Bee Do Bee Do! Minion Party!

My middle baby turned three over the summer, and what with Baby J’s arrival, it got a little hard to post about her party.  Here we are in the end of November and I still haven’t told you all about it.  Keep in mind I was 1800 months pregnant when I pulled this off, so it was a feat of strength.  I had been dreaming up and pinning ideas for months, so not going big wasn’t an option.  Did that sentence make sense?

Anyhoo…  Despicable Me is one of the few movies I like and let my kids watch.  I love Steve Carrell (the voice of Mr Gru) and I adore his adopted daughter characters.  They are quirky, smart and fearless and that is something I want my young girls to see.  Also, just knowing that Russell Brand does the voice of Dr Nefario makes me happy.  PS – I want a shark to live in my house.

K is a hardcore Mr Gru fan and loves minions and all their gibberish and hilarity.  I asked her months before this what theme she wanted and it didn’t even take her a second to scream “Minions!”  We may have been watching the movie at the time…

I started a Pinterest Board and looked first at cake and loot bag ideas.  Those are my main ways of tying a theme together.  Food is a huge component of my planning and I like to get food that not only ties in the colours of the movie but little ideas that are part of characters and plot lines.  Here are some pictures to get us started:

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The cake was a feat of nature.  I used four 8 inch rounds and then a half-ball mould to make the rounded top.  I used confetti cake mix, which I have to say is not the most stable cake mix in that it is soft and crumbles easily.  I find that if you refrigerate or freeze the cake it is easier to ice.  I did two crumb coats and froze the cake for five minutes in between icings to help things set up nicely.  I shoved three dowels down the top of the cake (measure beforehand so you can cut the dowel to size and avoid having wooden sticks poking up the top of your cake) for stability.  I iced the cylinder first and then the round head separately with yellow fondant.  There ends up being a seam in the middle of the minion’s head but that is conveniently covered by his goggle band.  I did the goggles with a combo of brown, black, grey and white icing.  If you buy white icing and have good gel food colouring (I use Wilton), you can dye small pieces of fondant however you want.  Pro tip:  Use gloves!  Otherwise you end up with black hands.  His overalls were blue fondant rolled out and cut to size and then I used a rolling tool with teeth on it to make the stitches around the straps and bib etc.  I think he turned out really well.  Did you notice the Minion cupcakes!  So easy and so funny. They were my favourite!

If you are making your cake more than a day in advance, be careful.  Cakes always settle and move so if your stability is at all off you could end up with cracked fondant or dowels sticking out.

As for other food, there were lots of marshmallow bananas (minions love bananas), fruit shaped candy (from the second movie when they make jam and jelly), a fruit tray, Twisted Pasta Salad, Nacho’s Nachos and we served hot dogs for an early dinner.

The loot bags were a hoot and so easy to make.  I just got yellow bags from the dollar store and cut blue card stock into overall shapes and used minion goggles I got at a party supply store for the eyes.  I had to cut out paper and draw in the pupils as well as the pockets on the overalls, but they were easy.  In the loot bag were candy bananas, a minion t-shirt, a minion cup and a bunch of party supply minion things like stickers and bubble wands.  I was lucky in that the second Despicable Me movie had recently come out so there was a lot of stuff to be had in the stores.

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I recently got myself a juice dispenser and have been using it to create characters from my themes.  I made a minion with yellow and blue card stock and those handy dandy goggles from the party supply store.  You’ll see this technique in lots of parties to come, I’m sure!

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I made minion banners, labels, signs and other silly things to put about the house and on the table to make sure the theme was seen everywhere.  Yellow and blue table ware and balloons helped as well.  I also always make labels when I give funny names to foods so people can appreciate the tie-ins of the theme.

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Since K was born in August, her birthday parties usually are blessed with nice weather and we are able to eat outside and play games.  In the past I have done hunts in the backyard but this time I decided to do a water balloon minion game with yellow and purple balloons.  The kids were each on a team divided by colour and had to get the balloon in the minion’s mouth.  I also had yellow bubble wands for the kids to play with and it was so nice to have lots of the action outside.

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Inside, I had pin the pocket on the minion (a pre-bought game).

REAL MOM PARTY PLANNING TIPS

When I am planning the party, I usually start a few months in advance and follow these steps:

1.  Choose a theme. I consult with the kids about this and make sure they choose something they like and that it is something I can actually make happen.

2.  Record ideas as they flow.  I usually keep a list in notes on my phone and I also keep a Pinterest board for each party.  I also usually do a simple Google Images search and that helps me put ideas together.

3.  Make shopping lists.  My main go-to locations for party planning and shopping are Dollarama, Michaels, Bulk Barn, Walmart or Target, Party City and the Dollar Store that isn’t really a dollar store near me because everything is more than a dollar.  Dollarama has the good, basic things like balloons, plates and cutlery, streamers, tissue paper, card stock and sometimes some random loot bag fillers in the book aisle or the craft aisle.  Michaels is great for the more specialty items like fancy paper, craft items like feathers and eyes, wreath forms, cake decorating supplies, fancy decorations, pretty bags and seasonal items.  Bulk Barn has amazing pinatas, cake pans, icing galore, candy for loot bags and pinatas and specialty drinks.  Party City, Target and Walmart round things out with colourful items and loot bag finds.

4.  Shop.  Do this over the course of a few days or even weeks.  Plan it out with a detailed list.  I make a list of crafts I want to make and the supplies I need to make them in order to make sure nothing is missed.  I hate going back for return trips.

5.  Start crafting.  I usually start with the loot bags and then move on to decorative elements and I end with the balloons and streamers and paper-based decorations.  These things are all simple to make but take time.  I have three small kids so I do most things during nap times and at night.

6.  Make the cake.  I do this the day before the party.  Give yourself time in case of mishaps and always have extra mix and icing on-hand in case!

7.  Make the food.  I usually have themed food so this has to be planned and shopped for much like the decor.  Those are separate lists!

7.  Set it all out.  The day of the party is when all the magic comes together and I am usually on a bit of a high watching my vision come together.  I set up my table and put out all the food, make drinks and clean the house.

8.  Enjoy!  I truly love having these parties for my kids because it is a fun and special way to get family and friends together to play and celebrate.  My kids love it and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Here are a few more snaps of the fun day:

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Post Partum Horrors: Things That Should Never Be This Swollen

I am now nine weeks post partum after having my delightful Baby J.  Here is a reminder of the cute:

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Seriously.  The cheeks.  The Mouth.  The little bum!  Oh my…

It’s a good thing I have had him to distract me these last few weeks, especially right after he was born.  There were some terrible things happening to my body that I was happy to try to ignore no matter how painful, embarrassing and inconvenient they were.  All I had to do was gaze into his adorable face and all my uncomfortable woes would disappear.  YEAH RIGHT!!!

As soon as I pushed the little bugger out I knew things were bad.  I could feel that my undercarriage was just… not… right.  You’re probably thinking “Duh! You just pushed out a baby.  Of course your bits and pieces are a bit sore and tender”.  No, this was more than that.  I looked at my doctor and asked if I had just busted out some extra haemorrhoids and she looked everywhere but my eyes and said “No, I don’t think so…”  LIAR!  But, in the moment, I appreciated it.

So, here is my list of terrible after-baby indignities.

1.  Haemorrhoids.  Or as my lovely husband likes to refer to them, ‘dingleberries’.  Horrid, I know.  And yes, we’ve discussed them.  I dare you to google them.  They are a result of pushing out a baby and my best understanding of them is that they are swollen veins coming out of your ass.  I am not going to leave a photo reference here.  You’re welcome.

They are uncomfortable, painful at times and once they are out of your body it is very hard to make them go away.  Did you know you can have internal haemorrhoids too?  Did you know that they bleed?  Did you know that they are also referred to as ‘piles’.  Ok, I’ll stop.  Just so you know, they are normal and permanent – like baggage.  Iced maxi-pads help.  Continue to take some stool softener after the birth for a little while and make sure you are getting enough fibre to make poops easier.  My Dr said that adding some metamucil to your diet can’t hurt and in fact she has colleagues who encourage their own families to do so.  If they are beyond manageable this way, talk to your Dr as there are surgical options as well.

2.  Boobs.  Ridiculously swollen and painful boobs.  After your milk comes in, usually 3-5 days after baby pops out, you will walk in to your bathroom, take off your shirt and scream “Holy Hell” or something similar.  You will immediately start checking for plastic surgery scars and wonder if you were kidnapped by some organ stealing ring of bandits who decided to branch out into breast augmentation crimes as well.  Seriously.  I looked like Dolly Parton on crack but with under eye circles and minus the tiny waist.  They are often larger than the baby’s head and they stick around for upwards of one to three weeks.  There is a lot you can do for boob pain like warm compresses, ibuprofen, expressing milk and cold packs.  Check out my old post for more details on boobs.

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I usually sport a tiny B cup.  These are at least double Ds and I was in agony anytime anyone tried to hug me.  People should know better.  I could also squirt milk across a room.

3.  Feet.  I thought that once my baby was out that the swelling and water weight would miraculously go away.  Not so.  It takes a while for all the excess fluid to leave your body.  I still had swollen feet, legs and hands for over a week.  It does eventually go away but it takes some time.  In the meantime you can still enjoy pushing on your ankles and watching to see how long the dents last.

4.  The Belly.  For most of us, this takes a long time and a lot of hard work to go away.  I refer to my belly as my Kate Gosselin post-sextuplet belly as that is the only thing I have seen that most closely resembles what I tuck into my pants every day.  I am nine weeks out and I still feel most comfortable in my maternity pants just because they suck me in a little bit. When the rest of your body goes back to normal and you are still left with a stretched-out, soft and saggy pooch, give yourself a break.  Most of us have it and most of us are finding a way to deal with it.  Get some spanx, some tummy tamers and some sexy, blowsy shirts and be done with it.  I know it is easier said than done.  Believe me, I struggle with it every day and that is the one thing in this list that I have the hardest time accepting.  The only way to do away with the pooch is diet and exercise and even then, those of us who have stretch marks will always sport a bit of a belly.  In truth, we are the only ones who pay any attention to it.  Try to remember that and try to love it for what it gave you.  I have a hard time with that last line and I don’t blame you for wanting to punch me in the face, even if you know it is true.

So, enjoy ladies!  The hardest part of giving birth isn’t always the labour, is it?  You get kudos for pushing a baby out and often have to suffer all these private pains in silence and without being able to talk or complain about them because they are gross and not usually fodder for dinner time conversation or over coffee with the relatives.  Just know you can always come here and complain about it!  Leave a comment and tell me about your biggest postpartum complaint.  I will lend a sympathetic ear and give you a frozen pad.

Terror In Ottawa: An Attack On My Hometown

I am from Ottawa.  Actually, I am from all over the place.  My dad worked for the Federal Government for 37 years as a diplomat and we moved to various places during his career like New Delhi, Moscow and Washington D.C., but we always returned to Ottawa and call it home.  I now live in Calgary, too far from home for my taste but we are here for now and we love our adopted city.  What happened today, in my hometown, has shocked and disturbed me in too many ways to count.

When I flipped to various news channels and scanned online articles and posts, I kept seeing glimpses of downtown Ottawa, the Parliament Buildings and the War Memorial – places I know very well.  I kept thinking of happier times that I spent in those places.  Summers spent strolling along the Rideau Canal, going to the National Art Gallery, and taking family members on tours of the Peace Tower.  One of my fondest memories of being in Ottawa was when M and I got married and had our photos taken at the Parliament Buildings.  Behold – happy days:

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I wanted my photos done there because it was the summer after our first year living away from home and I was missing Ottawa desperately.  I love the downtown scenery, especially the green tops of the Peace Tower and the East and West Blocks of Parliament.  These majestic buildings are almost an oddity – beautiful and stately – nestled in amongst more modern and sometimes tacky structures that fill the downtown core.  For native Ottawans these buildings are a gathering place for festivals, fireworks for Canada Day and ceremonies for Remembrance Day.

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I remember spending a particularly grim morning there just after the terrorist attacks of September 11th.  There was a ceremony held to show support and solidarity for our brethren to the south after they had suffered so greatly at the hands of terrorists.  I never thought we would have our turn.  No, we didn’t lose thousands of lives today, but we lost one too many.  My heart goes out to the family and friends of Cpl. Nathan Cirillo.

How did this happen?  How did someone born and raised in our own country grow to hate it so much that he would turn on it and muddy some of the very symbols that represent what we stand for?  To shoot an unarmed honour guard at the memorial that represents freedom, justice and respect for the men and women who have helped to shape Canada into the spectacular place it is today is cowardly, dastardly and contemptible.  As the days stretch out and give us more space between the awful events of today and ourselves, more information will surely come out about the shooter that took a life and scarred the hearts of so many people today.  I won’t name him here.

After the attacks of 9-11, Canada and the US joined forces and turned their attention inwards and put more resources into identifying and mitigating threats from inside our own borders.  We, the general public, will never know how many attacks like this have been thwarted.  In the 13 years since the World Trade Towers fell and the Pentagon was damaged, I never once thought this could happen in our country.  Now I know better.  It can happen.  It has happened and now we enter a new era of awareness.  What I hope we can avoid is succumbing to the fear and terror of today.  As Stephen Harper said in his speech today as he addressed our nation, “we will never be intimidated”.  Heartbroken, yes.  Angry, yes.  But not intimidated.

As a nation, I lift up the stories of Cpl. Cirillo and Sgt. At Arms Kevin Vickers as examples of what our country truly stands for:  Homour, Bravery and Solidarity.  I leave you with one more image that was taken the day I was married, and this is the way I want to remember and represent my beloved Nation’s Capital.  Because although our flag will fly at half mast in honour of the brave man we lost today, I want to remember it flying high, representing our True North Strong and Free.

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All Photos courtesy of Don Weixl Photography.

Girls Must Be Girls: What Modern Day Halloween Is Teaching Our Kids

It’s Halloween time again and I have been busy trying to think of costumes for my two older kids that would adequately cover a snowsuit because, Canada. When I asked the girls on the way to the store what they wanted to be, their first two responses were “Batman!  Spiderman!”

Perfect. Those would hide bulky snowpants, no problem. Off we went in search of the perfect costume. Much to my chagrin, when we walked in to our local Walmart, this is what I saw as I approached the giant costume section.

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“No can do, kiddos! You are girls and therefore must be princesses and fairies. Superheroes are not an option. They are only for boys.” Or so says Walmart.

I was immediately angry. I thought of my friend, Tamara’s, most recent post about onesies in Target that suggested girls only had the options of being the girlfriend to the superhero, and right in front of me was the same message for my own two girls. I was beyond angry. I was almost in despair. Let me contextualize this by telling you that I have always been vehemently anti-gender stereotyping. I am also anti-Disney princess in almost all their forms because of the messages they send little girls. Who is Walmart to decide what my girls, with their blooming and burgeoning imaginations, can aspire to be?

This is not unique to Target and Walmart. This is a situation that is common across most retailers and is quickly becoming more prevalent. When faced with clothing choices, activity choices, movie, character and costume choices, our girls are effectively pigeonholed into the supporting roles. Conversely, boys are being pigeonholed into the superhero and leading man role just as aggressively.

