Wednesday, December 31, 2008

To Paisley: Eleven Months Old

This past month has been a whirlwind of dinner parties, cleaning, cooking and other Christmas related activities. Your Dad and I have been thinking, and talking, a lot about families, traditions and what we want Christmas to look like for you as you grow up. We definitely don't want the focus to be on material goods which is partly why we didn't really buy you any presents this year. That and the fact that you have everything you could ever need or want and routinely snub toys for the packages they came in. We want Christmas to be about family, and spending quality time with the people you love. Getting together at Christmas really brought it home that you are the newest member of a great group of people. Everyone got so much joy from seeing you and spending time with you and it felt good to see you being so loved. I am glad we have so many more Christmases to look forward to.




I weaned you this month and I was so, so sad about it. I had every intention of nursing you until at least a year and probably much longer. Until you bit me or said "Mom, really, I would prefer a peanut butter sandwich if you don't mind" - whichever came first. I've been having all kinds of issues with my thyroid since you were born and as a result have been really struggling to lose weight. Another side effect is that my milk production dribbled to almost nothing and you were starting to lose weight. When I realized what this meant for you, and for me and our precious, warm moments together I was so upset. I didn't feel ready to give that up yet and I felt like a failure. It was hard for me but the idea that you were going to bed hungry was much harder yet. So, I moved you to a bottle and you never looked back. You took to the bottle so quickly and the rejection stung a little. But you're happy and putting on weight and HALLELUJAH!! sleeping through the night consistently. I wish I could have nursed you for longer but the first rule of motherhood has been learned: I am not in control.

This month I bought you some super shoes. They are designed for babies learning how to crawl/walk and they have been great. The laminate flooring in our house is nice and all but it offers no traction for your tiny little socked feet. Once you put on your shoes you can climb the stairs, and have even started crawling like a "normal" baby. I always loved your little army crawl but had a hard time with the holes in the bellies of your sleepers. Now, you use a hybrid of both, crawling for the most part but when you need to get somewhere fast, you drop to your tummy and drag yourself like a slug on crack. You have also started making this very funny/ugly face and I don't really know what it means. It's definitely happy and although it may not be cute in the traditional sense, I laugh every time you do it. Which might be why it isn't going away.


You are standing up on everything still and love your walker. The walker provides you with independence, options and the ability to actually, well, walk. A couple of weeks ago you stood up against the electric fireplace in the living room, which unbeknownst to me, was on. I was in the kitchen and as soon as I hear that cry, I knew something was wrong. I ran in, scooped you up and put your little hand under cold water. You wouldn't stop crying and I didn't know how to help you. I gave you Tylenol, I cuddled you , I fed you, I talked to you and while you tried heroically to be happy, I knew you were in pain. By the time your Dad came home we were both in tears. Your tender skin blistered and I felt like the worst mother on the planet. That night you whimpered in your sleep but by morning you were back to normal. The whole episode gave me a fright - being a mother is a huge job with a lot of responsibility and sometimes it scares me. Sometimes I would prefer to abdicate to someone else...someone with advanced medical training, a PhD in both child psychology and Nutrition and who can fly around the room using only an umbrella.


I remember putting up the Christmas tree this time last year - it was romantic, peaceful and full of expectation for the things to come. This year it was the three of us. You ripped the box of ornaments to pieces and ate a part of the tree. I'm so glad you're here.



Love,
Mama

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas!

I had a realization yesterday that left me feeling a little sad, somewhat nostalgic but also very lucky. With Christmas quickly approaching and it being Paisley's first I have of course, been thinking about my own Christmases gone by. I loved this time of year as a child and there was a sense of magic that I can recall, if I can't explain. I have such fond memories of parties, fancy dresses, Santa, dancing, music, delicious food, anticipation, warmth, love and happiness. Christmas was, and is, my favourite time of the year. As I grew older, that magic started to dissipate. I still enjoyed Christmas but the wonder was gone. I had always assumed that when I had children of my own that it would return. Yesterday it dawned on me that in fact, that magic was gone forever. I have no doubt that it will be better as Paisley grows up and that I will recapture some of that excitement and anticipation but since I will be the one doing the cooking, wrapping the gifts, organizing the parties and trying to limit the intake of sweets, it will be different. No presents will magically appear on Christmas morning, no wonderful smells will escape from the kitchen while I lie on the living room floor with a book, no one will carry me up to bed, past the Christmas decorations and lights while I lie in a sleepy haze, full of turkey and chocolate. It made me a little sad but at the same time, very happy that I have those memories at all. Some kids didn't have what I had growing up and that would be far, far worse. The best I can do is make sure that Paisley has those same warm, magical recollections when she is older. And maybe, when I'm in my nineties, I'll lose my faculties and swear I saw Santa coming up the drive, will sing dirty Christmas carols with abandon and I'll be lucky enough to have Paisley carry me up to bed.

My family is heading to the Delta Kananaskis today for Christmas. I am really excited to get away and relax. They have all kinds of programs running like yoga, sleigh rides, skating, tobogganing and of course, tons of food (and no dirty dishes to clean!) to eat so it should be a blast. A Merry Christmas to all of you out there and I hope that you all have a safe, warm, and happy holiday!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Caroline's Life: December 21, 1991

5:32pm In my Bedroom

I'm so scared about what the teachers are going to say about my attitude, its gotten worse since my report card! I kinda like Colin Lush in my class but he's gonna ask Lindsay out. Lindsay is just being a tease. Antoine is a good friend of mine, Colin liked me majorly a while ago but now he does.t/ I'm never gonna make it in life, it's soooooo scary. I don't know what I want for Christmas yet!

I have a few things I really want to do this year:
Dancing: (Fast but mostly ballet, slow etc.) I'll dance in my room in front of the mirror.

Skating: What I really want to do. Go to the rink outside or the arena and practice.

Gymnastics: Stretch exercises and do splits in my room.

Drama: I don't really know what I want to do about this. I could practice crying and making faces in my mirror.

My Uncle Mac and Auntie Dee are coming tomorrow, I can't wait. For xmas I want:
A pair of Vans
Guess? Jeans
An Abercrombie & Fitch sweatshirt
A Polo rugby shirt
My ears pierced again
A Skirt

Well, I gotta go right now, I've decided to be myself at school, forget about popularity or guys, just be everyones friend. Almost Merry Christmas!

Love, Carrie


(Carrie existed for about as long as the cheer leading did - so maybe 3 months? Three syllables was apparently too many to shout out when you were throwing pom poms in the air so I became Carrie. Ugh.)

Monday, December 01, 2008

To Paisley: Ten Months Old

Ten is a round number. It is substantial and in years would mark a decade. For some reason, ten months has held unusual significance for me and so this past month hasn't been wonderful, in fact I've felt sort of sad. You are growing so fast and every day you learn something new. You are exploring, growing, eating, singing, laughing...all the things you are supposed to do and boy oh boy do I wish some days that you would just stop.


I'm not ready for you to be a "kid" yet. I'm not ready for you to start walking or talking or to stop being my little baby. I can't believe how quickly you are changing and quite frankly, it scares the hell out of me. One morning, a few weeks ago I went into your room just as you were waking up from your morning nap. Waking up from this nap is usually a happy affair, with very little crying. I usually hear you chattering away to yourself in your crib and leave you for ten minutes before I make an entrance. This day was no different, except, it was. I went in and as usual you were standing up and grinning away at me. And, for a fleet second I caught a glimpse of an older you. A grown up you and you looked different to me. Maybe I was hormonal, maybe you had a growth spurt in your sleep, either way you looked different somehow and less like a little baby. My world sort of froze for a second and then I scooped you up and cuddled into your neck and took a deep breath. You smelled like sleep and baby and a little bit like sour milk and I cried. I held you and cried while you ma-ma-ma'd in my ear because my heart was hurting from so much love.


