Thursday, October 15, 2009

Vegas!

I had two main objectives when I booked our trip to Vegas. Most important was spending time with Brian. Uninterrupted, having fun, adult time. The second was to go shopping. I am happy to report that both objectives were met with fervour.



I had never been to Vegas and so I am really happy I got the chance to see it. We know a lot of people around here who make Vegas a yearly event and while I enjoyed my time there, I wouldn't rush back. I probably should have realized, when the top five attractions I wanted to see looked like this:

1. Human Bodies Exhibit
2. Atomic Energy Museum
3. Bauman's Rare and Antique Books
4. The Titanic Exhibit
5. IMAX

that Vegas might not be my place. I'm a nerd and I need to just embrace it.

Having said that, we had a wonderful time. We ate at a buffet, walked the strip, lost all our money at the roulette tables, shopped till we dropped, lazed at the pool, drank Starbucks like there was no tomorrow and most importantly, rekindled a friendship that needed some attention.



Our lives of late have turned into a bit of a treadmill. Brian's schedule means he doesn't get home until late and then we have dinner and put Paisley to bed. By the time she is down and the kitchen is tidied, we are almost ready for bed ourselves. We live very different lives throughout the day and although we try to stay connected and relaxed, it isn't always easy. Going on this trip was a great break from our every day lives and I loved holding hands with Brian and having conversations unconfined by nap time and tantrums. We laughed and drank tall margaritas and it was romantic and wonderful.



As we flew home I was sad to leave but it was nice to know that I was coming home to the most beautiful little girl in the world. Despite my significant lack of casino dollars, I'm a very lucky lady.

Friday, October 02, 2009

To Paisley: Twenty Months Old

As I write this, you are upstairs sleeping and I am using this quiet time to organize myself for an upcoming trip. Your Dad and I are going to Vegas in a few days and will be leaving you for the first time ever. At night, when it is dark and I am trying to fall asleep, bad thoughts enter my head. I don't want to leave you. I am terrified that something will happen to us and that I will never see you again. In the morning, I feel better and am excited to spend some time alone with your Dad in a place I have never been. Your Dad and I have always traveled - a passion for going to new places is what drew us together, kept us together, and we hope, will always be a part of our lives. It is easy to fall into the trap of never leaving your baby and I know (at least intellectually) that making sure our marriage is healthy is also a gift for you. But it all feels wrong. You are my family now and the idea of splitting that family up, even for a few days, has left me feeling nauseous. I am going to do this and I know that you will be okay with your Grandma and Grandpa, and that in a very short time we will be back together but man am I going to miss you.



This past month we had the first ever McGrath family reunion. My Mum's siblings all got together in honour of her upcoming 60th birthday and we had a blast. Seeing my Mum with all of her brothers and sisters made me realize, once again, how lucky we are. You are loved by so many, in so many countries! When I was growing up, I didn't have any Uncles, Aunts or Grandparents nearby. As immigrants, my parents had left their people behind in order to start a new life and give their kids the best they could. It was a sacrifice for them and one that I think I am only really beginning to understand. Seeing you with my parents and brothers, and recently, the extended family, made me realize how much my own Mum missed out on and I'm glad that this time, you get the best of both worlds.



This fall has been one of the most beautiful I have ever experienced and we have done our best to enjoy it every day. A few weeks ago you, your Dad and I all went for a long Sunday walk down by the Bow river. The sun was shining, the leaves were turning yellow and the smell of fall was in the air. Your Dad and I have done a lot of talking about what we want your childhood to look like, and on that day we discussed Sundays and what they would bring. For both your Dad and I, Sundays always meant church. For you that won't be the case but we want to make sure that there is still time for reflection and wonder and quiet conversation. As atheists (and scientists), the natural world holds a lot of wonder for your Dad and me. That awe is something we want to pass on to you as you grow and so far, you've been more than receptive.



As we walked along under the warm sun, you started to lag behind. Eventually, your Dad crouched down and called you. You stopped, turned, beamed and came running towards him. Your face was dirty but happy, your hair crazy and golden. As you ran into your father's arms and hugged him I watched tears rolling down his face. Being with you makes us so happy Paisley.



You are a happy kid and always have been but I have to admit that lately, you're whiny. It's partly due to your molars coming through and also probably your age. It can be grating at the best of times and by 6:00 in the evening, it can be unbearable. I try so hard to be patient and you do your best to be your best, even when you don't feel well. If I get down on the floor and out out my arms you will hug me, and kiss me and finish off with an Eskimo kiss. A politically incorrect but adorable new discovery. You laugh and play and love to be tickled. You have a new little baby that you push around in a stroller and sometimes, you even share your snack with her. You are kind and funny and love, love, love books. You are talking even more these days and learning new tricks at lightening speed. You are in swimming lessons and Kindermusik and you love to jump and dance. You are the joy in my life and even when I feel like I'm going to go crazy from having to clean the floor for the fifth time in a day or from the high-pitched yelling you've mastered, I am able to stop, look you in the face and fall in love all over again.



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Love,
Mama

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Weighty Issues

I read this article lately and my immediate reaction was to call bullshit. I do not believe for one second that the rising rates of obesity can be blamed on genetics, and furthermore I am getting frustrated with the slow but steady normalization of fat that is happening in North America. I don't mean to be disrespectful to those who are overweight and feel sympathy for them - it is not easy to lose weight. I recognize that there are many emotional, psychological and yes, even genetic, reasons for obesity but at the end of the day, you get fat from taking in more calories than you burn.

Different people burn calories at different rates and with different levels of efficiency. People have different metabolic rates and a wide variety of intestinal flora and bacteria that can all affect how your body deals with additional calories. That being said, it is a basic law of physics that energy must be conserved. It can change forms, which is what happens when people store energy as fat, but it cannot be created. More energy in than out means you put on weight. In order to prevent this, you need to do the opposite, end of story.

I don't believe that people who are overweight or obese should be judged or treated poorly. They are people, just like anyone else and deserve the same respect. At the same time, being overweight or obese is unhealthy and I fear that this fact is being lost in all the attempts being made by society to "accept" overweight people. I am constantly seeing young girls proudly baring their overhanging midriffs and are shocked that they would be proud (and if not proud, accepting enough to show it off) of their excess weight. When did it become cool to be fat!?

I see fat kids all the time who are facing a life of inactivity, low self esteem, high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease and stroke, and premature death. This generation is the first generation of young people who may die at an earlier age than their parents because of the epidemic of obesity. Kids have never eaten so badly and done so little physical activity and it is making them sick. It makes me feel sick too.

We need to help young people feel good about themselves, regardless of their weight, but we must not teach them to accept being overweight. It's not okay. It is not okay for them or their lives or their own kids for them to be obese. It isn't okay for any of us to be obese.

