Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A Christmas to remember

Well, Christmas is over for another year and I'm back at work after having six days off! I'm currently trying to kick-start my brain with copious amounts of caffeine. To make the transition a little easier, I thought I'd recount our joyous holiday festivities!

We hosted Christmas for my family this year - the first time I've hosted and the first time we've spent Christmas day in big blue. My folks came over on Christmas eve and stayed the night so that we could spend Christmas morning together.

I had thought that my siblings would also join us for breakfast and morning presents (as we all live within ten minutes of each other) but that was not to be. It seems that sometime between when I left home and now, they have both decided they like quiet Christmas mornings at home with only their immediate family unit. I guess because Adam and I lived in Ottawa and came home every Christmas (therefore always spending Christmas morning at one parent's house) we never adopted this quiet Christmas idea. Needless to say I was more than a little disappointed when I heard that my sister wanted to come over after Gage had napped and my brother thought he'd come around lunch time.

Despite the difference in ideas on what Christmas morning should be, it turned out to be magical. The whole city was blanketed in a fresh coat of snow, the sun was shining and inside my big blue house, it was warm and cosy and full of love.

It was actually our dog, not Hayden, who woke us up at 7:30. My mum and I took Hayden downstairs and turned on the lights and music before letting him see the bounty that Santa had left under the tree (just like my folks used to). He was awestruck and quite eager to begin the gift-opening - starting with the biggest shiniest box in the room (which happened to be for mum)! As mum and I brewed tea, we let Hayden unwrap the presents in his stocking to keep him entertained. After stockings were opened, we crept back upstairs to wake up daddy and poppa.

Hayden was just an amazing child on Christmas morning. Quite unlike the whirlwind of paper and impatience I expected, he acted as Santa's helper and delivered presents to everyone, helping them open one gift in turn. He oooed and ahhed appropriately whether it was a jar of pickled onions or a pretty necklace! After we had opened our presents, we set about making Christmas breakfast: scrambled eggs, back bacon (or Canadian bacon as some of you know it), sauteed mushrooms and toast. We were just finishing up our vittles when Ang, Dan and Gage arrived.

We went through another round of presents with the boys before Ang and Dan headed home to let Gage nap and Ben and Lisa arrived with baby Ella. We had hors d'oeuvres for lunch and mum and I kept a close eye on the turkey. Soon after, Hayden and poppa went down for a nap and we had some quiet time in the afternoon, putting together presents, drinking wine and chatting.

The big feast was scheduled to be served around 6:00. Mum and I worked together to bring it all to the table on time and steaming hot! It was delicious and I was amazed at how flawlessly mum and I manged to juggle the various dishes. The boys (meaning the husbands) all got into the wine at dinner and kept us all entertained through the meal and dishes with their antics.

I know that initially, Adam was worried that it wouldn't feel like Christmas without the chaos that his family brings to the occasion. Lucky for him, our house was just as crazy and lively as any Goddard celebration. With this third generation of family now brilliantly aware of the holiday, the magic of Christmas really touched our house this year. I was swept up all day in love and laughter, fun and togetherness. Though I didn't sit down for more than 15 minutes all day, I didn't feel tired or rushed. It just really felt the way Christmas should: a beautiful, exhuberent celebration of family and affection.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Santa arrives early

I got my Christmas present early this year. I had just walked in the door with an armload of groceries when Adam thrust a gift bag at me.

“It’s your Christmas present. You HAVE to open it today.”

Now I don’t like opening presents early and when Adam told me it was my main Christmas present, I refused even more veheminently. Adam is not someone who can wait when he has a surprise – I’m pretty sure that every one of my girlfriends saw my engagement ring before he presented it to me (it was the only way he wouldn’t blow his proposal plan early). I've now learned to overlook my love of delayed gratification for his love of sharing instant happiness .

Eventually, he managed to convince me. When I peeled back the tissue, I think I may have actually squealed. Adam chipped in with my parents and his parents to buy me a Digital SLR Rebel camera – the camera I’ve been coveting for over a year! It had just been shipped that day and Adam simply couldn’t wait another six days till Christmas! lol

We’ve both spent the last week shooting anything and everything to test out the features and settings. And I have to say, I am totally in love with it. Already, we’ve captured some tender moments (like that photo of Hayden with his grandpa) and some gorgeous portrait shots.I know it’s going to be a gift that keeps giving and that it’ll be used extensively over Christmas! Thank you Adam, mum, dad, Art, and Dawn! I just love it!


To all of you, my very dear readers (yes, all five of you), I wish you a very merry Christmas. (I'd wish you happy hanukah, a joyous kwanza and a super solstace, but I know none of you celebrate these other festivities.) I hope that your holiday is filled with the love of family and friends, and that you remember to slow down and enjoy the togetherness this time of year brings.


Whatever Santa has under the tree for you, I hope that it's complimented by peace and joy, laughter and magic. Much love!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

What Christmas is all about

This is Hayden hugging his Great Grandfather at the "G" family Christmas party.

Makes my heart warm to know that he will have a relationship not just with both sets of grandparents, but also two sets of great grandparents! He is one lucky little love.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A star is born!

My little heartsong is growing up right before my eyes. Last week it was bravely sitting on Santa’s knee. This week, Hayden performed in his first ever live concert. His school put on an amazing Christmas concert – with all the actors under 5 years-old! They must be either crazy or absolute saints! I was blown away by how organized it was and how well the whole show turned out. There were a few tears on stage, but every child appeared in the performance (something that the owner of the schools said has never happened)!

Hayden’s class was fourth to perform. We had been prompting him the week before, singing various Christmas songs to try and find out what song he was singing. But he held firm on his resolve to keep it a secret. When the curtains opened and Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree came on, he was in his element. Holding hands and facing his cutie-pie girlfriend, Emily, they bounced and jived to the music while most of the other children stared shell-shocked at the large crowd watching them. Hayden soon caught on that all eyes were on him and started scanning the audience for us. He caught sight of his dad and called out to him as the performance ended.

As they were led off the stage, Hayden broke free and ran over to us. He came and jumped on my lap and gave me a huge hug, pronouncing proudly, “I dance mama!” I hugged him back with my heart swelling for his newfound confidence. I gave him a kiss and then told him to go back and join his class. AND HE DID! He ran right back over to his teachers (another first for the school apparently)!

He breezed through another number, playing a cardboard guitar and swaying to the beat (though a little dude named Carl stole the show with his funky moves). I’ve never laughed so hard! They were all so darn cute!
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Hayden is the little guy in the red, just left of centre. (Sorry for the cruddy resolution, but this was taken on my phone!)

Sometimes I’m blown away at how much he’s grown and developed. It seems in the past month that he’s gone from being a shy, unsure toddler to a self-assured, confident pre-schooler. I’m just so darn proud of him.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Christmas magic

I've been talking a lot about Christmas to Hayden lately. We talk about baby Jesus, Santa, and about sharing good will with our neighbours and friends. I've been trying to round out his understanding of Christmas so it's not just about getting gifts. I want him to look forward to the magic of Christmas, the chance to be with family, the joy of giving to others. He seems to be taking it all in stride and often references baby Jesus and Santa together - like he imagines them living together in the North Pole.

Last year, when he came face to face with the man in red, Hayden freaked. He wanted nothing to do with Santa, nor the gift he offered. When I heard that Santa would be visiting my work for the children's party last Sunday, I was tentative to say the least.


I don't want to push Santa on Hayden - I know that for many he represents the commercialism of Christmas. But to me, Santa is a symbol of Christmas that children can understand. He represents giving and sharing, the magic of Christmas and all that is good in the world.

Aware that the day might just end in tears, we packed ourselves into the car and headed to the Christmas party. I warned Hayden that Santa would be coming and told him how he would arrive using flying reindeers. By the time Santa showed up (appearing on the top floor as if he had landed on the roof), Hayden was actually giddy with excitement.

"In da sky mama! Santa in da sky!"

We casually moved closer to Santa as he reached the main level, far enough away that Hayden could watch the other kids mill about the jolly old elf without getting involved. Santa eventually took his place amongst the presents. The kids settled on the floor in a horseshoe and Santa began calling each child by name to sit on his knee.

