Nothing like bright white sheets

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So today I was going to write about the ‘Jesus t-shirt debate’ (or at least that is what I am calling it) which arose from a student in Nova Scotia (Canada) wearing a religiously fueled message on a t-shirt to school.  To be completely honest, I think I will put that off for another week as I have had too nice of a day to get into something emotionally charged.  Perhaps if I am feeling particularly productive I will write a mid-week blog post on that topic.  For now however I want to talk about something simple which has improved my day tenfold: clean, fresh and bright white bed sheets.  Yip, I am going to talk about bed sheets!

It all started in the fall when I bought a new bed and subsequently a new set of white sheets and a colorful patterned comforter with matching pillow shams, bed skirt…etc. The sheets were 800 tread count Egyptian cotton and for a few weeks I felt as if I was sleeping at a hotel.  That is the thing about white sheets – they remind you of hotels and subsequently relaxing on a nice vacation.  The comforter was very thick and fluffy – just what I needed to get through the cold Canadian winter.

Flash forward to a few weeks ago: it is getting nice out again.  In mid-March we had gotten an unusual heat wave, with temperatures rising to around 27 degrees Celsius (80 degrees Fahrenheit) and then we went in cycles of cooler weather (around freezing) and back to mid-teens (around 60 degrees F).  Eventually it leveled out and it is in the teens most days, and slowly getting warmer.  I quickly learned that the new comforter was just not going to work anymore.  It was much too warm now that spring has hit and so today I went looking for a bedspread of some kind that would not have me sweating all night long.

What I found: an all white cotton duvet cover with nice decorative rushing and pleats, as well at matching shams and bed skirt.  This was all fine and dandy until I got home and realized that my nice white sheets I had purchased in the fall were no longer nice and bright.  The pillow covers looked dirty in comparison to the new duvet cover.  I needed help fast.

So off I go to my laundry area and low and behold I have a sample pack of Oxi Clean that I think came with my washer when I purchased it last year.  I have never tried this stuff (mostly because the commercials are overly annoying) but I figured it couldn’t hurt, right?  I tried it with my worst set of pillow covers and voila!  They came out clean and stain free!  They are still not as bright as the new bedspread but they are much, much better.  To be honest, I am not really sure they were ever as bright as the set I bought today.

For those of you who are actually still reading this and didn’t run away when I first mentioned that I was going to write about bed sheets, have you tried Oxi Clean and what do you think of it?  Do you love the feel of clean, fresh and bright white sheets as much as I do?

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Circus Mondo on fire…literally

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Circus Mondo on fire…literally

I wasn’t planning on writing another blog post so soon but I had to post about an accident that happened yesterday in Quebec, Canada. Essentially what happened was this: a truck carrying an elephant, a lion, a tiger and a dog caught fire on the highway and the animals had to be evacuated from the vehicle, which was mostly destroyed.  For those of you unfamiliar with the area, the only one of these animals that would have been common place in Quebec was the dog.

These animals are part of a traveling circus called Circus Mondo which will be touring parts of Canada in the next few months.  Anyhow, while I am sure many people today are talking about what a cool sight it would have been to be on a Quebec highway and see an elephant, that is not what I am about to say.  In fact, I think it is sickening that animal circuses still exist.  They are banned in many places due to animal rights issues, such as cruel training techniques and mistreatment, and personally, I believe they should be banned everywhere.

What’s more, is that there are much better circus acts that don’t involve animals (check out Cirque du Soleil for a show near you) and are far more fascinating.  If you want you children to learn about animals, an animal circus is the wrong approach and a wildlife sanctuary would be much more informative and truly entertaining for the whole family.

You say your kids are begging you to go and despite the fact that you know better, you want to see your kids happy? Why not use this a learning opportunity to teach your kids about respecting animals.  Be honest and explain to them that the animals in the circus are mistreated and do not do fancy tricks like this in their natural environment.  Explain that these animals have to be caged most of the day and are often malnourished.  You can explain that these animals may be whipped and shocked for safety reasons or as part of their training.  Most importantly, explain to your kids that you don’t want to support the mistreatment of animals through buying circus tickets.

Here is an alternative: see if your local animal shelter runs summer camps where kids can go and learn about animals in a way that benefits the community.  I know my local animal shelter runs these and the kids LOVE it!  You can also find an age-appropriate movie or book about endangered species and watch/read it as a family.  Your kids may not be happy with you now but they will someday have an appreciation and respect for animals that they would not have learned from the circus.

I will end this post here before I ramble into my full thoughts on animal cruelty (it will come out in a future post I’m sure).  I know what I have to say will annoy people and I know many of you will agree with me.  I just hope that if anything, I have given you all something to think about and have helped to promote discussion on the issue.

Why is this ‘news’?

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A British study on bullying was released recently and today it was across many of the major internet news sites, as well as on my local radio station. (This article sums up the findings nicely for those of us like me who really never want to read a scientific article again in their life: BBC News: Bullied ‘more prone to self harm’)

The study basically asserts that children who are bullied are more likely than their non-bullied peers to self-harm by the age of twelve and are more likely to have long lasting psychological problems, even into adulthood. When I heard about this on the radio today, my first thoughts were ‘well duh, who needs a study to tell you that?’. To be honest it was frustrating to hear such a conclusion put out there as if it is major breaking news.  Of course kids who go through traumatic experiences growing up are more likely to self harm. For the most part (and I am assuming here), I can’t imagine a healthy person who had a very happy childhood is overly likely to cut themselves or pull out their hair, without some other mitigating factor anyhow. I also can’t understand why it is surprising that bullied children are at risk of long term psychological effects. I guess what I am asking is…why is this news?! Why did they even study this? Couldn’t the money used to conduct this study have been better spent helping to promote anti-bullying initiatives?

I’ve told a few people I know that I was bullied through grade-school. I had one person say to me once ‘so what, everyone is bullied at some point and most of us just let it go’. Mind you, this person was angry at me when they said this but regardless, her thoughts couldn’t be clearer: she thought that bullying was a normal part of growing up.

Let me tell you what I went through. I had people try to cut my hair on the bus ride home. I had people put gum in my hair. I got punched in the face and I got tripped in the hallways. I got spit on by spit balls daily. I got called names and as I walked by, people would laugh. I thought everyone hated me and here is the kicker: nobody seemed to notice or care. My parents didn’t know (of if they did, they never mentioned it) and teachers never questioned it or tried to stop it, simply reinforcing the bullying behavior. This went on to the extent that even now, at 25 years old, I worry constantly that my co-workers do not like me and that my husband’s friends think I am weird and that my old university class mates avoid me in public. I live over a 1000km away from where I grew up and went to school but I still feel as if most people I meet know that I was a loser as a kid (at least that is how I felt). I am getting over this and I do not seem to feel this way as often as I used to, but these feelings still surface occasionally, especially when there is tension between me and somebody else. I also pull my hair on a regular basis, to the point where I get small bald spots and then find a new way to do my hair that covers the worst of it (for example, my bangs sweep to the right at the moment to cover the fringe left from a spot I pulled at for months).

Anyway, I guess my point is this: we do not need a study to tell us how bullied children can turn into self-harming adolescents and emotionally and psychologically wounded adults. We need more awareness as to what is bullying and how it can be prevented and we need to put more emphasis on making our schools welcoming and safe. I’ve yet to have kids of my own, but when I do, I hope they can have a much better schooling experience than I had, and for that I don’t believe that bullying should be considered a normal part of growing up.

/rant