Saturday, 26 November 2011

Answers to your questions

Sometimes after reading one of my posts, you ask me a question in the comments section; too often I don’t get back to you.

My time on the computer is limited especially when old Slappy-hands-Naveen is around. I open the laptop and suddenly he’s there, beside me, slapping at the keys. Because we have Vista, he sometimes punches a key that changes everything – I go from writing words to typing in squiggles and slashes. And I have no idea how to get back to normal without shutting down. By then, there is usually something else needing my immediate attention like a cat in need of rescue from a menacing toddler or a clean-up in aisle two because a certain three year old figured he’d polish the kitchen floor with his left-over milk. I know you’ve all been there.

So here are some answers to the questions I didn’t get to:

In my post about Deaglan’s first days of school where a teacher told him he was silly because he had a doll in his backpack, a few of you asked what happened after I sent the note. I never quite got to the bottom of it but I did discuss it face-to-face with one of his teachers. She was truly surprised that someone had said it, told me that he could have whatever he desired in his backpack. And a few weeks ago, Deaglan announced to my relief, that he loved his new school.

And as a follow-up to the last post where I wrote about my first parent-teacher interview, yesterday we got a beautiful hand-written note from the teacher proclaiming that already since we’d spoken Deaglan has shown tremendous improvement in his hand-raising skills. You know what made the difference? I told him a few mornings this week that if he knew the answer to a question the teacher was asking, he should raise his hand. I don’t think anyone had ever really explained that process to him.

When I wrote about the church a few of you asked me if I’d considered seeking out a new church. Such a good question. Truth is, I realized that for now, spirituality, community and charity didn’t have to add up to church membership. I’m not committed to this though – I’m leaving room for mind-changing. This past week we went to two funerals and it was lovely to see that both of my relatives were closely connected to their church families. It was evident each time when the ministers officiating had moving and personal stories to share about the person.

I did however, get an email back from the minister of the church I wrote about. And she apologized for not responding to my request to have Naveen baptized, she said she was sorry to have hurt me. However she emphasized that membership in her church did require attendance. She signed off by thanking me ahead of time for any monetary donations I might be able to give to the church! Again it confirmed for me that leaving that church was the right thing.

And, when I wrote this post, I was feeling a little put-off by the season ahead. But you know what? It’s sort of growing on me. Shaune and I made a decision to buy only a few gifts for the kids and make Christmas about what we do together. Each Sunday so far, we’ve done a little project. Here are the pictures of our Christmas village and gingerbread house. This Sunday we’ll put up the tree and decorate the rest of the house. 

Finally, have I told you how much I appreciate you coming back and reading what I write? That your comments and connections are wonderful little gifts? My therapist asked me a few weeks ago why I write. I told her simply this:

It makes me happy.

 Sorry about the close-up of my bra strap.

 Where's Naveen you may be wondering. He's napping - we were strategic in planning out our activities. Most of this stuff would have been on the floor if he'd been involved. Sad but so true.
 This is the most intact the village has looked since we put it together. Deaglan finds it magical and insists on constantly changing it up, taking some of the pieces to bed with him at night. Shaune and I have been practicing our deep breathing and the art of letting go of the dream of having things "just so".
Stay tuned next week for pictures of my lame attempts at almost hand-made decorations as well as shots of the tree.

Monday, 21 November 2011

My first parent-teacher interview

Over the weekend I seriously considered quitting my job, growing a garden and homeschooling my kids. I even Googled some simple pants patterns - wondered what could be so hard about sewing the kids’ clothes. My Grizzly Adams moment came after my parent-teacher interview with Deaglan’s teacher.

Sometimes I think our culture has gone to shit.

We’re too quick to push our kids out the door, short-cut them through childhood because it’s convenient for us. I see it all the time when people marvel over a baby who sleeps through the night straight out of the womb and shake their heads wondering what’s wrong with the one who fusses and acts needy. I get sidelong looks when people hear I’m still nursing Naveen – they make the typical jokes about the need to stop when the kid can ask for the breast by name. All of a sudden the needs of the adults have taken precedence. We expect our babies to work around our schedules.

I’m a little bruised from the parent-teacher interview – can you tell?

Deaglan’s teacher suggested that we encourage his independence in order to boost his self-confidence because when he’s sitting in circle, learning his letters and numbers, he never raises his hand to answer questions. She felt strongly that this was directly related to how we were [babying] him at home.*


She asked me if I thought this made sense. I was diplomatic even though my mind had taken the first left to crazy-defensive-mother-ville. I asked her calmly how he was doing in everything else. Oh great, he’s cooperative, sweet and peaceful, we never have to speak to him she raved. I told her that it wasn’t important to us to push him to attain some advanced status; we just wanted him to be happy and well adjusted especially in the face of such a huge change in his little life.

