Tuesday, 18 December 2012

The Santa Struggle

Call me a Santa hater, a Grinch, a Scrooge... but I don't want my daughter to meet Santa. 

There I said it.

I am surprised at how much I'm struggling with knowing that today at daycare, my daughter is going to have someone dressed up as a creepy old dude hand her a random something that she doesn't need. 

I honestly don't know what it is exactly that has be so bothered by this. I just know that I am. Is it because we're perpetuating the myth of Santa? Encouraging the commercialism of the holiday season? That I don't want someone passing along a tradition to my daughter that doesn't fit into my own personal belief system? 

It's not that we don't "celebrate Christmas," we just don't really celebrate it as most North Americans do. And it's not that I hate Christmas and everything associated with it. While I've chosen to celebrate the Winter Solstice, rather than the Christian holiday of Christmas, I'm still a huge fan of one gift being exchanged between two loved ones because you want to honor the light within them. I love sitting around a table with family and friends, sharing food and wine to celebrate the days getting longer. I even enjoy cedar and holy decorating the mantle with candles burning. I can handle and even like a few holiday/winter songs. 

This is my Yule. 

My partner is impartial. He grew up celebrating both Christmas and Channukah but hates the commercialism of Christmas and has chosen not to participate in Jewish religious traditions as an adult. He also has no desire to celebrate the seasons and participate in a Solstice celebration, although won't object to me doing so with Penelope on my own.I respect and admire him for this as it's not easy to separate yourself from the traditions you grew up with, and to not be pressured into celebrating what you're partner does. But we don't just have a baby, we now have a toddler and it's impossible to simply ignore this time of year. So, it's up to us to create our traditions. 

This poses the question - how in the world do we celebrate? 

This looks fun:

A celebration of dance? I know that I don't want it to be a celebration of 'stuff'. I'm more inclined to give gifts on birthdays, when you're celebrating the actual person who is on the receiving end. I know I don't want it to be about lying to my kids that there is a guy from the North Pole breaking into our house once a year to bring toys. I want to share with her the North American myth of Santa and the correlations with Norse mythology. Hell, I even want her to learn of Krampus, the anti-Santa who punishes bad children during the Yule season and hauls him away in his sack. I want to decorate the house in holy and wake up to toast the sun on Yule, I want to share these stories and traditions from around the world and dance to silly songs with my girl. I don't want our celebration to be about lies and what she gets. When we live in a society who witnesses a man being arrested for telling children the truth, that Santa isn't real, how is this possible? 

When I shared my reservations of letting our little girl participate in the Christmas celebrations at daycare, my partner replied "she's a baby, it doesn't matter." While another person I confided in remarked, "Just let her go along with it, she'll feel left out..."

This could possibly be a big part of what's wrong with our society? That we all just go along with it. What if ... WHAT IF we all gave up on the Santa myth? The lying, the good vs. bad with coal and gifts story, the mass commercialism and mounds of debt acquired this time of year, and just celebrated each other, the sun or Christ or whatever/whoever you worship and remember our image of Santa Claus was indeed taken from images of old Pagan gods, but mostly from a Coca Cola campaign.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Shutting down the baby factory

*Disclaimer - family members hoping for more nieces, nephews, grandchildren and great grandchildren should not read this post as it may cause extreme disappointment.

We have shut down the baby factory. At least that's what a friend of mine called it the day I got my IUD. The baby factory.

Is that really what they call it when you decide to stop reproducing? Shutting down the factory? Like a woman's body is simply a series of mechanisms whose sole purpose is to pump out screaming babe after screaming babe. Pumping her out is not how I would describe delivery... but I digress and Baby Daddy warns me this is getting a little bitter LOL. Factory or not, this body isn't reproducing again. 

Choosing an IUD gives us a five year window to change our mind of course, but we're both pretty happy with our crazy toddler and our daily in-awe-of-everything-she-is-and-will-become moments. Having her in our lives makes everything just a little better. Outside of her throwing herself on the ground and having tantrums like she's already 2 and a half, she's incredibly fun.  

Implanting the device - not. so. much. fun. After three rescheduled appointments to have it put in, I finally made it to the hospital. Terrified. I was scared I'd be one of those rare cases where they puncture a hole in your uterus. And then where would we be? No choice. Ever. See I'm fine with not having more kids. I'm not fine with having the choice taken away from me. Which is one of a few reasons Baby Daddy is not getting the snip. 

The day was full of ups and downs. The first person I saw was a nurse, the same one I made awkward conversation with in the elevator - because that's what I do when I'm nervous, make bad jokes and talk too much. She ended up being lovely, but told me I was supposed to have taken Advil before I arrived. Oops. "Let's give you some then and wait for it to kick in," she suggests. Joy. More waiting. 

Then I get to play 20 questions with a resident. Who is really quite attractive. Why is it that I have to talk about my sordid sexual history with the hot ones? Yes, sordid. Like you weren't 20 once upon a time ;) Then I start thinking about the fact that he is going to be assisting with the procedure and is going to see my intimate details. This fills me with dread, and a little excitement. 

