Monday, December 31

a year in review

What an incredible year. I look back on it and my little complete family and wonder a little how so much drama could have possibly left me so whole.

Last year at this time I had grand plans - I was going to go back to school, run a playgroup, write, have an etsy store, lose weight, make friends, eat healthy, save money, be a better person.

Turns out I didn't go back to school, my pregnancy a convenient excuse to put my academic future on hold for a while longer; I briefly ran a playgroup, but it was a pain in the ass, really; I wrote - this little blog is all the writing I did, but for someone who only recently discovered a love of writing, it ain't so bad; my etsy store still stands empty and that's okay - one day I will think of something clever to put in there, but for now I am happy to let my little shop rot; I did lose weight, but I also gained weight and I am ending the year at nearly the exact same size I began it; I did make friends and I connected with old friends (it was the year of facebook, after all), I also lost friends - some with a great bang, some faded away and one left on a jet-plane, I miss every one of them.

Eat healthy, save money and be a better person are sort of bullshit resolutions. We all make them, but most years they don't really mean anything other than "I want to make better choices." I think that if I were to tally up my good choices and my bad ones, the good would come out on top. Every year since I left my mother's home I have eaten a bit healthier*, this past year no exception. I buy organic, unprocessed foods, we eat mostly local and vegetarian fare BUT we also have the occasional fast-food meal, or pizza or greasy chinese. Next year I plan to continue that trend towards more responsible eating. Saving money is a hard one for us, but this year we were more responsible with our money and our budget, next year we will keep trying and, with luck, we will begin to see the end of our debts (this year we did see the end of calls from angry creditors - a start!).

As far as being a better person... I am. I am better at being me at the end of 2007 than I was at the beginning. Hopefully I will be even better next year.

I am happy to see this last complicated year pass - but I am not going to delude myself into thinking 2008 will be a great year. The world is big and a little scary, I don't know what will happen, so I will do what I can right here at home. I will keep working to raise responsible kids, I will keep working to reduce my impact on the environment, I will support local farmers and local businesses, I will give what I can and I will take only what I need, I will love with compassion, I will think a little less and I will do a lot more.


*my mom is a great cook and always served healthy meals. It was after I left that I started really gorging on crap food.


Lovely Rigby,

It is fitting that on the last day of this incredible year that it would be just you and I sitting here. So much of this year was spent in your quiet presence, you were conceived with 2007 in front of us and as you grew, so did I. So did we all.

Your presence had a profound effect on my relationships - the hormones you sent surging through my body made me a person I often didn't recognise. Your weight in my belly made me tired and crabby. But before you start thinking I didn't enjoy the process of growing you inside me let me say this - 2007 was the most profoundly changing year of my entire life. And I thank you for it.

This year I learned to live with less, less time, less money and less energy. I also learned to ask for help and to speak up for myself instead of always attempting to please others. I learned that I do have limits and that it is okay to live within them, though not okay to deny the constant drive to test them. I learned that I am absolutely happiest when I'm well-fed, well-exercised and well-slept. I learned that my imposed introversion was slowly poisoning me and my relationships.

It is amazing to me how much I thought I knew and how little I understood. It took a long year of trials to teach me that knowing everything doesn't mean a thing if you don't know yourself. So I have begun to get to know me. There are things I love about myself - my creativity, my compassion, my imagination and humour - and there are things I don't like so much - my forgetfulness, my perfectionism, my drive to always be right and my selfishness. It seems simplistic, writing it all down on paper. Of course I am all those things and more, and of course I like the good and dislike the "bad" - what is new and different now is that I accept all those things as part of the greater picture of who I am. No flaw is fatal and consciously working to make good of the bad makes me a better person.

In the months before your birth I struggled to figure out how I would possibly do all of it with two kids. My anxiety was in control and lorded over every single thing I did. I saw danger and difficulty everywhere and it tainted everything I did, said or touched. After you birth it only got harder - getting out of the house meant making sure everything was in order, it meant making sure I had a plan and a back-up plan and a back-up back-up plan. And in some ways it was great, the times we went out and everything went well and we came home on time for a healthy lunch and a relaxed nap made me positively giddy. I was supermom.

But then the days when it fell apart I felt like a failure. Too depressed to move it only got worse and worse and the voices in my head would just remind me of all the things I needed to do just to get to the point where I could get ready to do something.

It seems weird to me, summing up all the growth of a year and essentially only focusing on the last two months - but that's how it was. Everything built and built and built and then one fateful day it all broke down and I was free. I shook off all my grandiose expectations and simply was, I simply AM.

The irony is, by quieting much of my anxiety (and here I will say the medication has definitely helped) and by focusing on myself and what I need to do for me, I have become much of what I had been aspiring to be. My house is consistently clean, I spend time with friends old and new, my son is not a bully but a funny guy who tells amazing stories and needs glasses to see well, my daughter is happy and healthy, we eat good food, my husband and I are great friends and lovers and I love my life.

So thank-you, sweet sleeping Rigby, for the first of many years in which we will help each-other grow up.



Wednesday, December 26

what made this year different

2007 family photo

It is barely a secret that I am a holiday hater. Before having kids, Andrew and I already decided not to try on New Year's, given that it usually ended in disappointment and tears. We gave it another shot and hosted a party our first year in Vancouver, but it was a mess of burnt fondue, screaming babies and trivial pursuit (which is a game that you should only ever play with people you already hate).

With all the other stuff going on here, I had cynically hoped to similarly turn Christmas into a non-event. This stance was the basis for a series of long, loud, deep and eventually enlightening debates between my husband and I. It came to be that we agreed that this should be a holiday filled with love, family and cheer. We also agreed that most of the typical Christmas crapification could be left in the hands of other people (before you worry, oh friends and family, I am not referring to any of you - I am thinking about the people with loads of gaudy lights and inflatable Santas and piles off throw-away gifts laying under the tree). We could not quite get on the same page as far as rules on gifts for our kids from other people, but looking back, we had nothing to worry about.

As it happened, I didn't worry much about Christmas. I didn't want to spend a lot of time away from home and risk falling too far out of the new positive routines that are finally becoming natural, so I was a bit of an ass and insisted our visit to Vancouver Island be short (I was talked into staying overnight - and am really glad we did!). But once that was done, I didn't worry about it. Gifts were the same, the few I had to buy on behalf of others were well thought-out and my shopping trip was short and not too costly. Stocking stuffers came from a swap I did among a group of mothers for our kids, plus a few I purchased (bath bombs, a mini rolling pin, a harmonica, a tiny kaleidoscope and a colouring book), and a couple things from the grandparents and Sebastian's aunt and uncle.

We'd told people we didn't need anything, nor did we expect anything, but that if they wanted there were a few things we would appreciate. My list was nearly all books, so I now have four books I am eager to devour. Andrew got a t-shirt that lights up near wireless networks and some much-appreciated movies. We will likely refer to this as the year of Thomas as time goes on - Sebastian made out well and got a whole bunch of Thomas the Tank toys. But, he didn't get heaps and heaps of stuff - he got enough to justify a good toy-cull, but all of it is stuff he will play with and stuff that requires using his imagination, including a pooping pig - a stocking gift from his Aunt that he LOVES, and I will sheepishly admit I love it too! It is hilarious, it poops jelly beans (which were confiscated before he got a chance to figure out they were made of sugar) and you fill it through it's flip-down head. Rigby got a lot of clothes and a few toys, a pretty typical first Christmas haul.

Family and friends respecting our limits, plus a little alcohol, helped the holidays go smoothly, but the chief thing that made these holidays not just bearable, but my best so far as an adult, was effort and willingness on the part of myself and my family to let things just be what they were. And they were.


considering what I think of Christmas,

it is a given that, commercial or not, I think this is hi-fucking-larious.

thanks kelly! And PS - it is nice to have you back.

highs and lows

first a grand happy holidays!

To catch up on the blur that was December I won't bore you (or push my luck) by writing a long-assed update, instead here's a rundown of the highs and lows:

+ Christmas went really well
- Sebastian woke up at 11:30pm with a croupy cough.
+ This is his first really terrible cough, ever.
- The stomach flu we all got a week and a half ago.
+ I still got all my holiday baking done and it looked awesome!
- The package my mom sent us seems to be AWOL.
+ Eggnog is awesome with rum.
+ Same goes for Bailey's and coffee.
+ Time to finish this list (finally) while Andrew and Sebastian play with trains and while Rigby naps.
- Andrew goes back to work tomorrow for 2-5 8-12 hour days.
+ He gets all of next week off and if he works over the weekend, he also gets some killer overtime.
- We did really well, but still overspent at Christmas (how???).
+ Not shopping on Boxing Day.
- Not having any money to shop on Boxing Day.
+ Xmas in Frisco on SomaFM on iTunes - "not for the easily offended". Right now it is playing Merry Muthaphuckin' X-mas by Easy-e.
+ We all slept in this morning.
+ Tonight, when the kids are tucked in, Andrew and I will curl up with spiked egg nog and finish watching Papillon. If we don't pass out we will then start watching the original Thomas Crown Affair.
+ I have a crush on Steve McQueen.
+ Sometime soon, the final gift from my dad to my husband will arrive (seasons 2&3 of this) and we will spend many nights watching hot 70's ass.

