Monday, 28 February 2011

Define the term writer

When I told Shaune that Erin (my friend I hosted the shower for) asked me to be MC as well as a bridesmaid at her upcoming wedding, he looked worried and said you know, MC's are supposed to be funny and make the wedding guests laugh right?

Gee, thanks for the vote of confidence honey. I knew what he was getting at though. Erin said she was asking me not only because I've known her and Wes their entire relationship but also because she enjoys reading my blog and thinks I might do a good job. To quote one of the things she said: I cry like a blubbering idiot reading some of your posts. 

I'm sorry Erin for posting this - I know none of us liked these pictures of ourselves:) Erin is second from the left - a group shot of the bridal party.

But not all my posts are sad, right? Sometimes I manage to make you giggle, don't I?

See, that's the thing about putting myself out there. Writing is one thing but writing always to an audience whether it's one person or 30, makes my stomach ache when I really think about it. I'm the most sensitive person Shaune's ever met (a direct quote). I worry what people will think all the time after I hit publish. Sometimes when I get a slightly negative comment, I want to pull the post and find safety again. But then a few days later, the compulsion to write, to blab about my life, to share what's going on here in The Child zone takes over and I'm at it again.

Last week two friends (who I adore) on two separate occassions said something about my writing that I've been mulling over almost constantly since. Oh the mature, logical part of me knows that they meant it as a compliment (you did right?) but the insecure, who-do-I-think-I-am-even-considering-calling-myself-a-writer, this-will-never-amount-to-anything, I-should-just-let-the-real-writers-write part of me has taken that one little comment and turned it into a natural disaster.

Anyway, I wasn't sure whether to post this or not. The over-thinking-loony me was like - what's the big deal, nobody cares. But the part of me that loves writing, that wants to be published, that yearns to be heard, has something to tell you: I'M GOING TO BE PUBLISHED!!!!!

Okay, now that I've said it, let me manage your expectations. It really is no big deal. I'm one of many, many writers in an anthology called About Her: Stories of Grace, Grit, Grievance and Gratitude. If you've been stopping by for the last few years, you've likely read my post called Dove. It's up there under the heading Some of my favourite posts.

The book is due out in April and will be available through Amazon. I won't be profiting from sales but have to say it is kind of thrilling to be included. I'll keep you posted.

Saturday, 26 February 2011

I don't want to win the lottery

Yesterday we were on our way home from Costco when Shaune asked if he should drop me and the kids off at home before picking up his lottery tickets.

Why don't you just stop now and grab them at the grocery store? We need some soy sauce anyway. I suggested.

Fine he said, but I don't buy my tickets at the grocery store, you know that.

Right, I forgot.

He buys them at the Arabic variety store around the corner from us. The one that also sells Halal meat, fresh produce and a decent selection of spices. He loves this little store, feels like he's supporting the independent business sector. He reminded me of this - again. How he just loves the owner and would rather give his money to him over some "fat-cat" grocery store corporation.  He tells me (again) how the retailer would get a percentage of the winnings should he play a lucky enough ticket. Rhetorically, he asks me if I'd like to see the "fat-cat" stay on top when independent business owners struggle to stay competitive.

No, of course not, I mumble as if on cue. (He loves that term fat-cat)
I love this about my husband, his sense of loyalty, the ease with which he builds relationships with people regardless of class, ethnicity or faith. He's the only (white) person I've ever met who can spot racism a mile away and isn't afraid to speak up. I think he's a good father for two biracial boys to have. The right husband for a brown woman in a white society.

But he's downright superstitious when it comes to those lottery tickets. Plays the same numbers twice a week. Same store. Without fail.

Me? I could care less about the lottery. I like my life the way it is, thank you very much. I rejoice when I've found a bargain, earned a paycheck. Love knowing we can finally afford something. My heart races everytime I look at my kijiji* kitchen table.

I like going to work.

But you could work if we were rich, it would just be work you wanted to do, says Shaune. We could be philanthropists! You could write.

Here's the thing. I love finding a few minutes a day to squeeze in writing. Feel accomplished cleaning my modest little house. Guilt-free I put on my clearance-rack jeans and know that I'm giving my children what I can. I don't want my sons to be future Paris Hiltons, heirs to fortunes they didn't earn.

And the honest truth?

I'm not sure if I'm motivated enough to work if I didn't have to. I'm afraid of who I might become if money was no object.

You might be rolling your eyes. But I'm serious. Have you watched those people on TLC's The Lottery Changed My Life? In their gas-guzzling Hummers and Escalades. Very few of them give money to those who really need it.
I think I'll just stick to the life I was given, the one I'm earning. I like how Sheryl Crow put it in that song.
It's not having what you want, it's wanting what you've got.