Of course he's the one who inserts the speculum... how do I put it? What's the opposite of gently? Let's just say it's no longer exciting. 

The doctor is amazing though. He has new babies and chats with me about them. The nurse lets me hold her hand. Well, two fingers, there primarily for the purpose of squeezing really hard. 

I'll admit it's a little gross feeling something being threaded through your cervix, but I've had biopsies so I remind myself it's not as bad as that and engage my ujjayi breathing as though I'm in class and I'm simply in the middle of a posture that is a little challenging.

Then it's done. I'm surprised at how disappointed I am. Everyone leaves the room and I cry. I admit to myself that my body cannot handle another kid. I cry because I'll be lucky if my back can stand up to the trials of taking care of the child we do have. I tell myself we have replaced ourselves in an overpopulated world which is running out of resources, but still I cry because our little girl will never have a sibling. And I realize that one of the hardest things I will ever do... is shutting down the baby factory. 

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Maybe we should just cut her across the face - ?!?!

"Maybe we should just cut her across the face," my partner says to me over a bowl of oatmeal. 

After I recovered from the burn that only coffee dribbling out of your nose can produce - mostly from choking back the shock of his choice of words - I realize he's talking about giving our daughter bangs.

As much as I vowed to wait until she was at least three before I started cutting her hair, if at all, I looked at my sweet, mischievous, darling daughter and seriously contemplated taking her for a hair cut.

It's not that I'm strictly against cutting a child's hair, I simply wanted to let her grow into her own style and see what she wanted once she could communicate a little more effectively. However, as I think of her remarkable resemblance to an old family member... 

... I realize she has the strangest hair which grows directly into her eyes. So unless we can get her to embrace wearing a barrette every day, this kid is going to need bangs. 

She's blonde with lose curls, so I'm not at risk for becoming one of those moms who cut their children's hair into a copy cat version of their own. I'm secure enough in my relationship with my daughter that I don't need her to look like a mini me. 

I really want to see what happens with her hair once it grows long enough to go behind the ears, and what she would choose when she starts to discover her own style. On the flip side, today she is sporting a shiny red clip in her hair, which she will yank out twelve times before lunch, and ask to have it put back in (again and again and again), and which may possibly end up in her lunch at daycare. I'm so torn with what to do. Do I just deal with barrettes in my kid's poop or cave and cut her hair?

How old was your child before you took them for their first hair cut?

Monday, 12 November 2012

I never thought I'd hear the words...


This from the grown woman who kept a red hula hoop behind her office door for almost a decade! The woman who still has bubbles within an arms reach! And she doesn't want to play?

I shocked myself when I said those words aloud this morning... with a little whine and a little pout to boot. 

After transforming my body into a rocker, an airplane, a bouncy machine and a chair - as we read stories, stacked blocks and found homes for various small items in my pyjamas - I really just wanted my body to myself. If only for ten minutes. 

Once that moment came I was then chased, became the chasee and inevitably it lead to being the source of a morning snack. 

There was but one pee break and even then I was attempting to break off a square of TP with a toddler hanging onto my neck. Yeah. Ever try to pull up your pants with 26 lbs of dangling cuteness? It's not easy. 

More than two hours later I couldn't take it anymore. At the first sign of what sort of, kind of, maybe looked like a little bit, of a yawn I plopped my child in her crib. 

And she cried. At that point, I just didn't care. Bring on a cold cup of coffee,  I was done playing. 

I said I'd give it 5 mintues... it took about 3 until she discovered the bottle I planted in her crib.


She has been asleep for a glorious hour. Let's pray it leads to another.

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Dia de los Muertos Celebration ~ Day of the Dead... with a toddler.

Each year we have a Mexican pot luck to encourage our friends to join us for Dia de los Muertos. This is not a celebration of heritage (although there is most likely a past life connection happening here) but a lesson taken from those who know how to pay tribute to the dead with a proper celebration, something I think we should all do. I try to do it year round, but having the party allows us to share, and to celebrate, on a larger scale. 

But... ever try getting ready for a big party with a one year old tugging on your leg? It's next to impossible.

I learned from having one around during another party I decorated for, that everything takes WAY longer. So paper flowers and poms were made and hung a couple days ahead of time (TIP#1), losing only one to the impatient hands of a 15 month old. 

My child's Hallowe'en costume could have passed for a raver with the amount of glitter she had on her body from her new passionate love of sparkly skulls, (I'm not sure where she gets that from) but we got them all up.

The day of the party we got up early, baked the cake and finished hanging decorations. I tried to clean the house but with a toddler trailing behind me and undoing most of what I had accomplished I admitted defeat. Thankfully help was coming (TIP#2 - hire a housekeeper to come in the morning of the party).

While the house was being cleaned we went out and grabbed ourselves lunch, and picked fresh flowers for the altar so when we returned we could start cooking. (TIP#3 - prepare as much food in the couple days leading up to the party as possible. Nothing quite says "welcome" like hiding in the kitchen still rolling enchiladas an hour into the feast.)