We started this month on a high note. The United States elected Barrack Obama to be their next President and your Dad and I couldn't have been happier. In some weird way I felt relief that maybe the world would be a little safer, a little better for you despite the fact that he'll be gone by the time you grow up and oh yes, we're Canadian. Still, Obama's election signified a turning point that I am hoping will continue for many years. Despite your Dad's best efforts, you still haven't said "Obama".

You have three teeth now and another one nearly though! This really helps you in your efforts to climb, well, THE WORLD, since now you can grab onto table ledges and bookcases with your mouth and you really get a grip. You are climbing into, onto and under everything in your sight and while it can get tiring to have to chase you around the house I have to admit that I get a kick out of it. I was that kid too, who couldn't see the point of playing with toys from a toy box when you could be IN or even ON the toy box. I take you to the mall where there is a play area for kids and you love it! All the other kids in there are walking or at the very least crawling like normal babies but that doesn't stop you. You love the kids and you will drag your little limbs right into the thick of things and yell and squeal and laugh. It is great to watch and I love to watch the looks on the faces of the toddlers when they are bowled over by a blur of pink, dragging her self around the floor.


We are still trying to figure out who you look like and so far, no solid conclusions. I see your Dad in you sometimes and sometimes your little cousin Eden and very often, your Great Grandma Hannah. I have been looking for myself and was always a bit sad when I couldn't see it. And now? Well, now I know exactly where I fit in. Your personality is very similar to mine and I often laugh at how things turn out. I was such an energetic, rambunctious and intense kid and so far, you are very much the same. You are always happy but happiest when you are busy, surrounded by other kids and lots of people to play with. It's good that I'm the same because I have no qualms about getting down and playing with you, or letting you climb anything you want. I know what it feels like to be so excited by the world that you can hardly stand it and I'm happy that we can stand there, shaking with anticipation, laughing and drooling...together.



Love,
Mama

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

A New Day...

I have refrained from posting about the US election on my blog because I felt like once I started it might be difficult to stop. I have been following the candidates and the election very closely and despite its length, never really tired of it. I guess it was because there was just so much at stake. No matter what happened or who was elected, this was never going to be just another presidential election. There was a vibe, a general sense of breath holding, that guaranteed that America would be fundamentally affected or even changed by what happened on November 4th.

I am so happy that Obama won. I watched his victory speech this morning and cried. I watched Americans in the streets and at the rallies and I felt connected to them for the first time in a long time. The speech was incredible and moving and full of promise. I felt hopeful for the future of the US and I have to say, I haven't felt that way for a long time either.

I was never anti-McCain. I think as far as Republican candidates go he wasn't that bad. Any support he may have had from me went out the window when he chose Palin however. Having said that - I like her. If I got stranded in Alaska I would love to have a beer with her. Hang out, shoot the shit. But I do not think she would be a good vice-president. Hell, I'm surprised she's even a Governor. McCain represented the status quo. Not necessarily in that he would be an extension of the Bush regime but that he was an old white guy with old white guy ideas. America has been going in the wrong direction for quite a long time and it needs someone with a radical sense of purpose and a strong moral compass. Obama will get shit done.

While it is not a good reason to vote for him, you cannot ignore the deep psychological impact Obama's victory will have on the African American population. When I think of the struggles the blacks have endured over the last two hundred years in the States and the crippling effect of slavery and racism I cannot even begin to imagine the renewed sense of emancipation this must have. How strong and free and hopeful they must feel. It really does feel like a new day - a new opportunity to set things right.

I have heard the term "the Canadianization of America" a few times now in reference to Obama (I'm sure this term is not being bandied about south of the border) and I suppose in some ways it is true. Obama's approach to taxes, energy and health care are all very Canadian in style. I guess after watching the most recent economic crisis from a comparably stable market (made so partly by government regulation and restrictions) I can't help but feel like that might not be a bad thing. Canadians would have voted for Obama overwhelmingly - a statistic which is also true for most of the world. The only polled countries who would have elected McCain were Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam and the Republic of Georgia. In fact, the only country where it was even close was the United States. What does it say that the rest of the world is celebrating today along with America? People in London, Paris, Asia, Africa, Canada, India and South America are celebrating. I can't help but feel like America fell behind over the last few years. That the rest of the world moved forward and grew and is now cheering the US on as it stands up, brushes itself off and reclaims its position as leader, enforcer of freedom, civil rights and equality. The world wants the US to be great again.

I will admit that it may not be his policies that got Obama elected (though I personally don't take issue with any of them really). Maybe it is a backlash against Bush, maybe it's the hype or the possibility of change. But to me, it doesn't really matter. This is a new day and a new leader with a strong vision. After years of scare tactics, fear mongering and heavy, pervasive ignorance, some hope might be just what the United States, and the rest of the world, needs.

Friday, October 31, 2008

To Paisley: Nine Months Old (Happy Halloween!)

Yesterday we went to a Halloween party with a bunch of Moms that I didn't know and you were wearing your little Halloween costume. You were the youngest kid there but that didn't stop you. You pulled yourself around the floor, tried to talk to the kids and kept smiling and babbling at everyone. I couldn't stop watching you Paisley. I was so in love with you and your sweet personality and this lobster on the floor who suddenly wasn't a little baby anymore.



This month has probably seen the most changes of any month so far. Your personality is shining through and you have no trouble communicating what, or who, you want. You are dragging yourself around like mad and despite the obvious lack of leg use, you are quick and determined. You have teeth - TWO teeth and you use them on everything. You mostly like to bit my nose. You have so much more hair and it has taken on this beautiful strawberry blond sheen. You say "Mama" (and "Ba ba" so your Dad has been trying to teach you to say "Obama". No such luck.) and every time you do my heart skips a beat. You stand up in your crib. You can pull yourself up on things. You tipped over a plant and ate our camera charger and started eating finger food and love to be pulled around in the laundry basket "train". You put your arms up when you want me and you arch your back and demand to be put down when you are tired. You laugh when I make the bed or wear my glasses and you squeal with delight when you realize you're standing up. You know what you want and while that has made things a wee bit harder, it has also made life vastly more interesting.


On Thanksgiving weekend we went down to Whitefish, Montana for a wedding. You were so good and so cute in your little velvet dress that one of the little boys asked of he could dance with you. He must have been four and came up to our table while dinner was still being served and asked if he could dance with the baby. I told him he could but that he would have to wait for the music to start. He returned to ensure his place on your dance card at least 3 times again before the dancing had even begun. When it did he came to escort you (and me by extension since you can't walk) and you had your very first dance with a boy named Sam Trussle in Montana.


(Wow. What a horrible picture of me. My legs look like tree trunks. Smooth tree trunks with big knees.)

I have been training for a 10k race for the past few months and last weekend I ran the Halloween Howl for the Alberta Diabetes Foundation. It was a beautiful, sunny fall morning and as I ran along the river I thought of you and of the many times I had taken you out in the jogging stroller. I always think of you when I am running. I want you to be proud of me and to see me doing things that inspire you and motivate you. I want physical activity and nature to be a part of your life. I often imagine myself going for runs with you alongside on your bike, pigtails blowing in the breeze. I imagine running a marathon with you and your Dad waiting for me at the finish line. This might explain why I also tend to cry when I run.


