Saturday, December 15, 2012

My Gift To Myself

I've spent a lot of time, energy, and money this year making Christmas special for my family and friends. And I love it. I may not do as much as some people do - I will NOT be joining the Elf on a Shelf bandwagon, I've barely baked a thing so far (one batch of cookies that kinda sucked), and we gave up trying to do a Christmas card this year - but I'm generally ok with what I've managed, especially since it's my first Christmas as a working mom. I don't want to run myself ragged and end up stressed, bitter, and snarly. I love the holidays and I want to enjoy them too. I was feeling some stress, some competition, some inadequacy. Getting to the brink of resentment and being overwhelmed. Getting annoyed with people and the things they do and say.

And then the terrible, terrible events that went down in Connecticut this December 14th reminded me how much I need to enjoy every moment. I will hope that we never have to live through a horrific experience like that, but reality is, it does happen to some people. Good people. Innocent people. You never know when it might happen, or if it will happen, but fate and karma and the Rest of the World sometimes make choices for us. I've made a point of never looking at my life with regret. If we were involved in a trauma like that (knock on wood), I think that I could end up regretting some things.

And so I have committed to myself that I'm done with worrying about stuff that doesn't matter. Done with getting angry about silly, trivial things. Done with trying to control dumb crap that nobody else cares about.

If some asshat with a big truck cuts me off, oh well, I'll still get where I'm going. If some silly know it all shoots her mouth off and says stupid things, that's nothing to get aggravated over. If my boys choose obnoxious or stupid or irritating behaviours, I will do better to just love them anyway and gently show them an alternative.

I've spent 36 years getting annoyed with people and rolling my eyes and feeling frustrated and impatient and excluded. I think I can finally say I've learned that this has been a waste and I just don't want to do it anymore.

I sincerely hope this new me will turn out to be a gift to everyone as well as myself.

No, I Am Your Father

Funniest effing dog destruction ever to date. It's even the right hand.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Be Right Back, I'm Just Around The Bend

Twas a few weeks before Christmas, and at the home of the Browns,
I was the only grownup for days, the husband was out of town.
As you would no doubt expect, quicker than quick
Both my children soon became rather sick.
Just the sniffles, I hope, they can still go to school
Having that hope broke every rule.
Monday morning came, and at the break of dawn
The quiet was shattered, the tears were full on.
For a minute I thought, I could just give them meds
They'll be fine until naptime, then sleep in their beds.
I could still go to work, I could still get the break
This weekend, though just two days, felt long as a snake.
But no, I can't do that, I have to stay home
Take care of my darlings, wish I was alone
On the beach, like my husband, did I mention his trip?
He went to Cabo, laid in the sun, took a dip.
While I had the joy of my two marvelous sons
Plenty of snow, holiday prep work, not very much sun.
"That's not fair" you might say. "How could he go?"
He deserved a break, it's my turn soon, this I know.
I don't begrudge him the trip, he works hard
He's a good husband, great father, takes care of the yard.
But if he tells me again soon he's trading sandals for socks
He'll find when he gets home that I've changed the locks.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

got milk? Not Anymore

I'm free! (We're talking marginally...I will never be fully free again...)

Today is the first day of my husband's unplanned trip to Cabo. Great opportunity, the trip was practically free, and I couldn't say no (well, I could have, but that would have made me a bitch). So he's gone for a few days, but it's all right. The boys and I will have lots of fun on our own and truly they are way less troubling to handle 2 on 1 than they used to be.

But I'm going to say it. It's my turn when you get back, Honey. I am getting out of dodge for a few days, without you, without any little boys, without any remorse. I'm out.

I am so in need of a break it's not even funny. I've gotten much more relaxed about having babysitters come stay with them, the only reason I don't have a sitter more often is the cost. But I have not slept a single night away from my boys in a very long time. Husband took B1 to Winnipeg for a few nights when I was expecting B2, so I guess that was kind of like being alone...but not really, since I had my gymnast/water polo/wrestling fetus kicking the crap out of me from the inside out. But now - I can finally do it! After thirty-three looooonnnnnggggg months, B2 has finally weaned himself. I think, anyway. He hasn't asked in a week, and he was only asking every other day or so for a couple of weeks before that. So for the first time in about five years, I am finally not pregnant, nursing, or both. It's fantastic!

I never set out to have a nursling for so long. When B1 was born, I had no preconceptions about how long I would nurse him, or if I'd even be able to, only that I'd try. And it was awful. I was so very close to giving up, that first month. I didn't do it often enough, never had enough for him and constantly had to be pumping, topping him up with bottles, and fretting about his weight. He never really loved it that much and gave it up when I was a few months pregnant again. And then B2 came along and was completely different. From his first latch, he knew what he liked, and it was me. That boy would never even try a bottle. Or a soother. Or allow anything else to comfort him. Then at almost 3 years old, he finally decided on his own that it was time to be a big boy.