Two wonderful friends came to hang out in shifts (TIP#4) and played with the terror toddler, while I finished preparing things. 

2 days or 10 hours later, depending on how you look at it, the ancestor altar was lit, skeleton lanterns glowed and sparkly skulls adorned windows, staircases and tables. The papel picado and paper flowers were hung, an eclectic mix of Mexican music played through our speakers,sangria marinated and enchilada sauce simmered on the stove awaiting guests. 

November 2nd, Dia de los Muertos - Day of the Dead. Finally, the time had arrived to invite our ancestors to cross the veil and feast with us, to dance with us, to share a drink, and allow us to honor them with remembrance. Extra pillows were placed around the house so the dead could rest after their long journey and banners were hung to welcome them...

A cake was made in their honor (recipe below)

And a small table in the entry way served as a place where people could be alone for a moment to write a note to loved ones. They were all placed in a container, which I will take to the cemetery and burn at the crossroads, asking guardians of the crossroads and of the gates to the Otherworld, to deliver the messages to the dead. 

Guests were encouraged to bring offerings for those that have passed, and photos to display. We shared stories about those we were remembering - something next year I think we'll do on a larger scale - and we feasted, we drank, we played, and mostly... we remembered.
Poppet helping set up the ancestor altar and making a toast to her great grandpa

Cake recipe:
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups pumpkin puree or cooked mashed pumpkin
Combine sugar, vegetable oil, and eggs in a large mixing bowl; mix well. Sift dry ingredients into a separate bowl; stir into oil mixture, beating well. Stir in pumpkin puree.
Pour batter into two greased and floured skull pan (or two round pans). Bake at 350° for 35 to 40 minutes for round pans - 45-50 for deeper skull pan - some ovens may take up to an hour... just keep doing the tooth pick trick every 5 minutes until it comes out clean. Turn out onto racks to cool.
Put two halves together with your favorite icing or just toothpicks (what I did) and sprinkle with icing sugar - stuff flowers into eye sockets TAAAADAAA!

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Eating Local

We are crazy busy preparing for our annual Dia de los Muertos Feast and Poppet is busy ripping apart as many of my paper flowers as she can get her hands on, in Hallowe'en bat tights of course :D 

Tonight, we'll be Catherine the Great, the adorable version and the dead. Guess who is the adorable one?  Post, pics, and recipes from the party coming soon ...

Until then, Happy Hallowe'en! And a Blessed Samhain to those who are ringing in a new year! 

Remember, eat local!

Thursday, 11 October 2012

(Almost) First Steps

At first I thought "squeeeee!" when my little girl took her first step. She stood up, arms outstretched, tongue peeking out of the corner of her mouth, and steadied herself. The look on her face said "holy shit Mama! I can do this WITHOUT holding your hands!" It was a look of wonderment laced with mischief and crossed with determination. I'm in for a world of trouble with this newly almost toddling girl.

It was the second time she rose to standing that she decided to take it one step further (sorry, I'm a sucker for puns) and placed right foot in front of left, or was it left then right? I was too busy paying attention to the fact that my daughter was trying to WALK! I'm calling them the "almost first steps".

Since that video, she's worked up to 3 or 4 steps...

WALKIING!?!?! So exciting...

Wait. No. No it's not. 

I mean, yes it's exciting to see her develop and realize she can do something on her own without me. I know most people would insert a little sniffle here, about how their little girl is growing up so fast. My sniffle is for a selfish reason, I don't want her to walk. I want her to be as immobile for as long as possible. What? It's nice to be able to run down stairs and change the laundry over when she's playing in the living room.  She's pretty quick at crawling. Walking will lead to running and I don't know that I'm quite ready for that. Plus, walking leads to her standing more often, which means she's going to be able to reach the surfaces of everything. It's only a matter of time before she figures out the latch on the baby gate or learns to climb over it!

And then what happens?

Okay, it might have it's perks ;) 

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Swearing at your child... in public

I grab a can from the overstocked shelf at the grocery store and place it in my cart. I head to the dairy section, grab my yogurt... place it in the cart. Through my series of pick item out, place it in cart and repeat routine, Penelope is throwing one of every five items onto the floor. It's not so bad. She's entertained and I get to do squats to help counteract the ass that you only seem to acquire by having a child.

As I do most trips to the bigger grocery store, I head to the clothing section on my way to the cash. I am eyeing an incredibly adorable faux leather jacket in size Lope, only to look back at my child to discover she has learned how to open a package of Soba noodles... and they are everywhere. Broken pieces scatter on the floor, some have landed in tiny baby shoes and one hits the leg of a lady perusing the adorable sleepers for newborns section.

