Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Will All The Childless People Please Report To The Headmaster's Office At Once

I read an interesting article in MacLean's: The Case Against Having Kids. Apparently childless couples feel like they're being attacked by society, labeled social misfits, and compared to terrorists on a plane for uttering the words "I don't want to have kids."

Really?

Maybe I'm blind to this because I fit into the neat box of women that did the career, marriage, baby thing so unthinkingly. I admit I'm one of those annoying mummies: I feel a surge of love when I hold a baby - even if it's not mine. And I'll be the one smiling like a maniac and making gooey sounds at the baby in front of me in the line up. And honestly, yes I am a little smug that I have kids.

I think I knew when I was fourteen, that I wanted to be a mother. A naive and unknowing prediction, but correct all the same. As I entered my twenties, the desire deepened. It was a very natural thing. As if internally a pact had been made that one day, one way or another, there would be children.

But while my "calling" absorbed a part of my being, I certainly didn't expect it to absorb every woman around me. I mean why would it? Practically every woman I know is a model of the strength, independence and individuality we encourage and celebrate in today's society. So why would we expect every person to want the same thing? In a time where we are filled with choice - from the politician we vote for, to the birth control we use, why wouldn't the choice of having children be equally valid?

I suppose some people believe the maternal instinct is wired into the female composition. If I'm completely truthful a part of me does suspect - based purely on the biological truth that female bodies are designed with highly efficient baby making apparatus and breasts that produce milk - that most women must at some point have felt some motherly inclination.

Maybe I'm wrong.

I've asked couples the dreaded question - "do you want kids?". Recently too. Not because I wanted to shake my condemning finger at them for saying the wrong answer. Actually because I'm incredibly nosy and have a tendency to blurt things I shouldn't. But did they think my question was judgemental? Frig I hope not.

Anyway my point is I don't mind. Honestly I don't. Because I like to think I'm open minded. I don't mind if you want kids or not. I don't mind if you're gay or straight, black or white, or believe in God or the Flying Spaghetti Monster. I don't mind if you want to dye your head green and paint yellow spots on it (well maybe a bit). And I won't mind when you're eighty five and eating Sunday lunch alone and I'm having dinner with my four grandchildren and ten great-grandchildren.

Kidding!* (You'll probably be living it up with your still-perky breasts and bags of money.)

*Warning: taking yourself too seriously may cause constipation.
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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

I should mention my new header...

I've been meaning to write a post about my new header. And not to mention a bunch of other posts that have been floating around the cavernous space where my brain is supposed to be (it's gone on a mini-vaca to the South of France).

But instead of writing or doing other useful things like cleaning my house, I've been at a walk-in clinic for almost FIVE HOURS today. Once for me (my doctor is out of town), and once for Oliver who fell face forward this afternoon and for a while had me thinking he'd broken his nose. Thankfully he hadn't. So relieved.

And of course during the five hours at the clinic I encountered the usual array of ill/strange folk: one peculiar looking huge man with a bandaid on his nose and a hunch back who just stared at me; one woman who burst in through the clinic door crying because she had cut her hand with a saw (um, go to emergency?); two men coughing and spluttering all over; one teenager who walked in and casually told the receptionist he thought he had swine flu. (FOR THE LOVE OF GOD SILLY BOY GET AWAY FROM MY BABY)

Anyway. My new header. What do you think?

I knew, because J said he'd do it, I would like it. But when he sent me to get a Starbucks in order to get the shot he wanted for it, I knew I would love it. Did I mention J is a brilliant graphic designer? And I'm not just saying that - I've worked with many designers over the last ten years and he is one of the most talented I know.

And I think the new header is more fitting to the style of my blog. Plus it has coffee (hello my name's Sarah and I'm a coffeeholic) and a bowl of cherries - which my life totally is!
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Sunday, July 26, 2009

To pause time for a while

"How old is he now?" Somebody asked me.

"Six months. Almost seven"

"Six months! Already! It goes by so fast."

In the early days I'd rest my head on my hands on Oliver's cradle as I rocked him, overcome with the exhaustion of two young children and the loneliness of motherhood. And it felt almost as if time was moving against me, slowly, deliberately.

But then. Six months has gone by? Almost seven?

But we were only just bringing Oliver home from the hospital. Just re-learning all the things needed to care for a newborn. Just dressing him in those tiny sleepers that only really get worn once or twice and for that reason are so very precious.

And now, all of a sudden, he's looking less like a baby and more like a boy. And new things are happening.

His first two teeth have appeared.
He's eating real food.
He can roll from one end of the room to the other.
And is trying to crawl (not yet, please!).
He can almost sit up on his own.



I long for it to last: the sweetness of a baby is something that can never be replaced. And I long for it to not last too long. I look forward to seeing him grow up, become a man (gulp).

