Monday, 31 December 2012


Therapy and yoga helped me beat the postpartum bullshit that almost wrecked me.

I went back to a job that was so SO bad for me and when things went sideways I was strong enough to walk away.

I welcomed my first nephew.

I celebrated my kid's first birthday.

I decided I wanted to become a doula and started my training.

I made marmalade.

I ate too much chocolate, watched too much tv, and spent too much money on music. I regret none of it.

Happy New Year, lovelies. I can't wait to see what happens in 2013.

Saturday, 29 December 2012

It's The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year

Christmas was lovely. Lovelier than I expected, actually. Christmas used to be an anxiety-inducing, dreary time of year for me. Grady has changed it for me. He is so full of light and joy; I can't help but get caught up in his energy. Someone please remind me of this time when he's a surly teenager.

December is a busy time for us. Shawn's brother and dad, as well as two of our close friends, have December birthdays (one being two days before Christmas and one being the day after Christmas.) Shawn's parents are divorced so we celebrate Christmas with them separately. My parents and his parents all live locally but far enough apart that the celebrations have to be on separate days or half the day would be spent driving.

Last year I was still crazy so I didn't feel comfortable putting my foot down but this year I was adamant that we have our own time to celebrate as a family. It was difficult. I was forced to be blunt (something I hate) and feelings were, not necessarily hurt, but definitely chafed, but in the end it worked out perfectly. From 4pm on Christmas Eve day until noon on Christmas Day, Shawn, Grady and I celebrated on our own. We had our annual Christmas Eve barbecue with all the fixings (and Grady tried his first hamburger! He was not impressed.) We opened presents (we gave Grady the Melissa & Doug band-in-a-box. Rookie parents, right here.) We relaxed and enjoyed each other. And then continued on with the family obligations / craziness / hoopla.

I love our families. I love that so many people love Grady. But I am so glad that Christmas is over. Grady was spoiled rotten (how do you deal with this? Seriously. He was lavished with gifts and I don't mean to sound ungrateful but this cannot happen next year when he's old enough to realize what's going on and develop expectations for future Christmases.) It was a lovely holiday but I'm ready for 2013. I'm ready to say goodbye to parties and cookies (so many cookies) and hello to January.

Best present ever.

Sunday, 23 December 2012

I Am Milk

Grady wakes up at 1am for a snack pretty consistently. Sometimes it's a little bit earlier, sometimes it's a little bit later, but the nights with no wakeup are few and far between.

Shawn has conditioned himself to sleep through this nightly occurrence. It didn't take him long to train his body to tune out Grady's hungry whine. I don't begrudge him this ability. It is what it is. He needs to get up early to go to work. He lacks the necessary equipment to satisfy Grady's need for milk. It's fine. It's logical.

I have a wonky thyroid. Every so often I have an ultrasound so my doctor can monitor what's happening. My last ultrasound was a few weeks ago. We've now moved from the monitor stage to the biopsy stage. I knew it was a possibility. It's not a surprise. It's not even scary in the light of day - it's just a nuisance. A stupid procedure that will require scheduling and childcare and deep breathing.

But at 1am? When Grady wakes up because he's hungry and Shawn is snoring away? My mind starts to wander and I worry about what would happen if my stupid wonky thyroid turns out to be more than just a nuisance. Will Grady scream for his 1am snack? Will he stop waking up because his cries go unanswered? I mean, probably Shawn would become more attuned to Grady's needs because he wouldn't have the luxury of tuning Grady out, but there would be an adjustment period and I worry that Grady would feel abandoned.

I know this is ridiculous. I know that my wonky thyroid is still just a wonky thyroid and there's no need for panic. But I can't help but go there at 1am when my sweet boy is looking for a little comfort.

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Deck The Halls

It snowed yesterday, the first real snowfall of the season. Grady was not amused. His introduction to snow started well because he was allowed to wear his boots (he loves his boots. He would wear his boots all day if I let him. Whenever I walk by the closet he looks up at me hopefully. "Boot? Boot?" It's like he won the damn lottery whenever it actually is time to wear his boots. He has this silicone jug for rinsing his hair in the bath. It sits on the side of the bath and every time Grady walks into the bathroom he tries to wedge his foot into it. "Boot?" "No bud, no boot." You've never seen such disappointment.)

So we put on our boots and we trekked out into the snow. It wasn't so bad at first, shuffling our way through piles of fluffy, untouched snow.

And then Grady tripped. Was Grady wearing mittens? No, he was not. Boots are the greatest thing in the world but mittens are of the devil. Keep up.

The look of utter disgust was priceless. I cannot describe the confused, angry, mewling sounds that came from his mouth.

Our snow adventure was short but memorable. For both of us.

Monday, 10 December 2012

Past Your Marmalade Sky

The Vancouver Aquarium invited a group of bloggers to check out their new Luminescence feature on the weekend. (I was given free admission into the facility but am under no obligation to write this post.) Grady and I had such a good time checking out the displays. The aquarium provided an entertaining guide and even though Grady is too young to understand what's going on, the guide was engaging and fun enough to keep his attention. As an added bonus, Scuba Claus made an appearance.

Grady had no idea what was happening but the room full of squealing kids blew his mind. He doesn't know who Santa is yet but he definitely knows how to feed off the energy of excited littles.

* * * * * 

I've got mustache ornaments in my shop. They look adorable hanging on the tree (or orchid if you're lazy to put up a tree that your toddler is just going to rip right back down) and even make cute little gift tags.

* * * * * 
It's Monday and it's rainy and grey. A perfect day for housekeeping.

Tarator, you won the Milk Unleashed giveaway.

Margarita, you won the Blurb giveaway.

Congratulations! Have fun.

* * * * * 
I can't believe Christmas is in two weeks. I am so unprepared. We're trying to focus on handmade gifts this year which is nice (no malls!) and time-consuming (my child is refusing to nap! I'm making marmalade at midnight tonight!) 

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Can It Be The Way It Was

A friend of mine (a very good friend) (a very generous and kind friend) works for a record label and occasionally has tickets to shows that she can't use for whatever reason.

Which is how I ended up in the third row, beside the stage, at the Killers show tonight.

The show was fantastic; the band seemed to genuinely be enjoying themselves and they performed enthusiastically with huge smiles on their faces.

Tonight's show definitely made it into my list of top 5 shows (rounded out by the following, in no particular order: Willie Nelson with my dad; floor at Muse; Wolfmother in a teensy club before they made it big in North America; and every David Usher show, ever.)

Monday, 3 December 2012

Well It's a Time Honoured Tradition

My favourite part of Christmas is our Christmas Eve BBQ. We started the tradition years ago as a way to connect with our friends during the busy holiday season. Taking a night to eat yummy burgers and drink a few beers with our friends rejuvenated and energized us enough to last through the following week of family obligations and stress.

The tradition has changed over the years. One year we had almost twenty people crammed into our tiny condo. Last year it was just us sneaking bites of cheeseburger while trying to soothe our wee Rage Baby.

I love that we have our own family tradition to share with Grady and I love that it's so us (says the lady who served cheeseburgers at her wedding.) I can't wait until he's old enough to stand out in the rain and flip burger patties with Shawn.

* * * * *

I'm participating in the Twelve Days of Christmas Traditions with a group of fabulous Vancouver bloggers. Check out some of their posts here:

Julie Nowell On Being Together
Mama.Papa.Bubba.'s Handmade Ornaments
The Write Mama's Christmas Village
Amy's Experiental Advent Calendar
erin at large On the Giving Part of Christmas
north shore mama On Tree-selecting, Cooking-baking, and Beautiful Lights
Enchanted Chameleon's Gluten-free Xmas Dinner

Check out Lisa's post tomorrow on combining different cultural traditions!

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Blurb Giveaway

I love taking photos. I do not love organizing or printing photos.

Blurb makes it easy to create beautiful photo books. I'd never used Blurb before but in exchange for writing this post I was given a credit to make my own photo book.

I was thoroughly impressed with how easy it was; once I downloaded the bookmaking software I was able to just drop my photos into a template. The hardest part of the whole process was deciding which photos to use.

Blurb has generally offered to give one of my (Canadian) readers a $35 credit to create your own book. Just leave me a comment below and I'll randomly choose a winner on December 6th.

Because Blurb are total rockstars, they're also giving you 25% off your total book order through December 12th with promo code GIFTIDEA.