Follow me along the garden path that this situation creates, if you will:  From an early age, young girls are taught by the powers that be that they are to prefer pink, ruffles and princess fare. They catch on to this as toddlers and it carries forward to the next phase of life – Barbies, Bratz and Monster High girls. At their worst, these characters tend to have a meek and passive approach to life and at the best, they are artificial and unattainable in terms of their look and aesthetic as they pretend to be a vet or a doctor. These characters and dolls are teaching our young girls that they should aspire to be pretty, above all, and that being a ‘girl’ is a very specific job. These marketing tactics trap our young children and essentially program them to think in ways that, I believe, are detrimental as they grow into young women.

And after Barbie, what is the next doll our young girls get to dress up? Themselves. Do you see where I am going with this? After being taught that a girl is to dress, walk and talk in a certain way, it would make sense that these youngsters would go out in search of similar fare for themselves. Short shorts, belly tees, makeup at a young age and so on. Why do they want to dress this way? Many girls would be hard-pressed to explain to you why they make such choices. They aren’t even aware that they have been groomed for this from toddlerhood.

Let me be clear – I am not anti-pink/ruffle/tutu etc. I am all for girls making their own choices about what they put on their bodies. If they legitimately choose to wear short shorts because they think they will look cool and they like the way they feel in them, go for it. The problem is, most girls don’t make fashion choices that way. They go for what is trendy, what is cool, and what is prescribed to them by the media and by the marketing machine that runs places like Walmart and Target and the overarching fashion industry that feeds those stores. Why do people wear pleather leggings? Because Kim Kardashain told them to. Why do people wear high-waisted shorts that expose the bottom of their butt-cheeks? I have no freaking clue, but that is what is on display in stores. I will be damned if I am going to let my children fall prey to these marketing machines at work.

So, we eschewed the girl aisle completely and went boldly down the ‘gasp’ boy aisle. We ended up with Spiderman and a dragon.

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My message is the following:  Go boldly, ladies. Do not give in to what people want you to believe – that you are meek, to be judged by your beauty and clothing, and that you are easily definable. There is more to life than being a princess and a fairy. Go and change the world in which you want to live and make choices based on what you want and think is cool. Be a princess one day, and be a damn superhero the next.

Be all the things! Go down all the aisles!

Boys Are Better Than Girls

Isn’t that a horrible title for a post? It is, because no one actually says that, do they? No one would actually come out and say that one gender is superior over another in this day and age, would they? Because, feminism, and equal rights and all that jazz, right?

WRONG!!! When I became pregnant with my third child after giving birth to two glorious and amazing daughters, people immediately started with the questions about whether or not my husband and I were trying/hoping/aiming for that elusive and desirable boy-child.

Do you know what you’re having? Is it a boy? Oh good!  Now you can be done!

Excuse me? You get to tell me that I am done having kids because I have fulfilled some archaic biological imperative that I have a boy? Where are we? 16th Century England?  Am I Anne Boleyn? Am I trying to secure a dynasty or something?  This is horse shit!

I cannot count on all my appendages how many times in my pregnancy that people asked if I was having a boy, only to find out that I was, and these people – complete strangers, I might add – expressed relief and joy on my behalf.  What really pissed me off was that the vast majority of these insightful and astute observers did this in front of my two girls.  Are my two lovelies not good enough?  Is my family incomplete with just them at my side?  What a horrible way to look at the world.  It always left me depressed and angry after an encounter like these.  I always made sure to speak up for my girls and say that I would have been ecstatic to have had another girl.  I love and adore my girls and would have had a blast with a tribe of ladies.

No, my husband didn’t want a son so he could realize his dreams of fathering the next Peyton Manning.  He doesn’t love our girls any less because he isn’t one.  He adores them more than life itself.

Happily enough, we feel the same way about our precious boy.  We just wanted a third kid, people.  No agenda other than that.  We’ve now got him, and couldn’t be more happy and satisfied if we tried.  Well, maybe if we got a bit more sleep.

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The Baby Came Out!! Hallelujah!

Remember that time I was hugely pregnant?  I’ll give you a little reminder:

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I’m actually having a contraction in that photo… Notice the shark?  It acted as a harbinger of the gory mess that was to come.

Something you may already know or have figured out about me is that I am a huge control freak.  Emphasis on the ‘huge’ and ‘freak’… and ‘control’.  For my last two children, I conspired with my body and my doctor to have them born on the day of my choosing.  Not by elective procedures, but by the power of my mind.  I love my doctor and I wanted to make sure that I delivered on days I knew she would be at the hospital on call.  The first time, a combination of raspberry leaf tea and ungainly sexual acts produced contractions and a baby on the day I wanted.  The second time around, I delivered on the day but four hours too early, so I missed my doctor.  It was the most stressful of all my labours and I blame poor timing.

This time, I wanted to make sure this baby didn’t come too close to daughter’s birthday and my anniversary which are the 10th and 11th of August, respectively.  I aimed for the 12th.  I really didn’t think my body could hold on to the baby any longer.  The 12th came and went, no baby.  I tried all my usual methods (I owe my husband an apology for that).  I messaged my doctor – we text each other these days because we are close like that – and she said the next day she could be on-call was the 18th.  THE 18TH?!!!  I could not envisage being pregnant for that much longer.  My belly was huge.  I was in a considerable amount of pain and I had no air conditioning and I didn’t think my family could put up with me for any longer.  We waited.  And waited.  And waited.  I cheered up a bit for everyone’s sake.  Sort of.

The day rolled around and I drank my tea.  I actually went in to see one of my doctor’s colleagues and had my cervix rimmed.  If you have ever separated skin from a chicken breast, it is sort of like that, except with your cervix.  It feels just as good as you would expect it to feel.  I didn’t force any nookie on M this time, because NO.  We walked around the block (read:  waddled).  Contractions began.  This was the first time I had a labour that was slow in starting and I wasn’t sure how to deal.  I played ‘Heads Up’ with my family as we waited for things to progress, put the kids to bed and finally decided to go to the hospital.  I was in a great mood.  I was barely in any pain.

By the time I was checked out, I was 4-5 cm dilated.  My lovely doctor had come in just to deliver my baby!  Success!  I control EVERYTHING!!!  I asked her to break my water to get the party started.  GREAT IDEA, RIGHT?  Contractions went from laughable to SERIOUS and I jumped in the shower for over an hour to deal with the pain.  Don’t you love when the nurses come in every 15 minutes or so to listen to the heartbeat of your baby?  I loved it so much I almost rammed the doppler down my nurses throat.  I was calm and kind, though.  On the outside.  Mike was an awesome labour coach and coaxed and encouraged me quietly and from a safe distance.  Good man.

By the time I had been in the shower for over an hour, I thought I might like to be checked.  They said I was 5-6 cm!  BULLSHIT!! I almost lost it then.  I was already thinking about when I could duck out for a nap.  I was so tired I could barely sit up!  How was I supposed to get to 10 cm and then push for crying out loud?  Well, the answer, it turns out, is:  Painfully.

I turned on my side and laboured in a fetal position until I got the feral urge to push.  I had made the most ungodly, animalistic noises to get to this point.  At one moment, I was bellowing like Tarzan, and the next, I was bleating like a lamb.  It wasn’t pretty.  I was in so much pain, my mom almost passed out in solidarity.

Pushing time.  All I can say about this part is holy hell.  The baby kept leaping to one side of my abdomen every time I had a contraction.  See?  He wanted to run away too!  Since that wasn’t physically possible, I decided to end the torture for the both of us and get him OUT!  I visualized pushing him across the room and out he popped, kicking all the way out.

Here he is!  My 8 lb 1 oz bundle of pure joy and agony.  The sweetest agony possible.

IMG_1692I held him and marvelled at him for a good long time after I cried and laughed at the same time.  I was so exhausted and in awe and disbelief at what my body had just endured.  My body was in disbelief too, and tried to make its’ displeasure known.  I started shaking quite a bit and had about 10 warming blankets and a ginger ale on board before I calmed down.  We decided on to name him Baby J.

The rest is history, or another blog post, at the very least.  Stay tuned for:  What No One Tells You:  The aftermath of labour.  Alternate titles:  Swelling Where No One Should Swell, Measuring My Pee, and Holy Crap! Have You Seen My Boobs?!

A few more pictures to make you go “Awwww!”

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Biggest sister.

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A little and big sister.

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A proud papa.  He almost worked as hard as I did to get us to this moment!IMG_1720

Grandpa D having a snuggle in the hospital.  J might be flipping us all off in this photo.  IMG_1736

Grandma D holding her first grandson.
IMG_1740Grandma S holding her fourth grandson!

Impending Arrival: It’s Baby Time!

IMG_1116I have a bun in the oven.  Well, that’s an understatement.  I have a full grown pumpkin in my oven.  I am about to burst and could not be more uncomfortable.  We were not sure about having a third, but when K got to be about two and things were starting to become manageable, kids were entertaining themselves and each other, we thought this was a good idea.  Ha!  As the pregnancy has progressed and our first two ladies got older and more belligerent and mouthy (read:  Assertive and creative with their language choices), we quickly realized that this was going to be difficult!

Issue #1:  We put the girls in bunk beds.  This is a problem for many reasons.  They think it is a jungle gym.  They spend all their time playing instead of sleeping.  They rile each other up and encourage one another to do naughty things.  They think this is hilarious.

Issue #2:  They are loud.  As kids get older, the volume that they are capable of reaching grows exponentially.  My daughter bellowing “Let It GOOOOOO” at the top of her lungs will not be conducive to my next pumpkin getting any sleep at all.

Issue #3:  Mom and Dad no longer hold any clout, and their commands are apparently merely suggestions which can be ignored at will.  They never listen to us.  Ever.

Issue #4.  Mom and Dad are so tired it is ridiculous.  The idea of not sleeping due to feedings etc doesn’t even phase me because we sleep so little anyway.  This presents a problem when it comes to our problem solving abilities and our capacity to maintain patience and calm.  See:  Issue #1 – the bunk beds.

All this notwithstanding, we are pretty excited to meet this little one.  We are having a BOY this time and I will rant about that in another post.  Not that I am having a boy, but everyone else’s opinions and comments about me having a boy.  securedownload

The countdown is on!  Baby should be here any day now! Ooooh… is that a contraction I feel?

Nemo! A Fishy Birthday Party From A Million Years Ago

Alternate titles:  I Suck At Blogging, I Am An Excellent Procrastinator, My Life is Crazy.

I digress.  Last NOVEMBER I had a birthday party for my eldest daughter, R.  She doesn’t get to watch a whole lot of movies, but one I like and have let her watch a kajillion times is Finding Nemo.  The first time she watched it she barely made it past the point where (spoiler) Nemo gets stolen and taken away!!!!  She cried and cried and it was sad (and sort of funny) so I had to fast forward to the end and show her that Nemo and his daddy reunite at the end and everything becomes right with the animated fish world again.  Subsequent watchings went much better.

So, she was turning four and wanted a Nemo party.  I was all over this, because if you can’t tell already I love a theme.  LOVE.  I began planning and prepping in the middle of report card season and the aftermath of Halloween to gather supplies, craft, sketch, Pin and brainstorm Nemo and ocean-themed things that I could do.  Here’s what I came up with.

Loot bags are always a big focus for me and I try to come up with things that aren’t crappy dollar store plastic or tons of candy.  This time the kids got a small baggie of fish candies, fish stickers, a Nemo-coloured bouncy ball, an ocean-themed bath toy and goldfish crackers.  The bags were blue and the tissue accent was orange to carry through my colour scheme.

Loot Bags

M made the cake topper – it was my one cry for help in doing all this.  I take on too much and then get snappy as the party draws nearer and this time I thought I would ask for some support.  He made it out of FIMO clay which is easy to work with and you just bake it for it to solidify.  You can get it at any craft store, I got mine at Michael’s.

Making Nemo Cake Topper

I was looking for some interesting design touches so I came up with colour matching frames with R’s photos in them.  I also made jelly fish with paper lanterns and ribbon coming down at varying lengths.  I just used a hot glue gun to stick the ribbons into place and then strung a ribbon through the handles and attached to my mantle.  I did the same on my windows and added streamers in blue and green to look like seaweed or kelp.

R Framed

Mantle and Jelly Fish

IMG_1061Food came next!  I always like naming and labelling things to add a silly touch and to further support the theme.  Veggies and dip were ‘vegetation’, and I used lines from the movie when labelling things like the candies.  I also had ‘under the sea punch’ and snorkels to drink with (straws).   IMG_1072IMG_1063    IMG_1071 IMG_1070 IMG_1069 IMG_1068 IMG_1067IMG_1065 IMG_1064

Last but not least, the cake.  This thing almost broke me.  I started out making my own fondant using a dry mix.  That was horrible.  Then I tried the marshmallow and icing sugar method which was also horrible.  I ran out of icing sugar and ended up with a goopy mess.  I finally broke down and used buttercream and dyed it the correct colour and just spread it on.  The accents are made of fruit rollups (the seaweed), fondant (the coral) and some small ocean-themed toys I found at a craft store.  I also used graham cracker crumbs to make the sand.  It turned out well.  The Nemo topper is what pulls it all together.  Oh!  And the cupcakes! Those were a pain to make but turned out so well!  I made sea-turtle cupcakes out of jelly candies.  You can find them all over pinterest.  See if you can see them behind the cake in the photo.

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TIPS:  Some things that I find handy when getting ready for parties is going with something current.  Nemo wasn’t a great choice for this because the movie came out a million years ago so I had nothing to cull from in the stores.  I don’t love getting pre-packaged party supplies because I think that takes away some of the imagination and ingenuity when planning, but being able to buy even ONE Nemo stuffy or cup would have helped.  I also have accumulated a lot of white serving dishes so that no matter what theme I use, I can always use the same dishes and they will match.  I also have quite a collection of glass jars and vases in which to put the candy and smaller accents.  Candy and flowers are great for adding colour and also for carrying your theme through even more.

R was thrilled and so was I.  On to the next party!

Baby Turned Two. ROAR!!

So, a million years ago (well, actually it was just last August, but same thing) we hosted a fun summer party at our house to celebrate our young K who turned two.  I couldn’t believe it.  In the midst of making decorations, icing a cake and filling loot bags I was reminiscing on how two years can alternately feel so interminable and so fleeting.  She was just born!  Are you kidding me?  How is she already two?  But then I remembered the long nights and days of cleaning projectile vomit out of carpets and my own hair and I remember “oh yeah, I worked hard to get her here alive and well”.  Good for me.  I deserve a party.

Her newest fascination has been dinosaurs and she spends her days jumping out of corners and from behind doors roaring at her sister and us.  She loves to be terrifying but doesn’t actually think dinosaurs are scary.  She animates them, makes dino voices and asks us to play along in her little fantasies.  Pretty cool to watch, actually.  Her ability for imaginative play is developing in leaps and bounds and her dinosaur-related vocabulary is staggering.  Her favorite is the “ceratops” and she knows that mine is the T-Rex (obviously, I’m fierce) and hubs’ is the Stegosaurus.

