Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Reading list

I really like to read and I miss the days when I could read leisurely - all day if I wanted to. Now I'm lucky if I have the uninterrupted time during the day, or the energy at the end of the day, to get through anything more than a few pages. I know, boo hoo. I wouldn't trade what I have. I'm just saying that I have to be particular about what books / magazines/ whatever I spend my time on.

Which brings me to this book that a neighbour lent me.

I don't want to say the title or author in case I get sued for libel, but if you've read it you'll know which one I'm talking about. It's a very popular book right now. Especially among women. It has a lot of sex in it. It's basically porn. There's a colour in the title.

I may be the only woman in North America who will not finish reading this book. I got eight chapters in and . . . oh my! It. Is. Terrible.

Here's why. 

Everyone murmers or mutters when they speak.

Every look is a gaze. Or a peek through the subject's eyelashes.

Phrases like Holy crap and Holy shit are used like punctuation. And I'm not offended by profanity (haha : ) just the author's lack of creativity.

In the first seven chapters our heroine flushes or blushes every 10 seconds - how many shades of crimson can a girl's complexion progress through?

Every mention of the love interest's fingers includes the observation that they are long.

While the same words and phrases are used repeatedly in short succession, there is (as my neighbour puts it) the occasional 50 cent word thrown in to prove that the author owns a dictionary. For example, "somnambulant" - wtf?!? Who knows what that means without looking it up?!

The author's descriptive abilities match a high school cheerleader's: The love interest is supposed to be so attractive and seductive that our timid, virginal main character willingly and immediately submits to him. Yet the author says little about him other than the colour of his eyes and that he is "hot". I'm sorry, does he have a fever? That's like reading a car review (of, like, an Aston Martin or a Lambo) that says "It's fast" and omits all of the engine specs! Come on!! I'm sure some critics would say that the author is purposely vague so that the reader can project her own ideal of attractiveness onto the character. I say it's lazy. 

All of this may have been forgivable if the sex was worth it. But it wasn't!! Again, where is the description? Where is the even marginal plausibility? A virgin has multiple orgasms during her first time? Vaginal orgasms? Nipple orgasms?? What kind of disappointing inaugural sexual experiences are we setting young women up for here?!?

The writing is so bad it is distracting. I found myself getting so angry with the overused vocabulary that I couldn't focus on the poor character development or the unconvincing "plot". In the end, I just had to stop reading. Very disappointing . . . I had been looking forward to some good smut (after all, I just had a baby and am not having sex of my own at the moment). But I can't even waste my time on this.

Am I too judgmental? Am I getting old? Have you ever stopped reading a book that you just couldn't enjoy? Or are you the type of person who reads a book to the end once you've opened it?

Thursday, June 7, 2012

NaBloPoMo FAIL!!

Ok, it was overambitious. I was able to blog for 5 days in a row, but let's be honest:

I have a toddler and a newborn. My kids are adorable and fun and I don't sleep anymore. Instead I've been taking a series of naps for the past 4 weeks. And I'm exhausted. Also, my house is a mess. And I'm trying to maintain some semblance of a life.

So while I feel guilty that I signed up to blog every day in June . . . it's just not going to happen. And I'm giving myself permission to be ok with that. I will do my best. I have lots to write about, so I will blog as regularly as possible. But playing with the kids, socializing with my posse of other mums on mat leave (to keep me sane), cleaning the house, quiet time with David, and sleep all trump sitting at the computer. Maybe I'll sign up for another month down the road.

Thanks for understanding. 

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Potty talk

There's been a lot of talk about poop in our house recently.

Not just because I'm a nurse. Anyone who knows a nurse socially knows that no bodily function is off conversational limits. Even over dinner. We will occasionally toss a preemptive apology in the direction of any non-nurses present, but that is generally the extent of our decorum.

Not only because I just had a baby, either. Though there was a fair amount of discussion surrounding my fear of (and relief after) my first post-partum poop. For those who are curious, it was not as scary as I expected.