*kijiji is Canada's version of a Craig's list

Wednesday, 23 February 2011


Remember that part in Meet the Fockers where Robert DeNiro says they've been using the Ferber method to teach Baby Jack to self-soothe and then Dustin Hoffman says We used the Focker method. We hugged and kissed that little prince like there was no tomorrow. We Fockerized him...? I loved that and have been thinking about it alot lately.

I was thinking how when you're a new parent you get really caught up in the right way to raise that baby. At least I did anyway. I was all according this book, I should wait until X number of months before I start feeding him solids. And then when things didn't go according to what was documented, I was like okay, what's wrong with my baby? What did I do wrong? 

But then when you have a second baby, those books get dusty and you rely on a combination of what worked last time and what you have the energy and resources to do.

Well I'm sort of feeling that new mother anxiety again but with my three year old. I know that he needs to stop using his soother and start pooping on the damned toilet before I head back to work in three months but a big part of me wants to let him be, let him enjoy this last bit of time at home without forcing him to let go of the last remnants of babyhood all at once.

I encourage him to go at his own pace. There's a lot he probably should do on his own but when he resists, I don't fight him. For instance, he only recently started showing interest in dressing himself. Before he took the initiative, I never pushed him much.
Maybe he's not the only person resisting. It could be me too. I'm in no hurry to see him become independent from me. He has the rest of his life to do stuff for himself.
Can you tell I'm ready for Spring to show it's face over in my neck of the woods? I couldn't bring myself to throw those branches away so I took out my gluegun and hung some sea shells from them. They were just sitting around doing nothing anyway.

I'm joining Shell over at Things I Can't Say.

Monday, 21 February 2011

Does our camera add 10 pounds??

I took advantage of Shaune's break from school a few weeks ago when he was home during the day by getting back into walking. Alone. Hands free, oblivious and listening to music. My music, not Raffi or Anne Murray.

Michael Jackson is always in the mix. A carryover from my growing up, something that refuses to be relegated to my past. Seduces me into thinking I can dance. People watching would likely argue.  Reality and fantasy have a clear distinction; I have no moves to speak of. Possibly I did a few times after too much wine but probably only in my opinion.

Sort of like how you see your body right after you have children. Your mind's eye sees you the old way but if you get caught by the camera, the cold hard truth, the damages can't be denied.

Let me back up here. I know who I am. I've never been a showstopper when it comes to my looks but with some effort I can clean up okay. 

With each baby I gained 60 pounds (Deaglan) and 50 pounds (Naveen). I lost the weight easier when it was just Deaglan. I strapped him into the stroller everyday at naptime and walked for an hour and a half. With Naveen it's been slightly more problematic. (Read uncooperative toddler)

So I've had to focus on eating less. Literally zip my lips. It's not that I have a volatile relationship with food. Believe me, I have enough issues, they just don't centre around eating. However, nursing this time around gave me wicked cravings for sugar. Christmas did me in. I couldn't control my cookie intake. I walked around in a haze of sugar, butter and flour.

Once I stopped including oreos as the side dish for every meal, a few more pounds came off. I'm almost back to the pre-pregnancy weight, which though not my ideal state, I can live with for now.

My body is not the same. Of course it's not. I'm almost 40, I've had two kids, it's to be expected. But my perspective has changed. I've given up admiring and coveting  celebrity's bodies. Who needs that kind of self-inflicted torture? 

I want to be the right weight for a better more important reason than my reflection. I want to stick around to see that other phase of my life.

I've watched with delight how my inlaws drool over my babies. They love my children the way only grandparents can. No apologies, grinning like fools at every new evolution.   I want that someday. I want it to come full circle, want to see my boys become new parents, hear them talk excitedly about a new tooth, complain about not sleeping, ask me to babysit.

Giving up a few oreos is worth that.

Oh, if you live around here, and happened to see some idiot walking down Commissioner's randomly trying to do the moonwalk recently, it wasn't me.

The pictures of me (obviously excluding the preggo shot) were taken by Shaune yesterday. I had to change outfits three times and still this is the best he got. I looked at the pictures and sadly realized, I'm not as skinny as I thought I was.

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Don't call America's Got Talent

After this he ran a few laps around the block.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

My worries and my mantra

The only way I feel comfortable enough to have a shower when it's just me and the kids is to put the baby in the crib where he can't really hurt himself and crank up some tunes. Anne Murray's There's a hippo in my tub was a favourite in our house growing up and I've taught both kids to love it. Naveen will quite literally stop whatever he's doing as soon as I press play and Deaglan knows almost every word by heart.