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Milk Unleashed Giveaway

I'm writing this post for Milk Unleashed. In exchange for writing this post, I will be given a sample of the product. One lucky winner will receive a variety pack from Milk Unleashed.

I've never tried shelf safe milk before but we're big milk drinkers in our house. I'm interested in shelf safe milk for a few reasons: Grady doesn't drink milk yet but when we do introduce cow's milk, we will likely start with Baboo (shelf safe milk designed for toddlers to help transition from breastmilk or formula to regular milk.) Living in BC, we have an earthquake emergency kit with food and water to last us three days. Our kit currently has water and juice but I think I'll add some shelf safe milk (to drink with my stash of chocolate chip cookies.) Last but not least, I like the option of sending milk in Grady's lunchbox when he's old enough for school, instead of always sending juice.

To win a Milk Unleashed prize pack, check out the Milk Unleashed App and leave a comment with your tried and true on-the-go tip (bonus points if it's a toddler-aged tip.) (Just kidding, there's no bonus points.) Winner will be chosen randomly on December 5th. Contest is open to Canadians only.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Justify Me

I get a lot of weird (unsolicited) stuff in my inbox. Pictures of celebrities wearing shoes (and if I ask nicely they'll send me high-res pictures of celebrities wearing shoes!) Tips on being a graceful single mom (yeah.) Stuff like that.

Usually I just send a quick "thanks but no thanks" reply or just hit delete because whatever, we've all got a job to do and if your job consists of sending unsolicited pictures of celebrities wearing shoes I won't judge you. It takes me two seconds to delete something I don't want in my inbox. No biggie.

Occasionally something cool comes along, though, and I'm tempted to try it out. Product reviews on a personal blog are a divisive topic, I know, but I think I've found my comfort zone. If it's something I'm genuinely interested in, or a cause I'm passionate about, I'm not going to feel guilty or weird about blogging about it.

That is a lot of words to say "my blog my rules" but oh well. There is not a lot of sleep right now. It makes me wordy and dumb.

So I have a couple of product reviews lined up (with giveaways! Free stuff! For you!) and if you're not into reviews, that's cool. I'll miss you. Come back next week and I'll tell you about some awesome Christmas traditions I'm looking forward to this year.

Monday, 19 November 2012

All My Life Things Change

I turned 30 last month. I wore a too-short dress with too-high heels. I painted my lips bright red and drank French 75s. She changed her flight and flew home early, staying awake for 26 hours straight so that she could wish me a happy birthday - in person - on my real birthday.

My birthday was big and momentous and I was expecting to feel so different afterward. And I guess, in a way, I did. I left my twenties behind. I can relax now.

I spent the first few years of my twenties treating people poorly. Not out of malice, just out of laziness really. I didn't have to be nice or make an effort because I was young and cute and I got away with a lot. Then I moved to England and I was alone - really alone - for the first time in my entire life. I learned a lot about myself. I met amazing people and saw amazing things and when I moved back to Canada in my mid-twenties I was a different person.

My mid-to-late twenties were spent in a whirlwind of trying to do this before I turned 30 or trying to achieve that while I was still young. It wasn't a bad thing. I accomplished a lot. I just look back now and realize that I never really took the time to enjoy my accomplishments. I was always planning the next big thing. I consumed my achievements. Chewed them up and spat them out. There was no time to savour what I'd done because I was already knee-deep in my next endeavour.

I'm 30. I left my job three months ago. I left my high-paying, benefits-included job three months ago. I spend my days cutting oranges into bite-sized pieces and changing diapers and worrying about money. Twenty-five year old me would roll her eyes at today's me. And I'm okay with that. If there's one thing that becoming Grady's mom has taught me it's that things change. All the time. Today sucks? Well maybe tomorrow won't. Grady woke up 15 times last night? Maybe next week he'll sleep through the night. Breastfeeding makes you curl your toes with pain and tears run down your face? Maybe tomorrow you won't feel a thing.

I expected to turn 30 and wake up the next day feeling different. It actually took until I was 30 plus a month and a couple of days but it happened. I am 30 and I spent the weekend surrounded by amazing women, learning amazing things, and my life will be forever changed. I am training to become a doula. I know what I want to be when I grow up. And I am so happy.

Monday, 5 November 2012

Bite My Lip and Close My Eyes

Prompted by my sister and brother-in-law, I reopened my long-dormant Etsy shop for a Faux-mo-vember sale. Use coupon code "movember" for 10% off and share your love for the 'stache. (I know. People are so over the mustache. I don't care. I love them. Unabashedly.)

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Everyone Knows I'm In Over My Head

I heard a loud crash and then silence so I ran into the bedroom to make sure Grady and Shawn were alright. Grady was sitting on the bed, happily chatting away, but Shawn was lying down, groaning, blood pouring out between the fingers he had clasped against his forehead. I've never seen that much blood in real life.

I am squeamish. I look away during the bloody parts of Grey's Anatomy and I cover my eyes during CSI. Violent movies rated higher than PG-13? I don't watch them. Books with graphic violence or gore? I skip ahead and don't read the disturbing passages. I accidentally saw a quick glimpse of the Sons of Anarchy tattoo-burny-offy scene when Shawn was watching it and I literally screamed from shock and then dreamt about it for a week. I have a weak stomach and my nerves are laughable.

The following half an hour is a blur. Somehow I managed to get ice and a towel on Shawn's head, call Shawn's mom and ask her to come babysit Grady, and drive Shawn to the hospital without vomiting or fainting. I don't remember any of it.

The emergency room was a mess. A full moon and fireworks season and a nearby gang-related shooting contributed to the crazy. We sat for hours, Shawn bleeding from the head and me coming down from the adrenaline rush. We made it home about three hours after we left. Shawn's got a headache and he'll definitely have a sexy forehead scar but he's okay (and he got his tetanus booster so ... silver lining?)

We have (had) a large picture hanging over our bed (like 5ish feet by 3.5ish feet.) Grady was puttering about while Shawn watched television and somehow managed to climb up on the pillows high enough to reach the picture frame. He pulled it off the wall and somehow managed to escape being hit (thank you, higher being) when it crashed down ... onto Shawn's forehead. We are so lucky. We're lucky it didn't hit Grady. We're lucky it didn't fall 2 inches lower and hit Shawn's eye. We're lucky we live so close to the hospital. We're lucky that every part of last night's ordeal was covered by our awesome Canadian health insurance. I mean, obviously I feel a little luckier than the guy with the super-glued forehead lump and the pounding headache but I think we can both agree that last night could have been a lot worse.

Now please excuse me while I go baby-proof our already baby-proofed home (seriously - Grady is the master of disaster. All baby-proofing tips are welcome!)

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Tried To Stop The Current Changing Of The Leaves

We took a quick holiday up to the mountains. We stayed in a cabin on a lake that looked like glass. We drove until our phones said "no service" and our link to the outside world was severed. We didn't explore on foot because of the cougars in the area but we took the truck up an old logging road and felt like the last people on earth.

We are tiptoeing around each other lately. Trying to figure out who we are as a family and as individuals. It was nice to just be us for a weekend. We ate too much cheese and an obscene amount of chocolate. We read trashy magazines and did not a lick of exercise. It was exactly what we needed.

We're home now. Savouring being in our own bed, in our familiar space, but missing the mountains a little bit.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Will You Remember Me

We are seven years old and she joins my grade two class partway through the year. She's a little intimidating, having a halo of blonde curls and being from a different province (Winnipeg is glamorous when you're too young to know any better.) (No offence intended, Winnipeg.) She lives down the street from me and that's enough to make us best friends.

We are twelve years old and we spend every weekend eating giant bowls of popcorn and watching Anne of Green Gables. We escape our giant families (I think I have it bad being one of four kids but she's one of seven so I don't complain too loudly) by hiding out in my family's trailer parked in the driveway, playing cards and talking about boys.

We are fourteen years old and she decides to cut off her beautiful curls in favour of a pixie cut. I go to the appointment with her and afterward, as we walk home and she cries because she thinks she looks like a boy, I desperately try to think of a way to fix it. I suggest that she dye her hair strawberry blonde. I convince my olive-skinned, green-eyed, naturally blonde friend to dye her hair red. It is a disaster, obviously, but she doesn't hold it against me.

