature

After hearing an interview on the radio proclaiming the long term dangers of Nature Deficit Disorder, I panicked, packed up a picnic and forced the family to traipse around Pacific Spirit National Park so we could be one with mother earth.

The problem is, although I’m a high school science teacher, I don’t actually know much about flora and fauna.  I’ve enjoyed a number of Discovery Walks but still can’t tell a pine from a cedar. I can name about ten flowers with an identification book.  And, as for the birds, bees and badgers, I can hardly identify different breeds of dogs.

My Urban Princess confirming there are no ants near her bench

My Urban Princess confirming there are no ants near her bench

I was worried Poppy would ask me to identify something and I would have to make up an answer.  I lie so much to them already (about the time if I want them to go to bed early, about the chocolate bars I have hidden around the condo which I flat out deny exist and many, many other things so I don’t have to parent them properly) and I didn’t want to start lying about the world too.  But, I should have realised I have nothing to fear.   Continue Reading

When Harriet ate the spider

Harriet puts everything in her mouth. Everything.  So I don’t know what I was thinking when I left her alone with a spider.

We were leaving the  Aquatic Centre after a lovely swim lesson and play at the daycare.  For once we managed to get everyone dressed, out of the change room and past the vending machines without a whiney request for a treat.  In fact, I was celebrating a little in my heart as we headed towards the exit.

And that’s when the fun started.  Poppy stopped in her tracks, pointed at the floor, shrieked “spider” and ran out the automatic sliding doors towards the road. Continue Reading

I take it back–the Aquarium doesn’t totally suck

Look_a_dolphinI try really hard to like the Vancouver Aquarium.  I mean what’s not to love?  There are mesmerizingly beautiful fish, cute dolphins, adorable sea otters, a 4-D cinema and a children’s play area.  That’s what everyone keeps enthusing anyway.  But, I just don’t like it.

I bought an annual membership for the Aquarium because everyone said it was so good, so we’ve spent many rainy days there this year in order to get our money’s worth.  Continue Reading


Poppy was an early talker uttering her first word, car, when she was about 9 months old and she hasn’t stopped chatting since.  I delight in her stories and try so hard not to correct her mispronunciation and grammatical errors.

Then there’s Harriet, who at 18 months has mastered two words, dada and mine. Continue Reading