Saturday, November 24, 2012

Moving on

I broke my engagement with NaBloPoMo. You noticed? Yes, well, let me tell you, I stand by my decision. This was not a blogging fail but rather a very deliberate refusal to blog daily. It was fun for the first few days, but it was a huge time and energy suck. I ran out of things to talk about, and was always rushing against the clock so I didn't even feel like I was saying things well. I guess people who successfully complete a BloPoMo have an arsenal of topics or even pre-written posts they can draw from. I didn't have that. So I let it go. And it was awesome. I had time to read, catch up on Dexter and the Walking Dead, go out and have a life and not have to blog before bed. Done.

Now I can get back to regaling you with hijinx that result in conversations you don't want repeated at preschool. Like this one.

The setting: Sam and I in the bathtub together the other night. He is staring at my boobs because, well, they are at his eye level. He is washing his chest. 

Sam: Can we go nipples to nipples?

Me: . . . No, thank you.

Sam: Why?

Me: Well, nipples are very personal and I don't really like mine being touched.

Sam: . . . (thinking) . . . Why are my nipples not long?

Me: (stifling laughter) Well, you're a little boy and I'm a Mummy, and I have fed two babies with my nipples. Feeding babies makes nipples long.

Sam: . . . (thinking. and now touching his nipples) . . . maybe when I`m older I can feed a baby with my nipples.

Me: (what can I say . . . ?) Maybe. But usually only women can feed babies from their nipples.

Sam: Maybe I can be a woman when I get older.

Oh, Sam : ) I love your simple conclusions. You can be whatever you want when you get older, whatever makes your heart happy.






Friday, November 9, 2012

NaBloPoBreak

Not blogging tonight. Not doing anything - gonna veg out and watch crap on Netflix : ) Will make for better quality blogging tomorrow.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Unplug

Sam and I had a really good day yesterday. It was a perfect Autumn day with sunshine and crisp air and about a bazillion leaves on the ground to play in. 



We probably spent 50% of his waking hours outside playing, taking pictures, chatting about every thought that popped into his head (that squirrel in the tree, that car over there, Mummy, did you hear that train??).  We walked. Did we ever walk! In the morning we went to the Y and back while Lu napped at home before David went to work. In the afternoon (with Lucy bundled up in the stroller this time) our destination was the park, then that same park again to meet friends, then over to get sushi for dinner - sometimes we treat ourselves when Daddy is on "nights". By 5 pm the cold air and Sam's tired little legs were conspiring in my favour to persuade him to come inside without protest. 

Our indoor hours were spent mostly reading. This kid can't get enough of books these days - he didn't ask to watch Cars or Chuggington or Sesame Street even once all day! Instead he brought me books on the couch while I nursed Lucy and we took turns reading them; some of them he has committed to memory and others he makes up based on the pictures. 

Even bedtime went smoothly. I threw both kids in the bath together, had jammies on and teeth brushed without any fuss, read even more books while Lucy took her bedtime feed, then sang them both off for the night.

There were no tantrums, no time outs. It was lovely. All of it. 

Obviously, I want to recreate this experience, so I've been reflecting on just what made the day so pleasant. Blue skies and sunshine are scarce this time of year, and as the weather is entirely outside my realm of my control, I have to hope there was something deeper at play here. 

The best I can come up with is Presence.  

With David home in the morning, I was able to leave Lucy to nap inside and play with Sam beyond earshot of the baby monitor. Sam and Mummy time is important and I try to carve out a little for us every day, but it's more than that. Lucy is a very easy baby - not fussy, not high needs - and Sam Capitol-L-loooooves her, so her absence from our playtime wasn't the key factor. Besides, we had just as much fun on our afternoon outing when she came along in the stroller. 

Maybe it helped that we didn't really have an agenda for the day. No real plans, no outings, no schedule to keep other than meals and Lucy's nap. But, in all honesty, I think I know what it was . . . I'm beating around the bush because I know what I want to say and am embarrassed to do so . . . 

We had such a good day yesterday because I didn't check my email. I didn't go on Facebook. We didn't watch any TV or YouTube videos. I barely texted anyone. He had my uncorrupted attention, and our fragile mum-and-three-year-old relationship thrived because of it. 