And then last week I said the unthinkable to J. After inhaling deeply, "Now don't freak out but..." He knew right away. "Part of me, a small part, a very small part, thinks maybe, possibly, I might, not definitely but maybe, one day, I'm not talking now, of course not. Like in three or four years..."
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Thursday, July 23, 2009

Reasons to buy more kid stuff: Road Trip

So I don't usually do this - talk about products on here - but screw it I'm going to today. Not because I'm being paid or given any kind of incentive, but because quite simply I'm a huge sucker for cool baby gear. And because yesterday I caught the end of a TV show on travel gear for kids and was so mesmerized by the feeling of potential consumer happiness that could be had through the acquiring of these products, I felt compelled to blog about it.

I love anything that makes life easier for us parents. And although we're not taking a vacation this summer (the thought of it ages me slightly) I can still fantasize about future trips with all the fun, colourful things that will make me feel like the super-organized mum I'm not.

Pop-A-Tot
I love the jumparoo (cross between an exersaucer and a jolly jumper). Matthew used it every day and now Oliver uses it. On the occasion I need to contain him while I'm occupied with something else, it's perfect. He's entertained and safely penned in. This Pop-A-Tot is basically a portable exersaucer. So if you're camping or whatever, you can fold this up, stick it in the car and use it on your vacation as you would at home. Hurray for contained babies.
www.starbrightforkids.ca



Dripstick
This is the kind of product that I whoop over and then J asks me what's so great and I explain, and then he asks again what's so great? It's bloody good I tell you! One end holds a popsicle, the other an ice cream. Because anyone who's ever given a two-year old a popsicle knows where it ends up. All over himself / the living room / the dog / the baby.
www.starbrightforkids.ca



MediBuddy
I like this because it has all the first-aid type equipment you might need for your little one, all nicely contained in fun packaging.
www.cheekymonkey.ca


Head Snuggler

When Matthew was a baby, we encountered severe RHS (Rolly-Head Syndrome) (I made that up. It's not a real syndrome). You know - where your baby falls asleep in the car and his head rolls forward and suddenly you're frantically looking over your shoulder thinking they might suffocate? The Head Snuggler basically holds their head in place. Cool.
www.starbrightforkids.ca



RazPak
It's a snack pack with 3 different compartments. 1 for mummy's wine gums. 1 for mummy's M&Ms. 1 for mummy's Swedish Berries. Or you could put some treats for your kids in there I guess.
www.kidsmartshop.com





52 Travel Activity Kit
A pack of colouring pens, paper, and basically stuff that will distract them for at least twelve minutes of that eight-hour road trip. But still twelve minutes is twelve minutes!
www.amazon.com

Cars Cold Pack
I could hardly leave this out now could I?
www.starbrightforkids.ca


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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Greetings

Most mornings I wake up just as J is leaving for work and both boys are waking at the exact same moment. I lie in bed for a few moments wondering, first, whether I can get away with lying in bed for a while longer and, second, which child I should go to first. Usually Matthew is first because I can kill two birds by carrying him into Oliver's room to change him, thereby attending to him and keeping Oliver entertained at the same time.

So yesterday, as per the routine, I open the door to Matthew's room, bleary eyed and wishing to crawl back under the covers, to see him standing at the foot of his crib with the most incredulous expression on his face. And then this follows. "Nooooooo." The hissy "no" of utter displeasure.

~Greeting #1~

"Hello darling." I say breezily ignoring his unhappy greeting.

His face is all in a frown. "Where Daddy?" He demands grumpily.

"Daddy's gone to work love. We'll see him later."

"Daddyyyyyy! Dadddddyyyy!"

This goes on for a few minutes. Finally both boys are changed, washed, dressed and being fed breakfast. An hour later my babysitter is due to arrive (she comes once a week to relieve me for a lovely morning - four whole hours of blissful aloneness). As her car pulls up I tried to distract Matthew with a book.

~Greeting #2~

"Who that?" His face creases into a confused furrow. "Who car?"

And then, the dreaded sound.

"Ooooohhh Noooooo! Oooohh Noooooo!" Followed by accusatory pointing and more hissing.

Gawd, I think, poor Sasha can most definitely hear him through the open window. What a greeting. But she's used to it now, because this is a weekly occurrence. And she is brilliant, because she comes in and right away pulls him onto her lap and is talking him out of his bad mood, and I know that within a few minutes he'll be fine.

After leaving the house, a wonderful, replenishing 4 hours of solitude follows, in which some good things are accomplished: reading, drinking latte, people watching, shopping.

Back to the house, all fresh and relaxed from my alone time.

As I walk through the back door, I hear Matthew wailing. Sasha walks past me heading somewhere, half limping and clutching her foot and has a slightly disturbed look on her face.

~Greeting #3~

"Is everything okay?" I ask feeling a slight pinch of panic. Matthew, hearing my voice, comes into the kitchen, tears streaking his red face. "Mummmmyyy! Mummmyyy!" I stroke his head and pull him close for a cuddle.

"I stepped on a bee." Sasha says.

"Uhh pardon?" I ask, not properly hearing what she has said over Matthew's sobbing.

"I stepped on a bee!"

