Friday, August 31

tiny little fists of fury

First a little update from yesterday - Andrew came home early and arrived just after Sebastian woke up. The two of them went out and picked up Indian take-out and a bottle of wine (neither of which we could afford, but I am so not complaining). We had a lovely little dinner and I nursed my glass of wine while Sebastian and Andrew played outside. I got a bunch of work done on a very pressing sewing project. We totally meant to go to bed early, but I ended up staying up and basking in the great support of a bunch of online mothers. I got a very nice email from a good friend who I haven't seen in months that brought me to tears. I feel so much better knowing that I am not defective - I am really glad I shared.

And now, back to those tiny fists of fury.

I mentioned yesterday that Sebastian has taken to hitting - it comes and it goes, and has since he became mobile. While I really hate seeing him do it, and *loathe* the feeling of impotence

Thursday, August 30

a dose of honesty

Today, with best intentions, I took my son to a local drop-in program and told myself I would try to meet some nearby moms. We've been having such a rough time of things, a bunch of it is in my head, some of it is toddler behaviour, some of it is from having no one to talk to and no where to go to let off steam, and some of it is being 33 weeks pregnant.

I am overwhelmed and so very frightened that this new baby, a baby we swore we would never have and never expected, will send me over the edge. That my secret fear - that I am a really crap mother - will come true and all I will have done is to have thrown two more maladjusted humans (at best) or two sociopaths (at worst?) into the world.

My son is a hitter - today at the drop in he repeatedly whacked a child half his age with a plastic toy, to the horror of everyone around. He was mad because she was trying to take it away. That was it - we packed up, me feeling embarrassed and impotent as my son hit his head against mine.

Yesterday it was a child at the mall play area. Later today it was a child in the sandbox. I know he gets it from me - lately, instead of calmly talking to him on his level when I am frustrated, I have physically removed him and placed him in time-outs, or just lifted him to eye level (to then talk) - I have physically asserted my power over him. He is now doing the same where and when he can. He knows that hitting earns him a time-out and will even say, after punching me - "time out chair? set dinger?"

Today I was putting him down for a nap and it was not going well at all. He was tired, but wired (we'd slept like shit the night before) and also frustrated. I was uncomfortable and frustrated, I suspect he also needed to poop (since he just did). Most days if I just sit and calmly ignore his shenanigans he tires himself out and passes out - to wake two hours later calm and happy. Today ignoring him just made him escalate. Meanwhile my swollen ankles are starting to ache and my ass, which didn't fit in the chair in his room before I got pregnant, is killing me. Thoughts of how the hell I am going to put a demanding toddler to sleep while caring for a newborn swimming in my head. I snapped, I yelled, I whipped the pillow he was trying to stick his head into away from him and threw it on the floor, I grabbed him and sat him on my lap, I made empty threats, my teeth were clenched, it took every ounce of self-control I had not to hit him - in my head I saw myself doing it repeatedly, I imagined myself physically abusing my son and so much of me wanted to do it. I have only felt like this once, maybe twice before - the only time I have spanked him came out of this feeling and my guilt over that will stay with me forever.

I got out. I swore I would wait him out and "make him sleep" but then I looked at him and could see that he was just as determined not to sleep and that this would all end badly if I didn't escape. Not ready to give up my "upper hand" I tried to make it clear that we were not leaving to play, but to sit, together, in a more comfortable chair. It was in that chair that I started writing a text message to my husband that I hoped would get him to leave work early and save the both of us before I did something I might regret. Sebastian thought we were playing a game - after switching hands three times I hit the phone against the arm of the chair as I tried to slip his grip again and the screen went blank. It was gone (the message, my phone is still alright) and I promptly burst into tears.

I tried to hide my crying from Sebastian (difficult, considering he was on my knee) and when he asked what happened, in that cute toddler voice he has, it broke my heart into a million pieces. I gushed that I wasn't doing a very good job and that I was sorry and that I loved him very much - to which he smiled and started pointing out my body parts. My armpit, my elbow, my neck, my chin - he touched a tear and asked me what it was. I told him it was a tear and that I was crying. He said "oh" and pointed to one that had dropped to my chest "cry on boob?"

That made me smile. I told him again that I loved him and that I was sorry that I didn't know how to be a better mother, I looked him in the eyes and he did the craziest thing... he smiled. His whole body smiled at me and then he gave me a kiss.

We made faces at each other and we laughed... I wiped away my tears and decided he wasn't going to nap today, after all. I put Boo on the floor and sent a message to Andrew asking him to come home early if possible and to please send me some positive parenting vibes.

Sebastian asked me politely if he could play with this and that, "May I please play with my truck?" "May I please play with my stethoscope?" And then, "May I have a snack?" He pulled his cheerios out of his backpack an ate a few - this seemed to be the thing he'd needed to set his digestive system to work and he pooped. He asked for a new diaper and I, having had a chance to think, asked him if he would like a cup of milk and a nap after I changed his diaper.

And so it went - I changed his bum, gave him milk, read him a book, consoled him when he bumped his head rolling around on the bed and, finally, watched him fall asleep.

I've got a lot to deal with, inside and out. I am still overwhelmed and I am still scared as shit about what my near-future holds, but things seem just a wee bit more manageable from where I'm standing now.

and now, a bit of regret

I realised while thinking about my amazing growing boy (who yesterday asserted that he had a sister - we shall see if he is right!) that in April his dad and I wrenched him our of a community of families that he was just growing comfortable with and have yet to replace them. Part of it is that I didn't want to have to "replace" any of the wonderful people we had met while we were living in New West, and part of it was my hormonal hermityness, and part of it was my shyness - I had spent so much of my social energy meeting the people I had met - could I really do that again??

So we have kept busy and have seen our old friends on occasion (old friends who I miss dearly and wish I could see more often) but we have yet to make any nearby. That is a lie, I have met loads of parents and kids - I haven't invested much energy into becoming their friends.