Too many times I have answered Sam's questions (for the 80th time, but that's not the point) with my nose stuck in my phone or laptop rather than making eye contact with him. I've even been annoyed with him for interrupting me while texting (yikes! I can't believe I just wrote that). David and I are both guilty of using our phones too much during family time. We use them to text, check the time, the weather, read our email, take pictures, etc. etc. etc. And because we don't have a land line we always have our phones on us. It's very easy, very distracting, and not at all cool

So from now on . . . no texting, email checking, Pinteresting - whatever - during family time. That means not even when I'm bored to tears of playing trains or watching him ride his bike over the makeshift ramp that David made for the neighbourhood littles in the summer. I want to have more good days, and while unplugging isn't a perfect recipe for that, I know it can't hurt. I want to be more present for my kids and model the kind of respect I hope they will show to me as they grow up. 

Put the phone down, make eye contact, and be Present.  After all, my kids aren't mine, I am theirs. So I should act like it. 

It's late and I'm tired (and tired of blogging every day), but I am going to write more about this topic another time. I have more to say. Maybe start a movement. We'll see. 


Wednesday, November 7, 2012

In the picture

How is it possible that I just read this article today?? My friend, Lisa, told me about it weeks ago and I filed it away under Do That Sometime and then kind of forgot about it. I'm not a terribly sentimental person, not a "gusher", but The Mom Stays in the Picture, by Allison Tate, made me all mushy and lovey about my kids in a way that catching baby puke in my bare hands and wiping a three year old's ass just can't. 

Allison describes what so many mothers I know experience: a sort of non-existence in family photos. Sometimes it is because we are unhappy with our own appearance and don't feel compelled to immortalize it "on film", and sometimes it is because we are always the one behind the camera. Either way, we are missing. David jokes that if someone was browsing our photo books (or the many gigs of hard drive space that house our would-be photo books), they would assume he is a single father.

But Allison writes something in her article that hit me like a sack of hammers: 

"Someday I won't be here -- and I don't know if that someday is tomorrow or thirty or forty or fifty years from now -- but I want them to have pictures of me. I want them to see the way I looked at them, see how much I loved them. I am not perfect to look at and I am not perfect to love, but I am perfectly their mother."

There is nothing I can add to that - it is so perfectly stated. 






Sam and mum May 2010

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Paralyzed

There was a temporary break in the rain this afternoon - an opportunity to get an energetic small person out of the house that I snapped up without hesitation! The sun even shone a bit as it dipped below the cloud line and plummeted toward the horizon at its new early curfew. The colours this Fall seem to be more vibrant and long-lived than previous years, possibly due to our late and warm summer (which didn't end until nearly mid-October). Honestly there are trees that house every colour of leaf in the seasonal spectrum all in one. I've tried to capture a few images with the iphone and the real camera alike but nothing can do it justice. Here they are anyway.




In an attempt to hang onto this beauty as long as possible - and to "do arts and crafts" on these long rainy days we have been having - Sam and I have started collecting leaves to laminate and tack up in the windows of the house. 

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Me: "Is this the weirdest thing you've ever been asked to laminate?"
Staples staff: "Um . . . it's the farthest thing from paper." 

: )
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Sam's leave choices are . . . charming, haphazard, without vision of the final project. He's three. 

I look for bright, fresh, intact leaves with bold colours or unique patterns.


I've grabbed some total gems! But there are so many, and I find myself scanning the ground and trees for "the perfect" leaf, never satisfied with what I already have. I stare at the wet and dissolving piles of foliage on the sidewalks and front yards, feeling overwhelmed - paralyzed - with indecision. It's the reason I can't pick out a pumpkin at the pumpkin patch - every time I think I've got "the one", I see something better. As I walk toward the tractor-pulled hay ride that threatens to take me away from the field and finalize my selection for good, I sneak peaks at and covet other people's pumpkins, always worried that I have missed out.

One of the things I am trying to do with NaBloPoMo is to expand my readings as well as my writings. I love getting recommendations from others and, of course, reading my friends' blogs, but I want to branch out a bit. I was totally overwhelmed by the BlogHer NaBloPoMo blogroll (of which I am #614 out of 1833) and had to abandon my plan to choose a few blogs based on their cool names. Instead I cut up small pieces of paper, wrote "0" through "9" on them and let Sam choose and arrange numbers for me.

