Tuesday, July 31

a day in the life

The bug and I woke up this morning cuddled together. As much as I long for the day he will stay in his own bed until dawn, I also adore our morning ritual. Usually I wake before Sebastian and Andrew and take a moment to watch them sleep, my waking will usually cause Sebastian to stir - so I drink in all the adorable I can before closing my eyes again and willing us both back to sleep. At some point, Andrew gets up - it is usually mid-shower that Sebastian notices his absence and gets up. He wants milk. I open the door for him (which he politely closes behind him every single night when he comes to bed), it sticks and he can't get it open on his own. I have taken to crawling back into bed while Andrew fixes Sebastian's breakfast and (usually) does dishes, getting out of bed as late as I can possibly manage. My small boy will come cuddle back in bed for a little bit some mornings, and will dance on the bed until I get up on others.

This morning, however, Sebastian and I found ourselves waking up nestled together. Neither one wanting to move - afraid of losing that comfortable one-ness that is lost as soon as you try and hold onto it. He smiled, I smiled, Andrew came in to say a quick goodbye. He had done all the dishes and made breakfast. Late I found out he had skipped his ritual shower to get it all done. I love him so much sometimes for those small things.

After a yummy breakfast (mine was low-sugar and included an egg for protein due to my close call on my gestational diabetes screen) - we got ready to head to Science World. The original plan was to bring a picnic lunch and take the bus - too bad I forgot to get bread for sandwiches, nor did I have anything else remotely "picnicy" on hand (save some fruit - which is great but can no longer comprise entire meals). After some deliberation, during which I also cleaned up, made coffee, changed a poopy diaper, got a toddler dressed and clothed and primped myself, I decided to get sandwiches from the grocery store. This meant driving. I am not a fan of driving in my area, it sucks, getting to my local grocer is a stressful experience at the best of times. I therefore ended up at the high-end organic store, where I spent a little more, but got a nice tofu salad and some other yummy munchies.

We then headed over to the "big ball" to meet up with our family centre group. We arrived just after 10 and immediately ran into a mom I had talked to before and her kids. Her eldest is Sebastian's age (give or take) and they had fun terrorizing the lobby together while she and I made small talk. Another mom, who I met last week in a Stress and Relaxation workshop, found me and we also got to talking. Chit-chat is so hard when you add toddlers to the mix, mine is always making trouble as soon as he figures out he doesn't have my undivided attention. Thought the science world lobby is a fairly dull place to hang out - save for the pay parking stations and piles of brochures and maps. I am just thankful he didn't spot the gift shop.

Once we were herded inside, Sebastian and I bee-lined to the toddler pit. There he spent a good hour, before getting restless. Since the place was (relatively) quiet, I let him run around the main displays and helped him figure out how to make things work. We made music by slapping rubber paddles, resembling small beaver tails, against big tubes, he rode the spinning disk, where two older boys gamely rolled a ball to him for a bit, he quite vividly remembered the bee hive from our last visit and was mesmerized by it for a little bit, we found things that made lots of noise and he asked a steady stream of questions.

The only drama came when we had lunch, rather than leave the building, I decided we could sit on the outdoor patio. It was lovely and we got to see the dump trucks fill a barge with Canada Line dirt, the day was sunny and the breeze was cool coming off the water. The problem arose when, upon finishing our lunch, I decided we would avoid a series of meltdowns if we just left. I stand by my decision, I think that one big tantrum was preferable to the series of escalating ones I know he would have had, considering his increasing fatigue.

It was right around this point I remembered we were supposed to bring the car in to have the paint looked at. We loaded up in the car and started off towards Surrey, Sebastian fell asleep within moments - confirming my hypothesis. The car shop was a bust, our paint problem is not covered by warranty. But we did go to a cute little coffee shop where Sebastian charmed the pants off the woman behind the counter and her friend - they were so sweet I almost forgive them for dishing out a dozen HP spoilers (I might care more if I had read any of the books yet). We also managed to find a very strange playground with no slide; in fact it looked more like some strange, colourful, army training site than a playground. With all manner of monkey bars, a climbing wall, parallel bars and this strange rolling barrel set-up. Sebastian found great joy in hanging from the lowest bar we could find for as long as he could and then falling onto the gravel. He was having such fun I had to bribe him with dried fruit to get him back into the car.

Andrew finished day two of working the late shift - two of his work-mates are off on sick/personal leave. Considering his team consists of him and two other guys, he's a little fucked. He has, however, promised me he will not be working this shift all week. This is good news because as much as it pains me to admit it, I don't handle working overtime well at all. He came home today with a special present for Boo - a "blackbox" t-shirt from the EA studio that Andrew works at, Sebastian loves it - because it is just like dad's. Plus it is HUGE on him so will fit for-freaking-ever.

Tomorrow morning Andrew is going to work late and wants to take Sebastian to the park first thing - I think this means I get to sleep in!!!

insert title here

We've been having a great time. Yesterday was a trip to the beach with friends - well worth the drive across town - Sebastian has really taken to the ocean. After being too frightened to go within ten feet of the water's edge as recently as April, he will now venture in on his own as long as one of us is close behind. He laughs as each wave cools his body with a mix of amusement and wonder that only a toddler can produce. It is musical and contagious, as hard and stoic as I have been lately - that laugh got me going.

I have been taking life much too seriously. I have been taking myself and my position as household matriarch too seriously. Every flaw is fatal, every shortcoming or mistake bringing me to a dead stop. Moving so quickly I look like I am standing still - until one day I found I really was. Just standing still.

It is a problem I think I have had my whole life. I over-analyze, I rehearse hypothetical situations in my head until I can't remember what is memory and what is fabrication, I see all challenges as my own Everest, all failings as further proof of my un-worth. I have always looked outside myself for acceptance and assurance.

