Wednesday, December 26, 2007

A Green Christmas

The months and weeks leading up to Christmas this year had left me feeling a little jaded about the entire holiday. I saw so many people wandering aimlessly down aisles filled with crap, looking for whatever random object fit into their budget, their wish list and their cart. I saw kids making their Christmas wish lists by walking down the aisle at Wal-Mart and pointing, "I want this! And I want that!" It really made me feel ill. We were shorter on money this year than we have been in the past what with baby coming and me leaving work so it was even harder to find nice things for the people that we love. I did a lot of baking and gave that away which worked well and we managed to find something special for each person on our list but it did make me think a lot about Christmas and what it all means. I made a promise to myself that next year I would make a point of buying things made in Canada, with less packaging and using recycled wrapping paper. Christmas doesn't have to be such a huge waste of energy, spirit and money.

As it turns out, I didn't really have to worry. We did well by our family and we all, without discussing it amongst ourselves, obviously made an effort to keep Christmas reasonable and green. My brother had the best wrapping idea ever and gave each of us our Christmas presents in a green, re-usable shopping bag - a gift in itself! I got dryer balls, all natural laundry soap and cleaners, books and organic clothes for the baby. (I also got the most beautiful diamond earrings from Brian - I'm so lucky!) There were bamboo socks, organic, fair trade chocolates and was good. Nobody went crazy and everyone had obviously put a lot of thought and consideration into their gifts - it made for a wonderful Christmas.

I have decided to go off line for the next little while. The internet has started to take up a lot of time in my life and for the next little while I will allow myself to be consumed entirely by sleeping, spending time with family and friends and eating whenever and whatever I can.

Also, to those of you who traditionally might receive Christmas cards from me? Ummm...I've written up about 25 cards and even addressed them but to be perfectly honest, I probably won't mail them. My apologies. If it makes you feel any better I promise I will recycle them.

Saturday, December 22, 2007


Yesterday was my last day of work...what a week. I honestly don't think I've ever been so close to having a mental breakdown as I was last night. With Christmas coming, the fact that I'm not sleeping well (could be related to the 20 pound bulge in my stomach and the peeing 6x a night) and the things I needed to finish before work was over I was completely in over my head. I walked in the door last night with an hour to spare before family arrived and a bomb site of a house and my chest caved in. I felt like I couldn't breathe and the room started spinning. My only thought was "Oh good...I'm going to be put in the hospital and they'll give me something so I can sleep and take care of me...this will be wonderful." but I stayed conscious and vertical and very much disappointed.

This morning I feel much better and I managed to sleep last night. Today we (my brother Craig is visiting) are going to ice Christmas cookies and meet my Mum at the Farmer's Market for coffee.

Leaving work has been a far more emotional event that I originally anticipated. I thought that at this point I would be overjoyed to be done with the daily commute and all the office politics that drove me wild for so many months. But wouldn't you know it? Work has been better in the last 4-5 months than it had ever been and I was really starting to feel good about my position and the organization and where it was all heading. I had a new team in place who I adored and have found myself feeling sad about the prospect of not seeing those people every day. I'm hoping this will be just like high school - where it all feels so monumental and sad until you realize that really, it's neither and that there are better things waiting for you.

Either way, I'm off for Christmas, I'm about to make waffles for breakfast and my husband who had disappeared as of late is back and finished exams and best of all? It's nearly Christmas!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Upper Crusty

This baby thing is weird. It's obviously not something I've done before and at times I feel completely overwhelmed by the options and gadgets and decisions and things that have to be bought or planned. I decided a long time ago that I was going to take a very minimalist approach to baby and so far have done just that. I've always gotten a kick out of saving money and finding a deal and this has extended, maybe even become exaggerated, with baby items. What has surprised me is the reaction I have encountered from other people and other mothers-to-be.

