Monday, May 2, 2011

I am gross and not suitable for public consumption

Today is election day - again - up here in the Great Wet North and I don't think sunglasses are allowed at the voting stations. This is a problem because I have developed a disgusting case of pinkeye! As if there is another kind.

No, I don't know where I got it. It's not allergic conjunctivitis (the least offensive of the eye inflammations) because there is no itching. I can't blame my toddler because he doesn't have it, and while he has been quite obsessed with pointing at (or in) and naming the parts of my face lately, it is highly unlikely that he managed to get a little poo on his finger and reserve it strictly for me. There are a couple of other nasty possibilities:

I work in a hospital ('nuff said)
We've been test-driving cars lately
I took the bus a couple of times last week
I've been using the same old mascara tube for way too long.

Now, I wash my hands really well and really regularly, but each of these above situations puts my hands into contact with things that other people's hand come into contact with (pens, charts, keys, steering wheels, handrails, etc.) and not all other people wash their hands as well or regularly as I do. Ok, no one else is using my mascara, but I promise I'm not wiping my ass with it.

All this to say that I realize I have contracted an eye infection that is usually - ahem - fecally transmitted - yuck. But I want to make it perfectly clear that I wash after every visit to the lou, and even after every blow of the nose, so seriously, I don't deserve this!! I've had to call in sick to work for 2 shifts, because dude, I wouldn't want me looking after me and my newborn baby right now.

At first it was just in my right eye, but it was such a joy to have around that I said, Hey, pinkeye! You're a real blast. How about bringing your party over here to my left eye? Oh - there you are already settling right in. Sweet!

Wait there's more! I also have a chest cold. Yeah, that's right, I don't do anything half-assed. I bring my fucking A-game. So you might think, It's ok, Jame, your conjunctivitis is just viral. It's because you have a cold. That's not so gross. It doesn't involve any fecal-occular connection. Well, that's nice of you to say, but there's puss.

Oh well, at least I have the sexy, raspy voice that comes with a chest cold.

Yeah . . . sexy : ) Oh, wait. Puss. Almost definitely bacterial. From poo.

Now the only horrifying question left is, Whose poo? Not mine! I wash, remember? Sam's? Only slightly more possible as I also wash after I change his diapers. Some patient? Well, I deal more in vaginas than anuses, but either way I always wear gloves and when I take them off - you guessed it - I wash. Some random colleague or stranger whose poo-covered pen or keys I used? Ew!! Am I really supposed to never touch anything of which I don't know the complete travel history? That's not reasonable. I'm sorry I can't open your medical chart because Dr. Poo-no-wash just finished writing in it and, well, one time I got pinkeye, so . . .

I guess I just can't ever touch my eyes. EVER.

THANK GOODNESS that Sam doesn't have it! Pinkeye means absolute banishment from daycare. I called this morning to make sure that the rule only applied if the child attending has it, not if there is any member of the household whose eyes bring forth puss. I'm not sure how my 19 month son has better hand hygiene than I do, but he has escaped this eye plague (so far) and so off to daycare he went this morning.

This gave me all day to get myself to the doctor's office, get a note for work and a prescription, then go to the drug store to get eye drops and a roll of heavy duty antibacterial wipes. After a quick stop at SB, where I did not take off my sunglasses despite the pouring rain outside (who cares, let them think I'm high), I headed home to spend 3 hours disinfecting the house. I donned rubber gloves and scoured the kitchen and bathroom with the regular supplies and some extra zeal, then I used almost the entire container of wipes to clean every button, switch, knob, and railing I could find. I saved a couple for the car when David gets home from work.

I've done every stitch of laundry as well. Sheets and towels in hot water (which I rarely use) and bleach (which I never use). Even Sam's bath toys are in the dishwasher on sanitize (I hope they don't melt). This house is fucking CLEAN!! I poltergeisted the bitch.

But, I still have to go vote later, and I won't be allowed to wear sunglasses; my shame on display for all at to see. Voting is important, however, so I'll suck it up and go.

Crap.

In my eye.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

I know, I know. But what am I going to do?

Let's move on. It's my new motto.

I have a new project. Are you interested in hearing about it? I guess you must be or you'd be off reading someone else's blog.