A lot of people told me, thought, or probably said behind my back that I should cut him off, long ago. And sure, I could have. But I'm very happy that it happened the way it did. No tears, no fighting, no conflict. Just a peaceful "No thank you, I don't want any Mama Milk today" and off to dreamland. It wasn't always easy, and the toughest part was needing to be here to put him to bed every night for about a thousand days. But I also knew that it would be a relatively short time in his life and mine and I was more than willing to give him that time.

But now it's over. I'd be lying if I said I won't expect pangs of missing the cuddle time and special closeness that only I was able to have with him for so long. Or if I said it doesn't make me feel a little blue that I will probably never nurse a baby again. But in between those wistful thoughts, I'll be skipping my way to the spa for a well-deserved little Mommy break in the New Year.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Leader of the Pack

Last week I was lucky enough to manage to get a ticket to see Cesar Millan live. I have often watched The Dog Whisperer and been amazed by what he can do with a "problem" dog, but I am always skeptical about reality TV and usually scoff and say there must be so much that happens that we don't see. So I was a fan, but not A Fan. Turned out the rescue group I volunteer with had an extra ticket, so I snapped it up and joined the pack. And am I ever glad.

Cesar taught this old dog a lesson.

He had several real dogs and their parents come on stage and exhibited their issues - and then Cesar did a quick diagnosis and showed another way. We could literally see these dogs change their behaviour before our eyes. It was great because one of the dogs he used had almost the exact issue as one of my own dogs (leash pulling) and she was even the same breed.

The biggest takeaway for me, however, was how MY own attitude and behaviour affects others. We had extremely good seats, and I swear that being that close to him allowed me to actually feel his calm energy. It is clear that the dogs feel it too, but for me it was quite profound. My life is the furthest thing from calm - with two preschoolers, a husband, two dogs, a full time job, a hobby business, and also trying to maintain some semblance of physical health, oh and possibly a thread of a social life - there are not a lot of opportunities for calmness. However, if I let myself become stressed and upset and screechy, that clearly affects my children - the ones with and without fur. I've been making a concerted effort to stay chill since the show and I have absolutely noticed a difference in my family. There has been more cooperation, less arguing, and if things do start to get out of hand, getting back to calmness is easier.

But it's a constant challenge for me. I am passionate by nature. I was raised in a family that liked to get loud, get emotional, and be right. Going with the flow is not natural for me. But even after a week's worth of feeble attempts, I see how much better my life would be if I could nail this.

So in no particular order, here are the things I am going to do to continue to get better at Calm.

  1. Get my butt back in a regular yoga class. I spend too much time in my lulus but not in a yoga studio.
  2. Let my standards slide. Seriously. I've said this before, but I still obsess about having things just right and always my way.
  3. Stop, breathe, and pause before reacting.
  4. When I want to shout, try whispering instead. 
  5. Radiate the love I feel rather than resentment and frustration.
  6. Keep in mind that one day, this time in my life is going to be a distant memory and I could regret not enjoying it more.
  7. Prioritize myself a bit more. Visit with friends. Take a class. Do things that make me happy. A lot of my life is about my family now, but I'm part of that family too.
It may be odd that a seminar in dog behaviour could spark a personal revolution like this for me. But I have always thought of my dogs as my children too, and really, the principles of teaching, communicating, and shaping applies equally as well to parenting children as it does raising dogs. 

New Look

Welcome to Apparently I'm A Parent's new look!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Sample size of 2

I think one of the most interesting things about parenting two kids is how much it resembles a reality TV game show. We get to "expect the unexpected," enjoy scrambling after "this week's twist," and slog our way through "detours, roadblocks, and u-turns" galore here. Every time I make the mistake of expecting B2 to do roughly the same things at roughly the same time that B1 did them, or expecting B2 to behave in the same way as B1 at any point in time, I am routinely and profoundly schooled.

For example, when we moved into this house, B1 was just over 1 year old and I was about halfway through my pregnancy with B2. We were planning to move B1 into a big boy bed so we wouldn't have to get a second crib. I fretted profusely about the door handles (they were the long lever kind, not round knobs) and what we would do to keep him from roaming the house all night. We ended up changing them and buying those door knob covers for childproofing and it was such a waste of effort. B1 never even tried to get out of his room. Like ever. When he got a little older, he started to, but his Good Nite Light took care of that. This boy is a rule follower (for the most part). 

Now. B2 has also been in a big boy bed for a while. And I don't know if he's actually tried before, but his doorknob was kind of sticky, so he could never get out. Until today. Twice today he has managed to bust out of there and I will tell you, I'm totally dreading tonight. I have visions of a tiny face popping up by my side of the bed a zillion or so times, saying "Hi Mama. It wake up time now?" when it will most assuredly NOT be wake up time. 