We are sixteen years old and she is confident and beautiful and funny. I am awkward and anxious and sweaty. She brings me to parties with the cool kids and gives me my first alcoholic beverage and when we are in drama class playing that stupid game (the one where you have to sit on someone's lap and say "baby, if you love me won't you please please smile?" and if they smile you win and you get to sit down, and if they don't crack a smile you have to continue around the circle, sitting on lap after lap, growing more desperate) she saves me by faking a smile whenever I jump into her lap, even though I know she's a pro at keeping her face controlled. She is never awkward or uncomfortable and I am a little envious of her poise.

We are nineteen years old and she is in love - in Australia - and I am in love - in Vancouver - and even though we don't talk as much as we used to, when we do talk we pick up right where we left off. When my heart is broken, she sends me long, beautiful emails full of gory details of what she'd like to do to the boy who's done the breaking.

We are twenty-one years old and we go to bars every weekend and drink rye & gingers and then stumble home to my creepy little apartment on Fraser Street. She holds my hair and rubs my back when I drink too much and I make her macaroni and cheese for breakfast the next morning. She is by my side when I meet Shawn and she is by my side when I decide to leave Shawn to move to England.

We are twenty-five years old and she organizes a superhero-themed bachelorette party for me. After I am drugged by some loser at the bar, she sneaks into my hospital room (wearing a Robin costume) (yes, like Batman and Robin) even though she isn't family and holds my hand despite the fact that I am unconscious and don't know she's there. Two weeks later she stands beside me when I marry Shawn. She holds my hand in the car and she whips out a stain-remover pen when I get melted chocolate on my wedding dress ten minutes before the ceremony.

We are twenty-eight years old and she is moving to England. We drink wine and eat cheese and I tell her not to fall in love with some bloke and she tells me not to get knocked up. Three weeks later I will be pregnant. Months later she will be in love.

She is coming home next week. Just for a visit, not forever, but that doesn't matter. She is a forever kind of person. We may only have a couple of months together before she flies back to her love in England but it is enough time to eat bowls of popcorn and drink wine and talk about boys.

Monday, 1 October 2012

I Love You When We Fail

It's my birth month. October 12th is my 30th birthday and I think I might be having some sort of crisis. Am I making up for a missed quarter life crisis? Is this my midlife (depressing thought!) crisis?

I officially left my soul-crushing job two months ago. I've been ... floating. Coasting along trying to figure out what I do next. I don't have a plan. I don't have goals. It's troubling.

Part of the problem is that I'm not exceptional at anything. I'm good at some stuff. I'm alright at a lot of stuff. But I'm not very good at anything. Nothing jumps out as the Thing I should be doing. I feel passionless. I can't find the drive, the spark, the whatever.

I stumbled into my last job 7 years ago. I stayed because the money was so good but I gave up so much of myself. I left feeling all used up. I don't want to fall into another job because it's easy or convenient or safe. I want to feel passionate about what I'm doing. Or at least not hate it.

Months ago I was trying to think of what I could do to mark my 30th birthday. I considered training for a race (but my knees quickly vetoed that idea.) I tried to plan a trip (but then I quit my job and our disposable income disappeared.) I couldn't come up with anything until tonight when I was rocking sweet Gus to sleep. For my 30th birthday I want to become un-stuck. I want to un-stick myself. I want to make a plan and then I want to follow that plan and I want to end up with a job that I love. I want to find what I love to do and then I want to do it.

If anyone knows how to do that please let me know because I'm terrified.

Saturday, 29 September 2012

Hope That I Don't Let You Down Again

It's the way the universe works, right? You say you're happy and then your kid wakes up with a 105.1 fever and doesn't eat for a week and doesn't sleep for a week so of course you don't sleep for a week and eat nothing but cookies and pastries for a week and by the end of it you're left clinging to your last shred of sanity wondering when the circles under your eyes got so dark and why does your heart feel like it's going to beat right out of your chest and where the fuck did that second upper thigh / ass roll come from (you swear there was only one last week) (you've conveniently forgotten about the week of eating cookies and pastries.)

These ups and downs have always been a part of my life but they've never been quite so high or so low as they've been since Grady was born. I don't know if it's still hormones or the lack of sleep or if it's because I haven't quite adjusted to having my heart walking around outside of me just yet but I can't seem to find a nice level mood (one that doesn't require self-medication with baked goods.)

We ended up in the hospital with Grady again (I am nowhere near equipped to deal with a child with a fever of 105.1 and of course it peaked at midnight and not during our doctor's office hours) and I thought that this time, our second time around, it would be easier. It really wasn't, though. My mind went dark, just like last time, and I clung to my feverish little boy like I could somehow lower his temperature if I just willed it hard enough.

Grady's fine. He's still sick but he's going to be fine. He's slowly starting to eat again and we've gone a full day without his temperature rising above normal. I'm going to fine too. I've put the cookies away and I've dug out my therapy workbooks for a quick refresher. I think it may do me some good to work on my mood when it's on its way up rather than waiting until I'm in the depths of my crazy again.

I want Grady to grow up with a mom who doesn't hold her breath in a crisis.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Can You Be My One And Only Sunshine Lady

Vancouver is experiencing one last burst of sunshine and warm weather before the rain and grey show up for an indeterminate (but sure to be a long) amount of time. It's the perfect time of year, full of lazy sunshine in the afternoons and a beautiful chill in the mornings. These muffins are my go to autumn recipe: perfect for using up the last of summer's zucchini and pairing with a hot cuppa tea to take the edge off the morning.

Zucchini Lemon Chocolate Chip Muffins
make 24

Preheat oven to 350F.

In large mixing bowl whisk together:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp cinnamon

In separate bowl whisk together:
2 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil (this recipe totally works with the 1/2 apple sauce 1/2 oil trick if you're so inclined)
1/2 cup milk
Juice of 1 lemon
1 Tbsp vanilla

Mix liquid ingredients into dry ingredients (with a spoon - you will regret using your whisk for this step.)

Add the following and fold just until mixed:
2 cups grated zucchini
Zest of 1 lemon
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup chopped nuts

Bake for 20 minutes.

Saturday, 8 September 2012

All That I Know Is I'm Breathing Now

This time last year I was in the depths of my descent into crazy. (Quick note: I call it crazy because it's my crazy. I wouldn't use that word to describe the struggle of anyone but my own. It was recently brought to my attention that using the word crazy can be perceived as insensitive and uncaring. Which, uhh, fuck that. It's my crazy and I'll call it crazy if I damn well please. End rant.)

Last year I was spending a lot of time crying. I spent days refusing to leave my bedroom. I imagined horrifying situations involving Grady hundreds of times a day. I spoke shrilly and quickly, and my mind was even more shrill and quick. I snapped at Shawn every day. I frothed at the mouth at the slightest (mainly imagined) provocation. I felt despair - heart-wrenching, spine-chilling, breath-stopping despair. Every day. I thought it would never end.

And then I got help. Things got better. Slowly. Painfully. But progressively better.

It was a gradual thing for me, my ascent out of crazy. I didn't decide to get help and instantly feel better. My happy crept up on me.

I don't know if it's the seasons changing or Grady turning one (or the blue moon or or etc) but I've been thinking a lot about my experience with ppbs ("postpartum bullshit" encompasses the postpartum depression, anxiety, and ocd that I experienced and is much faster to type out and can be perceived as insensitive and uncaring.)

A couple of months ago when Grady got sick, I held it together. I spoke to doctors and specialists and I held my screaming child down multiple times while blood was taken. I was functional and present and efficient. Until we were transferred from one hospital to another because the hospital closest to us wasn't equipped to deal with Grady's illness. I spent the entire ride between hospitals chanting "no" with every breath, my thoughts racing, my breath increasing until it wasn't "no" anymore but "nonononono."

Later, when Grady was better, when I could think in more than monosyllables, I realized how my new normal didn't involve being constantly distraught. It's a bit silly that it took me so long to realize that I wasn't crazy anymore but it did. I wasn't sure I'd ever be able to say this again but I'm happy.

Tired as shit but happy.

Monday, 20 August 2012

No Thanks I'll Take Defeat

I'm struggling with something. It's been on my mind for a while and I can't seem to come up with a plan or find my peace.

How do you say "thanks but no thanks!" to well-meaning people? Not just well-meaning people but well-meaning family members. Well-meaning family members who don't accept the first, polite "thanks but no thanks!" brushoff.