Far too many people have kids by default without ever really stopping to think about what it will be like or what sacrifices they will have to make. I have always thought it is good to not have kids if you don't want them and never felt like those people would be missing out on anything. Now, while I still support the idea of choosing to be childless I secretly feel sorry for them. Having you has changed the way I look at myself and at my own childhood. Until I had you I never, ever realized how much I was loved. I think back now about different times in my life and they suddenly make sense. I now understand the panic when we would stray too far far from home or the time my brother was nearly hit by a car, how my mother screamed and was still upset long after the car was gone. I now know why my Mom was so upset when I got a tattoo and "ruined my perfect back". Because for many years, my back was hers. She rubbed it to lull me to sleep and made sure it was clean, and dry. Some part of her felt a sense of ownership I'm sure. I remember as a child how deeply I loved my parents and I remember thinking that there was no way they could love me as much as I loved them. I was so, so wrong. Having you has not only made my present richer and given me focus for our future, it has also made my history that much sweeter.


Love,
Mama

Monday, October 27, 2008

Monitor

Lights flashing like a police car chasing
or a landing strip in the thick black night.
Luminescent cues.
Each dot a quantum of discontent.
Three dots mean she’s awake but willing to be alone.
Five dots, the need is rising. It is past the point of no return.
8 dots or more? Get her out of there. Now.
She screams. Yells. Demands.

They flash me from slumber, alerting me.
I count the dots. Look at the clock.
Will it last? How long do I leave it?
My eyes are bleary, my brain even more so.
My body is heavy as I drag it out of my warm bed
and into the hallway. Into her white and pink room.
My husband is quiet and sleeping. He does not know I've gone.
She is always propped up on elbows waiting for me.

She stops crying the moment I pick her up. She is happy now.
She wanted me. Like no one has ever wanted me.
I feed her and hold her close.
Her hands are cold as she runs them over my breast.
Frantic at first and then slowly, as though petting a dog.
I am forced into consciousness when my milk lets down.
Little bolts of electricity that surge through each nipple.
Tingling at four o’clock in the morning.

I become fully awake as I sit, trying not to wake.
She gulps and sighs rhythmically. A soothing sound
of pleasure and sustenance. I hear the house settle.
Sounds of neighbours fighting, making love, playing video games.
Her sucking slows as she starts to drift. A pause and then
she starts again. Making sure I am still there.
After she is full, she collapses like a rag doll. Asleep before her
lips have left my skin.

I lay her down and kiss her face.
Fleece blankets pulled to chin and over toes.
I slip from the room and back into my own bed.
It has grown cold in my absence. I lie awake.
My husband is asleep and facing the wall.
The monitor is silent and dark. No flashing lights or need
for assistance. Just me, awake, and wishing for some strange reason
That she would call me back.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Post Natal, Asthmatic, Diabetic Ass Kicker


I ran a 10k race today. I feel so proud and so happy that I can't wait to do another race. I remember when I first started running after Paisley was born I would run 2 minutes, walk 1 minute. The goal was to eventually make it to 10 minutes. The first time I did 20 minutes I was ecstatic. And half dead. And today I ran for an hour. I can't believe how far I've come and how much I've enjoyed the process. I wasn't always a runner. I ran sprints through high school and scorned anything longer than 400m. I remember trying to run in University. I hated it. I would sweat and feel sick and usually get injured after a week of running. Then I discovered the 10 and 1 approach at the Running Room.

John Stanton, the Running Room cult leader/founder advocates a 10 minute run followed by a minute of walking. It doesn't matter of you're a marathon runner or a weekend runner, you stop for a minute and walk. It isn't long enough to really lose momentum or pace but it does prevent injury and has made running enjoyable for me.

Anyway, today I started the race on a beautiful sunny fall day. At about the 4km mark I rounded the corner to see Brian wearing Paisley in the Bjorn - he was cheering me on. I can't really describe how I felt when I first saw them both there. Proud, touched, special, unstoppable, thankful and in love - all at once. So I made some lame ass joke about Weird Al Yankovic playing on my iPod because when I feel like my heart might explode with feeling, that is what I do.

I crossed the finish line at 1:03 which since the course was actually 10.3 km I figure is about an hour for the 10k. I met both my goals: to do the race in an hour and to finish it smiling. I never thought the smiling part would be so easy.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Two Nerds in a Yellow Wood


Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;


Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,


And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.


I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.


Robert Frost 1920
Interpreted by Brian West 2008

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

To Paisley: Eight Months Old

Autumn has always been my favourite season, even though it makes me feel a little sad and nostalgic. The falling leaves remind me of my childhood for some reason and of course, of the summer that has past. This fall has been gorgeous and although the leaves have all turned yellow, the days are as sunny and warm as they were this summer. You and I have tried to make the most of the nice weather and have been getting outside as much as we can. My Grandma firmly believed that a baby must be outside every single day and I think of her often. We go outside every day - even if it's just to sit on the front step and watch the squirrels. You love being outside and I think it's good for both of us to get fresh air.


I started working again this month. A contract writing job sort of just fell into my lap and I grabbed onto it with more voracity than I would have expected. I was happier to be working than I thought I would. It's funny how sometimes life gives you exactly what you need before you even know you need it. The job is just a few hours a week but I have loved having something else to think about besides you, and how clean the house is. I have always loved cleaning but if I have too much time on my hands, and too much time in the house, it starts to mean more to me than it should. It's not normal to see shoes left at the front door as a personal insult.

You and your Dad started swimming lessons this month and it's going, well, swimmingly. The first Saturday of lessons your Dad said to me (while heading out the door) "So this is for Dads and babies right? I won't be the only guy in the pool will I?"
"Um, nope. It's for parents and babies. So, yah, you might be the only guy in the pool. Have fun!"
Then I pushed you both out the door, locked it, got naked, threw on some Holly McNarland, made myself 6 pina coladas and enjoyed the first half hour I had had to myself in eight months (well, 17 if you want to get technical). As it turns out, I wasn't the only Mom securing herself some free time and the swimming class consisted mostly of Dads. I think it's great that you two have this thing together and Paisley, I have to say, not every girl can rock a two piece like you do.


You are sitting up now! You could sit up when you were 7 months technically but it wasn't reliable. You would usually topple over or fall forward so that you were stuck in a very uncomfortable looking position. Now you sit and you stay sitting. You can play and move and very rarely fall over. You are also getting very mobile. One day a couple of weeks ago I looked over and you had somehow managed to make your way from the living room into the dining room. I was so shocked when I looked over and you were three feet closer to me than you were a few minutes before. You are FAST! I still don't know how you did it but I was impressed. You grab more, climb more, roll more and just generally interact with the world (which apparently still consists mostly of my face and hair) more than you did when you were little. You have discovered the baby in the mirror and you love visiting with her. You smile, talk and grab at her face. It's pretty cute.


The last few weeks have been hard on me and your Dad. For some reason you started waking up in the night again - sometimes three of four times a night. That coupled with you needing more of my energy during the day has left me feeling tired and drained at times. I had read all kinds of websites and books saying I should let you cry it out or not pick you up from your crib during the night. Maybe they are right but at the end of the day it just doesn't feel right. When you cry I go in and I cuddle you and feed you and within minutes you are back asleep. If it continues there may come a point where I will change my approach but right now this feels right. Exhausting but right. I can't help but think that it won't be very long until I won't be able to make things all better and soothe you the way I can now so I might as well enjoy it while it lasts.


You are still gummy and toothless and teething. I had no idea that teething could last so long! You chew on everything and then, after it is dripping in drool, you inspect it like a scientist. Looking at it intently, close up, then far away, every corner, then tasting it again. You seem to have developed a real love for the handsets from our phone and will stare at them from across the room. This morning I gave you my cell phone about a minute before the alarm was set to go off. At 7:30 it started to ring and light up and vibrate whilst in your chubby little fist/mouth/fist. You looked at it, like "Wait a goddamn minute. What is going on here?" and then you smiled. It was a funny smile, a smile of recognition. "Oh, right. That vibrating, ringing thing. It's YOU."