Nope. It's because Sam is potty training. It's something I've been meaning to do for quite a while, and Sam was showing interest around Christmas time, but I was working too much to be consistent with it and then we traveled East for New Year's . . . and then his interest was gone. A friend had sent me a link to a three-day potty training boot camp that had worked for her son, but the recommended age to do it was 22 months and we were already 5 months past that. And while I know that kids will potty train when they are ready, you can't force them, none of them are still in diapers in college, etc. . . I was starting to feel guilty that I missed the window and was somehow doing Sam a disservice.

When I pulled Sam from daycare in April, I thought that would be a good time to do it since I would be home monday to friday and we could really focus, but I won't lie . . . I was hugely pregnant, tired and uncomfortable, and I got kind of lazy about it. I would ask him if he wanted to use the potty or toilet and he would say no so I would let it go. I rationalized that training now would be a waste of time because he would surely regress when the baby arrived anyway.

All the same, I knew it had to be done sooner or later. Sam will start preschool in the Fall and it's a requirement. Also - and I know this is a projection of my own self-consciousness - I was starting to be worried about judgment from other parents because Sam is so verbal that he seems older than he is. As it is he is 2 years and 9 months and still in diapers. Some of our neighbours' kids of similar ages have been trained for many months. Of course, no one ever commented because they are decent people and they've been there before - or will be soon.

After Lucy arrived, I had recovered from her birth, and we saw that Sam was adapting to his little sister's presence without objection,  I started to realize that it would be much easier to manage potty training and a newborn if we tackled it with two parents in the house - i.e. before David went back to work. Neither of us had done much reading on the how-to of it, but I had chatted with some other mums of toddlers and been given a few helpful ideas.

So off Sam and I went to the local big box discount store (actually, it was my first outing with both the kids by myself and it went very well) to buy pull ups, stickers, and M&Ms (we already had undies, a potty and a toilet seat with Thomas on it). By the time we got home Sam already knew the plan and wanted that first M&M reward, so he took off his diaper and peed in the potty. After that he wanted to put on underwear . . . so we were kind of in it. That afternoon we made a potty chart for his stickers, finalizing the incentives for his new bathroom habits.

Twenty four hours later, David and I wanted to kill each other.

Did you know that potty training is effing boring?!? In the beginning you can't really leave the house. And since I hadn't really done much reading or planning about the execution of potty training, I didn't know how long this was supposed to take and how long before we could venture out into the world. Luckily the weather has not been fabulous lately so it wasn't such a big deal, for the first couple of days. But by day three we were all going stir crazy!

On top of that, we discovered that while peeing for an M&M was well within Sam's readiness, has a mental block about pooping anywhere but in his diaper. He didn't poop the whole first day that he was in underwear. He's still in diapers at night, but he didn't poop that first night either. He is a pretty regular kid so we were a little worried about this. By the second afternoon he was saying that he had to poop every 20 seconds or so and was clearly getting distressed, but he just wouldn't go in the potty or on the toilet. We kept encouraging him gently . . . and soon found ourselves saying things that would mortify even the least modest nurses I know!

Gosh, I love having a good poop!

Hey Sam, I have to go poop. Do you want to come?

Wow, that was a big poop! I feel so much better now!

And so on.

Our praise of poop did not seem to affect him, so we offered to let him put a diaper back on so he could poop and for a little while he said no thank you, but eventually he agreed and within 5 minutes he dropped a mother load. Poor kid. David checked with Dr. Google and apparently this is not an uncommon thing.

After that we adjusted our expectations of successful potty training. Diapers for bedtime and pooping are totally fine. Peeing in the potty in the front hallway so that we don't have to race up to the third floor where all the stupid bathrooms are in this house - also fine. Pull ups for car rides and longer outings - absolutely ok. In the end, whatever keeps the process as stress-free for both Sam and us is acceptable. What's the rush? Why the pressure? And you know what? It's working. Sam hasn't had an accident since the first day. He can play outside with his friends and still take a pause to go in to the potty without worrying that playtime is over or that he is missing anything. We've had several dry outings in the car or on foot (in undies, not even Pull ups!). And he has no problem with public washrooms. For a week in, I call that success. The rest will come in time.


