Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Time to hit the pause button.

I've been trying to write this post for the last three days. Every time I sit down to type, something pops up and wrestles with me for my attention: the mountain of homework for my final massage therapy exams in two weeks (OMG); the kids and their different phases of needs and issues and things (currently potty training, God help us all); the neglected housework that for some illogical reason just keeps getting worse. Which, what the hell?

Thing is, life has been catching up with me lately, it's been mounting up behind me like a tidal wave. And now it's trampling all over me like a tidal wave combined with a giant herd of elephants.

And that's not nice. Even if you're superwoman. Which I am not.

I wish, wish, wish I had the time to write this blog as often or as well as I'd really like. But it's not an option for me right now.

Every time I write a post I feel like I'm failing to do something else. I'm taking away from time with my kids; I'm avoiding my studies; I'm putting off that run I've been promising myself for the past three months. Etc.

Something has to give, and for now, it's this.

I'll be back soon, when I can get my stuff together again.

Bye for now friends.

BIG cyber hug. xoxo.
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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Happy Three Darling Boy.

I unapologetically grab and kiss his cheeks every chance I get. He dances around the room, singing made-up songs about trucks and diggers, his blond hair falling in his eyes, and I can't take my eyes off of him. He is so incredibly beautiful.




We've come a long way this past year. It was only eighteen months ago that he learned to walk. Now he runs and leaps like he's had those legs for twenty years. His words flow into sentences, clearer and more fluent each day.

Some of his words are still adorably off base:
- Excabator (excavator)
- Noonles (noodles)
- Wuv (love)
- Banaboaf (buffalo / banana loaf)




Three is so much fun. We chat and giggle together. He'll sit quietly in my lap while I read him a story. He walks by my side at the grocery store. He climbs up into his car seat by himself. He talks on the phone with his Dad at work and his Nana overseas, casually holding the handset against his ear and wandering at the same time.




There are tantrums, but we prefer distractions. And the distractions are ample, now that he has a collection of favourite things: popsicles, jelly bears, chocolate chip cookies, ice cream, Bob the Builder, dinosaurs, excavators, bulldozers, garbage trucks, the girls next door, the park.

Happy Third Birthday, my darling boy.

To have you in our lives, watching you grow up, filling our lives with joy and happiness every day - that makes us the lucky ones.



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Monday, June 21, 2010

Are we a generation of over-informed parents?

One night after the kids had gone to bed, my three-year old son wandered into the living room where I was sitting, drinking tea and chatting with my Mum who was visiting from England.

"I don't want to go to bed, Mummy." He said, testing the waters.

Cute though he was in his stripy pajamas, I took him back to his room and tucked him into bed. He got up a few more times, and each time, I took him straight back. There's no messing with the bed time routine around here, because, well, we all know how sacred that quiet evening time is.

"You're more strict with your kids than we were with you and your brother." My Mum observed.

"Really?"

"I probably would have just let you stay up for a bit."

Thinking back to my own childhood, I realized it was true - it did seem like my parents were more laid-back than we are now.

"It's the bed time routine. It's set in stone." I joked. Only I wasn't joking.

We started this bed time routine when our first son was two months old, under the advice of the Baby Whisperer, since she seemed to know what she was talking about. It's one of many parenting books I read when we started our family, trying to figure out the right things to do.

My parents' generation didn't have access to the same abundance of information we're privileged with now. And I can't help but wonder if this all knowledge that's right there at our fingertips - the stuff that should make us feel better about our choices as parents - is instead making us more uptight.

It started when I was about six months pregnant with my first son: I had just left my job, and suddenly had all this time on my hands. As I began preparing for my baby, I came across mountains of information I didn't know about. There were books on natural birthing, books on breastfeeding, sleep training, nutrition, potty training, parenting boys, parenting kids with ADD. There were online forums for parents to discuss their issues. There were a thousand baby products that I might or might not need but which all looked very convincing.

I panicked. There was so much I didn't know and only a few months to learn it all. I started reading everything I could get my hands on. I bought books and magazines and read anything I could find online. I took a baby class (*cough* useless *cough*). The more information I found, the more overwhelmed and unprepared I felt.

By the time my son was born, I thought everyone including the mailman knew more about babies than me.

I was partially informed, but mostly terrified. And the excess of information was not helping.

It wasn't until my second pregnancy that I realized I'd spent too much time worrying about whether I was doing what the books said I should be doing, and not enough time trusting my own instincts.

These days, everything we want or need to know is seconds away. We can brush up on anything from the minute we decide to get pregnant to the time our kids leave for university and everything in between. And all without even taking a step outside our homes.