Because you were born a month early, this birthday marks the point at which you have been in the world longer than you were in my belly. I remember the first three months of being pregnant felt like a year, and then the other five felt like another year. These past eight months with you have been the fastest eight months of my entire life. That might just be because they have also been the best.

Love,
Mama

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Some Things That Recently Clicked

I don't know that I have been any more contemplative this week than I normally am but for some reason I have experienced a few of those moments where I've heard something and have experienced an almost audible click, as my puny little brain shifted gears into an entirely new way of thinking:

1. I was listening to CBC's Tapestry and they had a Jewish philosopher on there discussing their belief in soul traits. In short, they attempt to retrain the soul so that whatever it's impulse is, let's say anger, is replaced by something more positive. The example they gave was a mother who would often yell at her daughter over the smallest of things. After retraining her soul, she learned a new way to cope with her feelings and when something bad happened she would visualize the two options (to yell, or to speak calmly and respectfully). Anyway, the guest was saying that when that mother chose to speak nicely to the daughter instead of berating her, she was not only giving a gift to her daughter but to her grandchildren. Her grandchildren would have a better mother because of her actions. This same sentiment can be extrapolated to many of the relationships in our lives - by being a good wife I will teach Paisley what a healthy marriage looks like. By being kind to her and treating her with respect, I will make her a stronger woman, a better mother and a happier person. This is not news to anyone but I had never really thought about it beyond Paisley. I had never considered the grandchildren and great-grandchildren who stand to benefit from my behaviour.

It also made me feel very lucky that I had the parents and family that I did. Now I recognize that I am not the only one to benefit from the things I learned growing up. Paisley will benefit from having a mother that was never treated unfairly, never berated or belittled and never disrespected. It makes every experience and opportunity all the more valuable.

2. Brian gets a daily atheist quote on his iGoogle and read one of them to me last week:
"...even believers are strong atheists – they deny the existence of hundreds of gods. Atheists like me merely deny one more god than everyone else already does – in fact, I deny the existence of the same god already denied by believers in other gods, so I am not doing anything that billions of people don’t do already." Richard Carrier, Sense and Goodness Without God

This one resonated more than the others had for some reason. Atheism is often so vilified that I can't help but internalize it just a little. This made so much sense to me - billions of people who believe in Allah do not believe in Vishnu. Billions of people who consider themselves Christians do not believe in Allah. Every religious person is more atheist than they are believer - there are hundreds, even thousands of Gods to choose from and religious people choose to not believe in any of them except one (or I suppose several if you are Hindu). As an atheist I believe in one measly god less than everyone else.

3. I knew that having a baby would change me. I knew it would make me more tired, maybe more emotional, more protective and less able to have an adult conversation. What I didn't count on was becoming fierce. I feel stronger, more confident, more capable, better equipped, less scared and more determined than I ever had. I don't really know why this would happen and to be honest it's a little counter-intuitive since I spend a lot more time at home, alone, sometimes in a bathrobe. Maybe it's nature giving me the qualities I need to protect my hut and the people in it or maybe it's the knowledge that I have a child to take care of. It's just as likely that after 9 months of pregnancy, 24 hours of labour, a 6 inch incision from which a a child emerged, and many sleepless nights I've turned into a raging bitch. :)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Funny Things That Happened This Week

1. A few weeks ago I put the book When You Are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris on hold at the Library. I was told that I was number 152 in line so I was very surprised when I got an email only a few days later telling me that my book was in. I picked it up and was surprised again by how thick it was. The book is a series of comedic essays and those types of books tend not to be tomes. I opened the front cover (apparently missing the "Disability Services" sticker on the jacket) to see this:

My friend Patsy was telling me a story. "So I'm at the movie theatre," she said, "and I've got my coat all neatly laid out against the back of my seat, when this guy comes along -" And here I stopped her, because I've always wondered about this coat business.


So, apparently I received the large print edition. Which not only means I can read it from across the room but that I've discovered a giant loophole in the library hold system.

2. On a gardening show on CBC radio, one of the hosts kept referring to "succulent orbs". She kept saying it over and over and it reminded me of the SNL Sweaty Balls skit. I chuckled all afternoon.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Shrink Wrapped

This NYT article on the diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder in children really got to me. The kids described in the piece seemed so tortured and lost. I felt for their parents who must be totally overwhelmed and of course for the kids themselves who are trapped inside their own minds. Bipolar disorder, and all kinds of other mental illness and psycho-social disorders, have always intrigued me. I studied them a lot in my Neuroscience degree and have known enough people suffering from depression, bipolar etc. to know what these diseases can do to people's lives. At the same time, I worry about how often they are misdiagnosed and the ease with which so many doctors prescribe an antidepressant and send on you your way. There is no blood test or swab that will detect borderline personality disorder - it involves taking a history(the patients and their family's), a lot of self-reporting and some guess work. Sometimes it works, and I have seen people get well and thrive. Sometimes it doesn't.

When I was in my mid-twenties I was having a hard time. I felt overwhelmed by my emotions and I would often feel like there was a train running through my skull. This "train" of thoughts was so fast that I couldn't grab onto anything or verbalize what I was thinking. It was confusing and frustrating. Sometimes I felt so sad I would just sit in the bath tub for hours, crying. I felt alone and misunderstood and scared. I would go through bouts of joy where I felt like I was the coolest girl around. Other nights I would feel like a fraud. A failure at life. I would write long, agonizing poems about death and the futility of it all. Eventually, after many, many months of this I sought help. I went to a shrink. She asked me all kinds of questions about my family and my own life. It felt good to talk and have someone really listen to me. She diagnosed me with depression and gave me a prescription for Prozac. I made an appointment for the following week. The next week I sat down in her office again and low and behold if she didn't start asking me exactly the same questions she had asked the week before. At first I thought that maybe she thought I was some kind of compulsive liar and was fact-checking but soon realized that no, she had merely forgotten that she ever met me. It was the weirdest feeling. I never went back to her but I did keep taking the Prozac. I figured even if she was crazy, she was probably right about the depression and they might work. In the meantime, my family doctor had prescribed me Zyban (which is also known as Wellbutrin) and although I mentioned the Prozac she didn't make note of it. The combination of those two drugs put me in hospital with some kind of seizure. I stopped both drugs but suffered from anxiety after that episode that would take years to go away.

About 6 months later, when the anxiety still hadn't lessened and I was still struggling I decided to seek help again. I went to the Alberta Mental Health Services and they made me an appointment with a psychiatrist. We sat down and talked for a long time. He was such a nice man. He asked me if I ever went shopping. I loved to shop but as a student didn't have a lot of money. I told him about how I would go and buy all kinds of nice things and then just return them the following week. He asked about my childhood, asked if I ever felt moody and I said yes. I remember drawing him a picture of how I felt - exaggerated ups and downs. He wrote a long letter (which I still have) diagnosing me with Bipolar Disorder. He wanted to try me on lithium. I never went back to see him either.

I do not have Bipolar Disorder and I doubt that I even had depression. Everyone was so quick to label me, to diagnose me, that they never asked enough questions. As soon as I came off birth control pills (which my doctor put me on to regulate my cycle - another approach I take real issue with now) my pendulum-like emotions evened out. I got out of a bad relationship and stopped partying. I went to bed at regular hours and started exercising. I ate better. All of a sudden, after years of feeling horrible, I felt in control again. I felt strong and capable and drug-free. I have always been incredibly sensitive to hormones and so I've stayed away from the birth control pill ever since then. I wish I could go back to that nice doctor. As a man I'm sure it never even occurred to him that hormones (that in effect were fighting against the rhythm of my own natural hormones) could simulate the same highs and lows as Bipolar. Or that most 21-year-old girls love to shop. Or that as a particularly sensitive person, I had always worried about things that were out of my control or felt overwhelmed by how big the world was. I didn't tell wild stories because I was in a manic phase, I did it because I was a wild story-teller since birth. I wish I could go back and tell him to think twice the next time he prescribes someone lithium after one meeting - I mean, really! What would have happened if I had filled that prescription too? I don't really even want to know.

