Saturday, 30 July 2011

Professional snacker

I took the camera to soccer this morning, to capture some shots of our little player, since next week is the last game. There will be a celebration with pizza after. For Deaglan this will be in keeping with the theme of his first year of organized sports.


Shaune works on Saturdays so it's just me lugging the kids out to the field. Which means I bring a ton of refreshments to occupy Naveen. There's very little shade. I bring water, milk, popsicles, strawberries, grapes, bananas, crackers, cheese, boiled eggs, and today, leftover hamburgers from last night's dinner.

I like to do my part.

Which was my theme today when I was giving Number 3 pep talks on the sidelines.

"Your team needs you, honey, why don't you get out there and help them?"

"Mommy, can I have some strawberries?"

"Yes, you can, right after you join Leah in goal. Look, she's all alone, she could use a team mate!"

"Mommy did you bring my Buzz Lightyear?"


Before kids, Shaune and I  decided one thing about parenting that doesn't make me cringe and want to go back in time and slap myself. We pinky swore that we wouldn't hound our kids about what they wanted to be when they grew up. We wanted them to know that they were already somebody and that was enough. Instead we'd try our best to guide them toward careers and interests that would allow them to lead happy and productive lives. 

No really.

I'm just as shocked as you are considering how long it took us to get our acts together and grow up. It must have been that one day we weren't hung over.

Anyway, I'm trying to keep that in mind on Saturdays at soccer. I'm doing my best to remember that Deaglan's three. It's his first year of sports. There's no danger of him letting us down; there are no professional athletes in our histories that we know of.

It's a good thing to remember when after snacktime your kid packs up and lets you know he's ready to go.

"But honey, we haven't played the game yet."

Hmmm, I wonder if David Beckham's mother ever faced these issues.

I think these pictures speak for themselves. I cropped alot of them because I didn't get permission from the other parents to include their little players. There's really nothing like watching three year olds on a soccer field.

Friday, 29 July 2011

Life lessons: mini vacation edition

I have two new bloggy girlfriends. You might have noticed them on my sidebar. Sara and Rach started their own weekly meme called Life's lessons where each Friday they list what they learned that week. I'm joining them with my own list.

  1. I'm off for a few days starting today. Wheeeeeee!!!!!!!!!!
  2. I'm sitting in my pyjamas in the recliner with nothing pressing on my calendar. I may not get dressed till this afternoon.
  3. Thank God it's raining because I don't need any pressure to go out and enjoy the sunshine.
  4. Shaune just took Deaglan to the market and Naveen's napping! Do I need to go on or are you feeling me?
  5. I want to eat ice cream. Guilt-free. I'm going to suggest it when everyone gets back.
  6. I won't be answering the phone. Or emails.
  7. I may lounge around like this and read my favourite blogs. Guilt-free. Wish we had some ice cream in the freezer.
  8. Which reminds me, I might have to get up for groceries.
  9. Or maybe we'll eat take-out all day.
  10. I'm going to find out what's been happening in Genoa City.*
*I'm not ashamed to admit I got hooked on The Young and the Restless on my maternity leaves.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

My post is featured at Blogher

Someone insinuated recently that I wasn't being authentic here on my blog. She didn't come right out and say that, but I sensed it's what she meant. From the tone of her message, I gathered that authenticity to her meant full disclosure about every aspect of your life.

I wanted to laugh out loud at the absurdity. 

I think about the appropriateness of my content daily. For almost four years I've been blogging here. I've evolved over that time but have tried to stay true to my self and my vision for this space. My content rarely strays from stories of my everyday experiences of mothering. Sometimes I write about what it was like to be me as a kid. I've written plenty about the death of my sweet beautiful brother Matthew. And I throw in a post here and there about marriage.

And even though I get that some people might have a problem with my header for this month, Shaune and I discussed it and we're good. But this doesn't mean I don't draw the line somewhere. I never write about work, or specific people I dislike or have had conflict with. Vengeful writing is a big snooze-fest to me. I ask myself if I'm offering any goodness before I hit the publish button. I don't need to get anyone riled up unless it's for something worthwhile.

I think I'm rarely controversial. 

Yesterday Blogher's Career section editor Paula Gregorowicz chose my post How to be a working parent as her Featured Blogher Network Post. She said:

Check out this working mother's take on balancing work and motherhood. While I'm not a mother, I can only sit in awe of you who seem to do it all. This blogger has a revolutionary realization that is guaranteed to strike a bell with many.

And there it was. Her comment was all the confirmation I needed. I was being authentic enough.

Thank you to all of you also, you who reaffirm this for me on every post with your heartfelt, genuine comments. Blogging has gifted me with dozens of friends.

If you feel like it, please leave me a comment over there. I've turned comments off here.