Our parents' generation didn't have the same sources of knowledge we have now. For one, they didn't have the Internet (imagine - the horror!), and they didn't have the enormous variety of books we have now. There's hardly a parenting topic left unpublished these days.

They didn't have baby monitors, diaper genies, Bumbos, organic swaddling blankets or strollers with more technology than a Ferrari.

And somehow, we survived!

Also, have you noticed how, when you ask your parents what they used for car seats, they never give you a straight answer?

Sometimes I wonder whether my parents' generation was simply better off without this wealth of information.

Maybe not, but still, it's a thought.

Don't get me wrong - I'm grateful for all the useful things I can find on my book shelves and computer. I'm glad I can find a nutritious family-friendly recipe in three minutes, chat with friends on Facebook and Twitter, look up what constitutes a dangerously high fever at 3 am., or buy the latest organic baby shampoo from Europe from my sofa.

But, sometimes I wish I could switch it the hell off and instead just listen to what my head is telling me.

Sometimes I wonder if all this readily-available information is turning us into a generation of control-freak parents, obsessed with always knowing everything there is to know about everything. Or is it just me? Maybe this is just the raving of a very tired woman with too many books on her shelves and too many bookmarks on her browser.

What do you think?
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Thursday, June 17, 2010

Chasing dinosaurs.

Living in Southern Alberta is quite handy when you have two dinosaur-loving sons. Because just up the road is the Royal Tyrell Museum, a seriously impressive dinosaur museum.

We set off early, telling the boys we were going to meet some dinosaurs. Matthew looked dubious, but went with it.

The thing about the Tyrell Museum, is that it's located in a town called Drumheller, two hours north east of Calgary. And I'm not kidding when I tell you that around every corner is a life-sized dinosaur statue.

So, as we pulled into town and rounded the corner to meet this guy, the boys were somewhat awe-struck.



And just to put the size of this beast into perspective...


The Tyrell Museum is magnificent. And if you have the time to wander around the exhibitions and take in all the interesting facts and sights, I'm sure you could learn a lot.


Us? We were with our two under three. And so it was more of a dash-from-one-gallery-to-another while trying to prevent small hands from grabbing bones and fossils.


In the end, the places we spent the most amount of time?

The gift shop... Ahem.


The giant play structure outside...


And basically just chasing dinosaurs all over town.


Because when you're visiting with kids, that's what you do.


This post was not sponsored by the Tyrell Museum, just an account of our trip there.

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Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Maybe it's because we're us.

Three years ago today, we went to the hospital and sat in triage, waiting to find out if our first son was to be born on your birthday. We were so disappointed to find out it wasn't to be. And not because that was our third false alarm and the maternity unit nurses were beginning to know us on a first-name basis.

We were as excited as teenagers on a first date that day, thrilled and scared in equal measures at the idea of becoming parents. And though we knew nothing about babies, somehow we knew we'd be okay. It's the kind of certainty that only comes when something is really good and really real to begin with.

And we were okay. So okay, in fact, that we were back there, in that same triage ward, eighteen months later, tapping our fingers and strolling up and down the corridors in anticipation of our second son.

We've always been much more than okay.

I think it's because we can still laugh together until our stomachs hurt.

And because, when you're gone, I miss you as much as that time nine years ago when you went away for that month-long road trip with your brother.

And that jointly, we've learned to breathe through the difficult times and not let them overwhelm us (or maybe we've increased our drinking tolerance?).

And maybe because being married to me guarantees free massages for life? Heh.

And because there are so many reasons, I'd have to type all day to list them.

Happy Birthday my sweet.



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Monday, June 14, 2010

If I had ten dollars, I'd buy you a curtain rail.

Dear Shopper's Drug Mart,

I've been sitting here, in my pajamas, wondering what, exactly, you meant by the title question of the email you sent me.

"What would you do with $10?"


Did you leave off a zero? Did you mean, what would I do with $100? Or maybe $1000?

Because, you know, $10 barely buys half a potato these days.

I wasn't sure, so I checked again in case there was, in fact, an error. But no, looks like you really meant $10.



I wouldn't usually do this, but since I'm feeling generous today, I've made a list for you, of the things I'd do with $10. I assume you want a response, since you did ask me.

* With a whopping ten bucks, I'd get an eighth of a haircut. I like a choppy style.

* With ten shiny dollars, I'd go to a restaurant, fill up on lobster ravioli and Chardonnay, wave my $10 at the waiter as my only compensation, and then proceed to do the washing up for the entire restaurant.

* With ten loonies I'd buy shares in gold. That should get me a pin head.

* With a mighty ten dollars, I would buy four of these stupendous phone fingers.



* With ten gold coins, I'd call one of those 1-800 psychic numbers for a 30-second reading.