I, of course, went over the top in planning and decorating.  I made a friendly dinosaur cake, packed loot bags with dino books, candy and primordial slime (play-dough).  I hid mini-dinos in the backyard for a hunt and then hid mini-eggs in the house for a second hunt.  Cupcakes were dinosaur egg nests and all the food had a theme.  There was something for everyone.  One of my friends brought her 10 year-old son to the party and he left saying that it ‘was the best birthday party’ he had ever been to.  High praise from a 10 year old! I’ll wear that feather in my cap for a while.  This kid has an open invitation from now until eternity!

Here are some pics of the prep, the food and the festivities:

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The beauty is the the details:  Dollar store toys, colorful flowers, simple food with creative name tags… Everything adds to the theme.  
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I got this idea from Pinterest.  There are a million sources of inspiration out there on the inter webs and this was one of the best.  ImageImageImage

ImageI would not call myself a cake expert yet, but I am working on it.  This one was ridiculously easy.  I’m working on a Nemo idea for the next party – stay tuned!ImageImageImageImageThis baby is 2!  (Well, she was 2 in August, and that was a long time ago…)ImageThis big sister made me so proud.  She let her little sister have all the attention (well, most of it) and didn’t try to blow out her candles or open her presents.  So mature at not-quite four.  
ImageAnd there you have it!  A birthday party that only caused some minor headaches.  The best part by far was when my dad showed up. This isn’t a big deal for many, but my dad just happens to live in Colorado Springs for work and DROVE up for a visit.  My mom was also here from Ottawa which made for a nice reunion for all.  He wasn’t expected until the next day – so we were all thrilled to say the least!  Happy Birthday to my littlest love who isn’t so little anymore.  Sob!

The Myths of Summer (Lies, if you will…)

So as most of you know, I am a teacher.  I spend most of my year, especially the crazy spring months, saying that “I will have more time for (insert task here) in the summer.  I just have to make it to the end of June and I will be a whole new woman.  The woman I know I can be!”  I truly believe that I will have more time to spend with my kids, more time to clean, organize my home, see friends, read, cook, tan, exercise in the summer.  I would like to officially call bullshit on this.  The summer is halfway over, and I have not enough to show for it.

Sure, I have read a couple of books.  I went to Ottawa and saw my family and some dear friends.  I went to a museum or two.  Took my kids to the beach in our community.  I have even sat down once or twice and played with my own children.  But, is my kitchen clean?  Is the laundry done?  Have I wiped my baseboards?  Updated my blog?  Have I spent quality time with all my friends?  Have I made up for lost time with my kids?  Am I less exhausted?  The answer is a resounding NO!!!!

Evidence:

I am still tired.  So, so, so tired.  I have napped.  It doesn’t work.  I’ll keep trying.

My house is a disaster.  Literally.  I would rather die than have someone come over and see how I am currently living.

My kids are still guilt tripping me about not spending enough time with them.  I went out the other night for a couple of hours for drinks with friends and my daughters were wailing at the door like abandoned orphans.  I swear I had just spent the whole day with them!

I have no clean clothes.  I had to buy underwear to have clean stuff to wear.

My blog hasn’t seen a new post since April.  Sorry to the half dozen people who read it.  I love you.

I haven’t seen some friends that I swore I would make time for.

So you see – life in the summer is just as busy as life during the school year.  Or maybe I just over-committed and overestimated what summer could mean.

Nope.  Summer lied to me.

Taking children to Mexico is hard work. It was worth it.

So, last week we packed up (and by that I mean I packed) and flew the kids to Cabo San Lucas to rub elbows with Jennifer Aniston by the pool.  Except that Jennifer Aniston never showed up.  WTF?  Anyhoo, we showed up and had tons of fun.  There were a few bumps along the road, but aren’t there always?  Here is how it all went down.

We woke up at the civilized and not at all excruciating hour of 2 am to get the kids in the car and to the airport by 4 to catch our flight at 6 am.  It all went remarkably well.  We assumed the kids would sleep so we could doze on the 4 hour flight, but that only happened half way.  The littlest, most uncooperative one never complied and was wide awake the whole time.  Awesome.  We arrived in Cabo excited but exhausted.  She slept for about 25 minutes in the car on the way to the resort.  That should do it, right?

We got to the resort at about 11 and were told we couldn’t have our room until 4.  Faack!  We were able to  use the guest change room to get in to our bathing suits and go to the pool to pass the time.  So, it was the hottest part of the day, we had exhausted kids, and there were no cozy beds to be had.  Oh well.  We made the most of it, started ordering pina coladas and guacamole and chips STAT and played in the kids’ pool for FOUR HOURS!!! There was an amazing towel guy/waiter who made our afternoon feel pampered and relaxed.  He supplied toys for the kids and lots of drinks for us.

We made it through the afternoon, but then the wheels fell off:  My parents, who had organized this whole trip (to include us, them and my sister as a family getaway), emailed to say that their flight had been CANCELLED!!! Oh no!!!  I was devastated.  It was like Santa Clause not coming to Christmas!  R had so been looking forward to seeing them, had been counting the days off on her Fancy Nancy calendar, and was promised her grandparents damn it! I was so sad.  But, we soldiered on, finally got our room and took naps knowing that when we woke up Auntie J would be there and more fun could ensue!

Well, some fun ensued.  Something I learned about R on this trip is that she doesn’t deal with transition very well.  She was out of her element and didn’t like the idea of going from one place to another.  This was hard on most days as we often had multiple things planned.  Once she got used to the idea of being in one place, we moved her to another activity.  She coped with this by asking, very frequently, to go home.  Nothing could have pissed me off more.  More on this later.

Auntie J arrived in the late evening and we went to dinner at a lovely rooftop restaurant at the resort and we ordered nummy Mexican delights for us, and chicken nugget for the kids.  They didn’t eat anything.  This would be a recurring theme.  The restaurant had lovely mexican blankets on the backs of the chairs in case we got cold – a very civilized and pampering touch!  Loved it!  I was thrilled to see my sister and we had a good time in spite of the whining, crying, overtired kids.  We went to bed after dinner and hoped against hope that our parents would show up the next day.  We hoped in vain, people!

Next day.  Cabo has a Walmart.  Seriously people?  It actually has two.  I wasn’t prepared for this.  Anyhoo.  We took a cab to Walmart and stocked up on breakfast and lunch stuff that we could prepare in our rooms and came back for naps and fun in the sun.  We went back to the kids pool for a bit before dinner.  We went to another dinner at another lovely restaurant, this time with ponchos on the backs of our chairs.  See video and pics of that dinner.  My tired baby was dancing happily on the lap of her daddy for most of the dinner.  She was happy as long as she could stuff her gob with bread.  Also, check out the view.

K dancing in Cabo

Dinner 1 Cabo
Dinner 1 Cabo

After our first full day, we were ready and almost trembling in anticipation for Gma and Gpa’s arrival the next day.  They arrived at about 2 pm and then the party really got started.  Here we are enjoying drinks and snacks pool side!

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With everyone finally here, we planned a variety of activities including a dinner for M, Auntie J and myself at a restaurant in Cabo proper that featured authentic Mexican dishes.  We may or may not have polished off 12 churros and two pieces of quatros leches cake.  I’m not going to tell.  But, it was delicious.

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Here are a few more pictures from that dinner.  We watched the sun set and a cool pirate ship come in to the marina all lit up and glowing.  Those seem to be present at any vacation destination where there is water.  What gives?

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Mike and my dad went deep sea fishing – no pictures of that trip as I was not on board.  By this time, poor K had developed what I now know was a doozy of a chest cold, maybe bronchitis or even croup.  She had started wheezing at night the night we went out for dinner and my parents were watching her.  By Wednesday night she had to sit up with one of us to sleep as she couldn’t breathe lying down.  It was scary.  We thought she was developing asthma or allergies and were on the verge of taking her to a doctor, but some cold medicine was purchased and seemed to keep her somewhat happy for a few hours at a time at least.  Poor muffin.  And poor us – it made for some crappy sleeps which made it harder to enjoy the days and to be patient for the inevitable meltdowns.

We went in to Cabo as a whole family to see the Arch (or El Arco de Cabo San Lucas).  It was breathtaking.  It is located at the southernmost point of the Baja Peninsula, also known as Lands End.  It is where the Pacific Ocean meets the Sea of Cortez and it makes for some rough seas but beautiful sightseeing.  We were dropped off at a beach where we snorkeled for a little bit and saw some amazing fishies.  See if you can see the rock known as Scooby Doo.

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The rest of the trip consisted of sightseeing in San Jose Del Cabo – a quieter town featuring the typical roadside shops and local artisans.  A nice church from the time of the missionaries in the area – the 1700s.  I bought too much stuff.

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We went out to dinner for my sister’s birthday to a five star restaurant, Pitahayas, which was part of the resort.  It was amazeballs!  Four courses, amazing wine, palate cleansers, waiters draping your napkin for you and everything.  We were feeling pretty special! Check out the roof of the restaurant!

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There were a few things that threw a wrench in to our vacation.  I don’t want to dwell on the negative, but those things often bring out the best in us, or the worst and the snarkiest.  You be the judge:

  • There were never enough towels.  We had to use towel cards to get towels at the pools and we often had to wait until we were done swimming to receive towels because the other guests were hoarding them.  Assholes.  
  • We tried to rent a car for our day out in Cabo and they promised us a 7 seater but we had to make do with 2 smaller cars that showed up two hours too late.  When I was sweating my ass off trying to put in the car seats in a small VW Passat my sister asked if I needed any help, and I responded by saying ‘no thanks, but I am sure all the bell boys can see my entire ass’.  Oh well!  My sister stepped up and braved Mexican traffic and drove the second car.
  • R was not convinced that she was enjoying being there.  She took the opportunity many times a day to say that she didn’t want to be there and wanted to go home to Calgary.  I actually heard myself saying “You are going to have fun dammit!” There is nothing more frustrating than planning and paying for an extravagant trip and then having your three year old bitch about it the whole time!  She actually had a lot of fun and almost learned to swim by herself!
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  • There was a policy that was posted EVERYWHERE including on all lounge chairs that patrons were not permitted to reserve chairs for longer than 45 minutes.  This didn’t stop most people from coming down at 7 am and putting towels (that they had undoubtedly been hoarding) on the loungers with a hotel magazine and leaving them there for hours until they got their lazy asses out of bed to come down and laze around in the sun.  On our last full day in Cabo we were looking to spend some time in the pool and had been trolling around for almost 2 hours looking for a spot to sit.  There was a pair of chairs that hadn’t been used since 9 am and it was 10:30 and we thought it was high time someone made use of these chairs.  No one at the hotel was enforcing the policy so we asked around to see if anyone had been using the chairs and the general consensus was that no one had been, so we moved the towels and set up camp.  Lo and behold, an hour later (which makes 2 hours away from the chairs) a crazy bitch came strutting down the stairs and said “Dude, we have a problem here!”.  What came after that can only be described as crazy and demented.  This woman was putting her finger in my mother’s face and my face telling us that we had disrupted the status quo, and it was an understood practice among the patrons that this was the way things were done.  She wanted me to acknowledge that I had crossed the line and had been rude in displacing her two towels.  She was upset that she and her husband now had to find another place to sit and was essentially bitching me out in front of my family and my kids.  Well, most of you who know me can imagine how that went.  I calmly sat in MY lounge chair and held my ground.  I may or may not have called her “rich and self-entitled”.  Well, turns out she wasn’t rich, but I stand by the self-entitled comment.  What a biatch.  I let her have it, told her to get her hand out of my and my mother’s faces and told her that just because everyone was doing it doesn’t mean that she should too.  If she wanted me to assuage her guilt and give her permission to break the rules and for me to admit that I was wrong, she was barking up the wrong tree.  Crazytown.  She stomped off and my day was officially soured.  It took me a good few hours to get over it, but I was fine by dinner that night.  My dad rightly pointed out that she was just one person and that there had actually been a few families that had given up chairs for us when they noticed us hunting around for a spot to sit.  Those people are lovely and represent the norm.  That crazy bitch was an ass and needed to fall in the pool.  Notice I didn’t say “get pushed”?

Our last dinner was at the Cortez restaurant on the property and I had Lobster Two Ways and almost died on my plate.  It was fantastic.  We saw the moon rise as an orange globe floating above the horizon.  It was a once in a lifetime sight.  Rebecca loved the jazz singer that was performing and Kate ate bread.

Overall, we were lucky to have been there.  We had a wonderful time, all glitches aside, and we look forward to doing it again in a few years.  Here are a few more snaps:

Rebecca in the tube
Rebecca in the tube

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On the wagon, then off again, then on…sort of

I posted a while ago with some silly talk about losing a butt load of weight in time for a trip to Mexico.  Did I mention that this blog is all satire and humour?  I was purely joshing?  I actually intended to gain weight?  Oh, I didn’t?  Shit.

Well, I actually meant it.  I did try.  Really, I did.  I was on a clean eating diet for about 2 weeks.  A bit more actually.  I went all South Beach and cleans-y on my ass.  I was working out at least 5 times a week.  It was even starting to work.  My chiropractor, upon grabbing my shoulders to release some car-accident pain, told me I felt ‘muscly’.  My pants didn’t squeeze me like an angry waist-python.  I was less bloated.  So, why did I stop?

I got lazy, tired and bored.  I wanted to eat something sweet and salty, preferably all in one (or twenty) bites.  My willpower lost batteries and died a horrible, ice cream induced death.

I am going to try again.  I am going to put down the leftover Valentines heart-shaped cookies I lovingly made with my daughter and go for a run.  Tomorrow.  Or the day after that.  For reals.

I will let you know how it goes.  Can I still lose 10 lbs before the last week of March?

Ask the Real Mom Lady: Traveling Edition

Dear Real Mom Lady,

I am planning on traveling with a toddler this spring and am not sure how to go about it.  We have to fly to our destination and I wonder what I should be prepared for?  How do you navigate airports, flights, wait times and the needs of a child (who is still in diapers)?

SIncerely,

Unsure How To Travel

Dear UHTT,

You should be prepared for a number of things:

  • The sneering and judgement of others.  People don’t like children very much, especially young ones who can be loud and stinky.  Make sure you have a few dirty looks of your own prepared as well as a few choice phrases such as:  “What are you looking at asshole?”
  • Sweating.  Traveling with children is an uncomfortable and sweaty process.  You will have to load them and their things in and out of many vehicles over the course of your vacation and this will suck.  You will also have to restrain your child from kicking and hitting when on the plane and this will hurt you a lot.  Wear deodorant and loose fitting clothes in layers that you can rip off in frustration and stuff in your diaper bag or use as a blanket when your tired and frazzled child eventually passes out (I pray he or she does this at some point for your sanity’s sake).
  • A well-stocked diaper bag.  I actually had a parent offer to pay me $5 for a diaper on a plane.  You could smell her child from ten rows away and she was the only person on the plane happy to see me and my child because she knew we would have diapers.  We did, and she was relieved.  Don’t get caught short of anything because you will curse yourself and want to jump from the plane or lock yourself in the putrid bathroom.
  • Entertainment.  Bring books, toys, stickers, headphones for the TV on the plane, iPods, iPads, or whatever you know your child loves and may keep him or her entertained for even a millisecond.
  • Food.  For obvious reasons.  A hungry child sucks.
  • Pack lightly.  If you can manage to do that and all of the above, please let me know how you did this because I am pretty sure it is impossible.
  • If you can rent or borrow anything where you are going, do that.  Try not to have to check strollers and car seats in at the airport.  It is a pain in the ass and you have to stand in yet another line up for oversized baggage.
  • Drink lots upon arrival.