Today I promise all of us that I will make more of an effort to meet some people and be social. We're off to the Family Centre this morning (finally) and instead of heading downstairs and talking to the staff, I will find some other parents to talk to.



maybe I ought to shower first...

who's child is this?

I look over at my barely awake, but smiling, son and I wonder - when did you grow so?

Just yesterday you were my young nursling, just yesterday you got your first tooth, just yesterday you said your first word, took your first steps, just yesterday you were a part of me, just yesterday you were my baby.

Today I look over and I see a child. You talk in sentences, you ask questions, you have "ideas" and state them proudly - like your idea to make a bridge from the couch to the coffee table to run your cars across - you have likes and dislikes and also state those proudly. You cry when the kids on TV get frightened when the ghost chases them - not because you're scared, but because you feel badly for them and can't do anything to help. You are always ready to offer a crying a kid a big hug, though sometimes those hugs make things a little worse and often you were the reason they were crying in the first place. You asserted the other day that you "love sharing!" And that is so sweet (if not always quite true). You LOVE peanut butter and hate anything green. You can "read" The Very Hungry Caterpillar the whole way through. You are observant and love to narrate your days - and though I may sometimes wish you would just stop talking for a moment, I love the wonder you find in the world and the pride you take in your ever-expanding vocabulary. I love that you say "please" and "thank-you" and always ask for a napkin.

When did this happen?

Yesterday I bought you a little backpack* and the moment you put it on I saw you as the preschooler you are. You'll always be my "baby" but you will never again be my petit bebe.


your mama

I picked this for you

*I broke my own "No Licensed Products" rule, but you do *love* Thomas the Tank so very much and it could be worse, it could have been that hideous Cars bag.

Tuesday, August 28

sick day

Sebastian and I took a sick day today - we skipped the family centre this morning after a long series of small tantrums. That, combined with his still-runny (clear snot) nose, led me to believe that he wasn't feeling 100%. So, instead, we did one of those things we rarely do - we spent the day on the bed watching movies.

We watched Cars and Over the Hedge - two of his "favourites" before nap-time. I managed to get more done in my attempts to streamline our household processes (oh, oh, who used to be a manager???) and I am giving the whole (somewhat cultish) FlyLady bit another shot. Though this time it is on my terms!

During Sebastian's nap I watched Starsky and Hutch and got to work. I will post my progress as I work through this - I am figuring I only have a few short weeks left to get us onto something we can follow amid the chaos, one of which will be spent in another province, so I am poo-pooing the baby-steps and jumping in with both feet. The next little bit will likely include a lot of throwing ideas up and seeing what sticks. Thankfully we don't have anything too complex to worry about - our apartment is tiny and our budget small, my routines are already pretty simple - now it is just a matter of getting stuff to a point where a monkey could do it (knowing that that will be about how functional we will be post kid#2). Last month I made a master budget to take us through until fall, I need to tweak a few things (how on earth did I forget to include Andrew's monthly bus pass??) and extend it through to next year. This budget is based on months of budgeting and effort, but is to a point where I can automate most of our bill payments and set up calendar notifications that go to both Andrew and I when we need to physically do something.

Having done that and having done a lot of work on our meal plans and grocery habits, I figure consolidating everything and adding housework will be, if not simple - at least doable.

After Sebastian's nap I popped him back in front of the Backyardigans and did a little necessary nesting. Last week I cleaned out my cupboard and put all our bulk stuff into jars, so we can see what we really have.

And then today I scrubbed under the sink and finally organised our pots, pans, plastics and appliance cupboard (the biggest of three cupboards in our teeny kitchen). That's two huge things off my pre-baby to-do list (a long, long list).

In other news, my first-ever vegetable garden is making food we can eat - we got a nice harvest of peas and this last week we have eaten beans and onions from the garden. I have some beets and (a whole LOT of) cucumbers that will be ready for harvest pretty soon. There are even tomatoes on my tomato plants. This is especially exciting when I consider that I a) had not a clue what I was doing and b) pretty much neglected the whole thing all summer.

Saturday, August 25

if I manage to move my butt off the couch

and do the three things I want to get done first, I am going to make this bread from the New Homemaker site. I am out of wheat gluten (I actually forgot why it was I used to buy it) and so will be messing with the recipe a little, but the process looks like it is most of the trick anyways.

okay - 1...2...3....ooooooof

UPDATE - I did not get to this yesterday, it is now 10:00am and I have just started the first step. I'm planning on making one loaf and some dinner rolls, since I only have one bread pan.

SECOND UPDATE - The bread rocks, unfortunately we totally overcooked it because we had to run out and do an errand and trusted our oven's timer. On the way home Andrew pointed out that the over takes for-freaking-ever to cool off after use so the bread would likely be over-baked. It was. The stuff in the centre was delish and moist though and I am definitely making the bread again. The steps seems a little daunting (a sponge??) but it was actually all pretty simple and quick between waits. I used my mixer for kneading and will continue to unless I have an extra 30 minutes for kneading (an activity I totally enjoy), and because I was gluten-less I used one cup white flour and reduced the w/w by 1/2 a cup. Though while kneading I added about an extra 1/2 cup w/w flour to keep it from being too sticky. When I have a successful loaf (tomorrow, if I am on the ball enough) I will post.

this is news?

Roger Ebert issues thumbs ban on syndicated show

Seriously, folks, this is important? Yet I didn't find out about Youssif until another blogger wrote about it... hmmmm

what... what?

Three days after a lovely visit from my sister,my house and family are getting back into the groove. Fall is upon us - the crisp breeze spilling from the window behind me is lightly scented with the promise of rain and pretty soon a sweater will be in order.