My response? "Jesus Christ Penelope!" Not in a angry tone, but more exasperated, although still laughing, at the fact that she can't seem to sit in the cart and happily play with a frozen burrito. (Help me out here... how do you get your child to endure grocery shopping?) Now, this isn't the first time I've sworn at her, or around her. I've also told P to "f!*%-off". Just once (in public) and it was totally justified as she was punching me in the face. But even the other moms who witnessed that (and pretended like they've never sworn at their kids) didn't look at me like this woman. It was as though she would love nothing more than for me to cross the grocery store parking lot to Canadian Tire, buy a shovel,  and head to a lot to start digging my own grave. Wow. She actually scared me a little. I'm guessing devout Christian?
I understand that everything I say will soon be repeated. I know that both J and I need to curb the cursing. And we`re working on it but sometimes, well, sometimes your baby punches you in the face, and sometimes they dump pasta all over a grocery store floor.  

I give Brownie points to myself for how I handled it. Because not only did I have to clean up after her, while under the glare of a soon to be grandmother, but I didn't respond to the evil eye or even do retail therapy and buy the jacket! 
Talk about restraint. 

I think I'll go have that brownie now. 

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Kingston Writers Fest

I'm volunteering at Kingston Writer's Fest today through Sunday... while there's no post this week - if you're in the Kingston area, come to the festival and say hi. 

Naomi Wolf, John Valliant, Ami McKay, Emily Shultz, Kelley Armstrong, Charlotte Gill, Michelle Landsberg, Shelagh Rogers, Robert Priest ... the list goes on! Visit the website for all the details on authors, playwrights and poets presenting.

I can't begin to describe how amazing it will be. Guaranteed I will have loads of stories after it's all over though. *wink*

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Super Slide Fail

A friend of mine posted this video on her blog this morning and it got me a little riled up, so I had to share. 

While the mom may have not used great judgement, ahem - put your kid on your lap when deciding to take them on a GIANT slide!? I could see thinking that because your child can sit up (they are obviously in full toddler mode) and can handle the little yellow slide at the park that she's ready for a super slide, (!?!??! *scratching head*) but it's not her ignorance or the stupidity she showed in not letting go of her child's hand that had me getting worked up when I saw this.  

Notice the sub title of "I think the dad hit the nail on the head". 

He asks afterwards, "why did you even do that?" Like he didn't know they were about to go down the slide? Like he wasn't filming it and anticipating his little one giggling at the end of the ride!? Sorry Buddy, but when you set up your video camera to record something like this you are just as guilty for the goose egg that will inevitably appear. Is posting the video (and leaving that line in at the end) some sort of way to get validation that you're totally trying to avoid any sort of accountability???

Thursday, 13 September 2012

The Crazy Mama in the Park

This is not a story about me. This is a story about a young woman in the park yesterday who showed up, and there is no other way to politely say this, losing her shit. I'm not talking about asking someone to keep an eye on your little one while you sit for a minute to collect yourself, or so you can have a good cry and move on with the day. I'm talking about flailing arms while walking around in circles, borderline hyperventilating during sporadic bursts of tears and throwing herself on the dirt like a three year old, freak out. It was sad. 

Sad because I knew that this woman was mentally unstable. Or high. Or maybe a little of both. She couldn't have been older than her early twenties. Sad because I knew the little girl with her, I assume her daughter, was bullying a lot of the other kids on the playground because of her mother's actions. And it was mostly sad because I couldn't think of anything to do to help. 

What this woman was going through, wasn't necessarily what had my attention. It was how Penelope was reacting to it.

When this woman's little girl decided to step on P to get up the stairs of the slide, I wanted to tell the woman to get it together and watch her kid. But I knew it would fall on deaf ears, so I simply asked the girl to wait for her turn next time. Like any 4 year old girl, she didn't like being told what to do so she skipped away to another part of the playground. While she chose to pick on other children, Penelope sat on those steps for a good ten minutes, just sitting upright and starring wide eyed at the woman, who at this point was pacing back and forth, smoking a cigarette and talking loudly, to no one in particular. I could tell Penelope was picking up on this "crazy" vibe.

It amazed me how quickly Penelope decided to remove herself from being near this energy. Any time this woman got closer, P would crawl away or throw her hands straight up in the air begging to be picked up. People kept telling me how intuitive babies are. This was the first time I had seen it so obvious with my girl. SO amazing. I hope she always pays attention to the energy around her, the gut instincts and trusts in herself the way she did. 

Monday, 10 September 2012

Baby Brain and the Sweater

Step one: inherit amazingly gorgeous sweater at a clothing swap

Step two: wash it so you don't smell like someone else

Step three: put it in the dryer accidentally

Step four: pull out of dryer, look at the "wool" label and repeat every curse word you know

Step five: set aside for your daughter's third birthday - she now has an amazingly gorgeous dress.

Note to self: NEVER rush putting the laundry over again.

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Natural School/Art Supplies

We are blessed to live in a community where local produce is abundant, many people are upcycling and recycling, and many of our neighbours are embracing a more sustainable lifestyle. Once kids come along it becomes harder to live a sustainable life style... but it doesn’t have to be. This series of articles is an opportunity for me to present topics from a “green” and natural perspective (without being preachy).

This is simply what happens when we strip back the labels, the expectations, and take away the commercialism to ponder parenting, sustainably. 

