Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The compliment that made my day

After the whole ripped jeans debacle, I'd been feeling an underlying frustration about the last few stubborn pounds I've yet to loose. Ten, roughly. Ten or so pounds will bring me back to the weight I was before I had my first son, almost two and a half years ago. The weight I was when I felt slim and sexy and could try something on in a store and look good.

Amazing how just ten extra pounds can feel.

Until a few weeks ago I was in a great routine of running - three or four times a week, and I could feel the weight shifting. And then, for some reason, I lost my enthusiasm for it. Instead of scraping together the last bit of energy left in my tired body and getting out onto the running path, I've been giving into my exhaustion and taking refuge in the sofa for the evening.

Which inevitably leads to feeling crapper and crapper.

And then last weekend I was shopping in Costco, alone, rushing through the aisles like a woman on a mission with my groceries, toys, baby sleepers and other miscellaneous things, when someone stopped me in my tracks.

"Hi Sarah!"

It took me a moment to recognize the woman from my pre-natal class (from my first pregnancy).

"Oh hi!" I said, genuinely pleased to see her. "How are you?"

"Oh, fine." She said. "Tired, from work." She's a doctor in an ER. "How are you?"

"I'm well, thanks. Just snuck out of the house to do some shopping alone."

"You look great." She said, eyeing me up and down. "Um, didn't you have another baby earlier this year?"

"Yes!" I said, beaming.

"Wow. You look great."

Seriously, my day could not have been any more made.

As I pushed my cart with its random contents back to the car, I reminded myself that I've already come a long way in my effort to loose the baby weight, and that the rest WILL come off in time.

Now to get myself back out there for a run tonight...
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Monday, September 28, 2009

Co-sleeping = No-sleeping

I like the idea of co-sleeping: cuddling up beside my babies, falling into a deep, contented sleep with them in my arms, hearing their sleepy little breathing noises. It sounds heavenly.

But that's not the co-sleeping I've experienced.

Two nights ago Oliver, who's almost 9 months, was having a particularly bad night - perhaps it was the teething, or general discomfort, or just wanting his mum to hold him - I'm not sure what it was. But by three in the morning I decided enough was enough and brought him back into the bedroom with me.

"Oliver is coming in with us." I told J, who may have grunted or not I can't remember. "Because I'm not getting up and down all night." I settled into my side of the bed, Oliver next to me, curled up in my arms.

Well this is perfectly nice, I thought, closing my eyes.

Seconds later - "heee" "heee" "heee". Oliver, excited to be in this new cocoon of warmth in the middle of the night, was trying out new sounds, loudly, in my ear. "Okay, shhh, shhh, darling." I said, rubbing his back soothingly.

All is good. Then a little hand reached up and clawed my face and I lost an eye. Okay I didn't loose an eye, but nearly. "Owwwch! Oliver!" I screeched quietly. I could feel him grinning at me in the dark with that enormous toothy grin of his.

Sleep. Please. But then I thought - what if he rolls off the edge of the bed? Crap. So I moved him in between me and J. Good, okay now everything's fine, off to sleep we go.

And then another thought - what if one of us pulls the duvet up over his head by mistake in the night? I wedged my arm down on top of the cover to keep it in place. But what if one of us accidentally whacks him in the head? What if we roll on him? What if we crush him, what if we smother him?

The worries subsided and I drifted off, and was dreaming that I was heavily pregnant and that the babe was kicking me. And then. Oh, wait, I'm not pregnant - that's Oliver kicking me in the gut, here in the bed next to me.

Still grinning and gurgling.

I edged back, dangerously close to the edge of the bed now, to escape his punchy little feet. Sleep? No. Slap, slap, slap in my face. He loves to slap people in the face. No idea why.

"He's slapping me in the face." Groaned J. "Yeah." I said "Me too." no longer remotely sleepy.

Twenty minutes after bringing Oliver into the bed with us, I was returning him to the safe confines of his crib, telling him we would see him in the morning when we had all had a good night's sleep. In our own beds. With no kicking, slapping or punching each other.

So, to those who co-sleep with their kids - how on earth do you manage it? Do you wear knee pads and ear plugs? And, do you get ANY sleep at all? I want to know!
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Sunday, September 27, 2009

Uptight Laid-Back Mum

I've noticed it's uncool to be an uptight mum. It seems there are few social brownie points for the mum who hovers too closely over her child at the playground, or the mum that turns up at 5 a.m. at pre-school registration to be first in line because her child simply must be in the morning slot. The uptight mum is not cool and yet often she's simply looking out for her kids.

Who is cool, it seems, is the laid-back mum - the one who occasionally feeds her kids Krispy Kreme doughnuts for breakfast, who doesn't loose sleep because the telly was on too long this afternoon while they were tweeting, or whose kid took a nap at 5 p.m. and, oh well.