Sebastian and I are on the tail-end of a mild, but annoying, head cold. It has made the last week, including the tail-end of Amy's visit, fairly unpleasant. Sebastian has been a tiny emotional powder keg, blowing his top at the most unpredictable (and inconvenient) times. Andrew and I are feeling a little frayed due to it, coupled with my general pregnancy discomfort and return of my moodiness, (which I am trying so very very hard to keep in check) it would be an understatement to say that tensions are palpable.

I have also managed to possibly alienate a few family members and friends by being an unintentional jerk - but am also a little worried I am reading too much into chilly communication. I am really hoping everything will blow over, but am pretty sure I am going to have to figure something out.

Times like these make me with I had more brain-power at my disposal.

And if you are any of the many people I have angered or offended I really, truly am sorry. I hate to admit I don't even know who (or how many whos) I have pissed off - I just know that I've been a little nutso and hermity and get the feeling people are talking to me through clenched teeth. I think I may just keep hiding out until October/November, when, ideally, my hormones will start evening out and (hopefully) my mind will come back to me (I am hoping it has had fun on its long vacation - I sure have missed it).

If I haven't pissed you off yet, I might - so I am going to apologise in advance.

Thursday, August 23

to do

meal plan
put calendar back on page
write something meaningful
clean out fridge
do laundry
clean house
do something fun with Sebastian
order science world pass for andrew

what I've been doing

wha' happen?

It's been a long few weeks - 32 of them, to be precise.

Pregnancy is really kicking my ass this time around, it seems. Or more accurately, it is eating my brain. I can't kick this sense that things that ought to take me no time at all are taking me far too long - and I would likely be right. I am moving at the pace of a sloth, a very lazy sloth.

It isn't just physically, or even predominately physically, my mind has slowed right down and it takes me so long to process a thought. I am finding myself very easily distracted too - case in point, I sat down nearly two hours ago to write this blog entry - great ideas floating around my head like pretty balloons. But then I checked my email, and a website, and then the news headlines, then I thought of something - so I looked up our old grocery delivery service, and there was music to listen to, and a new craft project to mull over, plus photos from our last week to upload to Flickr and then, suddenly, it is noon and nearly time for me to go pick up my dear son (whom I am assuming has had an amazing time with his dear, young, unpregnant aunts).

Bloody hell.

I remember a time when my writing was good with tiny smatterings of pretty great. I know this happened because I can look back and see it... No, I may not have ever been on the path to winning any awards or even entertaining more than three people - but it was something that was mine, my outlet, my something tangible - and now I feel like it escapes me (to the point that it took me three attempts to spell "escapes"). I am sure that it is all still in there, somewhere, and that my current manifestation as Kate Harris - wife, mother, cooker of food and grower of people, will evolve to include all the other things I enjoy doing (and frankly, there have been a few days here that I have very much enjoyed none of my titles as currently written).

I am very much looking forward to two now-pressing sewing projects, even though completing them will mean a slip in another area. I have two weeks to make a late birthday/christmas gift and then a little more time (though not too much) to complete my very first commission. I have made a commitment to finding ways to simplify everything else - like returning to paying a bit more for the convenience of healthy, organic food delivered to my door weekly, and sticking to my very detailed and organised budget.

And because this is the best photo I have ever taken - EVER

taken just before leaving the dock on a small ferry trip around False Creek

Monday, August 20

really quick note on Klean Kanteens in Vancouver

I've noticed that a few people have ended up here looking for a place in Vancouver to buy Klean Kanteens - I just wanted to mention that I did see bottles yesterday at Capers on Cambie for $19.99. They were not the sippy-cup style, but were simple medium-sized ones. We were on the run (after you-know-who) so I did little more than note that they were there and their cost. I will continue to look out for them!

(Whole Foods in West Van does not carry Klean Kanteens, but does sell Sigg bottles for around $25 (if memory serves) - I also saw a poster at the Eastside Family Place advertising Klean Kanteens, but forgot to investigate further before we left - I will also post on that after this week's visit.

Sunday, August 19

a glorious little space for little people

This morning we checked out a café/diner we have been itching to go to for a couple months. Little Nest is tucked away just off the Drive, up Charles; walking up to the front door, I admit I was a little bit overwhelmed. The place is noisy and at 10:30 on a Sunday morning, packed with people. Their debit machine was either not functioning or non-existent, not a problem for us on most days (Andrew and I try to only deal in cash anyways) but our brunch guests did need to find the nearest bank machine.

Sebastian felt right at home in the large and well-stocked play area. He found a great vintage-looking wind-up train and an old Fisher-Price airport and plane. Our group of 6+1 took up one end of the large centre table, a substantial vintage wood table painted the colour of a pale robin’s egg. When our food came Sebastian sat in one of those fantastic old highchairs with the Formica trays. Our food was delicious, I chose the very simple Two Eggs with Soldiers – two boiled eggs with strips of hearty brown bread. Sebastian loved his Kid’s French Toast, but also insisted on having one of my eggs (minus the yolk, which we all know is the best part!), Andrew and Molly both ordered the Potato Frittata, which came with a salad, only one of them noticed that the dish had sausage in it – Andrew says that it was awesome anyways, but will remember to omit the meat next time. Casey had a fresh-baked almond muffin and Amy and Nancy both ordered the Pancetta Scrambled Eggs, which looked and smelled like heaven*.

I found the egg-shaped salt and pepper shakers really charming, and the fact that they use local ingredients, including only cooking organic, free-range eggs, very reassuring. The Little Nest staff is friendly and hard working, I have heard complaints about the service from other parents, but didn’t find the wait for our food terrible. The only one among us who might have kicked up a fuss in any other place was reluctant to stop what he was doing to come eat once the food did arrive. I like the order the front, have your food brought to your table set-up they have, but the resulting line-up – coupled with a lack of tables – did make us nearly turn-away.

The din, while constant, was not as overwhelming as it felt when we first walked in – the high ceilings allowed for decent acoustics and we were able to maintain a comfortable conversation. I see Little Nest working through some growing pains to become the ideal place to bring your kids for a bite. My only suggestion would be to get a gate or half-door for the front. We saw one frazzled mother drop her food repeatedly to chase her feisty pre-schooler as he made his way out the front door. I could very easily see myself in her runners. I was also a little warm in there for my liking – but I think that will sort itself out soon.