And finally, a video that brings together the Prez and John Lennon with creepy results. There is one clip in particular that makes me cry every time I watch it.

special thanks to Shauna and idolator

Tuesday, December 18

making space

I began reading ScreamFree Parenting shortly after Rigby was born. I was this big ball of sadness and anxiety, and was actually really resistant to the idea of trying out another parenting book. I have realised that all the parenting books I have poured over have caused me more anxiety than peace - too many rules and scripts to follow that really just turned (or tried to turn) my son and I into people so far from our real selves.

Months ago something about the ScreamFree Parenting website struck me (watch the waffle house video) but I wrote it off because it is screams infomercial. Then at the library, after my meltdown, I saw the book and decided to pick it up (along with two other parenting books - I do have a problem). It is odd how naturally it flowed after reading eat, pray, love - the concepts in the book built on the concepts in the novel and both have felt instrumental in my new burst of personal growth.

I had planned on writing through my struggle to find balance within my new mind, but every time I sit down I feel like I am just repeating the same trite BS over and over ("everything's fine, we're having fun, blah, blah, blah..."). To write about the real transformation I am experiencing threatened to trivialise it - or worse, threatened to expose it as a figment of my imagination (this has happened - though usually in reference to a crafting or cooking project), that once revealed, would vanish.

Last night, however, I got my first sense of the new me. This new me doesn't care so much about Christmas consumption, it seems to me that ending our least consumeristic, most environmental year to date with a big old consumption celebration is completely wrong. But, it isn't just up to me, so I am controlling the things I can (namely the gifts he gets from us and what we do to balance out the gifts he gets from others - like donating a bunch of our used toys to needy families) and leaving the rest (not always happily - but I have a week to work on it). One of the things that I am rolling with is the whole Santa bit. We have not decided how we're going to treat the big red guy, though I don't want to take the magic away - I hate that Santa has become this all-powerful, gift-giving machine - and until last week I thought I had another year before this would be an issue. But now we'll be spending Christmas morning with Sebastian and Rigby's older cousins and the Santa bit is mucho important, the *stocking* part especially. So yesterday I braved the mall to both fill stockings and spend the money family abroad had sent for the kids. Not just any mall, but the mega-mall.

It was a place pumped full of cheerful decorations, cheerful holiday music and grumpy-assed shoppers. These poor people had probably rushed there straight after work hoping to fill their lists with a week to spare. And every store was all bright lights and exhausted sales-clerks and empty or messy shelves. People were trudging through - miserable in their duty of bringing joy through purchased gifts and miserable in their duty of selling joy. I found the whole scene hilarious.

Thursday, December 13


Alright, a little help from and from the real Ms. Stewart and I think I have Christmas figured out!

Tomorrow evening I will take a trip to the craft store and my favourite bulk baking goods supplier and then next week I will get cracking on a few cute and yummy-looking recipes.


I'm also going to knit some cute little somethings, I hope, and, in true Martha style everything will coordinate beautifully!!

sick day, take two

sick day 2

So today I woke up feeling like death warmed over. It figures, doesn't it?

All day I have been achy, groggy, grumbly and bitchy. In my haze I promised a trip to the park, as soon as I looked outside I realised my folly, buckets of rain and wet snow were falling. We bundled up and went out anyways when I struck it lucky - Sebastian was happy just playing in his muddy sandbox. This was great, I had been anxious about leaving the house (and bathroom) for an extended period.

Once sufficiently frozen we headed back inside for warm milk and so I could start working on lunch. Moments after we got inside Andrew walked through the door, my wet, cold saviour.

He jumped on child care while I did a million things that were not sitting on the couch and collecting my wits. I got some soup defrosting and sat down, only to be bored - so I got us caught up on paperwork (like getting to a pint where we can actually file our 2006 taxes, which meant several calls to government agencies to update our address and ask for information to be mailed out again). It feels good to finally have that taken care of, and it also means that once our taxes are filed we will have paid our outstanding Medical Services Plan balance and will also start getting our monthly Child Tax Benefit cheques again! Tomorrow we send off Rigby's birth registration and get her MSP forms taken care of, adding her to Andrew's insurance at work. I also finally send of my organ donor registration yesterday.

I am not a big Christmas-type, sure I like the holiday, but I also kind-of hate it. New Year's, on the other hand, is one of my favourites. I like the whole concept of starting over from scratch, plus it is the ultimate list-making holiday. And I love making lists. This year I am challenging myself to make a realistic and short list of resolutions. Which means cleaning up all the loose bits of 2007, so they don't get in the way.

As for that other holiday, we are working on ways to make it as low-cost as possible given our current lack of money and distaste for anything we *could* afford. I am finally going through with my no-crap-presents mandate this year. Not one person I know needs more *stuff* in their house, I would love to give them art or an experience (like tickets to the opera) but I can't afford that stuff, so this year I am going to bake. I will have to scour my books for the yummiest and yet least expensive recipes, but I will do it and they will eat it and we'll all be happy. I am also encouraging my friends not to get us any more stuff - but that one is harder to do without sounding a little offensive or, as I often sound to my friends, hippy-dippy. I know the kids will get spoiled, on our list of things to do before the holidays is to do a really thorough and brutal toy cull. Everything decent will go up on craigslist for free and anything that doesn't go will be dropped off with a local charity.

Wednesday, December 12

sick day

sick day

Andrew woke me up this morning at 5:00 informing me that he'd been up most of the night puking. Sebastian then woke up at 6:30 with an explosive poopy diaper, meanwhile I still needed to nurse and change Rigby. And I am so not a morning person. Think of your favourite zombie movie, that's me before 8:00am. That's why I married a morning person, so he could deal with things until I was lucid... that plan falls apart, however, when he's sick.

So - the TV went on - three adventures with the Backyardiagans and then Sebastian and I headed to the store for gravol, ginger-ale and soup. We came home and since I wasn't sure if the rest of us would be carrying icky GI germs, we all stayed at home. That didn't work out so well, though, since Sebastian just wanted to play with dad and I resented having another person to take care of. So the kids and I packed up the stroller and hit a playground.

There we met a young boy and his dad, I have to say I *love* stay-home dads, I find them so much easier to befriend. Sebastian and this young chap played so well together it was almost astounding. The boy was about 6 months older than Boo and really cool. I found out the Montessori preschool by the park is great, but doesn't have a part-time program... we're thinking preschool soonish, though I am having some trouble committing to a solid time frame.

After the park we hit the cafe for a muffin and steamed milk (coffee for me) and warmed up before starting home. I had hoped to pile some more errands onto that trip, but was already pushing back Sebastian's nap and I could tell he was getting close to falling asleep on his feet.

Now he's in bed, he fell asleep moments after climbing under the covers, Andrew is still sleeping (despite claiming to be getting up) and Rigby is also dozing quietly in her stroller. I have piles of backed up work and cleaning to do, but I just feel drained and all I want to do is rest a moment before feeding the teeny one and running back out the door to complete errands before friends come to visit.

I shouldn't complain, Andrew rarely gets this sick and he has taken care of me so much over the last two months, and for that I am really grateful. I just resent the ease with which he can take a sick day.

Sunday, December 9

it isn't a secret

that I would like to go back to school one day. Today, in my search for some continuing education courses I came upon this program - a BFA in Fine Arts and Creative Writing, offered jointly between Emily Carr and UNBC. If I decided to do it it would likely mean living in Prince George for two or more years, as half the program is comleted at UNBC, the other can be done online or during summer session at Emily Carr. At least as far as I can tell.

If this is something I wanted to seriously pursue I would consider applying for '09 entry, giving me one year to create a portfolio of studio art and writing. I haven't stepped foot in a studio in more than 5 years... I am beyond rusty. And I have only started writing recently. Old me would give up this dream right now and just go back to her life... but I can't shake this feeling that this degree was created just for me. So new me is now thinking that a couple courses might be in order this year, I was looking at some interesting ones at Emily Carr and could no doubt find a suitable creative writing course offered through one of the many universities and colleges in town.

I am all excited and scared and just wondering (of course) if this is even what I really want to do... (it is, Kate... really!!)


Yesterday was spent cleaning house and catching up, but by this morning there was more to do (as always) and more snow was falling.

I don't like snow - I don't like being cold, I don't ski, I don't like driving on snow, or walking on it and most of all I don't like the way it feels like the whole world is shades of grey and white, where the day only differs from the night by a faint hint of sun. I don't hate it, I love bundling up in soft sweaters and drinking warm drinks, staying inside or visiting friends. But when I wake up after too little sleep to a cold and messy house and glance outside and see nothing but grey it takes a whole lots of will-power not to climb back into bed and pull the covers over my head.