Having a kid is like having a life-line, being the primary care-giver for a child has a way of consistently bringing me back from the edge. Sebastian is my blessing. When I get too caught up in myself, in my internal dialogues - he manifests it. He is this tiny, loud, projector that reminds me when I am falling off the path - and I love him for it. I worry that this role is somehow fucking him up in ways only intense therapy later in life will correct* but considering the family he was born into, therapy later in life is likely a given.

He has been "a terror" - he has been a frustrated two-year-old. A smart, funny, caring, energetic two-year-old. His current weapon of choice is the loud, screamy, shouting "NO!" Guess where he got it from? I used it on him first, so it really is fair game - working on lessening its use means minimizing its power. This means that I can not use it** and when I look at why I had been using it, I find it is primarily because I have been feeling too fat and lazy to properly handle difficult situations (from hitting to running off to grabbing food off the grocery store shelf). The second step is that I will have to find ways to take its power away from Sebastian - this is less cut and dry.

I have been trying to ignore it, but that technique is losing its power as Sebastian has discovered the magic of escalation. If yelling doesn't get mom to react, I will try yelling plus throwing things. At some point I have to react and as soon as I react the simple ignoring has lost its power. Simple ignoring seems to be best saved for situations like whining. I think a mix of calm reaction, coupled with polite, firm, reminders that yelling is not how we communicate. And lets not forget the power of paying attention to him as in, before he gets frustrated, taking the time to listen and help him articulate what he wants/needs and responding to those needs in a loving, supportive fashion. Sounds pretty simple.

We are also working on potty learning, though I am still being a lazy ass about it. I think part of the problem is our switch last spring back to disposables, not only do they allow Sebastian much longer before he becomes uncomfortable, they also take away that urgency that cloth held. In cloth diapers, as soon as I knew he was wet/dirty, I knew I had to change him - otherwise I would have to face changing his entire outfit. Now, I know, but I know it can wait until the timing is more "convenient" (wet diapers only) - Andrew and I have talked in depth about getting a "Wonder Wash" - a hand-powered portable washer - so that we can switch back to cloth diapers. I think it is something we should do - but we have a very long list of those things and they are all getting a little lost. But for now, with what we've got, we're stuck with disposables and I think I just have to accept that we will go though potty bootcamp - and soon, if we want to be through this before new baby comes.

Must. stop. making. excuses.***

*Sebastian, I promise you that I will pay for any therapy you need. It is the least I can do, sweetpea.

**except in dangerous situations when a staccato NO is totally appropriate- and because it should be something that will stop a child in their tracks - it is just another reason to halt its regular use

*** but I'm so GOOD at it!!!

Monday, July 30

it sounds to me like you need a swift kick in the arse

and I did.

Tonight we were visited by our lovely neighbourhood midwife and found out that I only just barely passed my gestational diabetes screening. This means I will continue to plan a natural home birth, YAY, but will otherwise act as though I am borderline GD. Meaning I will cut all simple sugar (booo), eat a well-balance diet (yay), go for a 10-minute walk after every meal, eat more complex carbs and a better balance of protein, fibre and carbohydrates. Essentially, I will have to adopt a healthy diet (oh no!). If only french fries and ice cream didn't taste so wonderful.

I also found out my iron is low - not anemic low, just on the bottom edge of normal. So I will be getting back on the floradix, not that I went off of it on purpose - I just stopped remembering to take it.

Both these bits of news sort-of suck, but in the grand scheme they are terrific bit of news - the swift kick in the butt that the whole family needed to get back to eating well (which, for us, seems to be the key to doing everything else well). I'd been slowly, but loudly, trying to point us back onto the good food path - but since I didn't really mind eating crap food and drinking pop, I wasn't really pushing that hard. Now I don't have much of a choice.

I tend to function best when my choices are limited, so this is all a blessing.

Sunday, July 29

I know you can be overwhelmed, and you can be underwhelmed, but can you ever just be whelmed?

I have a not-so-secret obsession with teen movies.

I have been scarce again, which is what happens when I feel like I have too much to say. I guard my words and say nothing, I brew and stew and slowly my thoughts start gnawing away at whatever balance or happiness I had been trying so hard to hold onto.

Nothing really heavy, either, just the same old mixed bag. There are the things in my tiny world that weigh me down: money trouble, making plans, managing my slowly diminishing mental capacity, household management, behaviour issues (not just the toddler's), and of course, the impending addition to our family (80 days). Then there are the things in my larger, but still immediate, world adding their heft: the civic strike, a nearby oil spill, the housing crisis, the controversial 2010 game prep, and the fucking neighbours who are re-building the house across the street at all hours with little regard for the rest of us. Finally I've been fretting about the big big world: what does the future hold, am I doing enough, where are all these wars headed, how can we reduce our environmental impact, fears of tainted foods, unsafe toys, unethical trade, slave labour, toxic spills, nuclear time-bombs and oceanic dead zones.

Okay, some of it is heavy.

Shortly before getting pregnant with Sebastian, I got a subscription to Adbusters. In the months leading up to parenthood I read and re-read every word written in those pages. I read with a mix of fear and hope. I feared that "we" were too late - that we are already skipping off to hell in our Prada shoes, clutching our Coach purses, lips and arm-pits full of botox and minds full of a mix of self-importance and self-loathing. But in those pages I also saw a glimmer of hope, hope that the obviousness of impending global crises would mobilize the human race in ways only ever seen on movie screens. Two years later I still hold out hope - I see people making positive changes, I see people putting their lives on display so that others can see how unimpossible change can be.