Review on Urban Diner

*cast of characters: Amy - my 21-year-old half-sister, visiting from Calgary, Molly - my 14-year-old half-sister, Casey - my 16-year-old half-sister, and Nancy-my (ex)step-mother, mother to Casey and Molly.

I guess I finally had something personal to say

My seven-years-younger sister is in town this week and it has been wonderful. I feel like I need to repeat that because I am not quite sure I believe it – but it has. Looking at her, a young 21, I see a lot of myself at that point in my life. We honestly couldn’t be more different – where I left home as soon as I could manage, she is still living there; where I have hopped from job to job and from path of study to path of study, she is about to complete her Bachelor’s and has plans to both study to teach Irish Dance and go to Law School; where I look back on my past with the eyes of a cynic – she still sports her rose-coloured glasses.

Up until this week I felt both sorry for and jealous of my kid sister. Sorry for her in a protective older sibling way because I thought she simply didn’t know any better and jealous because I thought she had gotten all the chances. What never, until now, occurred to me is how very different we are as people. Sure, we share a unique pattern of neuroses – but underneath that we are opposites, which explains how our lives have taken such very divergent paths.

It is in seeing that, unclouded by the old patterns of judgment, that has brought me clarity today. She still bugs me in that kid-sister way, but I feel less compelled to help her “fix” herself – or that she needs any fixing at all. I suppose that I wanted her to be as broken as I am, so I could flatly lay the blame somewhere. But she isn’t, sure she’s shy and doesn’t have nearly the confidence in herself that she deserves – but that will come, she is young and smart and talented and actually very, very, with-it. And I am certainly no expert on the subject of self-confidence.

For so long I have projected my own shortcomings onto others – I am always ready to dispense advice and cast judgment. Suddenly, I see clearly that I need to turn that inward and cast that judgment on myself, and more helpfully, dispense some worthy advice and then take it.

Monday, August 13

a bit of this, a bit of that

I have been really enjoying my son lately.

We are still hitting daily rough-patches, but things are starting to even out a little. This weekend was a big father-son "bonding" weekend, Andrew took over the role of primary caregiver and I managed to get a whole lot done and slipped in some Kate-time. I am still behind on some things, but I feel much more centered and okay about dropping the ball a little.

Today Sebastian and I checked out another Family Place nearby. I was a little disappointed by the staff - any other time I have visited a new family place I have been greeted and given a tour... this time I got nothing, and when I left I noted that mine was not the only name with "first time visiting the family place" checked off. I know I could have introduced myself and asked for a tour... but I am chicken-shit and hate going up to strangers. We will be going back, Sebastian had an awesome time and the price is right ($1). Next time I swear I will try to find someone to give me a tour.

I also had a nice time, though didn't talk to anyone - mostly I was busy helping Sebastian remember how to share (he is going through a "mine" phase - good times). The one thing that really put me off was this woman who spent the entire morning wandering the playroom talking loudly and angrily on her cell phone. I was trying very hard not to eavesdrop, but did gather that it had something to do with work, being called into work, her having a daycare and other people screwing everything up for her. She left her younger daughter (3) in the care of her older daughter (5) during this two hour diatribe - she just wandered the playroom on her phone, oblivious to the fact that she was a) including a whole bunch of strangers in her conversation and b) being a total bitch. I mean, hasn't she heard of text-messaging? But seriously, I am not usually a judgy-mama, I always try to see myself in another mamas shoes- but this time I could not picture it. She didn't even get off the phone while she served her kids their snacks.

Tomorrow my friend Kristi is coming over in the morning for pre-family centre coffee.

I have a pen-pal!

Today after putting Sebastian down for his nap I glanced down* and spied a pink envelope with my name on it! It was my very first letter from my new pen-pal. I am going to make some tea after I plow through my embarrassingly unhealthy lunch and read it.

Later I think I am going to try my hand at making an apron. I decided after a few close calls in my new tops this weekend that I am in dire need of an apron in the kitchen. If I finish that I might tear right into another project - gotta get the craft ball rolling, my guilt at all my unfinished/un-begun projects has started to affect even my dream-life.

*my mail is delivered by my landlords, it is slipped under the unused door directly across from Sebastian's room - most days if I see anything after putting the babe to sleep it is just a little pile of bills.

Sunday, August 12

postsecret mini-movie

my all time favourite secret is the second from the end: a black and white picture of a young man holding a sign that reads, "I believe I will change the whole world one day (I'm going to do it too!)"

I hope he changes it for the better.

tiny moments

Andrew and I shared a moment this morning, an awful moment where all the laughter and joy left the room in a split second. Sebastian was gleefully walking along the couch towards Andrew, who was sitting in our big green chair. I was standing in the kitchen preparing breakfast. We were talking and laughing about something when suddenly, out of the corners of our eyes we simultaneously watched Sebastian bounce off the edge of the couch and into the corner of our antique chest coffee table. In that slow-motion moment it felt like we were in a vacuum, I can still now clearly see Sebastian's neck bend back at an impossible angle, Andrew's look of terror and surprise, those agonizing seconds before Sebastian started to scream.

In the moments that followed I held him while Andrew fetched ice for his rapidly swelling forehead, we switched spots to get a better view of the injury and I went and got the poor kid a bit of ice cream. As he calmly ate it I asked him a number of questions and checked his eyes, all the while staying cheerful and light. I could see the worry was killing poor Andrew, but he was great. We managed about 15 of the suggest 20 minutes of icing before Sebastian was up and playing. He is now quite proud of his bump - pointing it out to everyone he sees:

"hey man, check out my bump" (okay, I taught him to say that - but it is still really funny!).