Lately the three year old wants to get in the crib with the baby. After a few mishaps (he pulled all of the animals off the wall adjacent to the crib one time, and was jumping so hard the baby fell over another), I only allow it if I'm in the room to supervise and after I've given a stern lecture about what is and isn't acceptable crib behaviour.
These boys bring out a multitude of emotions in me on any given day. Often Deaglan refers to Naveen as his baby. He'll say Mommy, I love having a baby. I don't have to tell you how that makes me feel. But then this morning, after three days of watching me give Naveen all of my energy because he has a virus, Deaglan advised me to let the baby play outside by himself so a bad man could steal him!

Almost daily I wonder how families with more kids than we have, do it. I shake my head in awe when I think about the stay-at-home parents for whom this is a permanent job.  I will be heading back to work in June and with that in mind I try to soak it in most of the time, look forward to the break being at work will give me some of the time, and struggle to do my very best all of the time.

And that looks different each day.

I registered Deaglan for junior kindergarten. He'll be going in September. I try to keep my mind on today because thinking about all of the changes to come can make me feel like I'm drowning. He's still in diapers to some extent (he won't poop in the potty - we've offered chocolate, money, even a trip to Hawaii), still uses a soother for naps and bedtimes. He eats non-stop between the time he gets up and the time he goes to bed - how will I ever pack enough food into a lunch box? And don't even get me started on the fear I feel thinking about weaning the baby from my breast long enough to  leave him at the daycare that first time.
I know this is all normal. I don't miss my before-kids days. I'd rather be sitting here looking at these beautiful boys, worrying about their futures. I would rather feel like I'm going to pull my hair out because Deaglan just crumbled the yoke of his hard boiled egg all over the carpet. I'd rather be so tired that when Deaglan asks me to play, I suggest a game called "bedtime" where mommy has to lay on the floor and pretend she's asleep. I'd rather be nursing a child, or pulling a new crawler off the stairs for the hundredth time.

This is where I want to be.

And totally unrelated but equally exciting? I finally removed the last of the nailpolish from the pedicure I got for Shaune's cousin Carla's wedding in July!

This is my entry for Mama Kat's prompt - finding the balance, how do you manage?

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Own your body

We had some medications delivered to the house by the pharmacy this morning. When the delivery man came to the door, he asked for Shaune's credit card since he was the one to fill the prescription. My husband was in the shower, so I grabbed the baby and told Deaglan to follow me upstairs so I could get his signature. I felt awkward taking both kids with me but knew for sure I didn't want to leave anyone alone with a strange man while I ran upstairs. Even after the friendly middle-aged man bid me a good day and drove off, I felt a sting of shame for implying that I didn't trust him alone with my kids even for 60 seconds. 

I want to protect my two boys from everything. I'm still in that new-parent stage where I think I can.

I have that kind of personality where my social instinct is to be a people pleaser. I try to create peace and good will most of the time even if my inner self might be telling me to do otherwise. Don't get me wrong, I can do confrontations, but I don't like it.

This quality trips me up as a parent.

For instance, sometimes I find myself pushing Deaglan to give hugs and kisses to friends and family who to him might as well be strangers - people he'd met once or twice in his short little life.

In an episode on potty training Alyson Schafer of The Parenting Show says that it's important to teach kids to be in charge of their own bodies when it comes to knowing when they are ready to use the potty or  whether or not they want to hug or kiss others. She says to do otherwise, is teaching them that adults are in charge of their bodies which can set them up to later fall victim to sexual abuse.  She emphasized that it didn't mean they would be victims of sexual abuse but that when you teach a person that adults always know best, they don't learn the valuable lesson that they might know what's best for them. If some instinct within is guiding them against showing affection toward someone, they need to learn to respect that.

Sexual abuse destroyed someone very close to me. I might be extra sensitive to it. I know for sure that I will do everything possible to teach Deaglan and Naveen to be masters of their domains. Like my friend Nancy, I want to teach my boys that we don't keep secrets in this family. That the boogeyman can be just about anybody.

I'm joining Shell for Pour Your Heart Out.

Monday, 14 February 2011

Etsy, here I come

My friend Erin is getting married in May. Yesterday we gathered at my house and showered her with love, food and gifts. There were about 15 of us. I didn't ask her if I could post pictures of her and the other guests so here are the decorations I put together leading up to this event.