I flit between being laid-back mum and uptight mum. I'm at ease with a little too much TV every now and then while I get other things done (did I mention my toddler doesn't nap?). I'm okay with the occasional sugary overload for the sake of distraction. I'm okay with my weakness in caving to demands for a smidge of peace and quiet.

And then I'm nervous about going out on my own with both kids, about making sure they eat dinner at the time they're used to, about messing with bed time. There's something about disrupting the bed time routine I dislike particularly - the routine I've tried to establish so that the kids get their rest, and my sacred evening quiet time is protected.

But often I feel required to be the laid-back mum. I've been told I need to "relax" about things such as taking our kids out past their bedtime. I should be okay with keeping them out late, remain indifferent to meltdowns resulting from tiredness, and not complain after driving home with two exhausted, crying children. All in the name of being a laid-back mum.

Maybe I'll be more nonchalant about these things in the future, but for now, I'm not. And I'm not going to apologize for it.

I've heard strangers (in Starbucks - I stalk people eavesdrop on conversations) gossip about their "friend" who's super uptight because can you believe she won't let her kid do such and such thing and won't let them eat whatever thing and boy does she ever need to chill the hell out.

Having two children close together has forcibly loosened the reigns on my anxiety - I don't have time to fret over everything - but somewhere in me the worry remains. And I wonder - although we mothers/fathers love to portray this I'm so calm and easygoing cracking open the wine at 4:45 p.m. to reclaim my sanity while my kids who've only eaten Joe Louis and popsicles all day are now taking their naps oh gawd I'm so screwed thing - can I really be that laid-back?

I mean, look - I love to be mellow, I love sipping wine at 3:30 in the afternoon, I love lounging around in my pajamas at midday while my kids watch Monsters, Inc. But the thing is, whatever else I'm doing, I'm still responsible for for these two growing children that are all dependent and reliant on - y'know - ME.

Becoming a parent is like getting on a roller coaster and not realizing how huge a plunge you're about to take. Everything is moving along nicely and then WHAM - you're responsible for another person now, off you go, have fun. And with such a colossal leap into responsibility and adulthood and seriousness, I think there follows a desire to prove to the world that - hey, we may be responsible parents now, but we're still the fun, laid-back people we used to be and we like to get totally smashed and party hard. Honest! We do! We do!

I think everyone wants to be the laid-back mum. And I think everyone is the uptight mum. How can you not be? I might be reclining on the park bench, chatting casually and purposely staying away so as not to be the helicopter mum, but beneath my sunglasses I'm scanning the playground to make sure my son is not about to drop eight feet from the top of the climbing frame. And at night when I'm nursing his sniffles, I'm secretly wondering when would be the right time to call the nurse, just in case, and what the plan would be if I should need to get to emergency.

I guess what I'm trying to say is, it's okay to be an uptight mum. Uptight mums should get a break. Often they're just acting out the uneasiness most of us feel but which some of us are better at concealing.

Sometimes I'm an uptight mum and I'm okay with that. And sometimes it's okay to tell those people - the ones that tell us we should "relax" - to bugger off.
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Friday, September 25, 2009

Everyone can be bought

These days I'll do ANYTHING for a few moments of peace and quiet: plying the kids with sugar and plastic toys, giving in to ludicrous requests, over indulging, bribery, blackmail. Like I said - anything. Call me a bad parent, whatever, I'm too tired to care. Just please let me hide in a closet for thirty minutes.

For instance.

Whenever we get back home from an outing, Matthew refuses to come into the house - he wants to stay in the car so that he can press all the buttons and switches on the dashboard and sit in the driver's seat. At first I was all, no dude, you're messing up the car. But then followed the wailing. And then I conceded.

Okay. Good. Whatever.

When it's time to leave the park, I tell Matthew he can watch a movie, if he comes right now. If he still refuses - as he often does, I extend the promise to include a movie.. a cake.. some milk.. and a new pack of stickers (I have supplies). Finally he caves at the thought of all the goodies awaiting him back at home. "Taysties." He says, dreamily.

Okay. Great. Done.

When Oliver wakes up crying at 3 a.m., I relent with cuddles in the rocking chair and a bottle of milk.

Okay. Yay. Yawn.

J and I are easy: we surrender to the same bribe. If either of us has had a bad day or week, if we're tired or grumpy, there's one thing that's always a perk: The words "Why don't you go out and buy yourself something nice?" The materialistic goodness never fails to work its magic on us good consumer types.

Okay. Now we're talking. Yes oh yes.
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Thursday, September 24, 2009

How to survive the grocery store with the kids

I have learned how to get in and out of the grocery store with my two sons (one aged two, one eight months), with everyone still alive and most of my sanity still in tact.

One simple trick. TREATS. Treats all around.