When he called Hayden's name, I held my breath, not knowing how he would react. Hayden is not someone who is warm to strangers. Even his grandparents are met with suspicion if more than a week goes by between visits.

Well, didn't he just blow us all away by confidently walking BY HIMSELF through the throngs of children to sit on Santa's lap. He wouldn't talk to Santa and didn't make much eye contact, but he did it! He made me so proud. It was all he could talk about that night - so I know he was pleased with himself too.

video
With his fear of Santa now conquered, Hayden is on to even bigger things: this morning he asked if he can go and see baby Jesus!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Brothers by love

Last night my nephew, Gage, melted my heart. He and Hayden have been best buddies since we moved to the area last spring. They act more like brothers than cousins.

They've been together in daycare since they were a year old. Recently, Gage was moved up to the preschool room while Hayden stayed behind in the toddler class. It didn't seem to affect either of them too much. Or so I thought until they saw each other in the hall last night....

Hayden: Gaje! Hi Gaje! How you doin?

Big, long hugs ensue and Hayden puts his arm around Gage as they walk to his cubby.

Gage: Hi Haynen. *pause* Haynen, I weally miss you. No one hugs me any more.

*sob*

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Not just hearing

To keep my sanity and actually get anything done, I often continue cooking dinner or reading blogs while Hayden waxes eloquently in the background. But my bright little boy has realized that mummy is not always very good at multi-tasking. He recognizes now when I'm concentrating on my other task and not on his important news. Now, when he feels that he's not being given his due attention, he holds my cheeks in his little hands and turns me to face him.

"Yook at me mama."


He stares intently at me through long lashes, his face a picture of seriousness.

It's only after he's sure that I'm focused solely on him that he will continue, usually talking very slowly to make sure that I understand every important word that passes his lips.

With this small act, this purposeful touch and look he reminds me how fleeting life is. It won't be long before I have to drag the words from him. Before I'm met with the grunts and shrugs that epitomize the teenage years.
My sweet heartsong, I promise that from now on, I wont just hear you, but I'll listen to you. Every precious word you care to share.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Vomit comets and wishing stars

Why do sickness and Christmas preparations seem to go hand in hand? It seems that whenever I'm ready to inject a little holiday cheer into our family, someone gets sick.

This time it's my heartsong. He emptied the contents of his stomach twice this weekend. As we strung Christmas lights and picked our beautiful fir tree from the local tree farm, poor Hayden was fighting a stomach bug. We didn't get to decorate the tree, finish the cards or do any baking as priority turned to cuddling on the couch. At least we managed to achieve a twinkling porch and get the gorgeous scent of pine permeating the house before the vomit comet arrived.

I completely fail the mother test when it comes to kids throwing up. I was fine when Hayden was an infant and only had milk to regurgitate. But now that there are solids present, I fall apart. I can deal with any bodily fluid except vomit. When I'm faced with that mess, it takes everything in me not to add to the pile. Yesterday was one of those days. Thankfully Adam was here to take care of the floors while I stripped down the sickie.

Today he seemed in fine spirits and with no fever, so I dropped him off at school, hoping the worst was behind us. I'd been at work for maybe half an hour when I got the call from my husband. Daycare had called him (I guess they tried me while I was in the underground parking lot). Hayden had exploded from the other end. Could I please come and get him?

In true toddler style, I showed up and my little man was dancing around the classroom, oblivious to the fact that he was supposed to be sick. I'm home with him now, trying to balance work, play, fluids and chores. Being at home during the week always makes me long to be a stay-at-home mum. Monday is definitely more fun with Hayden around. Even if there is a vomit threat. Wish us luck.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Do you vant to suck my blood?

Apparently not!

Today I had an appointment with Canadian Blood Services to donate blood. It's the first time in seven years that I've donated, so I read a whole lot on their web page to make sure I was eligible.

See, the last two times I donated, I passed out. The first time, I was about 18 and weighed about 98 lbs. After I donated, I went back to work and promptly passed out on my client's floor.

I waited a few years and then donated again when I was in Ottawa. Five pounds heavier and more savvy about not doing any heavy lifting after giving blood, I was sure that I'd be fine. It took a while to pull that litre of life from me, but I did it. Afterwards, I indulged in quite a few cookies and juices before I felt steady on my feet. I went outside, lit up a smoke and once again, came crashing down.

It's now been seven years, 10 lbs and five years of being smoke-free. I'm healthy, well within the 110lb weight minimum, and my iron dropped like a stone in the first test. I was feeling good when I went in for me final overview with the nurse. She took my blood pressure (a little high at 145 over 68 - but hey, I'm about to give you a litre of blood, I'm nervous!) and my temperature (slightly warm despite my chilly hands) and was just about to start asking the crazy questions about my sex, drug and prostitution background when she noticed that I'd marked yes to "Have you ever experienced fainting?" I explained what had happened on previous occasions, but that much had changed. She just shook her head.

Apparently, they have a strict two strikes and you're out rule about fainting at the blood clinic. She said that although hospitals really need my blood type, they don't want to take it at my expense. And so, I'm now permanently blacklisted. Unless they change the rules, I can NEVER give blood again.

I'm torn about the whole situation. On one hand, I'm really sad that I can't give the "gift of life" any more. They say that although 1 in 3 people CAN give, only 1 in 60 people DO give. I wanted to be a giver. But on the other hand, I hate needles and I really don't like giving blood (does anyone?) so now I never have to and don't have to feel guilty about it.

So my good readers, perhaps you can make my conscience feel a little lighter. If only one of you decided to be a blood donor, you could take my place as that 1 in 60th person. You can be the hero. You could save up to 3 lives with just one donation and one hour of your time. What do you say? Will you feel the spirit of the season and give a special gift this Christmas? WIll you be a registered blood doner?

Friday, November 21, 2008

Morning wake up call

As I plodded through my morning ablutions, a dream-tussled toddler shuffled clumsily through the bathroom door. As soon as his sleepy eyes adjusted to the light, he raised his arms in the air in a silent plea to be picked up. He snuggled into my shoulder before holding his hands on either side of my face to give me a kiss. Afterwards, his face wrinkled and he went noodle as a wordless request to get down. He plodded over to the bathroom counter, opened my drawer and pulled out my mouthwash.

"Mummy tinky. Dink dis peas."

Out of the mouths of babes....

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Darn niggles

Just so you're not all waiting on pins and needles, my niggle was wrong. I'm not preggo. Good news though - it means my puke-free Christmas plan is back on! Looks like at this rate, we may just have a little Christmas miracle of our own.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

You're all going to hate me for saying this out loud, but I'm almost done my Christmas shopping! I can't tell you how satisfying it is to know that I can avoid the December mall mayhem entirely this year. In fact - I've skipped malls altogether in my 2008 shopping. As I settle into my "Ma Ingalls" phase, I'm making many gifts and trying to buy the others from small businesses (like our local Mennonite market). It feels good to support the little guys and to have pride in giving my own creations.

Adam has told me I am absolutely not allowed to decorate before December 1. I think I'm going to work on him to start decorating this coming weekend. I'd like a full 30 days of Christmas spirit in our big old house before Santa arrives! I just can't wait to pick out a tree and have that beautiful pine smell waft through my house. To bring out all the gorgeous decorations people have given me over the years. To set aside a whole day just to get my Christmas baking done - this year with my little sous chef in tow!

I'm already getting excited about Christmas with Hayden. He's two now and is starting to understand the magic of the season. He stares slack-jawed at snow falling, laughs uproariously when I "ho-ho-ho" like Santa, and points and yells "pity yites!" when he sees any sign of Christmas lights in the neighbourhood.
I think this year, I'll bring him to a Christmas service and have him help me to donate gifts or food to the needy so he knows the reason behind the holiday as well.
I'm also eager to share our family traditions with him...
When we were small, every year we would read two books on Christmas Eve: Twas the Night Before Christmas and Santa Mouse. We were often allowed to open one present on Christmas eve. Every year we would wait with baited breath as mum and dad selected a special present for this early opening. I remember every year I would wish and wish that the present chosen for me would be a special toy I'd asked Santa for. Funny enough, every year it was pajamas, but I never lost that hope!