She insisted that we needed to work on building his self-confidence.

I resisted the urge to remind her that he was born on Christmas Eve, most of the kids are at least six months older than him, that he had just spent ten months in my womb not even four years ago, went from being an only child to the one who gets less attention just last year. That this time a year ago he was still two for Chrissake – TWO! That legally he didn’t even have to be in school for two more years. I didn’t scream that we were thrilled he was making it through the days without a nap and a meltdown.

I didn’t say these things to her. I know she was just trying to help. But I did notice that the next time Deaglan asked me to help him put on his shoes, I panicked a little, found myself wondering why he couldn’t figure this simple thing out.

And I hated myself for it.

*She didn't say "babying" but she sure implied it.

Here are the outtakes of our photoshoot with the auto-timer last weekend. We're trying to get just the right one for our Christmas card. Shaune and I couldn't agree on any of these, so we'll try again this weekend coming.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

About Movember - can we set some boundaries?

I don’t know about Movember.

Well it’s a great cause, sure. And why not come up with a fun way to raise money to support men’s health? Lord knows it’s like pulling teeth to get them to go in for check-ups on their own. Genius when you think about it - appealing to their sensibilities while raising awareness. Kind of like hiding the baby’s antibiotics in the ice cream.

But honestly?

Do you know the level of concentration it takes to make eye-contact with some of my male colleagues lately? Without laughing out loud or cringing? I mean shouldn’t there be some guidelines? Rules like if growing a moustache takes you from urban soccer Dad to creepy-looking minivan guy in a few short weeks, then maybe consider showing your support in another way?

And do I now need to have this same conversation with Shaune every November? That growing a moustache might not be one of his strengths? That those patchy little tufts of hair sprouting on his face when he foregoes shaving cannot accurately be called a stache?

I’m not saying only the Tom Sellecks should don facial hair. I get how freeing it must be to let loose, get wild, join the Mo brotherhood. I’ve been known to let my hair down. I’m the first one to slap down my two bucks on Denim Fridays.

But hey, you don’t see me squeezing myself into a pair of low waisted skinny jeans just because it's a good cause.

Monday, 14 November 2011

I don't like Mondays (tell me why)

Today was the epitome of Monday.

This morning both kids started wailing as soon as I buckled them into their car seats. Deaglan sobbed that he had a hole in his finger - needed a bandage right then while Naveen expressed his overall dismay with life by screeching at the top of his lungs. I’d already been experiencing what could only be described as the early onset of menopause – I’m sure there’s a technical term for it but it can best be explained with these two words – hot flash. And when I unloaded the kids for the first drop-off at Deaglan’s school, I made a crucial discovery.

My pantyhose were all wrong.

By the time I arrived at the daycare, sweating and irritated, my tights which were clearly sized for an eight year old, were just about around my ankles which is coincidental because so was my crying baby. He would not let me back-step out of there, would not be comforted by anyone but me.

And it was precisely then, that I realized he was missing a shoe.

I could have cried at the thought of retracing my steps – it was only 7:45 AM and I was ready to surrender. Thank goodness the other shoe was in the van but at my parking spot when it occurred to me that my parking pass was still in Shaune’s car- I drive it on Fridays so he can ferry the kids around- I did raise the white flag.

I’d love to tell you that it got better from there but in typical Monday fashion, its tiny pinpricks of annoyance continued to nick me.

No wonder they wrote a song about it.

Thank you everyone for your wonderful comments on the last post about Gramma Mac. She passed away this afternoon. All of her kids, grandkids and great-grandkids are in my heart today.

Friday, 11 November 2011

Iris Bride

I finished Deaglan’s birthday party invitations last night. It was a process.

First I had to come up with a guest list – something he was of no help with. At the beginning of the week he told me the only person he wanted at his party was Naveen. I didn’t point out the obvious – that his baby brother would most likely always be at his parties, even those years he might not be welcome. But finally after sitting with his class picture, naming each classmate, we came up with a list. Next, I typed up a special note in tiny font to go into the invitations, printed those off, cut them small enough to fit inside the cards. And then I filled in the party details, sealed the envelopes and stuck them in his backpack with a note to his teachers.


It was my whole evening.

