Bored Housewives Network

Getting through the day, one bonbon at a time.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Progress, Eureka!

It seems like my world has changed so much since Nile has become a toddler. The changes have been huge and I have been finding myself quite often feeling very overwhelmed.

My baby is loud. He is expressive and creative and wonderful and fun and smart and did I mention, loud? I personally really adore his exuberance and enthusiasm for life. But it has gotten us into a spot of trouble on several occasions. While we were in Mexico we were literally attacked by an uptight (obese & toothless) American man in a restaurant who responded to Nile's happy shrieking by requesting that we "Shut him up or get the hell out". (We had the misfortune of running into the same man again on the beach the following day where he proceeded to lecture me on how I was raising a monster). It was pretty traumatic.
And back at home in Canada we have been harshly scolded by restaurant staff on more than one occasion for Nile's inability to do anything quietly. He's just a loud, excitable little guy.

I've been really conflicted lately as to how to handle this situation. On one hand I want him to behave "appropriately" when we are out in public. But on the other hand I want to honor the fact that he is two and not squash his joyful expression. Either way, I have been feeling really stressed out and judged lately and find myself always looking over my shoulder expecting someone to attack me for my parenting.

I hit rock bottom last weekend when I took Nile to a child-friendly Earth Day dance performance / celebration. I made sure to sit in an aisle seat so he could move freely and dance if the mood struck him. As soon as the lights dimmed and the dancing began Nile began to chatter loudly about what he was seeing, "Mamma! ladies dancing!!". He was loving it, but I was immediately stressed and concerned that he must be bothering someone. Before long he was dancing in the aisles, body-slamming himself into neighboring seats and climbing the stairs to the stage. I was completely and utterly paranoid that it was only a matter of time before someone decided to confront me for his wild behavior. Try as I might I could not get him to comply with my requests to sit down and watch the show quietly. (I should mention that although it was a child-friendly event and there were many kids of all ages there, Nile was the only one dancing wildly and talking loudly. Most of the other kids were on their parents laps happily watching the performance).

I had so many manic thoughts running through my mind: Why can't I control my child?...Why can't he just enjoy this like a "normal" kid? Why is he the only one behaving this way? What is wrong with him? What is wrong with me? (*note to anyone who might think I'm being over-dramatic: I wasn't always like this, but our run-ins with irate people have really put me on edge*).

Nile's wild antics resulted in me not being able to enjoy any of the performances because I was too busy trying to control his behavior and worrying what everyone was thinking of us. It was a really stressful evening. I got home and broke down into tears from the frustration and the worry. I felt awful and I realized then & there that I needed a parenting strategy, pronto. My days of freestyle parenting were over.

For the past several months I have subscribed to a daily parenting email called 'The Daily Groove" by a wonderful man named Scott Noelle. I have always loved his outlook and advice. It's based in NVC (non-violent communication), which is something that our family has been really getting into over the past year. We love it and really believe in it. In addition to the "Daily Groove" Emails, Noelle also has a great website and he also offers very reasonably priced telephone coaching for parents who are in a rut or experiencing a crisis - like me! So, at the urging of my dear friend, Sabrina, who has used his coaching service in the past and strongly recommended it, I called Scott and set up an appointment.

This is already getting to be a pretty long post, so I won't go into all the details & particulars of our session. But I will say that is was very helpful and I would really suggest him to anyone who is in need of a little parental inspiration. He was able to really shift my perspective on my situation and diffuse a great deal of the fear and frustration I was experiencing. It's been a few days since the consultation and I am feeling really inspired and hopeful.

Noelle advocates creating a "child-honoring" space for our kids as opposed to constantly forcing them to conform to the rules of our grown-up world. One of the biggest gems that I took from our conversation was his suggestion to approach each incident of "difficult" behavior by asking, "What is wonderful about this?". I know that this sounds really touchy-feely, but I am really beginning to believe in it.

Here's a real-life example, the other day Nile found a full watering can in the bathroom and proceeded to "water" the bathroom floor. I asked him to stop, but he ignored me and headed out towards the rest of the house to continue his mission. At that moment I began to feel really frustrated and aggravated with the mess, the disobedience, the entire situation. My instinct was to snatch the watering can away & clean up the mess. But I stopped to ask myself, what is wonderful about this? The answer: Water is wonderful and Nile is discovering that right now. He is curious and playful and having fun experiencing what will happen when you wander around the house with a watering can. Looking at it from this perspective (his perspective) I was immediately able to shift my energy from being annoyed and snappy to being a co-creator in his experience. I scooped him and the watering can up and transferred them both to the garden where he could continue to explore and have fun with the water.

This may seem like a no-brainer to a more highly-evolved mamma, but prior to my conversation with Scott I was finding myself constantly getting stuck between satisfying my own needs (ie: a clean, dry house) and my son's need to be a curious, fun-seeking toddler. It truly felt like an impossible conundrum.

I feel so much lighter and more optimistic knowing that there is a middle ground and I'm slowly learning how to walk it.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

"A place to share sad secrets"

I’m pregnant. But at the same time, I’m not.

My body is currently housing an approximately seven-week-old embryo. But that embryo’s heart has stopped beating, probably just a few days ago, or so the ultrasound technician tells me. So right now, I’m in limbo till an appointment with my doctor in a few days, where we’ll talk about next steps. By “next steps” I mean “how we will get this dead embryo out of me.”