Good luck!

Sincerely,

RML

Dear Real Mom Lady,

I recently went on a trip and had to sit next to a mother and her child on the plane.  It was really uncomfortable for me and unpleasant, to say the least.  Her son screamed and cried during takeoff, wouldn’t sleep and threw his snacks everywhere.  He even tried to grab for mine!  What should I have done in this circumstance?  Could I have asked to move?  Told the mom what she should do?

Sincerely,

Frustrated Co-Traveler

Dear F-ing CT,

Yes, please ask to move.  If you can’t handle a situation like that with some sympathy and tact, please move your ass somewhere else on that damn plane.  I know it sucks to be seated next to the mom and baby, but it sucks even more to be the mom of that baby.  Be kind, offer to share your snack with the damn kid, try to engage him or her (unless they are on the verge of sleep in which case you should not make eye contact and be completely still and silent), don’t roll your eyes and offer to share your tray with the mom who can’t lower hers for her glass of wine.  If she hasn’t already ordered a glass of wine, order one for her.  Don’t EVER offer her advice unless you have had a slew of children and have flown with them!

RML

Happy New Year (yes, I know it is the middle of January…)

So, after my dramatic ending to 2012, I thought it only appropriate to make some changes for 2013.  I posted over the summer about my body looking like a combination of dough and cottage cheese and the indulgences over the holidays (and the two months prior, let’s be honest) didn’t help the situation much.  Now, I am not obese or really overweight for that matter.  My weight falls within the normal range for BMI (although I think BMI is a crock of shit), I am tall, I have long legs and can camouflage things well with clothing, but I just want to tweak a few things.  For starters, I have horrible eating habits.  I could probably subsist on sugar and red dye #5 for days on end and not be unhappy.  When I go out to eat I always give myself a talk and promise that I will eat a yummy salad and then I inevitably end up eating one or two appetizers, a main which usually contains bread or pasta, dessert and one or two glasses of wine.  I cannot say no to my cravings.  I love chips, cereal, ice cream, snack cakes, baking, cheese, Starbucks, Time Hortons, McDonald’s cheeseburgers and apple pies, milkshakes…. the list goes on.  I do eat real food as well.  Since I am cooking and caring for two young girls I most often make a healthy dinner with multiple food groups.  M is also gluten free so our dinners are mostly sans wheat.  I eat vegetables and fruit and proteins but I would rather eat junk food and rich foods.  Any of you who have worked with me or gone to school with me know that I can eat for hours on end and that I am always craving something.  I am one sick puppy.

Then there is exercise.  I don’t love it per se.  I know it has good effects on my body and psyche so I have been known to stick to a regime in the past.  I trained for three 10K races and felt the changes in my body because of that work.  It helped me reduce stress and the size of my thighs which was great.  I just don’t really want to do it so it is the first thing to go when my lift gets busy.  And yes, in case you were wondering, my life is hella busy right now.

You know as well as I know that when life craps all over you with car accidents, stress and work overload that it is important to live healthily in order to be able to cope properly with all the demands one may have.  I struggle with the time exercise takes away from being with my family and the extra planning it takes to have a healthy diet 24-7.  That being said, I have found some short-term, extrinsic motivation that might help kick start me on my way back to health:  Mexico.  We are going at the end of March and I don’t want to look like a lumpy mattress stuffed in to a bathing suit.  I know, middle class problems…  woe is me!

So, here is my plan.  I am on South Beach Diet.  Someone I know suggested it when I was complaining about my lack of willpower on Facebook and I thought to myself “Oh yeah, I remember that diet.  I sucks for a while and then it becomes normal”.  I can do that.  I also bought a workout DVD that has two separate workouts – one for upper body and one for the lower – and they are each 20-ish minutes.  I can do that too.

I am on day 5 of the diet and have only cheated once with a stale doughnut I found in my purse.  And a skim milk hot chocolate that was amazing.  So, twice.  Oh well.

Wish me luck!

(I may post before and after photos, I just have to lose a few pounds first to post my before photo!  Ha!)

Christmas Miracle: Crash, Bang, Wallop and Off We Go!

Merry Christmas to me.

A few days ago, after finishing an exhausting few weeks of work and finally kicking the plague’s ass, I found myself in the car on the way to the airport with my littlest one in tow to meet my family and all our relatives in O Town.  I had left the house early to get in a few stops on the way to the airport when the oddest thing happened:  I crashed.  Spectacularly.

I was driving in the middle lane of a large highway (Deerfoot to those of you in Calgary) and I started to sway.  The back end of the vehicle just started to move ever so slightly left to right as if there was a strong wind.  The sways started to go further and further and I realized that this was more than just wind.  I almost got it back under control but then started fishtailing widely again and all hell broke loose.  I spun to the right quite far and crossed the left hand lane and crashed in to the median with the right front end of the vehicle.  The airbags deployed and I managed to get my arm up over my face as I screamed something like “no, no NO!”.  We continued to spin and crossed back over the highway and landed in the ditch on the opposite side right before an on-ramp.

K cried as soon as we hit, thank God.  She was buckled in tight even though I hate her car seat and almost always find it impossible to tighten properly.  She bit her tongue a little bit but was otherwise completely unaffected and was giving me high fives and smiling by the time I was on the phone with 911.

I called emergency services and they sent everyone.  A few witnesses stopped immediately and rushed down to see if we were ok.  They all stayed to write reports and fussed over us.  A lovely retired couple with 6 kids and 13 grandchildren (one with the same name as K) cooed with K and made sure she was ok.  I called M as soon as I got a chance to tell him what happened and mostly to tell him that we were ok.  He just wanted us to get to him in Ottawa so he could make sure for himself.  I wrote the report in the back seat of a cop car with K so we could stay warm. I hope that is the last time for both of us in the back of a police vehicle!

The lovely couple who stopped offered to take us the rest of the way to the airport and proceeded to transfer my bags and install the extra car seat in to their plush and warm SUV.  My car was totaled.

On the way to the airport as I contacted M again with an update and my Christmas Angels talked to us to pass the time.  I asked their names so we could properly thank them when we got back to town and they refused to tell me!  They didn’t want to be thanked and asked that I just pay it forward.

I got to the airport safe and sound and made my flight with plenty of time.  Ridiculous errands not done.  But me and the baby safe.  As we waited to take off and as we flew I got more and more achy and sore but I just couldn’t help but feel as though we had been spared or someone was taking extra good care of us that day.  We really should have been more seriously injured.  We were about to roll but didn’t.  We crossed a three lane highway twice and didn’t hit and injure anyone else.  We are completely fine.  I am more than traumatized as that was the single most terrifying moment of my life.  I realize what I could have lost and am eternally grateful that I didn’t and that a few caring souls stopped to make sure we were ok and to usher us off on our Christmas holidays.

Thank you, thank you whoever you are!

Sick, sick, sick of being sick.

It has been about a month since I have felt well.  It started out as a cold before R’s birthday.  For about a week I fought off the inevitable and then after her party and after we dropped my mom off at the airport I started feeling wretched.  Dizzy, sinus cold, bronchitis and laryngitis.  I had to take a day off work but couldn’t take much more as it was report card time and I had a student teacher I wanted to be around for.  In the middle of the worst cold ever created, I also got a tummy bug.  Rebecca and Kate did as well and were puking for about two days.  Rebecca went all exorcist on us at the dinner table and that was the worst of it.  After the tummy bug cleared I thought the end was near but it seems as though the cold has come back.  I still feel like death.  I went to the Dr and was told there was nothing I could take to help it all clear up.  So, here I sit, in a ridiculously messy house, eating Mr Noodles and watching Swiss Family Robinson.  The student teacher gave it to me as a parting gift.  Sweet girl.  Here’s hoping all this is the perfect medicine.  I am so damn sick of being sick.

Baby #1: The Birth Story

I promised R’s birth story last weekend, and then a cold came in a kicked my ass while I was trying to finish report cards…. so, that.  I have been in bed/on the couch all day on a rare sick day from teaching.  I almost have to be told to take a sick day, that is how rare it is.  I feel guilt all day.  Oh well.  At least I can talk a bit today which is an improvement.

So, about three years ago I had a sweet baby girl, and this is how it all went down.

I gave birth at 11:59 am on a Thursday.  My mom had been planning to come in to town for the birth and to stay with us for a few weeks to help out.  The Friday before I gave birth I was feeling rather braxton hicks-y and panicked.  I called my mom and she changed her flight to come in that night.  I picked her up at the airport and we waited 5 more days for anything to happen!  I had been on sick leave for about 5 weeks prior to having R because my pelvis felt like it was splitting apart.  I couldn’t teach, get in and out of a car, put on my pants or underwear, cross my legs – you name it, couldn’t do it.

I had an amazing Dr taking care of me for both my pregnancies and she and I joked about picking specific days that would be appropriate for me to give birth based on her on-call days at the hospital  I saw her on Wednesday and she said I was 1 cm dilated (I had been 1 cm for at least a week by then).  I wasn’t due for over a week but my Dr was working the next day so I said I would make it happen.  I was convinced that I could make it happen and so I told everyone I was having my baby the next day.  That night, I visited my friend L, and she gave me some Raspberry Leaf tea which is supposed to induce labour.  At about 9 pm I drank the tea and then …

*Note to my mother and mother-in-law and any squeamish family members – skip to the next paragraph…

I made M ‘encourage labour’ in a way only a husband or significant other can…’wink wink’.

Back to the story.  4 am rolls around and I woke up feeling a bit crampy.  I felt like I had to poop and gave that a go.  I noticed that my underwear was a bit damp, but I didn’t give it much thought.  Silly, I know.  No poop.  Wen’t back to bed and M roused a bit to ask what was going on.  I said “I think I might be in labour” and he immediately became slightly more awake.  I had brought a towel to bed and thank goodness I was sitting on it, because M started cracking jokes and as soon as I laughed I felt that tell-tale gush everyone talks about.  That was it.  I was in labour!

I went down the hall to wake my mom to let her know.  Knocked on the door with the towel between my legs, and said “Mom, I think I am in labour” and I swear she jumped sideways out of bed and started putting her earrings on.  I took a shower and the contractions started.  They were just mild muscle spasms but not too painful for the first few minutes but soon I was having to stop and sway to get through them.  I made my way downstairs and M and my mom had already dressed and were making breakfast.  Eggs.  They would make another appearance in a few hours.  It was about 5 am at this point.  M had packed a bag with banana chocolate chip muffins (remember this detail for later) and iced tea.  They both asked when we should make our way to the hospital and I basically said ‘now!’.

By the time we were in the car I was having contractions about 3 minutes apart and was getting nauseous.  It was about a 10 minute drive to the hospital and the picture of me in front of the entrance is awful and hilarious at the same time.  Take a look:

We went up to the sixth floor and I got admitted.  I got checked and was only measuring about 2 cm so they let me labour for a few hours in the triage room.  My mom and M were hanging out with me as the contractions got worse and worse.  I actually couldn’t believe how quickly they had gone from cramps to excruciating pains in the course of just over an hour!  At some point while I was laying on the bed in a fetal position I started puking.  M placed kidney shaped bowl after kidney shaped bowl in front of my face as I puked up my breakfast.  M has diabetes and at some point in the triage room he must have started feeling some low blood sugar and I guess he got out a muffin.  I took one whiff and I must have half-snarled ‘get that muffin out of here’ with my eyes closed and when I opened them the door was swinging and there was no M in sight.

I was checked again and had made little progress.  The on-call resident (or ‘useless’ as I would like to refer to her) basically told me that according to her text book I would progress at about 1 cm an hour and should come back some time in the afternoon, and I could go home now.  I almost kicked her in the face as I was in such hard labour that the thought of even walking down the hall was overwhelming to me.  The nurses must have overheard this and decided to sneak me in to the shower so I could labour elsewhere, out of the gaze of ‘uselsss’.  Nurse Hazel (or ‘saviour’ as I would like to refer to her) got me in to a shower stall with a bench and also brought in this huge tank.  She said it was antinox and that she sucked back a tank per kid when she delivered her children so she recommeded that I try it.  Basically, it just allows you to completely relax between contractions so the baby can come down and so I could deal with the pain when it comes.  It was amazing.  I sucked that stuff back like my life depended on it.  I actually think it just gave me something else to focus on while I was contracting.  I counted breaths during each contraction.  10 was a hard one.  When I got to 14 breaths per contraction or the counting just never stopped, I asked to be checked again.

I had been in the shower for between an hour and two hours and I had progressed from 2 cm to 7.  I was transitioning.  For those of you who don’t know, transitioning is excruciating.  I was put in a wheelchair with my trusty tank of gas and was wheeled in to a lovely, bright delivery room.  By the time they got me on the bed I started feeling the urge to push.  You know, like when you have a big poop and your body takes over and pushes it out for you?  That, times 10.  I was checked again and I was fully dilated.  It was a little after 11 am. If I had listened to ‘Useless’ I would have been having my baby in my tub or on the highway.  Thank goodness for Nurse ‘Saviour’.

I had this amazing nurse named Pushpa who attended the delivery who was also a midwife and she was wonderful.  She took charge and described very well how I should be doing things.  She changed my position a few times to see what worked best for me and basically led the deliverly.  I was so grateful for her.

My lovely Dr came in and commented on the fact that our plan had indeed worked and she was jazzed to be there for the delivery.  I pushed for about half an hour to 45 minutes and out popped baby R!  Crowning was like nothing I could have ever imagined.  Like pushing a bowling ball out of a teeny garden hose and feeling every single thing.  I pooped on the table, growled like a rabid animal and may or may not have snapped at my mother for trying to mop my brow.  M and my mom were on either side of me, each holding a leg during this event and I couldn’t have asked for a better experience.  It was crazy.

And, here is the first picture of my little one:

After she and I cuddled for a bit and I ate the best toast I had ever tasted a nurse asked if I wanted to take a shower.  I certainly did.  I hopped off the table (the adrenaline rush after giving birth is second to none) and made it through the shower without passing out.  As I stepped out of the shower I caught a look at my new, deflated belly and almost shrieked.  What a joke!  I just pushed out a baby and I still have this huge belly, yet grosser because it is all flacid and hangy?  Bullshit!  I will save you the visual by not posting a picture of that.

M dressed me and I got to snuggle a bit more with R before I was moved in to my recovery room.  Here is another picture of me looking super glamorous:

I dropped that popsicle on her head.  Just so you know.  She didn’t flinch.

Here she is on our first day back home:

Perfection right?  I think so.  She still is.