It made me think a lot on parenting. How it can be such a thankless job. I thought about how usually it only becomes a hot topic when it’s done badly. But good-enough parenting? It rarely gets an honorable mention. I was in one of those moods last night.

I was thinking about Iris Bride.

Shaune calls her Gramma Mac. On Wednesday morning before work he drove the half hour outside the city to sit with her. He held her hand and stroked her hair, whispered things to her. He said I love you Gramma. You have been a wonderful Gramma to me all these years.

And in his own way, he prayed that God scoop her up right then, take her Home.

She’d been taken off of life support at the beginning of the week, dosed just enough to be considered comfortable. And yet she hovers here, ashen, weak, with no will of her own, just waiting. We mourned her last night, my husband and I. We wondered how it could come down to these last few days, these terrible grim days of waiting.

People had warned Shaune of her state, reminded him that this was not how he should remember his Grandmother. They told him that she’d been muttering things not usually in her nature, that she might not look like the woman he knew. But after he’d sat with her for those hours, kissed her sallow cheek, he told me that it wasn’t true.

This too is Gramma, he said. Maybe not the way we are comfortable knowing her, but this is what she is like at the end of her life.

She turned 93 this year, birthed seven babies, met her great-grandchildren. It’s easy to say ahh but she lived a full life. Knowing she’s laying there, in the Home, tubes up her nose, waiting; these words get caught.

I pray for your eternal peace, Bride.

Deaglan on Gramma Mac's knee on her 90th birthday.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Did I mention I'm 5'2"?

I wish I could capture the scene we have each day as I’m getting the kids into their outdoor gear. I’m sure you would drive straight to my house and award me some kind of a trophy for not giving my children away.

I’d videotape it, although I’d not only be implicating myself as the crazy woman I turn into but it’s a full body job – my legs are needed to restrain Naveen while my hands put on his socks and shoes.

I’m not kidding.

And don’t even get me started on the laps around the house I do to catch Deaglan, threaten him with the worst punishment I can think of that won’t require intensive psychotherapy when he’s a grown-up, till finally, I can sit him still long enough to get his arms into his coat.

I have no idea why I’m not thinner than I am.

I mentioned something like this to Shaune yesterday – that I’d gained a few pounds lately. And you know what my husband said? Brace yourself because you’ll be relieved to know that although he does the cooking around here, he’s not perfect. He goes – “maybe it’s all the treats you eat at work.”

Can you imagine the nerve??? I mean how dare he??

Well I know it’s the treats but I was very comfortable in my sugary little cocoon of denial, thank you very much. How can I be expected to make it through the afternoon at work without chocolate almonds? Is it my fault that on Tuesdays our coffee cart only has one Sweet Marie square and if I don’t get there at just the right time I miss out?

And in all fairness to myself, I thought I was working-out just enough to break even. I even calculated the number of minutes I’d need to run, to afford each afternoon's pick-me-up. I was no math major but I really thought I had a foolproof system.

But then I had to go and remember that we needed batteries for the scale when we were at Canadian Tire last week. And just like that Cold-Hard Truth slapped me across the face.

Seven pounds since June.

 Every time I doubt that they look alike, I get reminded that they actually do. On the left is Deaglan just shy of a year old. Look at how similar their little cheeks and mouth are.

Little punks, it's their dreamy cuteness that keeps me from holding grudges.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

What I wished I'd written and Halloween pictures

Lately there's been no time to write. Not even in my mind.

I hate that. 

Earlier in the week I wanted to tell you about Naveen's favourite word - cup. It sounds more like cap when he says it. He's obsessed with them. Especially the ones we're drinking from. Shaune finally learned to ask for an extra one at Tim Horton's. It sure does let you enjoy your coffee more. He just walks around holding that cup and chanting capcapcapcap.

And the other day when Deaglan accused me of calling him names because I said "Quit dilly dallying," I immediately thought of you. I knew you'd all get a kick out of that one. Also it's November and I signed up for NaNoWriMo again this year. But you know what I did last night when I finally could sit down with an hour to myself? I sipped on a glass of red wine and read my book - House Rules. 

Have you noticed my header? 

I haven't even gotten around to taking any Novemberish pictures to put up there. Maybe this weekend. Here are some pictures from Halloween.

 Gramma and Grampa came over on Sunday to carve pumpkins.

 We snapped some shots before it got dark and drizzly.

We made it all the way around the block. Deaglan asked to go home after the third house. We persevered. And most importantly? Enough kids came to our door that there are no Reese Peanut Butter cups left.

I have no self-control when it comes to chocolate and peanut butter.