I did get up, but so far have been unable to shake off this faint funk.

Friday, December 7

t.f.i.f - thank fuck it's friday

And what a day it has been.

We slept in this morning, Andrew came home late (which for us is 11:00) from his office party and was just ripped too - so we sat up and talked a bit, cuddled and bit and watched a bit of Monty Python. It was quite lovely, but as a result this morning just sucked. I got the kids fed and dressed, Sebastian turned his nose up at yogurt but ate an orange. I didn't think much of it, he can be a funny eater (he's two-and-a-half, after all), so I usually just roll with it when he decides not to eat. So then we pack up and head out into the frosty morning. I feel a few pangs of eco-guilt as I scrape the ice off the running car - I recite in my head what I will say to the hypothetical people who give me shit for idling. I also worry about the slim chance of running out of gas while sitting outside the house.

We made it to the gas station and then were off to the library that I love so much I have decided is worth the long drive. A long drive made much longer by my ignorance about just hw much traffic there would be at 9:00am. The line t get on the bridge started so far back that I didn't even register that that was what it was. So I missed getting onto the bridge and instead took the longest route possible, kicking myself the entire way. About half-way to our destination I decide part of my problem is a lack of coffee and food, so I stop at a Starbucks drive-through. The line up doesn't look to be so bad until I remember that it goes all the way around the fucking building. By this point there were already two more vehicles behind me and we were trapped. Talk about eco-guilt, I swear I watched the gas guage drop while waiting, but didn't dare turn off my engine because as slow as were were going we seemed to be constantly in motion.

Sebastian was upset, he was mad that we weren't moving and that the sun was shining brightly through the front window. I tried chatting, singing, telling stories - nothing helped... then, as he screamed and yelled I heard him sputter and gag. Chunks of mandarin orange everywhere. I managed to get him a hat to continue harfing into and stole a blanket from Rigby to clean him up - all while still stuck in this drive-through. We made it out, slowly, Sebastian felt much better once I rolled his window down and even managed to charm the woman behind the counter. I pulled over, assessed the damage (two sweaters and a toque hit - there was more, but came passably clean), cleaned up as best I could and we hit the road.

The library was uneventful, but totally worth the drive - I picked up some books for myself and one for Sebastian that I've eyed at the bookstore for Christmas.

Home again, lunch and now I am trying to get the child to take a nap - we're going out tonight so I am hoping to have him well-rested for the sitter. I am really looking forward to this, it has been such a long-ass week.

Thursday, December 6

All our time with other kids has left the entire family fighting a cold - right now my babes are sleeping it off, thank goodness, but I have work to do and my brain is so full of snot it isn't funny.

I took advantage of my diminished sense of smell and cleaned out the fridge for the first time since Rigby was born. It was seriously gross, I am not a fan of throwing out food but with all that's been going on we were left with a ton of produce that was purchased and then left to rot.

Wednesday, December 5

what we're up to

As everyone knows, Christmas is coming - and soon. This will not be the year I get Christmas cards sent - hell, I haven't even registered my daughter's birth yet. Nor will it be the year I craft all my gifts by hand - though if I can crack off a couple for dear friends and family I will be very happy. Luckily I make a mean cookie - so if nothing else, my group of family and family-esque people can count on getting fed.

Here's the awesome bit, none of this bothers me much. Oh it bothers me a wee bit, I wish we were the family who had holiday cards sent out early and a great stash of gifts that had been made over the year. But it isn't killing me... and, while someday I will likely tire of the numbness the medication provides, this vacation from constantly running through my mental list of successes and failures (past, present and future) is exquisite. It is almost as lovely as sipping margaritas on some tropical beach.

Today we met* some friends at a great little coffee shop for some brunch and coffees**. It was fun - a lot of fun. I wonder if I talked too much about myself - and I definitely didn't anticipate how HOT I would be wearing two layers and a baby - but I felt like *myself* again. Yesterday was the same story, we went to a big holiday party hosted by the family centre we attend, and I ran into a lot of people who'd become familiar faces over the past months and was able to just talk to them. I didn't try and run off, I wasn't so focused on my internal dialogue I couldn't follow the conversation and I even handled an uncomfortable situation with something in the same neighbourhood as grace.

enjoying his soy bambinoccino:

so much cute:

me and ms. giggly-pants:

following the trail back to home***:

My relationships inside the house are improving as well, Sebastian feeds off my anxiety and so with me being much less anxious, he is too. Plus, I am not so fatalistic about how every interaction will affect him later in life - which is making life a whole lot easier to handle. He is sleeping better - Andrew and I have been doing a modified Ferber on him and it seems to be working... he still yells and screams, but we've been keeping cool and so, if nothing else, we feel better. And he is just so much fun to be around since we've stopped trying to turn every interaction into some kind of life lesson (something I don't think we'd even realised we were doing until recently - and really, how dull must that be for poor Sebastian?).

I am even finding a mess/clean balance I am able to live with. It isn't perfect - I am currently avoiding the bedroom because if I go in there I will spend the day cleaning it, but it is working for me. And I am starting to think about giving myself a to-do list and see how things go.

*in both senses of the word - we met up with some mama-friends we knew and some new ones

**I had too much of both, downing two lattes and splitting an incredible banana and chocolate bread pudding and a deliciously moist ricotta, apple) and almond muffin

***the petals lead to a flower shop and were such a beautiful surprise

this just in:

"hey mom, I'm eating my cereal and pooping in the potty!!"

Sunday, December 2

o bla di o bla da

life goes on

I am slowly stepping back into this life of mine, cooking, cleaning, walking, talking - man I've missed this simplicity.

It is a cold Sunday, it is getting dark out, despite it only being 4:30 - it has been snowing all day and the ground is piled high with soggy snow. Friday, before the snow came, Sebastian, Rigby and I walked to do our errands when once we would have driven - it was really nice. The boy rode in the stroller while his sister slept on my chest. We got blood drawn (mine) and picked up a few things from the market, hit the park and skipped a stop at the coffee shop.

Yesterday, while the boys played in the fresh snow, a good friend came to visit (always nice) and drop off lovely gifts for the kids from her recent trip to Costa Rica and Nicaragua. I lent her eat, pray, love - having finished it that morning, and gave her a copy of an oatmeal cookie recipe (from the Joy of Cooking). We then braved the slippery streets to go pick up some things we both needed from the grocery store.

I dropped her off and came home to make enough macaroni and cheese and cookies to bring to another friend's place for dinner. Though at about 4:00 we realised that the streets would be too scary - especially at night, when we would be making the 30 minute drive home. So I now have a couple casserole dishes of mac and cheese in the freezer for eating in the next two weeks and enough oatmeal chocolate and peanut butter chip cookies to feed an army (or a couple of chubby parents watching An Evening with Kevin Smith 2).

Friday, November 30


I'm sitting here, basking in the wild silence in my home, surrounded by things that need looking after and knowing that I am the one to do it, yet I sit.

My young son fought his nap today like a champ - he cried and pleaded and at one point he almost defeated his tired and silence-starved mother. It wasn't pretty, but it ended well with assurances of love from me. Sleep is so important and precious to people like us, people who have difficulty stopping themselves once they're going. I can see it in him and I, as mother, can take steps to ensure he gets the rest his mind and body need to recover and start again. What baffles me is my own inability to do the same for myself, to be my own mother and make the wild child inside take a break... so much to do and say and think. Only my youngest truly gets it - when she is tired or overwhelmed she just closes her eyes and sleeps, stirring only when something needs attending to - eating, diapering and socialising - otherwise she sleeps, or sits calmly and takes the world in. Oh, to have such peace.

Thursday, November 29

good enough is good enough

Simple, no? So is "done beats perfect every time" - yet these concepts are some of the most difficult I have ever tried to imbibe. In grade school I would often get an incomplete rather than hand in a less-than-flawless project. It happened a LOT.

I am adopting "good enough is good enough" as my new mantra in an attempt to hack through my perfection paralysis. So far so good - well, allowing myself to behave, clean, write, communicate imperfectly has been tough, taking on challenges where the outcome is absolutely unclear or unknown is really tough (so tough that I haven't really done more than dream about the scary things I want to think about planning to do), but it has only been a week and a half since I admitted my imperfection.

Man, this shit is really hard.

kids in glasses

trying out the new specs:

nice glasses, kid!

how to look cool while brushing your teeth:

this is how to look cool while brushing your teeth

rocking the brainy-kid look at science world:

fun with Oma at Science World

finding my voice

After Rigby's birth I complained to Andrew that I felt like I was losing my voice. I would open my mouth to speak and it would felt like I'd lost control of my vocal cords, it felt like those moments in a dream when you try to cry out or scream and nothing comes out - that moment when you suddenly realise that none of it is real and wake up.