I'm not an arrogant person. I don't think that I know everything. I'm open to the wisdom and suggestions of people who are speaking from experience. If you want to tell me what really worked - or didn't work - when you were raising your kid(s), great! I'd love to hear it. If you see me struggling with something and you have a suggestion based on your own experiences? Awesome! Let me know! But please, PLEASE, do not come to me with nonsense like "oh look at this awesome new product that promises to teach your kid how to do advanced mathematics before they reach kindergarten and look it's only three easy payments of $19.99 plus shipping and handling all major credit cards accepted! You need to get this! Grady NEEDS this. Don't you love Grady? Why do you want to doom him to a lifetime of knowing only basic math, Hillary? What kind of mother are you?"

That may be a slight exaggeration but only a slight one, I promise.

So here's the thing. I can take suggestions. I'm not so sensitive that someone suggesting a new product to make my child smarter sends me into a tailspin. It's what comes after that makes my head melt. If I say, "thanks but no thanks!" LEAVE IT AT THAT. Just drop it. It doesn't matter why I'm not interested, it only matters that I'm not interested.

So. How do I do it without coming across aggressively? If it was one incident, fine, whatever, but it's not. Every couple of weeks there is a new product / new teaching method / new whatever that I NEED to use with Grady and it's getting out of control. I need a way of saying "thanks but no thanks!" that is ... firmer? More definite? Less open to judgement?

Or I need to just stop caring. Which is probably my best bet but not something that will come easy to me.

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

In This Silence We Design a Different Life

I quit my job again.

Twice in one month.

I did it properly the second time around. I gave my formal notice. I stayed for my two weeks and trained my replacement. My last day was July 31st.

I'm terrified.

Terrified with no regrets. I couldn't see (or wasn't willing to see?) how negatively my job was affecting me. I couldn't see how bizarre my situation was until I started sharing it with people. It got so overwhelming - the support and rage on my behalf - that I had to stop sharing it with people. It was too much. It made me realize that I had stayed for way too long. I felt (feel) stupid.

I'm on the other side now, though. I've agreed to contract myself out to my former company until the end of 2012. I will be working limited hours. Apart from one monthly meeting, I'll be working from home. I will walk away if things get rough or out of hand again. Part of me is sad that I don't have a clean break but the other (more responsible) part of me is happy to have some income while I figure out what I want to do next.

Grady and I escaped to the lake for a week. Shawn drove us up and stayed for the weekend but he had to go back home to his new job (the new job that made it possible for me to re-quit my job.) I'm surrounded by family, the sun is shining, my belly is full of yummy food and my heart is content. I am starting to feel like myself again.

Monday, 23 July 2012

You Are The One Who Gives Me Hope

Life is still upside down and twisty but this weekend was perfect. We had Grady's first birthday party and I could not have wished for a better day. The room was full of people I love celebrating the little person I love most in this world.

I mean, it would have been nice if it had been sunny instead of rainy, and my day would have gone a bit smoother if I'd actually tried on my dress before the day of the party so I'd have realized it was inappropriately low-cut for my child's birthday party but, eh. What can you do, right? Grady's mind was blown over and over (balloons! cupcakes! Grandma and Grandpa and Nanny and Grandpapa all in the same room at the same time!) It was a perfect day.

(And now I'm back to hyperventilating at work but soon - SOON! - it will be done and I can breathe again.)

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Step By Step

I quit my job last week. I stood up in the middle of a confrontation that had turned from professional to deeply personal and I walked out.

I wish that I could talk about what happened but I can't. Not right now. My boss asked me to come back and yesterday I did. I'm back at work (for now) and that limits what I can say about my situation. Trust me when I say it was horrible and it was insane and one day I will tell you all about it.

* * * * * 
Grady took his first step on Sunday. It was just one step so I can't say that he's walking but he's on his way. I don't think I've ever been prouder.

* * * * * 
Shawn and I are trying to get back to our healthy habits after eating nothing but comfort carbs during Grady's illness. Last night I wanted falafel but they're fried (mmm fried) so instead I whipped together a sort of falafel-esque baked chickpea patty. They were so yummy.

First I mashed up two 19oz cans of (drained and rinsed) chickpeas.

Then I buzzed an onion, four cloves of garlic, and the juice of a lemon in the food processor until it was a paste.

 Next I mixed together (approximately - I don't measure) two heaping tablespoons of flour, one teaspoon of salt, one teaspoon of coriander, and two teaspoons of cumin.

I mixed the chickpeas into the flour mixture and then added the onion paste and stirred it well.

I formed twelve patties and put them on a foil-lined and lightly oiled baking sheet, then baked them in a 400-degree oven for 10 minutes. I flipped the patties and baked for another 10 minutes.

I served the patties with whole wheat pita bread, lettuce, red peppers, avocado, cucumber, tomatoes, onion, and tzatziki.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Friday, 29 June 2012

I'm Delirious With Chaos

Grady has been doing so well for the last week that I didn't let myself fret when I couldn't track down the results of the tests run on Father's Day. He had blood taken last Sunday to check his neutrophils level and I made an appointment for him to see his doctor today so she could give us the all clear.

Grady has been fever free for over a week and his appetite returned full force so I thought that the appointment would just be a formality so we could move on and forget about these past weeks.

Grady's doctor called me yesterday and requested that I bring him to see her. Immediately. She kept her voice light but when I told her we had an appointment to see her on Friday anyway and could it just wait until then, her voice got less light and she told me that no, it couldn't wait another day, and I really did need to bring Grady in to see her.

She couldn't / wouldn't tell me much over the phone, just that Grady's latest blood work showed staph and critically low neutrophils and this was worrying because he had completed a round of antibiotics.

And then my head melted and I went into full on panic mode because staph is one thing, staph that doesn't respond to antibiotics is a whole different thing. I was at work when I got the call so I had to take the train home, hyperventilating the whole way.

Shawn was eerily calm. He kept telling me that there was no way Grady could have a staph infection. He had no fever. He was happy. He was eating and sleeping well. He was playing and chattering and laughing. He was showing no signs of being ill.

For some reason, Shawn's calmness has never comforted me. It's almost like his refusal to worry means that I have to do all the worrying for both of us. Maybe that means we're well matched. I don't know. Probably it means I need more therapy.

Our afternoon was confusing and horrible and I really don't have much to write about it because all I remember is being in a permanent state of clenchiness and breathlessness. The end result is good - Grady is absolutely fine. There was a major miscommunication somewhere down the line (there were two hospitals, four hospital visits, two specialists, one lab, and Grady's doctor's office involved in his care - which provided too much opportunity for fuck ups) and the wrong test results were presented as his most recent test results. His Father's Day results - which showed staph and a neutrophil level of 0.2 - were given to my doctor as the results from last Sunday's blood work. I don't know who is responsible for the screw up. When it was discovered I was on such a high of "my kid is okay!" that I didn't have room in me to be mad (after a sleepless night of post-fretting adrenaline crash and nightmares last night? I HAVE SO MUCH ROOM IN ME TO BE MAD.)

Once the mix up was discovered, and the correct test results located, we were told that Grady is absolutely fine. His neutrophils are still low but they're in the normal range (and much higher than they were last week) so he's been given a clean bill of health. And really, that's the most important thing (I say while still seething over the clusterfuck.)

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Just Do It Whatever It Is

You guys get me. The tweets and comments on yesterday's post describe pretty accurately my thought process during this whole invitation writing process. Thank you.

I think my problem is that I'm trying to solve two separate problems with one solution. And it's not that neat and tidy. 

The first problem is the simplest. I don't want Grady to have a lot of stuff that he doesn't need. My options are to either (a) ask people not to give him gifts for his birthday or (b) donate anything he doesn't need to a local charity / shelter. 

If I chose (a) I risk offending people or hurting their feelings. I also make a fun celebration (birthday!) an opportunity for fretting (do we bring a gift even though she request no gifts? what if we don't bring a gift and then EVERYBODY else does bring a gift? etc.) Option (a) is not ideal.

Option (b) requires that I be strict and remove my emotions from the equation. Option (b) is harder for me. I grew up in a home where we held onto things. Forever. I have spent the last year focusing on letting go of things and attempting to simplify my life. It's hard for me. I'm nowhere near where I want to be when it comes to letting go of possessions. I'm a bit ... hoardy. It's really hard for me to admit that. I am nostalgic and I place emotions on things and I hold on tight. Option (b) presents an opportunity for me to put into practice what I've been trying to learn (things are not love. They are not contentment or peace or pride or status. They are just things.) 