"Oh no!" I say, concerned. "I think I have some ointment for that, hang on." I go through to the bathroom, holding Matthew in one arm and begin rummaging through the bathroom cupboard with the other. Damn, why am I not the type of person that has neatly organized cupboards where things like first aid supplies can actually be found in emergencies? Must find that irritatingly smug Martha Stewart Housekeeping book that someone gave me for Christmas at soonest opportunity...

"It's okay." Sasha says. "I'm okay." We both peer at her foot, which is beginning to swell. After examining and deliberating for five or ten minutes, Sasha determines she is okay. Phew.

Five hours later, I'm sitting with Matthew while he eats, no wait, picks at his dinner. Oliver is struggling to wriggle free from the straps of his bouncer, and J comes home.

~Greeting #4~

"Daddddyyy!" Matthew cries delightedly.

"Hi honey." I say. "By any chance did you bring wine?"
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Monday, July 20, 2009

Chocaddiction

Let's examine the facts about chocolate:
  • Chocolate is good for you*
  • Chocolate has high nutritional value*
  • Chocolate shared with another person contains no calories whatsoever*
  • Chocolate can help you to loose weight*
  • Chocolate can prevent illness and disease*
  • Chocolate is an excellent breakfast meal*
  • Chocolate can be used as a weapon to fight criminals*
Okay all of that was a barefaced lie.

But chocolate must contain some favorable properties, otherwise how do you explain the immense feeling of happiness when I eat it? The chocoholics among you will agree there's nothing quite like the smooth sugary explosion of euphoria that takes place when a piece of chocolate enters your mouth.


So yes, I have a small chocolate addiction problem thing. And I'm not the only one.

The story of chocolate in this household goes like this.

Chapter 1: One month before Halloween
J: "Can you pick up a few bags of Halloween candy for the kids?"
Sarah: "Okay."
Innocently buys two large bags of candy.

Chapter 2: One week before Halloween
Sarah: "All the candy is gone! Did we eat it all?"
J: "Umm?"
Back to the store for more candy. This time it's placed on the highest shelf in the cupboard.

Chapter 3: Halloween night 7:30 p.m.
J: "Okay I don't think any more trick or treaters are coming. Let's turn off the porch light."
Candy wrappers rustling and evil cackling are heard as the poor little trick or treaters press their noses up against the window longingly.

Chapter 4: Five weeks after Halloween
Sarah: "Okay, we must get out of the habit of snacking on candy every night. Bloody Halloween! Oh well, I am pregnant. What the hell, pass me another."

Chapter 5: February
Sarah: "This is out of control! We have to stop. Right this minute!!" Nibbling the edge of a Toblerone. "I'm not buying any more chocolate from now on. The only way to kick the habit is to go cold turkey."
J: "Uh, can you just buy a few bars for me?"
Sarah: "Nope. Because I'll eat them before you even set eyes on them."
J: "Well what if I buy some and hide them?"
Sarah: "No, because I will find them."
J: "Oh, I don't think so. I have an excellent hiding place that you don't know about."
Sarah: "Have you met me before? If there is even a teeny weeny piece of chocolate in the house I will hunt it down. Believe me. It doesn't matter whether you've taped it to the inside of the roof or stuffed it into the plumbing. I will get it."

Chapter 6: Easter
Bugger. That floppy eared, chocolate maniac the Easter Bunny has arrived.

Chapter 7: May
An intensive exercise regime ensues along with full withdrawal from chocolate eating.

Chapter 8: Two nights ago
Accustomed to their exemplary new eating habits, Sarah decides to buy a few bars of chocolate to keep in the fridge for occasional indulging.
That evening.
J: "Wasn't there three Aeros in here earlier?"
Sarah: "Mmm.. You know what? I think a bird flew in a swiped one."
Goes for an extra long run.

This is why there simply can never be chocolate in my house. Ever.

*Warning: chocolate may not be good for you, help you loose weight, fight criminals or any of the other statements made here.
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Saturday, July 18, 2009

Parents just wanna have fun

I sat, the other day, cup of coffee in hand, looking through old photos: Me with friends, rosy cheeked, striking silly poses; Random moments captured by J in our early dating days; Laughing and dancing at weddings and parties; On holiday, tanned and happy.

It was all over my young, fresh-faced skin: FUN. Reckless, uninhibited, plentiful fun.

Lately I've wondered about this thing called fun. It's not that I don't have fun with the boys. Countless times I've caught myself grinning from ear to ear at the sight of Oliver and Matthew playing together, or laughing out loud at something Matthew has said. Sometimes we dance with him around the living room. But this kind of fun is always accompanied by the fact that I'm still in charge. The fun has limitations because I'm responsible.

The fun I'm talking about is the thing that occurs when everything else slips away and all that's left is the moment you're in.

Like sitting on a veranda with the sun setting and a glass of wine and the sound of music floating around you. Or throwing your head back in laughter over an old story with friends. Or lying in the sand with only sound of the ocean to fill your head and nothing to stir you but the warmth of the sun.