So here are some of the new blogs I will read in November as randomly selected by my preschooler:

#34 - The Dew Baby

#212 - jill teague - uut of the blue writing

#819 - Fried  Tofu

#926 - Alive in the Storm

#1588 - a gal in city

#1725 - My R&R Space

Monday, November 5, 2012

Nights

David is on, what he calls, "nights" this week and next. He's working 2:30 to 11:00 pm, which anyone who has actually worked a night shift knows is really an "evening", and anyone who has kids and dreads the dinner-bath-bedtime routine knows is a "blessing".

Despite the solo juggling act of getting both kids fed, bathed, and put to bed on time, the reward of a quiet house and no one to interrupt me while I do whateverthehellIwant . . . is awesome. Tonight it has been drinking tea, making sweet face love to the best pastries you can buy at the Cloverdale Bakery, and playing on the computer (blogging, reading blogs, discovering online photo collage-making a la PicMonkey - thank you Lindsay!!). Later I may read a book that wasn't written by Sandra Boynton.

The other nice thing about the evening rotation is that David is home and awake in the mornings to have family time with all of us, or to watch the kids so I can jet out and do errands. Conversely I can take the kids away and he can have down time. Somehow, when he is on "nights" we get along better too. Probably because we don't have time to talk to each other in complete conversations with Sammus Interruptus around - and if you can't talk, you can't argue!

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Look what I can do in about 20 seconds with PicMonkey!!
All photos by the fabulous Lise Kwan (except for the one she is in) taken at a local winery Grape Stomp competition - so much fun! We will have to make a team and participate next year!

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While I didn't choose to write about the U.S. election tomorrow (as was the BlogHer prompt) I am interested in the results and am firmly seated in the Obama camp. Just wanted to put that out there in case some fence-sitter is reading tonight and is subconsciously swayed by my endorsement : )


Sunday, November 4, 2012

If I could live anywhere in the world . . .

I love this question. And I have no idea how to answer it. 

I haven't travelled much and I've never really had a travel bug (which is lucky because I've never really had a travel budget). I hear people talk about their indulgent tropical vacations, epic backpack journeys across multiple countries, or deeply cultural explorations of little-known nations and I think, that's nice, but I have never set a date or booked a ticket for myself. 

A nurse I worked with once spent weeks in Thailand and Cambodia and said it changed her life. Another nurse I knew used to volunteer with MSF and went on several trips, to places I can't even recall, where she had very meaningful experiences and inconsistent access to things like running water and the internet. Her stories made me envious of her sense of adventure and commitment to a cause, but never inspired me to sign up. Two years ago, we made plans with our best friends (two other couples) to go to South Africa in 2012 to celebrate one of their 30th birthdays (as that is where she is from). Instead we all had babies this year. 

See, I like the idea of doing these sort of things - I want to want to travel - but in all honesty, I'm kind of a homebody. While I can camp and hike and even (in my day) canoe with great pleasure, I like a warm bed and a flush toilet at the end of most days. And since I don't have the money to vacation in the kind of comfort I would prefer, I haven't ventured very far. I have, in fact, never been beyond North America. So it is difficult for me to say where in the world I would live without basing the decision on pictures and other people's recommendations. 

What I do know is that, in the end, if you actually move to a new country - not just vacation there - you eventually have to work to pay the bills, send the kids to school, clean your house, and do all the other life chores and maintenance that you are doing where you live now. So the only thing that changes is the view. And after a while that becomes commonplace too. When we first moved to BC from Ontario, we were awestruck by the mountains and the ocean. I remember saying to David that the day we glance flippantly at those mountains, take them for granted, is the day this place has become home. It's been 12 years and while the season's first snowfall on the North Shore mountains is still breathtaking, most days - if I can see them through the rain clouds at all - I don't give them a passing thought. 

Having said that, the Lower Mainland is a beautiful place to live in so many ways, and you would be hard pressed to convince me to move anywhere else. As far as travel goes, the idea of a motorcycle road trip across Canada and the Northern U.S. is on my bucket list, but I'm not sure I'd roll much farther South than New York on the East and Oregon on the West. Maybe that makes me boring, or maybe it makes me appreciative of how lucky I am to have been born in such a wonderful country and how satisfied I am with where I have chosen to settle within it. 

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Saturday Parents

I see now how easy it is to fall into over-scheduling your children - and your life! By 1 pm this afternoon I had already been to the YMCA three times! 

