6.27.2008

Take Off, Eh?

...See you in a few days; we're heading to the great white North where there are lots of bears, but no DSL.

Have a happy, safe, inclusive Pride, and my peeps - Happy Canada Day, eh?

I'll be thinking about you as I dip my feet into frigid water and take a big swig of some good Canadian micro-brew.


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6.23.2008

You Want I Should Recommend a Good Book?

When good friend and book maven, Metro Mama, asked me to review an advance copy of Petite Anglaise, blogger Catherine Sanderson’s debut manuscript, I was thrilled. She must have known that I would never finish the reading ‘on time,’ but you know what? I read this book faster than any I’ve started, discarded or finished since getting pregnant with Dove. And that is saying something.

I must confess, I was not a follower of the blog Petite Anglaise, though I had heard of it before the book landed in my mailbox. That seemed to make very little difference to my enjoyment of the book, and in fact, may have even been a good thing, as I was not able to (fairly or unfairly) compare the book to the blog; the author to the blogger.

Dubbed, A True Story, Petite Anglaise does not read like the other blog-to-books I’ve read. It did not have the ‘behind the scenes’ bent of Julie & Julia, where I felt like I was getting a glimpse of the grittier, goofier, got-left-on-the-cutting-room-floor outtake blog posts, nor was it practically omitted to enhance the documentary-style feel of The 100-Mile Diet, where the book complimented and expanded upon the very specific purpose of the blog of same.

The blog in Petite Anglaise (the book) takes a kind of secondary role; it’s there, but it serves as a catalyst for action, as well as a quirk or idiosyncrasy that gives the protagonist more dimension. The blog within the story is kind of like a Magic 8 Ball – she puts something out there, shakes it around and gets some direction in return. The story is about Catherine/Petite following those directions, and the journey that they lead her on.

Petite Anglaise, honestly, felt more like fiction – almost like Sophie Kinsella’s Shopaholic series, or even like Bridget Jones’ Diary. It felt, in fact, like chick-lit – good chick-lit; great chick-lit – but not really like a memoir. Based on a blog. And I dug that.

I actually think that my BFF got more out of the book than I did; she turned the last page with a better understanding of why we would want to blog in the first place; why we would want to share private thoughts with the (cyber)universe, and how we make lasting friendships through something as impersonal and vague as the internet.

She also fell in love with Paris, which played my favourite character. Sanderson describes Paris with the love/hate relationship of any ex-pat with their adopted home, and we both relished every sentence of it. From the lush brushstrokes of a walk through the park in the rain, to the charm stippling of a corner fruit stand, Sanderson did a lovely, honest job of painting Paris as a vibrant, enchanting city, even if I could have done without the dog poop and second-hand smoke.

All in all, Petite Anglaise is well-written, in an engaging, original style that will no doubt soon be saddled with a clever moniker made up by some pundit in the publishing industry. Blogography? Blogoir? Regardless, Catherine Sanderson’s debut will surely be seen as a pioneer in whatever category it turns into, and the readers will be all the better for it.


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6.20.2008

Make Mine a Double

…Root canal, that is. Yup, good times. One minute my (not really) pearly whites are doing what they’re supposed to, chewing and flashing charming grins and such, and the next, well, one of them is shooting a spear of pain up it’s nerve ending and into my eye socket, where it explodes into a million little nodules of hurt.

Twelve hours later I am in the dentist’s chair, chock full of lydacane but minus two roots from the fourth molar from the back. I guess it wasn’t so bad.

What hurt plenty more was the realization that I am falling apart, and the twin realization that this is because I am getting old.

I don’t really mind the getting old part too much. Much more clever people have said much more clever things than I ever could about ageing, and anyway, the only thing that I ever remember (the memory is the first to go) is the thing that I think is most important: Getting old: It’s better than the alternative.

What I’m not crazy about though, is the falling apart part. Now, I’m 33 – certainly not quite old enough to be bitching about being old, but old enough to know that it ain’t gonna get any easier. Or prettier. Take the root canal. A standard procedure; many people have it done much younger, and more times over than me. But I didn’t even have my first cavity until I was 25, and now, four cavities, the necessary removal of all of my wisdom teeth, a really pretty yellowish hue and two root canals later, it’s like my teeth have simply given up on me.

My knees, hips and back must have been jealous of the work stoppage, because they too have seriously slowed down on me, and are as likely to twitch, twinge, stab and outright strike as they are to keep me upright and moving.