“Education is learning what you didn’t even know you didn’t know.” --- Daniel J. Boorstin

Heading back to school was always such an incredible time for me. Not only did I get to see my friends again after a long summer, but all the kids also got new clothes and school supplies. Or, in my case, new to me school supplies. I was always the kid who wanted the bright funky binders and multicolored pens and markers. I never got them. I was given short pencils found around the house. You know the ones that have half the erasers chewed off the ends? Those would be the ones. And having siblings much older than me, I was loaded up with the binders my brothers used before me. I seem to recall their main use was for hiding hockey cards and letters from girls from my step mom.

I didn’t understand my parents’ need to recycle school supplies until I was much older. It wasn’t just about saving money, but also about reducing waste. And now that I’m a mother, I realize that I’m learning things I didn’t realize I needed to learn. Like how many pencils are produced each year, how much paper that’s collected actually gets recycled back into paper products. I’m not going to spout off a list of stats for you, check out Canadian Industry Statistics if you’re interested.

I’m simply saying that there is a huge responsibility, as a parent, to maintain or reduce our carbon footprints, despite the fact that we are now a couple, plus one or two. Or in the case of you crazy ambitious parents out there, 3, 4 or 5. But it’s not always possible to do the second hand thing. So while you can shop at vintage shops and consignment stores for fall outfits, you can’t always get everything we need for back to school second hand. 

We’re lucky to live in a city that has a few different stores that you can purchase environmentally friendly school supplies. And they are out there. When you take into account that you’re buying new items every year, why not just spend a little more for quality eco friendly items, which will last you longer? And then, once your child is done with them, leave a little less in our landfills. Like this awesome "Go Green Lunch Box" from Go Green Baby.

I’m lucky my daughter is only one and I don’t have to worry about school supplies just yet. But I do have to consciously make a choice about the materials I’m using for her early education. Things like finger paints, crayons, play dough, sketch pads and books. And if you ask around town you’ll find there are people right here in the Limestone City who make some of these items! I’m finding all kinds of DIY projects that are sustainable and might just be more fun than the pre packaged options. Colour me happy!

The Clementine Crayon Rocks are one of my favorite finds, you can grab them at The Rocking Horse. And the Botanical Paints from P'Lovers are really beautiful too. Especially when you think about how much paint your child is going to eat. (These and other brands of natural crayons, paints and pencil crayons are available at Go Green Baby too)

These are a few of my favorite finds around town, and I know there are other stores that carry great eco-friendly products so feel free to share what you've found! There are so many other amazing products. I’m hearing a lot of my friends, with school aged children, getting especially excited about the pencil crayons made from recycled newspapers, the eco friendly binders and the pencils made from used CD cases. What's the greatest product you've discovered?

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

A farting doll you say?

I just read an article called "Farting Doll is Gross" and I'm really on the fence about this one.  Part of me applauds the company that has produced a doll that farts. Part of me is pissed that the doll blushes when she does...

There are dolls that pee, there are pee and poo dolls. There are breast feeding dolls and skeletal block toys... hell there are posthumous hip hop producer toys. So, why not have a doll that farts? I'm put off by the title of "Farting Doll is Gross" in that it implies our bodily functions are gross, when in fact it's really a sign of your body working as it should.
Now, I won't deny my pregnancy gas didn't want to make you hang your head out the window, or that my baby daddy doesn't gag out my mother's fourteen year old neighbour while playing Pictionary from time to time BUT it's something OUR bodies do, why wouldn't a doll, who is created in image of our tiny selves, do it?
What does bother me (way more than I realised it did, until I started drinking the 21 year old scotch in the liquor cabinet while writing about this) is that the doll blushes. If you didn't watch the commercial go do that. I'll wait.... 
Done? Okay. See what I mean? Why are we STILL being raised to be embarrassed about something that EVERY SINGLE PERSON ON THE PLANET DOES???  I think it`s a little refreshing that there is a doll in existence like this. Now, to order one for my daughter. I don`t think it`s rude, or against `etiquette`to break wind. If you have the chance to step away from people when you do it, that`s courteous and I recommend it (not everyone has a sense of smell that's so forgiving but hey, it happens). Whether it belongs as a feature to a child's toy or not, I ask a very simple question: Why not raise our children to be comfortable in their bodies, and with what their bodies do naturally?

Friday, 31 August 2012

Baby Brain and the Bath

Really I`m just crazy tired and a little absent minded... but even though it`s been over a year, I refuse to give up the excuse of baby brain. Especially when I almost flood our bathroom.

The evening held such exciting possibility. There was a glass of red wine, Baby Daddy was out developing his bromances, there was a season finale episode of True Blood downloaded on my computer ... don't judge me. I'm entitled to an hour of bubble gum for my brain once a week. If it happens to be in the form of a show with a loose plot line that has lots of violence, AND I get to see a particular werewolf take his clothes off, SO BE IT! 

But I digress. There was also a giant cast iron claw foot tub just waiting for me. 

Now, if you've ever used a cast iron tub, you know the tub itself needs to heat up. Or else you end up in a deep pool of hot water with your ass feeling like ice. So the method is: pour in a cup of salts, fill it almost all the way with nothing but hot. Let it sit for 20 minutes. Adjust temperature if it's still too hot with a bit of cold. Grab novel, enter and soak. ahhhh.