There are many reasons why we have gotten here and there are racial issues at play and big food companies and issues of poverty and education and socioeconomic class. I understand the problems with urban design and parental fear and the trouble with an overabundance of low cost, high calorie food. I know that corn is heavily subsidized and that certain people have a propensity towards being heavier. But, at the end of the day, people need to be accountable for the choices they make (and kids need to be protected from the choices their parents make) and accept responsibility for the calories they take in and the the calories they should, but do not, expend.

The Newsweek article is concerning as it perpetuates a growing myth of fiction over fat.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Another Brick in the Wall?

I'm glad Paisley is only 19 months old because at this rate it's going to take me years to figure out what we are going to do about school. We have discussed the idea of home schooling Paisley and are pretty torn about it. Home schooling is such a touchy subject and one that seems to really divide people. I can't tell you how many times I've heard people make comments like "They're weird that family. I mean, they home school even!" as though homeschooling is the ultimate evidence of weirdness. At the same time, I know where that comes from and although it is changing, there is definitely a history of weird people keeping their kids home to make sure they stay weird.

Home schooling is on the rise in North America and interestingly, the two main groups who seem to be opting out of public education are religious people and those who are highly educated. There are more and more programs and resources available for parents who choose to home school and the term itself is becoming a misnomer as education is happening less at home and more in the community, museums, parks and public facilities than ever before.

I feel torn for many reasons. When I think of kids being kept away from ideas that challenge their beliefs or values I feel angry. I feel that keeping your kids home to indoctrinate them with ideas about creationism or homophobia is not only irresponsible, it is wrong. All people should have their ideas challenged from time to time and if you are allowed to withdraw from the world, that cannot happen. At the same time, I recognize that schools do their own kind of indoctrination as far as behaviour modification and curriculum go. You become part of a system when you start school and that is what we are reluctant to accept. We want Paisley to learn things at her own pace and in a way that feeds her curiosity and love of life. I don't want her being told to sit still at a desk when she is only 6 or 7, I don't want her to have to do worksheets when she could be outside exploring and creating. I want her to sleep in if she is particularly tired and to take a break if she is frustrated. Many of those things are not available in the school system as it exists today.

Having said that, I recognize that teachers are trained and educated in their field and I am not. Teachers do more than just study their chosen subject - they learn about educational methods and approaches and often have a solid background in the psychology of learning. As kids get older they have debates in the classroom where ideas are shared and challenged and discussed. For this reason we would never keep Paisley home from school for longer than a few years. What we are considering is keeping her home until grade three. I strongly feel that 5 or 6 is far too young to be going to school and am confident that I could do a better job of establishing a love of learning here at home. I do think though that there should be some necessary training for parents who want to teach at home. Even if it only a 6 month course - something to ensure that people are qualified and prepared for the challenge. Having said that, I am grateful that the option of home schooling even exists for us.

There is a fine line however between educational flexibility and chaos. While I am not a believer in standardized testing I also recognize that some measurement is necessary. If you want to go to University you need to show that you have mastered certain skills. In my opinion, you should not be allowed to claim that you have passed Bio 30 if you don't believe in evolution. In the same way that you should not be able to pass physics and deny the existence of gravity.

Living in Alberta means we also have the option of charter schools. These publicly funded schools offer a variety of different approaches like Montessori and Waldorf schools. I have no doubt that as Paisley gets older and we prepare to transition her into the system that we will find a school (either private or public) that meets her needs. In the meantime I listen and research and follow the issues facing education in the province and struggle with what is best for Paisley and how I feel about the subject more generally.

I'm sure this won't be my last post on the subject so stay tuned! :)

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

The Girls of Summer

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To Paisley: 19 Months

Rather than write another post this month I decided to let you speak for yourself, in your own words:

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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Harper Needs to be Extradited Back to Hell

I can't believe this and this, and hey, how about this?! The Harper government is without a doubt, the sneakiest most mean-tempered government I've ever not voted for. I couldn't believe they were even appealing the Omar Khadr judgement the first time, now they are taking it to the supreme court? And in case that isn't bad enough they are sneaking around trying to change the humanitarian and foreign affairs culture/climate to better suit their twisted view of citizenship? Why are people not up in arms? Why are the media outlets not running this as the top political story? Who cares about Jack Layton's moustache - Harper is damaging Canada's reputation and endangering our commitment to humanitarian law. I seriously can't believe this jerk is our prime minister.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Yowzaa!

This is my eyelash curler with half of my eyelashes still in it. I slipped while curling and let me tell you, it hurts. And now my eyelid is half bald.


There is nothing so agonizing to the fine skin of vanity as the application of a rough truth. ~Edward G. Bulwer-Lytton

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Naked

I have never really been shy when it comes to being nude. As a child I loved being naked and even as a teenager would often wander around in my undies (much to my brothers' horror). It didn't take me long however to realize that many people, particularly in North America, did not share my level of comfort with exposed flesh. By high school I understood that one could only really be naked in the privacy of their own home. One of the girls who I went to school with used to shower naked after gym and everyone made fun of her. Secretly I envied her apparent obliviousness to the social rules.

Now I'm that lady at the gym who showers naked, as the young teenage girls go to ridiculous lengths to hide themselves. It took a bath house in Korea to re-awaken my comfort with public nudity and I've never looked back. (Never look back when naked in public - it makes people nervous.) I've also noticed that the same comfort with nakedness that existed in Korea is extended here among the Asian population. Usually the only naked people in the showers at the Y are me, and all the Asian immigrants. White people have waaay too many hang ups.

In a mildly related note, I was showering last week when a dozen 6-year-old day campers were ordered to stand in line right in front of me. There I was, vulnerable and exposed with 24 little eyes staring at me. And the weird part was, because none of those eyes belonged to MY kid, I felt blissfully, peacefully alone. How things change.

Monday, August 03, 2009

To Paisley: 18 Months Old

One and a half!? How did we get here? Some days I can't believe how quickly this has all gone but for you it must feel like a lifetime. Ha! Ha!

Okay, seriously. You are getting so big and as much as I hate to admit it, you are no longer a baby. You can run now and turn on the lights and are starting to talk. You point to kids younger than you and say "bay-beee" with delight. Every time you do it I am filled with a mix of delight and sadness. I am in awe that I get to watch you learn to label things and make sounds that actually mean something. I am sad because even you recognize that somehow, you are different from those tiny, dependent creatures.



The past few months have been full of walks, swimming, and sliding. Oh the sliding. There is a big yellow twirly slide just behind our house and it holds an allure for you that even the strongest distractions cannot break. The minute you get out the door, you head for the slide. You climb the ladder without fear and go down on your tummy, feet first. And then you want to do it again. "Again" unfortunately, is not yet a word. It is a squeal with intonation. Something like "Aaa-yiiii" which has become the soundtrack to my life. You love life, and being thrown and swinging around and being tickled and being sung too and being hugged and I will accommodate you and do those things again, and again.