An excerpt from one of the early days (bearing in mind that Sam is two and a half and his favourite questions are "Why?" and "What kind of . . . "

Me: That was a great poop, I feel so much better!

Sam: What kind of poop was it?

Me: (biting my tongue not to laugh) Um . . . 

Sam: Was it a white poop?

Me: (stifling giggles) No, it was brown. 

Sam: Oh. I had a brown one too! What kind of brown poop?

Me: (laughing openly now) Well, let's see . . . what did I eat for dinner last night . . . ?

David: Oh Christ.  

Tuesday, June 5, 2012


 Playing push-the-car-back-and-forth with Dad

Getting every last bit of chocolate cake


Being allowed to get totally all over muddy

Monday, June 4, 2012

Two year old's and men

Since having Sam home with me from daycare - a decision we made to save money before I went on mat leave by working only weekends during April - I have had the opportunity to observe all the little behavioural nuances he displays during the day.

I've determined that Sam - and likely all other children his age - are insane people trapped in tiny bodies. It's delightful and frightening to watch!

His moods are labile. His ramblings often don't make sense as he drifts from one subject to another; asks a question then moves on before I can answer; strings together thoughts he's composed (now, earlier in the day, last week) and expects me to know what he is talking about.

He laughs hysterically and when we ask him what is funny, he says "Nothing. I was just talking to myself".

If something happened in the past, it was "last morning", and every so often something is going to happen in "half an hour" (because he has such an acute understanding of the passage of time).

He tries to understand our behaviour by practicing it on the cat. He gave Sabbath a time out on the balcony because "I'm not happy with you", then let him in and hugged him a minute later (imitating the discipline followed by love that we show him when he has done something bad - usually hitting the cat!).

He animorphizes things. Like his toys. "Bunny needs a kiss".
Fair enough.
"Why is that car sad?"
Um . . .
Then he gives the car a hug and says that he made it feel better.

Sam hugging a car

He sees a worm on the ground and asks it where it is going.

There is actually a worm there - he's not seeing things.

His naievity and genuine attempt to make sense of the world around him is touching to witness.

His short-ass attention span and inability to multitask is annoying. Hey, this is starting to sound like my husband! And, I wager, many other men out there. In fact, I can say that with confidence because David told me so. He encouraged me to write this post. Tell every woman you know! he said. Men are toddlers. Our interests change over time, but we are otherwise essentially the same. You have to spell things out for us and use short authoritative commands. 

So there you go, ladies. From the horse's mouth. Men are just large two year olds. And since two year olds are tiny insane people . . .

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Animal Haus

There must be something about our house that draws critters. Other than our cat, though he is a major source of vitamin Ew around here.

Just a few days after the long-tailed rodent in the dishwasher encounter, I came home from work to find David in the kitchen with a drink in one hand, a long plastic spoon in the other, and the stove hood looking like this:

There were little shredded bits of black plastic all over the stove top and the fan was mangled. David says that he came home to the cat on the counter going nuts and the fan filter dislodged and laying on the stove. He looked up and saw the fan itself still in place. Assuming the cat was just being a dick, David tested to see if the light still worked - yup. Then he turned on the fan. 

"That's when the screaming started."

He tells me there is a squirrel up there and all I can think is that it is mangled and bloody and what are you doing with one of my mixing spoons?!?

"So you turned on the fan?!?

My husband is big on drama and not great at explaining a situation clearly. The squirrel was intact - had been able to side step the fan blades - thank goodness, because I'm not sure I could have ever cooked on that stove top again.

So with drink and spoon in hand (as all great quests are embarked upon), David was trying to evict a very frightened and angry squirrel from our kitchen. Unsuccessfully.

Have you ever heard the noise a very frightened and angry squirrel makes when it is stuck in your stove hood and your husband has tried to chop it up with the fan? It's like a barking cough - like a croupy baby, but sharper and with more claws.