I don’t know why that last paragraph came out sounding so clinical. I don’t feel clinical. But I keep mentally approaching this subject from different angles, and it’s hard to find words to talk about it. I feel disappointed. I feel very, very sad. But I feel like there’s some aspect of this that I’m not feeling. Or else I’m feeling it, but because I don’t have words for it, I don’t know what I’m feeling.

I thought I’d be better at this – that I’d be more self-aware, or more capable and efficient at managing my grief -- this time around. Because this isn’t the first miscarriage I’ve experienced. I was pregnant once before Sam, and that pregnancy failed at around five weeks, something I didn’t find out till a couple of weeks later. Both miscarriages are alike in that I never experienced any of the warning signs: cramping, spotting, or bleeding. Both times I thought I was pregnant right up till the moment an ultrasound tech told me otherwise.

I hate ultrasounds, by the way. Though I feel huge sympathy for the people who perform them. What a shitty job.

Both of these miscarriages are similar in another way. Both times, I felt an acute, unaccountable, unshakeable sense that something was wrong. I didn’t feel this way when I was pregnant with Sam. That’s kind of weird, don't you think?

When I miscarried three years ago, it was at a time when I wasn’t doing any personal writing. I didn’t write about the experience, and by extension, I didn’t talk about it. I was really messed up for a long time, and I think that my silence was the reason why. So I’ve decided to be more forthcoming this time around.

When I think about why I was so quiet, a few reasons come to mind:
  • Being a private person by nature (which sounds weird coming from someone who writes about their life on the internet, but some of you other bloggers will know what I’m talking about)
  • Feeling ashamed and embarrassed
  • Thinking that by talking about it, I was “dwelling on it” and therefore “not getting over it” – and I desperately wanted to get over it
  • Not wanting to be a downer for other people
In retrospect, most of these reasons seem stupid or, to be a bit kinder to myself, ill-conceived (no pun intended). I don’t know what I was ashamed or embarrassed about. And it became patently obvious that not talking about it wasn’t making me feel better, so I should’ve ditched that strategy early on. And I don’t know why I worried so much about whether other people – especially my closest friends – would consider me a pill for being a tad depressed over the greatest loss I’d ever experienced.

This last point still sticks with me. It seems like I was doing my friends a huge disservice in assuming they would get tired of me and my sadness. I wonder why I wasn’t able to give people the greater benefit of the doubt. Especially since, both then and now, my friends have been universally wonderful – thoughtful, concerned, helpful, touchingly sympathetic, and offering their willing ears any time I want to talk or cry.

It also seems like, in being so quiet, I was doing other women a disservice. There’s so much silence around this subject, so few personal stories, that the statistic that one out of every five (or four, or three, depending on which source you cite) pregnancies ends in miscarriage feels like just that: a statistic. And while, yeah, I usually tend to find a certain amount of comfort in statistics, this one feels a bit hollow. (Actually, I feel completely detached from this particular statistic. When the miscarriage stat for the general population is 20 percent, and your own personal stat is 66.6 percent, you can see where the disconnect happens.)

So now, belatedly, I’m going to make my first miscarriage story part of the public record. I’ll totally understand if you want to stop reading at this point. And don’t feel guilty if you need to stop reading! I want my story to help the people who need it. If it can’t do anything positive for you, please, please don’t feel obligated to trudge through it. Also, this story gets somewhat graphic, so it’s not for the squeamish.

My husband and I decided to start trying to have a baby at the very beginning of 2004, and we were shocked and excited when we got lucky on the very first cycle of trying. In mid-February, when I was only about four or five weeks pregnant, I started to experience sharp pains in my lower abdomen. My pregnancy with Sam later taught me that these were just run-of-the-mill pregnancy pains from my uterus and ligaments stretching, but at the time I was paranoid about ectopic pregnancy, so I had an ultrasound that showed a yolk sac but no embryo, which was to be expected at the time.

At about the same time, my doctor, slightly concerned by my “weak” pregnancy test and minimal symptoms, scheduled a series of blood tests to measure my HCG (pregnancy hormone) levels. I had blood drawn every two days for a week, and at first things didn’t look so great, but then they seemed to pick up and we were all cautiously optimistic. My doctor scheduled another ultrasound at seven weeks. And this was when we found out that the fertilized egg hadn’t progressed past the fifth week. This is called a “blighted ovum” in some circles, though my doctor made a point of telling me this isn’t a medically recognized term. I’m still not sure why she was adamant about this.

At that point, I was told that I had three options:
  • I could wait for my body to miscarry naturally.
  • I could have a D&C.
  • Or I could opt to try an at-home procedure using a vaginal suppository called misoprostol, which would induce miscarriage.
I opted for Plan A, which seemed the most “natural” to me at the time. Also, in Vancouver, you can’t just schedule a D&C. You have to show up at the hospital without an appointment and put yourself on a waiting list, and then wait in the emergency room, possibly for hours, until they can squeeze you in for the procedure. I didn’t seriously consider misoprostol at the time, because I didn’t know anything about it and because I’d been warned that inducing a miscarriage could be much more painful than having one naturally, in much the same way that induced labour can be more painful than non-induced.

So I waited to miscarry naturally. And I waited. And waited. I’ve never realized how long a mere couple of weeks can feel. During this time, I couldn’t think about anything but this misstarted life, this failure of my body not just to create a healthy new life but to reject an unhealthy one, and my growing need to just get this phase of things over with so that I could start over.

After two weeks of my body stubbornly holding onto this poor little failed egg with no sign of letting go, I was done waiting and, not wanting to endure a hospital visit, ready to skip Plan B and move right to Plan C, the misoprostol. I received a prescription from my doctor and picked it up at my neighbourhood pharmacy, trying not to wonder if the pharmacist was looking at me pityingly or not.