You went to the Stampede for the first time this year and loved it. You loved the animals and the Superdogs and of course, the rides. You are such a brave little kid - even though you are so little, you loved the big slides and the merry-go-round and I loved only having to pay two tickets. You got on stage with all the other little kids and danced to Splash 'n Boots and your Dad and I watched and laughed and kept the camera rolling. (The term "rolling" comes from the olden days when video cameras actually had tapes in them.) Living in Calgary, the Stampede is likely something you will do every year. I am so excited to watch you grow and discover new things and have so much fun at such a ridiculously over the top place.



Your words are coming rapidly now and we are always so amazed at your ability to mimic. Until recently it took ages for you to earn a word and now you can repeat things you've only heard once. Like "antidisestablishmentarianism" or "kiwi". You like to make us laugh and you do it very well. You know that blinking your eyes like a cracked-out owl will do the trick. So does howling like a wolf or making fish faces. You enjoy nothing more than sitting in your highchair and performing a one-woman dinner show for your Mom and Dad and you always get an encore. We don't really follow the "laughing will only encourage her" philosophy, because feeling funny is good and kiddo, you are a riot.



You are so social and love being around people a lot. You seem to be at your best when there are a lot of people around. You prefer that they all be giving you their undivided attention, and they usually are. You say "Hi!" to everyone we pass in the store or on the street and I love it because I do the same thing. Your Dad always gets a bit embarrassed by the way I go out of my way to greet complete strangers. Now we can tag team the world and brighten everyone's day - one "Hi!" at a time.



I remember when you were first born, how much my shoulders hurt from carrying you around all the time. Although you didn't weight much, the constant added weight was a painful adjustment but one I eventually made. Since then I have carried you around a lot. We don't use the stroller very often and I let you walk as much as possible but I also hold you and carry you every day. Now that you are getting older, and heavier I can't believe that I ever had sore muscles from that little baby. I also know that soon, those "carrying" muscles will start to atrophy and that my body will make another adjustment - one of being a mother to a child, and not a baby. This idea makes me feel sad and nostalgic - how is it that having you has made me feel so strong and at the same time, so very weak?

Love,
Mama

Monday, July 13, 2009

Juggling. Badly.

I've never set out to be an overachiever or a supermom but I do have high expectations of myself and like to stay busy. I'm good at multi tasking and time management and so I manage to always have a clean house and a home cooked meal and a (fairly) clean kid. Sometimes I am almost embarrassed to tell people what I've been up to because I see the look on their face. "Oh. You're one of those." Well, I'm not. Not on the inside anyway.

Lately I feel like I have a hundred things on the go and I can't satisfy myself with my performance in any area. I can't do everything. I have been making an effort to do mostly whole foods cooking. We got rid of all processed foods quite a while ago but I sometimes still used store bought pasta or flavoured yogourt. Now I'm flavouring the yogourt, making everything from scratch and as of next week, making our bread. I'm even planning on canning homemade ketchup and salsa. I love it and it has produced some amazing meals (and one curdled lemon tart) but it is very time-consuming and gets eaten just as quickly as the stuff that took me half the time.

I am working out like a fiend and have lost ten pounds in the last month. I am in a bootcamp on Mondays, a BOSU class on Thursdays and working out 4 days a week plus running. I love this also and can honestly say that I don't think I have been this fit since high school.

I am working a lot. I have a magazine article on the go right now (affiliate marketing...snooze), a dozen press releases and a whole website to write. I am running two blogs and trying to get some fiction work and other freelance work squeezed in there and I'm struggling. I am also now on the marketing committee for the Africa Book Project and have a ton of work through them. I (in my stupidity?) also signed up as the volunteer resume critic for the local Women's Immigration Society. This stuff alone could be a full time job.

I'm even behind in my reading of Infinite Jest - something that is supposed to a relaxing pursuit and I'm feeling stressed about it.

Getting together with girlfriends during the week and making sure that Paisley gets one fun activity (at least) a day are also high on my list of priorities but I feel like I'm starting to stumble around aimlessly, blinded and sagged by a heavy load. Each day something gives - I either don't get as much work done as I should, or the house doesn't get cleaned, or I don't get out or the dinner is lacklustre. I need to get to a place where I can just accept that and not feel like a failure every time. I have a to do list as long as my arm and not enough items lined out. Never enough lined out.

I have always thrived under stress and schedule and so I tend to place those on myself with rigour. Maybe I'll schedule in a deep breathing exercise once a day from 11:03 to 11:07 am. Perfect.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

To Paisley: Sixteen/Seventeen Months Old

This is your first combined newsletter and I'm not planning on making it a regular event. The last couple of months have been so busy and hectic and by the time I sat down to write your 16 month post you were nearly 17 months old!


Now that it is summer you spend as much as time outdoors as you can. As soon as you see the door you start to point and scream and vibrate with excitement. Sort of like what I would do if I saw the New Kids walking down the street only without the shirt flinging. There are a ton of little kids in the neighbourhood and they love to play with "the baby". Your two best friends are Megan and Melissa. They are about 8 and will come to the door and ask if you can come out to play. I almost always say yes and then follow you as you run screaming past me and out the door. You are still too young to be left entirely on your own so I sort of linger around the outskirts. I don't want to dampen the kids' fun but I still need to watch you. This means I have become fast friends with all the kids too and we have long conversations about spy school and how dumb boys can be, all while you sit and throw rocks in the air. You have become a playground fixture and you love being with the big kids so much. I love watching you, and all of them, interacting. It brings back so many memories of my own fantasy-driven childhood and it makes me happy to see you so happy.

You are so much stronger physically now and much more sure of yourself. You will climb up, over, or under anything and can go down the slide by yourself too. You still love to dance as much as ever but have added some sweet arm waving and squat moves that, I hate to say this, remind me of the kids using the toilets in Korea. Your facial expressions are priceless and you make me laugh a hundred times a day with your funny faces. You are throwing tantrums now as well which despite their intent, also make me laugh. There is something about seeing a tiny person throw themselves on the ground and kick and scream that makes you chuckle. I try not to let you see me laugh but sometimes, when you do, you start to laugh too and then the two of us are sitting on the ground, your face streaked with tears, and we are laughing like two crazy people. Which I guess, we are.

You went on your first family hike in Banff and we all had a great time. We bought a special hiking back pack for you but true to form, you wanted to do it all yourself. My brothers both came from Edmonton for the hike and of course, Grandma and Grandpa. Once again it confirmed how lucky you are to have such a supportive, caring and fun family. We all have so many adventures coming our way.



You have progressed from taking everything out of where it should be to putting things away. This has been extremely helpful. Especially when Dad couldn't comb his hair before work because you had hidden every comb and brush in the house in the garbage can. Which is also where I found my iPod and asthma puffer and a few pairs of socks. Sometimes you are kind enough to put things away in our drawers. Fortunately your Dad and I have a trusting relationship, otherwise finding a handful of lipsticks in his bedside table might have been an issue.