There is much irony to growing older. For instance, my hands, arms and legs fall asleep easily, but I can lay awake for hours trying to catch some zzz’s. It takes a lot more work (and money) to keep my hair lustrous, shiny and flowing, yet hairs on my chin, toes and moles pop up so nicely with no help whatsoever. Gross, I know, but that’s how it goes. You’re lying if you say you’ve never plucked a stray from somewhere that hair just should not grow.

But hairs are not the only things sprouting on my body; skin tags under my eyes arrived during both of my pregnancies, and moles and spots pop up all the time. I am constantly on the lookout for bumps and lumps of disconcerting origin, because, as my mother so bluntly attributes to the women of my family, ‘We grow things.’ Goody! Should I just put a dermatologist on retainer now?

Speaking of growing, I seem to be able to grow and birth beautiful, healthy babies, and for that I am entirely, truly grateful, but I’d also be grateful if I could lose the extra flab that pregnancies so generously left behind. I can’t help but think that if I were, say, ten years younger (or a celebrity), I’d already be back to the weight I was before even my first pregnancy.

It also doesn’t help that I am married to a younger man. Now, don’t laugh, but 10 months seems to make all the difference between coming apart at the seams, and holding up just fine, thank you. Besides a teeny, tiny bit of thinning up top and expansion down below, my boy toy is in great shape. Well, almost great shape. The other night, after I turned to look at something and a white-hot dagger shot through my neck and shoulder because, you know, turning to look at something is such treacherous work, Chris sighed and shook his head.

‘Oh, honey,’ he said, somewhat pitifully. ‘What?’ I asked, ‘Don’t you ever have any pain?’ He looked at me sympathetically and nodded slowly. ‘Oh, definitely,’ he commiserated, ‘I do. A big one. It’s a pain in my ass.’

I wanted to throttle him, but I dared not attempt it, as my pre-arthritic fingers had been giving me some trouble. I’d sigh, but deep breaths can be tough work. Did I mention I’m asthmatic?



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6.18.2008

A Comment On Comments

No, this is not one of those, ‘We all love and really need comments to keep us going because, you know, this blog is really for you, so share the love and say hi’ kinds of post. I swear, it’s not. ( Although, I wouldn’t mind if you said hi.)
No. This post is about my comments. To you. Or lack thereof.

See, one of the biggest obstacles of navigating the care and feeding of two small children is finding time to blog. The sacrifices we make. Anyway, the point is, I rarely write, read or even think about blogs by myself. The hours I have to blog are fleeting, so I must find a moment here and there while I can. Like, while SuperWhy is on and Bee will not move from the TV, no matter what the distraction, or while the laundry is, erm, breathing, before it’s folded. You didn’t know laundry had to breathe, did you? Think of all the precious blogging hours you’ve been wasting.

Anyhoo, as I was saying, I rarely do anything with both of my hands these days, because one of them is pretty much always holding a child or something that a child needs. Blogging is obviously not exempt from my single-handedness, though it is still a great deal easier to blog holding a child than it is to, say, pee, or make a sandwich. Though I can all three. Not at once; ew. Funny then, I can barely do any of those things without having a cup of coffee first.

I digress. (I can do that one-handed, too.)The point is, I just want you to know that I’m there; that I care, and that I am leaving whatever length/strength/cohesiveness of comment that I possibly can at the moment. I promise. But just in case you are wondering what I am babbling about when I leave my cyber-version of chicken-scratch over at your place, here’s a guide:

Kgirl’s comment is all lower-case, but of decent length and pertains to the actual post:

Baby is in my arms, but she is contentedly playing with a toy. Probably the digital camera or something equally inappropriate, as I am blogging, not paying attention.

Kgirl’s comment is all lower-case, but of decent length, though may seem non-sequitarious in nature:

Baby is in my arms and has dropped item she was formerly playing with, so I’ve picked it up, losing my train of thought. Baby drops item again, and scenario repeats itself. Repeatedly.

Kgirl’s comment is all lower-case and has nothing really to do with the post:

In all honesty, I never finished reading the post. I probably read the first and last sentence of every paragraph, but the baby is fussy. However, I feel I have made enough of an investment in the post to let you know I was here, and I care.