I thought for a while, that kind of FUN was on hold.

But then last week we went out. Twice in one week - just the two of us. Once on a date, and once to a friend's 40th party. It was like a ray of light had broken through the clouds and scattered sparkly little drops of hope on me. And as I laughed and chatted and felt the buzz of the atmosphere I realized, I can still have this.

Yes, FUN still lives here people. It's official.

I'm still a mum while the fun is being had - always aware that somewhere the boys are sleeping or stirring. But the fun can still be had. And in a way the fun feels better than ever. Because this time I feel it with a new appreciation. And because I know that later I'll return home and place a kiss on their sleepy cheeks.
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Thursday, July 16, 2009

Lovin' me is easy cus I'm beeootiful

Lalalalalalaaaaa.

Kidding obviously.

The title was merely designed to spike your interest.


BUT. On a serious note.

This afternoon, after I had finished feeding my toddler his highly nutritious vegetable pasta bake, and was then eating my not even remotely satisfying lunch of a rice cracker and can of coke, I thought, you know, there isn't enough self-love* going on. Not in my neck of the woods. Maybe not in other people's either. If there was, perhaps there would be less stress, anxiety, depression, heart disease, etc., etc.

I know it sounds obvious. We hear it all the frigging time from the media, from our well-meaning friends and families. I even say it to people. By now we should be masters of taking good care of ourselves. So why then, does it seem there are still so many like me, who have plummeted to the bottom of the wellness priority ladder in the bid to look after the rest of the family?

T
ake care of yourself.

Wise words. I'm an (reasonably/sometimes/after coffee) intelligent person. I hear them. But somehow I don't quite believe them. Or that they apply to ME. I wave away the suggestion as though it's a nuisance insect, making excuses like I don't have time at the moment.

But really, even if I don't have time, why don't I make time for myself?

There's a good analogy someone told me: if you're in a plane crash, you secure your oxygen mask first, because if you're passed out unconscious on the floor, how can you help anyone else?

In a way, not taking care of yourself first is selfish. Ha.

So as I was drinking my teeth-rotting, butt-expanding pop I had one of those enough is enough dammit moments. I grabbed a notebook and started a list of the things I would do for myself over the next few months.


Action! Starting tomorrow. Or next week.

* "Self-love" as in looking after one's health and general wellness. Not any other kind of self-love. Not like the kinds produced when I typed "self love" into Google. Uhhh.
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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Mummy Signing

I was perusing the baby signing books at the bookstore yesterday, since we've decided to take a shot at it. As I studied the illustrations of mums and babies signing with their hands, gesturing words like "milk", "thank you", "please", something occurred to me. These signs are great, but wouldn't it be even more great if we could slip in a few special signs for us mummies too?

So, taking matters into my own hands, I've developed a few new signs, specifically with the tired, hard-working mummy in mind.

(sorry about the creepy drawings, this is about the extent of my artistic talent.)




And as a special treat, if you have another idea for a mummy sign, let me know and I might attempt to draw it too.
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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The epidural hater

Remember how just the other day I was describing my non-hypnobirthing labour and delivery? Well on the same day that I wrote that post, a Doctor in England made a statement that said more women should forgo the epidural and instead endure the pain of childbirth. According to him "Some (women) just don't fancy the pain [of childbirth]." And "Pain in labour is a purposeful, useful thing, which has quite a number of benefits, such as preparing a mother for the responsibility of nurturing a newborn baby."

Is that so Mr Walsh? Well, having delivered two babies in the last two years - one with epidural and one without - I whole-heartedly and with complete certainty argue that your point is mindless, archaic crap.

First, Dr Walsh is a man. So, fortunately for him, his comments reside in unsubstantiated theories, since he'll never have to endure the pain of childbirth himself. Which is very convenient for someone rolling off such comments.

Having recently been through a natural birth, Dr Walsh, let me try to describe for you as realistically as possible what it feels like to push a person out of one's body. It might be analogous to, say, pushing a lemon through your penis. Think that might be a tad uncomfortable? That's not the half of it my dear. Before the said lemon is pushed through the impossibly small hole, you will first endure a pain that comes in waves and is so crippling that you will beg to be put out of your misery. And that might go on for oh, a couple of hours. *

Dr Walsh's reasons for persuading women to give up the epidural are: that it might have serious medical risks (practically everyone I know was born with an epidural and are perfectly fine - what's the actual statistic for negative effects?); that it may diminish childbirth as a rite of passage (what about the mother's rights?); and that it may undermine the mother's bond with her child (ask any one of the millions of women who have had an epidural if their bond has been diminished. I think you'll find the answer is no and are you out of your bloody mind?).

The thing that really irks me about this, is not that this doctor is recommending natural alternatives to the epidural - because every woman should be able to decide how she wants to approach childbirth. My problem is that this ignoramus is condemning women for making a choice, which they absolutely have the right to, without ever having experienced childbirth himself to make such a judgment. Are we not living in the twenty first century, where modern medicine has brought us so far ahead of our predecessors with medications that cure us and alleviate the "natural" pain that was once endured because there was no alternative? There are plenty of medical conditions that cause pain and suffering. do we try to brave them all?