But in my fuzzy-headed haste to finally get things going, I misread the instructions. Believing that it would take hours for the misoprostol to work, I inserted it just before bedtime, assuming it would start working at some time the next morning. And of course I started feeling the first cramps about an hour later. At the time, I remember thinking, ‘How bad can cramps get?’ The answer is, pretty bad. Pretty horrific, actually. In fact, in comparing them to labour contractions, with labour being a ten out of ten on the pain scale (note: I’m not saying that labour is an absolute ten on the entire spectrum of pain; I’m just creating a basis for comparison), these were about an eight-and-a-half. Maybe a nine. And of course, since this whole experience seems to be a testament to Murphy’s Law, it was by now well after midnight and the strongest painkiller we had in the house was extra-strength ibuprofen. For some reason, too, I had this stupid idea that I shouldn’t wake up my husband, who had a big day at work the next day. (He’s still incredulous at this bit of reasoning, and again I’m left to wonder what purpose I saw in trying to be stoic and keep my pain away from other people.) So from about midnight until 7am, I paced the house, moaning quietly and making frequent pit stops to the bathroom, where I’d rock back and forth on the toilet, still moaning. Finally, when it was getting light out and I was completely exhausted, the worst of it seemed to be over. I went to bed and slept most of the day.

From this point, all I wanted was to have a normal period, after which my doctor told me I’d be ready to try to conceive again. So I waited. And waited some more. Weeks passed. A month. Another month. Nothing happened. During this time, I became horribly depressed, something I didn’t realize until after it was over. I didn’t want to see people. I would go to work, then come home and stay in until it was time to go to work again. I only ate what I needed to for sustenance. I slept a lot. At one point, I booked a last-minute trip for my husband and I to Cuba, thinking it would be therapeutic. We were there for two weeks, and I hardly remember anything about it. Now, when we look at the pictures from that trip, which we generally feel strangely disinclined to do, we realize how sad and lost we look.

I became obsessed with the fact that I needed to become pregnant again, that it was the only thing that would pull me out of this terrible, empty place I was in. And once again I felt that my body had failed me in refusing to let me do even this.

In late May, which marked ten weeks of waiting for my long-lost menstrual cycle, we were invited to stay with friends at their family chalet in Whistler. Thinking that it would be good to get out of the house, we agreed and made what we hope was a valiant effort to be charming houseguests. And of course, invoking Murphy’s Law yet again, THIS was the weekend my period decided to return. With a vengeance. If by “vengeance” you mean “a horrible gush of blood and tissue that soaked my pants all the way down to my shoes.” In front of everyone. Thank god these were some of my closest friends, is all I can say. I ran to the washroom, where I stayed for the next eight hours, pretty much repeating the misoprostol-induced experience of two and a half months ago. When I later described this incident to my doctor, she said that it sounds like I’d only had a partial miscarriage earlier, and that my body had decided to wait a while for the sequel.

My body is kind of a dick.

It’s taken me longer than I’d expected to tell all this, so I’ll try to wrap things up quickly and on a positive note. My normal period returned. After just a couple of cycles of (admittedly tense and rather joyless) reproductive sex, we conceived again, this time with the healthy little bundle of fun we later came to know as Sam. And believe it or not, I managed not to be a basket case. (Well, I was kind of a basket case until that first ultrasound; see above re: hating ultrasounds.) In fact, at around the twelve-week mark I developed this semi-unflappable Zen calm about the entire pregnancy. I take no responsibility for this, and am perfectly willing to assign full credit to shiny-happy pregnancy hormones. Which, let me tell you, after suffering from what, in retrospect, was probably a full-on case of clinical depression for five months, was like winning a trip to Club Med with my own personal cabana boy.

The only residual effect (I thought at the time) of this experience on my pregnancy is that, when I did go into labour, I had a very negative emotional reaction to the pain of contractions. I wonder if this had anything to do with the fact that they were so similar to the pain of miscarrying. At any rate, I was very happy with the noble efforts of my friend, Mr. Anesthesiologist, and my labour experience was actually pretty first-rate, as such things go.

I'm now realizing there are other residual effects, and I'm still trying to sort them out, which is why I'm writing this.

There are as many different miscarriage stories as there are birth stories. This one is mine. In a few seconds, I'm about to hit the "Publish" button, and I'm more nervous and anxious about it than I expected to be. If you’ve read this far, you have my undying gratitude. If I’ve caused you any sadness, I’m sorry. If I’ve helped you, I’m glad. If you've been grossed out, well, that's your problem, dude.

If you want to read a more cogent discussion of miscarriage, there's an excellent epistolary piece from Slate's archives, called "Motherhood Lost", that my wonderful friend Libby found for me. Reading it has helped me. At the conclusion of the series of letters, one of the writers thanks the other for creating a "place to share sad secrets" online. I liked that idea, and that expression, so I used it in this post title.

*As an interesting footnote to this post, and on the subject of silence, when I was typing this entry in Word, it was interesting to note how Word’s dictionary didn’t recognize many of the negative words surrounding pregnancy: words like “ectopic” and “misoprostol”. (You could argue that the last is a drug and can be excused for being omitted, but try typing “penicillin” or “Viagra” or “lithium” into Word and see what happens.) Funny.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Is your toddler...?

Is your toddler... obsessed with the story Jack and the Beanstalk (but secretly you don't mind, because now you can always get him to eat beans by telling him they're magical)?