First, I had a running group that meets at 9, rain or shine (today it was rain). 

At 10:30, Sam had his first gymnastics class. This was so great! It's the first time that he's been in a program, besides preschool, where a parent didn't have to participate. I was nervous because he was clearly the youngest in the class. He was having a little bit of trouble with concepts like warming up in the circle and keeping his place in line for a turn on the equipment - he kept hanging back and letting the other kids go in front of him - but the instructor was great and made sure that he got just as much time on as everyone else.  His favourite activities were the somersaults and the trampoline - so perfect for getting that rangy energy out that drives me crazy in the house on rainy days!

At noon, Lucy had her first "swimming lesson" which pretty much meant her looking wet and adorable while I bobbed her around in the water and sang silly songs. I loved it : ) All of it!

This afternoon we still have to pop out and get some groceries, then tonight David and I have a date! I know, right? But before that, we need to get the house tidy so that our babysitter doesn't see how shamefully we live!

David starts two weeks of evenings again on Monday so I will have free time after the kids are in bed. What will I do?? Well, I've decided to join a stitch n' bitch and a book club. There are holiday plans to be made! I am working here and there, as well. And of course I'll be blogging about it all!!

Just not today. I've already got a three year old tugging at me to get off the computer and play with him. Again. 



Friday, November 2, 2012

I feel sad today.

It's the background low level kind of sad that is just loud enough to be distracting. And it's not even my sad. Someone I care about is having a rough time and I want to hug her and tell her that I have been there and that it's not ok, but that one day it will be. And I can't do all that because she hasn't told me directly about what is going on - I heard it through a third party. I don't want to violate the trust of the other party nor do I want this person who I care about to think that her personal business is out there for others to know before she is ready to share it. But the fact is, I do know, and it sucks really really big time. The truth is that there is nothing I could say to her right now that would make her feel better anyway, so my desire to engage with her on this topic is entirely to make myself feel better. Because even five (and four) years later, talking about it is part of my healing. Totally selfish, but there it is.

The first time I got pregnant I was 27. It had taken seven months after going off the pill and we were excited and felt indestructible. I knew women had miscarriages - knew friends who had had them - knew they were quite common but somehow felt it wouldn't happen to us because, what?, we were young and healthy and as if that has anything to do with anything. At five weeks we had told our parents, at seven weeks we had told our friends and work colleagues. It was a bit naive. At eight weeks I had an ultrasound (because I had access to that sort of thing at work) and discovered that it was a blighted ovum, an empty sac. And everything I thought about myself as a woman collapsed. And I still had to carry on and finish my work day. One of my jobs was as a sexual assault nurse examiner and I was on call - and didn't I get a call that afternoon. I cried the whole way to the hospital then pulled myself together long enough to focus on and care for another woman after her trauma. (It was a welcome distraction, because surely this woman had had a worse day than I had). Then I cried all the way home again. I had a D&C the next day.

In the early days - the days of "untelling" our prematurely shared wonderful news - people asked how I was doing and listened intently while I did my best to verbalize the emptiness and disappointment I was experiencing. But after a short while I felt like I was supposed to get over it, move on. I worried that even my close friends would grow tired of my lamenting, so I didn't talk about it anymore. But it was right there with me everyday. That loss. That grieving. That longing for the potential that had once existed inside of me.

I was sad for months, even though I pretended not to be. My heart broke every time a friend announced that she was expecting. I would congratulate her as genuinely as I could through my aching jealousy, then I would cry privately.

We became somewhat consumed with trying to get pregnant again. And we did. I was now 28 and it had taken another seven months. But there was none of the joy and anticipation of the first time. I didn't even want to calculate my "due date" because I was so terrified of being crushed again. And we were. The first ulatrasound at eight weeks showed a small sac with an embryo that measured a week behind my dates. There was a heartbeat, but I just knew. Three days later I started to bleed. The next ultrasound showed the same embryo with no interval growth and no heartbeat. I waited it out for another week but continued to bleed with no completion of the miscarriage so I had another D&C.

This time we had told no one, not even our parents, and it was worse because now we had no one to talk about it with but each other. I worried that I would exhaust David with my emotional needs. The sadness was different the second time, too. When I got that positive test, I had convinced myself that I was "prepared" for whatever outcome, but I started hating my body for failing at what I felt it was designed to do.  Doubt that I could ever carry to term crept into my psyche and I pleaded with my doctor to refer me to the recurrent loss clinic before we tried again.