I thought maybe I had a cold, though a very selective one that would only stop me from speaking when what I was saying wasn't me. Trying to cajole Sebastian using the concocted phases from one parenting book or another, or when I would try and tell someone everything was awesome. It was almost like my body had finally had enough of the bullshitting and was sending a message to my mind - be sincere or be quiet. The problem was my mind was so busy worrying and scripting that she was slow to catch on, the realisation came one moment when I, frustrated with all the steps it was taking just to get a thought vocalised decided to take a short-cut, open my mouth and let whatever was going to come out come out. It did, and loudly, the tenor of my own voice took me by surprise and I almost cried in shock and joy.

I'm taking tiny steps to reclaiming my voice - allowing myself to drop the multiple layers of verbal filtration when I'm at home, working towards doing it with other family and even the occasional stranger.

It is hardest with strangers and those are the moments when my fight or flight response comes roaring at me like an ocean wave. I get all sweaty and turn red and feel a bit like I am 16 again trying to buy cigarettes from the corner store, afraid of what being caught could mean (would they call my parents? The cops??). But in the two experiences I've endured this week, I stood my ground and did my very best to remind myself that the worst thing that could possibly happen is I might (unintentionally) offend someone whom I would likely never see again. It was so much harder than I can intellectually justify, which makes my pride about overcoming it also feel a bit unjustified, but I am so proud of myself - one for taking part in an important study on maternal care and two for taking care of my son's poor scalded tongue and telling the pissy, dismissive staff at my local coffee that their kid's steamed milk ought not be so freaking hot.

In other self-improvement news, I am swearing much less. I have nothing against swearing, but for me it was getting to be such a habit. The funniest thing is I did realise I'd stopped swearing until I did swear and it felt shocking. (Essentially, fuck is about the only swear I've stopped using, but it is also the one that peppered my speech the most).

Wednesday, November 28

letting go

I am feeling better - not all better, mind you, but much better.

Monday afternoon I drove my mom to the airport and returned to my ordinary life. Having her around has been incredible - have I mentioned that? And now that she's gone, I really miss her.

Yesterday was a great day - one of those days that make me wonder if I had blown this whole postpartum thing out of proportion. One of those days that I would have held up as proof that "everything is fine" before. Not everything went as planned, but the sun was shining and I was rolling with the punches like a pro.

Today was, in contrast, a day that seemed only to exist as a reminder that I still have a long, long way to go. From getting out of bed this morning to sitting down to eat or type, today was just harder. That voice of supermom, looking over my shoulder and telling me all the little things I should feel bad about was louder than my inner cheerleader. I managed to keep her quiet by doing a few things I wouldn't normally do, things like letting Sebastian play with water in the kitchen sink so I could have a few moments to rest. It seems so small and silly but I really had work hard to keep myself from trying to mop up every errant drop of water.

Cleaning is my vice, my crutch - I feel like life can only start once my house is clean. And like one day, if only I clean enough, I can stop and enjoy myself. Thankfully I am learning that there are lots of things I can do to keep my house tidy enough to not weigh on me so much, and that a little mess isn't the end of the world. I found myself frantically cleaning once again when Andrew took Sebastian to do laundry. I was cleaning because Andrew's parents are coming over in the morning to take Sebastian out, to give me a break. They're doing this to help me manage my overwhelm and here I am freaking out about looking like I have it all together. Happily, I caught myself before I'd spent my whole "break" working my ass off - and as a bonus I got a chance to giggle at myself before curling up with a book.

Sunday, November 25

perfection paralysis

My mom leaves tomorrow evening. I have gotten quite comfortable with having another person or two around to take care of things and am actually a little frightened to face life on my own again. But I also feel rested, competent and ready to get back to work.

I am really thankful my mother was here through this week, it has been a tougher than normal one, not only because of the obvious, but also because Sebastian got his first pair of glasses *and* needs to wear an eye-patch. Having an extra pair of hands to help pick up toys and do dishes and hold the baby has been really nice - but her biggest gift has been to remind me (constantly) how normal and wonderful Sebastian is. She has also been able to point out that him screaming his head off when it is time to take off his patch is a cry for attention more than anything else - she has given me the strength to let him howl and not think that it makes me a bad mother. She has watched him plot and play us - smart cookie that he is - and watched us do his bidding. She helped us remember that ours is a kid who craves structure and rules, even as his rails against them (just like his mama).

She also did all she could to whittle away at all my excuses for staying home - she bought me a really lovely jacket (actually a "3-in-1" jacket that is not only cute but also perfectly suited to life on the west coast) and a nice pair of waterproof boots (lusciously wool-lined and crazy-comfy). She accompanied us to the family centre and Science World - both were no-sweat and pretty easy to get to with just the tiniest bit of pre-planning. We even made it to Costco (and I decided that *that* was something I would never attempt alone with both kids).

Before she leaves we will have an easy meal plan and activity schedule down and have figured out ways for everyone to monitor me and keep me on track. We will also make a plan for breaks for everyone - Sebastian is going to start visiting his grandparents on the island regularly and I also know we have enough willing and lovely friends who would happily take Sebastian for a night or an afternoon to give us a break from each-other. This stuff won't make the underlying issues disappear, but will give me the time and space not to let my mind get so far away from me.

There's a bunch of other stuff I was going to write about (right... the perfection paralysis of the title) - but my mind has moved on to something else and I think I need to deal with that first. Oh, and I've gone through and posted a bunch of nearly finished entries from the last few months, they're all tagged unfinished, if you're curious.

Friday, November 23

ppa, ppd, ppocd and pppaxil

About time I updated, huh?

First I want to thank all of you for your kind words and encouragement. I love you all.

This has to be quick - I started this post many hours ago and it is now creeping up on 11 and I need me some sleep.

Life has been hectic this week and hopefully I won't miss anything:

~ We had a nice weekend, last weekend. Our amazing friends Brian and Shannon watched Boo at their place Friday and Saturday nights - we used the time to relax, do a little shopping, not cook, laze about the house, shop some more, watch movies, talk, cuddle and just chill.

~ There were many, many, many phone calls made and taken - I am so thankful to Big A for taking care of all of that (I still don't really feel like talking to anyone or answering the phone - but am working on it). Food was dropped off, arrangements were made to have my mom stay with us indefinitely, boxes of tissues were used up, disposable diapers were purchased and at the end of it all we picked up our son (whom we missed terribly) and drove up towards Whistler in search of snow (and a nap).

~ Monday morning we all got up and out of bed early, Andrew helped get us out the door and on our way to the coffee shop where an hour and a half later we would be meeting my friend Heather who was on katy-sitting-duty. Luckily I love Heather and relish any excuse to drag her away from her busy life, after spilling two coffees and a steamed milk we walked back to our house where we all sat around and talked and played until shortly before 1:00. Heather needed to run off to see a client, but Andrew was home moments later. Then, just before dinnertime, my mom swooped in to take care of us.

~ Tuesday we had Sebastian's eye appointment. The doctor confirmed what we thought and we left with a prescription for glasses and instructions on eye-patching. We picked up the prescribed patches, but came up empty-handed in the glasses department. We were pretty certain Lenscrafters would give us the best deal, but the one we went to (Metrotown) had a rather pitiful selection of tiny frames. The guy helping us could have been less helpful - but it did strike me that he couldn't give a shit if we found glasses. This led to a much-too-long search for frames that ended abruptly when we, as a group, decided we could not take another moment of it. On our way out of the mall we stopped at please mum, where my mum bought her grandkids some holiday clothes, including a plush red bath robe for her grand-son that, except for the trio of cartoon animal appliques on the back, makes him look like a miniature Hugh Hefner.

~ Wednesday morning we tracked down a great set of frames at a different Lenscrafters and then rushed home to meet Andrew for my appointment. It went well, very well, the Doctor didn't necessarily tell me anything I wasn't expecting to hear. Though she did give me the impression I am being even more unrealistic than I thought and thinks that with the right combination of cognitive behaviour therapy and drugs - I will be a surprising new woman. She also, thankfully, is not under the impression that I pose a threat to myself or my children. This is excellent news to all of us. My mom needs to get back to work asap and my husband and I can't really afford for him to take time off (though we will make it work if it ever comes to that). With my mom helping out I have been able to see things more clearly than I was before. I can now see how important time for me is (and doing laundry while ignoring my screaming nearly-three year-old doesn't count any more). I am looking into some options, we are adjusting our diet and exercise, making (easy) weekly activity plans, and asking for help. Nothing is going to happen over night, and some days are bound to be hella-tough, but I am going to make it through and be alright!! Better than alright - I am going to go back to being "me"!!! She doesn't think I am depressed, per se, but instead that I am suffering anxiety with a touch of OCD.

There is more, including photos of my little nerd and tales from patch-dom, but for now I am staring at the screen without any actual focus and can think of nothing more lovely than laying my head on my pillow and closing my eyes.

Monday, November 19

reality sets in

I am sitting on my couch, baby asleep on my chest and laptop perched on my legs, watching my mom do my dishes and listening to my husband and son bathe in the bathroom, lists of the things I *should* be doing rolling through my head, final credit-style.