Does your toddler... refuse to call his or her father "Daddy", "Papa" or even the more distinguished "Pater", instead choosing to refer to him as "White Guy" (or "Blue Guy" or "Red Guy" or "Black Guy", depending on the colour of his shirt)?

Does your toddler... hold treats temptingly close to the dog's face and then say loudly, "No Dobbs, that's Sam's cracker!"

Is your toddler... impervious to your frequent slips into full-on swearing, except for that one time you said "Oh my!" which has now become his or her favourite exclamation?

Does your toddler... make the fakest laugh imaginable every time you point out that something is funny?

Does your toddler... know they can sucker you into letting them use markers if they ask you if they can "Use mawkahs make cawd foy Mummy?" (Translation: Use markers to make a card for Mummy?)

Speaking of which... does your toddler call you "Mummy"? Because suddenly you're either British or you've been locked up in a sarcophagus for three thousand years?

Is your toddler... cracking you up daily with new tricks? Share!

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Things I'm Loving Lately

The Gruffalo.
I love this book! My sister-in-law brought it over for Nile when she visited from the UK last summer. It's a favorite of Nile's and mine, too. The people who wrote it also have several other kids books, but I like this one the best.

The Learning Tower.
I love this thing! I just did a post on my blog about it... it's a neat little gadget that you put up against the counter in your kitchen & your child climbs in to be up at your level. Since we got it it's been a lot easier to get dinner prepared or dishes washed because he is able to be participating with me helping out or playing with play dough (as opposed to squawking on the floor for my attention). It's really great.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Hold me. I'm scared.

I'm not the only person who -- when confronted with a 22-month-old who pitches a one-day nap strike, with ensuing erratic behaviour for the rest of the day, culminating in a bedtime tantrum from hell -- says to herself, "That's it. Toddlerdom is here. Game over, man. Game over."

Or am I?

Can any of you been-there-done-that folks reassure me? This is just a 24-hour aberration, right? Things will go back to normal tomorrow? Or has a year of the (relatively) easy life with a happy-go-lucky kid made me soft?

Friday, February 16, 2007

grad school, ho!

Possibly I am going to grad school, like going on a journey. Or maybe I mean I am a ho for grad school. Or maybe it’s both!

They are also giving me money. Delicious grad school money!

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Yea Anne Marie! Too right!

We were trying to teach Rian Texas Hold 'Em... poker face eh?!

Aw, but he cheered up at the Aquarium - great picture that his Nanna took!

Saturday, February 10, 2007

It's a mad, mad, mad, mad, mad toddler world

Heh. Anne-Marie, you've shamed me into posting for the first time in I don't know how long. Thanks for the kick in the butt! I've been anything but a bored housewife, and not a whole lot is new with Sam, other than one thing...

Is anyone else's toddler practising his or her tantrum skills? Sam hasn't had any real tantrums, other than one post-vaccination blowout, but every so often I catch him in the middle of doing his homework assignment for The Theory and Practice of Whining 101. I finally managed to catch the tail end of one of these sessions on video.

Note that there was absolutely no catalyst for this little incident, and there's no real emotion behind it. He clearly hasn't committed to the role.

And notice how he stops as soon as he notices me taping him? What gives? A few seconds later, I rolled the camera again, and he's all nonchalant, like, What? Me? I'm just sitting here eating toast and minding my own business. Nothing to see here.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Oh where, oh where, have the Bored Housewives gone?

Oh where oh where could they beeeeee????

it's been too long since anyone's posted any fresh bitching, moaning and complaining! I know a few of you are pregnant again - you must have aches and pains you can share with us! And Kris - tell us more about the real estate market on the Sunshine Coast and Nelson! And Dopps, how's that Sam of yours? Libby - how was the yoga retreat????

News ladies, I want some news!!!

Cyber hugs,

p.s. we are well - (my) Sam's a nutbar these days; chat chat chat all day long. Tonight I made the bath a teensy wee bit too hot - he spent the rest of the night reminding me "mama bath too hot. Mama bath too hot." Way to make me feel guilty.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Severe Posting Lapse

I credit Melissa with getting me back over to BHN to catch up on what i've missed. I posted in the comments section to her recent post, but i'm expecting #2 as well. I'm due at the end of March so i'm actually heading into the homestretch. I can't believe that starting next week i start to go to the Dr. every two weeks from now on. This pregnancy has passed pretty quickly-- although i'm already gigantic and just can't imagine what i'll look like in 3 more months!

One cool thing is two other friends that live near me are pregnant with their first babies and are due slightly before and slightly after me. I'm really hoping it helps me get out of the house once all the babies are here, and i've really enjoyed being a resource for all their questions. In fact i'm doing what i'm calling an "e-roundtable" for all of them. It involves me and another good friend (mom of two) laying out our two cents/what worked for us on a specifc topic each week. After we provide our little overview, we'll be available to answer questions from everyone on the topic all week. At the end of the roudtable i'll gather everything into a word doc and send it out so people have it as a reference.

These are the topics i've come up with so far, am i missing anything?

  • Baby Gear—How much stuff does this baby really need and what kind of stuff should I do/have on hand before the baby arrives?
  • Feeding—What are the nuts and bolts of breast and formula-feeding?
  • Sleeping—What should I expect regarding sleep, can I do anything to help my baby sleep better?
  • Taking Care of Mom—How do you find time for yourself, what are coping strategies for dealing with the new baby, what are warning signs of post-partum depression?
  • Partner Relationships—How does having a baby change your relationship to your partner, what can you expect, what can you do to help you grow into being parents?
  • Labor and Delivery—Natural, medicated, fast, slow—what to expect in labor and how to have the best birth you can.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Oops, I did it again

I know, I don't post for months, but when I do, I have big news: A is going to be a big sister! I'm due in June.