Those of you who know me in real life know I'm a perinatal nurse. I work in a large BC hospital with the second (third?) highest birth rate in the province. I've been working in some form of women's health for the past seven years, and I've spent the last three in labour and delivery (with a short hiatus in fertility). For me, women and their uteri are where it's at. Getting pregnant, getting un-pregnant, those first days of motherhood - I find it all fascinating. Miraculous, if you like that sort of thing. It's my niche. And considering the discontent I hear from my colleagues in the nursing community, I'm lucky to have found one.

Having said that. I have days when I want to quit. When I wonder what the hell I was thinking and I fantasize about a nice relaxing job at a book store or something where I have no responsibilities beyond recommending a good read and balancing the cash at the end of the night.

Juxtaposed with the stress of labour and delivery, is also a sense of . . . not boredom, but . . . interminable-ness that looms over me when I imagine working in the same place, doing the same things for my foreseeable future. I feel suffocated. I start to panic. I dread going to work. So I have to shake it up.

My current shake up is Childbirth Education. I'm going to pimp my CV with a Lamaze certification and teach prenatal courses. I'm all registered with the program and received my study guide last month. I've bought the recommended books and have been sitting over them, poised with highlighters in hand (because I'm nerdy that way), and completing my module reviews, and so on. It's time consuming, but I'm enjoying it. In April I will take a 3 day workshop on Teaching Skills and hopefully learn more about marketing myself as a childbirth educator as well.

By doing all this, I can stay in my comfortable nursing area of perinatal health (where I have done considerable training) and continue to expand and develop professionally, and generally broaden my experiences so that I don't get that panic feeling and decide to quit and go work at Starbucks.

One of the objectives I'd like to implement soon is to start a pregnancy and childbirth blog. From a professional standpoint: to help market myself as a childbirth educator and to provide relevant and accurate information for women who may not want to take a class but still want the information. I've never run my own business or had a professional blog, so I'm a bit nervous about this part of things. Particularly because I've kept so current with this blog : ) Wish me luck!

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As promised to myself, I have been doing yoga and running once a week. I have not been blogging. You may have noticed.

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As I was drafting this post, I had a zombie flick in the background. I love zombie movies, but they make me nervous that my house is not zombie-proof. Is yours?

Monday, February 14, 2011

Oh. I totally get it now.

Feb 1:
Daycare newsletter comes out, including the calendar of events for the month. Feb 14th is clearly marked with Valentine's Day party - children are to wear celebratory colours. The word "party" subtly indicates that further action and responsibility will be required from the parents, but I choose not to think about it.

Feb 7:
A list of treats for the party appears near the sign in/out sheet so that parents can't ignore it. I sign up for chips because it requires little effort and no thought. So much "no thought" that I promptly forget that I've signed up to bring them.

Later that week:
I work four out of 7 nights, get far too little sleep, and occasionally remember that daycare has a party next week that I'm sure I'm supposed to do something about. I drink lots of caffeine and forget.

Feb 10:
An email arrives from the ever organized and enthusiastic daycare staff. It is a list of all the children. It's meant to facilitate the appropriate exchanging of Valentines at the party that is quickly approaching. They considerately suggest that children really only need to bring Valentines for the other children in their particular play groups. I wonder how I'm supposed to know which children (out of the 45 or so) those are. I also wonder if they are going to post a sign-up sheet for treats to bring.

I feel like I'm forgetting something.

Feb 11:
I decide that we are going to make unique, hand-made Valentines for Sam's playmates. David asks me when I think I'm going to find time to do this. I scoff at him.

Feb 13:
I've been working again. And not sleeping enough. And I decide that I will go to the store to buy generic and mass-produced Valentines tomorrow morning and drop them off to daycare later. The party can't possibly be until the afternoon.

Feb 14, 7:40am:
I wait in the car while David takes Sam into daycare. I've asked him to find out when the party starts and peak at the sign up sheet to find out what I said I'd bring. He comes back and says 9 o'clock. And chips.

What?!? Who serves chips to a bunch of toddlers and preschoolers before lunch?

Feb 14, 8:15am:
I have dropped David off at school and am searching through the surprisingly decent selection of boxed Valentines left at the drug store. I find something inoffensive and grab a bag of chocolate for the staff as I make my way to the cash. I feel quite accomplished. Y'know, considering.

Chips at the grocery store. Baked. Because, it's going to be before lunch!!