This story illustrates one of the problems with diagnosing mental illness but I do not for one minute think it turns out this way for everyone. Some people really do have Bipolar, or Depression or Schizophrenia etc. (There are some disorders that I do take issue with, namely PMDD (Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder) since I witnessed its very creation shortly after the American Prozac patent expired and they needed to re-name it and re-brand it. Voila! A new drug for a new illness.) These people need kind, sensitive, professional care, not quick fixes. They need to be truly evaluated and any medications need to be part of an overall plan and should be monitored. It is alarming to think of what might have happened if I really did have depression or BPD and was left to monitor my own drugs, and just as alarming to consider what could have become of me had I stayed within the mental health system.

Just some of my own experiences and thoughts on what is always an emotional and complicated subject.

Friday, September 12, 2008

September

We went for a walk today.
Me, in the traditional sense, you sitting, propped in your stroller.
Rubber to the road.
The sun was shining hotter than most September days. It felt like summer.
You were dressed in a polka-dot shirt and pants.
Your pink, fat feet bathed in the sun as I pushed you down the path.

People smile at you. You smile back.
I can hear you singing and babbling.
Every few minutes I stop and pop my head around the stroller so that you see me.
You laugh. I feel better.
I give you a sip of water from my plastic bottle. You grab at it.
Cool liquid dribbles down your chin and onto your shirt.
You don’t even notice.

I spot a set of swings across the field and veer off the path.
We have no where to be but here. No reason to stay on course.
No course at all really.
I park the stroller under a tree and pull you out. You squint in the sun.
I plop you into the rubber swing and you know immediately what is about to happen.
You’ve done this once before.

I push you. At first, small pushes. You are only small.
When I see your face light up and hear you squeal, I push harder.
Big pushes. You are unstoppable. A force.
The breeze is cool and the sun is at my back.
I am young, you are much younger. I am so happy I feel dizzy.

We keep walking. I see a bench poised perfectly on the edge of a ravine.
Looking out over water.
You sit in my lap. I tell you about the trees and why they are turning yellow.
We see a caterpillar with spikes on its back. I have never seen one of those before,
I make a mental note to look it up in case, one day, we see another one.
I want to give you the right answer.

People run by.
We can hear the whistle of bicycle tires on the road before we see the cyclists.
You look up every time. A blur and then they are gone.
I am here to explain what that sound was. Where those people went.
There are grasshoppers. You watch them. Then you watch the sky. The grass. My face. My mouth.
Everything is so new.
For us.

Monday, September 01, 2008

To Paisley: Seven Months Old

The first few months of your life were fairly limited in scope. You went where we took you, ate when we fed you and went to sleep wherever, and whenever we put you down. Lately, you have become an active part of the world around you and are interacting with people and things much more. You tell us when you're tired, you want things and will reach for them if they are far away. For some reason you really like beer bottles. I blame your Dad. You drool without shame. You are trying to move and just this last week have started doing what your Dad and I refer to as "the worm". You can imagine what it looks like.


The world of food was opened up for you this month and so far, you've loved every bite. Okay, so there haven't been any bites per se but you have loved every food you've slurped on. The first few times we tried feeding you it mostly ended up on your face, in your ears and on your shirt. I was worried you didn't like it and would end up being that kid running home at recess for a quick snack on the boob. Once you got the hang of it though you went gangbusters. Sweet potatoes, green beans, peas (obviously somethings aren't genetic), carrots, peaches, mangoes, bananas, strawberries, prunes (obviously some things are genetic) and of course, cereal. You love it all. As soon as you see your sippy cup, which now signifies meal time, you start to grunt and shake. You vibrate and stare at me, mouth hanging open, until a spoon appears somewhere near the vicinity of this open mouth and you start to take wild mouthfuls of air until you hit spoon. Then you squeal, swallow and repeat. Later, in a gustatory salute, you barf.


I am enjoying being home with you so much that sometimes it surprises me. I had heard horror stories about the stress that having a baby can put on a marriage and how hard it can be to adjust. Maybe we're just lucky but things are better for me than I can ever remember. I am happier and more relaxed than I've ever been and things with your Dad and me are fantastic. Having you has cemented a good relationship into a great one and I don't really even know why. I have to admit that part of it is probably due to the fact that all the hours I used to spend thinking about the state of our marriage are now spent gazing at you. Your Dad has to talk about things (horrible things...like his feelings) a lot less and that's probably healthier. It's easier to feel like we are on the same team now since the evidence is always right there in front of us. Drooling.


You went on your first hike this month. You slept for most of the way down but you seemed to enjoy it. You also went to your first baseball game and watched the Okotoks Dawgs defeat the Swift Current Indians in the final game of the play offs. At one point during the game your Grandma spotted a friend of hers across the stadium and so she grabbed you and hoisted you above her head, beaming like she had just won the playoffs. I guess as far as Grandma's are concerned, she has won the playoffs. You went to Waterton and had a picnic with your Grandma and Grandpa Pierson. Usually when we go to Waterton we camp, but this time, mostly because I had visions of you being ejected from the tent every time your Dad or I rolled over, we stayed at a B&B. I made a little bed up for you on the floor and you slept like a log. We could hear the waterfall from our window and the evening was cool. I loved waking up that morning to see you lying there, smiling at me, and knowing that this was one of many adventures and trips that await our little family.


Still no teeth. But lots of drool...did I mention that yet? You are moving around in your crib a lot and twice now your Dad and I have found you wrestling the GIANT elephant that my Dad bought you. We have since moved it from the corner above your crib. You twist yourself in the blankets, kick things around and basically turn somersaults until one of us comes to get you. You are always happy and smiling and laughing. Oh that laughing - it gets me every time. My Mom always jokes that you are too good and that I don't deserve you. I know that isn't true, because, kiddo? We were made for each other.


Love,
Mama

Friday, August 29, 2008

Dance with the Devil

I have always had an intense and complicated relationship with the written word. At times, it has been my saviour, at others, an instrument of self-loathing. It tempts me, promises redemption and mocks me. It warms me, gives me purpose but often leaves me feeling vulnerable and unsatisfied. It has always been a part of who I am but I have to admit that it is a part that I have not always been quick to embrace. I have kept it at arms distance by either not writing at all or protecting myself from writing too much. I have dreamed of being a writer and at the same time, hidden any real writing away from any eyes but my own. The best writing I have done has been when I am down, restless and moody. Happy days do not invoke the written word.

I promised myself that this year would be different. I would let my writing go where it wanted; I would follow wherever it led me. I feel stronger than I ever had and more able to balance my life and my own mind. I have been writing everyday...poems, short stories, essays, scribblings. I have written dialogue, which is something I have always struggled with, and it has been good. I am enjoying it and surprising myself with what I can do. I am getting better and although I still cringe every time I read over what I have written and still feel like each word leaves my very being exposed and rotting in the open air, I am happy.