Several minutes of cajoling later, it has become clear that the mixing spoon is not doing the trick. The kitchen is a wreck, Sam needs to be picked up at daycare soon, and there is still a squirrel hovering above our cooking area. I decide that someone has to stick their hand in there and just grab the little bugger. Someone not me. I am pregnant at this point, after all!

We don David in an oven mitt and a tea towel wrapped around his upper arm. I am laughing hysterically as my big brave husband repeatedly yanks his padded hand away from the chirping hole in our stove hood. He gets a hold of it a few times but it is really mad, and strong, and has a terrified hold on the inner ridge of the opening. He doesn't want to pull so hard he dismembers it, but through g'faws I'm saying "You just have to grab him!"

He finally gets the squirrel out and pitches it into the backyard. Oh I wish I had a photo of David running across the kitchen with a squirrel at arm's length that is trying to chomp down on his oven-mitted hand! Very funny indeed :)

We ordered take out that night.

Saturday, June 2, 2012


There aren't many ailments that can't be cured by an afternoon in the sun with friends and neighbours, watching the kids run through a sprinkler.

I'm always amazed at the profound effect the weather has on my mood - and the mood of my labile husband : ) This morning the sky was overcast and there was a chill in the air. It had been a rough night at our house. Less because of our newborn and more because our two and a half year old couldn't sleep so he kept coming into our room. More accurately, he kept creeping slowly down the hall and hovering outside our bedroom door until one of us noticed him. Dawn of the Dead much?? It wouldn't be so bad if he would just crawl into bed, snuggle down and crash out. I actually kind of like it when I wake to find him cuddled up with his Dad on the other side of the mattress. But last night he lay there between us, eyes wide open, and flopped around from position to awkward position, trying to get comfortable or get our attention - I'm not sure which.

I had just fed and resettled the baby when Sam came in the first time and all I could think about was how he was cutting into my precious - and painfully short - sleep time before Lucy would wake up again. After two hours and sending or carrying him back to his bed (and him returning in fairly short order) roughly five times, I finally suggested that David go sleep on the couch and let Sam stay with me in our bed. I figured at least one of us should get a few solid hours, and since I'm currently on milk duty it sure wasn't going to be me! Once David left, Sam had room to stretch out and he fell asleep. As I was up feeding Lucy a little while later I watched Sam sleep and marveled at how it used to be him keeping me up at all hours, and how wonderful it is now that he mostly sleeps through the night.

Marvelous or not, morning came too early and we were all awake to take on the gray day. Moods and energy levels were low at best. Except for Sam, who was oblivious to the impact of his and his sister's nighttime demands. David and I were snappy at each other, both tired and wishing for some magical grandparental respite that is geographically impossible. Over lunch I passive agressively told David that he should just go back to work already, even though he has another week planned to be home with us. It was not pretty.

But then something happened.

The clouds broke. The sun came out. And the temperature increased significantly. David went for a bike ride. Sam went for quiet time. Lucy slept. I puttered. The rest of the afternoon was a blur. But there were lawn chairs, kids laughing, a beer or two - and suddenly things were better, life didn't seem so tiring. There were no tantrums, no yelling. And the children behaved too.

Thank you Mother Nature for saving our day. Please help us out again tomorrow, would you? 

Friday, June 1, 2012


A quick post. As many this month will no doubt be. That's right, I'm doing it. I've read in admiration as others have done it in the past. I've wanted to do it several times before. And now, with a potty training toddler, a 3 week old, and oh-so-much time on my hands, I figured I'd give it a try.

Welcome to Friday Night Parents' NaBloPoMo

The theme for June (as assigned by BlogHer - is Jump, though they are not strict on adhering to it. The goal is simply to blog daily for a month. To get writing. Though I will try to touch on Jump every so often. And I'll open with it!

This crappy resolution photo was taken with my iphone . . . in motion . . . in not great light . . . but the essence I think is captured: The pure joy of motion as experienced by a two year old. The anticipation of breaching the still, unbroken surface of a puddle big enough to disappear into. The freedom of being allowed to play hard and get wet. 

Wish me luck with this writing endeavor, and happy NaBloPoMo-ing to the rest of you out there!