Kgirl’s comment is all lower-case and consists of about two words, probably a noun and an adjective or verb – maybe, you rock! Or she’s adorable!:

I never finished reading the post, the baby is fussing even more and I relied on the other comments to tell the story and/or guide me in leaving a comment of my own, because I still care.

Kgirl’s comment has symbols where letters should be, letters where punctuation should be and then drifts off into something like, 90wer[jf; o9u3:

The baby has become so fussy from dropping her contraband that I have stood up and am jiggling her, making room for the cat to jump up on the chair, than the desk, and walk all over the keyboard.

Kgirl has not left a comment:

I am now nursing the baby standing up and jiggling her, while trying to get the cat off the desk with my foot and calling down to Bee to please answer the phone because I know it is her father calling, and since I have just blogged through my dinner prep time and the baby is fussy, I need him to bring home sushi for dinner.

So there you go. Be sure that, in return, your comments – or lack thereof – are always appreciated and read with love and an understanding that you probably have a comment ‘code’ of your very own. Anyway, better go; this post has become of decent length, though may seem non-sequitarious in nature, and you know what that means.

***

6.16.2008

Father

Honestly, I’m clearing my bloglines. I can’t click through the myriad of bolded posts calling to me, fearing that any or all of them will be the expected Father’s Day posts.

I didn’t write one this year, even though, like most of the posts that you likely wrote, I could easily fill a page with wonderful words about my husband. I could easily find the words to pay tribute to a wonderful man that became a wonderful husband and a wonderful father. I could tell you that even when we’re fighting, I still think he’s hot; that even when I’m at my worst, he finds a way to be his best. But I couldn’t.

Because for me, yesterday was not about my children’s father. It was about mine.

About this first, painful father’s day without him, a mere two days after the first time in my life that I did not mark June 13 by celebrating my father’s birthday. My dad did not turn 66 on Friday. I did not see the announcement of his birthday on my calendar, marked in red and given the ultimate kgirl tribute of an exclamation mark. I could not bear to mark the day this year; to look at it on it’s proper square all month but know that it would never arrive. I did not call him and sing to him, and then hear him make the requisite joke that if I really cared about him having a good day, I wouldn’t have sang.

And yesterday, Father’s Day, I once again did not call him. I did not buy him the latest Bruce Springsteen or Dixie Chicks album, or the Alison Krause/Robert Plant CD that I know he would have loved. I did not send him the most recent, adorable pictures of his growing, adorable granddaughters. Bee did not get on the phone and squeak her love to her ‘Big Guy.’

I’m sorry, Chris, that the shadow of my father cast a cloud on a day that I could have spent celebrating you. But goddamn, that shadow still knows how to wrap itself around my chest and squeeze until the breath is almost out of me. And this weekend, well, I was having trouble breathing.

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6.12.2008

Things That Go Bump

Falling, bumping, spilling, dropping, breaking, tripping, stumbling, slipping, dripping: forget language, independence or defiance – these are the true hallmarks of toddlerhood.

Honestly, I think that, as far as toddlers go, mine is pretty darn graceful, but man oh man, she has her challenges.

Spilling, not surprisingly, is one of them. Not one to accept a sippy cup, my daughter’s beverages end up on the floor as often as they do in her mouth. It seems as though as soon as she puts her cup down it is rendered invisible, and she is as apt to kick it, bump it, push it or hit it as she is to pick it up and take another drink. Now, this trait she comes by honestly; her father is a champion drink spiller, and has – I swear this is true – spilled his beer from across the room. Remember the game Mousetrap? His beer-spilling feat from 3 metres away was like the most successful game of Mousetrap you’ve ever played. Just not for the white rug.

Ok, anyway, the spilling she gets from her father, and we may as well credit him for the dropping, breaking and dripping too (plus burping, tooting, any other noxious emissions and forgetting where she put things – all him). But the rest of it? The general spazziness of the toddler set? Sigh. It can be cute, the way these tiny people learn the use of limbs and the laws of gravity, but as a mother watching, kissing better and cleaning up after the many foibles of her three-year-old? Well, it’s exhausting.

Barely a week goes by that Bee does not fall off of something. Couches, ottomans, stools, chairs, counters – they are all fair game, and while thankfully, we have had no serious accidents (knock on wood, spit into the wind, throw the salt and don’t tempt fate), my heart drops and my pulse accelerates with every thud, bonk and bounce my little monkey incurs.