* With ten big ones, I'd take a sky-diving course. Though ten dollars might not afford me the parachute - just a shove out the plane.

* With ten whole dollars, I'd go down to my local bank and ask them to convert it to quarters, then I'd spend the afternoon playing the slot machines at a casino.


Yours sincerely,
Lady Mama.
p.s. can I have my $10 now please?


What would YOU do with $10? (no serious answers allowed)


This blog post was brought to you by too much coffee and sarcasm.
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Sunday, June 13, 2010

Did I mention, thank you?

Reading through the responses to my whiny, ambivalent post about whether to do the second year of my course, I was overcome with a big, fuzzy bubble of gratitude for the words of encouragement and support.

I realized, I've seldom said thank you for your comments.

You know, like, out loud. Not just in the comments section, or in an occasional email or tweet to someone. But a great big public thank you.

So...

THANK YOU!!!

(that was the biggest font I could do!)

I appreciate the thoughtful, witty, intelligent and hilarious things you write here. Truly.

And yes, I also appreciate the occasional kick-up-the-behind-what-the-hell-are-you-thinking-woman comment, too.



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Thursday, June 10, 2010

My dog needs a weight reduction plan and a life coach.

Yesterday J took Bongo to the vet.

This is Bongo: part Australian Shepherd, part Border Collie, part something unknown. One eye is brown, the other, green. He is slightly OCD about birds and balls and sheds way too much hair during the summer months.


He has an owie on his foot.

Oh. Excuse me, I need to switch to adult talk. Too many hours spent talking baby.

What I meant to say is, his thumb nail got caught in something (do dogs have thumb nails?), causing it to tear part way off and little red drops of blood to shed in a trail on the floor and him to limp around feeling sorry for himself for a couple of days.

Me, being the mean one, was willing to let the nail fall off. Or, rip it off and let the paw heal by itself.

J, being the nice one, promptly took Bongo to the vet before I could formulate any other solutions.

The vet ripped the sucker right off, and now Bongo is sporting a fancy little bandage and hobbling around the house looking woeful.

Bongo looking sad with his bandaged paw.



But, what was far more disturbing than the ripping off of the nail, was what the vet told J.

"She said Bongo is overweight."

"What?" I shrieked, protectively. I may be a mean Mum, but he's still my baby dog. "What does she mean overweight?"

I inspected Bongo for excess pudge but could see none.

"Apparently she should be able to feel his lower ribs easily, and she couldn't."

"That's ridiculous. Who wants to be able to find ribs easily? Easily-found ribs mean starvation."

"She says he should be getting one-and-a-half to two cups of dog food per day."

"That's absurd."

"Why?"

"Because right now I give him five or six cups, plus tidbits."

J spits out drink.

"What did you say? How much? What?"

"He likes to eat!" I protested. "He needs food! He's always hungry! It's not my fault!"

It's true. That's how it goes in this house - he eats the food in his bowl, I refill it. There's leftovers, I give them to him. I'm chopping something in the kitchen and he stands beside me staring with his big, doleful eyes, I cave.

I guess I have to resist the temptation to cave and overfeed him, as my motherly instincts would have me do.

Because, not enough exercise + too many snacks = lardy dog with unfindable ribs.

Time for a doggy diet.
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Wednesday, June 9, 2010

I'd have to be energetic, gutsy and a little insane to consider it...

I have to make a decision.

Six months ago I started a course in massage therapy. To be completely honest, at the time, I wasn't sure whether I was going to adore it. I just had a good feeling about it, and I knew I wanted to do something involving alternative therapies and helping people directly.

I signed up, paid my fee and turned up to class wearing entirely the wrong outfit for a therapist.

But, I'm a screw-it-I've-made-my-mind-up-and-I'm-going-to-do-this-thing-dammit kind of person, and so I threw myself into it.

Thankfully, I've loved every minute of it. So much so, that I'm kicking myself in the shin (not too hard, those muscles need protecting) for not doing this ten years ago.

And, while I've enjoyed being in education again, it's been a ten-ton-elephant load of work. Which would be fine if I was 21, with no kids and no where else to be and nothing to worry about. But, as other student-parents will attest, it takes a slightly crazy person with a lot of energy to parent small kids while studying and working at the same time.

I have two months to go, and then I'm finished.

Whoo!

Except, maybe not.

Because now I'm considering doing the second year...

To explain:

First year teaches the basics (anatomy, physiology, pathology), and how to do relaxation (Swedish) massage.

Second year teaches therapeutic massage. Which means I'd be able to treat patients with sports injuries, motor vehicle injures and certain medical conditions. I'd be able to work with physicians, chiropractors and physiotherapists. I could even teach massage therapy.