I also see people losing faith in the systems that brought us here, I hear from boomers their regrets that they raised us in this strange new world and didn't tell us it would be our responsibility to keep the dream from falling apart, I see a new generation peeking out from behind video game consoles and rejecting the processed pablum we've spoon-fed them their entire lives, demanding fresh air, clean water and places to run. I see all this and I am filled with hope. I am also filled with fear that it is too late for most of us. I see people of my generation, people who ought to know better, still basking in denial, looking for ways to make the old systems work so that they don't have to change, still raping our precious green spaces, still supporting a food industry that has proven it doesn't give a shit about anything but profit, sitting in their air-conditioned, detached, suburban homes, crunching chips and watching with concern the results of whatever reality show is in season. Using the loo when a news story comes on, unless it includes the mugshot of an a-lister.

Who can blame them? Change is hard and confusing and scary. Misinformation, misdirection, mistakes... it is a hell of a lot easier to just go with the flow. I should know. I have been known to be perfectly status-quo. Hell, we, the "vegetarian Forsyths" had McDonald's for dinner last night. And we all ate meat. Talk about your hypocritical clan - this dinner trip took place no more than five hours after I passionately explained the importance of fair trade to a group of visitors.

I. am. an. ass.

I also don't remember where I meant to go with this rant. Maybe this was my desired result, admitting my assyness, getting it off my chest, not in hope of any absolution, but so that you know that I know that I am a hypocrite. Balancing my desires with what is right is this constant struggle between dark and light and all shades of gray. Giving up on that struggle, whether because I feel like the balance has been achieved (it never is) or because I feel like it is too hard (it isn't) always seems to leave me feeling better for a moment then worse for an eternity as I scramble back up to my last foothold. The things I think will make me feel better - eating, shopping, vegging - never do. The things I avoid - working, planning, cleaning - always do.

Funny how I still haven't figured that out.

Wednesday, July 25

who's a hermit now?????

boo in a box

Yesterday, after Sebastian's nap, he played outside as I turned an aging mango into chutney. During the process I managed to throw/drop the small pyrex bowl I was mixing the starch and water in. It exploded - poor Sebastian wanted so badly to make sure I was alright (there may have been a few choice words muttered) but I had to keep him outside while I hunted down every last bit of shattered glass.

We had a couple of friends over for dinner last night and the chutney was to go with the *wonderful* chickpea and cauliflower curry I made up based loosely on this recipe from VegWeb. They brought delicious samosas, and we drank (fake) beer and mocktails and talked about grown-up things and had a really awesome time.

cooking dinner:
cooking dinner

drinking beer:
barefoot and pregnant

Like adults, I cleaned up while Andrew put Sebastian to sleep and we went to bed at an almost decent hour - full of food and (after only one Tum) amazingly un-heartburny!

Today I woke up planning to spend a dreary day doing laundry and other boring things. That was before I remembered a playdate I had said we would be attending. It was a park that was just far enough away to make the idea of walking just a little too much - after a lengthy internal debate I decided to drive. My son, who is a better environmentalist that I am, was very upset that we were not walking. He came around as soon as we got there and he saw the kids and play equipment.

The park and the playdate were terrific, we met some new parents and kids - we had a nice picnic and made it home in time for a nice nap.

Remembering that the weekly neighbourhood farmer's market was today, we headed over there after Sebastian's nap. We picked up some great produce, fresh apricots, nectarines, blueberries and beets, as well as a free bag of random salad bits (lettuce and radishes) and eggs.

We came home and decided rather than cook or, you know make anything, we would have hot dogs and banana bread (thanks Kristi!!). Now Andrew is back at work (near-constant work issues this week) and tomorrow he will be home in the afternoon so he can go back in the evening. This will allow him to take a nap and me to do laundry - good times. At least Sebastian and I have morning plans - we're going to the family centre (not affected by the strike - YAY) with my friend Kristi and her daughter.

Also - for all my Vancouver mama friends, a list of things to do during the strike can be found at yoyomama.ca.

Note to self - Sunday market in Kits for honey and jam woman's going out of business.


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Tuesday, July 24

sweet child of mine

bed love - 27 weeks

We finally got a bed.

On Sunday morning I had to call Andrew into the bedroom to help my fat ass out of bed - that was the final straw, it was time to get a real bed. That's it up there, we love it. It ended up being a joint birthday gift from Andrew's parents and my dad - good for us, because while we could technically afford it (or half of it) it is better for us not to be out any money. I still need to book a plane ticket to Calgary for my 10-year High School reunion - and save some money for it too (it is at a bar, so I doubt I will be spending much. But I will need cab fare and a haircut.)

The bed is great and I find it much more conducive to sleeping (and getting up); it has the added bonus of making our room look more like grown-ups sleep there. The new bedroom look, combined with my sewing shelf's sudden suicide*, inspired me to make some more changes. Yesterday, I moved a shelving unit from Sebastian's room into the living room and stocked it with toys and most of what was living on the shelf (90% OPPs). The toys cover a wide age span and are specifically for when we have playdates, but also give the man something to do in the living room while I work (other than watch DVDs on the laptop). Over the next few days I will fill the tiny dresser to the right of the shelves with easy-clean craft stuff (crayons, paper, tape), Sebastian has recently discovered the joy of crafting and I am all about encouraging that.



Sebastian's room also got a total makeover, I disassembled his train table and put the play part of it under his bed (easily accessible but totally out of the way). His stuffed toys now live inside his little red tent - an arrangement he wholeheartedly endorses - and his easel now doubles as storage, with vintage apple crates below it holding miscellany. Things are just a little more organised (a place for everything) and spread out. We managed to fill a bag with stuff to donate and another with stuff for the new baby. Under better storage conditions I would put aside half his toys for "turning over" - but we have literally zero storage space, my hope is that by switching locations and rotating things to more visible areas regularly, we can achieve a similar effect.

Speaking of Sebastian, I am starting to worry that my hermit-ness is adversely affecting him. He has been asking, daily, to play with other kids - but when he is around other kids his behaviour is unpredictable and unstable. I think because he is so excited and a little unsure of how he is supposed to act. Last week, after about a week solid of hermiting, we went to the family centre where Sebastian uncharacteristically hit and pushed a child, then threw a toy.