Is anyone else thinking about #2 or am I the only crazy one?

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Multi Media Holiday Spirit

The other night we were decorating the Christmas tree and I was struggling to get the lights in place. Nile was getting impatient and demanding some of my attention. I told him that if he could wait a few minutes and let me put the lights on the tree it would be really pretty and he would love it. When I was finally done I plugged in the lights and asked if he liked it. He paused, smiled and said, "Mama, Love it".

Anyway, my main motivation for this post is to get some advice. I'm really getting into Christmas this year. I really love this time of year & I find that having Nile is motivating me to get some good, solid holiday traditions on the go. So, I went out and bought a few Cds of holiday music and I'm planning a holiday baking day with our neighbors, which I hope will become a fun annual tradition.

I've never been much into holiday movies, actually I've never really watched them at all - but the other night I was laying around flipping channels and noticed that Elf, starring Will Farrel was on. There wasn't much else on and I was feeling pretty unmotivated, so I watched it. And to my surprise I laughed out loud and really enjoyed it. A few nights later I was feeling equally unmotivated and ended up watching the second half of Santa Clause 2 (starring Tim Allen). I didn't really like that one quite as much but it got me thinking that I like holiday movies during this time of the year and I wouldn't mind watching more of them, especially as Nile gets older.

So, I was hoping that you mamas and papas would share your thoughts on your favorite holiday movies with me so I don't have to watch any more movies like Santa Clause 2 in search of the perfect Christmas movie! I'd love suggestions on good holiday music, too..

Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Home is where the heart is? Or is it....

So, lately, we've been talking a lot about where we want to raise Sam and what this neighbourhood/city/province looks like. Both hubby and I grew up in suburbian Ontario, home to the $139,000 4 bedroom family home and we have since moved many, many times, only to end up in "big-city" Vancouver, home to the $650,000 bachelor condo.

The thing is, we absolutely love our life in Vancouver - the weather, the mountains and oceans, the laid-back lifestyle. Growing up in Eastern Canada, Vancouver seemed like worlds away, and I'm kind of jealous that Sam got to be born in such a cool city (as opposed to Sherbrooke, Quebec).

Our problem lies in the fact that we currently rent a 2 bedroom condo in a somewhat inner-city neighbourhood. If we ever want to own a home, or even rent a larger apartment, or feel safe to have Sam ride his bike down the block, we either need to leave the city and move to the suburbs or, leave the city to somewhere else in BC, or gawd! Eastern Ontario (I can't believe I've even just written this).

I guess, at the heart of all this, is my fear of leaving everyone we've met and become friends with the last few years in Vancouver, to once again start fresh. This is the first time I've felt a sense of community and attachment to my neighbourhood and I worry that I will miss it terribly and everyone that is connected to it. I love that people around me know Sam and that he has little friends around the corner and that I am constanly running into other moms on the street. But, am I just being childish? Should someone just hit me upside the head and remind me "you'll make new friends at the new school" cause that's pretty much how I feel right now...

Do I want Sam growing up in the city, going to the art gallery, museum, riding the transit system or do I want a large yard for him to run around him, with perhaps some woods to run through and trees to climb? And, most importantly, am I willing to give up my new life in Vancouver and move, if after all this thinking, I realize that we need to leave Vancouver in order to give Sam the childhood he deserves?

These are my babbles and I'd love to see if this resonates with any one of you mamas out there? How do you juggle your sense of place with where you want to raise your child vs where you can afford to raise them?

Saturday, December 02, 2006

trapped in the fifties?

Last week, our town had its annual holiday parade. For some reason, the theme of the Bee's school's float was the Fabulous Fifties. Here she is in what we cobbled together for a costume--I was really happy that I had bought her that crinolined skirt months ago.

But it made me wonder why the fifties have such a stranglehold on our imagination, at least in the U.S. When I was in middle school, there was always a fifties dance every year, but I guess I attributed that to the fact that most of us were children of people who were in high school in the fifties. I thought (in my clueless, pubescent way) that it was just the moms trying to relieve their own glory days, or something stupid like that. I thought, "my kids won't have to suffer through 80s dances!" (Perish the thought! Where on earth would I find one of those fluorescent sweatshirts, for example?)

But this is at least the third thing that's happened at the Bee's school where parents who are my age or younger have opted to dress their kids in fifties attire. What's the deal with that? Is this something you Canadian moms have had to put up with?

Because if this is some yearning for the "Duck and Cover" era, I could live without it. And if not? Let's move on to some other eras. After last month's election, I could really get behind a 1960s Peace Parade, for example.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

They're so cute when they're little

"An unborn elephant, tiny but perfect in every way. A dolphin swimming in the womb, just as it will have to swim in the ocean the moment it is born. An unborn dog panting. Each one amazing and now, thanks to these remarkable pictures, they can be seen for the first time."

(Click on the "Gallery" link to see images.)

Via boingboing

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Did someone order a ham 'Sam'which?

Coming Right Up!

Sadly, I had nothing to do with it - it was all his dad's fault, who as you can tell, is the creative genius of the family!

Sorry....had to share since I ran out of friends and family to email this to....

Monday, November 06, 2006

G*dd*mned M*therf*cking Daylight Savings Time

Am I the only person who's getting their ass kicked by the time change? Or more specifically, who's getting their ass kicked by their kid who seems to feel that 5:15 am is a reasonable time to wake up? Oh, not EVERY day, mind you... just the days that it's my turn to get up early and let the mister sleep in. How does he KNOW?