Recently I whined about how I would never leave the house again. And then I whined a bit more. The unhappy combination of tantrums, outbursts, sticky fingers on expensive items, and strangers giving me the evil eye had brought me to the conclusion there was no point in going out any more. End.

But, there are times when you absolutely must go out. Diapers run out every few days. I get through filter coffee and espresso like there's no tomorrow. Errands need to be run.

So, this is what happens now:

We arrive the grocery store and I get the kids out of the car and into the double stroller. The minute they're strapped in, I give them snacks - Mum Mums for Oliver and crackers for Matthew.

The snacks disappear in minutes, so we head straight for the baby food aisle, where the toddler fruit jelly snacks are located. Unable to wait, I rip the pack open and give my son a pack of jellies.

One aisle later the jelly snacks are gone. I grab a bag of plastic animals hanging on a shelf at the end of an aisle. Moments later little zebras, horses and camels are being flung from the stroller and I dash to collect the stray animals from the floor.

We reach the checkout and despite all efforts, moaning, sniveling sounds are rising from the stroller. The checkout lady produces large shiny stickers, which alleviate the sniveling for a whole seven seconds.

Before we leave, there is one last treat to be bought: Starbucks coffee for me. It's the reason I come to this grocery store.

As we skedaddle the store, a trail of sticky treats, plastic animals and stickers decorate the floor behind me. A grocery store man is following close behind, stooping to pick up lost animals and jellies and bits of chewed paper and kind of half chasing after me with outstretched hands as I try my best to GET THE HELL OUT.

Bloody flipping hell.

Tell me it's not just me this happens to?
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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Happy Birthday Mum

I remember a white fur coat my mother used to wear, the way it swished elegantly when she walked. And a pair of silver shoes that I would pull from the back of her wardrobe and clumsily tug onto my little feet, attempting a sophistication like hers.

My mother, beautiful, stylish.

I remember listening to the stories she read to me every night at my relentless request, engrossed in every syllable, the way her voice curved around the words with an enthusiasm that made any tale enjoyable.

My mother, creative, inspiring.

I remember looking up at my mother, wondering how she knew the answer to everything. How she always knew the right thing to say. How she always had the smartest words and solutions. I was, am, in awe of her wisdom, her patience.

My mother, intelligent, thoughtful.

I remember every day looking forward to dinner time, to a meal that was certain to be delicious - a dinner made with fresh ingredients and exotic flavours.

My mother, a wonderful cook.

I remember being amazed at how, after leaving her long-time career in academia, she so easily shifted into a completely different career and excelled in that too.

But I shouldn't have been surprised, because my mother is a truly incredible person.

Happy Birthday Mum, I can only hope to be the kind of mother to my sons that you are to me and Peter.

xxx


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Monday, September 21, 2009

The old jeans you really wish fit again but really truly don't.

At the back of my closet on the top shelf sits a pile of old beloved jeans that last fit me properly around three years ago. Occasionally I catch sight of them as I'm pulling something out and wonder if I'll be able to get them on again yet.

Last Friday, still unsure of my pregnancy status, I decided to try on a pair. I do strange things like that when I'm in a flap: Jeans to small? Possibly pregnant? What the hell, let's get them on!

To my disbelief, they fit.

Well, okay that's a lie. What actually happened was this: with some fierce effort and gymnastic maneuverings I was able to squeeze myself into the jeans, sucking in so hard I may have swallowed a nearby sizable object, and fasten the button.

I jumped - as much of a jump as I could manage in the too-tight jeans - for joy.

I remember buying these jeans on my lunch break in Covent Garden five or maybe six years ago thinking, at the time, what the ... I'm a size 12 (UK) now? What the happened to size 10? Of course now I'm hopping up and down alone in my bedroom like a manic rabbit at the idea of cheating my way into a size 12.

Although the jeans didn't really truly fit comfortably, I could visualize hints of my old body re-emerging. That deserves a whooooooot, I think.

There was just one tiny problem with the jeans: a dollar-sized rip located at the top of the trouser leg - in between the thigh and bum, so not really noticeable unless someone had been actively looking, which hahahaha. But, in all the excitement I ignored the rip and proceeded to wear the jeans, quite proudly, for the rest of the day.

As the day went on I noticed the rip had expanded. All that bending down to retrieve people and things from the floor had taken its toll on the rip. That, plus the fact the jeans didn't really fit that well and were having the life stretched out of them thread by thread.

Still, I did nothing. No way was I about to remove the only evidence that my old figure was making a comeback.

By the evening, the dollar-sized rip had grown and was roughly the size of a five dollar note. Not a good look for a mum running around town with two kids in tow. Unless you're Pam Anderson. And even then...

But I was lucky that day - I got away with no one witnessing the rip in my jeans. At least.. no one said anything..hem.. But now of course, the jeans are buggered. And no I will not sew them up because the last time I sewed something it ended up looking like the scary doll from Coraline.