You are talking all the time now and although I still don't really know what you are saying, I can tell it is very important. You have added hand gestures and intonation and sometimes get very frustrated when I don't understand you. You must think I'm so dumb. I can't wait until you start talking because I can tell you are going to have so much to say. What you don't know yet is that being at home for 17 months without another adult around has left me with even more to say. You are going to wish you never opened that door.

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We've had a lot of adventures over the past eight weeks, and as always, I enjoy your company so much. You and I went to Edmonton for a few days and had a great time watching the ducks and playing on the slides and then Dad joined us and we took you to Hawrelak park. We both had so many fond memories of our own childhood's there - funny that neither of us remembered the inches of thick slime covering the picturesque pond. You went into the hot tub at Grandma and Grandpa's for the first time and went to the JDRF Walk to Cure Diabetes where you were a big hit. You tried ice cream for the first time and then refused to eat anything for the whole next day - you just screamed and pointed at the freezer. How did someone raised on organic vegetables and whole foods develop such a taste for junk food? Come to think of it, maybe I just answered my own question.


In the past two weeks in particular I have noticed a big change in you. You are turning into such a kid...teeth, words, walking, pigtails. All these non-baby things and as much as I feel awed to watch it happen in front of my eyes, I feel a bit sad. I remember when I first had you I carried you everywhere and had such sore shoulders and arms as I worked muscles I had never used before. The pain soon stopped and I used those new baby muscles everyday. Now you are over 23 pounds and I don't carry you as much anymore. You want to open things yourself, close them yourself, brush your own teeth, eat by yourself, walk by yourself, climb the stairs on your own. All these things are good - it means you are becoming your own little person. At the same time I know that those muscles are atrophying and the days of me doing everything with you on my hip are over. I have already started to watch from the sidelines and I couldn't be more proud.


Love,
Mama

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Eating Bon Bons...

The choice to stay at home with Paisley was an easy one for me. I always knew that if I could afford to do it, I would. Having said that, I totally recognize that not everyone can do it and that not everyone wants to. We are making some major financial sacrifices to do this and I personally am taking on a lot of risk. A recent remark by one of Alberta's politicians brought this issue of working mom versus stay at home mom back into the limelight, at least for a few days. There were all kinds of articles and editorials and commentaries on the subject. I found some of them asinine but most of them sat comfortably on a spectrum that almost any woman can identify with. I can see why some women go back to work. I can see why they might not feel fulfilled at home. I don't think those people are bad parents but it's not what I choose to do.

This subject is a contentious one and unlike so many other "parenting issues" it seems to remain bubbling beneath the surface. Women avoid the subject because it can create feelings of inadequacy, hurt and anger and because, for the most part, we are afraid of being judged or misunderstood. Each side of the debate is knee deep in misconceptions: working mothers are selfish and career focused, stay at home mothers are lazy or boring or we do a disservice to the feminist cause. Kids from daycare are better socialized, stay at home kids are more loved. None of this is true and the situation varies so much that it's difficult to draw any real conclusions. I have met some seriously sub-standard parents whose kids would probably benefit from day care. Parents who do nothing with their children except watch TV and push them out of the way or leave them in their crib for hours. I also happen to know of a few day cares where kids are left to their own devices and aren't monitored or challenged. A high quality environment is what kids deserve, whether it be at home or elsewhere.

Having said that, there is one thing I hear a lot that does bug me. "Oh, I wish I could do that but we can't afford it." "It must be nice to have a choice" etc. Now, if you are a single mother or someone who really needs two incomes to cover your basic necessities, fair enough. But the vast majority of women who say that to me are living in a huge house, with two cars and going on yearly tropical vacations. That is not struggling to survive. That is a choice. It is a choice to place the maintenance of a certain lifestyle over the opportunity to stay at home. I don't care that they choose that - it doesn't affect me. What annoys me is that they are unwilling to make the sacrifice but won't admit it. Not to me and probably not to themselves. Brian and I don't like having to choose between Drumheller and Kamloops for a summer vacation instead of Italy or France. We don't love living in a small townhouse with one vehicle and not a lot of spending money but we chose this. We felt it was more important for Paisley to have a parent at home than it was for us to have a big house and lots of money. Our choice isn't a popular one these days but it works for us.

Being a parent is hard and being a mother in 2009 in even harder. We have a lot of expectations placed on us (admittedly, a lot of them are self imposed) and some tough choices to make. It sometimes frustrates me that it is still the woman who has to make these choices and sacrifices. Nobody, not one person, asked Brian if he was taking parental leave when we were expecting Paisley. It's not something most people even consider. I am fortunate that I can work from home because it has made the choice and transition that much easier. I would still love to live in a world though where as many men stay at home as women. If nothing else I think stay at home parents would get the respect and credit they deserve.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Treadmill

We had a long talk last night. About our life and the fact that we are in a rut. It is hard to avoid. Our life contains a toddler and a restrictive work schedule on Brian's part. We are not unhappy but we are not overly happy either. We just are.

Just being is something that Brian and I have fought against, both as individuals and as a couple, from the very beginning. We travelled, we ditched lives when they weren't working and found new ones. We ditched churches when they weren't working. We got married when it was right for us and chose careers when we were sure of what we wanted. We did things our way. To be fair, we are not now in a situation we didn't choose. We really wanted a baby and I wouldn't change that for a second. Having Paisley is the best thing I've ever done. But we chose to settle down for the time being and put down roots. Life is funny - when you travel and live in so many places it is is exciting but lonely. When you stay put you feel so...put. But, I also feel like I am a part of something, part of my community and of the city. It has taken nearly 4 years for me to feel like that.

I want more for us. I don't want to live completely independent lives during the week, only to have beautiful collisions on the weekend. I don't want to have to pencil conversations or sex into my planner to ensure it gets done. To check the boxes. I don't want for us to be so tired all the time. This kind of life is what leads to someone waking up at 45 and not knowing what the hell has happened. It leads to mediocrity.

Reality is limiting. We are limited by time and money, two very crucial things. Brian's work schedule is difficult but there isn't much we can do (at this point in the game) to change it. And he likes it. We don't have the money to travel or explore or get away for a few days even. We have to be creative within the confines of our lives.