In other words, with the second year I'd be fully qualified and able to do the more interesting work.

But...

(Here begin the whiny excuses.)

But if I do the second year, I'll have A WHOLE OTHER YEAR of school, homework, exams, practicum... The thought of it is making me sweat.

But if I don't do the second year now, I might never get around to it, and might never get those important qualifications to do the interesting stuff...

But if I do second year now, I won't be finished until July 2011...

But if I don't do second year there's a chance I might kick myself really hard in the shin...

But...

But...

.............

???

Halp?

Excuse me now while I go dip my head in a bowl of icy water to alleviate the pangs of stress.

I need some encouragement here folks.




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Sunday, June 6, 2010

They'll no longer have to use the drainpipe as a slide.

It was evident our kids needed some kind of playset for the back garden.

Matthew, the poor deprived boy, was using the handle bar of his wagon as a slide...

And the legs of innocent visitors...

And the sofa as a climbing frame...

It was all a bit distressing.

So, finally, we succumbed. We purchased one of those do-it-yourself climbing frame/slide/swing sets that look more complex to put together than an Ikea kitchen.

Everyone got to work, assembling the playset. Matthew pitched in, armed with his hard had and drill.


They workers laboured industriously to get the structure up.

But, as is the way in Calgary, it started to snow. In May. So the construction of the playset went on hold.


And then finally, this weekend, since the snow was gone and the sun had decided to make an appearance, the workers went back to their assignment and the playset was finally finished. Stairs, slide, swings and all. A veritable paradise for little boys.




And everyone lived happily ever after.

Except Mummy, who wants to know where her playset is.
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Thursday, June 3, 2010

An excuse a day keeps the doctor away.

About three years ago I meant to make an appointment with my family doctor for something which I can no longer remember. And then I put it off, and delayed it, and then I had a baby, and then had another baby, and then just never went to the doctor at all - apart, of course, from the routine pre- and post-baby-prodding-and-poking appointments.

The trouble with putting off appointments is all the medical issues that pile up, like a basket of smelly, mismatched socks. Or something.

So after three years of putting it off because of not having enough time / being a terrible procrastinator / plain forgetting / other lame excuses, I finally called my doctor's office to make an appointment.

The conversation went like this:

"Hello, I'd like to make an appointment with Doctor Fix-A-Lot*."
(*not her real name)

"What is the appointment for?"

"Well, a few things... two, or three, or maybe four things? How many things can we cover in one appointment?"

"Um, it depends what they are. What are they?"

"Okay, first, I have a planter's wart on my foot."

"Mm hmm. So we''ll need nitrous oxide."

"Second, I need to have the varicose veins on my leg looked at, and I need to have that injection thingy they do to get rid of them."

"Okay..."

"And third, I'm about six months overdue my pap smear."

"Oh..."

"And also, I've noticed some gray hairs recently, which just can't be right, because, y'know, I'm only 31."

Silence.

Okay I didn't really say that.

"Hold on please, we'll need to schedule more than one appointment for all this..."

And she went to find some spaces in her calendar.

I think by September 2011 I should be good.
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Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Goodnight 7 o'clock.

7 o'clock is like lottery-winning-time in my house. Every night, after dinner, after baths, after story time and teeth brushing, the magical hour rolls around and the boys go to bed. And as the clock strikes 7, we crack open a bottle of champagne and have a party. Or, in the real universe, we breath a deep sigh of relief, and begin the process of winding down for the evening.

It's like biting into a bar of chocolate after a month-long chocolate fast.

It's like the first few seconds as you slip into a hot bath.

It's like a glass of red wine after a really long day.

It's like being told... go ahead and take a few hours to yourself.

It's my magical, happy, sparkly hour.

And it was all good and fine and reliable, until about a week ago, when my preschooler did the unthinkable: ten minutes after we put him to bed, he got up, opened his door, wandered into the living room in his pajamas and told us, plainly, "I don't want to go to bed."

I thought it was pretty cute, at first. I let him sit beside me on the sofa, watching TV. Then we read a book. And another. Still, he wasn't ready for bed. And then 8 o'clock came around, and I realized my precious, sacred evening time was evaporating.

My precious...! (insert voice of goblin creature from Lord of the Rings)

And then, despite my attempts to convince him that actually, he really did want to go to bed, that bed was, in fact, a wonderful, cozy, brilliant place, he wouldn't go.

After the third night of this, I realized my 7 o'clock was a thing of the past. I sobbed, internally, and then sucked it up. Because, well, they grow up, I guess.

Goodbye, 7 o'clock, my love.

I will miss you.

p.s. 8 o'clock? You will never replace my 7.
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