Today my husband got me out of bed early and together we all got out of the house by 7:30a - the kids and I walked to a neighbourhood coffee shop where we would be meeting our friend Heather at 9:00a. After spilling two coffees and a warm soy milk, we walked through the rain back to our house where we all hung out, played, read books and talked until she had to leave at 12:30p. At 12:45p, Andrew walked in the door - he put Sebastian down for a nap while I ran to a sandwich shop to get lunch. My mom showed up around 4:00p and will be keeping me company for as long as "necessary." You see, I am not allowed to be left alone or alone with the kids. This is my new reality and while I enjoy the constant company... it is weird to need a baby-sitter. I am in the strange position of not knowing whether or not I can trust myself - especially strange because I don't feel any different today than I did a week ago, but today I need a sitter.

It is all for the best, not only do I know this, but I truly appreciate everyone coming together non-judgmentally to help me in a time of need.

Saturday, November 17

obsess much?

Normally when something is afflicting a family member or friend I am the first to hit the internet to better understand. This time, I am making a conscious effort not to do too much research before my initial evaluation on Wednesday - I don't want to inadvertently taint my answers to better fit one mold or another.

That said, I needed to find out if maybe I was crazy (not an appropriate term, eh?) and I am not in fact, suffering PPD - I mean, I still laugh, still have moments of joy, it isn't like I can't function - my house (until yesterday) has stayed spotless, I make budgets and meal plans and pay bills (again, until yesterday - so I should take care of that), I may not be leaving the house much, but I make plans and when I do leave the house I am... okay... not great, I would rather be at home, away from people and their judging eyes - away from big trucks and their crushing wheels, away from constant reminders of how not together I have it (for example, my inability to follow driving directions and consistently get lost - once it was annoying, but funny, now it feels like a sign of my failures as a parent).

So I did a little researching, I knew anxiety was part of the problem - and lo and behold, the postpartum period can introduce all kinds of mood disorders, not just depression. So, armed now with the knowledge that when I go in an tell them that I do still have fun they won't send me off with a pat on the head. When I read the symptoms for OCD it was like a lightbulb went off, and when I told Andrew what I had done and what I thought and he rolled his eyes and then nodded knowingly - OCD would fit a lot of what I've been doing and thinking. We will see what comes of my meeting on Wednesday, but it is just nice knowing that I can be briefly happy and still sick (not actually being sick, being a hypochondriac, is a bit of a phobia of mine).

Friday, November 16

the other shoe

I have been waiting for the other shoe to drop for ages, I knew it was coming and my increasing anxiety of late let me know it would be soon.Every time the phone rang I would practically jump out of my skin - not only was I afraid of what might be on the other end, but I also worried that if I did pick up the phone, would I be able to sound human and, most importantly, like I had my shit together?

I'd hate to worry anyone.

Turns out all that concern was pointless - I was the other shoe this time. I lost it today on my son, my son who I have had a very hard time liking lately, my son who so perfectly pushes my buttons and whose incessant chatter was like a recording of nails on chalkboard playing continuously.

Our problems are many and too much for me to handle on my own, despite whatever effort I put in. I am relieved to be getting help. I look forward to having my brain work again. I look forward to having someone to talk to about my issues and my family's issues who can help us manage them. Like a modern guardian angel of sorts. And I am willing,once my initial scary-as-all-hell symptoms are under control, to take the time to find someone I mesh with, someone I trust completely and who is able to see past my very thick and competent facade.

Part of me wishes I had asked for help when I first began to see the signs of depression... I wish I had spared my son, especially, from my anxiety, anger and sadness. I hope that the help I get helps me be the mom he needs me to be and soon. I miss our connection - I miss our love (the same could be said of all my current relationships)...

My God, I am so glad for the support of my friends and family. And part of me is still amazed that these friends have stuck by me through my assholian period and through this and then when I asked for help they have practically lined up (okay, we only asked a few people for help - but every single one has come through).

Now - if only I could make myself sleep...

my demons

So today I fessed up to being depressed.

It wasn't easy, I am so awesome at denial that I almost had myself convinced, but I had a sudden realisation - I could not keep living like this. My options were few and I knew that if I didn't get what was going through my head to another person right away, I was afraid I would lose my strength and go back into my well-constructed illusion. And if that happened, I wasn't quite sure I could trust myself not to do something regrettable.

Andrew came home immediately, calling my midwife on the way. She listened while I cried and cried and cried, she asked me some questions and declared me enough of a risk to myself and my children that once again I am not allowed to be left alone. I think she and everyone else might expect me to resent that, and I very well may in time, but I appreciate it. I am super-hella-worried about what it all means, and not at all comfortable asking so very many people for help. But, the low-down is my mother is flying in on Monday - Sebastian is staying with his Auntie Shannon all weekend and has a playdate with our friend Heather on Monday morning. And I suddenly feel much less overwhelmed.

If I hadn't asked for help, or if I had reached out to Andrew - but not let it go further, I would likely still be feeling a sense of relief, I might even think that everything really would be okay, but it wouldn't and I would go right back into my anxiety-fuelled cycle. This time, for the first time, I feel like *woah* there might be a real light at the end of all of this. I might go back to being me...

Gosh, I wonder if I will recognize myself if that happens. I hope I do, I have a feeling that I am a really cool person (I have made such awesome friends over the years - so I have that to go on).

Wednesday, November 14

what do you mean it isn't friday???**

I am beat.

Seriously, in what kind of cruel world do I get slammed with a cold so soon after bringing new life into this world? I only hope that my diet of coffee and cookie dough will be sufficient to slay this beast, and soon.

I know I've been whining a lot - I have actually been avoiding posting on here for fear of sounding whiny, negative, ungrateful or depressed and annoying or worrying my friends and family who don't see me every day. Not that the people who do see me every day are any less worried - I admit I am a bit of a sight with my unkempt hair (dudes, it is fall in Vancouver and I have frizzy hair and *no time* for styling, this mop-like-thing on my head is just what happens, trust me I don't like it any more than you do. At least it proves I am showering!!), my dirty, ratty, mismatched clothes (Rigby is a master-spitter, this afternoon, in fact, after my shower, I decided to go naked for a while - to save creating more laundry) my under-eye bags (nope, not sleeping - quel shock, non?) and my gnarly cold symptoms that include a nasty cold sore, runny nose, strange voice and lack of patience (I am not good at being sick, which is why I generally avoid it). And I complain, a lot... it is a wonder no one has staged an intervention (yet) - but rest assured, I am pretty certain I am not falling into the depths of postpartum depression and am, instead, reacting pretty typically to the stresses in my life.

I wrote a little bit ago about wanting to find things to work on - the first has been to get organised again. There was a brief point in time, most of 2006 and a little bit of 2007, where I was almost meticulously organised, at least on paper, and if imperfect, the system did ensure I payed my bills mostly on time and that Sebastian and I had a pretty regular schedule that worked well for us. Then it fell apart, I was pregnant, we were really broke, there was nothing to do because of the civil strike, I was all-consumed by the act of parenting one child while growing another, I lost my desire to cook (or eat the foods I had cooked)... it fell apart. This last week or so has been spent trying to figure out, through a haze of insomnia, how to get back on track. I have found new love for iCal, preferring it to Google Calendar simply because my laptop and phone can sync with the click of an icon and my schedule is always at my fingertips. I had also grown immune to the handy reminders Google would send me via SMS, which was really the initial selling point. Anyways - I have been slowly inputting things of importance into my calendar, figuring out meal plans and budgets in the mean time - getting everything centralised and organised. And now that all the set-up is done it is time to move on to the next couple of goals.

Namely setting up a regular, weekly schedule for the family (with room for spontaneity, of course) and creating healthy and affordable meal plans*. I am trying not to over-fill our weeks, while still giving Sebastian the kind of stimulation that keeps him nice and sweet. It is a delicate balance, since a tidy portion of our recent outings have only served as fuel for my growing insanity (and his future therapy). We decided last week that the Library is a good morning errand - we have found a library we love, so of course it is in the next town over. And we're going to try out some of the community drop-ins, revisiting the ones we used to frequent and finding new ones. Last winter Sebastian and I really thrived when we had three regular, consistent, morning activities and two "days off." He got to go out and be around other kids and I got to talk to other adults. It left us both feeling fresh and able to manage the rest of our days.

So I am working on a schedule

*a side note that I may have already mentioned - we have gone back to having our groceries delivered - it costs more, but given my general state of overwhelmedness it seemed like a good idea in the short-term.

**I wrote this very shortly before admitting I was, in fact, having heaps of trouble managing and could not do it on my own. I debated scrapping the post, or finishing it and posting it - but given how much has happened between then and now I decided to leave it unfinished, exactly as it was left last week, a testament to how hard I was trying to maintain my denial and delicate facade of competence.