I spray painted an old piece of art I had into a chalkboard and made a wreath out of an old tank top. After reading that, you'll probably stop feeling sorry for me when I tell you that Naveen keeps me up all night. She must be getting enough sleep to be miss crafty crafterson I can hear you saying.
I veered left into the woods near our house on a walk last week and found these branches waiting for me. Centre-piece they seemed to be whispering. Who was I to question them? So I did what any sleep-deprived, cheapskate, crafty-wannabe would do. I took a pair of bright red overalls someone had gifted us for the boys and drew and cut hearts to hang from my free branches. I stuck each heart to cardboard hearts cut out from one of Naveen's diaper boxes.
I hope the person who gave me the overalls isn't reading this post. But truthfully by the time Deaglan was old enough to wear them, it was mid summer and hotter than hades.

I made these crepe paper roses from a Martha Stewart kit. It was $2.00 for each kit. I bought three kits, meaning I had to make 18 roses. Can I say that sometimes my cheapskateness bites me in the butt? These were te-di-ous. And to add insult to injury, Shaune breezed by while I was softly swearing to myself twisting florist's tape, and maddeningly asked why aren't you just buying decorations for the shower??
Well he didn't have to tell me twice. I hired his cousin's partner to make these adorable cupcakes.
And I spent a day and a half of my life I will never get back fretting about these flowers, threatening Deaglan and the cat that if they so much as harmed one carnation, there would be severe consequences.

Do you love the frame? Another bad piece of art I discarded. A five dollar can of spraypaint.

Erin noticed all my efforts. I knew she would. That's why we're such good friends. She said she thought it was the best shower she'd ever attended. Love that girl for knowing what I needed to hear.

And this kid can finally relax. I even let him eat a cupcake in the living room.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

The Doctor and Her Mother

Naveen had his six month immunizations today. We're a few months behind due to everyone around here being sick. The doctor said he was a bit on the slim side. When she heard that he was a crawling maniac, she conceded that his weight was normal.

Then she asked about Deeg-lan. Three years and numerous obnoxious attempts on my part to correctly pronounce DeCK-lan's name within her earshot and still she refuses to learn.

I really like her, she's a lovely person. Mid to late forties, larger build, short brown hair and single. On my visits we always make a lot of small talk, mostly about her life, her next trip, where she's eating that night, what kind of wine she likes, her favourite TV shows. I have to be really strategic  in cutting her off at just the right time if I have health related questions about the kids-which I always do.

She told me again today how she hopes to meet a cute guy on her next trip. Looking around her intake rooms it's no mystery to me why she stays single but it's not something I feel comfortable bringing up. Picture calendars of vacation photos of her and her eighty year old mother. In matching T-shirts or sun visors or tropical vests. Every picture. Her and mom. They always travel together whether it's to a remote island or a cruise. I can just imagine the two of them sitting on the beach under huge hats and umbrellas, lathered up with sunscreen, sipping on enormous fruity drinks. 
I can't imagine why men don't approach her on vacation.

Oh and if you're wondering if Shaune is wearing the same shirt as the last time I posted him here. Yes. Was this the same day? No. It's not for me to judge but I will say you can lead a horse to water. You can't make him put on one of the other ten shirts neatly folded in his drawer.

Saturday, 5 February 2011

That mood where even the cat is a target

A friend of mine's 15 year old daughter periodically reminds her that she was a really mean mom when her brother Jack was born. The daughter was almost three when my friend's son was born. My friend says that she has a pretty good relationship with her two teenagers but admits that it was hard, hard work juggling a newborn and a toddler. She tells me this story to give me room to complain about my life. It's a nice gesture. But what I take away from this?


I was under the misguided notion that Deaglan won't remember these days. That if I slip up here and there, he'll be none the wiser when he's old enough to seek therapy. Like the other day when I woke up, clearly on the wrong side of the bed, and exclaimed Oh for f@#*'s sake because I couldn't even make it to the washroom before Deaglan was asking me for a million and one things. Shaune just looked up in astonishment and wisely didn't say a word. Later that same day, while playing on the floor and talking to himself, we heard our three year-old say - Awww F**k it! In my defense, I almost never use it as a verb so I don't know where he got that from!

And also? I stopped swearing almost completely when I became a mother. It's only been recently since a certain toddler needs to be told something 19 times before he'll even entertain the notion of listening and since I stopped sleeping about eight months ago. And mostly, I just swear under my breath.

I'd be misleading you if I let you believe that my experience of motherhood is all sunshine and roses. Like my friend says, it's hard, hard work. I try to keep perspective by remembering how lucky I am to have two healthy beautiful kids, but it doesn't always work. Sometimes I want to lock myself in the bathroom and scream. Sometimes after I've told Deaglan to stop jumping 85 times and then on the 86th time he hurts himself, I want to say see, what did I tell you? But it's not the job. I'm supposed to hug him, comfort him.

