Monday, December 31

a year in review

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


Lovely Rigby,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Wednesday, December 26

what made this year different

2007 family photo

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

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

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

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

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


considering what I think of Christmas,

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

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

highs and lows

first a grand happy holidays!

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

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

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

special thanks to Shauna and idolator

Tuesday, December 18

making space

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, December 13


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

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


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

sick day, take two

sick day 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, December 12

sick day

sick day

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, December 9

it isn't a secret

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

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

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


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

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

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

Friday, December 7

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

And what a day it has been.

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, December 6

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

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

Wednesday, December 5

what we're up to

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

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

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

enjoying his soy bambinoccino:

so much cute:

me and ms. giggly-pants:

following the trail back to home***:

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

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

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

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

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

this just in:

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

Sunday, December 2

o bla di o bla da

life goes on

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

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

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

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