In our house, we didn't have stockings, we had Santa sacks. We would carefully hang them on the end of our bed about two weeks before Christmas. I remember checking that sack every morning to make sure Santa hadn't messed up his calendar and left me an early present. And I know my siblings did the same. I remember sneaking into their rooms (or in my sister's case, we slept in the same room so it was a simple step away) and I'd put random things in there like a can of soup or a ball of dirty socks. It never failed to send me into hysterics when they'd awake, discover a bulge in their sack and then tear into it to see what Santa had left!
But on Christmas eve, as we slumbered in our beds, Santa would carefully fill up those sacks with small gifts (all individually wrapped). Many times, I would wake in the wee hours of the morning and sneak with my sack and my sister in tow into my brother's room and we would quietly squeal as we unwrapped our Santa sack booty. Then we'd tiptoe back to our room (if we didn't wake up my parents in the process) and I'd sleep with my Santa sack wrapped in my arms until the sun came up.

While gifts from our relatives were put under the tree as they arrived, all presents from mum, dad and Santa were saved and appeared magically sometime on the eve of Christmas after we'd gone to bed. On Christmas morning, the hallway to the living room would be gated off. Mum and dad would go in before us to turn on the tree, play soft Christmas music and get the camera ready. Then with great flourish, the gate would be removed and we would scramble to be the first to see our gift-laden tree. It never failed to amaze us. Even in years when times were tough, there always seemed to be a mountain of beautifully wrapped presents. And mum and dad always carefully counted to make sure we had exactly the same amount of presents to open. We were allowed to look at the presents, but not open them until everyone had eaten breakfast. Every year, dad would announce that he was going to make himself a big egg and bacon breakfast and we would protest and extol the delicious benefits of a quick bowl of cereal! (As we got older (and slightly more patient) breakfast became a big part of our Christmas morning. We would all sit to enjoy a bounty of scrambled eggs, back bacon, sauteed mushrooms, toast and tea.)

Christmas dinner was always a big turkey with all the trimmings. We were each assigned to eat a single Brussel spout. It was a race every year to be the first to sit down and carefully slide that gravy covered Brussel under the table to feed to the dog. She'd only eat one, so you had to be the first! We always had Christmas crackers as well. You know, these things:


Before anyone ate, we'd pop the crackers and don the paper hats within while we told each other the lame jokes and tried to figure out the crazy, tiny toys. (We still do this every year!)

All of these simple memories are what made Christmas special for me. While I can't remember most of the presents I received as a child, I do remember the magic, the anticipation, the smiles and laughter of my family, the togetherness, and the little touches that my parents worked so hard to recreate every year. Thanks mum and dad - you showed me the meaning of Christmas. And now 30 years later, I'm sharing them with my son.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Oh no you didn't!

So tonight I was giving Hayden a bath. Our usual nightly routine: bubbles, bath crayons, lots of splashing and mummy trying to stay somewhat dry. Just your every day bath...or so I thought...

Near the end of his bath, Hayden decided he wanted to hide in the bath cave. He insisted that I pull the shower curtain across and then would lay on his tummy, giggling to himself. Every few seconds, I'd peek around the curtain and he'd shriek "No mummy! I iding!" And so the game continued for a few minutes.

And then it happened...

I pulled back the curtain to peek on him again and what did I spy?

Oh no...

Oh yes.

"I poop mummy!" He proudly exclaimed. "I poop a big poop in de baf! Yook!"

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Niggles and voices

A few weeks back, I let you guys in on the big "bun baking plan." Adam and I were going to throw our condoms to the wind and plant another little Goddard in the world.

Since then, I've sat myself down and realized that perhaps I don't want to get pregnant in November. It would mean that if I got hit with the pregnancy nausea, I'd be in the smack dab in the worst of the vomit storm come Christmas. As I'm hosting Christmas dinner this year for my family, I'm thinking this would not be a wise decision!

And so, I held off on all days that the fertility experts said that I could get preggo. I didn't want to tempt fate. I wanted to wait another month, leaving my Christmas puke-free.

But this week, I've started having wickedly vivid dreams. This was one of my very first signs of pregnancy with Hayden. I'm incredibly skeptical, as biologically, they say it's not possible that I'm pregnant. But there's this niggle. This little voice in my head that says "Don't be so sure."

I can't say that you guys will be the first to know, but rest assured that should that niggle be right, I'll let you know in due time. (lol - get it? Due time? *insert groans here*)

Remember

Today I had a proud moment at work as I organized and ran our first ever Remembrance Day ceremony. Most of our building is empty, as the government takes Remembrance Day off, so we were able to hold the ceremony in our main atrium. I was really impressed by how many of our employees took the time to attend. Our CEO said a few touching words, telling of us his own family’s history with war, before we played an amazing video created by Muddy River Media.

As we stood for two minutes of silence, I heard more than a few sniffles and chokes in the crowd. So many lives affected and torn apart by war…even in our tiny office. These coworkers are the invisible victims of those left behind.

I am proud that our company has recognized this important day. I am proud that I was a part of making it happen. But I’m most proud of the reason behind the event: Canada’s service men and women. The people who gave up their lives, their families, their safety and their comforts in order to secure these basic needs for others. To each of you who are serving now, have served in the past, or who are proud families members of veterans, today I honour you. Thank you for my freedom. Thank you for giving so much so that I can live in peace.

Lest we forget…

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Best quote I've heard in a while

Rosa sat so Martin could walk. Martin walked so Obama could run. Obama ran so our children can fly.

(Unfortunately, the attribution for this quote is more complicated than my tv's owners manual. You can read some of the story behind the quote here.)

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

New neighbour - Hooray!

I'm not an overly politically minded person. Most of the time, I feel like I'm voting for the lesser of two evils (though I do vote). I rarely get involved in a political discussion and I find the televised debates more of a contest of "who can bullsh!t who" rather than a platform for discussing ideas and opinions.

With that caveat in place, thank you America. Thank you for making the right choice. After eight years of living beside an aggressive, outspoken, greedy, absent minded neighbour, today I'm proud to share our continent.

I think Obama will lead your country to great places. He is a man with the direction and wisdom to lift America up from where it has fallen, both in the eyes of it's citizens who are struggling to hold on to their homes and in the eyes of the world, who has watched your (and our) soldiers die in the name of revenge and greed.

May this historic day, a day where a proud African American man leads your country just a century and a half after slavery was abolished, be the starting point of great things to come for the United States of America. God bless.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Boo!

This year Halloween was simply magical! The weather, the air of excitement, the fact that we're in our own home..it all just added up to a fantastic night!

Two years ago today, I was giant preggo and just waiting to pop. I willed Hayden to make his appearance on Halloween so that we could have an excuse for a party every year! (He waited another 6 days - that boy has always done what he feels like!)

This is my mum holding Hayden the day after he was born.

Last year, Adam was away in Calgary. I went to my sister's house for Halloween (choosing not to stay in the scary ghetto with my drunken neighbours). It was great to be with family, but it just didn't feel complete without Adam there. It was Hayden's first Halloween and he had no idea what was going on. We went to about five houses before we went home and fell asleep.
Hayden as a giraffe, nearly a year old here!

This year - it all came together. Hayden was excited about dressing up (finally - up until the day before Halloween he refused to put on his costume), we had our house nicely decorated, I had a TON of candy for the neighbourhood kids, Adam was home, I had my own costume ready and it was a balmy 13 degrees come dusk.
My costume's just for you W.O.W! (Think Jesse from Toy Story)

This is our spider lair - designed to compliment Hayden's costume!

Hayden went up and down both sides of our small street (about 20 houses) trick or treating. Adam took him out while I stayed home to load up the trick or treaters. He refused to approach any house that didn't have their lights on (I guess he shares his mum's fear of the dark). He was fascinated by the glow stick we gave him to make him more visible (black spiders don't tend to light up the headlights). After coming back home and proudly showing me his pumpkin full of goodies, he sat on the front porch with me to wait for kids. If he saw any sign of people, he would stand up and shout at the top of his lungs "Hey kiss (kids)! Tih tee! (trick or treat) Canny! (Candy)" He would wave his candy offerings in the air to prove his point and look at me in utter dismay if the children didn't instantly heed his call. Any child who did wander up the drive was met with a fist full of candy and a VERY excited spider host. He even gently delivered one of the Halloween soft balls to a baby.