Since then we have made more effort to get him out and social - but still haven't done much. We went to the mall on Friday where he played quite well in the "play pit" there, the weekend was rather kid-less but we did get in a visit with Sebastian's aunts (who are still kids in my book), my dad and his partner. Today a friend and her daughter came over. Sebastian was thrilled but was also a little overwhelming (even after an early morning run around the playground to burn off some energy). All in all I would say it was a good visit - more stressful than I like, but not so bad that I'm worried Kristi will never want to come back.

This week we have plans to go to the Family Centre again (not affected by the strike - woo!!!) and the weather seems to be clearing up - so there is a park playdate on tomorrow's agenda with a new meetup.com group.

*while I was talking on the phone to the lovely people at Aeroplan (who informed me my many points expired three years ago - oops.) the other big black ikea shelf jumped off the wall, narrowly avoiding my head and Andrew's laptop. The woman on the other end of the phone was hilarious - apparently I screamed a swore a *lot* when it happened.


(note the neighbouring holes from shelf number one (above the picture that could be Walt Whitman, but apparently is not) - I think the remaining shelf got lonely and decided to call it quits. They have been reunited under the bed.)

Friday, July 20

one of the things I've been up to*

The one I made for the craft-swap arrived on my swap partner's door step today and she likes it! I am a) really happy it got there so quickly (sent it air-mail on Tuesday because I was already a little late in mailing it and wanted it to get there quickly - but woah!) and b) really happy she likes it. It was my first stab at this pattern (with an added flap and inside pickets) and I am definitely making one for myself. I like the pattern because it can basically be adjusted to make any size bag and turned out a nice-looking, solid product.


Embroidering the flap was tons of fun - though time-consuming as all hell - I haven't done any embroidery in years, but am really happy with how it turned out. The outer fabric is a dark denim (with a little stretch) that I bought ages ago to make a skirt, and the lining is a thrift-shop sheet. I didn't interface either fabric, but if I were to use anything lighter than the denim I would *definitely* use interfacing.


lining detail



*reposted from my craft blog - because no one ever goes there (don't worry, I am not offended - there's not really anything to see)

ahh frick

Outside city workers at Vancouver's waste transfer station have walked off the job.

Not only does this mean that garbage collection will stop - but it is also my understanding that parks and rec programs, recycling, libraries, pools, community centres, etc, etc, etc, will all be affected.

Andrew and I have been talking all week about what steps we will take to halt our trash production (mainly a full return to hand-washing cloth diapers) and make sure our recycling pile doesn't get overwhelming - but it is going to smell awful in this city.

Not to mention the loss of activities, ways to cool off, the programs where we connect with other parents and kids... the public health impact of mountains of trash... the sad, sad, fact that our bedroom window faces the alley... ten years ago, when I first moved to BC there was a garbage strike - it was terrible, something I never want to re-live.

I don't blame the union for this - they have been without a contract since last year and are in legal strike position. From my understanding the city is not offering them anything close to what they want - and it sounds like their demands are reasonable. Raises to reflect the high cost of living, benefits, pay for hours worked. Things I believe the people who help our city run smoothly and stay so beautiful more than deserve.

At least I am now super-motivated to follow in Sarah's footsteps and go trash-free. Now if only the rest of the city could do it.

Thursday, July 19

full up

There has been a lot of junk rolling around in my head lately - concerns about my ability to parent two children, worries about our lack of preparedness for new baby, contemplating the fallout of a possible garbage strike on my three-toddler shared house, pondering two very lovely bits of correspondence from my usually distant mother and step-father, my father's on-again/off-again relationship with a woman I simple adore (I found out today it is on-again - that's good), tomorrow's EA IT staff party at Playland, Saturday's birthday brunch here for my littlest sister, connecting with cousins via facebook, the implications of my family reading my blog, a friend's planned visit, planning my own visit "back home", lack of sleep, napless boo, efforts to impeach Bush, Faith Hill's redbook photoshoppping, No Impact Man, a lovely gift of fabric from Sarah of Say No to Trash, moldy, overpriced onions from Capers... the list goes on and on and on.

Tonight I hope that Sebastian will go to sleep well for Andrew - my fatigue today means we did not get out and run around as much as we usually do and watched WAY more TV than we usually get in in a month (he watched while I slept), plus not napping always makes him unpredictable. By the time Andrew gets out I will probably be curled up in bed - if I am still awake maybe we'll watch some Scrubs - that always makes me feel better.

Tuesday, July 17

it takes all kinds

Sebastian is a talker, a BIG talker, a non-stop talker and some of the things he comes up with to fill the silence are hilarious. I am not the type to dump a whole load of Sebastian-isms on all six of you who read my blog regularly - but here a few worthy nuggets:

he has replaced "yes" with "you bet!"
Do you want to go to the park Sebastian? "you bet!"
Would you like to take a bath? "you bet!"
Do you need a new diaper? "you bet!"
he came out of the bathroom, clad only in a towel, chanting "toga! toga! toga!"

tofu = "toe food" (often "yummy toe food")

he has begun to say either "let's rock" or "let's rock and roll, mom" when it is time to leave.

and lastly - at the market this week he yelled a woman about to pick up a watermelon: "careful! really heavy watermelon."

ready to roll

He is an amazing kid, my Boo. He isn't even two and a half (and because he is short, bald and baby-faced is often mistaken as a bit younger) but he communicates so well, listens when asked to put things back where he found them (at the bank it was a pile of pamphlets, at the coffee shop* it was a plastic cup - returned neatly to the shelf, and at the post office/general store it was a whole bunch of things from shoe polish to plungers - which brought much admiration from both the man behind the counter and the throngs of older women gathered at the post office (four women ranging in age from about 50 to about 80). This all made up for his earlier anti-social behaviour - though I admit that by the time we got home I was more than ready for him to take a nap (which he did without a fuss).