This is not a unique situation. Across the city and the planet, young families are feeling this way and many of them are far worse off than we are. At the same time, knowing that other people are in the same position as me doesn't make me feel better. It makes me even more motivated to make sure we don't stay this way - living by default, in a crowd.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

The Blogosphere

Jen recently wrote about her struggles with the state of the blogosphere and the status of her own blog within that community. I too have struggled with this recently. Since becoming a Mom I have less time, and lets face it, less interest in blogging. I feel like I have less to say that would interest people. It was easy when I was travelling and I had some weird and wacky adventure every week. It was easier when I had hours to devote a post so that I could work on it and get it just right. Now I am forced to quickly bang out blog posts and they aren't well written. I don't even re-read them before I publish. They could be so much better but I just don't have the time. To make matters worse, I have another blog which I have been spending far more time on and this one has sort of faded into the background. It is read by family and young people and so I am more guarded. I read some other blogs and I feel ashamed that theirs are so good and mine is so weak. I have never benefited socially from blogging like Jen or so many other women bloggers and I have maintained it out of a sense of duty. Duty to what few readers I have and most of all, to Paisley. Her monthly newsletters are what keep this blog going at this point.

I am out of adventure and angst. I have no major decisions facing me and my existence is pleasant, if boring. Not great blogging material. I do not want to be a "mommy blogger" and my writing work is all covered by non-disclosure agreements so I can't really venture there. (Although, let me tell you - there is some crazy shit going on in the world of marketing!)

Despite all of this, I just can't do it. I can't bring myself to pull the plug - not yet any way.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Concerts

Last night Brian and I went to see City and Colour. It was an awesome concert and the venue was perfectly suited to Dallas Green's silky voice. He did a an a capella song that left me bumpy.

It got me thinking about all the concerts I have been too over my life and I decided to compile a list. An eclectic, sort of weird, list:

54-40
The Northern Pikes
Colin James
Barenaked Ladies
Alanis Morisette
The Skeletones
U2
New Kids on the Block (x2)
The Proclaimers
Blue Rodeo
Chris Shepard (does he even count?)
Jann Arden
JP Hoe
The Killers
Soweto Gospel Choir
James Blunt
City and Colour
The Philosopher Kings
Rascalz
Blue October
Nelly Furtado (It was free. Just so you know.)

I feel like there could easily be another half a dozen or so. There are definitely a few hazy memories from the University era. I may have been at the concert or I may have been at a house party with a really good stereo. Not sure.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Maddie

I have become obsessed with the story of Maddie. She was born prematurely, but was due about the same time as Paisley. She was cute and I had enjoyed following her life as written by her Mom. I saw so many similarities between Paisley and Maddie and although she was often sick, Maddie had an obvious zest and love for life. And then she died. All of a sudden, with very little warning, Maddie's lungs gave out and she died. I have been checking the blog two or three times a day since then. I have cried more times than maybe I should given that technically, I never knew Maddie. I feel so much for her parents and her family and my heart aches for everything they have gone through. Of course it has made me appreciate the times I have with Paisley that much more. Sometimes I will be out at the store or the park with Paisley and Maddie will flash through my mind. I stop and hug Paisley or give her a kiss because I am so damn lucky.

I am so impressed with Maddie's parents and how they are coping. I know they feel like they are falling apart but I am continually shocked at their level of compassion and ability to share their pain with the world. Nobody ever wants to go through that but I find the idea that Maddie's life has affected mine, and made me appreciate my little girl that much more, very powerful. While they would obviously just prefer to have their baby back, I hope it makes Heather and Mike feel a little less alone to know that Maddie is not forgotten.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Twilight

Against my better judgment I bought and started reading Twilight this weekend. I had heard it was bad but I also heard from a few people that it was awesome and since it is looming large on our cultural landscape at the moment I decided I should be versed in all things vampire. Good God this book is bad. I mean, really, really bad. I honestly thought that since it would have been edited (professionally!) several times and eventually published that it would at least be grammatically correct with decent sentence structure. I was wrong.

I really can't believe this book made it to the marketplace. Harry Potter was simple in structure and obviously geared for younger readers but it was complex in plot, well-developed and solidly written. This drivel is badly written and seriously lacking in plot. Nothing even really happens for the first three hundred pages - unless you count swooning as plot development. The main character, Bella, has got to be the weakest most un-feminist character I've come across in a long time. She is basically treated like dirt repeatedly and keeps coming back for more...because he's hot. She lacks any self-respect or instincts for self-preservation and is willing to endanger her life...because he's hot. The quickness with which these poorly developed teenage swooners fall for one another is reminiscent of Romeo and Juliet and about as believable. Ugh.

I thought this book would be simple but good, written for young adults, but with elements of style that might explain its popularity. Instead I feel like I'm reading Sweet Valley High all over again and I honestly don't know if I'll be able to finish it. Stephenie Meyer should be ashamed of herself for inflicting such saccharine, poorly-constructed and misogynistic garbage on the young women of this world. As ashamed as I am for picking up the book in the first place.

Friday, May 08, 2009

To Paisley: Fifteen Months (and nine days) Old

Spring has been a long time coming this year and there have been many times where I thought it was here only to wake up to snow. In a way, the weather has mirrored what has been going on in our house this past month. You have been sick off and on for several weeks and every time I thought it was over it seemed to come back. Maybe it's the time of year or the fact that you see so many kids during a week but you have caught a few colds and a whopper of a bug. You are always so sweet and despite feeling miserable you usually try to be happy. Except for that one week which we will discuss later so as not to poison the entire newsletter.

You are such a big kid now! Your walking is getting faster and steadier every day and you roam further with each outing. You are confident and I let you walk as often as possible. It now takes me a VERY long time to go grocery shopping. I usually let you run free in the freezer section because there aren't any shelves where you can pull things down and you like looking through the big glass doors at all the processed foods you will never have. When people look at you, even a quick glance, you turn on the Paisley charm. It starts with a smile and then a wave. If you get continued eye contact you usually do the shrug and head tilt which elicits "Awwws" from even the stodgiest of characters. If necessary you resort to the babbling and laughing. It's incredible to watch and I would be lying if I hadn't seriously considered setting you up on a corner downtown next to an empty guitar case. Our money worries would be soon over.


You are still teething a lot and if I ever needed another argument against intelligent design (and I don't) it would be this. Having your teeth slowly and agonizingly work their way though your tender flesh before you have either words or the ability so take serious pain killers is a lousy experiment. I'll blame the teething on the fact that you are a bit of, well I'll just say it Paisley, you're a biter. You bit your friend Luke on the arm so hard that it left teeth marks and you try to bite me at least once a day. I even found you in your crib last week biting your own arm and laughing/crying. Very emo.

So, here we will discuss the week that I will be blocking from my memory. Two weeks ago you got sick. I mean puke in your crib, runny nose, miserable and sad sick. The first few days we cuddled and I carried you every where and my heart ached for you because you were obviously feeling lousy. Then all the symptoms went away and you appeared physically better except for the fact that the Paisley I knew and loved had disappeared along with the runny nose. What was left in her place was a whiny, needy, grouchy, angry little girl who needed attention at every waking minute. I am very proud that through the entire week this little monster was around, I never lost my cool. Not once. I was patient and kind and soft spoken. But I did break a tooth from all the grinding I did in trying to stay so cool. I was just starting to worry that this girl might be here to stay when poof! I woke up one morning and you were back. Rainbows, kittens and sunshine...and I was never happier to see you.