And I got a job today as a writer for a marketing and communications firm. Which means I am not just working at home, I am working from home. I like that. It justifies the Banana Republic dress I bought last week and allows for a whole new line in our family budget: Work Clothes.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Personal Inquisition

Neo-atheism, as it is increasingly called, tends to be loud, militant and, one could argue, even dogmatic. I have struggled with this version of atheism and with how my own beliefs and value fit within the community. When I first left the Catholic church (an act that required me to just stop going, as opposed to say, the Mormon Church which requires a letter and a formal resignation) and became an atheist I was more militant than I am now. I was quicker to dismiss believers, quicker to challenge people and their ideas. Now I am more willing to let things go and avoid the debate because I know that the likelihood of me actually changing any one's mind is near zero.

Having said that, I completely understand how angry and frustrated people like Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens must feel. When you see things around you that are completely wrong or immoral and the people doing them are using religion as a defense, it is hard to stomach. (While both Dawkins and Hitchens take issue with all religion, they share a particular dislike of fanatical religions and admit that some believers are neutral, even benevolent, in their approach to religion.) As a preeminent evolutionary biologist, Dawkins must want to rip his own hair out when the very existence of evolution and its principles are challenged by some grade 5 science teacher. It would be like someone coming to me and saying "I don't believe in diabetes." What do you mean you don't believe in diabetes? It's a fact. I have it. Would you like to see my blood tests, blood-sugar readings, and doctors reports? "That stuff doesn't matter. I don't believe in it." The only thing worse would be if hundreds of thousands of other people didn't believe in my diabetes and were teaching their kids not to believe in it either.

Anyway, back to my point.

I sympathize with the way these atheists feel and with the vigour with which they attack religion. I do not believe that religion is a positive thing. I think it has been, and continues to be, bad for the world and for people's individual lives. I think it limits creativity, kindness, cooperation and growth. I think it stifles individualism and feminism and dampens the human spirit. I would love my daughter to grow up in a world without religion, where science and reason are valued above superstition and faith. But I also want her to grow up in a world where people are free to believe what they want.

Therein lies the rub.

Dogmatic atheism, while understandable, risks falling into the same category as the religions it vilifies. If people are to accept atheism as a morally sound and enticing way of life, it will come by honey, not by vinegar. The acceptance we are looking for will come from gentle conversations, respect and people seeing that there is another viable option.

I suppose both approaches serve a purpose and perhaps there is room for both in the atheism movement. We want the same thing and I have to credit both Dawkins and Hitchens for bringing the debate into the public and selling SO MANY books. I love both of them and think they are incredibly intelligent, persuasive, comical and convincing, even if they are a little condescending. I guess if your job title includes the word "intellectual" or "thinker" you're probably entitled to be a little condescending.

I am still struggling with how to approach this in my own life. I do not want to be silent when I hear people say stupid things ("We're fasting for rain this week" for example. I mean, there's a test you can't fail. Only one thing will end a drought: rain. You'll get it eventually...) but I don't want to be rude either. I recognize how hated atheists are and I know the only way to change that is to speak out and be proud, and like the gay movement, ensure that everyone I know knows they know an atheist. (Did you like that sentence?) I don't want to stand by and condone faulty ideas with my silence but I also don't want to be confrontational. Although it is perfectly socially acceptable to talk about Jesus or angels or church, it is not yet acceptable to deny Jesus existed or balk at the idea of your little girl being called an angel on the grounds that she clearly exists. But we'll never get there if someone doesn't start doing these things.

When you feel so strongly about something it is hard to be quiet and just be. I suppose that's what got religion going in the first place. The question that remains to be answered is, with the neo-atheists leading the next Crusades, whether I'll be taking up arms or locking my door.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Green Giant

Yesterday my first Spud order came and I was quite chuffed with the whole process. I got a harvest box with fresh, local, organic produce and a few odds and ends. It gave me the total distance that my items had traveled in order to get to my door: 1411 km. I thought that seemed like a lot until I read that the average distance that things travel to get to the local grocery is just over 2500 km. Wow. Just another reason why someone needs to invent a machine like in Willy Wonka so you can send groceries across the country by breaking them into tiny pieces using television rays.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Hats Off

I won a CBC Olympic hat today on the radio. Seems that my nimble young fingers were able to out-dial all the crockety 80-year-old fingers who were also dialing in. Yay for me.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

To Paisley: Six Months Old

Last night I lay in bed, trying to fall asleep (why I don't know since I am perpetually tired) and I was thinking about how much my life has changed in the last six months. Only six short months ago I was awaiting your arrival (and still thinking I had plenty of time left!) and trying to imagine what you would look like and what it would feel like to be a Mom. I had only just finished work and did not yet know what my life as a stay-at-home-Mom would look like. It was just your Dad and I. We would lie in bed and talk about our day and invariably we would be interrupted by a kick or a hiccup and we would stop, and look in wonder at my giant belly. Who was in there?


Now, you are here and you are better than we ever imagined. I cannot really even remember being pregnant and the days of driving to work every day are long gone. Now, each day starts with you and ends with you. You wake up, sometimes crying but usually quite happy to lie in your crib and wait for us, and start my day with the most beautiful smile. Yesterday your dad snuck in early in the morning to get his suit out of your closet and found you happily lying there, beaming up at him. I get you up in the morning and we have a little chat. We usually stop at the mirror in the hall on the way downstairs and have a little mirror time. You love it when I run up very close to the mirror so that our noses are almost touching the glass and then run away again. We do this for about 5 minutes, or until you get bored, and make our way to the kitchen where I grab breakfast and get ready for the day. At night we cuddle and read stories and I usually feed you before bed. You immediately roll onto your side, stick your thumb in your mouth and that's it. You're asleep.


Your Dad started his job this month and for the first time since you were born our threesome became a twosome. The first week was the longest week of my life and so, by the second week, I had signed up for every mommy-related activity known to man. On Tuesdays we go to Salsa Babies, where we dance the merengue and the cha cha with all the other moms and babies. You love it because you're close to me and get to move for 45 minutes straight. I love it because I love dancing and it's a great workout. On Thursdays we do yoga under a tree in Riley park. Okay, I do yoga under a tree and you lie on the blanket and cheer me on. It's very calming and relaxing and you love being outdoors so you're happy. The other days are spent running errands, meeting friends for lunch, visiting with Grandma and Grandpa and sometimes, but rarely, just hanging out at home. I am still trying to figure out what our life is going to look like and I have to admit that some days are easier than others. On busy days I feel full and energized and happy. On dark days, where it is raining, or we have nothing planned, I feel sad and a little lost. It's hard to carve a life out for yourself when there isn't anyone else telling you what to do, where to be or when you can go home. I have reserved Sunday evenings for myself - I go and play beach volleyball and I am merely Caroline. Not "Paisley's Mom" or "Brian's Wife"...just me. It feels good.


You are the joy in my life and even though adjusting can be rocky, I have never regretted my decision to stay at home. Not once. You are laughing so much these days and some times you get going and all I have to do is look at you and you start all over again. You are eating everything in sight (except the food I try to give you. Last week you spat squash in my face. We laughed. And then I spat it back at you.) and you're favourite snack is still your fingers, with some toes for dessert. Your hair is growing in and it is soft, and downy and very blond. I am curious to see what it will look like as it grows. You still love your bath time and have recently discovered that you can kick to your heart's content in there. The water goes flying and you squeal and kick like a frog on speed. I would like to report that you are sleeping through the night, but alas, I cannot lie. You were sleeping the night and then all of a sudden, you decided you actually preferred to get up three times a night to yell at Mom. You've stopped crying at night and have started this seal-like barking. It's very demanding and a little bit rude but I can't help but laugh, even when I am barked awake at 4:00 AM. I suppose the barking comes along with the giggling so I'm happy to take it.


This is a very special time in our lives and although you won't remember it, I always will. You are my baby, my companion and the reason I do the things I do. You have helped me to become more outgoing and you make me laugh every day. Not a day goes by where I don't stop and look at you and take a mental picture because it's all going so fast. Not very long ago you couldn't even control your arms and now you are rolling over, propping yourself up, kicking, talking and growing. You are doing a wonderful job of being you.