Happy Birthday

Or should I say “Birs-day”?  That is how R says the word and it was her party after all.  My first baby turns 3 tomorrow and we had the party to end all parties yesterday.  I had a lot of fun with a Sesame Street theme.  She has had an Elmo obsession for about 6 months or so.  I took her to see Sesame Street Live over the summer, she was Elmo for Halloween (as you might recall) so it seemed like a logical choice.  She invited her choice of friends and I got started planning a few weeks ago.  It must be said that I did all this while in the midst of a cold that wouldn’t quit, writing report cards, having my mom over (thank God, or I would be a wreck by now), four evenings of f-ing first aid training, a field trip and umpteen other things.  I am amazed I have made it out the other side.

Here are some details from the party:

This is the sign that greeted guests at the door.  I made it with a green foam wreath from a craft store which is usually used for flower arrangements.  I pinned about 320 balloons using straight pins with colored heads.  There isn’t really any rhyme or reason to the technique; I did two rows of two balloons around the outside and inside edges.  Easy Peasy.

I made gift bags containing a bunch of Sesame Street themed stuff.  I had colouring books, little story books, Elmo’s Crayons, Dorothy’s Fish, a Kermit the Frog Pez, Mr. Noodle’s Noodles and a fruit snack.  I made the bag topper using Word and I placed a rounded rectangle over an oval and added colour to the border and text.  I just printed them on my printer at home and cut them out and stuck them on with double sided tape.  I left a tab on the sides to fold over and close the bag with.  I stapled the bag closed first.

Then I made cake.  And cupcakes.  Lots of them!  I made and Elmo cake using a mould and then some cupcakes.  M helped me colour the frosting using gel food colouring.  The intention was to make the cupcakes look like muppet fur and big bird feathers.  Notice how the yellow cupcakes are piped differently?  I knew you would notice.  My mom wasn’t sure anyone would notice all these nuances.  Oh ye of little faith.

I made/served a few other themed foods including Big Bird’s Legs (pigs in a blanket – this was a controversial dish), Kermit The Frog’s Frogs and Cookie’s Cookies.  I also made dip cups with the dip already in the bottom and a hash brown ham bake.  My mom made crab cakes.  Yum!

Here are come pictures from the party including some decor and my little lady at cake time.  The poufs are made from tissue paper stacked 12 high and accordion folded and then tied in the middle.  You then pull the pieces apart and they become poufs.  If you can spot them, I also decorated frames with letters and put them on the mantle next to the poufs and the Elmo piñata that I couldn’t bring the kids to hit.

There is also a picture with M and his Movember mustache.  The guests were egging him on and saying he could pull it off, that he was a young Tom Selleck or Burt Reynolds and other such drivel.  Can’t wait for December!

Full disclosure:  These are not all my original ideas.  I got lots of inspiration from the following websites:

http://guyerfamilyblog.com/2012/06/13/sesame-street-birthday-party/

http://www.allthingsgd.com/2012/01/kates-sesame-street-birthday-party.html

That’s all folks!

If anyone’s interested, I will post R’s birth story here tomorrow.  All the gory and amazing details.

K

Halloween

Boo!  Happy Halloween everyone!  I am enjoying Halloween in a whole new way in this phase of my life.  Halloween used to be all about dressing up in the sluttiest costumes, going to the bars and getting attention.  Total 180!  Now, I am hard pressed to find a photo of me in all this process.  It is all about the kids and how much fun they can have.  R was Elmo.  Her favourite character.  Every time I called her ‘Elmo’ she grinned ear to ear.  K was a Tiny Dancer.  She loved her shoes and couldn’t stop prancing around to show them off.  They were adorable.  It was freezing cold outside so we got like 1.5 trick or treaters.  R went out for half an hour with M and came back with a bucket full of candy which she promptly offered to share with me – what a cutie pie.  K wore her costume all day, to day home, through dinner and all evening.  R didn’t want to take her costume off for bed time.  It was a lovely night.  Now, I have a butt load of candy to polish off.  10 more pounds here I come!  Just in time for fat pants at Christmas! 

 

Mommy, I want…

I have heard this phrase approximately 8 million times this weekend.  We are officially in the selfish, whiney phase.  R wants what she wants and she wants it loud.  She also does a jumpy, hand-flappy thing while she is whining and demanding things like her sister’s spoon, a different cup, a movie, or a specific coat.  She also whines for help, or for no help at all (it is anyone’s guess which is will be at any given time).  I get it right about 50% of the time.  She has figured out how to get what she wants and how to play me.  Yes, me.  The person who said she would be the tough mom and who had all these games figured out.  Turns out I am the softy in this house.  All R has to say is “I’m hungry” when she is already supposed to be in bed and I am jumping up to get apple slices.  I know she isn’t hungry, but what if she is?  I know she only wants to stay up later but I can’t help it.  Tonight, as she sits in the next room kicking the wall and crying for food, I am only standing my ground because mere minutes ago she was eating her cheesy noodles and drinking her milk before we brushed teeth and she got in bed.

I have started to explain that she doesn’t always get things just because she wants them and mama has to say no sometimes.  I have always been ok with the principle of saying no, but her negotiation and bribery skills are improving every day.  I am already saving for law school.  She needs to hear no and I am doing my best to not indulge her all the time but I am my own worst enemy and she is my little baby.  I don’t want an entitled little brat making life hell for her teachers in the future so I am going to keep on keeping on.  Give me strength!  Tonight, my two friends Merlot and Crunchie Bar are giving me the power to muddle through this evening’s trials and tribulations.  What’s your standby source of strength?  Keep it legal people!

Ask the Real Mom Lady: Public Parenting Edition

Dear Real Mom Lady,

I took my son to a coffee and play place the other day.  I was hoping for a somewhat relaxing experience where my son could play, I could get out of the house without too much effort and planning and we could have some one on one time.  When we got there, it quickly became evident that this wasn’t going to happen.  It seemed that other parents were perfectly content to just let their kids run wild, act like little terrors and expected other strangers to parent their offspring.  Other people were literally sitting right next to their devil spawn children, checking their iPhones and ignoring the shenanigans that were taking place right next to them.  I am often at a loss in these situations and would appreciate some advice on how I could handle these situations without coming off too ‘holier than thou’ or too bitchy.  Any suggestions?

Sincerely,

Not Your Mom

 

Dear NYM,

I hear you and I feel your pain.  People in those places are either sending shade your way for any of Jr’s well-meaning yet possibly overly aggressive attempts at play or they are ignoring their own child’s demonic and violent ‘playing’.  In any of these instances you can employ any of the following phrases or techniques:

  • “Go Fuck Yourself”
  • “Your child is a monster, please keep him/her away from my kid”
  • “Oh, your son/daughter is so cute but could you please help me pry his/her hands out of my child’s hair? Thankyousomuch!”
  • Stand up in the middle of the place and ask everybody and nobody “Is anyone else seeing this?  Bueller?  Bueller?”
  • Pick up the offensive child and walk him or her around to other parents asking “is this your child?  Is this your child?”
  • If your own kid happens to be somewhat oversized and beefy like mine was at one point, let him or her kick the other kid’s ass.  You know you want to.  Just look the other way.  That is the thing to do, apparently.

Good luck!

Sincerely,

RML

 

Dear Real Mom Lady,

I am having a hard time keeping up appearances lately.  I have two young kids, I am always busy and I am having a hard time taking care of myself.  All of my friends seem to have it all together.  They have clothes that fit and seem to be clean.  They shower and do their hair and makeup.  I can barely change out of my PJs by noon.  How can I keep up?

Sincerely,

Tired and Slightly Rank

 

Dear T and SR,

First of all, you can’t keep up, unless you want to start popping your kid’s Ritalin.  These women are surely on drugs or they have remortgaged their houses to be able to afford full time help that they are keeping secret.  Believe me, at certain points in your life it is just normal to be in your PJs until noon.  These times are called University and Motherhood.  What is the point of changing in to real clothes if you are just going to have to change out of them anyways when you eventually crawl back in to bed.  Here are some tips:

Sleep in your clothes.  Spray yourself with Febreeze when you wake up to freshen your outfit.  Wipe your pits with a damp cloth and spray on some perfume.  This is called a ‘whores bath’ which is ironic because no one who employs this method is actually getting laid.

Carry large sunglasses with you everywhere.  This will cover at least half of your face if you have no time for makeup and then you can shove them back on your head to restrain your hair as an accessory.  No need to wash and/or brush your hair.  Use two pairs at the same time if necessary.

Dry shampoo is amazeballs and you can use it days and days in a row and not have to shower.  You can also powder your kid’s bum with it.  Not really, but imagine if you could!

Instead of washing your clothes, use baby wipes to clean off any crust that might accumulate.  You can do this while waiting at a stop light or in the grocery store.  Good lighting.  This will allow you to go weeks without having to do any laundry.

Chew gum.  You won’t have to brush your teeth and it will help relieve pent up stress.  I am a jaw clencher – I should know.

Finally, when you feel put out or inferior because your friends seem to have it all together and you feel like a tired, frazzled slob, just give yourself a break.  Have a KitKat and try to squeeze in a nap.  In your clothes of course.

Sincerely,

RML

Sexy Time

No, this is not an X rated post.  This is about some disturbing trends in tween-ville that I find disturbing and that I think you should know about so you can join me in my rage:

1.  Pole dancing classes for kids.  For real.  There is a studio in BC that is getting some serious attention for offering a pole dancing class for children.  There is a child as young as five that is registered to take part.  If I weren’t so scared of inappropriate sexual innuendo I would make a joke about gagging!  The woman offering the classes maintains that this class is all about upper body fitness and flexibility and that it has nothing to do with teaching sexually provocative moves.  Sure, except that the apparatus you are using to teach the class is meant for naked women to climb up and down on, showing their naughty bits and it is usually covered in vaseline.  In reading up on this I discovered that there are actually pole dancing competitions in Russia where children as young as 7 are allowed to take part.  Really?

2.  Lingerie stores offering clothing for tween girls.  Again, for real.  Places like Victoria’s Secret and La Senza both have clothing lines for young girls.  The line from VS is called Pink.  Does anyone else think ‘vagina’ when they hear that?  I really don’t think it is a good idea for 11 year olds to be buying off-the-shoulder t-shirts next to a mannequin wearing a g-string and garter belts.  This sends a mixed message don’t you think?  Like, “hey, buy this other stuff and wear it to entice boys and be sexy”.  This is not something young girls should feel compelled and/or pressured to do.

3.  Blow job parties and sex bracelets.  These are real things.  Kids as young as 11 and 12 are attending BJ parties in basements where the boy who has the most colours of lipstick on his pre-pubescent junk wins.  Sex bracelets (my term) are those old jelly bracelets we used to wear in the 90s but now they are color coded to indicate which type of sexual favor you have given to boys.  Kids are talking in code with their jewelry and they are talking dirty!

4.  Sexting.

5.  Online sex chatting.

6.  Bratz dolls.  I freaking hate those things.

I could go on.  My point is that I am afraid for my daughters as they grow up in this increasingly scary world.  I believe that kids should stay kids as long as possible because once they see and learn about certain things they can never un-see and unlearn them.  We are in a world that sends such mixed messages:  Be a strong and independent woman or girl but trade on your looks and sexual prowess in order to be desirable.  Be attractive – this is a must, but make sure you are offended if someone comments on your looks.  Have a perfect body but don’t put too much emphasis on it.  Flaunt your body.  Don’t flaunt your body.  How are my girls supposed to navigate all these conflicting messages and believe me when I say that they is perfect just the way they are?  How are they supposed to believe that in order to have friends and be popular they doesn’t have to flash their boobs online or be bitchy to other girls?  I strongly believe that I will be a present parent who instills good values, is strict, fair and a good role model.  I am lucky enough to be well-equipped and informed about all the risks out there.  I know lots of amazing parents who still found their kids facing incredible challenges with body image, confidence and sexual maturity.  I was one of those kids, and my parents were and are incredible.  What chance do I have?

This all makes me very pissed.  It makes me angry about ulterior motives of big business, shady marketing and companies with no moral compass and social conscience.  I shouldn’t have to be shielding my children from land mines like this as they grows up.  What makes me more incredulous is the fact that there are a lot of people out there walking around thinking that things like pole dancing for kids and clothes from lingerie stores are no big deal and they are just for fun.  They really believe that these things are innocuous and harmless.  They believe the bullcrap that is fed to them.  Now THAT is scary.  I do not believe that BS and my kids will not be signing up for classes.

Girls have it tough and struggles start at a very young age.  They don’t need any more ridiculous things to avoid and be wary of.  Just stop people!  Just stop!  Play my little ponies, have tea parties, play a sport, go play outside (in sensible clothes), spend time with your families and just be KIDS!

End Rant.

This may or may not make any sense. You’ve been warned.

My toddler told me the other day that she hated me.  That sucked.  She also told me a few days before that that I was her best friend.  She is a little package of contradictions these days.  One of the challenges of being back at work is having to try to find a place to park your kids during the ten or so hours that you are gone during the day.  I have been lucky enough to find an amazing woman who feeds them good food, does fun activities and genuuinely loves them.  She is strict, keeps them on a schedule and is very flexible and agreeable.  She also happens to live a block and a half away.  This is all good.  What sucks is that my kids are being raised by another woman and are surrounded by kids that may or may not act the way I would want my kids to act.  So, without going in to too many details about the personal issues of the other kids in the day home, R has come home with a few interesting new phrases and quirks. 

Example number one:  We were eating dinner and having the normal conversations about eating a few more bites and ‘no you will not get a treat if you keep fighting ‘ etc.  In the middle of it all, R turns to me and says in a solemn voice:  “Mom, I am starting to die”.  This struck me as odd.  You can imagine why.  We have never really talked about death with her and this came out of nowhere.  She repeated versions of this a few times and then this gem came out:  “Mom, I am so sad.  Daddy’s mom died”.  Well, no she didn’t.  You just saw her a few weeks ago.  She also has said things like she is “stopping to breathe” and that she is playing the “dead game”.  Ummmm.  I began to get a bit freaked out. 

I talked to the day home lady and she confirmed that this wasn’t some morbid pre-school game they were playing after lunch and before naps.  There have indeed been a few incidents where an older kid has let loose with some cray cray musings during rage filled tantrums.  I was all at once relieved to hear the reason for all this nuttiness but also pretty concerned because I am not sure I want her around this poor kid.  Lovely day home lady has assured me that if this happens again that the older kid will be asked to go elsewhere.  Too bad for him, but a relief for us.  Being a teacher, I know where these things can go and I don’t want my kids to be around in the unlikely, yet scary, event that something happens. 

In other news, today is my b-day and I had a lovely weekend with some amazing friends I have missed for a long time.  Our kids were amazing and I swear I ate like it was my job.  I had lots of red wine, got to do some shopping and stayed up to unreasonable hours of the early morning.  I am exhausted which is why most of this post might sound a bit nutty.

Stay tuned for another installment of Ask the REAL MOM Lady.  Stripper poles and lingerie for tweens will be discussed.  And by discussed I mean lampooned.  People are stupid.

Happy Turkey Day!