My problem is this. I'm a statistics kind of girl. I like predictability, and patterns, and charts. I've made a career out of predicting how people will behave. A 50% margin of error is very difficult for me to compute. I suppose that's an argument for having a larger family (no thanks) in favour of improving statistical significance. That must be what's really behind the "3 is the new 2" movement. They're just trying to enhance their predictive models. 

I suppose this is part of the beauty of parenting two children - the constant imbalance between expecting them to be carbon copies of each other and forgetting completely what the first one was like at age X. Perhaps I should spend less time trying to figure out what they're going to do, and when, and how, and spend more time getting to know each of them for their uniqueness and learning to love them for (or despite) what they are.

Saturday, November 3, 2012


Well, today is my birthday, and this one puts me officially closer to 40 than 30. I have really never freaked out about my age before, in fact, I was always in a hurry to be older. I always felt too young to be taken seriously. I think I can officially say that's now behind me.

Reflections from this, my 36th year on this planet, include the following:
  1. Raising kids really is a very consuming job. Thankless, exhausting, but rewarding and fun.
  2. I am happier and feel more comfortable when I work outside the home as well.
  3. I have a lot of First World Problems. I feel pretty lucky about that.
  4. Pinterest makes me feel lazy and uncreative. And a little ragey at the people I re-pin who aren't lazy and uncreative. But I won't quit!
  5. I still don't really know what I want to be when I grow up.
  6. Wine on a work night is a great idea on the work night, but a terrible idea the next morning.
  7. I really need to start exercising again. Seriously, B2 is going to wean someday.
  8. I am a wicked awesome pumpkin carver. I wonder if I could also be a tattoo artist (see #5)?
  9. I wish I was a medium. The talks to the dead kind, not the size. (see #5)
  10. Remembering to take food out for supper is the absolute hardest part of my day. I don't know why, since it's a fairly critical detail that has to happen every day.
Bonus: Despite a lot of grumbling and ranting about tribulations from time to time, I am extremely happy, and exactly where I want to be. I am blessed and lucky to be living in this time and place. And I'm enjoying this adventure called life immensely.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Pants On Fire

Hubs and I take a lot of pride in being fairly honest people. In those rare cases where a fib is necessary, (like when the psycho from kijiji emails asking us where he can show up to pick up our free broken chair and murder us and we have to tell an untruth to save our skins), we both are generally quite awkward and concoct a colourful, minutely detailed story that's just so awesome people won't help but buy it. We go for the "It's So Unbelievable You Just Have To Believe It" approach. But in general, we are the kind of folks who won't hesitate to tell the truth at all times.

However, there is a huge, gaping exception. We lie to our kids ALL THE TIME. And the lies just roll off our tongues like warm maple syrup (which we are out of, wink wink). These are some of the most amusing lies I've noticed us telling the boys recently.

  • Dreaming about falling over a waterfall means you're growing (this stupid dream kept plaguing B1 for weeks until we gave him this feel-good, if false explanation)
  • There are no cookies in the pantry (technically true sometimes, they're often only in my belly - but I probably was hiding in the pantry when I ate them)
  • Yes I'm going to bed now too (because otherwise they will each insist that I need to stay in their bed all night when I tuck them in)
  • McDonald's is closed (does it ever close?)
  • Oops, sorry, the grocery store bakery ran out of freebie cookies (that smell is just a special birthday cake that someone else ordered baking)
  • We don't have money for that (because, yes, we are so tightly budgeted that your $1.47 bag of Skittles will put us into foreclosure)
  • Drink up your Advil (and please don't notice that it's just water in the Advil dose cup)
  • Today's going to be a No Yelling Day! (this is an unintentional lie...the No Yelling Day is always intended, rarely accomplished)
Should I be concerned that I can't think of more? Am I becoming a hardened, calloused liar? Are the lines between honestly and fibbery becoming so blurred that I can't even identify which side I'm on anymore?

No. Impossible. I will never lie to my kids again. (What's that burning-denim smell?)

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

I Get It Now

I thought about saving this post for Mother's Day or my Mom's birthday or something, but those are too far away. I wanted to say some things and I think it would be better to say them sooner rather than later. Not for any scary doom-filled reason, just because I think it will make my Mom happy and why wait for that.

I wanted to say I get it now. Lately I've been realizing all kinds of things that have made me understand a lot of the things you did or said when I was a child that made me annoyed with you.