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Our weekend in pictures

Last night when the wretched heat had eased slightly we drove to the beach. We weren't the only one's to think of it. The sand was littered with families.
One mother didn't see the sign that read: Please don't feed the birds. Our blanket was about six feet away from this scene and once she and her boys had run out of bread, the seagulls swooped in and stole Naveen's bunch of grapes. Every single one.
See what I mean about my ponytail? Also, this is my post partum bathing suit. When I first showed it to Shaune (without trying it on) he asked me if it was a cocktail dress. I love it because it hides all the trials and tribulations of birthing babies. And I don't have to avoid swimming situations.
We haven't been to the beach all that often in his short life, but Deaglan knows exactly what to do when we get there. Including refusing to cooperate when it's time to go.
Babies plus beach always equals someone holding them. Either Naveen was crying because of the foreign substances touching his skin or I was crying because he was eating said foreign substances. Lordy.
Lice found it's way to the daycares here in our city. For a few weeks now I've been including "hair" in our morning routine where I apply hairspray and gel to both boys' heads. My efforts were not rewarded. Deaglan was sent home with a mild case. I shampooed and de-loused twice and still the critters refused to move camp. Today Shaune took him and came back with this kid.

Swoon. I can't stop drinking him in. How did he get this handsome?
There's something divine about both of us loving two somebodies this much. 
I often say to Deaglan (and Naveen) How did I get so lucky to get two of the best boys in the whole wide world??

And Deaglan always says You sure are lucky Mommy!

Saturday, 23 July 2011

My religion

Can I get personal?

A few weeks ago I read something and it knocked my socks off. I've thought of little else since.

Well that's not true.

I've thought plenty about wanting to lose a few pounds. How nice it would be get all the laundry done. You know? Have a spotless laundry room even if it's for one single measly day. I've also spent a considerable amount of time contemplating chopping my hair off. The heat does me in every summer. Almost the whole time I was in university I had it short. I'm not sure, but I'll bet I've already broken some sort of Guiness record for wearing one hairstyle consecutively. Is a ponytail even considered a style the way I throw it up?

But this one line I read, in Anne Lamott's book has left me reeling. It's come at just the right time. My insides are lining up. Acceptance has seeped it's way across my landscape. Gratitude has been my daily hymn. I want to be more about love and less about ill-making. And just so we're on the same page, it's personal because I don't often want to burden you with my religiosity. It matters little to me what you believe. But I know what a thing it is for some people. Even some people very close to me.

So usually I just let it be all mine. My spiritual life keeps me going every day though. It's my engine. My fuel. The food I need. You get it, I'm sure. Without prayer I'd be a trainwreck. And it's not like I can quote scripture. It's not about that for me. Although I'm always in awe when people can. Knowledge of that sort always impresses me some. I don't go to church either. I've tried but it doesn't really fit me. Maybe I'll try again someday. Who knows?

No, this thing that has taken over me the last few years is nothing profound. It happens to most of us if we're lucky. We realize that life is short. We have a choice to live it happily or not. We can be attached to things and let them consume us. Or we can know this:

Only God is our home.

Take that with you. Don't let it scare you. Let it knock your socks off.

And speaking of holy, it doesn't get much more heavenly for me than watching this kid wobble around.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

How to be a working parent

It’s five in the morning.

After nursing the baby, I tip-toed him back to his crib, snuck downstairs, put on coffee and sat down to write this post. In an hour I’ll be scurrying around, washing jam off faces, finding socks that match, applying mascara and rushing out the door to the daycare and then to work.

It’s how I’ve had to find time to write lately. By stealing it. Sunday I totally lucked out when Shaune offered to take both kids to the car wash and Canadian Tire.

Being a parent who works is no easy thing.

And although I won’t Dooce myself – thanks Heather for learning that lesson and passing it on, I will say that while my work situation is pretty close to ideal, every day I still find myself scrounging for time, grappling with guilt, and grading myself a big fat C minus on the How I did today scale .

And I say working parent not mother, because I don’t see it being any easier for Shaune. Some nights his job keeps him late enough that he doesn’t even get to kiss the boys goodnight while they are awake.

So last night, while I was preparing dinner for the kids, feeling like an utter failure because I was exhausted and grouchy and in no mood to try and create some shiny moments with the boys, a thought came to me.

It was kind of revolutionary for me. Oh who am I kidding? It was downright insurgent!

What if this sense of inadequacy is normal? I wondered. What if I just accepted it and moved on? What if I gave myself a small break and instead of wallowing in this worry-hole that somehow I’d be caught red-handed for incompetence in every aspect of my life, I appreciated that I was doing the best that I could? That left-over spaghetti wouldn’t ruin Deaglan’s childhood and that it was okay to let them watch a little TV so I could have a few minutes to unwind from my day.