On the plus side, he's pretty chipper about it, if his frequent little visits over to the sofa to say "Hi! Hi! HI!" are any evidence. But you know how you feel about people who are super-chipper in the mornings while you're still trying to scrape the sand from the insides of your eyelids? Exactly.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Show me the pumpkins

So it's pumpkin pics you want, huh, Melissa? How about this?

Friday, October 27, 2006

A call to action

People, it is that time of year, and I demand pictures of children with pumpkins. Preferably the children should have pumpkin-like cheeks. Bonus points if the child is wearing some kind of pumpkin-like garb.

Oh, wait, I just happen to have an example here for you:

You have your assignment. Now get cracking!

(They have pumpkin patches in Canada, right?)

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Honey, I shrunk the baby


Editor: Come on, people. We need story ideas! Stories directed at anxious parents! Those are so hot right now!

Writer #1: What about a series of pieces from middle-class moms where they complain about their nanny problems? Those always get readers up in arms.

Editor: Nah, Salon's cornered the market on those. And besides, they're so 2004.

Writer #2: How about an alarmist piece that tenuously connects an ailment or disorder that parents worry about with a common household object?

Writer #3: Yeah! Like, um, ADD and antibacterial soap!

Writer #2: Or influenza and, uh, cats!

Writer #1: What about autism and TV?

Editor: Brilliant! Run with it! But we need another story. These alarmist pieces tend to be seven-day wonders. We want to pack a one-two punch with a follow-up story that makes the autism/TV story look like actual science.

Writer #2: How about a story about kids who see shrinks?

Writer #3: How about a story about BABIES who see shrinks?

Editor: Genius! Magnificent! Raises all around! Except for you, #2. You're fired.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

The Old and the Restless?

This recent article from the New York Times has given me pause. It describes several parents who have held their kids back -- particularly those born later in the calendar year -- to give them a chance to mature.

Both Dan and I are September-born and were always the youngest in our classes. To be honest, I never minded. I kind of liked it. Mind you, I mostly grew up in smaller towns, where months or years didn't necessarily determine friendship.

Since Jonah is a December-baby, the issue is bound to come up. In fact, given that I suffer from Type A-aholism, it already has, as Jonah is registered in a preschool for next September that normally only takes children who have turned three. But is this a good idea? Should I give him an extra year to learn numbers and tie his shoes? Or does it just depend on what his abilities are at that time?

All thoughts are welcomed!

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Children's television troubles me

Despite the not-at-all-inflammatory and certainly-not-trying-to-cause-a-panic "findings" of this Slate article that speculates TV might cause autism, we watch a fair bit of kids' programming in our house. Commercial-free programming, yes, but television nonetheless.

For one thing, Sam insists on having the TV on at all times (I think this may be genetic, and I'm not talking about the genes on his maternal side), even when he's playing in the other room, so it's easier just to humour him. And for another thing, man oh man, it sure is easier to make a coffee/go to the bathroom/prepare dinner ever since Sam discovered the boob tube.

In total, though, he really doesn't watch that much actual programming. He's generally too busy trying to ride his Thomas train through the wall to pay attention. No, I'm the one who ends up helplessly absorbing all this kiddie TV. And it troubles me. It's insipid, of course, but I'm not staking new territory in pointing that out. I'm just wondering about the weird messages that some of Sam's favourite programs might be sending him, creating questions I'm not in a position to answer, such as:
  • What kind of turtle IS Franklin that his legs are so freaking long?
  • Why do all the bears in Little Bear's family talk as if they've just been dosed with ether?
  • How come the dumber machines on Mighty Machines speak with southern accents?
  • Do the makers of Rolie Polie Olie know that Olie's mother sounds just like Cartman's mom on South Park? I keep expecting her to start explaining what a rim job is.
  • What's the deal with Miss Spider and Mr. Spider? Are they co-habitating out of wedlock while they raise their insect foster children? Are they fattening the kids up for future consumption? What about when the embarrassing questions start to emerge, such as what happened to the kids' parents? Will they be shown a secret web of horror full of parental exoskeletal husks? I'm not saying this isn't a darkly compelling story that needs to be told, but are children really the right audience for it?
Has children's programming always lent itself to such cognitive dissonance? I fear that, as I get older, I'm becoming more and more literal minded. Someday I'm going to be watching Sesame Street with Sam and finding myself sniffing, "A green monster who lives in a garbage can? And he has a pool AND a grand piano in there? As if!"

Am I the only one having this problem? I might be overthinking this a bit, but it never hurts to check.

Sunday, October 15, 2006


For years, I've been volunteering in various capacities at a Vancouver children's hospice that's well known in North America for the kind of work it does. I started out as a Kitchen volunteer, cooking and cleaning, then was accepted to train as a Family Volunteer - where I helped children with life-limiting illnesses and their families enjoy whatever amount of time they had left together. And through it all, I was so strong - I thrived on helping them, on being there and part of a wonderful community of caring and strong people.

And then, I had Sam. I tried going back for a few shifts but just couldn't get past the fact that these were someone's kids. Someone's Sam. And so, I've given it up. I'm still a part of the community, but in a different role; assisting at large fundraisers for the hospice. Last Friday, I had the pleasure of volunteering at a black tie event where Jann Arden sang an absolute beautiful set for the 400 special guests. She was hilarious and charming and that voice was crystal clear and in typical Jann fashion, oh so sad.