So far I have bought almost every item of clothing from EBay or a similar local site called I've found fantastic deals on mostly new clothes and some gently used ones and they are all so cute! Why on earth would I pay 3 or 4 times the price for something that the baby will only wear a handful of times and most likely vomit on? I bought a stroller this past weekend for a huge discount as well as a bassinet/play pen combo. Everything is in great condition and clean and did I mention WAY CHEAPER!? The other thing I've tried to do is really stop and think about what the baby will need. Does it need to vibrate and swing to the sounds of dolphins and waves crashing against the sand? Probably not. You wouldn't believe how much stuff is out there for babies...prenatal education systems, brain gyms, activity mats, swingers, rockers, bouncers and jumpers, chairs that stay erect, chairs that recline, pillows to keep them on their backs, pillows to keep them on their tummys, strollers with piped in music, double cup holders and thermometers, even computers to help you record what time your baby last ate, slept, was changed, or made a sound. In my opinion it's Brian and I have made every effort to keep it to a minimum and only buy what we think we'll need. If we find that we're missing something we can always buy it later. (Besides, once all the Chinese recalls are made on this stuff they'll be even more affordable!)

You wouldn't believe some of the reactions I've encountered about our approach. " mean, they're used? Like, another baby already wore that dress?" Yup, a dirty baby...who may even have been from another country." Many of the women I've spoken too, both in person and online in the "baby cults", are obsessed with getting the newest, most expensive items. A lot of them already have things from their last kid but still want to buy everything new for this kid. I've asked a few mothers-to-be about strollers and what they recommend and without fail I have been told to buy a Bugaboo. "The stroller that looks like it was made by NASA and costs over $700?" "Yeah, but they are really good and can go over anything and they come in cute colours." For $700 they would have to breastfeed the baby, not just hold it.

I guess I owe my ever-expanding collection of really cute, really cheap baby necessities to the very women I don't understand. If they weren't over-purchasing really expensive items and selling them to me for half the cost than I wouldn't have the nice things that I do. So thank you to the consumer-driven women of this city. Thanks for always having to have the best and newest and trendiest...I salute you. (And am especially grateful that you've recently decided to flood the market with used Bumbo chairs just in the nick of time).

Monday, December 03, 2007

Advice from a pregnant lady...

Never, ever, underestimate the importance of wearing underwear that fits.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

The Magi

I find Calgary a soulless place at times...everyone seems in a rush to be somewhere (someone) else and they don't seem to stop for one another. I've heard that it didn't used to be this way and I know that for many long time Calgarians they have found the change difficult and frustrating. Today I was in the mall and an older woman was standing in front of me. The minute I got behind her in line (with an awesome new Christmas dress in my hands incidentally) she struck up a conversation. This struck me as odd because typically I find malls to be an exaggerated version of all things wrong with the world and that day in particularly had confirmed it for me. Three people had cut me off in the parking lot while I was trying to park. At one point two people in front of me got out of their cars and started yelling at each other violently over who had started signaling first. So, when this lovely little lady was so warm and kind I guess it sort of caught me off guard. The little lady was holding a beautiful pair of red velvet pyjamas with gold trim (Jones New York $75...I'm such a snoop) and was telling me that her brother in law was in hospital with heart problems. The woman was from India and I had to laugh as I imagined some little Indian man wearing these women's red pyjamas in his hospital bed. I started telling her about the Heart & Stroke Foundation and how she could get further information on pacemakers and heart surgery and she seemed very happy to be talking. That is when she pulled a crumpled page from her coat pocket and unfolded it to show me the very pyjamas she was holding. "My brother-in-law saw these beautiful pyjamas in the flyer and before he went to the hospital he made me promise to get them" she said. "These exact ones. That is why I am here." I smiled and nodded and told her that it was nice of her to do that for him. "He was very worried that I would not be able to find them," she said, "and he wanted to make sure that his wife got these exact pyjamas in case he does not make it through his surgery." The moment she said this, my heart sort of stopped. Tears sprang to my eyes immediately - I thought it was the most romantic thing I had ever heard. This man, who is in his late 70's, is facing major surgery and worried he might die and his greatest concern is that his wife be left with the most beautiful, expensive velvet pyjamas.

These are the stories we miss when we stop listening...when we stop stopping. These little pieces of lives and loves, the very things that make it all worthwhile. Meeting this woman in the line up and hearing the story of an older couple who I do not know was the highlight of my day. Her story filled my heart with love and hope for the little man, who I hope gets better, and his wife who will be wearing her beautiful red pyjamas.