The wait list was about 6 months, during which time we took a break from "trying" and focused on life and hobbies and sex for fun rather than procreation. Once into the clinic we were well taken care of - they really are lovely - and they ran the gamut of tests from non- to very invasive. All results were normal and by the time we went for our final follow up appt I was pregnant for the third time. The best thing about the RPL clinic is that when you do get pregnant again they bring you in for early ultrasounds every two weeks in the first trimester. We got to see Sam's tiny little flickering heart at just shy of 6 weeks. And I just knew.

So, to my friend who is possibly having the worst day of her life so far, my heart aches for you. I want to tell you that it is ok to feel sad for as long as you need to. It is ok to grieve because this is a real loss, and don't feel pressured to "get over it" . . . you never truly will. Talk about it. Ask the women in your life about their experiences - you are not alone. And as a friend told me once: Trust that you will have the babies you are meant to have.

It's not ok today, but one day it will be.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Hallowe'en

NaBloPoMo Attempt # 2 November 2012

I`m going for it again, folks! I`m going to try to blog every day for a month. I also hope to use this opportunity to make some updates and improvements to the FNP - stay tuned! If you are a current reader but unfamiliar with NaBloPoMo, visit BlogHer to learn more. If you are a visitor from the blogroll, you can learn more about me on the right : ) Wish me luck!

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When I was a kid, it didn't seem to matter what the weather did on Hallowe'en night as long as there was candy to be collected. Growing up in Ontario I remember years when it was quite cold - even snowy - but we still dragged our miserable parents around the neighbourhood (though now I know they were all carrying travel mugs full of wine or spiked hot chocolate, so how miserable could they have been?). Luckily we have raised a kid who (so far) prefers warm and dry to candy because after about 20 minutes in the downpour that began just after dinner last night - you know, when all the little kids start trick-or-treating - he looked at his dad and said "I have enough candy, I want to go home." By the time he'd had a bath, gotten into jammies,  and kissed his little sister goodnight, the rain had let up enough that I took him out for a little walk just to look at pumpkins. A few of the neighbours forced more candy upon him, even though he was clearly only dressed as a little boy up past his bedtime.

After our walk, there were a couple of stories then off to bed with protests that didn't stand up to me or his fatigue - he was KO'd before I got back downstairs. I relaxed on the couch while I listened to David chatting up little kids and joking around with parents at the door. He is much better at that whole thing than I am. Charming, one might say. But we have differing theories on candy distribution. He lets kids help themselves by the handful with the goal of getting rid of it all quickly, while I dole it out a couple of pieces at a time in the hopes that there will be leftovers : ) We both agree, however, that trick-or-treating is for the little kids in their adorable costumes and that when the teenagers start to ring the bell we shut it down weather we are out of candy or not. By 8 pm last night the pumpkins were blown out, the orange and purple strings of lights were unplugged, and we were watching The Walking Dead undisturbed on the couch. How Hallowe'en SHOULD be!

My one regret from last night is that I didn't get a single good photo of the kids in their costumes or of our pumpkins. It was just raining too hard to go out with the camera. And the lighting for photos - even earlier in the day - was garbage. Maybe it's not a big deal . . . but as I was browsing FB last night and seeing other people's post-worthy pictures of their kids celebrating this totally KID holiday, I felt like a bit of a mom fail.

Aside: There have been a lot of times in recent weeks when I have felt like I was failing one or both of my kids in some way. Mostly these moments are in the context of having too little time to spend with Lucy or too little patience with Sam. I'll blog more about that inner turmoil later - I have every day in November to fill after all!

Anyway, my good friend L came over today with her awesome camera lens to take some photos for me. Yes, I redressed the kids in their costumes. I'm sure that when they look back through the family albums they won`t remember that this years Hallowe'en photos were actually taken on November 1st. And eventually, after enough years have passed, maybe I won't remember either.



We had a fabulously carved (not by us) Mater pumpkin that was blown up by Hallowe'en goblins last night - so, sadly, not pictured. 



 Sam has a cold and was desperately trying not to cough (there are about two dozen mid-cough shots that were deleted).





Is he running toward me? No. This type of enthusiasm is reserved exclusively for balloons.