Up here in the frozen north of Canada, it is Thanksgiving Weekend.  So, in truly unoriginal style I am going to do a post about those things for which I am thankful…

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I am thankful for M.  He is funny, strong, kind, and patient.  I know that I annoy myself sometimes, so I can only imagine how much I must annoy him and yet he keeps on loving me.  He is a fantastic father, provider and husband.  I miss him when he isn’t here and I know I must love him because even when I am angry with him I often feel badly that he is sad because I am angry… twisted, but true.  I even love him when he is slurping and making mouth noises.  

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I am thankful for R.  My first baby.  I am thankful for her dimple chin, her cute bum and her precocious sense of humour.  She told me the other day that I am her best friend.  I almost died.  I love it when she sings off key, tells jokes, dances with her twisty mouth and rolled back eyes, ‘reads’ stories aloud and when she bounds across the room to see me.  I am thankful that she is happy and healthy, smart and funny, stubborn and willful.  She is amazeballs.  

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I am thankful for K.  She is cute in a bottle.  I have said to many that her body and stance often remind me of John Goodman.  All belly and butt.  I can’t get enough.  If biting her wouldn’t hurt I would be taking nips of her all day long.  I love that she growls with a huge open mouthed smile upon entering a room, that she is full of beans and moves non-stop.  I love that she gives kisses with tongue, that she teethes without complaint (Thank God), that she dances like Stevie Wonder and that she sings along with songs in the car.  She is more in tune than her older sister…  I love that she has a generous spirit and forgives her older sister a bonk or two.  I love her stubborn spirit as well.  

I am thankful for my family, near and far.  I am surrounded by love and support.  Life isn’t easy even when it is going well.  There are daily trials and tribulations to overcome and it is all the more palatable when you can call someone and bitch and moan.  I am thankful for buddy passes, family visits, phone plans and emails.  I am one lucky lady.  

I am also thankful for amazing friends who often take the place of family when no family is near.  I have wonderful girlfriends who commiserate with the best of them and who are constant sources of laughter and debauchery.  

My last two posts were pretty self-indulgent and whiney – believe me, I know.  So, I thought I would post something a bit more heartwarming and cheerful.  Life is good.  So is pie.  And turkey.  Oh God, now I am drooling on my computer…  gotta go!  

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

Week 2 Going On Week 3

I am so tired.  So so so tired.  I have spent most of the weekend being a vegetable and taking naps whenever I can.  I had a three hour nap on Saturday and a one hour nap today.  And you know what?  The week wasn’t that bad!  My in-laws were staying with us for part of the week and generally made my life easier by entertaining kids, ordering us yummy food and helping clean up and do various chores.  M was off for a few days and got to have a nice visit with his parents which was great.  Of course the kids loved having them here as well so all in all, in-law visit = good. 

School is going to be ok.  I think, actually I am pretty sure, my body is in shock at getting up at the butt crack of dawn and going to work for a million hours and then coming home to be mom/wife.  As soon as my body realizes that this new routine isn’t a joke I think the exhaustion will lessen and I will be able to function at a level somewhat better than a zombie. 

School has brought up the usual confict of emotions in me where I feel aghast at certain parenting styles (or lack thereof) and equally impressed at how present and involved other parents can be.  So, this begs the questions about parenting styles.  I would like to open this up to debate.  I have heard about polar opposite styles such as Free-Range Parenting and Tiger Mother Parenting as well as such ‘Blossoming’ trends as Attachment Parenting and the like (if you get that reference you rock).  There are also such gems as Helicopter Parenting and then just plain old parenting by feel and there is the all too common style of ‘neglect’.  Choose your poison!  Where do you fall in the spectrum?  Do you feel the need to label?  How did you come across your style?  Did you follow in your parents’ footsteps or did you veer away from their example.  Was your parenting style a result of research or advice from friends?

The reason I ask is because we are in a climate of almost too much information.  Every time something new comes up I often get that panicky feeling of not knowing enough and “maybe I should be doing that!”.  I then do a bit of frantic internet research and inevitably revert to what I was already doing.  Very rarely does something come up that makes me question my philosophy in general.  We tell each other everything all the time and most of the time I think that is fantastic.  Sometimes, not so much.  I am usually the queen of TMI and this whole blog was based on the idea of “sharing is caring” and that the more we talk and support one another as moms the stronger we will be.  I might be taking a step back from that …  well, probably not.  But, I am open to questioning my methods.  When I heard of ‘elimination communication’ (when you read your baby’s signals and get them to the potty on time from almost infancy in order to eliminate the use of diapers) I thought to myself initially that I should be able to do that and therefore should implement it immediately.  Then I realized that in no way shape or form would that fit in to my lifestyle and therefore it was not for me or my family.  Diapers it is!  TMI!  I almost need to turn my mommy radar off and stop questioning myself all the time!  But I can’t!

I think that as I have grown in to adulthood and mommyhood there has been a different marketing and information machine for every stage of my life.  When I was in my late teens and early 20s it was MTV or Much Music and Fashion Television that had me enthralled.  Then TLC was born and I was hooked!  Trading Spaces – home decor porn for the early 20s do-it-yourself-ers.  Say Yes To The Dress and a million other wedding shows for my mid-20s.  Baby Story, I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant and John and Kate Plus 8 for my fertile and pregnancy years.  Now, it is stuff like Supernanny that has me hooked.  How do other people parent?  What am I missing?  How should I be doing things? 

I guess my MO should be to continue to question but take the information with a grain of salt – especially if the source is TLC or some crazed looking parent at school with a demon-spawn child.  Not that there are any of those in my school. 

How did you and your partners develop your parenting philosophy?

I survived!

Well.  Today marks the end of my first official week back at work with students and the whole shebang.  I am still alive and so are my kids.  My house is still standing and is actually somewhat clean and tidy.  My eldest daughter was only sent to bed early three of the four nights that I worked because of a tantrum and she is warming up to the idea of being back in the dayhome.  When I picked her up today she actually said “I had so much fun at Z’s house today, Mom!”.  This was better than hearing about her being punched in the face earlier this week.  She wasn’t innocent – don’t worry.  She’s not being picked on for all you concerned parties out there.  Still, I wanted to punch the other kid in the face… 

So how come I feel like I am barely hanging on by my fingertips?  Maybe because I am.  I am exhausted beyond belief at the end of each day.  I am trying desperately to spend some quality time with the girls when we finally get home but they are both so wound up/exhausted by being at the dayhome all day that we only get about an hour and a half of good play time and snuggles in before someone starts whining or throwing a shit fit over something like an errant red pepper in her dinner, brushing her teeth and the texture of her replacement duvet because her other one is in the dryer.  R kept insisting that her cover was indeed dry and ‘not wet mama… sob, sob, sob…”  I actually had to lie down on my bed while she was on the potty to have my own tearful moment because I was so tired and had NO energy for any more histrionics.  K has been a bit more cooperative and has only been a bit tearful at the drop off to the dayhome.  That also makes me sad though because she commands so much less attention and time that I fear she is getting swept under the rug because she is an ‘easy baby’.  FML. 

All that being said, I know I have a lot to be grateful for and I am trying to look on the bright side.  I have a great class of kids.  My dayhome lady is lovely.  My husband is super helpful and is a veritable Mr Mom.  He can do it all ladies – mostly better than I can.  And he looks good in jeans.  My teaching partner is a good friend and also has a little one at home so we understand each other in that respect.  All this is good.  I guess I am still in shock that this week wasn’t just for fun.  Instead, this is my new normal and I am just pissed off about it.  I can make the most of it.  My family can have a good life this way.  I know all this – but I want something else.  I want flexibility and time to myself for my family.  I love teaching, but that isn’t all I love.  I love my girls.  Even when they are throwing shit fits.  Maybe not so much when they are throwing actual shit… but that is a different post altogether. 

Kudos to all you working mamas out there and to those mamas who work at home as a mom and as a professional.  Have a drink with me tonight.  I’m gonna have a few…

Long Time, No Blog

So, I guess it’s been a while since I last posted here.  This doesn’t bode well for the next few months since I have just started back to work teaching as of yesterday.  More on that later…

Since my last post about K’s Birth Day we celebrated her turning one.  I made these:

K wore this and looked super adorable:

My mom came to visit for about 5 days and we went on a few outings.  We went to Elbow Falls and played in the rocky water’s edge and had a yummy picnic.  As well, we went to Reader’s Rock Garden here in Calgary and walked around enjoying the beautiful grounds and had lunch. 

I love when my mom visits!  R totally gets in to the novelty of having another adult in the house who is somewhat wrapped around her little finger!  R wants ‘gwamma’ to do everything – brush her teeth, put on her PJ’s, read all the books, play all the games and do all the puzzles.  It sure gave me a break before this crazy week of back to work!  Grandma D really is the bomb.  I love houseguests that you don’t have to impress!  I am lucky to have a mother and a mother-in-law like that.  I do a house clean just to be a good hostess before they come, not because I think they are going to judge me.  They help with the kids and chores and it makes for a lovely visit.  Please come back!  Mom?  L?  Are you reading this?  Come BAAAAACK!!!! 

So.  Back to work.  It sucks.  I have the girls at a day home.  The provider is a lovely woman who looked after R for 8 months when I went back to work last time when R was 1 and I was alrerady preggers with K!  This lady is lovely, warm, strict and less than 5 minutes from my house.  In other words:  Perfect.  Still, I can’t help but shake the feeling that I didn’t have kids for someone else to raise them.  When school really gets going next week the girls will be with her most days from about 7 am to about 4 or 4:30 every day.  I might get to see them for a few hours in the evening for baths, fights at dinner (FML) and maybe a late evening trip to the park but not likely.  R was always a ‘late to bed’ girl but K sure isn’t.  7:30 is pushing it so I really have to get my cuddles in before she freaks out and needs her bed!  My heart is breaking a little each day and I am going to have to get used to this new reality we have in store for us.  I am scared for the state of my house (I give it two weeks until we are living in a shambles and need an intervention)  and the state of my kids!  And my heart!

I feel passionately about my job.  I love teaching and I have a great teaching partner this year.  There are many reasons for me to be happy about going back to work.  A dual income household will be a nice change!  Blah blah blah.  Nothing compares to being the one to see your kids reach new milestones instead of having your lovely day home woman tell you about them.  Moulding other peoples’ kids all day and having no energy to do the same for my own precious babies just doesn’t seem like an appropriate payoff. 

Sorry to be such a downer…  Maybe all you other working moms out there can shed some light on this one.  How do you juggle it all?  Pills?  Booze?  Hired help? 

I’ll update again on this soon…  I think I can do it.  I think I can I think I can I think I can……

A year ago today…

I was in the hospital having just given birth to my second daughter, K.  As we celebrated her birthday today I was experiencing a mix of emotions ranging from happiness that she is indeed growing up happy and healthy to a kind of sadness that time is passing by so quickly.  A year ago she was a tiny lump of awesome in my belly, then vagina, then arms and now she is a huge package of walking, ‘talking’, laughing joy.  Here is her birth story:

Let me preface this story by saying that in the weeks prior to giving birth to K my Dr and I agreed on a plan.  Because she worked only certain days on call in the hospital, and we both wanted her to be the Dr to deliver the baby she had helped me care for, we decided that I would give birth on the 10th.  I wasn’t going to be induced or anything, I was just going to make it happen.  I know this sounds ridiculous, but it happened with my first so I thought I could do it again.  Raspberry leaf tea and unfortunate sex made R come on the planned date as agreed upon with the same Dr so I thought I could do it again.  I drank the tea but couldn’t make my husband ‘do that’ again because it was just too much to ask but we did put together a shelf together so that is the same thing.  Lo and behold, 4 am came around (same time as R started her process less than 2 years prior) and I was waking up with some lower abdominal pain. 

I went to the bathroom, tried to poop, but that wasn’t it and so I thought, ‘hey, maybe I am in labour’.  My labour tends to progress pretty quickly so I woke M up and said that things might be starting to happen and he chuckled because it actually was happening on the day I predicted.  I was a bit bummed because if my labour this time went as fast or faster as the one before, which I thought was likely, I was going to miss my Dr’s shift by a few hours as she didn’t work until the evening.  Also, my mom was flying in that morning at 10:30 and she would most likely miss it too.  Oh well, she was planning to be at home for R and not in the room like she had been the time before, so that was ok. 

Anyhoo – back to the pain.  For the first 45 minutes or so it was just pain, nothing too unbearable but we called M’s aunt to come look after R.  Her husband answered the phone at 4:45am and said something like ‘so you’ll call us in a few hours when you need us?’.  I said, ‘no, come now.  I go fast’.  Aunt V indeed made it over as I was in the shower and she got some instructions from M.  I got dressed, put some makeup on (why?) and came down to say hi to V.  I had to pause for contractions now and rock through them, but nothing too horrible.  Maybe a 5 on a scale from 1-10.  M had made me toast and a nectarine for breakfast which I knew I should eat but had a hard time choking down.  As we left the house and drove down our street I realized I had forgotten my wallet – so we did a U turn which sucked and got the goods, and sped off to the hospital.  Contractions were becoming increasingly painful and required some good breathing and eye closing to get through them in the car, but I could walk to the maternity ward so it couldn’t have been that bad…

We got checked in and I was about 2 cm when I was examined the first time and I asked to get in to the shower as that is what I had enjoyed last time.  There wasn’t a good chair to sit on so M placed a metal chair in the shower stall for me to sit on.  I was having back labour this time which was new so I spent a few hours in the shower alternating between sitting on the chair and facing the wall with my back to the shower and rocking to bring the baby down.  As I stood, I could literally feel my muscles clenching and pushing the baby down little by little.  M asked me around this time what my pain was at on the scale and I said about a 9.  It was starting to hurt like a mother and I was starting to make some pretty good groaning noises.  With R I had used anitnox (the lovely tanks of gas that just help you relax between contractions) but this time I was trying to use no pain meds to get me through it.  M had to pause to make a call to our good friend P so she could pick up my mom.  P is an exuberant person and clued in to the fact that M was calling from the shower in the hospital and I could hear her over the shower noise and through the phone which was not on speaker express her excitement.  It was a pleasant break from my pain which was now at a 10.  My water hadn’t broken yet, but after a few hours in the shower the nurses thought I should be checked again. 

I dried off and got checked and was at about 7 cm and did some more breathing and moaning on my side in the fetal position.  I was told I could get back in to the shower but knew I couldn’t move as this is the time they call ‘transitioning’ when you feel like your body is about to rip in half and you might puke while it happens.  At this time, I started to sound like a bleating lamb but was reassured by everyone that I was doing well and M thought so too.  I was in the zone, and every touch and sound was a danger to shaking me from that precious place.  I thought I had been at a 10 given what I remembered from last time, but I think I was now at a 12.  It fucking hurt.  I started to feel a bit of an urge to push and asked to be checked again.  I was at 9 and it was go time. 

A bunch of people (I have no idea who – my eyes were closed – it could have been a team of clowns for all I know) wheeled me to the smallest delivery room ever.  I feel so sorry for anyone who was in the hallway at that time who had to see me get wheeled away to have my baby.  I was making some ungodly sounds at that point and probably succeeded in convincing every woman in that ward, pregnant or not, that they wanted an epidural.  To any of you who are out there and might be reading this, I am sorry. 