Not quite how it went down. I started the bath, came back downstairs and continued to watch my show. Distracted by a particular half naked werewolf because of baby brain, I realize the tap had been running far too long, sprang out of my seat and ran upstairs. I found I had not flooded the bathroom, but would have if it wasn't for that little drain by the faucet that sucks out the excess water. PHEW! I went back downstairs and enjoyed the last few minutes of the finale. (Awesome, if you were wondering).

Knowing I had to give it 20 minutes or so before the bath wouldn't be scalding I thought I'd be productive and fold the basket of clothing on the bed. Half way through I realized I was folding a basket of dirty laundry. Awesome. I then decided I need to just get in the bath and soak while finishing my wine... Only when I stepped into the tub, it was FREEZING. Turns out when you let your water run that long it empties the hot water tank, filling your tub with ice cold water. 

And that's how this mama ended up in bed at 9:12pm. 

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Mama's First Year

We all want to say that having a child doesn't change us. But IT DOES. It doesn't have to consume you but it still causes a shift in our worlds. Penelope turned one this summer. ONE! I started this blog post on her birthday back in July and in true baby brain fashion, forgot to post it.

So, it's over a month late, but here's "Mama's First Year"...

Over the past 24 hours I have been reliving and remembering the labour, the delivery and the oddness that was our first year together. I thought about posting my birth story to commemorate the event, and celebrate that we're both still alive, and then I read through it. All ten pages. TEN. So I'll save you the read and just tell you that parts of it were magnificent, like when the back labour stopped and I got to experience how cool contractions really felt without the searing pain in my back and hips.  And the part where my girl and I danced to West African drumming and her papa singing until she was ready to come out. And, some parts sucked, like the shitting during contractions. Jesus H, the poop part sucked. No one tells you about the poop. And the primal moments where I growled at my midwife... actually come to think of it, that part was horrible but liberating and awesome at the same time....

... what was I writing about? Right, the last year. (baby brain) Okay here we go...

A year in the life of a new mama

Month One You're so excited to have the baby in your arms instead of pushing on your bladder and kicking you in the pubic bone and ribs you don't even notice the chapped nipples you've developed. And if you have a summer baby, you sometimes don't notice that you're not wearing any pants! Plus it's still to early to really know what sleep deprivation feels like, so you venture outside as much as possible, showing your wrinkly-kind-of-looks-like-an-old-man baby off to the world. If you're lucky, people have left you alone for a week or two and then brought you delicious food, knowing that you're far too whacked on baby hormones to cook.

Month Two The midwives give you the okay to exercise again. This is exciting not only because you're body is screaming at you to do more than walk around the block but your skin misses the water. So, it's back to aquafit, where, after 3 years of taking class together, everyone wonders where you've been for the past 5 months and you have to explain that the pressure on your bladder while pregnant simply got to much to handle. Getting out of the pool 3 times in a 45 minute class to go pee just wasn't cutting it. Oh, and then you had a baby. Then there was the whole healing thing. yeah. You could tell them to stuff it and just go sit in the sauna but you're so excited to be talking to an adult you don't care. 

Month Three You realize that the baby weight isn't going away quite that easily but continue to swim and return to yoga classes in the hope that your sanity restores itself. Both are delicious escapes from the screaming that ensues through the night. 8 times Baby, really?

Month Four It's Hallowe'en and you are determined to make an awesome costume. One with meaning, originality and that is totally bad ass. You realize that no baby of yours is going to be a cute fluffy bunny (no offense to the bunnies). You also realize that your baby still isn't sleeping, so neither are you and the thought of actually sewing something hurts your brain. You then realize you can just glue things together to create a costume.... until you try to use a hot glue gun with baby brain. 

Your unique costume idea gets shoved aside and your baby ends up in a plush baby costume like the other 12 babies in your mama group. UNTIL you realize that underneath baby's wearing a black Harley onesie and black pants. Add the biker boots and you finally get your bad ass costume. Then you vow that next year will be different, and hope that you get to sleep before then. 

Month Five You discover the bumbo. And drooling (teething is awesome.) But the bumbo is your new best friend. It lets you shower. *cue angelic music It lets you eat with two hands. 
Best. Invention. Ever.

Month Six Ah, your baby enters her 6th month at xmas time. The perfect half way point. You check in with how you're making out during the in laws family dinner, and realize you've already downed 3 beers and aps haven't even been served. Turns out you haven't been drinking nearly enough over the past 14 months.

Month Seven Your baby has been eating solid food for a whole month. She's been picking off your plate for even longer so you figure she might as well have her own. Avocado is still being washed off the wall. But solid food equals solid poop and life just got much much easier. 

Month Eight After a couple months of comfortable (to you) maneuvers to go within a four foot radius, Baby has decided to start crawling. No more bum shuffles. No more reach and sits. You know it's only a matter of time before she's bombing around on hands and knees and you bow your head in defeat.