Love,
Mama

Monday, July 28, 2008

No Balance without Compromise

When I first found out I would be having a baby girl it sort of threw me into a fit of particularly harsh self-analysis. For whatever reason I felt a lot more pressure about raising a girl than a boy. I felt like I had to be more educated, more accomplished, more independent and more determined than I found myself to be. I needed to hack out a path for her in this world, show her that women can have jobs, be educated and earn money. I wanted her to understand that I chose to stay at home but that I never had to and suddenly I felt very under qualified and to be honest, a bit ashamed.

It's hard enough to figure out what you want to be, never mind finding the time and money to do it all. All my life I wanted to be a doctor. It is a dream that still haunts me every time I go to the hospital or bump into someone who is in medical school. My stomach starts to churn and I feel sad. Having said that, I am fully aware of the time commitment that would take and I am not prepared to do it now that I have Paisley. I regret that I didn't do it right after my undergrad but I also know that I wasn't ready for it then and that had I done it I would have missed out on all the traveling I have done. My plan, once Brian was finished law school was to go back and get my PhD. This is still a possibility but even that has been put on the back burner for at least a year. Brian and I sat down yesterday and took a good look at the program and it just doesn't make sense to start it right now. I feel okay about that - it just didn't feel right and I certainly don't want to start anything until I'm sure it is exactly what I want.

I can't go to school full time and be a stay-at-home Mom. I can't give Paisley the gift of my time and presence and still be a full-fledged member of "the outside world". So, my plans as it stands right now is to relax. And enjoy Mom-and-Baby yoga class, and salsa dancing. Play my beach volleyball on the weekend and take a web design course in the fall. And write. Writing was always something that lurked behind everything else in my life, popping its head out every once and awhile. Now it will be given ample time and dedication and hopefully, the opportunity to grow and improve. Above all I want to enjoy the time I have with P - this quiet, special time with just her, me and a whole world to explore.

I can conquer the world on her behalf next year.

Okay, I lied, I'm not entirely okay with this. I hate making big decisions.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Punctuated Equilbrium

I am just finishing Lynn Truss' book Eats, Shoots & Leaves and I have really enjoyed it. What I have enjoyed most is the vindication I feel. All my life I have struggled with the idea of punctuation and quotation marks. When I was young it made me avoid dialogue entirely. I remember in the seventh grade I wrote a 22 page story (the assignment called for three) and never wrote a single line of dialogue. This technique worked but not for long. It is very hard to avoid using quote marks in journalistic writing. I was forever struggling with this, which was weird because I've always been good with all other aspects of grammar and spelling. To me, the punctuation should go outside the quotes when it ends the whole sentence and within if it ends the quote.

Why did she say "you'll never see me again"?
Nobody heard her yell "Where are you?"

(That last example still bugs me because the sentence doesn't have en end punctuation. It needs a period but it looks crazy next to the ? in the quotes. Arrgghhh.)

Anyway, at least part of my dilemma has been solved. My friend in j-school used to say, "What's so hard? All punctuation goes inside the quotes!" but that is not entirely true. That is only true in America. In the UK the same hard and fast rule doesn't exist and they are far more flexible with their approach. Being that Canada adheres to many, but not all of, British language conventions I am still not entirely sure where we stand. I am relieved to know however, that my confusion comes from somewhere other than my own mind.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Alberta: Stuck in a Rut


The Alberta government is currently developing a new license plate that is set to be releases in 2009. I have been following this story ever since I found out about it and participated in the survey for the new plate. I was asked what images, if any, I would like to see, what colours etc. I was very clear that the only images I didn't want to see on the plate was oil rigs or cowboys. We'll see if I get my way.

Slogans were another issue on the survey. Currently it is "Wild Rose Country" which I have to admit, is a little lame. The front runner right now is "Strong and Free". If that's the slogan I think I might just have to remove my vehicle from the road in protest. I hate that slogan! First of all, it doesn't make any sense. Strong? How? How are we stronger or weaker than any other province? Free? That's the really annoying part. Free from what exactly. We live in a democratic nation - we are all free. It smacks of the Alberta separation movement and sounds a bit American. "Strong and free" are words found in their national anthem, on many license plates and in the Declaration of Independence. Surely we could come up with something a little less inflammatory...a median must exist between a wimpy pink flower and a manifesto.

Monday, July 07, 2008

At least I don't have bifocals anymore...

Being a joiner isn't easy. Part of being a stay-at-home-Mom for me is being more than just that. I promised myself that this year would also be an opportunity for me to make friends, learn new things and have some fun. So, I have been joining things. I joined a few Mom's groups and do yoga in the park on Thursday's. I joined a sports league and had my first beach volleyball game last night. As I stood there, not knowing anyone, waiting to be introduced to my team mates I felt like I was in Junior High all over again. What if I'm at the wrong place and I have to walk out in front of everyone? What if they're really good and I am really bad? What if they don't like me? They weren't necessarily conscious questions but I'm sure they were at the root of that uncomfortable, queasy feeling in the pit of my stomach. Nobody likes to be the new kid and it doesn't get better when you are thirty. I can see why many people don't join things, why it's easier to keep the friends you have than to put yourself out there all over again. I have a renewed sense of sympathy for people who find themselves dating again after being "on the shelf" for awhile. It is not pleasant; it is humbling.

As it turned out (as it almost always turns out), my team was very nice and I had a great time. And next week I'll be the girl at the swimming pool asking everyone who walks in, "Are you with the hip mama group?" and I will feel stupid each and every time. It's hard but every time I think about not going, not registering, not bothering I tell myself that there are some things that are even more difficult than this. Namely, staying at home all day with a baby, with no life, few friends and nothing to show for your time.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

An Order of Evil...Served Hot

"So, did you hear? My boyfriend is receiving the order of Canada?"
"Morgentaler is your boyfriend?"
"No. Peter. The hottest guy on TV next to Ian Hanomansing."
"Oh. Well congratulations, I guess."

So go the conversations around out house. In all seriousness, I'm pretty proud of Peter for this accomplishment and just as happy that Morgentaler is receiving the same award. On the radio this morning I heard an excerpt from Henry Morgentaler's reaction speech and he said "I deserve this award. It's about time that my accomplishments were recognized." I loved that. Fake humility is so overdone and really, so unnecessary. If you win a huge award for a lifetime of achievement you better think you deserve it, or someone might reconsider.

I remember being told my a Catholic man I used to know that you could see the devil in Morgentaler's eyes. Well, I guess the devil just received the Order of Canada.

Monday, June 30, 2008

To Paisley: Five Months Old

Having a newborn is a sleepless but magical time. Your baby depends on you for everything and is helpless and delicate. Those nights spent holding you when you were only 7 lbs and barely able to focus on my face were quiet and enchanting. That little newborn is gone, and now, in her place I have the funniest, sweetest little baby I could have ever asked for. In the past month your personality has really started to shine though. You are happy and love to smile. You will sometimes start to laugh and I can't help but laugh along with you. Your tiny little shoulders start to shake and if you find something really amusing you may even treat us to a little snort. Sometimes, if something is too funny and you've laughed just a little too long you will start to cry. I have no idea where you get that from. It certainly wouldn't be from me. Nope.