We got to the room and I was checked again and was told there was just a little lip of cervix left and that if I started to push that I could move it and get this baby out.  I remember with R having a distinct, overwhelming urge to push.  Like when you have a big poop and your body takes over and shoves it out of your body for you.  That is what the urge to push in labour feels like – but bigger – because you are pushing out an impacted bowling ball and not a cooperative poop.  I didn’t feel this with K because she hadn’t descended enough due to my unbroken water, the fact that her head was facing the wrong way, and the cervix lip.  So, to deal with all this, my water was broken with a crocheting needle and some Dr’s hands went in to my vagina to pull up towards the ceiling on the lip of cervix and down towards my bum to give me the feeling of needing to push.  This didn’t really help.  I started to push and couldn’t really get in to the groove.  I was frustrated because this wasn’t what had happened last time, and my perfect labour was in danger of being not so perfect. 

To add to things, K started having decels (decelerated heart beats).  Drs again put their hands up my lady business and attached a monitor to her scalp to keep track of things.  One of the lady Drs got in my face at some point and said that ‘this was not good.  She isn’t tolerating the contractions well.  We need you to get her out or we are going to have to intervene and help you do it’.  Words like ‘vaccuum’ and ‘forceps’ were thrown around and I was definitely out of my zone.  I was starting to get anxious, panicky and scared and just wanted people to stop touching me so I could get back in the zone and work with my body to do this damn thing! I said as much and the Drs (who numbered three at this point, with two nurses and a team on their way for the baby, just in case…) and they backed off for a few contractions so I could try on my own.  No dice.  Vaccuum time.  In what felt like less than a minute and not more than the duration of two contractions, K’s head had a vaccuum attached to it and she was pulled down in to the correct place in the birth canal and there it was!  The poop feeling!  I felt the urge and with the help of the vaccuum I crowned and pushed that kid right out!  Pop!  I collapsed in to tears as they took her over to check her out and asked over and over if she was ok.  Her apgar was 9 which was good.  She was fine!  I know how close we came to having a different outcome, and as much as I struggled in the following weeks to come to terms with how my labour got out of hand at the end, I am grateful that those professionals did their jobs and got me a healthy baby in the end.  I only needed a few stitches – 5 minutes worth, and then it was over. 

I got to see my favourite Dr later that night as she stopped in on her rounds.  We were both bummed that she hadn’t been there as my Dr for the birth, but she oohed and aahed appreciatively and it was a nice visit. 

See video:  I have just eaten the most amazing tuna sandwhich in the world and am so swollen and tired.  I observe that K has a ‘bum chin’ which is my favourite physical trait on my husband and two girls and other than that…  observe the bliss. 

Happy birthday to my little one. 

Ask The Real Mom Lady: A New Advice Column.

Dear Real Mom Lady,

I was at the store the other day and a question of etiquette came up.  Is it ok for me to keep parking in the spot designated for pregnant ladies and moms/families with small children even if my kids are 9 and 11?  And if they are plannning on staying in the car while I shop?  The reason I asked is because as I got out of my car this lady driving a minivan (ugh!  right?) with limp hair and those stickers on her windshield advertising to the world that she has three kids and a dog gave me a really mean look.  Like, she was pissed!  I saw her later in the store with her kids crammed in to the cart, carrying a box of diapers and opening a packet of cookies to give to her kids.  First of all, that is stealing until you pay for it.  Second of all, it isn’t safe to put all your kids in the cart.  Third, would it kill you to run a comb through your hair?  And that of your kids for that matter?  What do you think Real Mom Lady? 

Sincerely, Confused and Repulsed. 

Dear Confused and Repulsed,

By all means, keep parking in that spot designated for pregnant ladies and parents with young kids.  As well, keep a running mental tally of all their shortcomings and failings as a parent to bring up at your next dinner party.  I am sure you were NEVER in her position as you most likely always had your act together and always had time to shower.  As well, please make sure to cut in front of her in the checkout line next time you see her, or another woman like her.  They love it when you do that as it gives them more reason to look nasty and ungrateful.  You probably have somewhere important to get to like a supercilious convention or a haughty meeting.  She can wait.  Also, if her kids start acting up in the cart behind you be sure to turn, look at them with disdain and roll your eyes.  It helps.  Also, take your sweet ass time paying for your one or two items and drive really quickly in the parking lot on the way out. 

Hope that helped!

RML

 

Dear Real Mom Lady,

My 10 year old daughter was watching a mash up of Pussycat Dolls and Lady Gaga videos on the YouTube the other day and asked if I would buy her a belly shirt so she could show off her flat abs.  Should I?  I don’t want her to be uncool or made fun of by the other girls… 

Sincerely,

Undecisive. 

Dear undecisive,

Yes. Absolutely.  Buy her a belly shirt so she can show off excessive amounts of her skin and expose her at an early age to inappropriate sexual objectification.  If she happens to attract the wandering eye of a pedophile, all the better.  While you are at it, buy her short shorts that expose a bit of butt cheek and get her to wear the items together to the first day of school.  If she complains that she is cold, tell her to suck it up and wear what you bought because if she doesn’t she is being ungrateful.  Having your child grow up long before it is necessary, and buying into stereotypical cultural norms is the way to parent if you want to teach  her about the ‘real world’.  By the time she is 13 she should know how to flirt to get ahead in life and should be getting condoms and a perscription for the morning after pill in her Christmas stocking. 

Good luck! 

PS.  Buy a matching outfit for yourself and wear them together!  Everyone loves a mommy-daughter duo at the bars!

RML

Chapters Has Free Daycare! Not really… but some people are stupid.

I was browsing at Chapters the other week as some moms and kids are wont to do on a rainy day.  We had some birthday gifts to pick up and R needed an outing so playing at the train table and looking at books seemed like the perfect way to pass an hour or so.  Until we got there. 

R, K and I rolled up to the kids play area and R noticed the plasma car was not being used so she got on and got ready to play.  This gorgeous little girl immediately ran over and grabbed the back of the car with an intense look in her eye that eloquently expressed “MY CAR”.  I said to the little girl “no honey, it is her turn now”.  R misunderstood my vague use of pronouns and thought I meant it was the little girl’s turn so she hopped right off and relinquished the car.  R ran over to the cute little shopping cart and started to play with that instead.  Little girl darts over and the same situation played out with my repeated use of vague pronouns and R giving up the toy.  I realized I wasn’t being clear and walked over to R and said quietly “sorry kiddo, I didn’t mean for you to let it go.  She is having a hard time sharing today”.  All the while this little girl’s mom is sitting over in a chair with a friend who has an infant, sipping her venti latte and happily letting me parent her child.  Now, maybe I should have seen her venti latte as a cry for help.  Maybe she was so lacking in energy that she needed to injest the caffeine, ignoring all her obligations and responsibilities as a parent.  Maybe it was a matter of health, mental or otherwise.  I don’t know.  Either way, her coffe and conversation was clearly so pressing that she was completely ignoring her daughter.  We were all trying to ignore her daughter actually.  To be honest, her daughter was acting like a bit of an asshole.  She was screaming any time someone touched one of ‘her’ trains.  She was running around grabbing things off the shelves and from other kids (i.e. my kid), and was basically being a little terror.  By this point her mom had taken some notice and was shouting from her chair “you need to change your attitude, you are in so much trouble, no treats for you”. Little Terror (LT) kept responding in increasing volumes “NOOOOOOOOO!  I AM CHANGING MY ATTITUDE!  I WANT MY TREEEEEEEEEEATS!”.  Other mothers were rolling eyes at each other, steering their kids away from LT and her mother and trying to ride out the storm until they left. 

It took way too long for them to leave, but when they finally did R actually breathed a sigh of relief and got down to some satisfying play time.  I hate to judge (not really, I do it all the time), but when a mom is clearly doing little to nothing to model appropriate behaviour for the kid who is acting like an LT I have to lay down some judgement.  Namely – get off your ass!  Who do you think you are letting your kid run around terrorizing the place just because you want to veg out and drink your overpriced coffee?  Chapters is not a free daycare!  It is a public place!  I wanted to punch her kid in all honesty but in hindsight I feel badly for poor LT.  With no guidance, rules, consequences or behaviour modeling how do you expect your kid to thrive?  I would have much more sympathy for a kid who is being a bit of a terror if their mom or dad was right in there trying to help them make good decisions.  What a shit show. 

Anyhoo, we played, had snacks, and spent way too much money.  It was an enlightening afternoon.

A love letter to my husband…

So, today was a crappy day.  Or, it could have been were it not for M.  I started feeling sick yesterday in the afternoon when we were out with the kids but chalked it up to exhaustion or the heat.  I still felt unwell once dinner rolled around so I didn’t eat much but I rallied to go out for a few hours for a friend’s birthday last night.  By the end of the night I felt awful and by the time I was home I was running to the bathroom in case I needed to upchuck.  If this is too much information, this is not the blog for you!  I didn’t puke, but spent a few minutes prone on the bathroom floor trying to stop my stomach from turning.  I managed to sleep fitfully through the night and when I woke up I didn’t feel any better.  M was already up with the kids as it was his turn to get up early and I sent him a text saying that he might have to be on his own for a bit longer as I wasn’t feeling up to participating in any parenting duties.  He didn’t mind and the giggles and shouts from the backyard that I could hear from my bedroom window indicated that things were running smoothly and that kids were happy.  I spent the next few hours napping, staying horizontal so my stomach could maintain its fragile equilibrium, and finishing the 50 Shades trilogy (!).  By the time I got out of bed and joined the crew M had fed, entertained, cleaned up after and gotten bottles and drinks for both kids.  All was well and K was napping.  Over the course of the rest of the day M proceeded to get lunches, clean the kitchen, do potty breaks, get snacks and encouraged me to rest.  In the late afternoon I managed to rouse myself enough to make a grocery list and we all went to the store together.  By the time we got home I was feeling yucky again so M unloaded the groceries and made dinner.  He also tried to act as a toddler buffer to keep R from ‘mom, mom, mom’-ing me to death as I tried not to puke on our couch.  I managed to help feed a kid and get one bath done, but by that time I was out for the count.  M took it from there and did the rest of the evening’s duties and now all is quiet and I still feel like crap. 

Or do I?  I actually feel rather elated having gone through the day watching my husband take the reins and let me rest.  My favourite part of the day was sitting outside watching him wander around with K as I looked on.  He was holding her up to touch tree leaves, running her hands over soft and prickly plants to let her feel the textures and watered the plants with her in his arms.  She was in fits of giggles as he threw her up in the air and was at other times oohing and aahing as she noticed butterflies, lights and shadows.  She got rather interested in the hose at one point and was also able to practice her new walking skills in the grass.  It was a beautiful sight to behold.  So, on what could have been a crappy and exhausting day, I actually feel rather rested and happy.  I feel secure in the knowledge that my husband is just as capable as I am in running this ship and I guess I should really let him take the reins on a more regular basis.  Let’s be clear now – he does a crap load of stuff around here every day but I have rarely been around for the occasions when he has to do it all without me.  It was nice to be a fly on the wall to see him be a spectacular dad without my interference or guidance.  He was fun, gentle, patient and loving – all things that I know he is and can be – it was just so lovely to see.  Both girls are happy and in bed now and I feel lucky to have such a great partner in this journey in parenting.  Thanks for a super day M.  Who knew that an upset tummy could make for such a great time.

Sugar and Spice VS Slugs and Snails: How different are boys and girls really?

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When I was pregnant with my first child I was convinced I was having a boy.  My husband comes from a family of four boys.  His brother has three boys and most of his cousins are boys – save for one delightful girl cousin.  I was convinced I was having a boy and that I would only have boys.  I was pretty excited to be honest.  I am a farily ‘typical’ girl/woman if we go by today’s stereotypes.  I danced, I like to wear makeup and dresses, I am feminine (no, really), I have almost always had long hair, I like to cook, sing, I like chick flicks, etc.  I never thought I would marry the ‘typical’ boy/man, but I did.  He is testosterone personified by all intents and purposes.  He played every sport imaginable, is large and in charge, eats red meat with gusto and has a hard time tapping in to his emotions – or did until I came along! Ha!  So, given our pretty traditional takes on our roles as a couple, I was pretty sure the boy we were having would be a little daddy’s boy and would be playing football by age 3. 

So, as I prepared to undergo my first ultrasound to find out what we were having – and to make sure the baby was ok and all that jazz – I was absolutely floored when the technician said we were having a little girl.  I went back to work (teaching) and met my class in the gynmasium where they were practicing for an assembly.  They all knew I was finding out the gender that day and all rushed up to ask and I made my announcement.  They all gasped and oohed and I made them get back to what they were doing.  I then excused myself to the hallway where I proceeded to cry because I was pretty upset about losing my hoped for boy.  R and K if you read this in the near or late future – I would never trade you for the world.  Mommy is just crazy. 

So, I had to drastically alter my expectations and plan for a different household.  Why?  Why should my household be different if I were having a boy vs having a girl?  We all automatically think the immediate impact would be on decor, clothes, activities, toys and the like.  Pink vs blue, ballet vs hockey, cargo shorts vs tutus.  But, the debate lately seems to be on whether or not boys and girls are inherently different or if we just make them different by the manner in which we raise them.  Nature vs Nurture – that old debate. 

I began thinking about this again when I remembered that story in the news not long ago about a Toronto couple who are attempting to raise a genderless child named Storm.  They aren’t going to reveal the child’s gender until they feel the child wants them to.  Interesting idea – but in my opinion your child should not turn into a social experiment.  You can read more about it here http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/relationships/the-genderless-baby-well-intentioned-but-wrong/article624920/ and here http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1389593/Kathy-Witterick-David-Stocker-raising-genderless-baby.html

What do you think?  Can you raise a genderless child? I am not going to go in to ‘should you?’ right now – that is another story!  Having girls just makes my house different from my friends who have boys.  There is all the obvious stuff listed above, but boys also seem to have an innate need to climb, run and take things apart.  I have watched my daughter and her very close friend who is a boy play side by side and they are very different.  R sits to play.  B does not.  R is hardwired to tell all her friends the RULES about playing and to discipline them.  Her boy friends seem to just want to get down to it and PLAY with EVERYTHING RIGHT NOW!  She tends to step back and observe their behaviour and then choose a comfortable time and place to join in.  When she plays with other girls they seem to establish a similar wavelength and play with similar goals in mind.  Now, all that being said, R plays with a variety of kids who come from different types of parents with different households.  Parents have different interests – one house might be really sports focussed and another might be musically inclined but I still find that the boys in my circle tend to be more energetic, somewhat more aggressive and forecful (that does not mean violent and mean) and impulsive no matter what their parents are in to.  R and her fellow lady friends seem to be more in to solitary pursuits that they could share if they were so inclined.  Puzzles, books, art, making cookies with their fake kitchens etc.  I know that we as parents have steered them in these directions to an extent given the toys we purchase them, the energy with which we approach them and how we interact with them, but there still seems to be an unspoken difference in energy. 