I mean, I assume, Dr Walsh, that since you're against women having an epidural during childbirth, that when you go to the dentist for a root canal or filling, that you don't get an anesthetic?

He says "Pain prepares women for the demands of motherhood." Utter crap. The extreme pain of childbirth is hardly an indication of the incredible and yes, sometimes challenging path of motherhood that lies ahead.

He also claims that the use of the epidural would be less prevalent if more women practiced alternate methods such as yoga and hypnotherapy.

Well hello, here I am, a perfect case study for you: I tried those things Dr Walsh. After having had an epidural with my first baby, I attempted the natural approach with my second. And when it came down to it the pain was like nothing I had ever experienced. My memories of my natural birth are in some ways more horrific than the memories of my epidural birth. And for the record, I would not do it again.**

"It appears that women have never been more frightened of the processes". He says. You know what? The only thing that has made me fear childbirth? Not all the horror stories or the movies of women screaming through their deliveries. But the actual experience. My experience. So much so, that if I ever went through it again there is no doubt in my mind I would ask for the epidural. Hell, I'd be on the phone to L&D asking them to get it ready for me.

But in the end, I just think every woman has the right to decide how to have baby without being judged, whether medicated up to her eyeballs or not. And I do wonder how much evidence really exists to qualify Dr Walsh's claim that the epidural has detrimental consequences to the baby?

I'm interested to know your thoughts on this too...


* I have a very low pain threshold - some women do not find the experience as excruciating as I did!

**I just want to state that for some women alternate, natural methods do work well for childbirth. I just didn't happen to be one of them.
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Sunday, July 12, 2009

The night Hypnobirthing took a dive

6 months ago today, 39 and a half weeks pregnant, I went into labour.

We drove to the hospital, me and J, in a playful mood, almost certain we'd be sent home again within an hour. Clearly it would be declared a false alarm and we'd be tucked up in bed in a few hours. We were an old hand at this going-to-hospital-to-have-a-baby thing, having only just done it 18.5 months before.

As we walked from the hospital parking lot we saw another couple - the woman also heavily pregnant - walking ahead of us. Being oh so hilarious, we decided it would be highly amusing to race ahead and beat them into triage. Yes, real mature. We ran (okay I didn't really run - more lumbered) up the steps, laughing all the way.

Once in triage things were a little more sombre. We sat in a small room - me in a glamorous hospital gown tapping my fingers on the bed, J playing a game on his iPod. After three hours there was nothing fun to pass the time anymore. Just scowling and complaining that we wanted to be at home, in bed, asleep. At midnight, the nurse told us to take a walk around the hospital, in the hopes the walking would get labour started. Can you guess my reaction? Not exactly thrilled. She told us it was either that or be induced right away.

So off we went, wandering up and down the lifeless corridors, past wards and offices, past walls of oil paintings, past a chapel, past emergency, up and down the staircase leading to the cafeteria. For two hours we walked. J tried to keep me entertained and awake. I told him there was no way I had the energy to have a baby that night.

At 2 a.m., exactly two hours after we started walking, the real contractions started. WHAM.

Here is the part where I briefly explain that I had been preparing for a natural hypnobirthing birth (chuckle). In the months leading up to the birth I had studied the ideas behind hypnobirthing, practiced the techniques, and cajoled J into being my hypnobirthing partner. I was not going to have an epidural this time (mm hmm). I was going to breathe the baby out, not push him out (har). No one would hardly even know I was in labour - because that's what labouring hypnobirthing mums look like (honest they do!).



Labour lasted 3.5 hours. It's true what they say about it moving along much faster the second time. Not exactly the whooooosh here comes the baby somebody catch him I was hoping for, but definitely very fast.

At some point during the first two hours, Hypnobirthing died a sad and sorry death, as I told J through gritted teeth to take the prompt cards I had carefully written out the day before and BURN THEM in a fire. According to Hypnobirthing, I was supposed to be breathing deep controlled breaths through each contraction. Instead I held my breath while the nurses yelled at me not to.

Somewhere around the third hour, I asked very politely, in my nicest voice, for the epidural.

"It's too late!" said the nurse grinning excitedly, as if this was good news. "You're ten centimeters dilated!"

I always thought those movie scenes - the ones where labouring mothers scream as though they're being burnt at the steak - were totally overblown (I was trigger happy with the epidural the first time, hardly any real pain was felt). Turns out, actually, they're not all that unrealistic after all. At one point the nurse actually held down my head and told me "STOP IT!". All I could think was, there's probably some poor first-time mum waddling into the labour and delivery ward, hearing my screams, and wanting to turn and run for her life.

After twenty minutes of pushing, Oliver was born.

My wonderful, beautiful boy.


In what other situation in life could such an ordeal be instantly relinquished by the sight and touch of another being?