Feb 14, 8:30am:
Sitting in front of the list of children on my laptop, I blink. I don't know these kids! I don't know which ones Sam sees everyday. I don't want to leave anyone out, but I only have 32 cards and there are 45+ kids. I start to panic.

I decide that I'll stick to the kids 4 years and under. Thankfully, the list is divided by age group. Sorry, school-aged kiddies, you get fuck all from Sam this year because his mom is a douche and left all this to the last minute.

Feb 14, 8:50am:

I arrive at daycare with my bag of goodies. Sam sees me and says "Maaaaaa-ma!" in his newly acquired Italian baby accent (just imagine a "mia" tagged onto the end). I stay a bit to chat with the teacher and put Sam's Valentines in the other children's crafted envelopes. But there is something wrong.

There are envelopes for the staff.

I forgot about the staff.

I'm out of Valentines.

Fuck.

I can't make eye contact with the teacher anymore. Luckily another teacher arrives with kids from the other group who is joining the party. I quickly finish filling the envelopes and make sure to point out the chocolates I brought for the staff!

Feb 14, 9:10am:

I get Sam resettled, after the disruption of my appearance at the daycare, and sneak away. He will cry a bit then have fun at the party and the rest of the day. I will clean the house and feel inadequate as I think of ideas for the unique and hand-made Valentines that I didn't make. Next year, I decide, I will be better at this.

Feb 14, 4:00pm:
We are all at home now and I sit down to snoop through Sam's Valentine's envelope. He has made out well. Cards and little baggies of treats. Even a cute little pencil with a giant eraser. I sigh. I should have done something like this. Something more than stamped out paper lameness.

My sense of failure is stirring up an unpleasant competitiveness with other parents who I haven't even met. My kid can't be the one whose mom phones it in on these sorts of things.

So now I get it. Why some moms hate these daycare / preschool / kindergarten / events. It puts too much pressure on us to perform on behalf of our kids, to not let them down, to not embarrass them. We stress out about how we - and, in turn, they - will be viewed by the other kids, parents, and teachers.

It's stupid, of course, because these are not the things that matter. I'd much rather my kids be known for their kindness, honesty, and sense of humour than their mother's gourmet cupcakes.

It's a good thing too. I don't do cupcakes.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Unexpected dinner guest

I found a bug in my kitchen tonight.

It must have been in the spinach, because I noticed it on the leaves after I had submerged the bunch into a sink of cold water. I never understood why they say to do that with your leafy greens, but now I know: it's to make the bugs float to the top. My first thought was to squish him but he is pretty big so I knew that would involve a mess and crunchy bug sounds. I debated whether I should let the cat have at him, but decided that that was too cruel. And who knows what kind of bug he is? What if he made the cat sick in some terrible act of vengeance. Anyway, I didn't want to hurt him. It's not his fault he got caught up in my spinach while he was probably minding his own buggy business.

Aside: Buy local. That way if you find a bug in your produce, you can pitch it out your back door without worrying that you are introducing a feral species into your friendly neighbourhood habitat.

Finally, he was kind of cute. Not scary or hairy or anything like that. Green. And green bugs are always nice. Right?

Plus . . . he had clearly been living in our fridge for at least two days (impressive) then survived the plunge into the icy depths of my sink. Seriously, he persevered! I couldn't kill him now.

So I quarantined him.

I put him in a disposable plastic container with a bit of water in the bottom (for him to drink) and a few leaves of spinach (because he obviously likes them) and set him on the counter while I finished making dinner and considered what to do with him. Yes I did. Did someone need to know about this? Should I call the grocery store? The government? I started with the husband - who was out with Sam. He reassured me that I could figure this one out on my own.

When David got home, I showed him my makeshift bug terrarium, but forgot to warn him that the lid was not secure. A moment later, water, spinach and bug were scattered on the kitchen floor. David mocked me for trying to collect the bug without touching him.

D: Just pick him up with your fingers.

J: No! He might bite.

D: Yeah, 'cause you found him in spinach. He's probably a meat-eater.

With mocking complete, he googled to find out if this little guy was indigenous (likely not since the spinach came from Mexico) or perhaps dangerous. He seemed to be neither. So we let him hang out while we had dinner.


Unbeknownst to David, I was growing attached to this little bug and had started building a vision of our future together as a family. I'd buy a proper house for him and research what kinds of other greens he might like. We'd find him a buddy to hang out with in there and Sam would name them. Sadly, as his vocabulary is still quite limited, their names would be Hot and More. When they finally passed away of natural causes, we'd have a tiny bug funeral. It would be touching.