Nature vs Nurture seems to come in when it comes to harnessing this energy.  What do you turn to?  How do you model gender for your child?  In our house we have been somewhat mindful to buy R and K gender neutral toys for the most part.  Now, they have been given a plethora of gifts that are purely ‘girl-focussed’ such as dolls, tea sets, and jewellry (although I know lots of boys with these toys too and R has hockey sticks… just saying).  Not to mention the girly clothes!  I secretly love them and think the girls are adorable when wearing a cute dress but I let them make their choices once they are old enough to do so and I make sure to dress them in sweats and Ts as much as, if not more than, the dresses.  I love it when R is in the backyard in her puddle boots and a t-shirt and diaper (not any more – potty trained!) tromping around after her father in the dirt pulling weeds and chasing spiders.  Now, you wouldn’t catch me dead doing that, but I am glad she considers that to be just as fun as playing dance party with mom.  R loves to play catch, to kick a ball around and also loves to draw and sing.  I believe strongly that all girls and boys are born with the ability to develop any and all of these interests and talents and more.  I do, however, believe that there is an inherent difference in boy and girl ‘energy’.  I don’t know another word for it…  I don’t necessarily mean that boys are more energetic per se, but there is a different boy aura and a different girl aura. 

Do I really know what I am talking about?  Probably not.  I have only spoken to friends and family about this and most people agree that there is some real difference to boys and girls but that parents can exacerbate that gap with choices they make and how they steer their kids play habits, extra curricular activities and clothing selections.  Parental role models play a huge part – I am sure that is no surprise to all of you. 

What is your take on the girls vs boys debate.  Born the same and raised different?  Or born different from the start?  I know there are so many layers to this question that involve gender bias, sexual preferences, traditional roles and their place in society and all that.  I welcome comments from one and all.  I just opened it up – I could go on forever!   

I’ll leave you with this link to Marlo Thomas’ song ‘William’s Doll’.  Who says dolls are just for girls anyways?! 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lshobg1Wt2M

Remember the ice cream I mentioned in the last post?

This is how it went down.  I heard of a new ice cream shop(pe) from my friend Julie’s blog www.dinnerwithjulie.com.  She mentioned a new place with interesting flavours – something out of the ordinary even for the most discerning ice cream connoisseur.  Today we were planning to go to the beach near our house but naps went long and we needed to adjust our plans.  So, we went out looking for plants for the garden, attempted another public pee with R (gah!), and decided to go downtown to check out the new spot.  It is Stampede time here in Calgary which means that downtown is officially a shit show with people asking $40 for parking anywhere you can fit a car.  We managed to find a spot and walked to the Village Ice Cream parlour.  It is a tiny spot tucked away behind a set of train tracks and you have to make 4 right turns ina row to get there.  It was worth the effort!  Cardamom, Salted Caramel, Huckleberry, Guide’s Mint and Vanilla Bean are all amongst the flavours I sampled.  I decided on cardamom and it was delish.  In a freshly made, warm waffle cone no less.  R had huckleberry as she requests purple ice cream wherever we go.  She was in heaven.  There was also a dog outside the store as we were eating which may have contributed to her blissful state.  It was a good evening.

Body After Baby

This is something that has been on my mind today because I started off my Saturday with an envigorating Barre class.  I used to be a dancer a million years ago so this type of exercise is right up my alley.  It is about a 40 minute drive to get there, but I go with a friend so we visit on the way there and back – not a bad way to start a weekend.  Check it out at www.barrebodyfit.com. It rules. 

I had my last baby 11 months ago and still feel ridiculously out of shape.  Now, I wasn’t in great shape before I started having kids but I have worked damn hard to get some semblance of a body back after both girls.  I started running and ran one 10 K when R was 11 months old, and then after K I started running when she was only 4 weeks old.  I ran another 10 K when she was 13 weeks old, and then I just did another before she was 10 months old.  I still look like what I believe to be a mixture of two of the following images:

                                                  

I know this is not a new rant…  Many moms stuggle with their bodies after having babies.  Unless we are Jessica Alba or some freak of nature supermodel or have means to access personal trainers/dieticians/meal planners/cooks/maids/nannies in order to facilitate the 8 hour a day workouts and strict diet regimen we would have to adhere to in order to look like NOTHING happened to our bodies, we are most likely going to experience some angst in getting our bodies back.

Actually, I am never going to have my old body back.  I wish I had enjoyed it more when I had it.  No matter what I do I am never going to get rid of my Kate Gosselin-esque stomach.  I only had one baby at a time!  Why do I look like a woman who birthed sextuplets?  No matter how much weight I lose I will never be the same again.  I know that my beautiful babies are worth it, but still.  I am allowed to mourn my old stomach.  I had abs. 

Anyhoo, my real issue with all this is what it has done to my psyche.  I have a hot husband.  When we were first married I felt we were on par with each other in the looks department and now I am feeling a bit lower on the totem pole thanks to my new physique.  I also believe I have aged a bit faster than him due to the sleep deprivation and general haggard appearance I keep these days.  Anyone who knows him and us knows he will love me no matter what, and he does, but it really doesn’t matter what he thinks at this point does it?  I feel less lovable, less desirable and am less approachable because of the hit I have taken to the old self-esteem.  So, a third kid in the near future isn’t likely.  Catch my drift?  Also, when I walk by a mirror I often have to do a double take because what I see doesn’t match what I still believe I look like. 

I guess I am on a journey, like many of you, to accept the new me.  I have kids – that is something to adjust to in and of itself.  Remember when a 28 degree day meant drinking on a patio?  Today, it meant a trip to Rona and out for ice cream with the kiddos.  Still fun, just different.  I guess I have to think of my body the same way now.  Still fun, just different.  Ha!  I can still do cool things!  I can run far and fast (R says ‘mama go so fass’ everytime she sees me in a headband and sneakers which is priceless).  I can still stretch and bend and that allows me to play with my kids, pick them up and run after them.  I know it is all for a good cause and I am on my way to accepting the new me.  I hope we all get there sooner rather than later. 

If anyone knows of a good plastic surgeon, let me know.

All About Boobs.

Alternate titles:  None of your boobs-ness!  Breast-spectations – yours vs mine. 

This is something that has come up a lot with my fellow young-ish moms over the past three years since we all started popping out babies.  To breast-feed, or not to breast-feed?  It astonishes me the amount of pressure there is out there to do one or the other.  It also amazes me that once you have a baby people really do not hesitate to give their opinions about what you should do – because it is what they did and they of course know what is best for you and your child if they are a nurse, your mother, or a well-meaning busy-body in the grocery store or mall.  Most moms get a clear message in the hospital after they have given birth that they must start breast feeding.  This wasn’t a problem for me as I really wanted to breast feed as long as possible for both my girls.  For the record, I fed R breast milk exclusively for 8 months when she was weaned on to formula until she was 1.  I fed K breast milk exclusively for about 5 weeks then I started supplementing with two ounces as night for a dream feed to get her to sleep through the night.  I breast fed her otherwise until she was 6 months old and then slowly transitioned to formula by the time she was 7 months old.  It worked for me, butI know this might not work for others.  That is my whole point. 

Most new moms are well aware that the approved and most recent research all points to breast is best.  The World Health Organization recommends breast feeding exclusively until 6 months and then continuing up to two years with the addition of solid foods.  I know of exactly one person who has accomplished this.  I think this is an incredible feat, but it is also not for everyone.  There are many moms out there who experience such pain, anxiety and frustration when breast feeding that it IS actually in their best interested to try something else.  If the pressure to breast feed is such that you make yourself sick over it and not being able to do it – who are you actually helping?  A lot of moms just don’t like it and feel uncomfortable doing it.  Many moms feel trapped and chained to their child because they know their boobs are going to be on call every 2 – 4 hours.  That is a really stifling feeling for some people – I know it was for me.  Moms need to know that they will be supported no matter what they try.  I say give it a go – acknowledge that it can be physically uncomfortable for a week or so (and by uncomfortable I actually mean excruciating agony – for me anyways).  Try as best you can.  Access help (see links below).  Ask trusted friends their advice.  But, in the end, do what is best for you, your child, and your family.  An anxiety ridden mom isn’t good for anyone. 

Alot of tricks can help you along the way in trying to get breast feeding going if that is something that is really important to you: 

Use lanolin on sore nipples – my daughters both chewed me to shreds due to shallow latches and tongue ties so I was cracked and bleeding within the first day or so and it lasted on and off for a few weeks.  I had been told by a health nurse to let them air dry and heal that way which was hilarious.  I was so engorged and leaking that I just walked around with my Dolly Parton-esque boobs dripping all over the place and creating a mess.  Lanolin under a breast pad to protect your bra – thank god for oily sheep. 

Get a good breast feeding bra.  Don’t try to just shove your huge boobs in your old bra and move it out of the way or undo it every time a baby needs to eat.  So annoying.  Spend the money and your boobs will thank you.  Less underwire to minimize the chance of blocked ducts and the accompanying pain.  More support. 

Get a breast pump.  A lot of people say that introducing pumped milk in a bottle will confuse a baby.  Maybe.  That hasn’t been my experience – but I have only had two babies.  I actually used it most when my boobs were so full I needed relief.  I KNOW – pumping actually tells your body to produce more milk because it is in demand.  I hear ya – but when I can pump 8 oz in a matter of 5 minutes – my boobs are in need of immediate relief that no amount of manual expression can give. 

Manual expression.  I know – I just said it wasn’t fast enough, but if you have specific hard spots and just need to get rid of a bit of extra cargo in the morning in the shower, go for it.  Get in a hot shower or stand over the sink and use a wet, hot towel wrapped around your boob like a doughnut and squeeze your boobs.  Place one hand over the boob and one hand under and twist your hands rubbing one hand over the breast and one hand under in opposite directions.  It works. 

See a lactation consultant.  Here in Calgary you are required to follow up with local health nurses after you give birth.  If you continue to experience trouble, one of them can set you up with an LC or an LC who is also a Dr.  I had to see one three months in with K as I was convinced her ‘small, insignificant’ tongue tie was actually more of a problem than people thought.  The Dr agreed and clipped it. 

Call La Leche.  I know they are the equivalent of breast feeding Nazis, but they actually have a lot of great info.  One helped me over the phone to adjust my angle of placing R’s mouth on to my breast because my nipple was coming out pinched – or as the nice lady on the phone described it, looking like a lipstick.  Genius. 

My ultimate message for this topic is that mothers need to have information, support and help.  Not judgement.  If a mom chooses not to breast feed we must respect her decision and trust that this is a mom who made the decision based on multiple factors.  If a mom really wants to breast feed and is having difficulty, she should feel like she has options and access to support. 

Anyhoo ladies – keep your tits up and good luck.  It wasn’t easy for me.  It rarely felt natural and beautiful like it does for some but I am glad I did it as long as I did.  I don’t feel guilty for adding formula or using a bottle or pump at times.  I needed relief and for my husband to be able to feed my kids so I could go OUT!  He also wanted the time to bond with them and feel like he was important to their survival too!  He certainly was important to my survival at times! 

Here are a few links that might come in handy – not an exhaustive list – just a place to get started. 

http://www.who.int/topics/breastfeeding/en/ – World Health Organization

http://www.lllc.ca/ – La Leche League Canada

http://www.albertahealthservices.ca/services.asp?pid=stype&type=28 – a list of programs and services offered by Alberta Health

Also – call your Dr!  My OBGYN was amazing and so helpful with all things breast feeding related.

Potty training success – and my own worst nightmare!

We completed the three day potty training system, and I have to say it is a miracle! This kid has pooped and peed on the potty with only a few dribbles here and there for two days! She has also woken up dry from nighttime and naps which is fantastic. She feels good, I feel good, and I am excited to save a lot of money on diapers!

We even took R out to M’s (husband, father) flag football game last night even though we weren’t supposed to test drive her skills until today. She said she wanted to try once which necessitated using a – gulp – port-a-potty! As I have already mentioned, I am a serious germaphobe and the idea of using a port-a-potty makes me cringe, shudder, gag and wretch. Using it with a kid involves putting a travel potty seat ON TOP of the actual toilet seat and having said kid sit down and TOUCH things! Oh the horror! I almost lost it. The cherry on top was that as soon as she sat down she said she didn’t have to go and congratulated herself on having a ‘big try’. ARE YOU KIDDING ME????? Anyhoo – I guess that is one huge, disgusting hurdle we have conquered – thank god for copious amounts of hand sanitizer. I am still anxioius about accidents and I gave her milk in bed after she woke up and peed this morning which was stupid because she then fell asleep and peed the bed. My bad – I was too tired to get up for the third morning in a row before 6 am and foolishly thought now that she had been ‘trained’ that she would get up and pee on her own. I guess we are still learning. Diligence mama!

Mama! Look at my ‘ulla-wear’!

So, I have been hearing about this potty training method called 3 Day Potty Training for months now and have been procrastinating giving it a try.  It is an eBook written by Lora Jensen and you can find it at 3daypottytraining.com.  For starters, we have been trying for months to get our oldest daughter, R, to use the potty with any regularity.  In interest of full dislosure I mist admit that we haven’t been trying with much consistency – we have used skittles, stickers, iPhones, stories, coersion and bribery all to no avail.  I know our mistake was the lack of consistency and my honest reluctance to give up diapers.  I hate public bathrooms so much (I am a huge germaphobe) that I would rather change a poopy diaper in the car than have my kid sit on a public toilet seat.  She is going to be 3 in November, is super smart and interested, but I never really gave her the chance.  Also, we were planning and did eventually take a month-long vacation that I thought would make all this too difficult.  So, no more excuses, and here we go! 

We are on day 2 of the 3 day method and things are going well!  On day one, we threw out all her diapers and said that she was going to be wearing undies from now on.  We basically spent the day telling her to ‘remember to tell mama and dada if you have to pee or poop!’ and let her initiate the potty visits.  If we saw an accident occurring we rushed her to the bathroom and let her finish on the potty.  She had a few small accidents in the morning, woke up from her nap wet, but other than that she did great.  She pooped on the potty and did 4 pees on the potty as well.  Today was even better!  Other than waking up wet – no big surprise – she kept dry and clean all day except for a few dribbles.  She is high on chocolate and has about a million stickers but she is feeling the thrill of being a big girl!  I am so excited to not have to scrape sh*t out of her butt crack anymore you have NO idea!  Why didn’t I do this sooner?

Any success stories/nightmare anecdotes to share about potty training?  Feel free to add a comment!

Welcome to therealmomblog.wordpress.com!

Hello and Welcome!  This is my first post on my new blog – therealmomblog.wordpress.com!  I was inspired to create this blog as a forum for mothers (and fathers – you are welcome too!) who crave honesty and openness when talking about topics related to motherhood, pregnancy, fertility and relationships.  I will be posting updates on my daily trials, tribulations and joys related to my own journey through motherhood.  As well, I will be posting information related to my previous experiences ranging from pregnancy to raising toddlers, topical issues in the news related to parenting, and there will also be features such as a Weekly Top 5 and product/book reviews.  I hope you will post comments and help me create a forum for mothers where we can be honest and open.