And I don't always want to play. Let me rephrase that, I don't want to play a lot of the time. I'd rather be checking off my mental to-do list, or enjoying a hot beverage curled up with the laptop. But that's not the job either.

So there you have it. Full disclosure. 

Even though I love this job, there are lots of times I feel tired, and challenged and inept. 
 Now that I have that off my chest - phew that feels good - I'll explain the pictures. I'm hosting a wedding shower next weekend for one of my very closest friends - Erin. That explains why I'm decorating for Valentine's Day - something I usually boycott. I've been trying to find the best vignette for my shelves. I've got a few other little projects I'm working on that I'll post next week.

I also wanted to post a recent picture of myself - it's one of my favourite things when I visit a blog - to have an idea of what the blogger looks like. This is a self portrait I took today. I got some clearer shots but they were a little too clear for my liking if you know what I mean. No one needs to see my big pores and acne.

And I had two potted crocus plants for my shelves, but this a**hole above has been eating them. I know I'm gonna hear it from Shaune for calling the damned cat names on the internet, but seriously. Can I have one nice thing in this house without the cat or kids wrecking it??

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Laughing with Dad

When you have children, a beautiful part of the experience is watching your partner love them. I dare you to watch this without cracking a smile.

Wednesday, 2 February 2011


I wasn't one of the popular kids in high school. I wasn't athletic, or political. I didn't come from a wealthy family. I wasn't a stoner either. And you should know too, that my grades weren't good enough to earn me the title of nerd. I just sort of stayed below the radar and did my thing. In those days there were lots of labels for all the different groups. The popular kids were either athletic or came from wealthy families. The stoners of course were the kids who might have had a tougher family life but not necessarily. I was in the choir but wasn't talented like those geeks on Glee.

I really didn't like high school much. I was glad when it was over.

I've been thinking about elementary and high school a lot lately. Shaune's experiences as a practice teacher have made this the topic of many conversations. He says I'd be surprised to know that there are just as many labels being thrown around by the teachers as there are by the students. Sometimes by necessity and other times he wasn't so sure.

My own experiences with teachers has been rich and varied.

I can still remember my grade three teacher Ms. Scarfone who I missed so dearly during the summer, that I wrote her a letter every week. Or the the teacher in high school who told me I might be good at writing and encouraged me to continue outside of class. And I remember the one who crushed me by telling me that she would have spanked me if I was her kid because my penmanship disgusted her.

I was nine at the time, and had written a whopper of a story and was downright giddy to have her read it. 

In those early years, I just didn't know better. I lacked the self-esteem to realize that I didn't have to take their comments to heart. Or that they were just people like me and their influence didn't need to shape who I was.

But I didn't know better. And some of it did shape me.

Shaune told me that in both of his practicums there were several kids labelled as school-to-work. This meant that they were never going to pursue a post secondary education. They would be going straight into the work force after high school. It implied that they had tough family lives with little support. They came from a lower socio economic status than the other kids.

I had lots of questions. Who labelled them? What did it mean for their high school educations? Did they get extra attention because they weren't getting it at home? How did people know they didn't want to go to college or university, did they say so?

Of course Shaune didn't have all the answers but he did notice that when it came to some of the lesson plans, the school-to-work kids were given the monotonous assignments more often. In a few instances where the kids were learning to make a certain dish (Shaune is training to be a hospitality and tourism teacher - specializing in cooking and food prep), the teacher in charge would say put the school-to-work kids on dish duty. It didn't happen every single time but it was obvious to Shaune that it happened most of the time. In a feedback survey he had them fill out, a few of these kids said that they wished they weren't on dish duty all the time.

I'm not a teacher. I can't imagine what it must be like to deal with the shenanigans of teenagers day-in and day-out. I know that so, so many teachers are there for the kids, to influence them, help them, shape them for their futures.

But this really bothered me. Shouldn't the school-to-work kids be getting more training in the complex tasks so that they are ready for the workforce sooner? Wouldn't it make more sense if everyone take a turn on dish duty? My husband sensed that it would have been a lot more work to put them on the complex tasks. The teacher would be forced to focus on these kids leaving the others unattended for longer.

I know that this is a can of worms that involves budgets, classroom sizes, assistant teachers, salaries and much much more my limited knowledge of this area can't even begin to imagine. I certainly am not pointing the finger or judging. I'm sure I can't begin to understand what's involved. But it did make me think about those kids in my grade who went on to do great things and those who didn't. What could have changed it? Were the successful kids just plain smarter than the others?

Makes me wonder.

I'm pouring my heart out with Shell. Please check out some of the other posts.