So you can imagine my horror when David came from the kitchen later in the evening and said:

I threw your bug over the balcony.

me: What?!?

Heartless Husband: Yeah . . .

me: I didn't get to say goodbye!!

HH: What?

me: I can't believe you did that!

HH: Are you serious?

me: YES!! . . . Did you throw his spinach over with him?

HH: . . . no.

me: (Aghast)

H: . . .

me: What's he going to eat?!?

HH: Are you serious?!?

I get up and walk away . . . pause while HH processes the crazy that has taken over his wife . . .

Mocking Husband: I'll go look for him.

me: Don't be stupid. (It's 10 pm and dark out. And he landed in our grass. And he's GREEN!)

MH: I'll do it. I'll go right now.

me: No!

Slightly Caring or Perhaps Just Remorseful Husband gets up: I'll go look for him.

me: You'll never find him.

SCPJRH ignores me and goes out into the dark backyard with a flashlight.

. . . less than 5 minutes pass . . .

SCPJRH comes up to me with his hand closed around something.

me: No!?!

SCPJRH opens hand revealing small, terrified-but-happy-to-see-me Mexican Spinach Bug (see how I am anthropomorphising him?)

me: You found him!!!

Redeemed Husband: looking proud

me: How did you find him?!?

RH: I calculated the trajectory of my throw off the balcony and just looked in that area.

me: Shut up.

Once Mexican Spinach Bug was safely back in his lettuce-water-Glad terrarium David apologized for his gross underestimation of my emotional connection to our green house guest. I forgave him and announced that the bug must be named. I also wondered aloud where would be the most comfortable place in the kitchen for him to sleep. David gave me a hug and said he loved me in the way that he does when I am being so silly and adorable that he can't help but think of how sad and boring life would be without me.

And that folks, is why we've been together for 14 years.

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We are accepting suggestions for our Mexican Spinach Bug's name. What do you think???

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Here's something I will leave behind

Being bullied by corporations and putting up with shitty customer service.

Do any of you shop at Garage Clothing Co.? Well please consider, you know, not.

I've pasted my complaint letter below. It's short, don't worry, and explains it all quite concisely. I sent it to their online customer service and am promised a response within 48 hours.

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Hello,

Today I brought back a tank top that I received as a gift at the beginning of December. It was the kind of tank with the lace that covered the upper back and shoulder straps. I had the receipt and was returning it because, after just one wash, the tiny elastics in the lace had all snapped and frayed and were visible all over the lace.

This was at the store at Granview Corners in White Rock, BC. The manager (Ivy) had to make a call to confirm the return (I assume to Head Office) because it had been more than 30 days. Head Office told her that since no one else had complained about this particular problem with these tank tops that it could not be considered a "manufacturer's defect" and therefore could not be exchanged.

Ivy was professional and nice, and my complaint is not about her. My complaint is that the item is clearly defective, yet even with a legitimate receipt I was not allowed to exchange it. I took my receipt and left the tank top at the store with Ivy.

I will tell you what I told her, which is, I can't believe that your company is willing to lose a customer over a tank top that retails at $6.

Despite being otherwise happy with all the products I've ever bought from Garage, I will never shop at your store again and I'll be sure to relay this story to anyone who will listen.

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Now I know this might seem silly because it's just a piece of clothing and there are real life social justice concerns out there which deserve far more attention and championing. I've read amazing blog posts about issues such as infertility, racism, child welfare, unfair trade practices, health tragedies, and so on, so I know my complaint is shallow. I suppose if I was a real human being I'd be writing about how we shouldn't ever shop at these stores because their clothing is made by people (possibly children) being treated more like slaves than employees. But since I am merely a machine without feelings, this is the best I can muster up tonight.

Come on, play along. If I get a "forgive us" gift certificate from the store, I'll buy you all a tank top that is sure to fall apart in the wash.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Firsts, almost

In the past few weeks I've done two things that I haven't done in a really long time.

First, I finished knitting a blanket for Sam that I had started when I was pregnant with him. Do you know how old he is now? Yeah.

Second, I picked up a book and, you know, read. A few pages at a time. Until it was finished. I have this terrible habit of starting a book and thinking "Hey, this is pretty good. I'm going to set it down over here and ignore it for several months." Once I finally get back to it, I've usually forgotten what the thing was about and have to reread most of it. So this time I was determined to finish. It was very good and I'm looking forward to starting another one.