When talking about the things no one tells you about having children, I skip right over the pain of childbirth, fierceness of love or sleep deprivation part, and head straight to the, ‘Your toddler will be a spazz’ part. I really do wish somebody had warned me about it because it is this aspect of having a child that has truly surprised me. I mean, I spent time around little kids before I had any, but good lord, you don’t realize just how often they break things until the things they are breaking are yours.

So, my advice to all of you who do not yet have toddlers: put away anything that you don’t want ruined, emptied, broken or wasted; always have a stock of band-aids and superglue on hand, and if you want to be really safe, don’t teach your kid how to walk.

I’m kidding of course, about that last part. A little. Oh and hey, anybody out there know how to get sunscreen out of a wool couch?


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6.06.2008

We Are Horrible Parents

guest post by chris the husband

It took awhile to get Bee to sleep tonight. She dawdles, stalls, makes repeated demands another story, the other blanket, to sleep in my arms, for mama to tuck her in, etc.
I know careers have been made by various authors offering various sleep solutions, but each methodology without exception ignores the elephant in the room, the heart of the issue.



They know the moment their eyelids drag themselves down, down, down into sleepy-time, mum and dad open the door to the chocolate fairy. Who is awesome.

As our kids slowly kick their covers off, they know in their hearts that we are opening up that cupboard under the sink with the childproof lock on it. You know, the one we tell them is filled with bad chemicals they should never ever touch, but actually contains all the best toys in the world. The one’s we’re playing with as we put in our favourite Backyardigan video while eating chips and chocolate ice cream? On the couch!

Yes, you see, our kids are perfectly justified in pulling out every stop not to go to sleep, because it is all true. Everything they suspect that happens when they are asleep, happens. All the time.




To give a recent example, the family and I were enjoying a nice afternoon in the Distillery District, and Bee, assuming we where just going to look at more boring art galleries where she wasn't even allowed to add to the pictures, crashed out in her stroller along with Dove.

We dropped the art appreciation act and ran here. Immediately.




Soma Chocolatemaker's chocolate labratory. A labratory for chocolate. Yes. As long as you stand behind the glass and avoid direct eye contact, you can watch the magical fairy creatures buzzing about like mad, making new forms of chocolate.




This is the main lab. It's shiny and round and full of chocolate and rainbows and children's dreams. *not pictured - rainbow and children's dreams. I have no idea what it does, but it's fantastic. Did I mention it's full of chocolate?




There was also a faucet there that never stopped spewing liquid chocolate into a vat, like some fountain of eternal youth, if eternal youth meant obesity, acne and early onset diabetes.



A magical elf man in the 'gelato lab' making pure chocolate from other magical elves. It's horrible, but it's how chocolate is made.


Bee slept peacefully no more than two feet from the thin glass partition that separated her from a fantastic land full of jittery chocolate highs and sweet sugar crash lows. Dove slept unaware, dreaming of that one taste of choclate popsicle kgirl once gave her.
I must say here that our children are the most beautiful when asleep, and I love them so fiercely it makes me cry. That said, it was time for ice cream! Yay! ice cream!


We hurried with our treats down the street and sat at a bench and ate our goodies, (Kgirl got chocolate and pistachio ice cream, and I got a double scoop of chocolate and coconut) and we laughed and laughed and laughed, but quietly, so as not to wake the children.

Yes we are horrible parents.

6.04.2008

Why I Should Not Be Allowed To Talk Before I Have Coffee

(for Motherbumper)

Last week I picked Bee up from nursery school, and then ducked into the local grocery for some lunch fixins.

In the aisle, me and another mom went to manoeuver our strollers around each other, and I realized that I knew her.

‘Kim! Hi!’ I addressed her warmly and was in return greeted with a look that went from pure confusion to slight recognition. ‘Oh, hi!’ she said, still somewhat unsure.

‘We met at the toy store last week,’ I prompted, and looked to the boys sitting in the stroller. ‘I remember Jackson,’ I said, smiling at the older boy, ‘But,’ I continued, ‘I don’t remember the baby’s name.’

‘It’s Liam,’ My stranger/friend answered, continuing, ‘Wow, two out of three - you’re good! How did you remember any of our names? I can’t remember a thing!’

‘Oh god, don’t worry about it!’ I assured her, ‘It’s not like I ever remember anything important!

And… scene.

***

I am only slightly less of a knob over at Playdate today, where I wax loco – I mean local – about the yumminess of the farmers’ market. Go take a bite.


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