Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Single mom-dom

This week, I’m playing the role of single mom while Ryan is off taking a course at some swanky resort in Niagara-on-the-Lake. So far, we’re two and a half days in and there’s two and a half to go.

The short of it is is that it really isn’t that bad or that hard – although I have a ton of respect for moms who do this on a permanent basis. Because maybe it’s not that bad because I know that come Friday at 8 p.m. or so, I go back to being a two-parent tag team.

The hardest part about it is that it’s really hard to get anything else done during Austin’s waking hours. Even a simple matter such as cooking and eating dinner can become a monumental task when your toddler keeps yelling ‘up’ (as in pick me up). I could wait until he goes to bed at 8:30 but the other baby – the one who demands that I eat more these days – says ‘no way mom, feed me now!’

At least I had thought ahead of time that yes, this could pose a challenge, so Ryan and I cooked big meals on the weekend that left me with leftovers to reheat. And well, an omelette and toast is always a quick and tasty option for dinner – and goodness knows I love eating breakfast for dinner! And there’s always Pizza Pizza or Swiss Chalet if I really want.

But honestly, unless I want to plop Austin in front of an endless loop of the Backyardigans – nothing else can be done until he goes to bed. Do you honestly think he’ll have the patience to stand around and wait for me to read him a book while I get the garbage together and put it out on the curb? (And books are all he wants these days – we’ll sit for 45 minutes reading book after book, only to get up and play with trucks for 10 minutes before going back to reading the same books again! And it’s really hard to get annoyed that that’s what he wants to do – after all, he’s learning from them.)

And forget about coming home in a bad mood and just wanting to sit and grump for 20 minutes before facing the evening tasks. In single mom-dom, when you come home with a toddler, you have to be revving to go.

It’s only for a week, and honestly, other than eating, what else do I really have to do that can’t wait until after bedtime? He’s only going to be this age for a short time…before I know it; he’ll be a teenager telling me to give him some space. So, instead of worrying about the garbage that has to go out, the kitchen that is a disaster or the laundry that has yet to be folded, maybe I’ll turn the TV off, check my bad mood at the door and read My First Book of ABCs for the 30th time this week.

One thing’s for sure, Ryan’s going to owe me at least one or two readings of that book when he gets home.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Signs that you've definitely entered your 'Carlsberg years'

I've come to three realizations in the last few days that as a 31-year-old working parent, I have truly entered the so-called Carlsberg years. These realizations are above and beyond the fact that I realize you have to be a certain age in the first place to even understand the reference to Carlsberg years.

These three realizations are:
1) It's a feat to be able to stay up until 10 p.m. on a weeknight.
2) It's a monumental feat to be able to stay up until 10 p.m. on a Friday night.
3) I'm actually excited -- yes excited -- by the fact that I just bought new carpets for the basement. Brand new, about-to-be-installed-for-me, durable and stainmaster-treated carpets for the basement.

If you've ever seen my basement, you know how badly I needed new carpets. And it had nothing to do with the pink, circa-1982 style we had going on. Although that was one incentive for getting rid of it; the stains and the odour were bigger ones.

So, yes, once upon a time, dropping a few grand on a trip was exciting to me -- now it's dropping a few grand on a new carpet.

What can I say, I'm getting old. And, on that note, it's 9:20 on a Monday night, and I'm having trouble keeping my eyes open.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Now playing

A few months ago, as I'm so musically-challenged these days, I asked for some advice on what to put on my ipod.

So here's what's now playing:

  • Tegan and Sara (The Con, If it was You and So Jealous). I'm loving these guys right now, and wish I had found them years ago.

  • The National (Alligator). Not a bad group and definitely growing on me.
  • Maria Taylor (Lynn Teeter Flowers). Another great recommendations.

  • Liz Phair (Liz Phair). Here's a singer that I already liked, but forgot I had. Thanks to my snooping through my sister's CD collection, I've refound her.

  • Modest Mouse (The Moon and Antartica). This is Modest Mouse before their big hit days. They're not bad, but I'm not 100 % sold on it.

  • Arcade Fire (Funeral). Yes, I'm musically-challenged, someone actually had to tell me that Neon Bible wasn't their first album!

  • My Chemical Romance (The Black Parade). So far, I really only like their one radio hit, another few tries and if it still doesn't grab me, I may have to delete this album.
  • Regina Spektor (Live at Bull Moose). Another find from snooping through my sister's CD collection. I know my sister is a huge fan, so I'm giving her a try. But other than listening to the first song while ripping the CD, I'll admit, I haven't really listened to her yet.

Mix those albums in with the albums I did like on my ipod (David Grey, Jack Johnson, Blue Rodeo, Sarah McLachlan, Spirit of the West, The Killers, a heck of a lot of U2, etc.) and almost a year after getting my ipod, I feel like it's finally at a place where I can put it on shuffle and I'll enjoy what I hear -- instead of having it take me back to my Joker or Phoenix days.

So thanks. In another few years, I'm sure I'll be complaining that I'm still listening to the above list day in and day out -- and once again, I'll be asking for music advice.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

It was like Christmas...for ourselves!

Two weeks ago we headed off to Buffalo for a little cross-border shopping. We felt like we couldn’t lose by taking our day at the mall two hours from home.