So I've decided to not put anything on the invitation about gifts. I will choose option (b) and I will donate any gifts that Grady doesn't need. 

The second problem is messier. I don't want family members who have the means to spoil Grady to make other family members feel like they have to match their spoilyness in order to win Grady's affection. I have been doing a whole lot of hand wringing over this and then someone wise told me to stop giving a fuck and you know what? I have resolved to stop giving a fuck. People are nuts. I will make myself as crazy as they are if I play into this scenario. This is not my battle. If it starts to affect Grady? I will bring out crazy Hillary and I will shut them down so hard but for now - not my problem. (Not my problem not my problem not my problem ... maybe if I say it enough times I will start to believe it.) 

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Give A Little Love

I've seen this question asked a hundred times but I've never seen it answered  satisfactorily. Is there a graceful way to ask people to not bring presents to a birthday party?

I've seen "your presence is presents enough!" on invitations. I've seen requests for a toonie (Canadian $2 coin) in place of a present so the birthday kid can buy a birthday item. I've seen people take the direct route of "no presents please!" I've seen requests for specific items like books. And I've seen the reverse - people insulted or annoyed by the mention of presents on party invitations.

I'm putting together Grady's 1st birthday party invitation and I'm stuck. Do I risk offending people by asking them not to bring presents? Do I say nothing and just donate everything Grady doesn't need? You guys, Grady was spoiled at Christmas. I didn't write about it because I didn't want to sound like an ungrateful cow but Christmas was ridiculous. Don't believe me? Here's a photo of my 5-month old baby riding the pedal tractor (with attached trailer!) he was given by a grandparent.

Look, I know this all comes from a place of love and I am so grateful and happy that so many people love my kid. I also know that it's fun to buy gifts. And really, in the grand scheme of things this is not something I should be fretting about.

But I am fretting. I'm fretting because I know money is tight for some people and I don't want them to feel like they have to buy Grady a birthday gift. We're having a big party for Grady's first birthday because we want to celebrate and say thank you to the many people who helped us through this first, difficult year. There are some weird competey family dynamics we have to contend with and I really don't want them to come out in the form of my child being lavished with expensive things. I want to nip this in the bud before he's old enough to recognize who is buying what for him (just like I don't want Shawn and I to be the "fun" parent and the "strict" parent the way I viewed my parents when I was a kid, I don't want Grady to view one grandparent as the "indulgent" grandparent and one as the "frugal" grandparent.)

So what do I do? How have you dealt with this?

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

I Don't Want You Now, Bang, Bang, Bang, Gone

Yesterday afternoon, at quarter to five, in the middle of rush hour, outside a Starbucks on the main street in my city, about one and a half miles from my building, there was a fatal shooting. Less than a month after the last fatal shooting (the one that happened across the street from my building, in the parking lot of a rec centre right after a hockey game finished) my city has been hit with another.

You guys, my city is not a murdery place. Our police department doesn't even have a homicide unit. We have to bring in the Vancouver homicide unit to investigate our murders, that's how few murders my city usually has.

They're saying both shootings are gang-related, targeted hits. Which is somewhat comforting, I guess. I mean, it's better than someone randomly shooting people on the street. But is it comforting to know that there are warring gangs settling their disputes on our streets in broad daylight? No, it is not. Are we supposed to be confident that they know how to shoot a gun with precise aim and that innocent bystanders aren't in any danger?

Look, I know that there are much scarier places than my little city. There are people living in much more dangerous places dealing with much scarier things. I get it. But I chose to live here. I have walked past that Starbucks a hundred times with Grady. The farmers market we go to is in that same rec centre parking lot. It feels like the steps I normally take to reduce my risk (step one: don't join a gang; step two: don't make anyone want to shoot my face) are no longer enough. But what can I do to protect myself in a situation like this? Don't leave my home, ever? It's tempting.

Monday, 25 June 2012

There's No Light Over London Today

Eight Junes ago, I moved to England by myself. I was tough as nails in the weeks leading up to my move but when the day came, I was a blubbering mess in the airport lounge. I left weepy messages on my family's voicemails and I fought the urge to call that cute guy (Shawn!) I'd been dating casually before I decided to leave. I shivered - partly from the freezing cabin, partly from nerves - the entire way to England and when the plane touched down after ten sleepless hours, I barfed. I was sitting next to a cute Irish guy (who had the curliest blonde hair I'd ever seen) and when he asked me if I was okay, if I had anyone to take care of me, my last shred of dignity disappeared and I whispered "nooooo" as my eyes filled with tears. Fortunately the plane had come to a stop and the "fasten seatbelts" light went out and I escaped to the lavatory where I hid until I could take a deep breath without crying.

There's a certain smell in the air in Vancouver come June. The air is light and fresh and brisk without being chilly. It hits suddenly, this smell. One day it's grey and the air smells only of rain and dampness and then the next day the rain is still there (after all it is Vancouver) but the air is crisp and green and I'm transported back to June 2004, driving to the airport with the windows down, trying to remember every detail of how Vancouver looked and smelled and sounded.

This smell will forever remind me of the first steps I took toward being the person I am today. The person who will travel alone, will eat in restaurants alone, will spend a lot of time alone without feeling lonely, who will meet a whole lot of new people and be able to discern who is worth holding onto no matter the distance, who isn't afraid to live.

Thursday, 21 June 2012

When I Wake Up Please Come Around Again

Thank you so much for your kind words and good thoughts. Grady seems to be doing much better. His fever hasn't returned and he's starting to eat again. We still don't have the test results back - and he has to go in for more blood work tomorrow - but we're hopeful that the rough patch is over. My new mantra is "no news is good news."

I'm feeling faffy today. Feel free to join in. I welcome any distraction (says the lady who unironically downloaded Justin Bieber's new album yesterday for distraction purposes.)

If you have a second (and any knowledge about belts + dresses) could you help me out over on Style Lush?

If you want to catch a glimpse of my nephew, you can head to Swistle's baby name blog.  

If you're local, you should think about heading to Pajo's Rocky Point this weekend. If the weather (and Grady's health) cooperate we'll be heading down. Come say hi - I'll be the one with the cute baby and a mouth full of delicious fish and chips.

Monday, 18 June 2012

Too Numb To Notice That The Sky Has Turned So Blue

Grady has been sick for a week. A week of hell. A week of charting temperatures and not eating and tepid baths. A week of four hospital visits and two blood tests and very little sleep. Grady's fever is gone, which is a good thing, and his blood work was satisfactory enough that the doctor was comfortable sending us home yesterday, which is a very good thing, and for now I'm just trying to remember to breathe and work my way down from the state of perpetual panic I've been in since Friday.

We're dealing with two issues: his urine and blood keep growing staph and his neutrophils level is critically low. We're playing the waiting game right now. Tomorrow (hopefully) or Wednesday (more likely) we'll find out if his latest blood work shows staph (the doctors keep telling us that staph doesn't make sense and it's likely the result of contaminated samples but correct me if I'm wrong, three for three is NOT GOOD ODDS AT ALL, you filthy filthy hospital.) On Friday we will take him for more blood work to check his neutrophils level. We can't do anything right now but wait. I am not a good waiter. I'm a doer. Except there isn't anything for me to do right now except fret. That buzzing noise you hear? Is me doing all the fretting.

I'm very lucky to have my older sister. Turtle has done all the necessary Googling so I don't have to. She's told me the good bits and told me to stay away from the bad bits. It has taken Herculean strength but I've managed to stay away from the bad bits. I'm lucky to have good friends who offer to bring us food in the hospital and lovely Twitter and Facebook friends who hold us in their hearts and don't laugh at me when I ask for healing (hippie) vibes. I'm lucky that Gus is at home and even though things aren't very good at all right now they're not horribly bad either.

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

All The Broken Bits That Make You Jump Up

I don't know if it's because Grady's first birthday is approaching (what?!) or if it's because Turtle just gave birth, but I've been thinking a lot about Grady's birth. Specifically, his delivery. Even more specifically, shortly after his delivery when my bits were being fixed.