  • How - whenever we had tacos for dinner - you would always make a salad for yourself. I get it. That was so you could leave the shells for us. Did this very thing last week myself. It wasn't really what I wanted, but everyone was eating well and I saw we would run out of tortillas, so I stopped eating them. I used to roll my eyes and think you were on another silly diet (which may have been true sometimes) but more often I think it was an act of selflessness.
  • How - whenever I asked to go swimming, you would roll your eyes and try to convince me I didn't want to go. I get it. I know how much the pool sucks and I also hate taking my kids there. 
  • How - when we had friends who were annoying, you let us know you didn't really like them. I get it. I try not to - oh, I try not to - but now that my kids are making friends, I have been unable to help myself sometimes if the kid is just particularly annoying.
  • How - when we had parents of a boyfriend treat us with slightly less-than-open arms - you got violently defensive of us. I get it. Obviously we aren't there yet, but even if my kid is the last to get a ball at Sportball class, I'm prickling to wrestle someone for "overlooking" him.
  • How - when people were rude or inconsiderate - you would make a passive aggressive comment. I get it. I think your comments were probably less passive than mine, but I hate it when other people act like jerks and I talk (loudly) to my kids about the need to take off dirty shoes/leave some for others/pay attention to where they're going/etc. within earshot of adults who are failing to be respectful.
  • How you always opted out of the pictures. You weren't happy with how you looked and you didn't like having your picture taken. I get it. I make a point of being included in the pictures anyway, but I totally understand how you felt. I wish you'd been able to push past it though - there are not enough pictures of you with us when we were little. 
I'm sure, as my kids get older and we go through more changes and challenges, that I'm going to "get" a lot more. But I just wanted you to know that I understand a lot of it.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Mommy and the Man Cold

Most moms I know amaze me. They can do it all. Bake and decorate cupcakes worthy of a Food Network competition, prep 8500 freezer dinners, wash allllll the clothes (and actually get all the stains out), create a from-scratch, organic, free range, GMO-free, sugar-free, gluten-free breakfast that their children actually consume, and craft a Martha Stewart-worthy holiday display using only recycled, freecycled, or upcycled materials to sell on etsy. All before 8 am. While looking thin, glamourous, and stylish. Even when they're sick.

I am really not one of this variety. Yeah, ok, I can do some of those things, maybe even more than one on a good day. I am getting better at multi-tasking and being organized and creative and having systems in place to help me be a great mom. And I have always made a point of trying to spend at least a few minutes putting on some makeup or reminding the world that I'm still a girl, even when I had two babies draining the life out of me.

But when I get sick? All bets are off. You all are on your own. If I have to do anything other than vegetate my hiney, I will whine and complain and grumble and generally make it seem like I've just piggybacked everyone to the summit of Mt. Everest. I just got over what was a fairly minor cold, and I kind of feel like I deserve a Caribbean vacation as a reward for surviving it.

The conventional joke is that men don't do sick well. So very untrue in our house. My husband is incredibly stoic and doesn't complain at all. Sometimes I don't even know he's sick until after he's better. *I* get the man colds in our family. And if anyone ever forgets that...don't worry. I'll remind you.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Giant Hairy Starfish

This weekend we had the pleasure of visiting not one, but TWO swimming pools. I'm going to say it. I hate the swimming pool with the intensity of a thousand fiery seahorses (which is actually quite intense).

I hate the swimming pool for a few reasons:

  1. I dislike being naked in front of other people. And without fail, as soon as I remove a critical garment, one of my kids WILL certainly need my help, need to pee, or start to cry (hopefully the crying is not directly caused by my removal of said garment, but this is not impossible to consider).
  2. My younger son is a reckless daredevil and every time we're there I spend the entire visit expecting him to either crack his head open, drown himself, or drown someone else. Or all three.
  3. My older son is significantly less adventurous than his little brother and spends most visits to the pool cycling between crying, clinging to me, accidentally removing part of my swimsuit because of frantic clinging to me (which again triggers Hatred Reason 1.), asking to try something then backpedaling, crying again, begging to leave, and actually enjoying himself for a few fleeting moments.
  4. The floors skeeve me out to no end. I don't know how hard it is to consider that your filthy outdoor shoes, spillable snacks, and nasty stroller wheels DO NOT belong in the locker room where people are barefoot. Specifically, where I am barefoot. And naked. 
  5. And most importantly - the time and effort spent preparing for going swimming in no way even approaches the time spent enjoying swimming. Especially considering Hatred Reasons 2. and 3. above - "enjoying" is a relative term when you are the mother of these particular swimmers. But even their enjoyment is so just brief at this age - it hardly seems worth the investment. 
There are a few other activities that have similarly atrocious inverse relationships between effort and enjoyment. I have developed the following handy quick reference guide for the Hierarchy of Effort to Enjoyment. (This also illustrates the comparative frequency of certain activities in our home.) 

Now all this said - I would like to repeat that we went to TWO separate swimming pools this weekend! And I will continue to take them swimming, even though I think I really have proven my case that the pool sucks starfish. Giant hairy starfish.

Monday, September 24, 2012

So Close I Can Almost Smell It

I nearly titled this "so close I can almost "taste" it" until I realized how gross that would sound. Because I'm talking about diapers. And the thing we are so close to is saying goodbye to them!!

B2 has really been putting in an effort lately and he doesn't wear diapers at home anymore. He's even stayed diaper free on a few short outings this weekend too! Can anyone else hear those trumpets and bells and fireworks?