Sunday, November 11

i guess this is growing up

Andrew and I had a big talk tonight, we've both been feeling pretty blah. Not happy, not depressed, just blah. We're understandably tired, we're understandably worn out, we've got a ton on our plates and have barely been there for one another all week.

I am convinced I know the cause - I am pretty sure that we have entered that vicious consumption/laziness/depression cycle, I saw it coming miles away - we started eating take-out almost exclusively near the end of my pregnancy, and since we're usually broke and had things we *had* to spend money on, take-out usually came in a bag (or two) imprinted with the letter so quintessentially "fast food." As soon as that yellow letter comes back into our lives we begin reverting in all kinds of ways. We overspend (our rent was late two months in a row), we get all lazy with our parenting, we stop maintaining the house - leading to necessary cleaning binges, we retreat socially, we discuss taking up smoking again (so far, so good), we stop talking and instead begin assuming we know what the other is thinking (and usually resent them for whatever that is)... we get all mopey and morose and totally unmotivated, which leads to more fast food meals and the cycle begins again.

Andrew proposed that the smoking, lazy, fast-food eating, overspending us is us in our natural state - his reasoning being that we always revert to being "that" couple when things get tough, plus we have been those people for so long. I countered with the idea that we are simply people who take the path of least resistance when facing a tough challenge - I think that most people in our society are the same way, so not even trying in the first place. I contend that our true nature is to attempt to grow and learn and evolve because those times when we are truly happy - times when we feel good about ourselves, our lives, our world - are also the times when we are making a conscious effort to live well. He conceded that I did have a point, which I am taking to mean he is on board with my plans to get things back on track.

I have not completed my big list - but I have been whittling away at the little one (which is also very big) and have come up with a few things to work on now. I fixed our budget and as long as we can curb our frivolous spending, we should easily have enough money for a modest, but lovely, Christmas, as well as some modest, but lovely, birth announcements. I also made a judgement call I have been mulling over for a few months - I decided that the convenience of having all of our groceries delivered to our door weekly by far outweighed the premium prices we will now pay for, admittedly fantastic, organic produce and natural foods. It is an added cost that isn't easy to take on paper, but in practice - with two kids and a fried brain - it is worth every cent! Plus we're already blowing our budget every week with all the fast food.

So, our conversation evolved into a discussion of all the things going on currently, we're still having a hard time parenting Sebastian, plus we're working on how to make life work as a family of four - managing every one's needs and expectations, and I am trying very hard to remember how to talk to other human beings - especially my very patient and much abused husband.

Saturday, November 10

I *heart* bellen

This is the Bellen! that ran on the day Rigby was born. A case of reader projecting her own meaning? For sure! A fitting and lovely tribute to the adventure we're undertaking?? You bet!!

so guess who *didn't* sleep in?

Or wake up to coffee?


Not that I am complaining (much), it is just how things rolled this morning.

Sebastian has not been sleeping well, none of us have, actually - I have been suffering pretty bad insomnia. I can't even blame the babe, who sleeps like a champ most nights, no, this is all me. Subconsciously I think I am trying to make up for all the time I spend each day in the company of small children. I have been watching way too much "TV"- we blew through season three of Arrested Development this week and then last night watched Little Miss Sunshine (cute, but overrated) and The Pick of Destiny. I then stayed up even longer trying to wake Rigby up to nurse (yeah, yeah, but I was hoping I could avoid her waking me up just as I was ready to pass out - it didn't work) meanwhile reading through the first part of Taming the Spirited Child (see sidebar). Just as my eyelids began to stop functioning, Rigby farted and woke herself up and Sebastian wandered in and asked for a new diaper. Andrew woke up and helped me out considerably, we got both kids in new diapers and I then passed out with babe at the boob. I slept a few hours, nursed, slept a little more, and woke up in a pretty foul mood.

Seems we all did, so we scrapped our first three plans and Andrew took Sebastian downtown to wander around his work and then along the sea-wall. I was ordered to go to the coffee shop (so I could keep reading my book) but as my head cleared I realised that if I went out and came home to the same disaster of a home I would likely lose it (again). So while they were out I cleaned, and cleaned and cleaned. I also made lunch - but neglected to ensure it was simmering on low and not just keeping warm on low and the rice did not cook in time. Instead we had some hard-boiled eggs and will eat the beans and rice for dinner (I just realised I forgot to add the spinach - I am going to go do that right now and stick it in the oven to heat up - perfect opportunity to refill my coffee, too). So, since writing that an hour has passed, my house is full and loud and likely getting messy again, but I am alright with that. Really.

I've also lost my train of thought.

Friday, November 9

another week, another facelift

I *heart* Friday. Because on Friday night I get to stay up late knowing that someone else can spend the first few hours with Super Boo while I lay in bed with Baby Rigs, drinking coffee (note to Andrew, we need cream - IGA will be open before I'm awake, I'm sure), eating breakfast foods and reading. It won't be long before my dear and wonderful husband stops thinking of me as "that amazing woman who birthed my two wonderful children," and instead sees me as "that lazy cow who stays in bed all weekend." With that in mind I am going to enjoy the last bits of his goodwill. I am starting to get sick of my laziness (and its associated lack of productiveness) - I am going to miss staying up late watching movies and reading blogs though.

As for the recent changes, I really like this layout and while searching for a new layout and experimenting with various free templates I learned some new HTML tricks. I even helped Andrew make his new template work. I rock! I added a "books I'm reading" widget and am re-vamping my links list, I can't remember all the bits I lost in the many (MANY) template switch overs - but it is kind of nice, starting over from scratch.

I also dyed my hair - it is now deep brown and sex-a-licious. Now if only I had a) any desire to have sex and b) a matching sexy haircut, though I would settle for a bang trim.

these things matter

I have been bumping around my life lately, coming up with good ideas and big plans and letting them slide away. This year I considered ways to grow intellectually and shrink consumeristically, I came up with grand schemes and great plans, I grew as a wife and mother, I floundered as a wife and mother, and in the end - I feel like I have returned to the beginning.

I tried to do too much, take on too much, be my image of supermom too much, and here I lie - zitty from the junk food and sleepless from the sugar and caffeine, my darling daughter sleeping in innocence beside me, ignorant to the ways I have failed myself and therefore failed her.

I am not being too hard on myself, though I can see how it sounds like I am - I am done with the guilt over the things I wish I'd done differently, guilt being the most useless of emotions (is it even considered an emotion??). Useless unless it is used as a catalyst for change and that's where I find myself now. The changes I want to implement are many, the same many changes I have tried and failed to implement before - so what do I do? I figure out which basic changes are important and I focus on those.

While I was waiting for Rigby I had lots of time on my hands - I also had a long-ass list of things to do. A list so long and overwhelming that I would look at it and decide to sit and read blogs for two hours instead of attempting to tackle it. It got to a point, though, where there were items on the list too important to keep shoving aside - so I re-wrote the list. I had two headings: Urgent and Important (there was a third, something like "not that important" but I had a hard enough time not putting everything under the urgent heading - the third list ended up staying empty and eventually was dropped altogether). I then picked four items from the list to do the first day, I wrote them down on another slip of paper and then put the master to-do-list somewhere I would not stumble upon it and be tempted to try to do too much. Four seems to be the magic number - less than four and I feel rather unaccomplished at the end and try to add three more things to do and feel like a failure when they don't get done. Five things are too much and I lose sleep (or shower time) trying to get it all done. Four things fill the empty bits of the day nicely.

Rigby's arrival put a bit of a wrench in the perfect machine that was my to-do list, but I think I can get my groove back (maybe I need to try three items again). It also got too tempting to add little things to the list, like "make dinner" - something I do need to do anyways, but by adding it to the list I was making the list *look* overwhelming.

But I have veered away from my intended subject... I want to make a LIFE to-do-list. Not one of those 50 things to do before I'm 50 lists, instead it will be a list of ways I want to live - things that are important to me and then pick the top two-three things to work on right now. Once those are a part of my daily life I move on to the next two, until the who that I am matches more closely with the who I want to be. This is, of course, an ongoing project - since that is all life really is, isn't it?

I thought I could sit down and come up with the list - I thought it would be easy (I am a natural list-maker) - but now that I have intellectualised the process the way I have, I think I need to, at the very least, make a spreadsheet.

Thursday, November 8

okay - I am just fucking exhausted

I have this "do it all" attitude - I feel like a failure because since my ill-fated tuna pie (that did become pretty yummy tuna stew) I have not coked anything more involved than a grilled cheese sandwich and organic spaghetti-o's. My excuse is not a lack of food - I managed on Monday to complete a rather successful trip to the grocery store. I had a meal-plan. I had it all together... and yet...

Andrew and Sebastian just walked in the door with chicken from a chain (not KFC, but not much better).

Wednesday, November 7

cook, eat, play, clean, cook, eat, clean, cook, eat, sleep, repeat

Today we ventured out of the house. Originally the plan had been to visit the family centre - but by the time we were ready to walk out the door it was almost snack time. I convinced Sebastian that a trip to the coffee shop and park could be just as exciting. The promise of a blueberry bran muffin tipped the scales.