I have a lesson to pass on to you Paisley and I want you to pay close attention to what I am saying. I myself have had to learn this lesson the hard way, not once, not twice but several times in my life. Never, ever, under any circumstances, bleach your hair. It won't end well I can assure you. If ever something is bad enough that you think bleach will fix it, seek professional help. If ever you think, "Oh, I'll just start over with a blank canvas. Strip all the colour from my delicate, porous hair and it will be perfect..." it won't be. IT WON'T BE. What will happen is that your hair will turn all kinds of shades of pumpkin and then you will apply what is supposed to be a warm chocolate brown only it will be 100 shades of something ranging from green to black. Then your hairdresser will try to compensate for this by cutting your hair into some rocker-chick mop that will make you go home and cry because now you are a 31 year old stay-at-home-Mom who looks like a 45 year old cougar-mom. Ahem...now back to you you.

You have started talking this month and while I would love to say your first word was "Mama" it wasn't. It was "Uh Oh" (does that count as a word?) You say Mama and you know it but I think you don't really have a reason to use it because I am always there. Right there, in your face. Hugging you and kissing you and stroking your hair. I must be so annoying.


We celebrated Easter this month. When I was a child Easter meant a lot of church and then chocolate. Since we don't go to church it will probably mean family, ham, chocolate and easter eggs. Not too shabby. We went to see your Raymond family first and dyed eggs and then drove out to the coulees to roll them down a hill. There was more throwing than rolling but it was fun and a new experience for me which is the great thing about marriage. You get a whole new set of traditions. My Mom and Dad had just gotten back from South America so we had easter a second time a week later. You are a very lucky girl to have so many wonderful people to share your life with. And did I mention there was ham?


No matter how sick and whiny you get or how tired I become I have to be honest and say that it never really gets old. You are such a sweet and good-natured person that your good side always manages to shine through. Even if its covered in snot by the time you actually see it.


Love,
Mama

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Update

Feeling bad about not blogging. So, here is a short list of what has been going on in my life lately:

•Knee hurts badly. Not sure yet what the diagnosis is but either way it sucks. I can't run and I haven't been to the gym in 2 weeks. It has been very demoralizing after I worked so hard.

•Got a ton of work today writing web copy. Web copy about a company that makes machines that make trusses? Weirdly enough I enjoy it.

•Spring is here and that makes me very happy.

•I got a new Bissell steam mop and I love it. It cleans without chemicals and does an awesome job.

•Justin came to visit us this weekend and it was lovely to see him. We played Settlers of Catan, ate Indian food and went to Banff.

•I just finished Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill. It was good but a very easy read.

•I finished my XHTML class by designing an entire web site. I loved the class and will be taking the next one (CSS) in the fall.

•I got a hair cut which I hate. The reason the cut is so bad was because my hairdresser was trying to compensate for the ugly colour(s) in my hair after I botched THREE dye jobs. Have been thinking about shaving it all off.

•Went to the Killers concert and had a great time. It was awesome to see friends and drink beer while baby was far away.

•Celebrated Easter a second time with the Knox family a couple of weekends ago. Always love seeing my brothers and of course, Mom and Dad.

That's about it. I promise I will write again soon and I know that I have a newsletter due. I have been working like crazy on writing that I actually get paid to do and unfortunately that might not change for a while.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Spring Fling Wing Ding

I have always loved spring (I think most people do probably) and this year is no different. It has been a long winter, even with a February getaway to Mexico. I remember as a young girl how excited I would get for spring - in Fort McMurray the winters were long and dark and deep and spring came suddenly and with great triumph. The city had an annual river break up lottery where everyone would put money on when the river would break. A few years it sort of melted away without any dramatic announcement but most years it was violent and impressive. The sudden change in temperature coupled with ice jams and building pressure would often send huge (size of cars and even bigger) chunks of ice flying into the air and onto the banks. Those chunks of ice were so large that they often sat there, diminished but present, until mid July. I loved it. The loud cracking sound of the ice exploding could be heard from almost anywhere in the city, like a grand announcement that spring was here. Nothing like that happens here in Calgary - spring arrives gradually and often teases us by disappearing and reappearing a few times before it sticks. This weekend we went to Raymond for Easter and had a great time. We coloured eggs and took them out to to coulees where we rolled (well, were were instructed to roll them but to be honest, most of them were launched) them down the hill and then searched for the year's first crocus'. That felt pretty defined for me: it is springtime in Alberta.

Monday, April 06, 2009

To Paisley: Fourteen Months Old

Well, the biggest (and most recent news) this month is that you are officially walking! Yay! You are so happy to finally be able to go where and when you want and so proud of yourself. We went for coffee at a place called Coffee & Scream last week and that's where you started to walk. You had taken a few steps here and there but when I let you loose in the giant play area at the coffee shop you just stood up and started walking! I couldn't believe it! My friend said "Wow, Paisley is really good. How long has she been walking?" and I had to look at my watch because it had been about 5 minutes. Since then it has been all walking, all the time. You have this constant grin on your face and look so happy just to be vertical. As opposed to me who spends 16 hours a day vertical and just wants to lie down sometimes.



You are learning things at an incredible rate lately and every day brings a new adventure. Last month you conquered going up the stairs and now you can go down as well. Those two skills go particularly well together. You can open every kind of door or drawer and love to pull things out of the kitchen cupboards. Or at least you did until Daddy brought home one dozen large rubber bands and now the doors don't open. But they do make for excellent guitars. You laugh at jokes, have ticklish knees and will wave bye bye on command. You like to throw things down stairs or into the bath tub and I always let you. After all, it's fun.


The not so happy news is that we had our first fight this month. You and were hanging out in the bedroom playing around when all of a sudden you attached yourself to my nose with your teeth. Hard. I didn't want to scream in case I scared you and you bit harder so I yelled for your Dad to come. He came running in the room only to find his wife being mauled by a rabid toddler. He gave you a little pat on your bum which scared you and made you cry. I've never been so happy to have you cry because it meant you let go. I also started to cry. There we were, both bawling (me feeling my face to ensure I still had one) and your poor Dad didn't know what to do. So he laughed. Man did that hurt...the biting I mean, not the laughing.

You are no longer taking a bottle or any formula and are strictly on solid food. You like most things but don't seem to like meat. You're pretty good at letting us know what you don't like - if it goes flying across the room, you don't like it. You are a very good communicator. You point at things you want and scream or grunt until you get them. If you don't get it (because that thing you're pointing at happens to be a carving knife) you throw a tantrum complete with back arches, head banging and scratching/biting. It's an awesome thing to behold.