After about an hour of handing out candy, he was just wired (this could be due to the candy he was sneaking from the bowl when I wasn't watching). I decided to tire him out and take him for another round of treat collecting. We walked to a tiny little dead end street that attaches to ours. (I know from years of trick or treating experience that such streets hand out oodles of candy because so few kids make the effort to go down them.) Hayden wasn't disappointed! The very first house we visited nearly filled his bucket to the brim. She had hand made little gift bags with fancy straws, toys, candy and hot chocolate. So sweet. We then walked down the street that parralels our own. Every time we would meet another child, Hayden would yell "Tih Tee!" and hand them one of the candies from his bucket. My little giver! We stopped going up to houses because he really didn't need any more treats. But the neighbours would have none of it and would actually come down the diveway to give us more treats. I love my neighbourhood!

Back at our house, the kiddies were pretty sparse unless you sat outside waiting for them. According to one of the mums, the previous owners were devout Jehova Witnesses and did not appreciate Halloween visitors. Sometimes they got a little vocal with the kids if they were disturbed. (I understand that they didn't believe in the holiday, but it made for some very wary parents last night!) Next year I think we'll decorate even more to get the word out that we're (VERY) Halloween friendly now!

Hope that you all had an equally fantastic Halloween. I have to say that this was my most magical ever. Having a child who gets excited about the fanfare just made me more riled up! And I'm one of those people who never stopped getting dressed up for the occasion!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Killing rabbits and baking buns

So Adam and I have been toying with the idea of having another baby. Well, actually, Adam has been toying with the idea. I've been pushing it like a crack dealer.

Hayden is nearly two. That means that even if we were to get pregnant tomorrow, Hayden would be nearly three before his little brother or sister was born. To me, this seems like the perfect amount of time between siblings. Far enough that one is independant and helpful when the infant arrives but not so far that they won't be able to play together in a few years. Plus Hayden will be in pre-K by the time I'd have to go back to work, so I wouldn't have to worry about two in full-time daycare.

Adam's business is picking up and we're finally on top of all of our finances after a rough year. If he can find a way to buy a work truck and business keeps steady, we could be downright comfortable by the time baby number two arrives. Add to that my job's wicked top-up pay (93% of my salary for the first 27 weeks) and you've got a great financial reason to get down to business.

The last time we tried to get pregnant, it happened on the first try. We lost that baby early on. When we were ready, we tried again and BANG got pregnant with Hayden that first month. Don't get me wrong, I know how rare that is (outside of highschool). I know how long and hard some people have to try before they can conceive. I was always thankful that our pipes worked so seemlessly. Problem is, this time around, I can't tell Adam that we should start now because who knows how long it will take. If history repeats itself (as it's apt to do), it will take only one month for my plan to come to fruition. That being said, Murphy's Law always comes into play when you think you've got it figured out. All this to say, only the fates know for sure.

So for those of you who know me outside this blog, I'm asking for your discretion in return for having the inside scoop. I'll announce our success in due time if it comes. And if you catch me nibbling on saltine crackers and looking extra pale, let's just call it an extended hangover for now.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Baking tip #1

For those who may not know, I love cooking. Always have. Baking has, until recently, been completely beyond me. I loved the randomness and creativity involved in cooking (I never use recipes), but found the exact measurements required for baking to be a little too restrictive for my tastes. Lately, I've found a certain comfort in someone telling me exactly what to do and have it turn out just as expected. Nothing else in life ever seems to go that smoothly! And so, without further ado:

Baking tip #1: If you don't have icing sugar, just put some regular granular sugar in your food processor and pulse it. It'll be smooth powder in no time! And with no gluten added! (Some people add 2 tbsp of cornstarch per cup, I find it's unnecessary!)

Let me know if there's any interest in some baking recipes - I've been a mad collector lately and they've all turned out wonderfully! (This is no small task for a beginner baker!)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

As you wish....

Today marks three years of marriage for my husband and I. It's been three years of big changes, tough decisions and a lot of adjustment. We've gone from being a carefree couple to a dedicated family and homeowners. We've grown from two wild and crazy kids living together for kicks into a partnership that epitomizes trust and support. We've moved cities together, birthed our son together, bought a house together, survived job loss together and through all of this, we've developed an amazing love together.

My husband is not perfect. But I dare say he's pretty close.

When I met him, eight years ago, I had a funny feeling that he was the one. It didn't fit with the warnings that he was a dirty dog and a love 'em and leave 'em kind of guy. I had a promise to myself when I was a teenager that I would not make love with more than five guys before I got married. It was a secret way to keep my raging adolescent hormones in check and to weigh the benefit of a night of passion. I felt it was no coincidence when Adam became my fifth.

We had good years and bad through our dating relationship. We even broke up for a few months one year but the fates had other plans for us and brought us back together again. Boy am I ever thankful for that.

Adam is the kind of husband who knows when to quietly hold you and when to offer advice. He understands that a foot rub and takeout can erase lingering grumbles over a bad day at work. Adam knows that romance is the way to my heart and still buys me flowers for no reason at all. He is the one who suggests romantic candlelight and long nights of kissing and caressing. He has a powerful need to protect his family, but he also gives us the room and freedom to make mistakes and to solve those problems on our own. He is generous almost to a fault, giving whatever is needed to those he loves without a second thought. He is a loving father who is firm but silly, gentle and strong. Before anything else, he puts his efforts and love into his relationship with Hayden and I. He makes me feel special and cherished and beautiful and clever and funny.

Adam can fix nearly anything in the house, from building a new door frame to redoing the ancient plumbing in our centrury home. He's probably saved us thousands of dollars by not having to call in the professionals. Adam also does nearly all the housework, including dishes and toilets. He never makes me clean up after I've made dinner and sometimes even does both the meal and the tidy. He helps with laundry (and usually does most of it), grocery shopping, gardening and he does our finances. These are mostly little things, but they're the things that drive most wives crazy. By taking care of all of the daily mundane chores, Adam makes me a better person. He frees me up to do what I love: take care of my family and bundle them up with love.

Babe - when I married you three years ago today, I knew that walking up the aisle to a storybook love song was setting the stage for our lives together. And I think that it's come to fruition. We have conquered the bad guys together, avoided tragedy on our path, built our castle and are now living in the happily ever after.

Thank you for always being my Westley. I will remain forever your Buttercup.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

You do not want to read this

I sometimes forget who I've invited to read this blog. I've got a select few people from work, most of my family and a few blogging friends I've met in my travels here. Added to these are the countless others who are "friends" on FaceBook and follow the trail from my info. (I say "friends" because really, if I haven't talked to you since grade school, you are no more a friend than the lady who makes my breakfast at the cafeteria every morning. Don't get me wrong, she's great and she sure knows her bacon, but I don't tell her about my milk boobs or my suicidal friends.)

So ya, a bit off topic there. I'll often sit down and blog out a rant about work or my husband or the dog poo that built to phenomenal proportions in my yard last week and then I stop and think about my coworkers, my family and my Facebook non-friends and just press Delete. It's a weird juxtaposition. This is my space to empty my head (ya, ya, I know half of you just thought to yourself "not much work to do that Lu!") and get my thoughts straight ("Ha - Lucy straight!"). But this is where people come to learn more about me. So do I really want them knowing that I got strangely sucked into watching a youtube video of a horse peeing the other day? Probably not. But that's me. And I'm not ashamed of me. I just prefer you to believe that I think of things like politics and world peace and solving poverty, not horse pee fetishists. (Oh and you just know THAT will come up in a google search soon).

Anyhow, as you can maybe tell, my brain is fried. It's been a stressful month with work and I've got quite insane. Today I have a meeting with my boss to find out why everyone else in my work stream was promoted to a new position except me (maybe because I blog at work?!). The fun never ends.

And so, I leave you with this deep thought: When someone tells you that they have to pee like a racehorse, do not cross in front of them or put yourself anywhere near their proximity. Trust me.

Monday, October 13, 2008

And then you are two

My heartsong. My sweet baby heartsong. In less than a month, you will turn two years old and leave all traces of babyhood behind you. Those two years feel like a lifetime for me. Because when you were born, I started a new life too. A life as a mother. And it's been the most amazing journey.