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Thursday, July 9, 2009

Tricks of the trade

There are certain things only I know about. Secrets, tricks, that keep everything ticking along around here. Strategies that ensure people eat their food with minimal fuss, naps are had, tantrums don't go on for four days. It's a result of me being home with the boys all the time, that I've come to know all these things. And I'm guessing other mums and dads have a collection of tricks that they use to keep things together too.

And I was thinking the other night, as I was doing the nightly ritual to get Oliver off to sleep - what if someone other than me had to look after the boys for a few days? They wouldn't know all the secret things that are needed for things to not fall apart.

Okay so nothing wouldn't actually fall apart, but part of me would like to think they would.

And then I remembered, I AM going away, in September, for the weekend with some girlfriends. Wahoo! But. The thing is, J will be in charge while I'm away and he doesn't know the secrets.

I decided a list of at least some of the tricks needs to be disclosed.

1. When putting Oliver down for a nap, don't for a second think you'll be able to put him in the crib awake and hope he'll fall asleep on his own. You'll need to follow these steps carefully: First, feed him from the bottle until his eyelids become heavy. Next hold him horizontally facing into your chest. Bounce up and down for about five minutes, whispering "shhhhh... shhhhh". If he startles or begins to squirm, immediately begin lunges (they must be REALLY big lunges in order for the technique to work). When his breathing pattern tells you he's asleep, gently lower him into the crib at the EXACT angle you are holding him. Once his body reaches the bed, stay there - bent over in the most awkward, back breaking position for two minutes, in case he wakes up. Then very slowly remove your arms from around him without disturbing him. Creep out of the room and hope like hell he doesn't wake up. Because if he does, the entire procedure will need to be repeated.

2. When the laundry needs to be done, you must swiftly and quietly move downstairs to the laundry room without Matthew hearing a thing, because he doesn't like when you're downstairs and he's upstairs. Load the washing machine, then note: From the time you close the washer door, you'll have approximately seven seconds before he starts calling your name and comes looking for you. Be warned, if you take more than seven seconds to get back up the stairs (you'll need to sprint), Matthew will already be halfway down, and the meltdown will have begun.

3. If Oliver begins to pull the grumpy face - the one that indicates he's about to let rip, quickly approach, singing anything that involves the words clip, clop, tip, top, flip, flop, pip, pop. That should delay the crying for at least 30 seconds while you hurry and get a bottle ready.

4. If all fails, if nap time has been and gone without anyone napping, if everyone is simultaneously beginning a tantrum, simply put on Cars and crack open the goldfish crackers.
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Things that should be drive-through

Drive-through has become my saviour. It's like the last chance to keep my good consumerist tendencies alive when the boys are with me. I'm a fan. Because you know, I may have mentioned one or twenty thousand times that I find going out nowadays to be something similar to pulling teeth.

In the warm, comfortable enclosure of the car, where the kids are safely strapped into their seats without any hope of escape, I can withdraw money from the bank, buy a coffee or pick up a snack. And on those occasions when I simply must get out of the house regardless of where, I just load everyone into the car, get my drive-through coffee and drive around for as long as I need to. Sometimes it's almost peaceful. Almost.


Often when I'm there I catch sight of other moms doing the same - their vehicles also stuffed with young kids, just trying to sneak a few moments of serenity.

So okay I realize drive-throughs are not exactly great for the environment, but let's say by some miraculous turn of events they were. Then I would want more things to be drive-through. Because then I could do all my errands from the window of my car. Here's my wishlist:
  • Drive-through magazines
  • Drive-through baby supplies
  • Drive-through DVD rental
  • Drive-through liquor store (someone is going to tell me one of these exists already I bet)
  • Drive-through manicure and pedicure (the pedi could be a little awkward..)
  • Drive-through pet grooming (small pets only, sorry Bongo)
  • Drive-through dry-cleaning
  • Drive-through computer repair (Mac Geniuses in a booth. Much better)
  • Drive-through recycling
  • Drive-through travel agent
  • Drive-through meditation ("omm... omm...okay we're done off we go")
Any more drive-through flashes of brilliance?
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Monday, July 6, 2009

The Mac Genius

I will only leave the house with both boys on my own for two reasons.
  1. To got to a friend's house, where the boys can run/roll freely within the confines of someone else's four walls.
  2. In a dire emergency.
This afternoon was an emergency. The power supply - the thing that charges my MacBook - was dead. Something to do with a small person with busy fingers tugging at the wires on it the day before. Anyway. It was totally buggered.

After angrily fiddling with the box for about ten minutes as if I have a clue what I'm doing, I'm persuaded by J to give up and see what the Mac people say about it.

First I go to the Future Shop site to see what they have to say - since that's where we purchased the machine. I click on Expert Advice. This guy pops up. "Hi there. I'm here to help answer your technical problems. Just type your question into the box below." Fine. It's a recording of a tech geek. I think about what to type. I begin to type Mac but instead I type Man by accident. The recorded geek has a puzzled look on his face. I think, okay, this is weird. I delete Man and wait for a second. The freaking recorded guy is just sitting there staring back at me. Then he sort of waves as if to say "hello?". I jump about ten feet in the air. HE'S BLOODY LOOKING AT ME! Then he kind of shrugs and gets up and walks off. I scream. Yes that's right I screamed.