Month Nine You realize your child is nine months old already and you still haven't taken those professional shots you planned to do when she was 3 months old. And thanks to baby brain you totally forget to put on make up for the photo shoot, forgetting that family photos are going to include you too. 

Month Ten If you're like me you decide that since you're going to a wedding in Scotland, you might as well go early and see the UK... alone. Just you and the baby. Sure you have family for the first little bit of the trip but because they are new to her, you still don't ever get a break.

Seriously though, it was amazing and I wouldn't trade the experience for anything.

Yes. For real. But it is hard, I won't lie. Like the time I screamed in frustration in the middle of the street in Dublin (in front of a group of junior high school aged kids) because you needed a car seat for everything and that was the one thing I didn't pack. Yeah, THAT happened.

Month Eleven Because you were so determined to enjoy the final month of your pregnancy sitting around in your new backyard and sipping non alcoholic sangria in the sun, you have to go back to work before baby hits one. It's surprisingly easy and you rejoice over being able to self identify as something other than a mama and realize you don't necessarily hate daycare. 

Month Twelve All you can think is, "wholly shit, it's been a fucking year!?!?!" as you relive every moment of the labour, and try to remember the last year. 

That and, "wholly crap, it's been a year and she is really determined to climb on EVERYTHING".

You also think that it's pretty amazing that your baby is sort of almost talking. Penelope says "Enya", "nah", "Mama", "Papa" and my favorite, "booo" which I'm pretty sure means "book" since she's removing every. single. one. off our bookshelf.

You also wonder how long it will take before you stop getting teary eyed over the intentional hugs and kisses. Yeah, she does that now. Ask my mom. She apparently needed to be warned because she cried in front of people when Penelope leaned in for a smooch. hehe SUCKA.

Don't judge me. I need someone to cry with over this stuff.

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Mama’s Retreat – getting there isn’t just about leaving the house

Written at the end of day one at the cottage...

It’s 7:18 in the evening and I’m ready for bed. It’s not from a hard day of chasing around my baby toddler. It’s not from working a long day on the job. It’s not from physical exertion or from staying up too late the night before. It’s from fresh air. It’s from fresh air, in the middle of the woods. It’s from fresh air, in the middle of the woods, on a lake! It’s from fresh air, in the middle of the woods, on the lake, without the little one or her father! It’s been the craziest, most marvelous day. Alone.

Please don’t misunderstand, I miss my little girl. There is something to be said however, for taking time for you. And I don’t mean an hour and a half for a yoga class (which I HIGHLY recommend), but true solitude. I won’t deny it’s unnerving, but I certainly won’t pretend it’s not glorious. It took a long time to get here but I’m so glad I did this.

This morning I was starting to doubt that this getaway would even happen. After ensuring I had indeed chosen the proper night to be away and that there was plenty of milk in the fridge, P lost. her. shit. Maybe it’s because she got her shots yesterday, or maybe it’s because she’s a little psychic. But today she clung to me like she knew I was planning to leave her for a whole 18 hours.

She saw me put my things in my back pack, grab a hat, and the bug dope and then refused to let me go.  Literally, she was clinging on like there was no tomorrow. She screamed, she punched, she wailed and she bit. It’s like she saw the yearning in my eyes for the scent of pine and felt the need to protest against my decision to escape to the woods. After two hours of struggling, including a short car ride to get her to pass out for a nap before dropping her at daycare and having to return home to grab the five things I forgot, (in true baby brain fashion, I still forgot my sleeping bag) that’s exactly what I did: escape to a cabin in the woods. 

Problem was I didn’t know what to do with myself once I got here. What to do with a giant lake in front of you, a beautiful old 40s cottage, and a big deck with prime afternoon sun? Or a screened in sun porch overlooking the lake that I would kill to have at home. What’s so hard about that you ask? I knew I had come up here to be alone, to ground and reconnect with myself (and maybe if I was lucky to sleep through the night), but how?

I knew I wanted to write while I was here, but what? Should I sit on the dock and write in my journal about all the craziness that has been happening in my life over the past week/month/year? I could work on that event proposal or get a jump start on the column? Do I do yoga on the deck? Maybe I should go for a swim? Lunch seems like a good idea, and just walking through the woods is a nice possibility. The problem was, there were all these things that I was hoping to do while I was here but it didn’t seem like there were enough hours in the day. So, I started one thing and moved on to another and then the next and 3 hours later realized I was scattered and stressed and honestly, being a little ridiculous.

I also realized that I hadn’t brought nearly enough food to get me through two days. Or, at least I told myself that so I’d have a mission; something to do so I’d stop spinning in circles. I drove into town. The great thing about really small towns is the LCBO is in the same spot as the grocery store *grin*. With some cheese, olives, fruit and bottle of wine, I drove back down the steep lonely lane to the cottage. After yoga, a delicious swim, dinner with a novel (minus the interruptions of a one year old) and a cup of the gods’ nectar I’m finally calm and take in the beauty of the blue sky, ripling waters, rocky shore and bright green foliage that surrounds me.