When you entered our lives, you were very angry and unsure of the world. The only place you stopped crying was in the arms of your parents. You hated baths, hated sleeping in a crib, a bassinet or a cradle. You hated loud places or changes in routine. You were super sensitive to everything around you. The world was like a loud, obnoxious disco in your mind. We used to spend close to an hour putting you to sleep only to have a phone ring or a dog bark and startle you awake with a cry. Your smiles and giggles were shy and vastly outnumbered by your tears and wails. What a difference a few years can make.

Now that you are nearly two, you have decided that this world will no longer assault you. Instead, you will conquer it. Without fear. You leap from tall places, climb structures more than triple your height without a hesitation. You run like a deer and shout your exuberance over the rooftops.

You have a natural gift for anything that involves a ball. You can dribble a soccer ball better than your teachers. You've also mastered the art of a drop kick to get that ball airborne. You can hit a baseball when I pitch it to you and whack a golf ball on the ground with amazing accuracy. If you spot golf on TV, you insist on watching and you clap every time they putt it into the hole. You've also started shooting hoops and amaze us all with how skillfully you can toss it through the basket. I have no idea where you get your love of sports. It must be ingrained in you from long-past genes.

You still need a lot of touch to feel comfortable and secure. Every morning, you cry out and ask to come and cuddle in our bed for the last hour of your sleep. You curl yourself into me and are soothed and slumbering within seconds. We weaned a couple of weeks ago and you did fantastic with the adjustment. You still reach down my shirt and grab your sisi's when you are scared, tired or need reassurance. Once in a while, you ask for sisi's but you seem content with my answer that the milk is all gone and don't push for them.

You are a creature of habit. Every morning you ask to go "stays" (downstairs) and once we hit the bottom step, you request your "yogut din" (yogurt drink) and a "taw" (straw). Then you sit quietly on the couch under a blanket watching Big Comfy Couch and Little Bear on TV while you wake up and mummy gets ready fro work.

You make your dad and I laugh all the time. You do funny dances, you tickle us, you run away and drop to your belly, covering your eyes to disappear. You skip and sing and can count to five. Just today, you identified your first correct colour - yeyow. Sometimes you point to mysterious booboos (usually on your fingers) and request a "banday" (bandaid). Once we put it on and give that finger a kiss, you're instantly healed and on your way.

You are incredibly caring and loving. Any time I sneeze or cough, you ask me "K mama?" and will keep asking until I tell you that I'm alright. Then you usually follow it up with "I k?" and I must ask if you are okay or face the same barrage. The other night when I came home in tears, you were nearly beside yourself with worry. Although your dad tried to reassure you that I was fine, you wouldn't quit until I told you myself. Then you offered me a hug to make it better. And you know what, it did.

Your cousin Gage is unequivocally your very best friend. You two are inseparable at school. Gage has taught you to stand up for yourself, to trust others and has helped you to gain confidence in yourself. Gage seems to understand you even when no one else can; He acts as your interpreter sometimes. You guys apply the "monkey see monkey do" philosophy whenever you're together - which usually ends in mischief and fits of giggles. You can't understand how much it warms my heart to see you treat Gage not as a cousin, but as your brother.

You love your Puppy (who you call Salem) and give him about 10 cookies a day. You'd give him a hundred if I let you. You gently put your hands on either side of his face and get yours close enough to kiss him on the nose, all the while whispering secret things to him in a high, song-song voice. You love to let him in and out of the yard and we even play hide and seek with him when Daddy isn't home to find us.

Speaking of hide and seek, it's your all time favourite game right now. It usually starts with you "hiding" in the middle of the floor with your eyes covered. I'll find you, tickle you and then run and hide myself. You stalk around the kitchen like a hunter, gently calling my name and listening for my laughter. You have amazing hearing and can usually pinpoint where I am just by sound. Once you find me, you squeal with delight and run to hide yourself. If you think my hiding place is particularly good, you will huddle in with me and call for daddy or Puppy to find us.

You love to help me. Whether it's putting things in the garbage, pouring ingredients for baking, making me tea, vacuuming, cleaning up your spills, or pulling me out of bed in the morning - you are all too willing to lend a tiny hand. Your teachers at school tell me that you are the most helpful in your class and even clear all the kid's dishes after lunch.

In short, you are a joy. You have your moments, like any toddler, but I spend most days completely enamoured with you. It's hard to believe that it's been two years already. And yet, in those two years of life, you have grown to become a completely different person. I can only imagine what you will be like in another two years.

Every day with you is a blessing. You are my little miracle and I love you more than I can put into words. Happy soon-to-be second birthday my big boy. My big, beautiful, loving boy.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Your life matters *

Yesterday, someone told me that they were going to kill themselves. As casually as one might order a coffee, they explained that they were going to end it and how. I launched into my 101 reasons that life is better than death before they diverted to attend to work. I was left shaken and wondering if it was some sort of tasteless and off-colour joke or if this person had just cried out for help from an unlikely source.

A very close friend of mine committed suicide while I lived in Ottawa. I was the last person Chris spoke to before he hung himself. Our conversation was strange, his thoughts not making sense to me. But I did nothing. I didn't see the warning signs. Didn't know how disturbed he was under his charming facade. I was on my way to his house when a friend called to tell me that he was dead. He had hidden all scissors and knives in the house so he couldn't be saved should someone find him in time. I've never forgiven myself. I blame myself for not doing something in time. For not saving his young and promising life.

Yesterday brought all of this screaming back. I was not going to make the same mistake again. I went to our HR department to ask for their help and advice. God bless them - they took my concerns seriously and launched into action. A full scale search ensued when we realized that this person's meeting had been canceled but they were nowhere to be found. For almost two hours, we couldn't find them. For almost two hours, I relived the day before Chris' suicide. For almost two hours I wondered if this person had taken their life because I hadn't acted fast enough. Hadn't refused to let them leave my side. Then, just as the police and this person's spouse were being contacted, they appeared.

I'm happy to say that as of yesterday at 5:00, they were okay. HR and our employee assistance program offered immediate counseling and triage to determine how much of a threat they were to themself. They decided that this person was safe to go home to their family. I left an email in their mailbox explaining why I breached their trust to go to HR. Why I was so quick to act. I had a response last night that they understood and were thankful.

So now I'm left with my own demons terrorizing my mind and body. I can't stop crying. Can't stop shaking. Can't stop thinking of what could have happened. What did happen years ago. I'm going to take the day off of work today. I can't imagine facing this person and not dissolving into a sobbing mass. I do it now just thinking about the whole situation in passing. I thank God that I have my husband and my heartsong here to keep my sane. Adam took care of everything last night and rubbed my feet to help me relax. My baby stroked my hair, asked me if I was okay and then did his darnedest to distract me with games and laughter until he fell asleep.

To any of you out there who are feeling depressed or contemplating suicide, remember this: your life matters. Even if you feel completely alone, there are people out there who need you. Who love you. Your life matters to someone - even if right now it doesn't matter to you. There are people you can talk to to help you work through your problems.
Call 1-800-273 TALK to talk to professional suicide prevention counselors.

* I'm sorry if this post is stilted. Is nonsensical. Today it's more about trying to journal out my issues than sharing a story.

Friday, September 26, 2008

The end of a nursing era

Yesterday, after two days of no breastfeeding, Hayden declared that he needed his nursies. As we lay in the dark, together as a family in one big bed, I quietly explained to him that he's been nursing for so long that mummie's nursies have run out of milk.
"I see mama?" he asked gently.
So I let him access his nursies one last time to test them out. I could feel his little mouth pulling and sucking like his life depended on it.
"Ah side mama, pees." he requested.
I rolled him gently over top of me so that he could test the other side. I lay silent, stroking his hair as he again strained to pull even a drop of milk from my breast.

"Any milk in there buddy?"
"No miyk mama." he declared sadly, shaking his head.
There was silence for a moment while we both digested this information. Both beginning to realize and understand that our nursing relationship was over after two fulfilling years.
"Cudews?" he questioned.
"Yes baby, you can have all the cuddles you'd like, and then some more."