I'm not sorry though. It was worth the rip, to have one final satisfying day with my old tight-fitting, tummy-trimming, thigh-slenderizing, butt-firming, hip-shrinking, waist-defying jeans.

RIP nice old jeans.
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Sunday, September 20, 2009

Update: I am not with (third) child

Last week I wrote a post about my fear of being pregnant with a third child. I was somewhat flippant about it at the time. I didn't really, truly think I was pregnant. Then, as the week went on, the half-joke turned into a real poker face concern, and by the end of the week I was just ever so slightly loosing my mind with the idea that I might actually be pregnant. And against all my best efforts to resist, was preparing to do the unthinkable - a pregnancy test.

As it turned out, I was not - am not, pregnant.

Oh happy, happy realization.

I was 95% over-the-moon happier than happy and a little bit, about 5%, disappointed.

Before I had any kids, I thought I wanted three or four. I pictured myself at the centre of a large family with a lively breakfast table and a busy household. But after we had our second son earlier this year, we felt that two was a perfectly nice number and semi-decided that to leave it at that.

Then for a few days last week I was consumed by a feeling of trepidation. All I could think about was the idea of giving up so much of my life for another year. Another year of getting up every night to attend to a baby's needs. Another year of being at the beck and call of everyone else. Another year of having very little (even less with three) time for myself.

Mainly, it was the very raw fear of the situation being out of my control that really sent me into a panic.

I worried about letting on to J that I was loosing my shit, but as it turned out, he was way more calm than me, telling me that if it happened we'd get on with it and things would be fine. After I had picked my jaw up from off the floor, I babbled something along the lines of things would not be fine and how would things be fine and things would be entirely not fine and that in fact we would probably all explode into tiny pieces and never be seen again.

But last week's scare did teach me a few things:

1. Compared to the idea of three children, two now seem completely manageable.


2. The 5% disappointment I felt at finding I was not pregnant has led me to think that wanting a third child in a few years might be a distinct possibility.

But for now, oh the relief.
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Thursday, September 17, 2009

It was Lady Mama, in the Library, with the Candlestick.

A friend asked if I'd like to do a program at the local library with her - a story time reading session for kids. I love that kind of thing - seeing a huddle of little faces listening attentively to a story being read to them out loud. And it's free. Great.

I had to decline. You see, there's something I have to confess. I can't go back to my local library. Maybe never again.

As we speak, library security people with menacing faces and large nets are waiting behind the doors to swipe at me and hold me captive in their library vault and torture me until I finally give in and admit I'm an awful, terrible library customer person.

You see, I owe them money. Eleven dollars and a few cents. Maybe more now - if they charge interest... oh crap, didn't think of that. Maybe now I owe eleven thousand dollars.

Actually it's not my fault - it's my son's. He decided to be born two weeks earlier than expected (nothing to do with me fulfilling a sudden urge to dig an 8 x 4' vegetable patch in the rain) and I had borrowed all these magnificent titles from the library - things like The Idiots Guide To Not Dropping Your Baby On His Head In The First Week.*

And as I sat with my new bundle of soft wonderfulness in my arms - a first time mum, prouder than proud and completely absorbed by my baby, the books were left, abandoned on the shelf. Occasionally I'd catch sight of them on my way to a diaper change and think Not now, books. Who are actually no help to me whatsoever and much more suited to gathering dust on my shelf.

Eventually I did return them to the library. But instead of going in and paying the stupid fee like a normal person, I dropped the books into the little return slot in the library wall with some kind of half-hearted intention of paying it another time. Or something. Yeah right.

And I never did. And I kept thinking... must pay that library fee... must do it soon... really really must do it soon.... And now it's two years later and I still haven't paid it.

Now? They probably have my name on their indelible red ink list of BAD CUSTOMERS THAT SHALL NEVER BORROW A BOOK OR GRACE THE STEPS OF OUR ESTABLISHMENT AGAIN.

But I want to borrow their dusty old books. I want to take Matthew to their free reading classes. And I want to peruse the shelves just because I feel like it.

So, soon I shall go in, tail between legs and pay the silly fine.

Because who knows when I might need to borrow something useful like How To Toilet Train Your Toddler Without Any Peeing Bunnies Or Other Strange Props*. Or Something.

*Not real books. Just plain silliness.
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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

British treats how I miss thee...

Every so often I get an insatiable craving for something I can't access in this part of the world - some food that's reminiscent of England. Usually the food in question can be found in a little shop thousands of miles away, across a few countries and an ocean. So the craving remains a craving.

If I had one of those teleportation machine thingies (note technical terminology) that could take me to London in a few seconds and bring me back again, I'd load up with the following items.