There are so many random things that happened the night Grady was born that stand out clearly in my mind. I don't know why I remember them so distinctly but I do. I remember the text message exchange I had with a friend where she asked if we were still on to watch the Bachelorette or, haha, was I in labour? I remember Shawn snacking on jalapeƱo-spiced beef jerky and almost murdering him when he breathed in my face accidentally. I remember texting my mom and asking if she'd make me her home-made mac&cheese when I was finally done birthing her grandson. I remember wanting a nurse to shave my head because I could not stand the feeling of a single strand of hair touching my face. I remember the Gibson Guitars t-shirt that Shawn was wearing and my doctor asking him if he was in a band (and me being all "HI! I AM IN LABOUR OVER HERE! CAN WE PLEASE TALK ABOUT MUSIC LATER? KTHXBAIMOTHERFUCKERS!")

My favourite, though, is the exchange between my doctor and the resident who was present for Grady's birth. (A little background info: the hospital where I gave birth is a teaching hospital. The resident who was assigned to me was a very nice, very quiet man who pretty much stood in the corner of the room and looked terrified for most of my labour.)

After Grady was born, a little repair work was needed in the nush area. (I'm sorry. I'm trying to not be too vagina-y but look, I had an 8lb 6.5oz kid. There was some ... damage.) So my doctor (whom I loved) handed the resident a giant fucking needle and told him to stitch me up. And the resident says, "I'm not too good at tying off."

So just to recap: I've just given birth to a giant baby (without the aid of an epidural) and a resident who up until a few hours before was a total stranger to me (and who is standing at my exposed genitals with a giant needle) says that he's not too good at what my doctor is asking him to do.

The look my doctor shot the resident was priceless. It was the best "shut the fuck up and just do it" look I have ever seen. I strive to one day achieve a look as effective as hers. Because it was totally effective. The resident shut the fuck up and did it. And I didn't care if I had a jagged or uneven vagina scar. Because I had my baby.

I hope I never forget the exchange between my doctor and the resident. It still makes me giggle. Part of me hopes that I run into that resident one day (unlikely seeing as I don't even know his name) just so I can say, "hey dude, pro tip: don't admit to being crappy at sewing right before you sew up someone's vagina." Right? I mean, really.

Monday, 28 May 2012

It All Comes Out In The Wash

This weekend marked the one year anniversary of living in our condo. I have actively hated our washing machine since day one. It's glitchy. It temperamental. I have to perform a voodoo dance of carefully timed steps in a specific order to make it do a load of washing. There are numerous online forums filled with people complaining about this model of washing machine. It is a lemon.

The washing machine died 11 days ago. It's died before but we've always managed to resuscitate it. This time it refuses to be resuscitated. I called the manufacturer to see what our options are and was told there have been no recalls and we have no warranty (it's a replacement unit - our condo is only four years old but the previous owner had to have the washing machine replaced because the model is so crappy.)

The last week has been filled with a lot of washing machine rage. I don't understand how 3 years is an acceptable life span for a washing machine. I don't understand how we can be expected to pay more to repair our lemon machine than it costs to buy a new one.

Meanwhile, our laundry mountain grows. As of this morning it's reached my shoulders (and I am not a short lady.)

Our new machine arrives tomorrow. I hate the thought of throwing out a 3-year old machine but in the end it's going to cost us less to buy a whole new machine (and this way we can ditch the brand that has officially joined my "hate for life" list and we end up with a 1-year manufacturer's warranty.)

You guys, it hurt to spend our holiday fund on a new washing machine (and yes, I realize what a first-world problem this is. Doesn't make it hurt any less.) I do have to admit, though, that I'm a little excited to do laundry tomorrow.

Friday, 25 May 2012

Oh Friend You've Left Me Speechless

You guys, I don't know who nominated me, or why my blog was chosen to be in the top 30 out of all the other blogs that were nominated, but thank you. Thank you. Thank you for sticking around as I've fumbled my way through the last year or so. Thank you for your kind words and your virtual hugs and the immeasurable support you have provided me. Thank you for the emails, tweets, handwritten notes, text messages, phone calls, the love you all piled up on me while I fell apart and then slowly started to rebuild myself. I can never properly thank each and every one of you who reached out to me. I can never fully express how healing your kindness was.

All I can do is say thank you.

and leave you with a photo of sweet Gus Gus in dreamland

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

No Words Can Define What I'm Feeling

Mom, we need to talk.

I don't know how to tell you this.

I ... pooped.

In the tub. 

I pooped in the tub.

You still love me, right?

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

There's Nothing Left To Do Don't Close Your Eyes Even For A Moment Even For One Second I'll Be There Soon

My first Mother's Day could not have been better. Shawn, his brother, and my brother made a Mother's Day breakfast for all the moms. My husband, he who does not cook, organized the whole thing - menu planning, grocery shopping, kitchen coordination, and most importantly, bacon preparation. It was such a treat to be spoiled by the awesome men in my life.

It was a perfect day. Watching the love between my mom and the little mister who made me a mom filled my heart with so much joy that I couldn't stop myself from grinning wildly all morning.

I mean, really.

After our families left, we puttered around and had a relaxing afternoon. It was a beautiful day, probably the best weather we've had all year. The boys napped while I gardened (I am determined to become a gardener this year. I have an army of wee tomato plants that I have invested way too much time / energy / love into so far and they're not even in the ground yet.) Then we headed out for a family walk to pick up supplies for dinner (halibut cakes from the fishmonger and lemon tarts from the Italian bakery. I love my neighbourhood. That is all.) 

My chilled out Mother's Day became significantly less chilled out when Turtle's boyfriend sent me a text that said only "birth." 

There was a flurry of phone calls / text messages / emails before it was confirmed that Turtle had indeed been blessed with a Mother's Day baby. Turtle is a rockstar and her little guy is the most handsome angry-97-year-old-man baby I've ever seen. 

So. Sunshine. Good Food. Family. New baby (first nephew!) This Mother's Day will be hard to top. 

Friday, 11 May 2012

Momma Loved Us Every One

In the weeks after Grady's birth, I was a bruise. I was raw. My emotions were so close to the surface. Everything - even good things - hurt because I felt them so deeply. I didn't want to lose that rawness. I thought that if I lost that hypersensitivity, I would revert to being callous and critical. Because pre-Grady? I was critical.  I was full of my-kid-will-always-do-thises and my-kid-will-never-do-thats, always said with eyebrows-raised bitchy judgy eyes.

I'm ashamed by how critical I was pre-baby. You guys, I distinctly remember saying (on more than one occasion) that if a baby is old enough to walk over to his or her mother's breasts, that baby is too old to breastfeed. Admitting that makes me cringe. I hope that I never said that to a mother. Not that it makes my statement any more acceptable or any less rude, it just makes me feel less horrible to imagine I said it flippantly to another single, childless girlfriend instead of a mother who is just trying to do what's best for her child and her situation and really doesn't need an outsider weighing in on what's right or wrong about her parenting choices.

And then we're faced with something like the Time Magazine cover and it just feels like one more tool for women to use against other women (and don't even get me started on the women vs men dynamic. I have many feelings about all the "Mr. Mom!" and "Daddy Daycare!" comments we've received over my return to work and Shawn's stay at home dad status.) I have my own feelings about the image and you've got your own feelings about it (or maybe you have no idea what I'm talking about, or maybe you do know about the image and you don't care about it one way or the other) and that's fine. It's all fine. Instead of getting riled up over whether or not extended breastfeeding is normal, why don't we get riled up over people feeling like they can tell us what's right or wrong about how we raise our children and live our lives? If I've taken anything away from the Time Magazine cover it's that I'd like to say a hearty "fuck you!" to anyone (excluding Grady's doctor) who thinks they have the right to tell me the "proper" duration to breastfeed my child (and that includes my younger, childless self. Oh how I'd love to sit down and have a few words with her.)

I have lost some of my rawness. I had to. I couldn't survive if I continued to feel things as deeply as I did back then. I'm sure that part of my hypersensitivity can be traced to my postpartum  mental illness and as I got stronger and more healed in that regard, I got tougher as well. Tougher in a good way. Tougher in a way that lets me admit that Grady sleeps in our bed - every night, all night - and if you think that's wrong or gross or damaging I fully recognize your right to your own opinion. And if you feel the need to tell me it's wrong or gross or damaging? I will feel the need to tell you to fuck right off. But if you had told me that it was wrong or gross or damaging in the weeks after Grady's birth? The weeks where there really was no sleep and my mind was dark and I spent hours every day cuddling my newborn while lying on the bathroom floor, crying? It would have ruined me.