And we were right. Well, except for the amount of money we 'lost' in the spending spree.

We made the trip a two-day event, with the first day spent at the outlet mall in Niagara Falls, NY and the second day spent at Target and the Walden Galleria in Buffalo. We left our house right after rush hour, dropped Austin off at my parents’ house for a sleepover and headed south to shop.

It’s such a simple concept – but since our dollar hasn’t been stronger than the American dollar for 30 years (which is longer than I can remember); the idea that the price you see is the price you pay is almost a difficult concept to wrap your head around. I’ve been to the U.S. many, many times over the years and I’ve always had to do the quick math in my head when deciding whether something was worth the price on the ticket.

Now suddenly, we were at an outlet mall, where not only the prices were good to begin with, the fall sales were on.

Needless to say, we made off like bandits.

I managed to snag a pair of Gap maternity jeans for $30 and a really nice sweater, and Ryan bought three or four pair of pants that Eddie Bower was practically giving away. And shoes! We went to this Sketchers store, where we got three pairs of shoes – one being a pair of boots – for $100. Even Austin made off with four pairs of Baby Gap pyjamas that retail for $25 each. We paid the whopping price of $9 a pair.

The next morning (after a nice evening of a dinner for two and a movie – things we never get to do anymore) we decided to hit Target where we found the biggest deal of the day in the baby aisle – a Bumbo baby chair (because the one we had when Austin was a baby was a loaner) for $40. In Canada, that same chair is still priced $60.

By the time we hit the Walden Galleria, we were almost shopped out. But I really wanted to visit a few stores that weren’t at the outlet mall – mainly Victoria’s Secret. Without sales and outlet prices, the mall wasn’t such a steal, but it was nice buying a $45 bra that was actually $45 and not $60 or more in Canadian dollars.

Finally, at the Clinique counter at Macy’s. I wanted to check out the price of foundation – which I pay $24.50 a bottle for at The Bay.

I asked the very friendly woman, who responded $19.50. I responded, “I’ll take two.” As she was ringing up my purchase, she smiled and said “you must be from Canada because all the Canadians are asking the price and then buying two!”

Monday, November 05, 2007

Not so skeptical anymore

The week off has come and gone by a week, but it’s still worth a few words.

For the first time since I started working full time, I took a holiday with no plans to go anywhere. And I’ll admit; I was skeptical. I was afraid that by not leaving the city, I wouldn’t be able to turn my brain off from work. In other words, I may not have to go into work every day, but I’d still think about what had to be done when I got back.

Previous holidays have always involved going somewhere – either far away (like Europe) or closer to home (like camping or a cottage) – or going through the mandatory rounds of Christmas visiting (a whirlwind trip to Montreal, followed by a drive back to Toronto and then a whirlwind trip to London). There’s nothing less vacation-like than coming back to work exhausted after spending a week visiting as many family members as possible.

And the only other time I’ve taken time off to not go anywhere was when we moved from the apartment to the house. But that was more out of necessity. There were rooms to paint and boxes to unpack and furniture to rearrange. And I think, even then, I only took a day or two off.

So, as the Monday of this vacation started, I dropped Austin off at the sitter’s house, as usual.

That meant we had about 9 hours a day to get stuff done. Ryan immediately started tearing down walls in our front hall (and for the record, is still working on getting the finishing touches back up) and I started on yard work I wanted to get done before it got too cold. My front yard is now ready for winter and my backyard is well, raked and swept at least. There wasn’t much to do to it really, since we never finished redoing it in the first place (that’s next spring’s project).

I also got my car fixed (I needed a new muffler), and spent the better part of a day cleaning out our basement. In the coming months, our basement is going to become a much-more used living space, and since it hasn’t been used that way since we moved in three years ago, a lot of areas in the basement have been a place to put everything that we don’t know what to do with. So now, I have boxes of stuff that would be better stored in the garage (i.e. baby clothes); two huge green bags full of garbage and a large pile to go to Goodwill. (This is after, may I add, I took a carload of stuff to Goodwill in early October.)

All in all, it felt really good to accomplish all that in such a short time, without having Austin pulling at my legs, getting into things he shouldn’t, or me squeezing in what needs to be done in the two hours he’s sleeping every afternoon.

Despite all my skepticism before the week began, I think I could persuaded to take a holiday like this every year. It was an awesome way to get things done around the house in a stress-free way. Life’s busy these days – raising a kid and being gone from the house Monday to Friday from 8 to 6, (6 to almost 6 for Ryan) and often the last thing I want to do after we all get home, make dinner, clean up from dinner, play with Austin for awhile and maybe throw a load of laundry on, is think about tackling a project like clearing out the basement.

Of course, I have to add, my 80-year-old retired neighbour who, cuts his lawn twice a week in the summer, shovels his driveway at the first sign of a snowflake in the winter and is rushing out the door five minutes after the garbage truck goes by to move his bins into the garage, thinks otherwise. On the Monday afternoon, as I was raking dirt into the front lawn to fill some of the potholes, he came over to say hello and ask how come I didn’t have to work that day. I said I was on holiday and was taking the time off to get things done around the house.

His response? “When I was your age I could go to work all day and get everything done around here as well. You go out too much.”

I smiled and nodded, but here’s what I really wanted to do: stick my tongue out and say “PLLLAAAAATTTTT”.