Brannigans Roast Beef and Mustard crisps.
Best. Chips. Ever. They're thick, crunchy and a bit spicy. Seriously, there's nothing like these. And excellent with beer.


Pret A Manger Brie, tomato and basil baguette. I'm not sure they even still make this but oh! On the occasion I gave up caring about calories, this was the yummiest lunch time treat.

Monster Munch - Pickled Onion Flavour. Okay, I'll admit this is a bit immature - it's the kind of snack that fades from most people's taste buds when they grow up. Not me - I still love the extreme pickly flavour.

Marmite. Like the tag line says - you either love it or hate it. Very true.


Nougat. Chewy goodness in a pink packet.

Sherbert Fountain. A liquorish straw with which to suck up the sherbet. Yup.



Milky Bar. The Milky Bar kid is strong and tough, and only the best is good enough.
Cherry Bakewells. I have a sweet tooth. These tarts are like little moist almond cakes. I remember coming home from school and immediately going to the cupboard for one. It was a ritual.


Fish & Chips wrapped in paper. Yes, the fish and chips MUST be wrapped in paper to be authentic. To be enjoyed on a leisurely stroll home after the pub.


Twiglets. Kind of marmite-ish crunchy twiggy things.


Okay I'm done now, thank you for listening.

Starving now.
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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Fear of a third

On the journey back from my weekend away (which was bloody marvelous, by the way), I began to feel sick - a heavy nausea that lay on my stomach and made me clench my hands with the desire to not throw up.

Hmm. Weird.

I racked my brain for possible causes of the sickness: I had consumed very large quantities of food and drink the night before - well who doesn't do that on a mini-break? And, I had over-indulged in the pancakes and syrup earlier that morning. But then gluttony normally has no more effect on me than a very small amount of guilt.

And then, usually, I get over it and go for a run.

As the day went on, the nausea faded. But of course, I couldn't help wondering: what if. What if, by some strange fluke, I was pregnant again. For the third time in three years. If you'd taken a microscope to my skin you might have seen small prickles of sweat emerging as the image of another nine months, another labour, another new born, another child dizzied my head.

Oh. Um. Flip.

We're still reasonably young so there is a chance, albeit a small one, that in three, four or five years we may decide to try for a third. Or, we may be so content with our lifestyle - two boys no longer in diapers, able to get in and out of the car and eat dinner unassisted, sleeping through the night, able to travel abroad - that we can't fathom the idea of going back to the beginning and doing it all over again.

Oh oh but then I could be like Angie, all glamorous with her armfuls of kids!

Oh but wait I don't have her money or resources. Scrap that.
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Monday, September 14, 2009

Some of your bits ain't nice

One rainy afternoon my nine year old classmates and I huddled around a boxy television set and waited eagerly as our teacher loaded a VHS into the player and fumbled around for the play button.

The video, we were told, was to be the first in a series of sex education videos that would educate us about female and male "parts", personal hygiene and how babies are really made.

I don't know about you, but when I think about sex ed, I imagine educative materials sensitively designed to help kids understand what all their "parts" are for and when to use them. Wisely. And with confidence.

But clearly, I had nothing to do with the making of the video we watched that day.

The one introducing me, aged nine, to the basics of one's sexual reproductive parts.

The one that was going to leave me feeling not at all freaked out.

Em.

You mean the one called:

"Some of your bits ain't nice."

That one?

Yes.

North Americans don't know about this, and are currently gasping and exclaiming what the hell kind of education system exposes nine year old kids to that kind of message?

But I'll bet every English person reading this is nodding their head and thinking oh yeah! I remember that weird little cartoon with the teenagers pointing at each others "bits". Because the thing is, I'm pretty sure any person in England that attended school in 1984 was subjected to this delight.

We sat - me and my little friends who barely knew what a penis was, let alone what it was for - open mouthed and aghast by perhaps the most cringeworthy and fascinating thing a nine year old had ever seen.

School girl is seen running screaming home to her mother... Muuuum! Waaaahahaha! They said my bits aren't nice! I'm so ashamed! I don't want anyone to ever see my bits! I think I may need therapy for the rest of my life to recover from this! Waaaah!

The thing is, I'm sure the video contained some very useful information about personal hygiene, or whatever it was about. But all I remember is the freaking title: Some of your bits ain't nice.

And the voice of an annoying gangly teenage cartoon character singing the words, still, like I just saw it yesterday.

Oh the trauma. It will be with me forever.

And, in case you think I'm making all this up for the sake of titillating blog material, here's the proof it does in fact exist.

It's a miracle I'm so well adjusted today. Twitching and telling husband to get off bits that are not nice.


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Sunday, September 13, 2009

Why I failed at sleep training

A good friend recently said to me that with the second child, you realize not every technique you read about will necessarily work for your child. And it's okay. It's okay to acknowledge that fact.

It's true.