J asks me what the hell is going on. I tell him in a high pitched squeak the freaking man in the computer is watching me. I close the Future Shop web site cause there's no way in hell I want this stranger staring at me from down the computer. I mean where's the privacy! J assures me that it is actually a recording - the whole thing. I'm not convinced and I certainly am not going back to find out.

Happily, on the Apple web site I'm chuffed to find that I can make an appointment with a Mac Genius at a store in Calgary the following day. Hurrah.

Great. Except that means I will have to take the boys with me. Okay.. I can do this.

I arrive at the Apple store about thirty minutes before the appointment time. Which is not good because Matthew and Oliver are both already squirmy and irritable in the gigantic, unwieldy double stroller. Matthew is making an "eeeeee" sound with clenched jaw. Oliver is trying to wriggle out of the straps of the car seat and grunting.

I look for a Mac geek person, hoping they'll take pity on me - loaded down with my wriggly kids, and move me to front of the queue.

Have you ever been into an Apple store? It's like a big fluorescent Swedish canteen with long tables and wall-to-wall inset shelves. And the employees aren't all that geeky any more. In fact they're downright ordinary. The only way to pick them out from a crowd is by their matching blue t-shirts and the way they languidly recline against the wall orating the benefits of PhotoShop and iPhoto.


At the back of the store I see a sign that says Genius Bar. I head over there. A swarm of Genius people are talking hastily to clients with computer problems. For a few minutes I stand gawking impatiently, wondering if anyone is going to help me. Finally a lanky adolescent girl with laddered fishnet stockings comes to my rescue. "What's your surname?" She asks. I tell her and she thumbs through the looooong list of customers on her ipod. "They'll call your name when they're ready."

Uh huh. Okay. This is okay. I can be patient. I'll just feed Matthew these emergency cookies that I brought with me. And I have a few toys up my sleeve. And a worst-case bottle of milk.

Two minutes later I give up.

"How about if I come back in ten minutes?" I ask the girl. "Probably a good idea" she nods.

Okay so off we go around the mall. I hate malls by the way. I didn't used to but now I simply cannot stand them.

Matthew has now transitioned from "eeeee" to "THAT! THAT! THAT" pointing and yelling at everyone/thing in sight.

What seems like three hours but is actually only seven minutes later I return to the store. I go straight to the Genius Bar and try to remain calm. The store is packed with tourists, teenagers, elderly people, moms. One woman looks kind of like me, except she has a toddler, a baby and she's pregnant. Eek. I gave her a sympathetic smile and thank the stars I am not her at that moment. Her toddler is also making screechy noises and reaching for expensive products with sticky fingers.

A teenage boy tugging at a cord on one of the products set off an alarm. "weoweoweoweow". Very loud. Matthew looks at me for some explanation and then goes back to his "eeeee". I look around to see who is going to attend to the noise. None of the twelve staff I count even remotely approach the crazy loud alarm. A woman near me stands with her hands over her ears with a silly grin. "That's not too annoying at all!" I say loudly and the skinny fishnet stocking girl laughs awkwardly. No joke the alarm continues ringing a hole in my ear drums for a good five minutes before a Mac person strolls up to it and casually turns it off.

Thanks.

Matthew has now eaten all the cookies I brought as a distraction and begins tossing his bear on the floor for fun. A kind lady picks Harry up and hands him back to Matthew who promptly informs her. "Isss Harry! Isss Harry!"

Then halleluiah at last my name is called and I am passing the Genius man my MacBook and power supply and explaining. He mumbles something incoherent about something to do with cables and... um... something else. Then he flips a couple of things on the supply box, does something with another cable, and then cooly hands me a new charger.

And that was it.

I thank him a little too profusely and run. RUN from the store with my two kids and my ridiculous oversized stroller and right out of the mall.

And that, dear reader, is why I hardly ever go out with both kids on my own.
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Sunday, July 5, 2009

Babes in the Woods


Matthew and Oliver sat side by side in the stroller as we made our way along a footpath that followed a river through a wooded area. See that look on Matthew's face? That look says "I am not AT ALL happy about having to share this space with my brother. He's small and fidgety and keeps poking me in the back. And he had better watch out because I'm wielding this rock I found on the floor." And Oliver? He's just unbelievably happy. Brotherly love. I sense interesting times ahead with these two.
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Friday, July 3, 2009

Rather be here

So my plans for today were crushed like a sad little cream cracker that got stomped on a thousand times with clodhoppers and smashed into tiny crumbs. You see, J was supposed to be off today, in lieu of taking Canada Day off. When he announced he wouldn't be able to take the day off after all, I swear my heart stopped for a few seconds, while my brain scrambled to make sense of the monstrousness of it.