As I enveloped him in my arms and kissed his wispy curls, I couldn't decide whether I was thrilled or miserable. Such a big milestone for us both. My little man...growing up. Our last physical tie dissolved.
"I ya you mama." he mumbled sleepily into the night.
And with those words, he tipped the scales. I made my mental declaration: This is a wonderful thing. I'm proud of how well he handled this change. How we handled it. No tears, no tantrums, no pain, no feeling of loss.

I feel that we're both inching our way through his development; not rushing, but making sure we savour every moment and make the most of every day. I believe that you never know when it's going to be "the last time" so you have to make every experience count.

Danny Kaye once said "Life is a big canvas. Throw all the paint on it you can." I love this quote. And it gave me an idea. This weekend, Hayden and I are going to paint a picture together. A picture to symbolize the end of our nursing relationship. And you can bet we'll throw all the paint on it we can!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Of nipples and nursies

Nursing does not diminish the beauty of a woman's breasts; it enhances their charm by making them look lived in and happy. ~Robert A. Heinlein

Amen.

These lived in beauties have been feeding my heartsong for near on two years. As he lingers on the cusp of his second birthday, I felt that I should supplement Hayden’s newfound joy in independence by finally weaning. It wasn’t a decision I took lightly, nor one that I wanted to rush into. Though I never thought I would breastfeed a toddler, it has been a wonderful and beautiful experience.

Hayden will now look at me with bottom lip fully extended and eyelashes in full flutter to ask for his “sisi’s.” While he nurses, he usually allows his hands to roam my bare belly, often searching for the other breast to hold and pinch. He sometimes lies quite still and snuggles right into the warmth of my body, his serenity a portrait of the joys of breastfeeding. Other times, he performs advanced yoga and nurses upside down, balancing on one foot and one hand. Always, he revels in his nursing and smiles at me lovingly whenever he catches my eye.

I came to the realization this summer that Hayden would never relinquish his hold on my breasts on his own accord. He has always loved nursing. He uses it for comfort, for thirst, for hunger, for undivided affection, for entertainment, for love. I wasn’t looking forward to weaning a spirited toddler from his favourite pleasure. I anticipated many tantrums and I stressed over heartsong’s possible feelings of abandonment or deprivation. Thanks to the plethora of mummy bloggers and some toddler-nursing friends, I can happily report that it’s been quite painless so far.

For a full week now, Hayden has been nursing only once per day. We easily cut out all other nursing sessions using distraction and cuddles. He soon became accustomed to the fact that we only nurse when we first wake up. Last Wednesday, he even forgot his morning nurse and we went a full 48 hours! Surprisingly, my milk lingers, even with these long distances between feedings. I’m taking my time in removing this final breastfeeding time together. It’s very much his favourite time together and is as much about comfort and waking up to the day in a soothing manner as it is about breaking the fast of night time with a sweet snack.

And so, the countdown is on. I have a goal that we will be fully weaned by Hayden’s second birthday. This leaves us with six weeks to ease gradually out of our final nursing session. I’m completely torn about the whole process; my selfish side wanting to keep nursing him to retain his infancy and my wise mummy side telling me it’s time to let go.

Despite the warnings and opinions of many in my life, I don’t regret our extended nursing for even a second. It’s been such a wonderful experience and we’re both happier and healthier for the extra time we’ve spent in our nursing relationship.

I think Marni Jackson said it best: Breastfeeding is an unsentimental metaphor for how love works. You don't decide how much and how deeply to love - you respond to the beloved, and give with joy exactly as much as they want.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Bones and skin, worth and weight

Recently, one of my blog crushes posted about her experiences with body image and our society's perception about weight and self worth. It got me thinking about my own issues with this topic, and how different they are from most.

I have always been a thin person. I have never dieted. I have never exercised to lose weight. If I want to eat something, I'll eat it. I don't ever think about calories or fat content, preferring instead to focus on nutritional value and taste. (I know, insert hairy eyeballs and curse words here.)

Lately, my experience with weight and self image is focused on not looking too thin. I find myself explaining my skinny appearance to those around me in order to ward off concerns and accusations of an eating disorder. Since I've returned to work from maternity leave, I have lost about 20 pounds. I know this sometimes makes my naturally thin frame look quite bony. (I think it's my collarbone that makes me look sickly)
I've had my family question me about eating regularly. They are always quick to point out if I've lost weight or look "too skinny."
Because I don't work at looking this way, I sometimes feel that if I don't project an air of near apology for being skinny, others perceive it as arrogance.
Anyone reading this who isn't naturally thin must be wondering what the hell I have to complain about. Let's face it, it's easier in our North American culture to be thin. Consciously and unconsciously, our society believes that being thin = being successful. I've never had to question my worth because of my shape. I have, however, had to explain or defend my natural figure a hundred times over.

While it's socially unacceptable to comment on a person's weight if they are visibly heavier, apparently you're free game if you're thin. I've had people ask me how many calories I consume a day, if I feel guilty that I can eat whatever I want, how much I weigh, what my BMI is, and even how many times I poop a day. Sadly, I find myself answering all of these questions in an attempt to prove that I am this way not through self deprivation or self abuse. When asked what my secret to skinny is, I have no answer. My response that "This is just the way I am" is usually met with open skepticism and sometimes even anger; like I'm hoarding the secret to weight loss and just won't share.
I am comfortable in my own skin. I like the way I look. Frankly, I'm tired of feeling like I should apologize for who and what I am - a skinny girl.

I am not saying that my negative experiences with body image or weight even begin compare with those who struggle with obesity or a distorted self image of being fat. I can't imagine hating what I see in the mirror or having that disgust reflected back at me through others (even if it is just my perceived reflection).
I will never know if I have a positive self image because I fit society's view of what is an ideal weight or if I just love myself for who I am. I like to think that no matter what size I become, I will retain this acceptance of my body. I know that during pregnancy, I reveled in the changes my body underwent. I loved my big, round belly and giant, porno boobs. And after heartsong was born, I didn't worry about the floppy, gelatinous belly that remained. As far as I was concerned, it was beautiful because of the amazing miracle it had housed. I stroked that floppy belly as much as I did the taunt, baby-filled version.
I'm not sure if self image is more powerful than societal pressures, but I like to think so. For too long, beauty has been defined by narrow, stifling stereotypes. As we raise our daughters, grand daughters and nieces, we need to confront our own stereotypes so that we can encourage and nurture a wider definition of what is beautiful. Whether fat, thin, curvy, bony, lumpy or bumpy, help the women in your life to develop positive self-esteem and confidence. After all, these bodies we obsess over are really just a husk. Simply the packaging that carries us as we develop friendships, gain experiences, build knowledge and make our mark on the world.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Buy your lube and flowbee at Lucy's place!

I've had a request from a company to advertise here on Onomampoeia Life. Setting aside my initial feelings of being flattered and quite chuffed at being approached in my first year of blogging, I turn to you, my dear readers and fellow bloggers for advice.

Have you ever been approached to advertise on your site? Did you accept the ad offer? I have about a dozen questions in mind to ask, but any pointers?

I know nothing of this company, but their product/service is inoffensive (and despite the title is neither a sex toy company nor an As Seen on TV invention). I'm torn between keeping this blog granola and completely mine, and giving in to what is seemingly some effort-free extra cash.

What are your thoughts?

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

From bebe to little bird

Hayden has made a huge development leap this week. He's gone from using one word to describe multiple items (bebe = sippy, birdie, blanket, berry) to using full sentences (I did it mama! More pears pees mama.) and parroting any word you throw at him. Suddenly he can make himself understood without frustration and he beams with pride when he masters a new word or sound.

For me it's a bittersweet growth. I'm so delighted that we can have actual conversations and he can easily tell me what he wants. It makes our interactions really full and rewarding. He gets frustrated less and shares more of his world and inner thoughts with me. But at the same time, it makes me realize that my baby is a baby no more. He's got a mind of his own with expressive thoughts about life. He is becoming more independent and adventurous every day.

I think every mother goes through this mourning. Accepting the loss of being the centre of your child's world. Mourning the days when you provided everything for them, food, love, warmth, comfort, security. Suddenly it seems that their eyes are open and they realize that there are other ways to fulfill these needs, including doing it themselves.