A few weeks ago I started sleep training my eight-month old baby because I was tired and frustrated. I tried the controlled crying method, in which you go to your infant at short intervals, providing comfort and reassurance without actually picking him up out of the crib. It has worked successfully for other people.

I tried this method for a few days.

Then, on the fourth day, he was up at 4 a.m. I stood over his crib, rubbing his back, saying soft words to soothe him as he cried. All I could think was, he is my baby, he wants me to pick him up. I want to pick him up. And then I thought.

Screw this. And picked him up.

Fail.

And that, my friends, was the end of sleep training and the end of my plan to regain through-the-night sleeping for who knows how long.

What the hell is coffee for anyway?

The truth is, as I was standing there, over his crib at 4 a.m. I thought to myself, he is probably my last baby. My last baby who is already eight months and growing (too) fast. Soon he'll be crawling, then walking, then he'll be a toddler and he won't want to be picked up - he'll want independence from his mum.

And so I said screw it, and I held him, and I enjoyed the warmth and closeness of my baby, who won't be a baby for very much longer.

And it may be that I don't sleep through the night ever again. Okay not ever again. I'm being dramatic. But it could be another six months, or longer.

But I will pick him up, I will go to him, and I will sit and hold him and rock him to sleep at 4 a.m. because that's what feels right for me. For us. And I have an oddly confident feeling that he'll grow out of his night wakings before too long without the sleep training anyway.

It feels good to admit something didn't work and I'm okay with it.

Then again...

Ask me if I feel the same next year and I may give you a different answer.
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Thursday, September 10, 2009

Good friends are like chocolate pudding without the calories.

In about 36 hours I'll hop into a car with three girlfriends and drive to the mountains for our yearly weekend retreat.

Wait... listen... can you hear that? It's little angels singing. Lalalalalelelelalatralaaa.

There will be some relaxing, some story sharing, some eating and drinking, and definitely lots of laughing.

When I met these women, we were each expecting our first child. The shared excitement and anticipation of the unknown and imminent future made us instant companions. And as we entered the wobbly road of motherhood, our friendship was strengthened by the experiences we endured simultaneously. We shared the good moments, the difficult moments, and the downright bloody awful ones.

A life without friends is a lonely and boring one.

Tomorrow we remember those who died in 911 and the friends and families left behind. One way to remember those that are gone, is to cherish those still here.

So go on, hug a friend and tell them you love 'em. Warm fuzzies guaranteed.
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Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Misadventures of potty training

Today seemed like a good day to potty train my son. The birds were chirping happily outside, everyone was in a good mood, my coffee tasted unusually good.

All the signs pointed to it being the right time: my toddler not wanting me to change his diaper; him trying to assert his independence with so many things lately; him being almost 27 months; us having reached a reasonable level of communication; me being sick of changing fifteen diapers per day.

But. As the morning progressed, it became clear that my wonderful idea was actually a crap idea that was not going to work.

This is the series of events.

Monday night: I have good intentions of reading my potty training book of choice cover to cover. What happens instead is, I skim over it at 11 p.m. barely able to keep my eyes open.


Tuesday: realizing I probably should have read the damn book, I attempt to cajole my toddler to the potty with an array of positive words and encouraging sounds. His response is to ignore me and refuse to go near the potty.

The potty sits untouched.


Tuesday afternoon: Feeling defeated, I console myself by raiding the snacks purchased earlier for potty training purposes and tell myself I will try again tomorrow.



Tuesday night: I really read the book (at least the essential bits anyway).

Wednesday morning: I am prepared for action and armed with all the necessary props, treats and underwear. Success is surely imminent. Unfortunately I don't have a peeing doll, like the book suggests, so I make my own version by attaching a squirty bottle to the back of a stuffed bunny.


Impressed? Matthew was not.

10 a.m: Matthew watches my little bunny-using-potty demonstration with complete disdain and proceeds to rip the bottle from the bunny and squirt water all over the bathroom floor.

10:15 a.m: We discuss the idea that big boys don't need diapers, they need big boy pants. And by discuss, I mean, I explain this idea and he continues to squirt water all over the floor.

10:30 a.m: About an hour is spent learning to take underwear on and off, getting up and down from the potty, and sitting on the potty eating chocolates, reading books.

11 a.m: Matthew struts around in his new underwear, with me following him asking, every three minutes, "are you wet or dry?", which he ignores, instead asking me "where my truck?".

Some time later: Several accidents are had with no warnings or reactions, despite my efforts.

Some time later: I contemplate how much easier this would be with only one child to look after.

3 p.m: With not an ounce of luck, I realize Matthew is NOT ready for potty training and put away underwear and all potty training thingies.

And breathe.

There you have it. The end of potty training for now. I can tell it's not the right time. I have a feeling we'll try again in a few months and it will happen easily, when the time is right for him.
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Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Is it a bird? Is it a dildo? No, it's a mascara!