This evening he and Andrew played a bit while I made dinner - something that for some reason I had absolutely no desire to do... some days five hits and the last thing I want to do is get off my butt and make food. Those are usually the days I have spent more than an appropriate amount of time on my butt already. After dinner (an improvised big salad with tofu and brown rice noodles) Sebastian and Andrew went to the park for an hour while I updated my craft blog instead of doing dishes or anything else remotely active. They then took a bath together and Sebastian came out and I put cream on his rashy bits, then a diaper and pjs - not one of which I had to get up off my butt to do. And now that they are going to bed I am still sitting exactly where I was left.

I am lazy.

Tomorrow is a new day, I have a toddler group activity that I am still debating attending (because of the rain it was moved to a kid-friendly cafe that I am not very fond of, plus I would be expected to at the very least buy a tea) - I have a much shorter list of things that desperately need doing, thanks to a few late nights and today's running around. If it is anything like today, I may just head to the laundromat, throw some boots on boo and hit some puddles between loads, pay my cell bill and rent a kid's dvd at the video store. And spend a nice afternoon putting fresh laundry away and cleaning house.

*if you are reading this and wondering why I am spending money when I shouldn't be - at Starbucks, no less - I just want to point out I got a tea and it was only because I had to buy something to use their bathroom.

here comes the rain again

The scorching sun is taking a short, but welcome, break this week. The forecast calls for a few more days of cool, light rain. I am not a great fan of dreary, grey days - but am currently making an exception. Currently I am sitting in my living room with the blinds open, wearing jeans *and* socks, and I am completely comfortable. No need for ice packs in my arm pits today (my new get cool quick trick).

Last Saturday we braved the heat with a few thousand other people and caught a few great acts at folk fest. It was our first festival with a toddler in tow and we were a bundle of nerves. Things that went really well: packing a good lunch for each of us (in our cool new bento-boxes), bringing money (for coffee, milk, a program, a poster, ice water, BBQ'd corn on the cob and a great bridal shower gift), bringing our water bottles and the backpack carrier instead of a stroller, planning ahead, and packing light. Things to think about for next time: forgetting to put sunscreen on the adults, not hitting the kid's area sooner, not bringing any activities for Sebastian to do while we watched the musicians. The one thing we were especially eager to see was Utah Phillips and it was definitely the highlight of the day, great stories, great music, all very inspiring. We also really enjoyed the music of Rae Spoon (solo and as part of The Trucker's Memorial), The Fugitives, Rani Arbo & daisy mayhem, and Fraser Union.

squint and you can just make out Utah Phillips centre stage - to the right is Trucker's Memorial and to the left is Fraser Union:

squint and you might see Utah Phillips

Sebastian was excited about these trolls until they played their drum - odd, since the kid loves all things drum:

strange creatures

(check my flickr for more pictures)

There were a few tense moments between Andrew and I, mostly stemming from our differing opinions on how much to control a two-year old at a concert. I am pretty laid back, I admit, and I might piss some people off - but generally, Sebastian is friendly and sweet and people enjoy seeing him have a little fun. Andrew is more inclined to control him and he gets anxious when Sebastian interacts with strangers. I totally see his side of it - I remember a horrible party last Christmas where there were a bunch of boring speeches being made (we had to stay because it was in honor of my dad) and Sebastian was running up to the front of the room and being silly, not loud, not in the way, just silly and distracting.

I was pissed at Andrew for not being there to "help me control this kid" and at myself for not bringing some kind of restraint system, I kept going to the front and trying to lure him away from the spotlight with promises of cookies and hugs - only to be faced with the option of holding a squirming, whining child or letting him down to start it all over again. This very kind woman brought me to tears by saying, simply "let him run, it is what kids do, look at how much everyone else is enjoying him" and I did look, and they were, and I left him and no one thought I was a bad mother because of it. After the speeches the Mayor came over and gave Sebastian a pin and a hug - many other people came by to tell me how sweet and cute he was. And it hit me - he is sweet and cute and most people don't hate kids as much as I assume they do.

I try not to micromanage him anymore in situations like those - I stay close, ready to intervene if the adult (or other child) seems put off, but generally let Sebastian explore and meet people and be the cute,social, friendly kid he is. I have plenty of time to make him as socially awkward as I am - no need to start now. I am also finding that relaxing and not trying to anticipate every bump actually helps me handle things when they do go a little sour - I am present and focused instead, plus my way I get to have fun!!

Disclaimer: my way does not always work - today my laissez-faire attitude left me watching helplessly from across the room as my son smacked, then pushed a little girl. Thankfully this is not normal behaviour, but as always it was unsettling and for a few moments I wondered if I should have been watching more closely (he then threw a toy at a child while I was sitting *right there* to let me know that, no, my proximity would not have any bearing on his behaviour - always so thoughtful, he is).

Monday, July 16

three people, 12 days, $120 - what *will* they eat?

That's the challenge - feed my family of three on $120 for twelve days (today until next payday - Friday, July 27).

This morning found me looking up recipes that would make use of the food we had on hand (canned beans - 2 black, 2 chick pea, canned tomatoes - 2 large cans, three boxes of macaroni and cheese and not much else). I searched VegWeb and found a nice assortment of easy, inexpensive recipes and found this, not one to ever leave a recipe alone, I came up with this. Other than a small gripe about the lemon from my sour-hating husband, it got rave reviews (he ended up finishing off Sebastian's, so it can't have been that bad). Total cost: $6 for 4 adult-sized servings (so enough for the three of us plus lunch leftovers).

Here is our 12 day meal plan (click to zoom):

I will keep adding recipes to my food blog as I try them out - most are inspired by things I found today at VegWeb.