I'm determined to squelch my selfish thoughts of keeping him my baby. I remind myself that these verbal skills and independence are wonderful and liberating stepping stones that pave the way to becoming a confident child. Any time I feel that ache for infancy, I have only to hear him declare "I ya you mama" to know that my little baby is blossoming into a wonderful little man; That our nearly two years of unconditional love and attachment parenting have helped him to grow from a demanding, high-needs infant into an courageous, inquisitive and loving toddler.

I ya you too heartsong. I ya you so very much.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Careful - hot things are hot!

I love this - in my office, a new sign has been placed on the kitchen wall saying "Be careful when carrying hot food items to avoid burns and spills." I have decided I should help in the new office safety crusade and will be creating my own signs:

Do not run with scissors.

Humans can not fly. Please do not jump from window.

Caution - hot things are hot!

Do not eat pencils.

Soap is for external use only.

Stabbing your coworkers with forks is dangerous. Please refrain where possible.

Autumn dawn

The new fall chill in the air has set me aflutter with preparing my nest for the long, cold days ahead. There's still so much to be done around the house before the first frost hits.

Last night I blanched, bagged and froze four bags of fresh beans from our yard (those gorgeous bean plants are STILL giving me their spoils). My tomato stash is steadily growing (despite the constant snacking by Hayden - who simply bites into the cherry tomatoes and sucks out the juice). Soon I will go about preparing some delicious salsa (thanks for the recipe WOW). Having a freezer and pantry full of my own garden's bounty makes me giddy... I must have been a farmer or a pioneer in a past life.

Our bedroom window broke about two months ago when the old wooden sash came crashing down. Adam carefully covered the hole with plastic, but it just won't do to keep out the winter winds. We have to find someone who will custom fit our old victorian window frames with some new glass...and soon!

Our front and back doors are perfectly aligned to encourage the warm summer breezes to sail through the house. We only used our air conditioner for about a week this year, letting nature do the job for most of the summer. These old houses are excellent at self-cooling with their high ceilings and big, wide windows. Unfortunately, come winter those same breezes still blow, but with a lot more oomph. And with some misaligned door jams, that winter wind sneaks right through the cracks to make the ceramic and wood floors tortuous to my bare feet in the mornings!

Despite having to batten down the hatches, I'm looking forward to fall. It's my favourite time of year. From that signature smell of wood fires in the air to the kaliedescope of colours that permeates the trees and crunch and rustle under my feet, fall just has a magical feeling about it. Maybe my bias lies in the fact that two of my favourite life moments happened in the fall. My wedding took place on a country ranch on October 22, 2005. It was such a perfect day from start to finish and the bright fall colours that were strewn throughout the flowers and decorations only added to the day. Then a year later on November 6, my heartsong was born. His strawberry blond hair perfectly matched the leaves on the tree outside our living room window. And having his tiny, perfect body snuggled against mine kept me warm through the first flecks of snow that fell shortly thereafter.

The magic of fall is all about change. A change of season, a change in colour, a change in activity as we slow down. For me, fall heralded a change in marital status, and the change of becoming a family instead of a couple. It changed my status in the world; once a daughter and sister, I am now also a wife and a mother. Fall has always been my spring - the time when I blossomed. Autumn, for me, is a time for rebirth.

The winds will blow their own freshness into you,
and the storms their energy,
while cares will drop away from you
like the leaves of Autumn.
- John Muir

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Corporate camouflage

Today I clicked with one of my coworkers. She has been sitting in front of my pod for weeks now, but only today did we start to chat with the rhythm and candor of two people connected. For me, this wonderful connection with people I work with is a dangerous thing.

I feel like my professional image is just a thin veneer smoothed over my true self. I liken it to those art projects we did as children; the ones where you coloured determinedly with crayons till the whole page was brilliant and bright. Then you cover the whole picture with black paint and wait till it's dry to drag a popsicle stick through it and thereby reveal a sampling of the glorious colours beneath. That, in a nutshell, is me at work: Camouflaged by corporate complacency with just a peek into the wild vibrancy below.

Now I just have to be careful to keep my popsicle stick dragging to a creative minimum so those colours don't become too obnoxious against the pale grey cubicle backdrop.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Barefoot dreaming

I seem to be numb to the idea of a career these days. My time with stay-at-home-mum friends has made me resent sitting in an office for most of my life. Don't get me wrong, I'm thankful that I have a very supportive, challenging, well-paying job with great benefits. It's just that I don't really want it. I'd rather be scraping by and having to sew my own clothes and grow my own food than be able to afford the latest technology and frivolous items.

I have a new manager here. She's a firecracker this one. She's only been here for a few months and already she's lit a fire under the whole department. We're leading major projects, overhauling procedures and analyzing our motives while we complete our regular tasks. It's one of those strange paradoxes where the work simultaneously motivates and drains me. I'm a high achiever by nature, so I like a good challenge. But I feel like my heart isn't truly in it. My heart sits at home, waiting for me to return.

Lately, questions on whether we're going to expand our family have been circling around. I've told my husband and anyone who's asked that I simply don't want to have any more kids unless I can stay home with them. Being a full-time working mum is a freaking hard job! And I find the more time I spend away from my heartsong, the more resentful I become that I can't do what I feel like I was meant to do - be a full time mama. I come home and scour the internet looking for business ideas and ways that I could supplement our income enough that I could give up work and still pay the bills. Meanwhile, Adam is working his tail off as he builds his company. He's hoping that if all goes well and the stars and planets align, by next year we could be a one income family. Just the remote promise of it makes me itch for the day.

I find so much pleasure in the little things at home: Cuddling with Hayden on the couch and reading his favourite books; Putting sheets on the bed that are fresh and crisp from the wind and sun; Picking fresh veggies from our yard with Hayden (his specialties are unripe beans and tomatoes with the juices sucked out); Having a tidy house and dinner simmering when Adam gets home from work - all of these things make me feel so whole. I want to feel that every hour of every day! I'm a total throwback to the women's movement. I would like nothing better than to be barefoot and pregnant and watching over the homestead. I should have been born in the 50's...

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Yummy mummy hits the town

My monthly mad moment was magnificent! Since we moved down from Ottawa, I make a point to team up with my sister every month for a mad night out! We shed our mummy skins and relive our carefree days of youth by dancing our butts off and staying out till the wee hours of the night. Last Saturday was just such an occasion.

We left home (me to a tearful goodbye from my heartsong, just to make the guilt sting a little more) around 4:00 and drove to Toronto to join one of my favourite people on this planet - my best friend Phil. The night started with a trip to a local pub where the drink menu reflected the colour of the gay district. Specialities included Purple Princess, Fire Island F*ck, Pussy Galore, Fat Frog, and something about a Whore. Ang loved it so much she actually stole the menu to bring to Dan. (*gasp* what a rebel!)

After dinner we headed back to Phil's for some wine and to wait for our final player. There was much fun with tutu's, tiaras, spongebob undies, crowns and glow sticks. Once everyone was appropriately oiled up, we hit the street to give Ang the full Church Street tour!

Our first stop was Woody's, a gay boy bar where they play soft core porn movies on about a dozen scattered TVs. We laughed as some of the old creepy guys just sat and stared at the boys on screen, oblivious to everything around them. After just a drink, we giggled out the door and headed across the street to Crews Tango. This is where we brought Ang the first time she came out and she LOVED it. It has great music, a good mix of people and cheap booze. It's also kind of dirty, really hot and always packed. We stayed for an hour or so before continuing on the path of debauchery.

Our next stop was the scourge of the gay district: Zippers. I consider this the bar that the boys head to if they can't seem to pick up anywhere else. It's filled with the weird, the stinky and the downright crazy. It also has it's fair share of sugar daddies (which is why our fourth party likes it so much)! We literally walked in, looked around and walked right back out again! lol

On the way back down Church St, we stopped in at a tiny little bistro that doubles as a nightclub after hours. It was clean, trendy, expensive and pretty empty. Again, we stayed only for a drink before moving on. But not before a random girl approached Ang and took a self-portrait of the two of them.

Our last stop of the night was Slack Alice: a cool little club that caters more to the ladies. It's clean, open and not as hot as most of the others (we women don't tend to enjoy sweaty bodies as much as the gay boys do). The music was awesome and they even had one of the staff standing on the bar doing bongo drum solos with the music. She was amazing and it was a really cool addition to the night. We danced, we laughed, we pretty much closed down the bar. At 2:30, we all stumbled home, exhausted from the frivolity. And this is where things got weird.