Every few months, cosmetic advertisers reveal some new make up product that's guaranteed to make your lashes longer, your lips fuller, your skin flawless, etc. All in aid of making big bucks. Oh what? Sorry, um, all in aid of making us more beautiful.

And every month I chuckle to myself because when it comes to advertising - especially of the cosmetic variety, I'm prone to extreme cynicism and distrust. Take mascara, for instance. Have you noticed how the models in the ads are wearing false eyelashes? FALSIES. Lies. It's insanity. INSANITY I tell you.

Last night, I watched a mascara ad that reached an all time high of comical proportions: VIBRATING MASCARA. Maybelline Pulse Perfection, to be more precise.

Transforms your lashes to perfection apparently. Vibrates 7,000 times per stroke. Mmm hmm.

Um. Is anyone else thinking what I'm thinking?

Let's see. It's long and cylindrical. It's for women. It vibrates.

Is this not a D.I.D.?

A Dildo In Disguise.

?

Anyway. Whatever.

I was thinking. Let's just cut the crap and make a mascara that does everything a woman wants. So, not being one to stop when it's appropriate, I have designed my own mascara.

It called the Supreme Perfection Vibratron 6000.






I'll let you know as soon as it's available in the stores.
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Sunday, September 6, 2009

Five Fashiony Things For Fall

Every year, as soon as September arrives, I begin thinking about fall clothes. I'm not usually one to invest lots of time or money in fashion, but something about fall has me faithfully sitting with a pumpkin spice latte in one hand and a notepad in the other, jotting down a very long and very unrealistic list of all the essential fall clothing items I will need for fall.

This year I've shortened my list down to five things I MUST HAVE.

1. Something furry. I have to admit, I have a thing for fur. Not real. And this year, it appears furry things are in all the stores. I'm in love with this fur vest by Mk2k, seen in September's issue of Marie Claire ($225). Yes I am. In love.


And H & M has this lovely soft cozy one for about $60.


2. A really good wool coat. There's nothing quite like the feeling of slipping on a really good, really well fitting winter coat. Instant stylishness.

This Escada wool coat is a teeny bit too expensive at almost $2000. But ooohhh aaahhhh. Look at the colour! So pretty.

For something equally stylish and less expensive, I always find Zara has a good selection of winter coats.

3. Flat Riding Boots. I don't know one woman who doesn't love boots. And I live in Calgary, which means that in about two months the streets will be slushy, slippery and generally disgusting. Not appropriate for any kind of heel. Not even half an inch of heel. So, I'm looking for a pair of flat riding boots. Stylish and practical.

These Ralph Lauren riding boots are lovely, but about $1000 more pennies than my purse has to offer.


These dressage riding boots from Urban Outfitters are under $200. Better.


4. Red Lipstick. I hardly ever wear lipstick - red or otherwise. I'm more of a lip gloss girl. But this fall I feel a red lipstick urge coming on. Ever get that?

I like this one: Nars Flame (Limited Edition from Sephora).


5. Long sleeved dress. A good dress is like the best wardrobe secret you'll ever discover. If you find a dress that fits you well and flatters your figure, you'll be so glad you spent the money.

I love the cut of this wrap dress from Banana Republic. Costs about $100. Not bad.

I also love this jersey turtleneck dress from Old Navy. And I love the price even more - only about $30.


There. Off you go. Shop. If you need any encouragement, just ask me along. I can persuade anyone they need to buy anything.

Images from marieclaire.com, urbanoutfitters.com, sephora.com, instyle.com, bananarepublic.gap.com, oldnavy.gap.com

Just to clarify, in case anyone has the absurd idea that anyone would pay me to talk about fashion: NO. All of the above are my completely free expert (cough) opinions.

I think all the prices noted here are USD, in case you were wondering.

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Saturday, September 5, 2009

Gadget boy : like father like son

... yes that is Cars he's watching.


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Thursday, September 3, 2009

Nope. Definitely not seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. Help?

Ever get that feeling - the one where you're not sure you're going to make it through okay? People tell you it's a phase, it'll pass. They tell you it'll get better. They assure you they've been through it and survived. And yet still, you can't help imagining the possibility that actually you might not survive and that this might be IT for the next 18 years.

My problem is twofold:

First, I'm sleep deprived. Have been for 8 months now. And as I'm sure you know, sleep deprivation has a nasty habit of making every problem, big or small, seem like a catastrophe. Like, the dog gets in my way and I'm yelling at him for deliberately trying to trip me up; I forget to respond to an email in a timely manner and I'm lying awake at 1 a.m. fretting; I forget something at the grocery store and I'm cursing my carelessness; I drop a spoon on the kitchen tile and the sound is like a drum in my ear; a small disagreement feels like a major argument.