Sebastian jumped into each and every puddle we came across, and it is fall in Vancouver, so you know there are plenty. I didn't mind at all, he was snug in his new rain outfit and I had a stash of towels in the stroller, just in case. Rigby enjoyed her first walk... well, I assume she did, she spent most of the trip asleep in her stroller bubble and didn't make a fuss until we left the park. The coffee shop was a big hit - and despite the rain we were able to sit outside quite comfortably (lucky, since the cafe was packed to the hilt and I had ordered my coffee and our muffin to stay). We chatted abut the things we saw - I explained that pigeons were not welcome in coffee shops, Sebastian explained that dogs do not eat people (?). I'd hoped to sneak back home without the promised trip to the park - our very lovely walk to the coffee shop having taken about three times as long as I had thought it would. I have to remind myself often that he's not so little any more and remembers things. I didn't mind, really, I had dressed us all well and none of us were uncomfortable or crabby, yet. Once at the park Sebastian got over his disappointment that there were no other kids present when he made the thrilling discovery that his waterproof pants, combined with the plastic slide and rain made for a very exciting ride. He was also happy to have my (nearly) undivided attention for a while.

We were having a ball and ended up staying out just a wee bit too long, on the way back Sebastian decided he was not going to be able to walk the entire distance home and Rigby wailed for a good five blocks, it started to really rain as we walked home and I ended up briskly pushing the stroller as Sebastian rode my shoulders. I then hit a point, a block from home, where I didn't think I would make it. Luckily, Sebastian had gotten his second wind and was willing to complete the last leg of our journey under his own steam. We came home, tired, wet, hungry and more than a little crabby - but we'd had fun, and more than that, with the knowledge that we could do it.

And now, my husband just walked in the door with ice cream, dark chocolate, diet pepsi, bread, dip and wine (yeah baby) to make up for the three HOURS of laundry in our manual washer... I was feeling pretty pissy earlier - I'm now feeling much better (and the venomous thoughts about my husband have almost completely faded away... though the fart stink he just left a few feet away from me and the fact that I lost the original conclusion to this post because I had signed into his gmail by his request, giving blogger a brain-fart, have brought back a tiny bit of venom). Nothing a nice back rub wouldn't fix.

I have some relevant photos to post - but because I am too lazy to find both my camera and camera cord - I will leave you with the *promise* of photos to come.

for british eyes only

okay, seriously, Arrested Development is the best TV show ever made.

We finally got our hands on season three - I am so happy.

In other news, I have a pile of unfinished blog entries from the last few weeks that I am hoping to finish and publish right away... I mention this because if you read me via a feed it could be a little confusing.

Tuesday, November 6

so this is my life now...

Day two by myself with my two children (that still feels odd to say, man) has passed without serious incident (as in, we are all alive and still speaking to one another). Sebastian is jealous and bored, Rigby is plump and sleeps a lot... I went through a whole half-pot of coffee before drinking half a cup, (and then as I wrote that I made a smoking mess of dinner*).

I am thankful that for this first bit, life with two is only slightly different than life as a very pregnant woman with one. I think if things were much more difficult than they are now - I would run away and never look back. Seriously.

But still, there is absolutely no denying that things are getting better. We have all come a long way in just two weeks - Sebastian went from being so upset by his little sister's crying that on day three he actually vomited, to either comforting or ignoring her. He has also hopped enthusiastically on the potty-learning bandwagon and has fallen asleep on his own for his last two afternoon naps!! After a bit of a lull once I was back on my feet, Andrew has jumped back into his role as domestic daddy. The level of domestic balance he and I are currently sharing is something I hear few families experience... I still handle most of the running of the house, it is, after all, my "job" - but in the time we are both at home, the work is split almost evenly (and I think he actually does more than I do in that time - but don't tell him that). I am growing more confident that I will be able to pull this off - I keep having these moments where I realise that I am in this for the long haul and it scares the shit out of me, but when it hits me I am finding myself doubting my ability to handle that reality less and less. And Rigby? Rigby now weighs a whopping 9 pounds, 14 ounces and is busting out of her newborn clothes (thank goodness for Joelle, who lent me a giant bag of baby clothes - because of her I am not facing retiring a whole bunch of unworn stuff), she also smiles already and tonight, I swear, she tried to laugh.

Life is good - my husband and daughter lay sleeping next to me. My son is asleep in his own bed. And I am here - writing this instead of responding to the piles and piles of wonderful messages people have been sending since Rigby's birth.

*dinner turned out okay - I was making a tuna pie (with yams, potatoes, onion, broccoli, parmesan and, of course, tuna**), the crust burned horribly, but the insides made a half-decent tuna "stew."

**yeah... we're not vegetarians right now. I started eating a little meat while I was pregnant, and then when I was at my mom's... well, she is such a great cook and I was 8 months pregnant... and then it just spiralled out of control and here we are, still not eating much meat (and even less now that I am cooking again), but eating meat. I think we'll revisit vegetarianism soon - but for now this is just easier.

Saturday, November 3

baby steps

Our family is now "complete," Andrew and I are finished procreating and are truly comfortable with that (please save me the "oh just you wait"s).

So now we're faced with the task of finding some measure of balance after months of backtracking. Between the time I got pregnant (January) and Rigby's birth (last week) we went from doing pretty well (vegetarian, local/organic foods, very few processed foods, little trash, etc.) We were pretty new to being so conscious, only two year before we had been living the typical consumer lifestyle, filling our home, body and brains with junk. Sure we had already started cutting back - hippifying, as it were - but, for example, while I was pregnant with Sebastian I lived on Taco Bell, slurpees and penny candy. We lived off our debt, even though we both had decent jobs - we couldn't make it from pay day to pay day without borrowing from ourselves.

Since then we have managed to make some great strides towards economic and ecologic responsibility. We've had our share of slip-ups - but none as complete as the slips we have taken in the last months of my pregnancy.

So now it is on us to turn things back around - and quick, too. I'm not thinking a difficult or daunting total overhaul, rather there are a few very small, but very changing steps to be taken. And I feel that now is the best time to implement changes - while already adjusting to a different life and before the stress and pressure of Christmas hit.

Tuesday, October 30

and rigby makes four

Our birth story is rather short, as birth stories go. My memory of times and specifics is hazy, but I am going to do my best.

October 24 started out on a dreary note. I woke up and I was not in the throes of labour, which was something I had every reason to believe would happen. To say I was disappointed would be an understatement. It was also raining again.

That morning my midwife arrived with a slip of paper and some lemon verbena. On the slip was a recipe for a midwife cocktail - guaranteed to start labour. I wasn't desperate, but was beginning to get there. We'd been trying various labour "inducers" for just over a week with no luck. The fact that I would be pushing a giant baby out, coupled with Andrew's rapidly passing time off, the nearing prospect of a hospital birth (for going over dates) and a upcoming visit from my mother, made the cocktail's guarantee appealing. We gathered the ingredients that morning and by 11:45a I was filling my wineglass with a not-altogether-unpleasant verbena smoothie.

Mid-way through drinking the cocktail my friend, Aly, stopped by to check in on us - hoping to meet the new Forsyth. After a quick chat we returned to our respective families and I finished my drink. I then took a walk in the sun that had snuck up on me, hoping to spring things into action. Lunch passed with nothing to show but some lemon-flavoured burps (yuck) and a few light contractions (I'd been contracting on and off for weeks, so tried to think nothing of it). Around 2:00p I talked to my midwife and told her that this might be the real thing this time - I then went back to doing laundry and getting all our birth stuff organised.

About 4:00p we decided this was, in fact, the real thing. My contractions felt stronger and seemed to be coming fairly quickly, as soon as I started timing them they were 4-8 minutes apart, but lasted less than a minute. I figured we had heaps of time. Andrew made dinner while I hung out with Sebastian, reading books and waiting for our friends. As I sat on the couch my contractions intensified - in half an hour they went from being a nuisance to being unbearable and suddenly felt like they were coming one right on top of the other. Andrew asked one of our friends to bring by her exercise ball and I took a shower.

When I got out of the shower our friends had arrived and I was *so* happy to have a ball to rock on (thanks, Corey!!!!!!). Things quickly intensified and we moved into the bedroom... here's where things get really hazy... I remember moments clearly - breathing Andrew in deeply and that giving me the power to bear my contractions. Throwing up (a lot), joking around, having my back rubbed and my hips squeezed, the pain in my back, long and wonderful massage... I also remember being scared and a little sad that things were rolling so quickly... and then things got really intense.