My hope is that even as I grow tougher, I never forget what it feels like to be a walking, talking (crying!) bruise. I want to hold on to that part of me and remember it whenever I have a knee-jerk reaction to something like the image on the Time Magazine cover. Instead of immediately thinking "oh wow, that kid sure looks pretty old to still be breastfeeding!" I want to think "that mom is so brave. She made a choice based on her child and her situation and she isn't afraid or ashamed to own it." Whether I agree with extended breastfeeding or not isn't the point. The point is that it's none of my business. That's not my child. Those aren't my breasts. Unless someone is harming their child, it's not my job to judge their parenting methods.

My first Mother's Day as a mom is approaching and I've been thinking a lot about what being a mom means to me. On some days (more days than I'd like to admit) it means treading water. It means second-guessing and doubting and yes, judging the choices of others. But sometimes (more and more lately) it means having the confidence to know that I am doing everything I can for my kid. I might not be doing everything right but I'm trying my hardest and that is what matters. If I try to be the best mom for my kid, every day, I can't fail. I have the best kid ever so it's not hard to want to try to be the best mom for him. 

Creepy, right? He does this giggle all the damn time. 

Thursday, 10 May 2012

She Lives In Colour

You guys, I am having a major painting dilemma. Head over here and help me out if you have a minute. Thanks! I really would appreciate any tips / wisdom / suggestions.

Thursday, 3 May 2012

No Starry World You'll Never Know How I Tried

I'm having a hard time being grateful for the blessed life I live.

I have my twisty stuff and my wobbles, sure, but I really have no cause to grumble.

I feel like I need to train my brain to focus on the sparkles instead of the dust. I'm just not sure how to go about doing that.

I've tried meditation but I find forced relaxation extremely stressful. I keep a gratitude journal which I find massively helpful - while I'm writing or reading it. I need to figure out how to unconsciously steer my mind towards the happier side of things.

How do you stop yourself from reacting to challenging situations with immediate anxiety and stress?

Gratuitous Gus shot because damn, my child is adorable:

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

When You Find Your Way Back Down In One Piece

So I wrote my last post about flailing and being miserable and then a few days later my dog died and I got a 20% salary decrease at work. Fun times.

It's actually helped me put things into perspective, though.

I don't really talk about work much (besides my ranting on Twitter) but I've been with my current employer for 6.5 years. I've been unhappy for quite some time but I'm paid extremely well to put up with a lot of bullshit. The salary thing is complicated (they didn't just arbitrarily cut my pay) but it's helped me see things more clearly. I'm looking for a new job and I'm excited to take my time and really find a good fit instead of relying solely on a large pay cheque to make up for stress / anxiety / bullying etc.

As for old Toby, he was a good pup who lived a long life. We brought him home when I was an angsty teenager and he lived to meet (and love) my two monsterpups and my boy. His health has been declining for the last year and the decline started progressing much more rapidly a few weeks ago. It wasn't a surprise is what I'm saying. It's silly but his passing is affecting me more than my Gram's passing back in October. Not in the degree of sadness - I'm not more sad about Toby than I am about Gram - but in the sense that it's making me acknowledge that life is short and I can't just float along aimlessly. Most likely it's because my grandma was old when I was born so she's always been old to me. I remember when we brought Toby home and he was just a cuddly little pup who fit on my lap. I won't get all circle of life here but witnessing his life and watching him grow into the crotchety old dog he was at the end has truly been beneficial to me.

So no money, dead dog - things aren't peachy but I'm trying to get there.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Sometimes I Need A Little Sunshine And Sometimes I Need You

I don't know what I'm doing.

I used to. I used to be confident in my relationship with Shawn. I was comfortable and secure with my close circle of friends. I was happy with my blog and my little blogging community. I used to know where I stood at work. I knew my place in the grand scheme of things.

And now I'm just flailing.

I flail from one half-assed thing to another, never actually completing anything or doing anything well. I neglect things and people and then am surprised when they disappear. I change my mind - wildly - and refuse to commit to a path and then lament my lack of clarity. It's insanity.

This isn't a pathetic call for love or support. It's just ... what it is. An acknowledgement of my own failings? Or something? A hesitant promise to change. That's what I'll call it.

Today I (tentatively) pledge to do better.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

I'll Be Your Baby And I'll Take Care Of You

His shirt says heartbreaker and he is. He has big blue eyes and a plucky grin and just a hint of a dimple in each of his big round cheeks. He is growing so quickly.

Before Grady was born, I couldn't imagine wanting to stay home with a baby. My job was a huge part of my identity and I couldn't imagine giving it up. Now I'm trying to figure out how to do just that. How can I afford to give up my (stressful albeit) high-paying job? We live in a city where you can't buy a house for less than half a million dollars. We have a mortgage and bills and life is expensive.

I'm lucky. I know I am. I'm not going to complain about my job situation. I'm lucky to have my job. I'm lucky to live in Canada where 52 weeks of maternity / parental leave is the norm. I'm lucky that Canada allows either the mother or the mother's partner to take parental leave. I'm lucky to have a spouse who is as invested in raising our child as I am.

But it's hard. Two days a week I drag my tired ass out of bed (Sir is teething. There is no sleep.) and I try to nurse my sleeping baby without waking him. I kiss the top of his head and I leave him snuggled up and cozy in bed. I spend 20 minutes pumping breastmilk in the office bathroom, three times a day (breastmilk that my child refuses to drink out of a bottle or cup. Breastmilk that would be going to waste if I wasn't lucky enough to live in a city with a breastmilk bank.) Shawn drives Grady to my office (30 minutes each way) at lunch so I can give him a nice long feed. I endure snarky comments about spoiling my baby, judgments from non-parents and parents alike, and offensive remarks like the one about my son growing up with a breast fetish because I don't force him to drink from a bottle.

The other three days a week are difficult in their own way but are made much more easy because of my close proximity to sir. I sit on the floor of the nursery with my laptop on the floor beside the activity centre. I try to schedule my phone calls around Grady's nap so I don't have a giggly baby in one ear and a phone stuck to the other ear.

This two days in the office and three days at home work schedule is working. It's hard at times but Shawn and I are committed to making it work. We've almost worked out the kinks, just in time for everything to change again. We have four more weeks of this - tops - before I have to make a serious decision about being back in the office full-time or officially cutting back to part-time work (and a part-time salary.)

Shawn is currently on parental leave. Now, please believe me when I say I'm not complaining about Canada's maternity / parental leave system. I know that we're lucky. But our system doesn't allow for him to work part-time while on leave. Or rather, it does allow for him to work but whatever he earns is deducted from his benefits dollar for dollar. The way the system is set up discourages people from working part-time while on leave. I'm making a basic statement on what is a complicated situation but that's essentially what it boils down to. If I reduce my hours (and pay) to part-time, Shawn cannot work part-time while receiving benefits. Our benefits expire at the end of June. It doesn't make sense to forfeit those benefits (another quirk of our system is that all maternity / parental benefits must be claimed before the child's first birthday.)

So we're trying to come up with a plan.

On paper it seems logical for me to go back to work full-time. I have a higher salary than Shawn and my job is much more secure than his. But logic isn't dictating this decision. Logic flies out the window when I think of spending ten hours a day, five days a week away from this face:

We're trying. We're fumbling our way through, trying to decide what's best for our little family. We just want to be happy but somewhere along the way things have become very complicated.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

It’s The Weight Of Love So Gentle In Your Arms

I gained 43 pounds during my pregnancy. I did not need to gain 43 pounds during my pregnancy. I did not start off grossly underweight. I was not carrying multiples. I just gained weight. A lot of weight.

In hindsight, my postpartum depression was not entirely postpartum. Things started to go downhill somewhere around my 34th week of pregnancy but at the time I attributed it to being huge and tired and achy and having a stressful work situation and moving to a new city (and, and, and.) I am not someone who loses weight when feeling blue. I am an emotional eater. I eat my feelings in the form of baked goods and sour candy.