In the middle of the evening, they showed a video shot at the hospice where families and siblings and staff explained what it was all about and what it meant to them. I lost it - I stood in the back, tears flowing down my face just so fucking thankful that my Sam was happy and healthy.

It's times like these that I realize what it's like, really really like, to be a mom.

the baby has left the building...

A few days ago, we got a flyer from Toys R Us in the mail, advertising a fantastic sale on all great things that kids want. I thought that Sam, being only 17 months, was still at that oblivious age of not knowing what was going on around him and still living in la-la babyland. Boy, was I wrong! Thinking I was just making conversation with myself, I pointed to the Thomas the Tank engine that was advertised as being on sale in the flyer and said "look Sam, it's Thomas like at Family Place'. His eyes lite up and he started blabbering on and on about what I can only assume is the very same train that's at Family Place! Really though, you have to see this - we go downstairs for breakfast, he find the flyer, brings it over, pointing only to the Thomas, yabbering on and on, as if to say "see mom, this is Thomas and I don't have one and I really really like it and so if you could buy it for me, I would be really really happy!.

It blows my mind that this little kid understands what we say - I was on the phone explaining to my mom what had happened, when Sam takes off and once again, brings me the flyer to make sure I haven't forgotten about Thomas!!!

Do they ever get any cuter than they are at 17 months?

Sunday Morning Cartoon (with some gabbery)

Last night, Dan and I went out. We jumped in the car without planning a thing and had no plans to join pals. We had dinner, chatted up a storm, took a drive through rainy Stanley Park, and saw a movie. We grabbed coffees. We held hands. It was wonderful.

We are not particularly new to booking a baby-sitter and going out. The first time we did so, Jonah was two months old. (It was kind of funny in retrospect, as I ended up booking a very experienced nanny to watch Jonah, insisting on seeing her resume and interviewing her. I mean, what did I know about kids at that point?!) Jonah ended up sleeping through the whole experience, a pattern that has generally repeated itself through the many, many times we have hired a babysitter. Erin, his sitter in SF, was a hit, as are Jody, Pam, Kerry, and the 3 or 4 random nannies we have hired for nights here and there.

Despite the oft-booked sitter thing, the one thing we haven't been fantastic at is going out just the two of us -- we usually use the nights out to connect with friends. As much as friend time is crucial, the one-on-one me-and-Dan time makes all the difference in the world. Because, you know, the thing I miss, as much as Jonah is an absolute joy and delight, is just hanging out with Dan. Not really doing anything, just relaxing and reading next to each other in bed and strolling around without worrying about nap times or next meals or diaper changes.

Last night felt like heaven.

And, notwithstanding the cartoon above, we've decided to keep Jonah. As much as chilling out without any worries sounds appealing, having him is really so much better.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

But *that's* not what they told me in grade 4!

I was always the kid who looked forward to science class, especially when planets were discussed. For some reason, I found them fascinating. I memorized their order. I could draw them in relative sizes to one another. I dreamed of being the first woman to go to Mars, so excited about the letter I'd write to everyone once I got there.

So you can imagine that I'd be deeply intrigued by the gazillion new findings that have called into question my reasonably concrete (primary school equivalent) understanding of the solar system.

Truth be told, I am fine with all of it. I never felt particularly attached to Pluto and, as a result, am not at all traumatized by its recent expungement from the Big Nine. Maybe it is because it was so far away, but also because I was always more attached to the planets with rings -- no doubt a precursor to my affection for jewelry. And although the news is three years old, I feel a little tingly at the thought of a Kuiper Belt lying beyond Neptune. I can actually close my eyes and imagine how cool the Belt would have looked on the planet mobile I made for show and tell in grade five.

But what blows me away is how our knowledge about the Solar System and beyond is changing so quickly. I mean, now it appears that planets can just go ahead and form themselves. Doesn't that seem a bit bold?

Part of me can't wait for Jonah to start telling me about how retro my knowledge is when it comes to this stuff.

And it also makes me happy to know that, no matter how much has changed, he won't be able to say "Uranus" without breaking into a smile.

Come on, you try it.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Sunday Morning Cartoon

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Of Mice and a Woman

I wouldn't call myself girly or squeamish. Oh, sure, I am increasingly fond of make up, but that's no indicator, and toss a bug my way and I'll casually pick it off my shirt. However, a recent set of home invaders has put this self-characterization to the test.

A couple of months ago, our tenants kindly sat me down and told me the news: mice had been spotted in their bathroom. How they intuitively knew that I would be horrified is brilliance on their part (although they could have left out the part about the mouse touching the sides of their legs). An exterminator was called and I figured the whole situation would sort itself out without my ever having to look at a rodent.

I was mistaken.

A while later, my sister gently informed me that mouse droppings were on my attic stairs. After some initial panicking, I googled. I performed thorough cross-examinations of mouse elimination strategies of those living in single-family-homes-circa-1920. I searched for inventive solutions at Home Depot. The results seemed to work: the droppings ceased and the tenants hadn't spotted a mouse in ages. My ears stopped perking up whenever I heard a rustling sound.

And then it happened. The thing I feared most. The experience I thought would lead me to jump on a chair and squeal: I saw one in my kitchen! The mouse and I both froze in place, staring at each other in horror. I don't think either of us could believe what was going on. I guess it was a blessing or whatever, as I ended up finding the place the darn things were coming in from.

But the weirdest thing was ... I found the mouse kind of cute. Seriously. The little ears and the nose and the soft white body. I mean, not cute enough to want the lot to stick around (ew), but not the worst thing ever. In terms of yuk, I would definitely put poorly drafted contracts ahead of mice.