The swelling is completely gone now, all that remains of those few awful seconds are a few scrapes and a bruise that will soon fade too. I am very proud of how both Andrew and I handled the situation - we shot each other those looks of anxious bewilderment ("holy shit - what do we do??"), but maintained our composure and sense of humour. The minute it was over and I knew that everything was alright I shook with relief and had to hold back tears, so I busied myself cooking Sunday breakfast.

by the power of greyskull

Andrew and I just finished watching Hot Fuzz - if you haven't seen it yet, see it.

Fucking brilliant.

settling in for the long haul

We have had a wonderful, quiet weekend. We have kept to ourselves, and I have been thoroughly enjoying the company of my little family.

Yesterday we drove out to Surrey to get me a couple of nursing bras (it seems the only Motherhood that carries plus sizes is the one in Surrey - because, you know, fat chicks don't live in the city). While I shopped, Andrew and Sebastian played in the very nice play area the mall provides. I went to hell-mart for diapers (since a Costco-trip is now not going to happen until next pay-day) and then up to Motherhood, where Sebastian and Andrew found me. With some prompting, I bought a sale top - a simple patterned tank that looks a little less grungy than my daily tops and has room to grow. I keep forgetting that while my belly keeps growing, the rest of me is actually shrinking still. So when the bras I picked out, because my normal size was not in stock, fit amazingly (with room for the ta-tas to grow even more - having already plumped up considerably) I felt pretty awesome.

Before we left I nipped into Old Navy and grabbed these dresses, imagine the models about twice that size with a beach ball under there and you can picture what they look like on me. They are cuter than that sounds, though.

and would *not* wear a belt - that would just be silly
I think these look hilarious on non-pregnant-types, because, especially without a belt, they make women look bloated. This could be why there were racks upon racks of them marked down 50%. I just know I will live in these things until the bean pops out.

Friday, August 10

hero worship

Yesterday we took the bus downtown to visit Harbour Centre and then meet Andrew at work for lunch. This was a guaranteed-fun day because a) Sebastian *loves* taking transit, b) we had a free pass to the top of Harbour Centre, c) going to Andrew's office is always fun and d) Sebastian wore his cape.

Super Sebastian.

it's a bird...

Top-Secret Superhero HQ.

superhero HQ

Watching over the city.

watching over the city

There's trouble afoot. With his trusty sidekick, Funkmaster B (aka. Baby Bunny).

there's trouble afoot

Relaxing after a long day keeping Vancouver safe.

taking a break

His cape drew heaps of attention everywhere we went - it is an old scarf that came in a box from my Grandmother. Each square depicts a Swiss (I think - based on a flag on one building) scene or item (there are many buildings, a a bottle of what looks like vodka and cherries, and a fondue pot). I have been long thinking of turning it into quilt squares, but have a feeling it will have to wait (who am I kidding, it was already waiting - at least now it is getting some use and love).

Thursday, August 9

less than 10 weeks

Can you believe it? In approximately 9 weeks and 6 days my family of three will become a family of four. Things have been crazy around here as the reality sets in. We are wholly unprepared (I think I mentioned this last month too), some great people have offered us some great things and it is about time I took up all the offers I can. Baby shower planning needs attending to, I need to make a list of the things we need so that if people want to buy us anything they can get us something we'll use, and lists of our friends need to be given to the right people so that they will be invited. I am actually really excited for this party - last time around I didn't know nearly as many people, have as many friends or have a clue what I was in for.

Andrew and I have a long, long list of things we want to get done pre-new-baby. Neither of us are deluded enough to actually think much of it will get done now, but there are a few key crafts I want to do (make baby quilt and knit booties) and one big thing I hope Andrew can do (paint the kid's room).

I had a discussion with a good friend of mine about neighbours and home birth. We had not planned on telling our neighbours until shortly before the birth, our thinking being that they would have less time to get frightened about the prospect. Her thoughts are that we should tell them now and give them an opportunity to decide how they feel about it. My argument, and fear, is that I don't want anyone else to dictate my birthing choice. I just don't think someone else's fear of what might be should mean I have to give birth in an environment I am uncomfortable with.

During the conversation I had trouble articulating much past my fear - my fear that someone else was going to get to make this very personal decision for me, again (homebirth is not covered in Alberta - you go to a hospital or pay through the nose). Homebirths have been shown to as safe as hospital births and require fewer interventions, I will get to be in a familiar space and be surrounded by only the people I want. Top this off with the knowledge that this will be our last baby, we are not having more (really) and that makes this my only chance to experience a home birth (at least from the unique perspective of birth mother). I do not want that taken away, unless medically necessary.

Following the discussion I was confused and distraught, I could see my friend's very valid point, but I wasn't ready to conceded. Andrew and I talked at length about it and found ourselves just going in circles - what to do? What to do???

I posed the question to an online prenting group I belong to and was blessed with some first-hand experience:
We had a homebirth. Our landlord, who lives upstairs, would also have had serious issues with it. Not that he would have worried specifically about the place getting messed up, etc, but just the whole automatic fear that comes up about homebirth for uninformed people. I didn't want to deal with his fear or having him constantly worrying about it. Anyway, we decided not to tell him beforehand. I was also really quiet for my first kid's birth and expected to be this time. But, the best thing we did was a few weeks before our due date, we called him and said, just wanted to remind you that we are due soon so if you hear any loud noise, don't worry about us, we just might be in labor. That way he wouldn't come down to check on us or tell us we are being too loud or something dumb like that. (We just left out the part about "we won't be leaving to go to the hospital.") Even if you were REALLY loud this time, for all your landlord knows, you are having a really difficult early labor and just haven't left for the hospital yet. Don't know if this approach would work for you. The labor for us did indeed end up very quiet (with dd sleeping in her room right across the hall) and it only lasted 2 hours. We went ahead and told him after the fact, but I don't suppose we needed to. Somehow, it wasn't even an issue when we mentioned it. It's like he was almost proud that a baby was actually born in his house.
I was also gifted this gem:

why it is either your landlord's or your neighbors' business that you are having a homebirth. You pay rent to live there - and unless it is in your lease to inform them of possible homebirths, I'd say don't bother telling them. KWIM?
After talking with Andrew again we have decided not to tell them. The reality is we would be home for the long part of labour anyways, last time around we were turned away and told to come back hours later - and the pushing bit will be over before anyone knew what hit. I double (and triple) checked with Andrew and he assures me I was a quiet labourer (except for the low moan I attempted to release while pushing that the ass-faced nurse told me to hold in contrary to everything my own body was telling me to do).