Only today was Monday. Which meant daycare. Which meant we didn't think it was right to put him in underwear without running it past the daycare teachers first (since it would mean a lot of extra work for them and possibly a lot of extra mess). So we put him in a diaper this morning - you'd think the diaper was lined with spikes or possibly fire ants. He was pretty clear in letting us know "NOT me a baby." And I can see that - I wouldn't be tickled either if I finally reached a milestone and then got knocked back down to the previous level. That happened in Angry Birds when I upgraded to iOS 5 and I've never forgotten it.

But the other thing is he hasn't ever had a dry day at daycare. Close - he's been averaging only about one wet diaper a day (which is all kinds of awesome!) but in a room full of littles, I don't think it's reasonable to expect that he'll be able to be 100%. And his teacher has told us that he takes it really hard when he wets a diaper, he cries and feels ashamed. So what's going to happen when he wets his undies and pants and it's a big disaster? I just don't know. Feels like I'm setting him up to fail and I feel bad about that. This is new to me - when B1 was at this stage I was still a SAHM, so I never had to deal with this.

I know he'll figure it out, but it's so hard to balance being supportive of his learning and being fair and respectful, while still getting this done. I would love it if he just had a few upsetting days, wet his pants a few times, and learned from the yucky experience to never do it again. Feels unfair to someone or another though.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Out of the Loop

I am so out of the loop! Not Froot Loops...I do not buy those regardless of how many times the boys beg, campaign, and suggest when we're at the store. Maybe one of those cute tiny boxes for Christmas stockings, though...and that's a lovely segue into my topic du jour.

I am completely stumped as far as what to give the boys for Christmas. And there's only a few days more than 3 months to go!

This is our first Christmas as a family of four with two parents that work outside the home - maybe this is the difference? Maybe I haven't had the same time to spend browsing the web for the It Gift of the year. Maybe there isn't one? I get enough emails from retailers every day to choke a horse - but none of them have offered me the Holy Grail of Gifting yet.

We've had it pretty easy in the past few years, with big baby gear, bikes, train tables, car ramps, sleds, etc. We had nothing and needed everything. I think we may possibly have more toy inventory than some small stores and I have little desire to acquire more, plus I have no idea what to get. Even Santa has no ideas yet. And this is a problem, because I need to have ideas for the big guy, for us, and I usually get asked by lots of aunties and uncles and grandparents too. And I got nothin.

When I ask them what they want, they always say they want to go to the park or take a sport or dance class or go to the petting zoo or something like that. But somehow I doubt a 4 year old and 2 1/2 year old will be thrilled with a bunch of passes, gift cards and class enrollment receipts. I'm sure I can slip a few things like that through but they're going to want SOMETHING tangible, I'd bet.

What do YOUR kids want for Christmas?

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Your Choices are Take It or Leave It

Is there a magical age at which kids learn how to eat around the stuff they don't like? Like, without whining, crying, shoving the plate away, or various other theatrics?

Or is there some secret technique to making it through dinner without tears, eye-rolling, threats, begging, bribing, or timers? (Actually we only really use two of those as a general rule - timers and eye-rolling - I think I saw my brain the other day.)

I understand not liking certain foods. Nobody can ever convince me that I like cilantro. Or onions. I've tried, oh Lord, I've tried. But they are just not for me (but somehow I love all other Mexican food. Weird, huh?) I'm totally ok with my kids not liking certain things, and I do a pretty good job of remembering what they are and ensuring I offer choices that don't include them too, or making it really easy to pick them out. That is, for me or Hubby to pick them out of course, because somehow these offending particles just send our boys into a severe tailspin from which there's no return.

Sometimes I dream about what it might be like to be in a different family. Where the food preferences look something like this:

Doesn't that seem reasonable? Everyone has their own little realm of preferences. There's usually two or more people that like a decent amount of items. But everyone has a nice big repertoire and there are plenty of options to serve that make everyone happy.

This is what it looks like in our family:

Dad is not the problem. I am not the problem. We are pretty much garbage guts, and we agree on the breadth and depth of our range. There's very little the boys like that we don't either. But note the relative size of the circles? That's not an accident. I am a graphy, market research sort of gal. See how their bubbles do not overlap with each other's? The fact that I can pretty much guarantee that someone or another will say "I don't like that!" is indisputable. 

At least now we have it in Venn diagram format. My little anal geek world is now complete. Even if I still don't know what the hell to make for dinner tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Aw, nuts!

With the start of the new school year comes the obligatory grumbling of the parenting community about what foods they are not allowed to send in school lunches.

I'm not sure why there is such hatred for blanket bans of particularly dangerous allergens, but there really is, and it seems to me it's getting worse. Parents rant about it, they suggest ways to sneak in the contraband, gripe about the need for bubble wrapped kids, and wonder out loud what else they can send.