This we're doing to make it work: simple breakfasts: cereal with milk, toast and jam, fruit. Using what we have on hand: canned and dry foods, cereal, snacks (granola bars, crackers, dried fruit). Eating as per our meal plan *and* not spending any of our other money (allocated elsewhere) on "just one thing" type foods. Buying groceries in four-day blocks: this way things won't go bad and we'll be less likely to run out for one thing and come home with five.

This is just week one (and two) in what I hope to turn into a long-term experiment. How little can I spend and still eat great food? Can I stay creative while being frugal?

Friday, July 13

What do you mean it's only 8:00??

Seriously, I could go to bed right now... if I weren't sitting at Andrew's desk at work with Sebastian watching Emily Yeung on the TV behind me. Andrew is off getting a something for someone - he told me what and who, but really he could have said anything - there are so many names he drops and then there is the fact that he is a technician, and I am so not, so usually I just let my eyes glaze over a bit when I hear the words "network" or "processor" or "hard drive." I see the same thing happen when I talk about sewing (or as he called it until recently, knitting), so I don't feel too bad.

We have a had another long, difficult week. Last week was hard due to Andrew being on call and this week was tough because we were playing catch-up all week, plus Andrew turned 30 on Monday, it has been too hot to sleep, Sebastian has been talking non stop, and I have been a big ball of miserable (mainly due to the last two).

Sebastian's vocabulary is huge and he takes immense pride in his ability to share every single observation with anyone who will listen. This means he talks all the time. He is experimenting with word order and inflection "look, cat in bush!" "bush cat, look!" "cat in bushes?" as well as the effect of repeating the same thing over and over and over again. I don't want to be bitter - really I don't, I love watching him grow both physically and mentally. But man oh man - it is exhausting. Mid week I was convinced I would not be able to take another minute of it - but I could (I knew I could) and made it to Friday without applying tape to my son's mouth.

Tomorrow will be a day full of music and fun at the folk music festival, followed by a much needed night out with other adults! I am hoping that this weekend will leave me recharged, rather than drained. I do have more and more stuff that needs doing - at this point I know I will feel best once my back burner is clear and I can go back to focusing on the day to day. The heat has made procrastination easy, but I can't keep using it as an excuse to do nothing.

Wednesday, July 11

hello! and a look inside

Last month I added a snazzy little hit counter to my webpage and much to my surprise, people actually visit me (hi Corey! I'd tell you to get back to work, but we both know you wouldn't).

It makes me all warm and fuzzy each time I see that someone has come by, even if it is by accident ("how to clean pleather + pot smoke"), and even nicer is when someone leaves me a comment, hint hint.

I just wanted to take a moment here and say Hi to all of you nice visitors and encourage you to drop me a line, become a little more that just a number on a counter.

click photo for a slide show tour of our home*:


*showing off my mad html skills here - actually I amazed myself by having the very first thing I tried work.

Tuesday, July 10

just add it to the pile

I am tired. It is hot. I am hot and tired.

holy shit - I'm pregnant

Looking around there are things I should do, and things I could do, and things I have to do, but getting up would mean sweating even more. And it wasn't even that hot out today - next week it'll be above 30C*. I am not a huge fan of heat, at all. I don't like to sweat - I have gotten over most of my "fat" baggage, but being a big sweaty fat chick is still one of those things that makes me anxious. It was suggested today that I look into sitting in a kiddie pool in a bikini - my plan for tomorrow is to sit in our kiddie pool in my one-piece (no 'kinis for me) and drink ice water and listen to whatever comes on the radio. If we get bored we'll hit the wading pool down the street.

splish splash

This weekend I am going to look for a massive umbrella to park my ass under and tomorrow I will put together as many vegetarian no-cook recipes as I can find. Tonight the only thing I cooked was tofu and it nearly killed me. Also I need to find pants alternatives, I can not believe I didn't think to get shorts and capris for these long, fat summer months. I may need to push back some more projects and turn my two pairs of jeans into skirts. Or go shopping (I am deluded enough to think that when I do our budget we will actually be able to do that - hahaha - the heat must really be getting to me).

So I have projects that need doing and no drive to do them. One, for a swap, needs to be finished and sent out by Saturday. Andrew's birthday gift has been set aside while I wait for the perfect way to construct it comes to me. I have a super-secret party to go to on the weekend for which I wanted to make a gift - oh, AND, I really wanted to finish my mei-tai before the weekend to haul Boo around in when we gets tired of walking this weekend at folk-fest (attempting to avoid bringing the stroller). Daunting, no? It is already Tuesday.

My hope is that if we stay outside and cool all day tomorrow (save naps) the house will also stay dark and cool (and clean) and I will then not feel like I have oodles of excuses sitting in my way.

Oh, I forgot I am also getting my gestational diabetes screen done tomorrow morning. So tomorrow morning I get to sit with a bunch of strangers in a crowded waiting room, much too early in the morning, for an hour. Let's not forget the putrid orange concoction they make you drink. Thankfully, Andrew is taking Sebastian to work in the morning so it will just be me, and I will pack a good book and enjoy the peace. Afterwards I am going to come home and slither into the above mentioned kiddie pool.

Yesterday I froze some of Sebastian's toys inside various plastic containers and one empty milk carton - this will make for a fun afternoon activity! And tomorrow's omelet dinner shouldn't warm the house too terribly.

*30 degrees Celsius = 86 degrees Fahrenheit (thanks, Google)

Sunday, July 8

babies and lists

Before Sebastian was born we compiled lists upon lists of all the things we would need to care for him. I had taken to reading too many pregnancy magazines and between those and the various pregnancy websites I visited daily, I was convinced I knew exactly what we would need, down to which brand/series/collection. There were things we knew we didn't need, crib bedding (unsafe), change table (unnecessary), rocking chair (no space) and things we knew we would definitely need, car seat, stroller, clothes - then there was all that stuff that fell in between, would we need an excersaucer, wipes warmer, or breast pump? And all the things we thought we needed and didn't use, the bouncy seat, the high chairs, the crib, and too many silly toys.