You are also down to only one nap a day now and it is working well for both of us. You seem to like having one long nap and it definitely gives us more time in the morning to get out and play. It also means that when you go down I can work at my other job as a writer. I have had a ton of work lately and it is sometimes a struggle to squeeze it all into your nap time, but I manage. I feel like we have both hit our stride and I'm happy with how things are going. You are a very busy girl who always needs entertaining and luckily, I am also busy and love nothing more than to make you happy. We are good together.

Love,
Mama

Friday, March 20, 2009

Mi Casa es Donde?

The subject of where we should live is a popular one in our house. At least once a week one of us will launch into a verbal daydream of life in Vancouver, Sydney, California, France etc. and the other one will enthusiastically join in. That is the problem I suppose with having done a lot of traveling - it makes you realize that you could live anywhere. We have both always made a point of not living our lives by default. A lot of people just sort of end up where they are and we don't want that to happen to us. We want it to be a choice - the result of a lot of thought and consideration. Having said that, there are sometimes so many factors to consider that it becomes overwhelming.

We chose Calgary initially because we thought it would be nice to be near our families again after living away for so long. From that perspective Calgary has been wonderful and now that we have a child it is even more important. Having said that, Calgary falls short in almost every other category we consider important. It's not hot enough, it lacks culture and diversity and a certain warmth. The politics drive us crazy and we will never really get the chance to know what it feels like to vote for a winning party. The city council is short-sighted. There is no decent recycling program and our economy is based on oil&gas which has obvious environmental complications. The best things about Calgary are proximity to the mountains, the fact that we can get out of the city really quickly and the friends and family we have here. All of them important things to consider.

The place we envision is warm, full of fresh food markets, arts districts, vital cultural communities, forward thinking urban planners and government, and alive. The problem is that Brian's chosen field limits us somewhat and so does our desire to stay close to family. If we won the lottery tomorrow we would move to New York city - we both love it there so much and although we know it isn't warm it so easily meets all the other criteria that we are willing to overlook that. But New York is not where our family is and it wouldn't take long for us to miss them and our weekly trips to the mountains. Brian wants to move to France but that's pretty far away and France has its own host of issues. We've also considered Vancouver and Montreal but always end up putting off the decision for another day.

It's so hard to know where to live and I wish you could go somewhere for 6 months at a time and try it on for size. I also wish you could pack up your loved ones and bring them along for the ride.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Intrepid

I am working on a magazine article on the "true crossover" right now and despite how sick I have been I managed to trudge my way to this weekend's Auto Show. There's a place I never thought I would visit. I took the train downtown and my head was foggy and achy. I felt miserable. Then, I got to the auto show, realized I didn't have my wallet with me and felt even worse. I called Brian from the window overlooking the show that I would apparently not be going to and told him that I was turning around and coming home and could he please dig a hole in the backyard so I could just throw myself in it when I got there. I was mad at myself and sick and my iPod battery was low. Shortly after I got off the phone something kicked in - the feeble remainder of my former self - and said "You are getting in to the Car Show, wallet or no wallet." So, I marched downstairs to the security guard and proceeded to give him hell. "I was in there and when I left you didn't stamp me and now the lady at the front won't let me back in and my husband is in there. Why didn't you stamp me? I'm NOT paying again."
"Okay, just go ahead. Sorry about that ma'am."

I felt like I had just forged the castle walls and was rewarded with lots of shiny vehicles and the nauseating smell of new car. I got the info/interviews I needed for my article and headed for the train. It was right about then that I found my wallet.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Much Love for Big Love


It is not often (ever) that I post about television shows but I am enjoying this season of Big Love so much that I can't help myself. HBO has great writers (Six Feet Under? Hello!) and they always manage to develop intelligent, dynamic characters that you can really relate to, even if they are living in the strangest of circumstances. Big Love is no exception - the main characters consist of a polygamist family in Utah. Three wives, a bunch of kids and one very tired husband. As is that doesn't provide enough tension and conflict, the family is constantly being drawn into the drama of the local polygamous sect at Juniper Creek. The writing is funny, touching and demanding and this season in particular has revealed some pretty incredible plot lines. Although each character is very well developed they still always manage to surprise the viewer, and the acting of the entire cast in incredible.

This is going to sound weird but I think I might like living in plural marriage. Brian thinks I'm nuts but there is something appealing about the idea of sharing the burdens of life with other women and always having a sister-wife nearby to laugh with. I'm sure it would get really old really quickly but I have allowed myself to imagine it and I don't think it would be all bad. I would always have a babysitter handy.

I am completely fascinated by polygamy and by the Fundamentalist Mormons and this show hasn't done much to quell that. There are a lot of LDS characters and because it is set in Utah, the LDS culture features prominently in the plot. We often wonder what connections the writers have to the church since they manage to get a lot of the more subtle Mormon cultural references correct. Tom Hanks is one of the producers but I'm pretty sure they have some "inside men" on the pay roll.

If you haven't ever watched Big Love I would highly recommend it. If you know nothing about Mormons or their long lost polygamous brethren than it will be eye-opening and if you are more familiar with the concept than it will probably still be eye-opening. Either way I guarantee that you will fall in love with some of the characters, hate others and get swept up into a very strange yet compelling world.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

How do you take a day off when you work from home?

Both Brian and I are at home sick with the flu. Brian at least gets to leave his work environment and take refuge in the comforts of home. I, on the other hand, keep looking at my laptop knowing that I have a magazine article to write. I told the editor I would have it to him by next week and I haven't written a word. I haven't even started my research. Maybe I could change the subject from crossover vehicles to "Are double toilet rolls really two rolls in one?" Because, between you and me, I really don't think they are.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Campus Bound

I have decided (despite the fat that it is one of my New Year's resolutions) that I will not be attending the BlogHer Conference this year. I would love to go but I really can't afford it. I was going to use one of the two free tickets we have with NWA but then we are left with one and I would rather that Brian and I go somewhere together. We are looking at moving and we simply can't move, pay off student loans and send me to Chicago. So, those of you who are going, enjoy and have a drink for me!

But, in mildly related news I started my Web Design and Management class last night and plan on using that to work on strongasaknox as well as my soon to be incorporated communications firm. More to come on that later. It was good and although it is very XHTML focused I will probably take a CSS class after that and then, who knows. Although my poor little brain is out of practice and found the three hour class long, it felt good to be back in a classroom again. Neurons were firing.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Apologies

So, to anyone who still reads this...I'm back. Sorry about the absence, we had some major computer issues and then I was in Mexico where I had access to the internet but ignored it because I was on vacation. I promise I will make more of an effort in the future. And in case you don't believe me, here is a totally unrelated comic.

To Paisley: Thirteen Months Old

When I first started writing monthly newsletters I wasn't sure how long I would keep it up. After thinking about it long and hard I have decided to keep going for as long as I enjoy it and have something to say. The first year of your life was full of wonder and change and I have no reason to think that will change for your second, third or fourth year of life. When you are old enough to say "Mom, seriously, this is embarrassing" then I will stop. Maybe.