What if I removed the phrase work-home balance from my mental lexicon and pasted in new ones like good enough, and it is what it is?

I wondered. Could it be that easy?

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Stream of consiousness Sunday: Saturday night

Last night we temporarily lost our minds and went out for dinner. We got carried away with the excitement of a summertime Saturday night, remembered how before kids, Saturday nights meant doing something fun.

And then once we were sat and Naveen had cleared the table of all it's silverware and was well on his way to holding us hostage with restless boredom before a server could even offer us drinks, I found myself rifling through my purse for a granola bar, a half empty box of raisins or something to restrain him with,  when we looked at each other and remembered why we don't go out unless it's a very kid-friendly place.

We gulped down our beers and asked the server to package up our food and headed to a nearby park where we could freely scold the kids to our hearts' content. It was a park with a splashpad, and playscape. There were ducks to feed and at least a dozen other families with small children.  We laid out our picnic blanket and ate.

Sadly, it was our kind of place.

And then we came home and started the bedtime routine where Shaune concluded that we had a Rhodes Scholar on our hands because our three year old recited Dr. Seuss' What was I scared of? verbatim. We happily ignored what other kids his age might or might not be capable of, agreeing wholeheartedly that there was indeed something extraordinary about our child.

After discussing this at length, with the clear implication that our unique parenting techniques were likely the catalyst for such genius, we opened a bottle of Shiraz, and checked out what was on TV. Eventually I headed upstairs with my book and was out, in a dead sleep by 10. 

I'm joining Stream of Consciousness Sunday at all.things.fadra.

Monday, 11 July 2011

Arrogance does not become me

I was feeling a bit smug at Deaglan’s soccer game on Saturday.

The mother on the patch of grass next to me was close to her breaking point because her two Under Fivers* refused to play. It was quite possibly the hottest day we’ve had this year and her two rascals wanted nothing to do with running or kicking. In a low angry voice she threatened, one-by-one, to take away each of the day’s allotted treats.

“If you don’t get out there and play,” she hissed, taking a break from her Blackberry, “there will be no licorice.” The two didn’t budge.

“I’m not kidding, absolutely no cake today!”

The older one had the younger one in a head lock.

“I swear to God, if you don’t get out there for at least five minutes, I’m taking away the jube-jubes and you can forget about McDonald’s.” She glanced at me sheepishly.

Her boys were now taking turns of body slamming each other.

Oh I know what you’re thinking. I am so going to be there in a couple of years.

But Deaglan also refused to stay on the field. He told me early on, very matter-of-factly, “Mommy, it’s too hot for soccer.” Besides he was giddy with the thrill that we had brought the snack for everybody (it was our turn) and his sole focus was in letting the coaches and his teammates know that we had brought bananas, granola bars and cold water. He perched himself atop the cooler, consulting me every few minutes to determine how close to snack time we were getting.

I was feeling pretty self-congratulatory for relaxing, for not getting worked up that my kid wasn’t living up to my soccer-mom dreams.

The universe knocked me off of the high horse I was riding though.

While waiting to see the doctor this morning, Deaglan and I were perusing the kid’s books. The only other person waiting to see the doctor was a lone woman. Her cell phone vibrated and she decided to take the call outside. A few minutes later she came back into the waiting room.

Loudly and to my sickening horror, my three year old asked, “Mommy, why is that man coming back in here?”

See what I mean? I’m back to my humble self.

We went to the Detroit Zoo last weekend. It was brutally hot and we found ourselves enjoying the indoor attractions. While there were at least twenty real live snakes about four feet from where we sit, Deaglan couldn't get enough of this fake one.

*Deaglan plays in the U5 division - under five.

I'm joining Shell today and pouring my heart out.

Friday, 8 July 2011

A moment of grace

We exited the restaurant slowly, our bellies full; asking ourselves why we did it. Why did we order dessert? I'd had more than my share of crab and oysters and those penko breaded shrimp dipped in sweet chili sauce.

And there he sat, on the grimy curb, his baby toe poking out of the hole in his left shoe.

"Can you spare some change Ma'am?"

I squeezed my three year old's hand praying he wouldn't go into the Why mode. The man looked to be in his late thirties. His face was leathered by the sun. A dirty beige baseball cap perched on top of his shaggy greasy hair. I could tell he was good looking even through his disheveled appearance. Anger didn't grip me like it sometimes did when I was solicited for a cigarette on my lunch break at work. I didn't size up the expensive tattoos on his arms and turn disgustedly away.

A softness came over me. A vision of where I'd been a few minutes ago flashed in my mind. Me with a plateful of expensive food at my fingertips. A glass of decent wine on my right. I looked to my husband who already had his wallet out. He grabbed the lone bill, a five, and handed it to the man. 