This month saw your first flight! We flew on our first family trip out to Vancouver Island. Your Dad has been home from school/work for the past two months and it has been wonderful to spend so much time with him. We had such a great time on the Island and you were a joy to be with. It was definitely different traveling with a baby but like most things in life attitude plays a huge role. We did whatever it was we wanted to do and then we made accommodations for you. This trip saw many other firsts for you: your first dip in the ocean, the first time you had sand between your toes, your first IMAX experience (I don't know what was bigger the screen or your eyes!), and your first experience with male pattern balding. While we gained so much on our trip in terms of memories, you lost a lot of hair. If you want to find it when you're older just head to the Super 8 on Douglas Street in Victoria.


This month brought our first Walk to Cure Diabetes. You, me, Dad, my Mom and Dad and my brothers all raised money (nearly $1000!) to help fund research for Juvenile Diabetes. I have had type 1 diabetes for nearly two years now and I think about a cure at least once a week. Sometimes I think of myself and how much easier my life would be without the insulin and the injections and the blood testing but mostly I want to be sure that this never happens to you. We still don't know whether my illness has any genetic component and when you're older we may get you tested to find out, but right now I am doing what I can to keep you healthy. Breastfeeding you is one of the most important gifts I can give you for your health and so far I'm happy with how well that is going.


You've started grabbing onto things lately and can hold your toys and bring them to your mouth. Where, apparently, everything belongs. One day you were holding your little toy giraffe and I said to you, "Say Hi to Sophie the Giraffe" and you looked right up at me and said "Hi" on cue. Your Dad was right there and the two of us just looked at each other and started to laugh. You've got good timing my love. You are getting better at sitting up, although you still need help. You still aren't sleeping through the night although last week you slept from 11:00 until six in the morning. I woke up with a start and ran into your room (okay, I didn't run. I couldn't run. There were rocks where my boobs had been only hours before) to find you still asleep, like an angel. I would have kissed you if I wasn't afraid it would wake you. I tried to go back to bed but was so full of energy from my SEVEN HOURS OF SLEEP!! that your Dad growled at me to stop being so happy so early. No matter what time you wake me up though, I have to say that one of my favourite parts of my day is the big grin on your face when you see my head emerge over the top of your crib. I don't think anyone has ever been so happy to see me.


There are days when I miss the mewing and squeaking sounds you used to make when you were new, and the little newborn cry. But these sounds have been replaced with laughter - both yours and mine- and an exciting sense that you are really starting to explore and appreciate this world around you..and you are helping me to explore and appreciate this world too.

Love,
Mama

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Life Bytes

Our hard drive crashed. And I mean CRASHED. We bought an enclosure hoping we could pull the data off the drive and there is nothing there. So, I'm hoping that the directory is wiped but that the data is still there. Either way it's going to be a bitch to recover. All of Paisley's pictures are on there - her birth, the pictures of her being weighed and all the pictures we've taken since then. And of course all of our pictures from Korea, China, Japan, Hawaii, Journalism school and well, pretty much my whole life since it went digital.

Damn. And I had been planning on buying a big external hard drive for back up as soon as Brian started work and we had some money. Typical isn't it? Makes me think I should be getting that glass coverage for the car that I keep thinking about.

We had a wonderful time on the island but I have delayed posting about it because I wanted to load the pics and obviously, that won't be happening for awhile now. Will post about trip when I'm not so mad - all of this could have been avoided if I had just backed everything up. Procrastination is an ugly thing. Which is why I am putting off my vacation post. Somethings never change.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Walk to Cure Diabetes 2008

This weekend my whole family got together to participate in the JDRF Walk to Cure Diabetes. It was the first time we did it but I am hoping it will become a yearly tradition. I have to say that a number of times along the 5km route I glanced around to see the people I love most in the world, all walking beside me and tears came to my eyes. You know that feeling you get at the end of a really great movie where your heart swells because it feels like it could just burst with...something? Joy? Love? Wonder? Anyway, that was how I felt on Sunday. There were a lot of little kids there and a lot of families and it felt good to know that we were helping to raise money (nearly $900!!) and that my family was supporting me in the process. I am a very lucky girl, even if I do have diabetes.

Friday, May 30, 2008

To Paisley: Four Months Old

I can't believe four months have passed already. We are moving into summer now and I remember when I was still pregnant I would try to imagine this summer and what it would be like. What you would be like. Now we are here and it all seems to have come so quickly.


This month I celebrated my first Mother's Day. Both of my brothers drove from Edmonton to surprise our Mum and we had a great afternoon at our house. Mum was so surprised and touched and at one point I was sitting next to her on the couch with you in my arms and it felt so good to be both a daughter and a mother to my own little girl - like somehow life had worked out just the way it is supposed to.

This month also brought the final step in your Dad's academic career. His convocation was held on a Thursday afternoon and our family cheered him on as he stepped onto the stage to receive his law degree. You were very good, and even better after I nursed you under a stairwell in the lobby. Your Dad looked so handsome in his cap and gown and I couldn't stop from crying when I heard his name called - law school has been a long and difficult road at times and to be on the other end of it, holding you, made me feel so proud and happy.


Now that Dad is done school and doesn't start work until July he has been home with us a lot. The three of us hang out and go on walks and for picnics in the park. It's wonderful that we all get a chance to spend time together and I know how much he values this time with you. He likes to wear you around the house in the Baby Bjorn, which he calls his "man girdle" and plays the balancing game with you far more often than your poor mom can handle.

Up until this month your schedule had been a bit of a free for all. You went to bed in our room in your bassinet and then into our bed, and back into your bassinet and the time varied every night. We decided that having a routine would be better for you and better for us and we moved you into your crib in your own room! At first I was a bit sad not to hear your every movement and squeak at night but that sadness quickly dissipated when I realized I could get more than 2 hours of sleep at a time. Now we feed you, put you in pyjamas and read you your books every night at about 10:30. We read you a story of your our choosing and then always finish with Good Night Moon. You really seem to enjoy this time with us and love looking at the pictures. This routine has worked so well and for the first time since you came home you have slept for 5-6 hours on a couple of occasions. You still get up at about 6am to play and we're working on that but mostly we just accommodate you and enjoy every minute of it.


You found your voice this month...and it was in Montana this whole time! We went down the US so that you could meet your cousins, Sophie and Eden. We all went for dinner to Applebees and all of a sudden, from your car seat, you started babbling away to us. You had talked to dad and I a bit before, mostly when you were getting your diaper changed, but never anything like this. You cooed away and smiled and giggled and squealed. We were all so entranced by your cuteness and I couldn't stop hitting your Dad on the arm and saying, "Did you hear that!?" Poor man couldn't eat his dinner he was getting whacked so much. The talking continued all the way home from Montana and hasn't stopped. It is so cute and it's nice to know that you want to talk to us, even if you do have a Montana accent.

On the way home from Montana we stopped in Raymond at Grandma Patt's place and you got a chance to meet your cousin Freya. She is only a few months older than you and lives in Vancouver. You two hit it off right away and although not much was said, we could all tell that you guys shared some meaningful connections.


You are getting much stronger and when we pick you up we no longer have to cradle your head to ensure it follows your neck. You produce more drool than I ever thought possible...I am convinced that at least a third of the milk you drink gets directly converted to drool. You can sit up in your Bumbo now and still love your swing more than anything. You have also learned how to navigate your thumb into your mouth consistently and oh boy, do you love to suck that thumb! The smacking slurping sounds that emerge from that tiny little mouth when you're trying to jam that fist in there can be quite loud and have interrupted many a conversation.

I never told anyone this, mostly because I knew it didn't make any sense, but I used to worry when you were smaller that you wouldn't be happy. Now that you are able to smile and express yourself better I have no doubts anymore that you are a very happy little person. You grin at us and squeal when we talk to you and nothing in the world could make me feel happier or more loved. You make me laugh everyday and no matter how tired I am or how drooly you are, holding you and kissing your little face is the best thing in my life. I'm so happy that we get to be happy together.


Love,
Mama