I am not all zen about it, though. Since we are not out of the woods yet, I'd welcome ANY mouse eviction strategies you have. Like, now. Oh, and please.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Wheat from the Chaff

As we all know, today's parents are subjected to a GAZILLION options in terms of reading material. (And toys, parenting philosophies, and diaper brands, but let's try tackling one thing at a time!) In my case, in addition to the many, many tomes I have given away, there are dozens littering my bookshelves. And a lot of them are scary looking -- pastel covers, overly adorable kids, childish fonts. (And what's with all of the weird names? I am not convinced that I want the Baby Whisperer involved with my child.) So, as a resident expert reader of the many baby books, here are my favourites:

Dr. Spock's Baby and Child Care: It seemed a bit old school when I received it as a gift. It also seemed a bit small -- only 800 pages for pregnancy, labour, infant care, toddlers, preschoolers, children AND teenagers?? But, you know, the darn thing works! It is kind of like wikipedia for kids -- you have a concern, you turn to the appropriate page, look it up and, bang, there are a few paragraphs dealing with the issue. The advice is always no-nonsense, combined with a dash of "think of the kid's perspective" and a vigorous mixing of "trust your instincts".

Becoming the Parent You Want To Be: A Sourcebook of Strategies for the First Five Years: It's hippie, I admit it. It can also be a little scary: a pregnant pal of mine asked after reading the sections on discipline, "Do toddlers actually BITE other children?" But it provides a good overview of major things that come up in the first few years of parenting, stuff like sleep, your relationship with your partner, and discouraging children from engaging in certain behaviour. What I really liked was how it made you question where your parenting beliefs come from, and to look long-term as to the choices you make when kids are small.

The New Father: A Dad's Guide to the First Year: I have vivid memories of Dan and I reading this book to each other when we first got home from the hospital after having had Jonah. It was sort of a stunning period, really, with us trying to figure out what to do with the new 8 pound wee thing that had suddenly ended up in our home. This book was so straightforward and informative without being preachy. It also had lists and charts! And, best of all, it made Dan feel genuinely involved with the whole parenting thing, which is surprisingly uncommon in the baby world.

And, a runner-up:

Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child: Jonah was a pretty good sleeper from the beginning, but I really liked reading up on the science behind sleep. I always figured you put your head on the pillow, counted backwards from 100, and that was that. Turns out that sleep is more complicated, and is actually learned behaviour. The book's strategies didn't really work for Jonah after the first 18 months, but the book was so good at saving us from sleep deprivation until then that I really can't leave it off of my list.

How about you? Are there any that have really stood out?

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Current list of worries

I read a great article in the New York Times Magazine over the weekend called, "So the Torah Is a Parenting Guide?". Aside from useful advice on not putting too much pressure on children and teaching them basic manners, the proponent of Torah-style parenting advocated limiting worrying to 20 minutes per day.

For the last couple of days, I have actively tried to identify my Jonah-related worries. Here they are in no particular order:

1. Is he too friendly? He throws himself into the arms of most adults within a short period of knowing them (or, in the case of Asian women, without ever having met them).

2. Although he seems well adjusted at the moment, will he become a drug addict and/or a serial killer as a result of: (a) living on Commercial Drive; (b) Dan and I both working full-time; (c) having few if any tantrums as a toddler, thereby waiting until he is a teenager to assert his independence and drive us bananas; (d) his being a vegetarian; or (e) both Dan and I being Type-A? (Before you provide any words of wisdom, please keep in mind that he likes to put my (clean) underwear on his head.)

3. While I am pleased to have a progressive male child, is it a problem that a lot of people think he is a girl? His name ends with an "a" sound; he has long hair; he is very attached to his doll, Paul. Should I cut his hair?

3(b). Does my worry in 3 above indicate that I am actually not progressive at all, meaning that I will send mixed messages to Jonah about all sorts of values, meaning that he may become a drug addict and/or a serial killer?

4. He still has eczema behind his knees.

5. How can he possibly not like tomatoes??

6. He does know that we love him like crazy, right? But then, does he also know about his responsibilities to be a good citizen and contribute to society and, for pete's sake, to let me brush his hair?

7. My god, could he know that we are making up this parenting thing as we go along??!

Gak. If you could please provide YOUR worries, I'd feel a lot better!

(photo credit for the picture of Jonah, Sam and Rian goes to Kris)

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Nile's "tar"

Hey all,

Ok, I'm totally pimping "This Boy's Life" blog now but y'all have to watch the video of Nile's new and shiny though structurally unwell 'tar'.... totally HILARIOUS!!!!

... and Melissa O is totally kicking our butts as the blogging Queen-momma! And all that video! I need to start upping my blogging game....


Thursday, August 31, 2006


Geez, it's been a long time since I've posted anything here. I'm having a tough time concentrating on things, because the Potato keeps waking me up at 5:45 a.m. Grrrrr!

Now, you'd think that a reasonable woman like me would do one of the following:

a) tell the kid that it's not time to get up if it's still dark outside (nope, he's just not listening to that one)

b) adjust her own bedtime, so that instead of going to bed at midnight, she's tucked in by 10:30 or so (what? and give up my blogging time?)

c) nudge her spouse, who after all is not working right now, and can TAKE NAPS during the day (but the guy sleeps sounder than the proverbial log)

So what's a tired mama to do?

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Eat the noodle, Sammy

This is what happens every time I leave my husband alone with Sam: they eat Ichiban noodles like a pair of frat boys. And he wonders why I micro-manage our mealtimes.