Things are not being seen in a normal perspective.

My baby, who's almost eight months, still isn't sleep through the night. I'm not talking once-a-night wakings here. I'm talking three, four, five times a night, people. Not good. My braincells are waving farewell one by one and jumping out the window because they've had enough of floating around unstimulated in the empty cave where my functioning brain is supposed to live. And also, I really don't want the circles under my eyes to get any darker. There's only so much Touche Eclat can do folks.

This morning I tweeted about my sleepless frustration and Rachel from Really Rachel tweeted back, telling me she'd experienced the same thing and eventually turned to a method called controlled crying to get her daughter to sleep through the night. And, she said, it worked! She then wrote this post, detailing the technique. And tonight, I'm trying it out. Thank you Rachel! I'll let you know how I get on.

Second problem is my toddler's new pastime: throwing tantrums.

Matthew is one of those kids who makes parenting look easy. As a baby he was unusually content, hardly ever fussing, ate well, slept through the night at two months. Seriously. I thought I'd died and gone to baby heaven.

That's why, when the tantrum monster reared it's ugly head two weeks ago, J and I were shell shocked, gobsmacked and completely clueless as to what to do. We'd never had to read up on discipline, or google terrible twos. Completely unprepared were we.

Two weeks later, some helpful books, some advice, lots of googling, we're a little better equipped, but still fairly clueless. And my hair is beginning to turn grey and fall out. Okay not really but like I said, the sleep deprivation makes me do weird things and blow things out of proportion.

These are the two main problems:

1. Any time he doesn't get what he wants - whether it's a glass of chocolate milk or drawing on the dog with red ink - the someone-is-being-murdered-in-my-house screaming begins, and goes on at intervals like a banshee being rhythmically prodded with a spear.

2. Every diaper change is a wrestling match, - him writhing to escape, me trying to hold him down with one hand while changing him with the other, him wailing, me trying to keep calm and not doing a good job.

So basically, what we have here is one toddler frustrated at not being able to communicate and do the things he wants, when he wants, and one mother who has about this much patience left (imagine me demonstrating a very small amount with my thumb and forefinger).

So far I've done distractions, time outs, ignoring (when we're at home) and taking him home straight away if we're out in public or at someone's house.

I need advice people.

I know there are lots of experienced mums and dads out there that've been through this nightmare. And there's nothing better than real advice from real parents. Any two cents are welcome.

Anyone who says the terrible threes is worse than the twos immediately has their comment deleted. Just kidding, but please don't say it.

I need a light at the end of the tunnel.
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Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Causing Happiness

"Here's your Christmas present" said Daniel.

"Thanks." I said, taking the clumsily wrapped package from him. "I don't want to be your girlfriend anymore."

"Oh." He said. "Okay."

(I can hear you calling me a biatch down the interweb tubes y'know.)

I walked home, a five minute journey from school to my house, feeling ashamed and absolutely horrible and experiencing, for the first time, the emotional pain that was to do with hurting someone else.

I was nine. And although our childish boyfriend-girlfriend enactment wasn't real - how can it be at nine - that moment has stuck with me.

It's a peculiar thing - hurting people. Often it's done without intention: a passing remark is taken as a purposeful dig; an action is perceived as deliberately unkind; an inaction is seen as careless or cruel.

And when you think about it, there are so many ways you can hurt others, intentionally or unintentionally. I think about it a lot.


And then the light shone forth upon the land and she realized she needed to stop being so lame and do something about it.



Lately, instead of dwelling on the idea of hurt, I've been considering the opposite: thinking of ways I can make people happy.

Yes. Happy. Happiness. (Off topic but that reminds me, it really irritates me that that film with Will Smith is spelled The Pursuit of Happyness. Ack.)

One of things I plan to do is tell people why I love them. Because often I think about it, but I don't say it. And then I think, oh I must tell that person one day. Because it would mean a lot to them. And that day never seems to come. And one day it will be too late. And the thought of the hurt and guilt I'd feel for leaving it too late scares the crap out of me.

(Are you reaching for the tissues yet?)

It sounds obvious, simple, but how often in your life have you actually taken the time to think about and write down all the things you like and appreciate about someone close to you? Me - maybe never? (I suck)

And actually it's something I've learned from blogging - how much it means to be actually told you're good at something, or you make me laugh, or you've really made me think about this subject. To be actually told out loud, on paper, by email, or whatever. It means something.

For instance, recently I've been thinking about how much I love and respect my parents, and how, now that I have kids of my own, I understand and appreciate what they went through as parents. But I've never said it out loud - it's one of those things that's assumed, but not said.

I probably won't do it in person, or on the phone, because I'm not that brave. But I will record it on paper, because that's what I do better. And that way they'll have a record of it too.

What about you? Do you ever feel the need to spread the happiness (note correct spelling)?
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