It takes some work to leave the mama role behind, even if just for one night. I think it might just be the smartest thing a parent can do, take that little bit of time for them. I can wait for kisses and snuggles from my darling girl. The rest of tonight is for me, and tomorrow morning for sunrise, swimming and solitude. And maybe to read and drink a cup of coffee in that sunporch. Because honestly, what good am I to her, if I’m not good to myself?

Friday, 17 August 2012

Laser Tattoo Removal

I wish I could blame it on baby brain, but it was 10 years before Penelope was born that I met my ex and eventually decided to get handfasted and tattoo our rings. We are both proudly inked, so it seemed fitting. The relationship WAS going to last forever, right? We chose two infinity symbols (Green for the God, Brown for The Goddess) entwined. And because for me it was a symbol of balance, I thought I would always want it, whether forever happened or not. 

Then I woke up one morning and just didn't want it on my finger anymore. I was lucky to have met Todd years ago, and knew I could talk to him about removing it without judgement. My decision to go through with the procedure surprisingly has nothing to do with J, or lil Lope. It has everything to do with me letting go. Letting go of everything that is attached with that tattoo. I'm heading down a new path and embracing change. With one less tattoo. 

Once P's immune system was strong enough she was basically weaned, I made an appointment. It's been a week and I'm already starting to see a difference in the ink. I'm not sure how many sessions I'll need, but Todd (No Regrets in Kingston) is helping me move on, and I can't seem to find words other than a truly sincere "thank you"

If you've ever wondered what the deal is with laser tattoo removal, here's a little video I took of the first session.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Babies and Ultimate Fighting

An actual conversation in my house this morning:

Me:     What are you watching?
BD:      UFC
Me:     Could you maybe watch something else with Penelope?
BD:      Why?
Me:     Umm because she's one?!?
BD:     Genuinely confused look
Me:     Because it's UFC!


The occasional Muppet Show sketch is one thing; I'm not a big fan of her watching a ton of TV as it is (yes I know this will change as she becomes a toddler). I did think however, that it would obvious that Ultimate Fighting might not be the most appropriate thing to watch with a baby. 

hmm. Guess not. 

PS. Upon seeing this post, Baby Daddy's response: "In my defense she wasn't really watching it."

Thursday, 9 August 2012

No, IIII want to put sharp metal things in Mama's mouth!

After a sleepless night, Penelope and I both went to the dentist this morning. I expected it to be a challenging visit. Sure enough, after playing by herself for a while by emptying the contents of my purse on the dentist’s office floor, there was a spontaneous outburst of discontent. Apparently she was not impressed with the fact that someone was poking and scraping inside her mama’s mouth. Well, she wasn’t impressed that she didn’t get to watch.

For the rest of my visit in the chair she sat on my stomach and watched in awe as the hygienist attempted to scrape off the build up of plaque that comes with neglecting your teeth due to baby brain. Note to new parents: floss your damn teeth, no matter how bloody tired you are! Remind each other to brush your teeth more that once a day... or for those first couple months, more than once every other day if you’re anything like I was in mombie state. Shiver with disgust, it’s okay. Sometimes, between all the boobing, diapers, trying to simply sleep or keep up with a newly mobile baby, you just forget.

The screams didn’t come until later, when P got strange fingers probing around inside her own mouth. Turns out the last few nights have been sleepless for a reason. She’s about to cut 3 or 4 teeth. Probably all at once. Joy. We received even better news about her orthodontic future. The two teeth she has tell the dentist that she has inherited my teeth. They are really close together. Adult teeth are bigger than baby teeth, so if baby teeth are tight, without spaces between them, there is a good chance there will be a lot of crowding with the second set of teeth. 

Son of a whore! Could we not catch a break with this? I don’t know if you’ve seen past photos of my beautiful baby daddy, but he’s got a KILLER smile. All natural. Mine? Picture 4 years of headgear and braces. Yes, actually I WAS an adorable kid. 
Told you. J saw this and commented, "you look like you're getting ready to eat the bunnies". I told him that first of all, they were puppies (one of which gave me my first hickey but that's a story for another time) and secondly, that I was cute as hell with my crooked teeth and broken nose. And I may have called him a jerk. But I do look a little hungry eh?

I actually tried to find a photo of the mouth gear, but surprisingly there are none of me in my stylin’ ortho wear. I can only assume that I destroyed all the evidence during that low self esteem period every teenager inevitably goes through. This means I have work to do. I so do not want my daughter to be self conscious. I want her to smile as brightly as she does now, crowded teeth and all. I want her to show the rows of metal and I don’t want her to hold her laughter back so photos only have her smiling with her mouth closed. 

So how do you do that? Pretend my experience with braces was better than it was? Simply teach her as she grows that she’s amazing! All I can do is continue to focus on how clever, funny, smart and lovely she is and hope it sinks in before those horrible preteen years hit.

We tried to get a “baby’s first trip to the dentist” shot but she was freeeeeaking out, so blurry shots of the back of her head and me laughing is all we got. Yes, I laugh at her while she cries. It’s what keeps me sane.