This time of year is all about finishing and restarting, isn't it? Completing and initiating. Lasts and firsts.

Like Sam's first public tantrum? In wal.mart while we shopped for a friend's little boy. I think his brain broke a little as tonkas and hotwheels seemed to multiply before his eyes. "Beep beep" escaping from his lips with such manic speed, repetition, and increasing volume that I wondered if the other parents in the isle thought he had Tourrette's. Then rushing from one mammoth shelf of toys to its sister on the opposite side, oblivious to the shopping carts and personal space of others. Having left my own cart at the end of the isle, I followed Sam, hunched down to his 2. 5 foot level, glancing apologetically at the other consumers while I made vain attempts to convince my boy to hold my hand or at least stop putting his in his mouth because don't you know how dirty wal.mart is?

Having chosen a gift for our friend's son, it was time to extract Sam from the hall of toys. Ha. Coaxing and asking nicely didn't work so I warned him that I was going to pick him up, then scooped him into my arms. There were protests, and I was preparing myself for a scream-fest which would force me to leave my items - unpurchased - and carry Sam out of the store, all wails and flailing arms. I imagined the glares and sympathetic nods of strangers (those without and with children, respectively). But actually, he was ok. As soon as the toys were out of view he gave up trying to convince me to go back. Once in line, I was able to distract him by letting him use boxes of gum as maracas. Fair solution.

I know there are tantrums in our future, but this was not his first. Phew. Dodge. But for how long . . . ?

As for a last . . . is there something I will leave behind in 2010?

Probably. Let me think about it and tell you later.

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Running tally for this week: once on Sunday, 7k
Yoga tally: once, Wednesday night

Sunday, January 2, 2011

We took the tree down yesterday. I like to start the New Year fresh and optomistic and unencumbered by the post-Christmas blues that inevitably creep in on me starting December 26th. The place looks open and more tidy (a state I rarely achieve), but it is missing the warm twinkling of the tiny lights and the inescapable presence of another living thing in the room. Not that we are lacking in living things around here, as I sit with a cat cuddled up to me on the couch, David on the floor playing the game he got on Christmas Eve, Sam sleeping soundly upstairs. We are a cozy family, tree or no.





All the same, I feel reflective this time of year (as most people do), and mostly excited but sometimes a little sad. 2010 was a challenge for us: David struggled with a business plan that, while successful in some measure, has cost us quite a bit and produced very little return. We made the difficult but neccesary decision that I would go back to work early from maternity leave and he would be a stay at home Dad for the summer. Now he is back at school - something he never thought he'd do but, again, was necessary.

As for the year to come . . . In April David will be an electrician's apprentice and start the next chapter in his professional life. I continue to work at the same place, and to my great surprise, am quite content to stay there for now. Hopefully soon I will have a permanent position so that I can get full benefits, including mat leave top-up for when we decide to start trying for number two.

There are some improvements we want to make in and around the house this year too. Some amateur landscaping may be involved. I'm kind of excited about this because as it is, our backyard is basically an unusable swamp of mud and moss. Soon it will be an oasis!

We've got some serious financial goals to meet this year as well, but there's not a whole lot we can do about those until David is working. I am proud that we were able to start an RESP for Sam last year, despite everything else being woefully neglected.

I joined a running group this morning in an attempt to kick start my habits for better health (again). I'll run at least once a week (hopefully twice), yoga once a week (I've even been contemplating trying Bikram's again - eek!). And worst of all - I mean, Yay, this will be awesome! - no wine. Unless it's a social occasion. Cuddling with the cat and blogging don't count.

Over the next two months, in an effort to embarrass myself into sticking to these health/fitness goals, I am going to have a tally at the end of each post (weekly (another goal)) reporting the number of activities I've participated in that week. Look for it next Sunday! Cheer me on or ridicule me as the case may warrant.

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A few more pics from the holidays.

Sam's first gingerbread house, made at daycare. I swear there is a course they teach in ECE on how to make parents cry.


Opening a care package from Nana and Papa.


Something about a housecoat makes even the cutest toddler look like a little old man. I'm also looking forward to when Sam learns to smile for the camera.


One of Sam's coolest gifts.


Opening his stocking.


A day of lovely little moments like this.