Our fourth party declared that he was going to drive home.

Now, I'm really, REALLY against driving under the influence. I've watched too many lives be torn apart from the effects of drunk driving. And so, I argued with him, telling him that nothing was going to happen between 2:30 and 7am that he couldn't sleep it off a bit on the couch. His response was that he had driven in much worse conditions than he was in now, at which time I told him that just made him an a$$hole.

It got to the point that I was actually wrestling him for his keys. And as I tried to snag the keys from his pocket, his demeanor changed. It went from a passive refusal to a tick of rage. I sensed that I might be in a bit of danger - it was time Phil tried to talk some sense into him. I told him that if he drove home, I'd write him off as a friend and went into the other room.

As I lay in bed, I could hear them arguing in the other room. It got heated and Phil wasn't holding anything back. Then suddenly, all was silent and I heard the front door close. When I went to investigate, Phil had passed out sitting up on the couch, apparently in mid-argument. Our fourth was nowhere to be seen. I immediately went to grab my cell phone to call the cops (I don't mess around with this crap) and realised that I didn't know what kind of car he was driving, the license plate number, or even the direction he was heading. So I said a prayer that he wouldn't hurt anyone and fell into a fitful sleep.

I scanned the news the next day, hoping to not see any police reports of drunk driving accidents. There were none and by all accounts, it appears that he made it home without hurting anyone. But my perception of this guy is forever changed. I don't care if you have no regard for your own safety - that's your prerogative. But if you disregard the lives of everyone else on the road - that's where I step in. Sadly, I don't think I'll be hanging out with this particular friend any more. I'm pretty hard with my morals and personal ethics.

So although the night ended on a sour note, the evening itself was fantastic. Going out with my sister just makes me love her more and want to spend more time with her. I get to see that wild side of Ang that she doesn't show very often - and I adore it! And being with Phil is like a shot of sunshine, giggles and rainbows - I love that boy. The three of us together make for a strange but perfectly fitting trio on our wild nights out.

I can't wait until next time! I'm thinking we're going to help Phil find his very own Brokeback romance at our local country bar! Stay tuned for the next tantalizing tale!

Friday, August 15, 2008

The Poppas

I think that Hayden is an incredibly lucky little boy. Not only does he have two loving, emotionally stable parents, he also has four grandparents and four great-grandparents. Everyone lives within an hour's drive from us (save for one set of great grandparents in BC) and they are all involved in his life. Everyone is still married and in relatively good health. That seems like a prize-worthy thing in these times.

My parents and Adam's folks both adore Hayden and take every opportunity they can to see him. (I sometimes think of my mum as a panther, crouched and silently waiting to pounce on an opportunity to visit.) They smother him in love and are much more lenient then they were when Adam and I were growing up - these are a grandparent's unspoken spoiling right according to my father-in-law.

In response to this love, Hayden refers to all four grandparents as the poppas. There is no differentiating between genders, families or the fact that they have all chosen different grandparent names (Gran and Poppa for my folks and Gram and Grampa for Adam's). He can say these words, but when he sees any of them or makes reference to them, they are Poppa. I think it's hilarious and quite telling that he considers them all with the same attachment by using this standard moniker.

I'm so pleased that Hayden will grow up feeling the love of family around him. I have to admit that when I was a young girl, I envied the relationship my peers had with their grandparents. Baking cookies, learning how to knit and sew, figuring out how to thread a wiggly worm on to a hook, these were the things you learned from your grandparents. My maternal grandparents lived in England and I met them only a handful of times in my life (my paternal grandparents passed away before I was born). My grandfather passed away when I was a teen and I never felt that I knew him. When I turned 21, my mum took me to England to celebrate. I was able to meet my Gran and connect with her as an adult. It was a bittersweet time as I realized that the two of us would have been fast friends but never had the chance. We laughed so much together and the three of us (my mum, my Gran and I) seemed to be cut from the same cloth. When she passed away a few years ago, I mourned her loss not just for the person she was, but also for who she represented: my only living grandparent and the only one I ever had a real relationship with.

Part of the reason we moved from Ottawa after Hayden was born addressed this loss. By picking up roots and replanting them closer to our families, Hayden would have a whole other generation to draw experience, knowledge and love from. He would know his grandparents - all of them. And they would know him and be able to play an active role in his life. This move was the gift of family. I can only hope that one day Hayden looks back on his life and realizes what a precious gift that is.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

The glass is half-full

The best things to happen to me this week:
  1. You guys were right - Hayden simply needs more time to wake up in the mornings. Since I started getting him up earlier and easing him into his day with quiet nursies, he's a new man. No more raging tantrums (although the typical toddler ones are still abundant!). Thank you all for being my experts! Who needs those stupid parenting books - I've got the blogosphere!
  2. Someone found my blog this week by searching for "Pregnancy farts!" Too freaking funny.
  3. My garden has started giving me some delicious cherry tomatoes. Enough to make a good sized salad with. They're my absolute favourite kind of tomato; I just love the burst of summer flavour when you bite into them.
  4. I cut Hayden's hair....and did a terrible job of it! He has gorgeous strawberry blond curls, so I just wanted to trim around his ears and neck, keeping the top natural. Even though daddy did a good job of distracting him with his favourite book, I managed to make some pretty obvious mistakes (though I did manage to cut only hair and not skin)! Luckily, the curls cover up the worst of it and he's too young to care. Maybe by the time he's aware of how he looks, I'll have perfected my scissor skills.
  5. I watched Big Daddy the other day and (unfortunately?) saw a lot of myself in Adam Sandler's character. When he let Julian wear crazy things like a sieve helmet and cape to school, I was totally on board. Letting him choose his own name (Frankenstein) was brilliant. And giving him the "invisible sunglasses" is something I could totally see myself doing. Although in contrast, I won't be teaching Hayden how to suck a loogie or take out rollerbladers with sticks!
  6. I made a berry crisp for my in-laws on Sunday and my mother-in-law told my husband it was the best crisp she's ever had. I consider this a high compliment coming from her as she's an amazing baker and even used to make all the bread for her family of six . Given that until Hayden was born, I never baked (a throw back to my own lovely mum), I figure I must be a fast learner! Who knows, maybe one of these days I'll even be able to make a cake that isn't lopsided!
  7. This weekend I'm heading to Toronto with my beautiful sister to visit one of my very best friends. The combination of the three of us and Phil's wild friend, Mattie, somehow creates this vortex of insanity. Every time we get together the fun never ends and we laugh so hard our faces hurt the next day. I can't wait!

And so to all my loyal blog readers, let's keep this ball of happiness rolling. Tell me the best thing(s) to happen to you this week!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Sugar and spice

One week ago today, my beautiful niece made her dramatic arrival into the world. My little brother and his wife endured 12 hours of labour and three intense hours of pushing before this little girl was guided into the world with some giant salad tongs.

Seeing my brother become a daddy was such a wonderfully bizarre experience: Watching him support and encourage his wife through labour with loving devotion; seeing the utter relief and the explosion of stress releasing tears once the baby arrived safely. It's a side of him that I rarely get to see but it's one that makes me love him on a whole new realm whenever I get a peek.

I've been to visit the new family twice since they went from a couple to a trio. The absolute ease that they seem to be handling new parenthood has blown me away. My own first week of motherhood seemed to be filled with endless tears (both mine and Hayden's) and so many fumblings and unknowns. In contrast, my brother and sister-in-law have fallen into an easy rhythm and silently take over from each other when needed.

I see in my brother a whole new respect for his wife. He talks about her with undiluted pride and praises her openly for everything from managing a long labour to successfully nursing and balancing the various needs of a newborn. I think for many couples, having a baby for the first time can sometimes be a dividing experience. As you try to figure out your role in your child's life you can often struggle to determine your place in the world as a parent, spouse, housekeeper, milking cow and the child of your own parents. It's a confusing and overwhelming time to say the least. But these two have certainly surprised me by taking that discovery journey together, hand in hand.

I'm not sure if she knows it yet, but little Ella Rose is one lucky little girl. Congratulations Lisa and Ben. She's beautiful. And you've both taken a huge but confident step in the long road of life.