I don't know if a switch was turned on this month or if it was something you ate in Mexico but you are like a different kid these days. Demanding, whiny, insistent and as sweet as ever. I think you feel frustrated more these days. You are old enough now to know what you want but are not always able to communicate it. When you do communicate but Mama doesn't obey, you get pissed. You want to walk and are so close but you still aren't there yet. You want to feed yourself and dress yourself but can't seem to manage to get the spoon in the mouth or the arms in the holes. That has got to be hard. I have seen the determined streak in you from the time you were a newborn and I know it is in your nature to be strong willed because it is in mine too. I'm okay with that and I let you do what you want for the most part but I draw the line at pulling all the knives out of the dishwasher. You have to be fourteen months to do that.


A large part of this month was spent in Mexico. You and I flew out together (thank you for being a dream baby), your Dad joined us a few days later and then we all flew home together last week (you were a demon baby on the way back - which just proves my point about the switch.) We had such a wonderful time Paisley and you loved every minute of it. You swam in the pool every day with your Grandma and Grandpa, ate guacamole until it was coming out of your ears, played in ate the sand and met every person in Bucerias. The Mexican women would stop us in the street and you would smile and babble away to them. You learned to wave while we were in Mexico and charmed Alberto, the man who worked at our villa, so much that he brought you all sorts of Mexican candy. I am sad to report that you didn't get to eat the candy - but you did your 7th tooth so consider yourself lucky. Every time we took you anywhere in the stroller you would sing your lungs out the entire trip. It was so cute and funny and you managed to garner a lot of attention. Your Dad and I took you for your first swim ion the ocean and we were surprised by how much you liked it. We thought you might be afraid of the waves but you loved them and you would squeal each time they roared past (and your over protective parents lifted you out of the water in fear you would be swept out to sea). The trip was a great break for everyone - it allowed you to get away from the monotony of car seats, boots, jackets and boring Mom all day long, it allowed your Dad and I some time alone together which we really needed and it gave my parents the opportunity to spend a lot of time with you. I loved watching them with you - you give them so much joy and you are very, very loved.




You are so close to walking and I expect that by the next post you will be. You practiced a lot on the beach where falling was safe and even fun, and now that you've figure out it is possible you want to stand up and explore all the time. You also like to chew on nail files which gives me the heebie jeebies.


Love,
Mama

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Four Years...


These are the roses that showed up at my house yesterday. Today is our 4th wedding anniversary and I can't help but feel reflective. Marriage is a complicated, and often difficult, but more often wonderful, thing that us humans enter into. I am not someone who believes that marriage is for everyone and neither am I someone who spent my younger years dreaming of my wedding. Having said that I still think it is the best thing I ever did. For me marriage is about friendship, patience, growth, support and the profound opportunity to be a witness to another person's life. It is about sharing all the good and all the bad with someone else so that when all is said and done, there is an account of your existence. Marriage is unique in that it is the only opportunity you will ever have to choose your family. Parents, siblings, children - they are all genetically predetermined, but a spouse is a choice and that makes it both special and terrifying.

I will admit that there have been days (the bulk of them occurring post-baby) where I have questioned marriage - my own and the practice more generally. It is hard sometimes and annoying to have to take someone else into consideration all the time. It would be nice to do what I wanted, when I wanted and think only of myself. There are days when I miss living on my own. But like anything in life, there are the other days. The mornings in bed where I am warm and cuddled and in love and the sun is shining in the window and I get to plan a day with my very best friend. The days when I feel frustrated and I have someone there to make me feel better. The knowledge that I have chosen, and been chosen, to be a part of something that lasts for the rest of our lives. Those days both outnumber and outweigh the days where I'm not as convinced. And for that I feel lucky.

Thank you Brian for being so funny, smart, patient, kind and generous. And for always putting the toilet seat down. I love you with all of my heart.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

To Paisley: Twelve Months Old

A year - I have been putting off this post because I find it a bit daunting, scary even. There are so many things I want to say and want to tell you. What an incredible year this has been and how loved you are and I am fearful that I will fail miserably to express it in words.

When I first found out I was pregnant I didn't feel excited. We had been through three miscarriages already and I was afraid to feel excited. I felt hopeful and wanted you more than anything. After we passed the 12 week mark I allowed the excitement to seep in, little by little until it started to grow as quickly as my belly. Maybe that's what that extra 70 lbs was - just a lot of excitement? I remember trying to imagine what you would look like and who you would be. What would our life look like at 1 month, 3 months, a year? It seemed so far away and now, here we are. Here you are - we made it kiddo!

You are a real little person now and growing more willful and independent by the day. You are standing up and cruising on everything and love the stairs. One evening, while I was making dinner and you were playing in the living room I looked down for a nanosecond only to look up again and see that you had disappeared. I didn't worry because you are always trying to get into the toilet so I went around to the bathroom. Nothing. I couldn't see or hear you anywhere and I started to panic "I lost my kid! In my living room! What kind of horrible mother am I!?" I looked up the stairs and you weren't there either. Then I heard a giggle. I walked up the stairs and around the corner on the landing and there you were - upstairs, laughing your head off. Other things that make you laugh include sneezing, unpacking newly folded laundry from the basket, throwing your head back violently and chucking things off the edge of your change table. You have a devilish streak in you that I both recognize (sorry Mom!) and love. You make this crazy face and I still can't decide if it's really ugly or incredibly cute...it's probably both.


You had an early birthday party this year and your Dad's family came to Okotoks from Raymond to celebrate you. I made the ugliest cake in the history of mankind. I promise when you are older and it really counts that I will make you nice cakes that you can be proud of. My Mom always made great birthday party food and I look forward to doing the same for you. I'll even put rum in the punch if it will help your party get off the ground. It was so nice to see you with both sets of grandparents (and your beautiful Aunt Kaylee came too) and to know that you are so loved. You are really starting to recognize people now and you lapped up the attention. That trait also seems vaguely familiar I'm afraid.




There are days when I question my decision to stay home. Days when a friend calls me and all I can think to tell them is that you did this or that and how cute you are. I hear myself and I wonder if I am sacrificing too much to be at home with you. I live a small life it seems and that is not something I ever imagined for myself. But then you will smile at me, or we will be out at the grocery store and I will catch a glimpse of you and it is like the whole world has stopped. I am left breathless by the amount of love that I have in my heart. Sunny days seem brighter because it means we are going for a long walk together, music is sweeter because you are hearing it and the world is more fascinating because you are discovering it. Finishing a project or getting a paycheck never made me feel such reverence or peace. Before you came into my life I thought it had meaning - I didn't even know the meaning of meaning.


Happy Birthday!
Love,
Mama