As mother of a child with a peanut allergy - I'm sorry. I really am. I understand that it makes things difficult.

Please know, however, that living in fear of accidental exposure in your allergic child is more difficult. So is taking them trick or treating and knowing they will have to surrender at least half of their haul. So is seeing them disappointed because they can't eat the yummy treat that all the other kids are enjoying because it doesn't have that little logo on it and you can't be sure it's safe. So is repeatedly catching people (even those who know about the allergy) offering things that are clearly unsafe to your child. But the most difficult watching your child's face swell up and dashing for the Benedryl or Epi-pen and praying it will work in time.

Even before we had children, I respected allergies. I always gave out Halloween candy without peanuts. If made aware of an allergy, I don't serve that food. My home is very low-chemical and nearly scent-free (but it does and probably will always contain non-hypoallergenic dogs!). I ask when we have people over if anyone has any allergies. I hoped this would buy me enough good Karma that my kids wouldn't have serious allergies - alas, not the case. We are lucky and grateful that B2's peanut allergy is mild, but it's still there. Still a worry, still a nuisance. And it doesn't look like he'll outgrow it by age 3 as the doctor hoped he might.

Yes, it sucks, but I can deal with it. We found alternate products. We taught him from the moment he could understand that he is "yergic" to peanuts. He will wear a bracelet when he starts school and will be trained not to eat anything he's not sure about. I'm not sure why other parents find it so difficult, when it isn't even their kids that are at risk. There are so many options - spend five minutes on Pinterest and you'll have more lunchbox ideas than you could ever use.

For those who help keep my boy safe - thank you.

For those who roll their eyes and grumble - count your blessings and don't be so sure you'll never need to rely on a village.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Best Before Date?

I have often questioned whether my kids are spoiled. Like when I walk into the playroom and can't see any of the floor because it's too covered in toys. Or when I struggle to close the drawers of their dressers after putting away a new batch of clothes. Or when they demand dessert, or treats, pretty much every day.

We are certainly not made of money. But I do spend a considerable amount of my disposable income on the kids. And we pretty much always have a full fridge and pantry and we probably allow treats a little more often than we should. I am totally guilty of caving in under the pressure of a tantrum, just to 

But you know those days where you feel like nobody heard anything you said? Like you're just talking to hear your own voice? Like the kids seem to think the rules that have been in place since forever are somehow new or not applicable? We've been having a lot of those days lately. Like, all of them. And now that B2's language skills have really exploded, we're finding that he argues just as much as B1 - maybe even more.

I'm not sure if this is completely normal, but after reading this article, I think I feel a little better. I am pretty solid at not catering to my picky kids at mealtimes. I'm pretty good at dealing with tantrums for the most part, and they are still age appropriate for my kids. My boys are both clingy and have some separation anxiety, but they DO let us leave them without too much drama. 

For sure I have more work to do - I need to get better at staying calm, being consistent, and showing that I really do mean it when I set a boundary. But overall, I think my boys are still within their Best Before dates. The real issue is just that they are 2.5 and 4!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012


Not the kind where you binge first on junk food, then stick your fingers down your throat. I wouldn't do that by choice (but I have been known to do a good binge).

We have been on a massive "stuff" purge bender lately. It started with me getting annoyed at the hoard of outgrown clothes in B2's closet. Dragged it all down, sorted, and started selling it on a facebook buy/sell/swap group. Then I started thinking of other things I could sell. Outgrown shoes, snowsuits, toys that we don't use. Cloth diapers that weren't my favorites now that we use so much fewer. Bigger toys that don't get much play.  Then my hubby got into the game. The old TV we used to use in the bedroom. The gaming system we haven't touched in over a year. Booster seats. The piano. A desk that only collects dust. The yard play equipment that's still do-able but a little small. Now we can't stop ourselves! Almost everything I look at, I'm thinking "Do we really still need this?" 

The problem is in my zeal to de-clutter, it's possible I might accidentally sell something that we could still use. The yard equipment was a tough one. They are still use-able by my boys. But B1 and B2 are bigger and don't use these particular toys much anymore. We are keeping the big slide and swingset, just getting rid of the toddler ones and the little playhouse and I think I'm ok with it. I'd rather have the money. It's a tough call though for sure. I might even cry when they go.

I also struggle with the value. I know roughly what we paid for almost everything I've been getting rid of. I know we used it and got value out of it...and believe me I'm pricing accordingly, but it hurts a little to see your things (and your kids' things) sell for a fraction of what they cost. A tiny fraction, in most cases.

Another problem is while spending time on these groups, listing and managing my items, I keep on accidentally finding new stuff that I want to buy. For like, amazing deals! People are practically GIVING their stuff away! 

Hmmm. Maybe I DO have a bingeing and purging disorder after all.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Bye Bye, Baby Weight!