This time around we have the benefit of being second-time parents and the blessing(?) of having much less money. We have decided to keep things simple and easy, buy things that are high quality and will last a long time, buy second-hand the things we can, worry much less about style and much more about function. We have also been putting things off until we're sure we need them - so t-minus three months, we have a stroller, a crib (that needs re-finishing) a baby bath and two sleepers. Yup, that's it. We got rid of everything after Sebastian was born (everything? yes, everything.) we were that convinced we would always be a single-child family.

This week it hit me I only have three months left until I pop a new life out into the world, it seems like forever until I think about how quickly the last months have flown by. In no time my belly has popped out, I am cranky and craving and feeling the baby move every time I stop enough to notice. We need to start planning. Now.

I think I have been putting this off in part because I have been so intent on de-cluttering our space that I am anxious about bring more "stuff" into it. I have also simply been turning the challenge over in my head - how little can we get away with getting? Also, what do we wish we'd had with Sebastian? What was totally useless?

The list so far:
  • car seat (convertible - good from infant to booster)
  • swing (portable - something that won't take up too much space)
  • baby monitor (we want to splurge here and get a really good one, we would likely still use one with Sebastian once in a while (kwim?))
  • diapers (organic cotton pre-folds and covers)
  • wonder wash and spin dryer
  • baby carriers (pouch and mei tai)
  • onesies
  • cloths
  • towels
  • blankets
  • mattress for crib
  • weekly cleaning service (I am only half-joking)
  • electric breast pump

looking back

Looking back on my childhood, as I often do when alone in my father's home - surround as I am by the sparse accoutrement's of my own childhood and the many of my sisters', who are just entering the nitty-gritty part of the teen years (ie. 15-19). I look around and I am amazed at how incredibly different things are for them, sure their mom and our dad also split - but the relationship my dad and his (third) ex-wife maintain is incredible. Because they have stayed close, they live a few blocks apart, there is no inter-provincial travel required and they get to spend equal time with both parents. They also get Vacations.

They go on trips. Nearly every school break is punctuated with a trip somewhere, near or far, familiar or foreign, with mom or dad or both (or sometimes neither). My trips were nearly always the same, school would let out, I would fly to Vancouver, sit around bored while my father worked, up until the year I started making friends. That year I also started drinking and smoking in earnest, the latter was an easy way to meet people, the former an easy way to get over my fear of talking to people (this had not so much to do with my father, it was happening at "home" too).

I wasn't an easy kid, I was a surly, smart-assed, emotionally needy kid that my dad and his wife barely knew. I didn't like hiking or doing anything that made me sweat (because it made me feel fat), nature bored me, as did things like "going for drives" - I also didn't like his wife, through no fault of her own, she just seemed to take all the fun out of my infrequent visits to my dad simply by being there. Before her, going to see my dad was the one time I felt brilliant and special and, yes, spoiled. She brought us both back to earth and for that I resented her.

Later in life I feel badly, I know I need to find the words one day to apologise to her. I want to tell her that she is raising two of the most wonderful young women I have ever met, I want to tell her I know she tried, I want to tell her how sorry I am I never gave her a chance... I wish I had. She has been in my life for nearly 20 years and I don't know how to get over that kind of baggage. Hell, I don't know how to get over most of my baggage - thankfully most of it fits nicely in the closet where I can ignore it until that fateful day it comes crashing down on my head. It is out of the way, for now, and I will get through it eventually.

I don't like looking back, it makes me ask impossible questions "what would I be like if...?" "would I be more successful... stable... rich... happy... thin?" I hate those questions because they always imply a trade "would I trade it all for that chance?" That is a question I want to answer with a resounding NO, but when things are though, when putting food on the table means stretching our last pennies and hoping against hope that nothing serious comes up before next Friday, when I think about my un-chased dreams and un-used potential, when I am hormonal and achy and scared about the future, I don't feel a NO - I feel a big, fat, empty question mark, and I feel sad.

Thankfully I don't have a choice, my path is behind me and there's no way to change how I got here - but here I am with nothing to do but put one foot in front of the other.

Wednesday, July 4

other people's parents

You down with OPP?

I am a basically permissive parent of a basically well-behaved son. Over the last months we have been getting our groove back and finding ways to work together within our natural tendencies (mine=do what you want, just don't spill anything, okay? his=pay attention to me, hey, really, I mean it - fine, I'm going to spill juice on the carpet then). I've been working on being not only more attentive but more authoritative (not authoritarian), the upside it is really is working well. Sebastian and I are having a ball, he engages happily in self-directed play with bursts of complete attention from mom. Those bursts keep him happy so that when I do need to tell him to piss off because I am cooking (blogging), he does so without much fuss (unless I have forgotten again to feed him or have neglected to note the poop bursting out of his pants). For much of the day we have a perfect symbiotic relationship, I barely yell (scream, stomp, kick, etc.) and he has cut his tantrums down to no more than three a day.

As I mentioned in my last post I am also keeping things clean, cooking, planning activities, attempting to craft (my eight week challenge has not started off so well, but thankfully I have an easy project sitting on the sidelines for just such an emergency), have just volunteered to help run a toddler meetup.com group, am growing a baby (25 weeks!), and am keeping cool despite the (welcome) heat.