"Bless you Sir, bless you." His deep blues eyes watered with gratitude. 

We walked to the van in silence. The usual thoughts didn't make an appearance. I didn't care that he might be headed to the liquor store right that minute. It made little difference to me what he spent it on. And to my utter amazement, my inquisitive son did not ask one single question all the way home.

This week the ladies wanted us to push ourselves out of our comfort zone, try something new. I decided to go with a much shorter post than usual. It scared me a little not to over-do the scene, so you'd really get it. But then I remembered how smart and savvy you all are.

Monday, 4 July 2011

The freedom to write Bird by Bird

Shaune tapped my book. “Are you giddy with excitement because The Smurfs are back?”

I lowered Bird by Bird a little, looked at the trailer for the new movie, rolled my eyes and picked up where I was reading again. It had been a mild source of amusement between us since Rosemary had burned me a copy of The Smurf’s Greatest Hits a few years ago. Although she was there, she seemed to have forgotten all the painful parts of my childhood. Her kid-like capacity to paint everything with pink frosting was infuriating.

“Yeah, I’m beside myself,” I replied.

“I can’t believe you guys were so into it.” He insisted.

“It was one of Matthew’s shows. We liked it because he liked it.” I knew this would stop his teasing. I didn’t want to have to whip out the Matthew card but it was the truth.

“Oh.” He left it alone after that. A quick pain stabbed through me to see that I’d turned a light moment so grave. A little over a year after his passing and I still was not able to discuss my brother with anything close to levity.

I looked back down at the book.

In this dark and wounded society, writing can give you the pleasures of the woodpecker, of hollowing out a hole in a tree where you can build your nest and say, “This is my niche, this is where I live now, this is where I belong.” And the niche may be small and dark, but at last you will finally know what you are doing. After thirty years or more of floundering around and screwing up, you will finally know, and when you get serious you will be dealing with the one thing you’ve been avoiding all along – your wounds. This is very painful. It stops a lot of people early on who didn’t get into this for the pain. They got into it for the money and the fame. So they either quit, or they resort to a type of writing that is sort of like candy making.

“It’s a good memory.” I offered. “Kinda like our reluctant affection for Dora because Deaglan loves her. You know?”

“Yeah, I get it.”


Another Band-Aid to cover the ugliness. A moment-by-moment discipline: I practiced restraining my ego again, the part of me who would rather have ranted on and on about how unfair it was growing up in that house. I stopped myself from launching into a twenty minute word montage illustrating what childhood had been like for me.

Lamott’s words were now drowning out everything I’d trained myself to believe, everything I’d feared. All that had ever stopped me from writing.

Even if you never publish a word, you have something important to pour yourself into. Your parents and grandparents will be shouting, “Don’t do it, don’t sit down, don’t sit down!,” and you’ll have to do what you did as a kid – shut them out and get on with finding out about life.

This is what I came up with for the prompt: tv show from your past. Maybe you watched it, maybe you didn't and it was just something that everyone else talked about. What feelings does the show evoke? What memories does it trigger?

Do you like how I snuck in a book review of Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird? I wish I could express how enchanting it was. How I wanted to sit down and write every single time I read even one paragraph. How  I yearned to stalk her until I could pinpoint her whereabouts and then insist we discuss everything. I wanted to ask her how she could know me so well to be able to write a book so suited to me and my desires. I wanted to quote several pages at a time in my writing until it became quite apparent what I would be doing. Plagerizing.

If you don't believe me, please read it for yourself. Make sure you buy a copy because you'll find it impossible not to dog-ear and highlight it. And then after you've read it, and you find yourself at the library trying to get your hands on everything else she's written, don't be mad.

I've got all of her books on loan indefinitely.

Friday, 1 July 2011

The Walker

I hope Naveen never finds out that we were actually expecting him to start walking at ten months. I will likely only tell him how thrilled we were when at 13 months he was FINALLY taking several steps. I mean it's not his fault he's the second child. He can't be blamed that someone else set the bar for his development.

Poor kid.

I definitely won't mention that on many occassions his parents looked at each other with raised eyebrows, worriedly wondering if there was a problem. Maybe by the time this gets out, he'll be a six foot two, ex-model, doctor, missionary, married with three children and a New York Times Bestseller.  Maybe in his acceptance speech for the Pulitzer he'll forgive Shaune and me for becoming typical parents, who forgot for a moment that every kid is different and will reach milestones at his own pace. Maybe he'll see that we tried to overcompensate for this by telling him he was our favourite when his brother was busy throwing tantrums. 

Naveen is finally walking. And we are over the moon. Sorry for the terrible camera-work. I had to be like a paparazzi, ready to film at any given moment. I took 12 videos of him taking one or two steps until finally he dazzled me with this.