Monthly Archives: September 2012

Three toddler hiking rules to live by


At age two-and-a-half, Sylvia has three strongly-held beliefs about hiking:

1. All hikes include a backpack.

2. You must wear your hiking boots.

3. There must be a picnic.

(I should note that her backpack is filled with toys, not picnics. Picnics belong in the parent’s backpack, apparently.)

All too often, Sylvia becomes the backpack for either Travis or I, so we finally invested in a Boba carrier. On this particular hike we were looking for an old trapper’s cabin, which we found, along with a beaver pond nearby.

Sylvia is wonderfully well behaved for the most part, but those dreaded toddler tantrums do come out. We’ve come up with an ingenious way to curtail them, though. One of us will say “Squirrel!” and she’ll stop mid-cry and start looking for the squirrel. It’s especially awesome to pull this trick when we’re at home, or in the car – because she’ll start looking for it, and inevitably say “I saw the squirrel!” which is pretty funny when we are nowhere near a squirrel habitat. I suppose her attention span will increase beyond 3.2 seconds eventually, but for now we’re having great fun sending her on wild squirrel chases in the grocery store, or even in the bathroom – wherever a meltdown might occur. Toddlers are great entertainment. I recommend one for everyone.





Life is too short to read bad books.

I’ve been accomplice to a most egregious crime.

I knew for weeks it was going to happen, and I did nothing to stop it. I did not even avert my eyes when the final axe fell. Indeed, I even encouraged it along, and cheered when it was all over.

I suppose it was only a matter of time before Travis and I became hardened criminals. We’ve been living in sin for years, and as the saying goes it is a very short slide from sinful living to sinful doing.

(I guess. I just made that up.)

But it is confession time, and I’d like to come clean.

We… threw out a book.

[I’ll pause here while you recover from the shock.]

I don’t mean we recycled it, or donated it to the library, or even packed it off to a second-hand book store. No, we spirited it off Sylvia’s bookshelf and trashed it in the kitchen can. So long, Worst Book Of All Time. So long.

I held out for weeks. Months, even. I knew it was an insidious, hateful book. Many times we made motion to toss the soft-cover piece of garbage, but something held me back. Afterall, it was only a book. Only 22 pages of (crappy) watercolour with a flimsy paper cover. It was only words! What harm could it do? How could we justify bringing about it’s ultimate end?

Well we did. And I’m not sorry.

This book –  I’ll call it “Wheels” – featured many varieties of trucks. Sylvia loves trucks, and has several tomes that either rhyme whimsically or impart facts. (Truck Talk and Dirt Movers top the list, for example). Wheels, however, did neither. It was a poor man’s version of The Wheels On The Bus, all about a house being built. Or so you would think. In reality, it was mind-numbing repetitive drivel, with erroneous details to boot. On top of that, the illustrations only featured women in the most mundane jobs – where was the diversity? Wheels had not one redeeming quality.

We threatened for months to take the book back to the second-hand shop, but Sylvia and I go there weekly and it wouldn’t do for her to pick up Wheels again. There was only one thing left, and stamping it DISCARD was it.

Now Sylvia has lots of books. Many of them are rocking good reads, but many more are dull or overly simplistic or otherwise not my favourite. My book case is filled with old favourites, and more that are only so-so. I’ve brought some real duds home from the library, but there is not one other book in my history of book-loving (and that’s a long history) have I ever hated with such fervor as I do Wheels. There are too many wonderful children’s books in print to suffer in silence any more.

Sorry, Wheels. The jig is up. After one final abridged read-through, we gave it the ol’ heave-ho.

I opened the garbage cupboard, and Travis did the dirty deed.


For the next few days, I could still see parts of it in the trash – a piece of the cover, or a corner of the book reaching up through the used tissues and supper detritus. As long as I could see it, I felt horror at knowing I’d played a roll in trashing a book. Trashing a book! More troublesome than book burning, this sat very uneasily on my mind. But when Travis carried that bag of garbage out to the curb this morning, well I didn’t hesitate to bid Wheels goodbye for good.

Sylvia hasn’t noticed it missing, (thank you, short-term toddler memory), and for my part I’ve noticed the sun shining more brightly and the birds singing more sweetly. Life is so much better without bad books hanging around.