Wednesday, August 8

and so it goes

According to a US federal advisory panel, bisphenol-A is not harmful. Oh, except *maybe* to fetuses and small children... but really, folks, it's safe!

Article from - Plastics chemical poses no hazard, U.S. review finds

It's a good thing, too. Could you imagine a world without hard, clear plastics? What on earth would we use to feed babies? How would we carry our water? And how would they package beans and stewed tomatoes???

Bloody hell - the proof is already out there, let's exercise our power as consumers and just stop buying this crap. You with me?

edited to add A link that my lovely friend Katie (who was the first to show me that tofu is edible) sent me called Alternatives to Plastic by Paul Goettlich. Thanks!!

a little less conversation

I have just noticed I have been power-blogging of late. It could be that I am enjoying less and less anything that involves my moving out of my big green chair*, or it could be that I just have so many things floating around in my head and am really enjoying having somewhere to get it all down. Personally, I think it is the first one, so I appreciate any of you who continue to muddle through enjoy my ramblings. It gives me an excuse not to do dishes (or cook, or clean, or sew).

For your patience, I bring you a post that is more pictures than text. Enjoy!

This morning's trip to Spanish Banks (free parking, deserted at 9:00am- even on nicer weekdays, and at low tide the beach goes on forever):

Looking for fish in the tiny pools he created when he would move a rock.

looking for fish

Throwing stones.


Looking dapper.

mr. handsome-pants

"My mama, the monkey" by Sebastian.

silly mom

And, finally, my favourite photo from our day at the beach - snack time.

snack time

We spent two full hours at the beach, armed with nothing more than two shovels, a pail, a towel and some snacks. He would have happily stayed even longer - but mama needed to eat (quel shoc).

*I didn't want to bring it home, because we found it in an alley... I fully admit I am glad I caved

and the beat goes on

The Vancouver civic strike is the beast that just won't die. Piles of trash are starting to appear in parks, despite the efforts of a number of park users to pick up what they see. Our trash bins are overflowing, though I am taking much solace in knowing that our relative impact has been small. I am rather amazed at the amount of trash the other two families in my building produce - because we're still not doing that great a job of being trash-less.

Andrew and Sebastian took on the job of sorting their recycling so we could move our own growing pile off of the fireplace mantle and out into the blue boxes. He is amazing - he made two over flowing blue boxes fit into one, with room to spare. Allowing our own sizable pile to fill half the other box (I think he is magic).

During the strike, not only are parks getting more trashy - but so is the beach. Today's trip was actually quite eye-opening, mostly it just pissed me off that people can't fucking pick up after themselves. Thankfully, the trash-cans are getting emptied (occasionally) and so there was somewhere to put the trash we picked up. Oh, I forgot to mention the rat we saw run across our path on our walk last night - good times!!!

That said, I am glad the beaches are still open, with bathrooms that are being occasionally attended to. With the pools closed there isn't anywhere else to go for a dip, though driving to Burnaby, like my friend Kristi did yesterday, is not such a bad idea.

Here, again, for the benefit of all my Vancouver mama-friends is the wonderfully comprehensive list from of things to keep this strike from wrecking what's left of summer.

taking it further

I am not the only one worried about nasty-ass carcinogens leaching out of the things we keep food in and into the food we eat. angry chicken, aka amy karol, wrote a great bit about her switch over to non-plastics, complete with some more ideas and links to really adorable reusable bags (though they don't seem to be available in Canada). The same article led me over to Sew Green - I have just scratched the surface, but I think I may end up spending an awful lot of time there in the near future.

We are not looking at immediately switching out all our plastics here, due to a recent decision to live more simply and not make any unnecessary purchases in order to save for a still-secret "next big thing" (more on that soon), we are starting to toss out our old plastics and are using our corningware set from our wedding. Most of the dishes have lids and there's a set of four that fit single-servings perfectly.

I checked all of Sebastian's ikea dishware and it is #5 plastic, deemed one of the safer plastics. We don't own a microwave or dishwasher, so we have the added safety of not being able to heat our plastics in the first place. This is a load off my mind, as he is so not ready for breakable dishes! Until we get our Klean Kanteens he'll be served most home-drinks in the safer ikea cups and we will limit sippy-cup use (though, happily, most of our cups are also on the safer list. Except, of course, our much-loved Nalgene cup).

Looking around my house I am in awe of the amount of plastics surrounding us. Just getting rid of it all will make such a difference around here. It won't happen over-night, but when I imagine a home with wooden boxes instead of plastic ones I smile. Plastic is so sterile and devoid of personality. Something you could never say of these apple boxes that came from my grandmother's basement and make great toy storage.


As for all the plastic toys, well, that will be a challenge, but a worthwhile one. From now on we are making an effort to buy better toys - and fewer toys. Today at the beach my son turned rocks into cars and trucks and rocket ships. Instead of the usual giant bag of toys, today we only brought a pail and two shovels. He happily played for TWO HOURS. He would have stayed longer if I'd let him, but I was starving and getting worn out by the constant exploring.

There are some great photos, but my laziness is preventing me from getting up and finding the cord for my camera.

Monday, August 6

feeling shackled

Andrew is at work for the second time this long weekend. He is out doing what he does best - fixing other people's problems.