I had been holding on to worry and as soon as I gave myself permission to let that worry go my body kicked everything into high gear. In the span of a few moments I went from not fully dilated, through transition and to the need to push... first I felt the need to move - I got up on the bed and onto all fours and vomited (into a bowl - YAY) - then somehow I was on my back... Tracy left for a moment and in that time I suddenly and powerfully NEEDED to PUSH. She rushed back, told me to reach down and, holy shit, there was the head. I remember talking about pushing position, but the reality was my contractions were so close and the urge to push so big that I never did get off my back. Andrew was behind me the whole time, supporting me and giving me strength. Very quickly I pushed my baby out - I remember VERY clearly being told t slow down and stop pushing - never in my life have I felt so conflicted (knowing full-well that I really did need to slow down, lest I split open). It took what still feels like no time at all to push that baby's head out. The shoulders took another couple and then *woosh* there she was. They placed her on my belly and we looked down and saw girly bits!! It was an amazing moment - knowing our little nuclear family was complete.

What followed is, and will likely always be, a bit of a blur. I remember delivering the placenta, I remember feeling like a river was gushing out of me, I remember getting shots, being told to nurse, to look at my baby, not to worry... I remember the split second when I realised that if I fell asleep, I would end up in hospital. I remember the very tiny moment where I thought I would die. Then I remember gathering all my strength for my daughter, my son and my husband and resolving to get through this. I fought to stay lucid. I willed my body to stop bleeding. I concentrated on every single thing I could - her hair, his touch, the voices, the love... It stopped.

The storm passed and all was well. While everyone else had pizza, I had IV fluids, a pear and toast. I cuddled my daughter and my son (I think). I got up to go pee, but couldn't make it to standing. Andrew and Shannon changed the sheets right under me. I was allowed to go to sleep on the condition that I a) not be left alone and b) peed by morning.

I would spend the next three days in bed and week inside the house... but at least I got my home birth (minus some of the bliss I'd imagined, but complete with all the perks of being at home) and had my beautiful babe to keep me company.

Lilian Rigby Forsyth was born at 9:00pm on October 24, 2007, in the comfort of her own home. She weighed 9lbs 10oz. Lilian is for Andrew's grandmother and Rigby is an homage to the Beatles - and also to my family, who all love the Beatles. Go here to read a beautiful bit written by my wonderful husband on the origin of Rigby's name.


Thursday, October 25

welcome to the world, little one.

After weeks of waiting, our daughter was born happily at home last night at 9PM after a mere 7 hours of labour (and 15 minutes of pushing).

Lilian Rigby Forsyth (Rigby to her friends), born October 24, 2007 weighing 9lbs 10oz. I had a wonderful, if very rapid, home birth - followed by a not-so-wonderful post-partum hemorrhage that has me chained to my bed for a few days. My midwives were incredible and managed to get the bleeding stopped without a dreaded trip to the hospital!

I'll get a birth story down and get the photos off the camera soon, but for now I am going to take advantage of my forced relaxation and go cuddle my baby.

Sunday, October 21

today would be a good day to have a baby

Yup, the babe is still percolating in there. Yesterday I started to feel a little desperate - worrying about my mother's visit next weekend (one night only!) and Andrew's rapidly disappearing time off. Feeling trapped by my body, by the rain, by my self-doubt, I began questioning my decision to have a home-birth (again) and wondering if maybe we should just surrender to the medical establishment... I know better - but it is hitting that point where all the quiet comments from supportive not-quite-supporters are screaming in my head. All these stupid what-ifs looping through my head - I am have been a blind follower of the medicalisation of birth for most of my life, babies are born in hospitals, what am I trying to prove?

Wednesday, October 17


Today is the day that I am assumed, based on my last period and an early ultrasound, to be due. I had a lovely midwife appointment that both my husband and son were able to attend - this is a special treat because Andrew usually needed to work on appointment days and has only been to a few.

I had my first internal exam - just a "good to know" exam, as I am pretty content not to know specific numbers - while up there, Tracy says the baby actually popped down and rubbed its little head on her fingers. You should have seen her face! She gave my membranes a quick sweep and was out. Sebastian was totally interested and very cool abut the whole thing - he kept encouraging the baby to come out. He is pretty excited for the birth, we've been reading a stack of books and he is developing a good understanding of what is going to happen. It took some hunting, but I was able to get a library copy of Welcome With Love by Jenni Overend. I am so glad we did - he reads it with such curiosity and excitement!

We're hoping for labour to come soon so that we can get more time off with Andrew - but have fully accepted that we have no real control over it. I am happy to report that I am ready, everything is in place, clean, organised, prepared - so I can now move on to the fun stuff. I have a couple crafts waiting in the wings, some books to read, movies to watch, and with a second full-time parent around, the time to get things done. Plus the luxuries of mornings in bed with a cup of coffee and my laptop, meals cooked for me and the ability to up and leave mid-day (to, say, go get milk) without it being a huge production.

Andrew seems to be having a harder time adjusting to life at home - but it has only been a day and a half. I have been pretty impatient with him, I really want him to "save me" and "give me a break" which means I expect him to simply walk in and do all the things I do every day. Not really fair, huh? Yeah - the fact that I am being an ass is crystal clear. I will need to work on that.

dropping the ball

I totally missed blog action day, which was monday. I don't even have anything to put up now.

I will post something relevant at a later date - when my brain isn't all wrapped up in baby stuff.

Sunday, October 14

like a robin in spring

PRINT - Feathering the Nest

In my search for the perfect image to capture my nesting instinct I came across this beautiful print on Etsy called Feathering the Nest by margin a UK digital artist whose stuff I am now just completely in love with! If I ever get my shop set up and get something sold, her shop will be one of the first I hit up with my earnings.

As you can see from the rest of my blog - this print inspired a bit of a makeover. I am totally in love with the colour combination. So much so that the decorations I picked up yesterday for the baby's Birth-Day party also match.

Nearly finished with much of the physical nesting and feeling almost* as prepared as we will ever be. Yesterday, after an incident with Sears' catalogue department, which warrants its own blog, we got a car seat from Toys'R'Us.** The house keeps swinging from order to chaos in what seems like seconds. This morning, Andrew let me 'sleep in' while he cleaned up - and while I wrote out things like the birth plans and instructions to Sebastian's caregivers, Andrew got the living room and kitchen spotless.

We then went for brunch with my dad and my sister, Casey, returned home and somehow in that time the house became littered again. Luckily, due to all this frantic cleaning and tidying, all our messes are surface messes and are easy to clean. Speaking of - it sounds like I have some mystery dinner coming my way (I love it when my husband is all James Bond-like and won't give me any information... it is sexy). But I should likely do some tidying before he gets back, maybe clear the table at least.

**what's that? you'd like to spend your hard-earned money on us? well lucky you, we have a registry. just go to here and spend, spend, spend!!! what could be more fun?

*we just need a bowl for the placenta and a trip to the grocery store for food for everyone. If budget allows I'd also really like to pick up a bottle of champagne - but we are currently dead broke.

Friday, October 12

so after all that...

Not that I am not feeling together. My system for getting back into my systems may not be perfect but I did manage to get a crap-load done yesterday and today including:
  • finally catching up on laundry (it has been a week since we were caught up last)
  • going to the library in Richmond and getting books about babies for Sebastian
  • making our loan payment early
  • reading a bit more of Birthing From Within
  • packing Sebastian's birth bag (in case he decides he doesn't want to stay with us during the birth or we end up transferring to hospital)
What I still need to:
  • make letters and lists to save me from having to think or direct while in labour
  • finish reading at a minimum the section of BFW where they describe pain management techniques

Thursday, October 11

could I really be this lazy?? yes, I could

I just sent my first giant mass email - informing folks that we have not had the baby yet - this is not really my style, but I can see the draw. Maybe I should set up a mailing list and do away with personal correspondence all together. There's something to ponder.

So that's the big news - no news.

I can see the end of this strange journey into second-time motherhood. The proximity of the end of the path surprises me because I have been so removed from the process of pregnancy this time around. This pregnancy has passed without the frantic studying of obstetrics my last pregnancy brought, it has passed without worrying about the music playing inside my uterus, or hearing and feeling every movement. It has passed without a constant counting down of days. The days, weeks and months have passed on their own - my body has grown and changed with my knowing at every moment exactly what is happening - my faith in my primal ability to grow and birth a child have been nearly unwavering.

This isn't to say I have been completely removed or ignorant of what is happening, it is just to say that so much else is going on I haven't been paying the same attention I did last time.

This past week has been one of sudden realisations and frantic preparing. I am now in full-on nesting mode, having made Andrew stay up with me long past bedtime to assemble our bassinet/co-sleeper. This thing came with the most irritatingly imprecise instructions - there were a minimum of three occasions where I was certain one of us was going to brain the other with a basket support bar. But, it is perfect and functional and best of all, was loaned to us by another family. I will therefore keep my complaining to a minimum.

Last night I stayed up late getting our lives on paper in some kind of order. I am generally the one left in charge of budgets and the like, despite my relative ineptitude, and while I have been getting pretty awesome I have to admit dropping a few balls. Mostly because my systems fell apart due to neglect and misuse, last night was like a late-night cram session - I got it all sorted out (knock on wood) and I am feeling quite together.