Nooooooooooooooo.

I felt like a pre-teen girl who'd been told she couldn't go to the party - the one where they give out My Little Pony and Lego and Princess Barbie something-or-other, after all. Sorry love. No can do. That's life.

I seriously threw a mini-tantrum for about four hours.

Because, you see, it's been one of those weeks where I have dragged myself through each... hour... of... each... looooonnnngg.... daaayy... waiting, hoping, wanting, lusting after Friday. Friday, the shiny extra day that was to be gloriously added to the weekend. All week I had been cheering myself on. Come on girl, you can do it, just make it to Thursday night, and then there'll be two of us to face the drama. And two is so much better than one.

Did I mention that parenting is hard? Oh yeah. A few times heh.

I've held a number of jobs. About fourteen in total, including summer jobs, internships and "proper" jobs since graduating university. Some have been physically demanding. Some, mentally taxing: in one job interview I was told the company "only hires very intelligent people" (insert voice of pompous idiot) and that sometimes it was a "competition of intelligence", and they weren't kidding, it was exhausting. Another company joked with me that I'd probably be burnt out "by the time I was forty", because they worked so hard, but that I would never be bored along the way. I didn't stick around long enough to find out. But also, bloody exhausting.

But never, in my life, have I had a job like this. One that requires every muscle, every follicle of hair, every breath, every inch of stamina, patience and reason. One that means still going to that person with love and warmth at three a.m., when you've already been up with them twice since midnight. One that depends on every measure of my hearing, eyesight and sense of smell to anticipate whatever is about to happen. One that calls for creativity, cleverness and balance, all at the same time.

I know you know what I mean.

I don't mean to bang on about how awful I have it. Because I don't at all. In fact, most of the time I count myself extremely lucky. I get to watch our boys learn new things, do new things, see their personalities change and their bodies grow taller and stronger.

BUT. Today, as I listened to them both yelling simultaneously from their cribs during the no-nap time, I thought about how much I had looked forward to today. How I had clung to it. And how although most of the time I put on the brave "everything's fine" face, actually often I struggle with this job.

And then I thought about how nice it would be to be at work. In an office. To be wearing a suit with my hair straightened and glossy and my make-up perfectly applied. To listen to the quiet, controlled voices in a meeting, rather than the screeches and whines that occasionally make me edgy. To sit with a cup of coffee at a desk with neatly stacked papers and files and to actually drink that coffee before it becomes lukewarm. And to have a lunch break. And to drive home alone in a car for thirty or so minutes listening to the radio.

And then I thought, nah, I'd rather be here. Because there's nothing like this.
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Thursday, July 2, 2009

The toys we really buy for ourselves

Admit it - some of those toys you bought for your children are really for you. No? (liar) Alright I'll go first. I was excited about getting my hands on the toys I loved as a kid before I even had kids. Blocks and Lego, for instance. Transformers. Science kits that connected wires and exploded things (obviously I was destined to have boys).


That might explain why it looks a bit like Toys "R" Us pulled up in a giant dump truck and emptied the contents of their warehouse in our basement.


So occasionally when Matthew is playing by himself, I'll sneak off to the side and get stuck into his tub of blocks. I sit on the floor completely engrossed in the tower or bridge I'm building. It's almost like meditation.

Only problem is, I can be very possessive over the thing I've made. I want it to stay in tact for more than five seconds. After all, I spent AGES building it dammit. (Stop looking at me like that) Matthew, seeing my intense concentration, strides over and with enormous glee, knocks it over with his mean toddler fist. Then stands screeching with delight at his triumph. I'm so anal protective of my structure that before I know it I'm blurting "ooh NO! Don't ruin mommy's TOWER! I spent a LONG time on that!"



Ha! Yes I know. Complete nutter.

Next are bubbles. I find them totally mesmerizing. Long after Matthew has become bored and run away to chase something in the garden, I'm still standing there, blowing the shiny orbs into space. Note to those that like bubbles: Gymboree bubbles are far superior to the other competition (not even being paid to say that).

And last are crayons, and basically any art supplies. The old me that used to draw and paint craves art. But once again, Matthew can detect the fun I'm having like my dog detects any morsel of food, and within seconds has added his contribution of SCRIBBLES. Dammit.

I think I may need a playroom of my own...

Oh yeah and while I'm in the corner, hogging building things with his toys, what's he doing? Not playing with his train set or one of his fifty thousand cars. Nope. Sitting in a cardboard box.


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Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Proudly Canadian... well nearly


Dear government of Canada,
I was kinda hoping that, instead of having to do the whole citizenship application and then take that test - you know the one where I'll be expected to answer all kinds of questions on Canadian history and politics, for which (blush) I probably have no answers, that this picture might do instead? See I look quite Canadian eh? I also drink Molson and eat Tim Hortons doughnuts like they're going out of style. And, and I can sing the Canadian National Anthem. Okay that's a lie but I do think Mounties are hot.
Yours sincerely, Lady Mama.

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