This morning, not too long after I herded Andrew and Sebastian out the door so I could clean up our post-weekend mess before packing up a book and my laptop to go enjoy the free wireless and adult company of the neighbourhood coffee shop, I got a call from Andrew. The Server he had spent most of Saturday night installing (it had to be during off-hours and took him from 10pm-5am) wasn't letting some people connect. That call came 6 hours ago, he took Sebastian to his office to see if they could solve the problem, while I knowingly and hastily cleaned the house and prepared things for Sebastian's nap. Sure enough, I got a call just after noon letting me know the problem was a big one and he would be bringing Sebastian home.

Andrew stayed just long enough to change his pants and endure my attempts at cordiality before heading back to put out the fire. I have very patiently waited, expecting some kind of an unsolicited update but getting none - I have called twice only to find out both times that the end is either nowhere in sight or very near. I have mentally changed my plans repeatedly, after the opportunity to spend a couple hours immersed in whatever mood music the young baristas had chosen was taken from me, I contemplated an early movie, then a later movie (we have a gift certificate) - I even came about this close to calling up friends to join me. Now I know there will be no movie, no break, no escape. Sure I have time to write or read disturbing articles about plastics, but none of those things are me leaving the house without a child present.


It is now 7:30pm.

I came to terms with the fact that I would be flying solo tonight and have gone from being pissed to being mildly annoyed and thoroughly disappointed.

Sebastian is watching an episode of the Backyardigans and as soon as that is finished we'll hop in the bath. I am trying to mellow out in order to increase my chances of putting the babe to sleep on my own. I don't usually (ever) do bedtime, though I have over the last months, become pretty good at naptime. I think the basic concept is similar.

Andrew is now on a very expensive call with Apple to troubleshoot the server problem. As far as I know he still has no idea when he'll be home. Part of me is annoyed because he, even with the over-time he is making, is not paid enough to be so thoroughly at his company's beck and call - and part of me is sad because he is doing what he loves, something that makes him feel vital and important and special, while in the company of other adults. A few harsh words and strained smiles are all the adult contact I had today.

Now I'm off to forget my troubles in a warm bath with my beautiful boy.

like I needed more to worry about

I have heard and read about the leaching of harmful chemicals out of plastics and into our food, but it wasn't until I read this article from PLoS Biology that it hit me what a shitty situation we've got ourselves into here.

I think that like many other parents, I trusted that while the danger was known, it was also only a moderate danger. Plus, especially when you are talking about options for child feeding, there is a feeling of having no other choice. Considering whatever type of cup I give Sebastian needs to be resistant to breaking *and* easy to clean, and the same is true of any snack-ware and dish-ware we use for him, plastic is the obvious answer. But now, for his sake and the sake of new baby, I am on the hunt for alternatives. Knowing that I will very likely part-time bottle-feed new baby, I need to find appropriate baby bottles. We will replace Sebastian's cup with a Klean Kanteen or two and while I'm at it I will get one for myself to replace my aging (and thus leaching) Nalgene bottle.

Then I will have to sort through all our other plastic-ware and figure out how to phase it all out without going broke.

Sunday, August 5

my son, the photog

I have taken to letting Sebastian take pictures with the camera (only well-supervised, and always wearing the wrist-strap). Yesterday morning we hit our favourite cheap breakfast spot with our friends Rhys and Nicole. After breakfast began to wind down, but before we were quite ready to give up our table, we gave Sebastian the camera and marvelled as he played.

Here, in his first public exhibition, are the results (link to his flickr slideshow).




I think my son is a cat person

If you know me well, you know I am not big on cats. I can put up with them, I even admit that they look awfully cute. I have met great cats, I have met a *lot* of shit-head cats, and every cat I meet aggravates my allergies. I like dogs a little better, but really, fish are right up my alley - especially when I consider how tiny and inoffensive their excrement is.

I think cat people are a little wacky.

Exhibit A:

Exhibit B:

So when, near the end of Emperor's New Groove when Yzma is turned into a fluffy kitty Sebastian got excited, and then when she fell he burst into tears - only stopping when I showed the final scene a few times *proving* the cat was alright - I started to worry a bit. When at the end of the film he threw a level six tantrum, and was only distracted when I made his little people tiger sing the meow mix song, my worries mounted. Now, that he and his dad have watched a good 20 minutes of stupid cat videos on you tube (including the two up there), I am pretty sure we have a genuine cat person in our midst.

I shouldn't be surprised, my feelings about furry animals are not well understood by my husband, who grew up surrounded by cuddly creatures of all shapes and sizes. It is not the first time I've seen a pet in our future, we have time before that is a reality (we're talking years - I am not picking up poop until I am finished with diapers) and enough friends with pets to tide the kid over.

a confesssion

I, Kate Harris, am a slave to my consumer debt.

for drew

Saturday, August 4

breaking through my inertia

It is no secret that I have been battling a little bad mojo over here - I've been feeling lots of shades of blue and gray. I am the first to admit that the last bit of my life has been a trial, first to bitch to anyone who will listen, but the reality of things is, I have it pretty good - and while I feel more blue than I am used to, I know that I am not sliding into depression. At least I am 99% positive I am not. I say this as a person who has been through depression and someone with more than a healthy relationship with denial. I say this because I feel happy between the gray and blue, I say this because I feel normal and a little overwhelmed.

I feel normal, perfectly normal with the scars that come with it. I feel a great variety of emotions and even some that occasionally feel a little excessive, but in the end I keep coming back to me. Something that never happened when I was in my dark place. What I forget is that, while feeling perfectly normal, I still need to work hard.

I worked really hard when I came off my medication three plus years ago. I was desperate not to get pregnant while on pills and somewhat foolishly came off by myself with no medical support. I weaned myself almost accidentally - I started missing my morning dose, then would often start forgetting my afternoon dose... it was a conscious choice, but it happened without my giving it much thought. It took some time to adjust to life with feelings, especially with dark feelings, but in the two years since I had started taking medication my life had changed a lot. There have been rough spots in those last three years, a few times when I thought I might go back on the pills - but without health insurance, it was just cheaper to find natural ways to deal.