I gained eight pounds in my last week of pregnancy. Yes, Grady was five days late. Yes, it was late July and I was retaining a lot of water. But still. Eight pounds in one week. At the time I didn't care because as I was standing on the scale hearing the nurse tell me my total weight gain for the week, I was actually in labour and had more important things on my mind. But thinking back on it now, I feel a bit icky. Eight pounds is a good-sized baby. Eight pounds is more than what my niece weighed at birth. I put that on my body in one week.

I spent my teen years and a good portion of my twenties hating my body. It's only been recently, as I've entered my late twenties, that I've been able to appreciate my body for what it is. That's not to say that my body issues magically disappeared. It will always bother me that my lower half is wider than my upper half. I will probably always appreciate my height while hating my long torso. But I managed to overlook the flaws and focus on the good. Until I got pregnant. No, until I gave birth. Pregnancy gave me curves and made me feel voluptuous and supple. My postpartum body made me weep.

A week after Grady was born, I was changing my clothes and Shawn said to me, "babe! You look three months pregnant!" in a congratulatory tone. As the tears started to flow, he quickly tried to fix the damage by saying, "no, it's a good thing! A few days ago you looked six months pregnant!" (And then I killed him. I am writing this from jail.) The thing was, I did look three months pregnant. And that was okay! I had just given birth! But I didn't feel okay. I felt huge and jiggly and more insecure about my body than I had ever felt before. I didn't know what to expect from my postpartum body. I still don't know what to expect from my postpartum body.

I hit my pre-pregnancy weight about six months after Grady was born. I had been hovering about five pounds above it for a few months thanks to no effort on my part (I'm not trying to be all pro-breastfeeding here but seriously, it melted away the pounds) so when I decided to cut back on sweets, it was a fairly quick and easy slide back to my pre-pregnancy weight. Which was great. Awesome! Cause for celebration! But also a little depressing. Because even though the scale told me one thing, the reality of my body is an entirely different story. I am jiggly in places where I never jiggled before. My abs are pretty  much non-existent. My once perky butt is now flat and saggy. I'm a mess is what I'm saying.

I've been participating in Jennie's Biggest Blogging Loser since January. I have been eating salads and cooking more and trying to avoid sugar and processed foods. I have gone to yoga once a week - every week - since October. I feel like I'm making the right choices. But it's not enough. I want to be proud of my body. I want to feel physically strong. I want to feel healthy. But ... I also want to wear a bikini this summer. And I kind of hate myself for that. I hate that vanity is playing any part in my attempt at a new, healthy lifestyle.

This is my long-winded and twisty way of asking how you approach your weight / health. Are you motivated by your appearance or something deeper? Have you ever struggled with a significant change to your body? How do I work to improve myself without feeling like my current state isn't enough?

Wednesday, 29 February 2012

I'm Losing My Mind Losing My Mind Losing Control

It's Leap Day today! Leap Day is supposed to bring you luck but mine started with my 40-minute commute to work taking over 2 hours because of snow and good goddamn if that isn't a crappy way to start the day I don't know what is. The snow can't ruin my day, though, because it's my dad's birthday. His 17th birthday, to be precise.

Grady is getting more teeth and there is no sleep at our house so my thoughts are jumbled and fairly incoherent. I've been neglecting this blog for too long, though. I resolved to post today so this is it.

Thank you all so much for your breastfeeding stories. I was so hesitant to write about breastfeeding at all because there are so many feelings out there; I didn't want to inadvertently be an insensitive ass. I find it all very interesting, though, in a way I wasn't expecting. I fully expected to fail at breastfeeding. I wanted to do it but I was sort of non-committal whenever my doctor or nurse would ask me if I planned to breastfeed. I planned to try, I would tell them. Now I'm all nursing this and lactate that. Want to talk about your cracked nipples and painful letdown reflex? I'm your lady.

I wanted to respond to each and every one of your comments but ... I don't know how. It's a damn miracle I manage to blog at all, I'm so technologically unsavvy. I am the unsavviest. I see blogs with wonderful comments sections where the blog author can reply under each and every comment and I want that. I want to do that so badly. But I don't know how.

So I'll just say thank you. Thanks for letting me ramble on in this little space of mine. I wish we were interacting over hot mugs of tea and gooey chocolate chip cookies but until that happy day comes, I'm glad I've got all of you in my glowing computer box (see? unsavvy.)

Let me distract you from my unsavviness with a picture of my adorable kid trying really hard to crawl:

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

I Am Milk I Am Red Hot Kitchen

I started this post to tell a funny (to me) story about something that was said to me by a male nurse but it turned into a word-vomit post about breastfeeding. The breastfeeding vs formula debate is not my fight. I respect everyone's right to choose what is best for their family and their body. 

I donated blood last week (O-neg. They love me.) After I signed in and had my iron checked, I filled in my donor eligibility questionnaire. One of the questions asks if you have recently been tested for HIV. I have recently been tested for HIV, so I filled in the "yes" box.

The next level of screening was talking to a nurse about the answers I submitted. My nurse was a young guy - really friendly and chatty. So we started going over my answers and we get to the HIV question. There's no room for explanation on the questionnaire - just a straight yes or no - so it's the nurse's job to get the history. I told him about how I'm donating my excess breast milk to the Vancouver milk bank and in order to do so, I had to go through a full screening process which included an HIV test.

(I realize that this post sounds a little "oh look at me and all my do-goodery, spreading my fluids around without abandon." (gross) But I promise, it's not. There's a point. I'm getting to it.)

The nurse was interested in the milk bank donating process so we talked a little about that. Which was fine. I mean, since giving birth to Grady I have become so whatever about discussing my body and bodily functions with medical personnel (and non-medical personnel. Sorry, Turtle! And thanks for letting me talk to you in extreme detail about my butt!) So we're talking about breastfeeding and breast milk and he asks me if I'm going to keep donating. Which confused me a little. I mean, it's not that big of a deal for me to freeze the milk that Grady doesn't drink (which is all of my pumped milk. Sir won't take anything that isn't straight from the source.) (The source is my boobs.) But then he clarified that what he meant was, am I going to keep donating breast milk once Grady is weaned.

You guys. I am so grateful that I am able to breastfeed. I love nursing Grady. I feel lucky to have an abundance of breast milk. I feel fucking awesome that I can donate to a milk bank and help other babies and mamas who are not able to breastfeed. But I am not a fan of pumping. I started pumping to relieve pressure (I have always been fairly small-chested so my giant breastfeeding knockers were painful to deal with at first) and now I pump to maintain my supply when I am at work. Honestly, I feel better about donating than I really have a right to. I mean, I would still have to pump even if I wasn't donating the pumped milk. I just freeze it and drop it off at the bank instead of pouring it down the drain.

I didn't know what to say so I didn't say anything. I have a lot of feelings about breastfeeding but I find it difficult to talk about because I don't want to offend anyone. I am 29 years old. My mom could not breastfeed me so I was formula fed from day one. My mom still feels guilty. Twenty-nine years later she feels guilty. She cried when she talked to me about it after Grady was born and we had successfully established breastfeeding. Breastfeeding - or not breastfeeding, whether by choice or circumstance - is an emotionally charged topic. So I don't talk about it. Or think about it. I just feed my kid, pump when I can't feed him, and drop the extra milk off at the milk bank.

Until I was in a blood donor pre-screening room with this dude nurse who innocently asked if I was planning to pump and donate breast milk indefinitely and suddenly I can't stop thinking about it. Once the silence stretched into awkward territory he started talking about how a woman's body continues to make breast milk as long as it's needed and how pumping would trigger my body to keep producing milk, etc. I just sat there with what must have been a stupefied look on my face because he suddenly just stopped talking about my breastfeeding goals and got back to my questionnaire.

I don't mean to make him sound like he was pressuring me at all because that wasn't the case. He was just genuinely curious about the whole thing and we were having a nice conversation until he managed to stun me. But he got me thinking. Could a woman continue to pump breast milk after her baby was weaned? Don't get me wrong, I'm not planning to pump after Grady is weaned. I'm just curious. The conversation made me realize that I take a lot for granted in my relationship with breastfeeding. I had an extremely rough first two weeks that made me question whether or not I could breastfeed my kid (two weeks that the wonderful ladies of the internet helped me get through) and then it was smooth sailing from there on out. I assume that I will be able to feed my kid for as long as I want to but that may not be my reality.

Basically I'm all twisted up over breastfeeding now and I'm curious to hear about other feeding (breast or formula) experiences. No judgements here - I fully respect the choices everyone makes for their own family - just curiosity.