I am also a little less self-absorbed and have returned to noticing how other people parent with a mix of admiration and freak-show curiosity. Today we arrived at the park to find a mother/aunt there with two boys (her son and nephew), kids who bookended Sebastian quite well (about six months on either side of him), Boo was pleased as punch to have some kids to play with, as was I because it meant I could find a shady spot and drink my coffee - close enough to intervene if needed, but not needed to entertain. We had brought a few toys to share (two trucks, three shovels, a pail, a soccer ball and snacks of course) - I am of the mind that if you are going to being toys to the park you had better bring enough to share. We sat down, Sebastian headed for the slide and I unpacked the trucks and shovels - as I walked over to see if Sebastian wanted to keep his sunglasses on or not, the older of the two other boys made a bee-line for Sebastian's toy pile. His mom started calling to him from the other part of the park* and rushing to intervene. Meanwhile I am assuring both her and the young boy of almost three that we are perfectly willing to share - that that was why we brought them. It wasn't just her reaction, though (maybe her kid has a history of taking other kid's toys) but the way that throughout our stay there she was attempting to micromanage play.

This made my "coffee break" less than relaxing or enjoyable and as I interacted with this woman and her brood I couldn't help but feel guilt for each time I have been that mom. Her being on edge kept me on edge because, frankly, I started to feel like I was being "too lax" in her eyes and while on one hand I do care what other mothers think of me, more importantly, I didn't want her to feel like she needed to pick up the slack. Obviously, she did not need any more stress. What I wanted to do was politely say to her "don't worry, they'll be just fine - we're close enough to stop anything serious from happening. Sit back and relax." But I don't do things like that, so I stayed silent and watched every one's stress levels rise until it became apparent Sebastian and I had to leave before he flipped (I have discovered he is very sensitive, go figure).

I am actually finishing and posting this days later (July 6) because I have been playing it in my mind, trying to sort out exactly how it made me feel... I still can't, it made me feel awkward and like I really didn't want to run into this woman again... which makes me feel awful because I like to think I am not that snooty and I am guessing there are about a dozen parents who feel the same way about me. So then, I should learn something from this. What? Not to be that mom? To be more understanding of that mom? To reach out? To back away? I don't know, but I assure you I will be thinking about it.

*my friend Corey has referred to this behaviour as the "hockey mom" - I know because she called me on it not too long ago)

Tuesday, July 3

what I love and all the work it takes

My house is clean, really, really clean. My husband is brushing my clean son's teeth before bed, all the toys are put away, the dishes are clean, dinner has been eaten and leftovers packed up for lunch tomorrow, my tea is steaming beside me. Later, when I climb into bed I will be so happy it is made.

A couple of books later...

I love my husband and the fact that he puts our son to sleep most nights - a tradition we developed early-on - I love that even though I have a sewing project I want to be working on (and will work on as soon as this is finished) I have nothing else I am neglecting to write this entry. I love that we had a great morning out at the family centre where I was allowed a blissful 45 minutes - hour of peace (with coffee and cake!) while someone else kept an eye on my son. I was not too sad when a tantrum right before story-time meant we had to leave early, I enjoyed my walk home and a having a little more time than usual to prepare lunch (I fully admit I let him watch an episode of Dora while I made lunch - I don't regret it). I love that I got to sit and enjoy a lunch with my son while we talked about his morning (kids, toys, trucks, trains) and that he listened and understood when I asked him not to play with his drink. I love that Sebastian is napping again. I love that when awake, he can play autonomously but also that he loves spending time with me so much.

I love my achy body and the knowledge that it aches because it works so hard, because I spent my day cleaning and cooking and playing. I love that nearly six months pregnant, my body can still lift my son, that it can still walk nearly everywhere (a little slower), that it can still cook and clean and enjoy the brief peace of a clean and quiet house. I love that later, when the sun is setting, I will be treated to at the very least a hug and more likely a back rub. I love that the man giving me those things is the man I love so much and who loves me so much he will run to the store late at night for ice cream or cookie dough.

I am writing this down because of the many times I forget that which I love, or worse resent it. I forget why I work so hard and how much of the payoff is mine alone.

Sunday, July 1

we decided to stay downtown

"just for a bit" we said, "we'll go for a walk and see what happens," HA

We got about four blocks away, as far as the "Canabis Day" festivities outside the Vancouver Art Gallery and Andrew's on-call pager went off. So we made our way back here and Andrew went to work, on the plus side it means we can write-off parking (theoretically) and Sebastian got to watch even more TV. We're heading home shortly for a late nap (in the hopes that the s-man will then be up for fireworks at 10:30 tonight) and to do half the chores waiting for us (dishes - laundry will just have to wait).

Happy Canada Day

With all the long nights and frustrating days this past week has brought it is awesome to be enjoying a wonderful day with my family. This morning our plan was to take the bus downtown and hit up the Canada Day celebrations at Canada place - one look at the mega-packed bus made us re-think the value of leaving the car at home. We decided to take a chance and brought the car in, we payed way too much for parking (which is why we are sitting at his office right now instead of at home - that and we have a monstrous pile of dishes and laundry waiting at home, here we have cold drinks - , air conditioning, a great view and a giant TV) and met my dad for a great walk around enjoying the festivities.

We very briefly popped into the "kid's adventure zone" which was a room full of bouncy castles and disco lights. It felt like a pint-sized rave, without music or drugs - we left without "enjoying" a single ride.

Outside we found big boats and some cheesy kid's music as well as flags and tattoos and many many lineups for free samples at various booths. Five minutes in line for a cup of yogurt or crystal light? No thanks!

Sebastian had his photo taken by a Canada Place photog and it may appear in next year's brochure.

After our break we are either going to head back down to the party or head home - obviously my vote is to not go home, only because I really *really* don't want to do any work, but realistically it will have to get done soon and we should all get a little siesta in before we head back down here tonight to watch the fireworks. Normally I would just stick Sebastian in the stroller and suggest we walk around until he passes out - but with all the music and noise I can't quite convince myself that would actually happen. I think I will leave the final decision to Andrew, because I'm mean like that.

"check my new tatty!"

my three favourite men -

eating on the edge

why Andrew has the best office ever - thankfully Sebastian doesn't play video games yet, otherwise we would never, ever leave -

playing on the white-board with dad -

the insanity, as seen from above -

more of the same -