There were times I pushed through on my own when I likely should have asked for help. There were more times when I asked for help and got it, or didn't ask - but was given it. And then there were the times I pushed through and found myself forever changed by the process.

I've recently come to the realisation that another one of those push-through times is upon me - there are some essential internal changes that need to take place as I prepare for the upcoming addition to our family. There are also some essential external changes afoot, Andrew and I have been working through our shit in our own way, and I think, I hope that this weekend represents an essential shift back towards our imperfect, perfect balance. I rest assured knowing that we really are pretty fucking awesome together and will naturally work towards our harmony. These marital blips challenge us and break us out of our inertia and every one we have survived has made us stronger as individuals and closer as a couple.

My personal overhaul is in the works. Though calling it that is misleading - things I have been working on for ages will finally be put into action. The past few weeks have found me in a fog of my own confused and conflicting thoughts. This next step will see me filing the less pressing, future goals away for tomorrow - and getting the ball rolling on a new exciting chapter of my life.

The greatest challenge in the near future is, of course, the arrival of our baby this fall. Before that bomb drops, though, I am hoping that all my experiments in frugality and budgeting will finally pay off and we can create a monthly plan that will require little maintenance. This will free up a bundle of my mental and creative energy to do things I actually enjoy, like sewing, cooking and co-parenting.

That last bit is another thing I am working on. I have begun to see myself as Queen Shit around here. I have my finger in everything and actual control of nothing, save the volume of my own screeching voice. I am coming to realise that, perhaps, my standards are too high for any of us to maintain - we have all been guilty of dropping the ball on things around here recently. Just speaking for myself, I have used my pregnancy to full effect to excuse myself from everything from cooking dinner to picking anything up off the floor. I know that I am "allowed" to take it easy right now - but I am also pretty in tune with my body and know what it is capable of. It is capable of doing more. But not as much as it could do a few months ago, my back pain and pelvic aches and today's grocery store arrival of BH contractions all tell me how much is too much.

Now, instead of seeing each ache or cramp as an excuse to stop everything and slump back into my comfy chair to play with my laptop. And then quietly get pissy because "nothing gets done". I will be a little easier on myself and a little clearer about specific duties I would like to outsource to one of the boys. And then... be perfectly content, even if the job was not done exactly as I would have done it. Boy, that is such a toughie. I think, though, the key is to have solid base standards and then accept that how we get to the point where there is no dirt on the dishes, or in the toilet, or toys on the floor is not as important as the fact that the job is done.

Deep breath.

I can not believe it is quite as late as it is - nor can I believe I have been listening to Adult Light Favourites this whole time.

Friday, August 3

I promise I will post something interesting soon - but not today

I've been going through what could be best described as a funk. Maybe you'd noticed.

Today I did something I haven't done in ages, I cleaned the bathroom. It didn't feel quite as good as I had hoped it would, but once I finished I figured I might as well vacuum the kid's room, then the kid spilled the last of his cheddar gators in the living room, so I hit that one too. By this point I had decided not to make dinner (it would have required a trip to the store) and instead I called the big pizza chain and ordered us a fake pepperoni pizza.

When Andrew got home, he and Sebastian played outside while I *gasp* read a book. I finished Miss Wyoming, many many moons after I started it. It was nice to do something else, I have been too connected lately, reading too much online, absorbing too much news and too many opinions. Wasting too much time.

It is like my old relationship with television. So I need to reign that crap in before it gets all out of hand. I think I am going to take a break from some of my daily reads - perhaps pick up some new-old ones (having finally imported my old Internet Explorer favourites) and maybe take some time for my hobbies. Or maybe pencil some time for my family in somewhere.

In that vein (or not), I have four or five half-finished blog entries I am going to finish up this weekend - so that I can stop feeling so overwhelmed every time I open dashboard. Plus there will be all kinds of cute pictures.

I'm all funned out

Another exhausting week under my belt.

Sebastian and I have been somewhat at odds and his newest trick is screaming at the top of his lungs until my ears bleed. Its been "fun" and he has a future as a metal singer. Think of all the groupies - lucky kid!

Speaking of headbanging, he's taken up that habit again. It seems to be indicative of a great leap forward cognitively, so I am reluctant to make a big deal out of it. But I hate it so much. The payoff seems to be his ability to put together ever-more-complex ideas and sentences. Currently they are mostly of the "Mom, can I please have ____," or "Dad, can I please go to ____?" He has also started telling stories, complex, rambling, sometimes not-quite-sensical stories. His imagination is really blossoming- which is likely the most fascinating and fun thing we've witnessed so far.

Last week he hosted a tea party for a few, select stuffed animals. It started off normal enough and evolved into something a little more Mad Hatter.

We've also visited the science centre, the beach, Granville Island, the beach, and today plan on going to a nearby lake park. The weather looks shit, but we're going anyways - I don't think hanging out inside is such a great idea.

I've dusted off my trusted Mommy Mantras book and a few choice mantras are helping me start to find my peace again*.

Now I'm off to find a pair of pants that fit and convince my son that wearing socks with boots is a good idea.

*curious? "I am not Buddha" has helped remind me that sometimes simply getting through the day is good enough; "Bring it on" has helped me harness my strengths and let go of my insecurities and negative self-talk and get on with getting on (piles of dishes, laundry, empty fridge and a screaming toddler? bring it on!); and "Soften to the feeling" essentially it means I recognise a negative feeling (or reaction to a negative situation) and instead of bristling against it, I just acknowledge it and move on. What I could really use is a night off, a visit from a house cleaner, a few meals cooked for me, time to sew, the company of adults and an uninterrupted night's sleep. Until hell freezes over I will make do with a few mantras in my pocket.