I have finally, FINALLY shed my baby weight. I'm at the exact weight I was at a few days before my wedding. And yet, somehow I look NOTHING like I did back then!!

I do not recommend back-to-back-(to-back) pregnancies. I do not recommend an oops pregnancy when your eldest is only 9 months old and your body is still pretty destroyed. I definitely don't recommend these behaviours when you're in your mid-30s. Even dropping pounds can't completely reverse the effects of all that stretching, and gravity on that stretched, heavy with babies body.

So although I have lost the baby weight, I'm still not happy. I'm about four pounds away from my initial goal weight, but I don't think that four pounds is going to make the difference I'd hoped for. I have more work to do. I've significantly improved my eating habits and clearly that's working, but I need to add more fitness into my life. It's incredibly difficult to find the time for fitness in my schedule and this is something I need to work harder at.

It was my hubby's idea actually. I noticed he was eating differently and skipping certain parts of meals I made for about a week, and finally got out of him that he'd signed up for the Weight Watchers online program. I may have teased him a little, but when he explained how easy it is to follow, I decided to sign up too. It was very difficult at first - I am a short person, and the allowance of food I was given didn't feel like much at first. I was pretty hungry for the first few days, until I learned how to make better choices that still allowed me to eat. So I have him to thank for motivating me to get out of my excessive and unhealthy food rut.

This New Life...It's Ours

I have been a full time working mom for eight months now. I think I'm finally getting adjusted to this new life, and dare I say, even starting to enjoy it. I've solved the problem of commuting from the US border to downtown Calgary, by finding a different job with a sweet office location. I've come to terms with my age and place. I've learned how to be a little better organized and how to speak up when something isn't going well. 

It's very odd though, being back at work full time really makes me think about how it used to be before the baby carriages rolled in. 

These are the things I miss from my old, single, non-parenting life:

  1. The freedom to just go for a run whenever I felt like it. 
  2. Having the energy to go running 5 days a week. 
  3. Signing up for a yoga class without consulting three other people's calendars. 
  4. Spending my money on things I want. 
  5. Going to get groceries on a whim. 
  6. Cleaning the house when or if I wanted. 
  7. Eating whatever I liked for dinner, even if it was popcorn and wine. At whatever time I was hungry. Getting to eat it all myself and not have to give away my most favorite things. 
  8. Having privacy. 
  9. Having quiet. 
  10. Being able to sit down and remain sitting, sometimes for hours. 
  11. Being able to focus on a task until it was finished. Not thinking about  the enormous list of other tasks waiting for my attention. 

I'm sure I'll get some of these luxuries back as my kids get older and need me less, and I'm sure I'll miss being so critically important one day...but for now I don't have time to lament the loss of these freedoms. I'm too busy. Although working outside the home has definitely added complexity to our lives - and costs - and even more time pressures - I can honestly say I'm really very happy with it. 

I have days when I wish I could choose not to work outside the home. But I probably could make that choice if I really wanted to make more sacrifices. And I'm choosing not to.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

A-ha Moments From A Newly Working Mom

Wouldn't a 25 hour day be awesome? I think it would...because there is no way on earth for me to actually get everything done in only 24. And here we are about to lose one hour this weekend!

After a month of working full time, I've learned some things. Here are my top 5 a-ha moments from transitioning to being a working mom. Some are good, some are a little less good...but all have been very necessary things for me to learn.

  1. It's not as bad as I thought it would be. I was very nervous before I went back, fearing that it would be so hard for the boys, and even harder for me to get used to. But this was thankfully way scarier in my head than in reality. I'm actually really happy to be working again, and I think the boys are getting benefits too from not being with me 24/7. Overall Family Win.
  2. I need to be more organized. It's true. The Me I Was ten, or even five years ago, would like to kick the behind of the Me I Am Now for becoming such a creature of routine. But setting times for specific things, like Diaper Washing Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays, and actually thinking about things a little more than five minutes before I need to do them has really saved my life. Again, the boys are also benefiting here. Having more structure and learning that we have to do things when the clock says so is something I was really not giving them when I was at home.
  3. I loathe commuting. I am taking up a collection to buy a helicopter. Or build a teleporter. Ugh. My commute is by far the worst part of my days. THIS is why people who work downtown should not live in suburgatory. I have no solution to this problem, other than a blissfully helpful and wonderful Hubby who is my boy pickup and dinner prep hero every day.
  4. I'm much older than I used to be. I look around at the girls in my office and there's a distant memory that I used to be one of them. I used to be thin, and cute, and young. I used to have a social life, and fashionable clothes, and amusing stories about dating and fun. I'm not that anymore. I am Office Mom. With a desk full of pictures of my kids, a painted handprint on my wall that makes me cry when I read the poem on the back, unidentified smears on my coat, and a dusting of cracker crumbs and used tissues at the bottom of my bag (even though this is ONLY my work bag!). And I am comfortable with this. Except for the part where I'm not thin.
  5. Ummm. I forget. The biggest casualty from my years at home is my memory. I can't believe how much I forget now! People tell me a name of someone I need to contact and I forget it in 30 seconds. Or I morph it into something close, but very wrong. Or I forget altogether than there's someone who does the task I need help with. I have never, ever relied so heavily on Outlook as I do now. Is this a function of age too, or trying to do too much, or something else? Was I forgetting stuff this much before and never knew it? I suppose if I was, I forgot about it.
Bonus! The absolute best side effect of working outside the home full time. I appreciate my boys so very much more now and truly cherish every minute I spend with them. I mean, I have always loved and been amazed by both my boys. But when you spend that much time with other humans, inevitably you begin to annoy one another. When before I would roll my eyes or grouch or be impatient with their precious annoying baby ways, I am now finding ways to enjoy what used to irritate. My positive parenting techniques are working so much better than they used to. My patience and ability to stay calm when they test me has really improved. Of course I still lose it occasionally (like when B1 kicked me in the face when I loaded him in the van after daycare one day!), but those episodes have greatly diminished.

Monday, January 30, 2012

I Was Always A Working Mom, But I Work Differently Now

Today was my first day at work in almost two years. I mean real, full time work, not odd or part time "fun" jobs.

It was really good. I had a nice time trying to remember people's names and getting a feel for what we do and how we do it.

It didn't go off completely without a hitch. I thought I'd be able to take public transportation and still make it back to pick up the boys, but after seeing the way our company works and how slowly the bus runs, that is not going to happen. So we need to figure out a new plan. I will stay home a bit later in the mornings and drop the boys off and will get to stay at the office a bit later in the evenings. And I really, really need to find a parking spot ASAP. I hate the bus and although I'd like to stay greener, I am just not willing to triple the length of my commute. I can't.

Of course this means "someone else" is now responsible for dinner most nights! And that someone almost never cooks. So it looks like we will start spending some time on the weekends prepping quick meals for the upcoming week. That's ok. Probably wise actually.

I know it will all work out in the end. And I know we only need to lower our standards for a while for stuff like how clean the house is and how nice our meals are. It will sort out in the long run.

I think I'm doing the right thing. I had more patience with the boys tonight than I've had in ages. We can eliminate some bad habits and behaviours from our life. I am going to feel more like me and more like a valuable contributor to our family and our finances. I am going to show my boys that mommies can do more than serve meals and wipe bums. There is always huge value in that, and I will do it gladly for them, but I want to show them that isn't all I can do.

It's going to be a long road and an interesting month. I'm so excited, but a small part of me would love to fast forward to the time when we do have things all figured out.

Also, I'm tired as hell and not looking forward to stuffing diapers tonight one.little.bit.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Big Changes!

So far, 2012 has been a year of many, massive changes for our family!

The biggest - I'm going back to work. Not BACK to work, but to a new, wonderful job that I'm incredibly excited about! As soon as I read the posting, I knew it was perfect for me and vice versa, and I think my new company thinks so too, because I got called for an interview almost immediately and I got the job offer just three days after the interview. It's going to be great, and I'm very excited about starting next week.

That also means my boys needed someone else to take care of them. By lucky coincedence, B1's BFF's mother mentioned to me that BFF's dayhome was looking for more kids. So I called, and she was happy to take them. And best of all, both B1 and B2 loved it when we went to meet her. Even more awesome, she takes BFF to preschool, and she can take B1 too. That was a big relief, I really didn't want to have to pull him out of preschool, but a daycare situation that would take him and pick him up is elusive. And she is all kinds of amazing too, she is willing to try our cloth diapers and the boys adore her already. They cried when I came to take them home yesterday. Also, she sent lunch home for them yesterday (so they could get used to her cooking) and B1 ate CHICKEN, happily and without coercion. This is nothing short of a miracle.

So this has been our transition week. I started them going for a couple of half days and a couple of full days this week while I was still home to come to the rescue if anything went horribly. I've been kind of at loose ends. It's quiet in here. I'm not used to having time to actually think about what I want to do next, let alone having the time to do it. I tried to make it harder by taking in a new foster dog last weekend, but the darn guy is too good. He is hardly any work at all. Aside from the extra laundry from peeing everywhere, but that's hardly different. I've started to run again. Slowly, and not as often as once upon a time, but hopefully that will come with time. I'm really tired of dragging around this mummy tummy and I'm very motivated to get fit again.

I've started to learn how to make quicker meals and save time on cooking and cleaning, since my time will be so much less. I think I can keep us eating similarly to what we're used to, but I haven't figured out the cleaning solution yet. Well, I have, but I haven't hired her yet.

Thankfully, that's all the news I have to share right now. I don't think I could handle much more change than this! It will be interesting to make the transition from a stay at home mom to a working mom and I hope I do a good job of documenting this journey!