Tuesday, December 30, 2008

What city am I in again?

It's been a whirlwind kind of week.

On Wednesday, December 24, we woke the kids up before 7, packed them into the already packed to the gills car (which we packed the night before) and drove out to Brampton to spend a couple of hours with my parents while Ryan worked a half day.

With him being in Mississauga, it made sense for me to drop him off and kill some time in Brampton, because when his half day was done, we drove on to London for Christmas Eve night, Christmas Day and Boxing Day. But just to make it complicated, we spent the three nights in London in two different houses. And to make it even more complicated we spent the first night at house A, the second night at house B and the third night back at house A. Because, you know, nothing can be that simple.

At 6 a.m. on Dec. 27, Ryan and I hit the road without the kids and drove to Buffalo (through the thickest pea soup fog I've ever seen in my life) where we hopped a plane to Raleigh, North Carolina by way of Baltimore.

Once in Raleigh, we parked ourselves in the same hotel room for two nights in a row so that we could attend my cousin's wedding and spend time with my family down there.

And then we reversed the whole trip on the morning of Dec. 29. First, we hopped a plane back to Buffalo -- again by the way of Baltimore -- then proceeded to drive back to London, pack up all our stuff and the kids and then drive back to Toronto, arriving home some 12 hours after we left Raleigh.

Therefore, in six days, I've slept in three beds, packed some or all of our bags six times and was in five cities (if you count being in the airport in Baltimore as being in a city). Phew. This is one vacation I definitely need a vacation from. That is as soon as I finish unpacking.

Friday, December 19, 2008

A winter run...what am I crazy?

The other night, after dinner, Ryan suggested I go for a run. I'd had a long day with the kids and needed a break from them. But it was cold out and I've always said I didn't like running in the winter so I just moped around the house instead, wishing I'd gotten around to getting a gym membership.

But the idea of 'going for a run' stuck with me and last night, after dinner, Ryan suggested it again. I flipped on the TV and saw that it was -5C out. Cold, I thought. But I spent many winters skiing every weekend, and I've skiied in a lot colder weather. So, how hard could it be to run in the cold?

Before I could change my mind, I was digging out my long johns from a box in the basement along with my other ski stuff that hasn't been used since before the kids were born. (In fact, the ski tag attached to my jacket was dated Feb. 2005.)

Once I was suited up, out the door and running along the street, I quickly realized that running in the cold probably wouldn't be that bad -- as long as the sidewalks were clear. And, for the most part, they were. And I had my best run to date -- 3.5 kilometres (I Google mapped the route I took when I got home to find out how far I'd gone).

So maybe running in the cold isn't all that bad. Or, maybe I'm just a little crazy for doing so.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

O Christmas tree

Next to listening to Christmas music all month long, putting up the tree is my favourite part of the holiday traditions.

I love Christmas trees. I prefer real ones, despite the fact that I'm sweeping up pine needles until Easter; although fake ones are just as nice. Because it's the Christmas ornaments that I really love.
I don't do the Martha Stewart tree. Instead, I have a very ecclectic collection of ornaments -- making for a very ecclectic looking tree.

My ornaments hold special memories, remind me of certain times or tell a story.

The story ornaments are the ones I bought (or we bought) while on vacation somewhere. I have a ball from the Rockafeller Centre in New York, a lighthouse from Nova Scotia a scottie dog from Scotland and a skiing moose from Tremblant. Each one reminds me of that trip. But, my all-time favourite Christmas ornament, is my santa dressed as a turtle from the Cayman Islands.

The ones that remind me of certain times are, for the most part, the ones with dates on them. There's the one Ryan bought me for our first Christmas after we got married, there's one for our first year in the house and one for each of the kids' first Christmases. There's also a snowflake with my name on it dated 1979. It had been a gift to me that year, and I took it from my parents tree when I moved out.

That leads me to the ornaments that hold special memories. Every year, for as long as I can remember, my grandmother put up a white Christmas tree covered in only tartan ornaments. About five years ago, she decided the tree was looking a little tired and old and that it was too much work for her to put it up on her own. So, that year, she brought out her box of ornaments and my sisters, my cousins and I were all told to take whichever ones we wanted.

So on my tree, are a handful of tartan ornaments. Some of them look like they came from a dollar store, but that's not the point. The point is they came from my grandmother's tree.

Put the tartan ornaments with the Hallmark-type ornaments, the turtle Santa-type ornaments and the Ikea balls and other dollar store ornaments I've bought to fill it out and you have one ecclectic looking tree.

Especially since this year, Austin helped with the decorating. Being only three feet tall, there's now a patch of tree in front that is, um, very well decorated.

And I wouldn't have it any other way.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The 2 a.m. power struggle

Alexandra hasn't been sleeping well for a little over a week. First it was her first tooth cutting through. Then it was a cold and a nasty cough that would shake her awake and now it's the second tooth cutting through.

I list all these things as reasons for poor sleeping because it's what I think is wrong with her. But how the hell do I really know.

So when she cries out at 2 a.m. -- as she did last night and the night before -- I go to her and try to calm her. For lack of a better idea, I gave her Tylenol and Oral gel to ease the so-called tooth pain she may or may not be feeling and put her back to bed. But both nights, she'd have nothing of this "going back to bed thing".

So she screamed and screamed and screamed. She screamed because she figured once she was awake, I might as well feed her.

But I don't want to. I know she's able to go 8 to 10 hours without eating at night. She's done it a lot in the last month. So I hold out. And 2 a.m. turns into 2:30 a.m. Which then turns into 3 a.m. And she's still screaming. Every now and then she whimpers off and I lie there thinking "ok good, she's calming down and going to sleep" but then after a few minutes she starts up again.

On Tuesday night, this went on for two hours. Two hours! And finally at 4 a.m., she won, I got up and fed her. Afterall, it had now been 8 hours since she had last eaten. As soon as she was done, she was out like a light.

Last night, this routine repeated, but I gave in after an hour. Having first tried giving her a bottle of water to see if she'd take the hint. It failed miserably.

Alexandra seems to have a one-track mind when she wakes in the night. And so we're locked in this power struggle. Her screaming herself hoarse from her room and Ryan and I lying awake in our room wishing we had earplugs and watching how close to morning the clock is getting.

I know the only way she'll learn to stop wanting to be fed is to not feed her when she demands it, but that's the million dollar statement -- if we want to get any sleep after 2 a.m. these days, she wins the power struggle every time.

Let's just hope that once this second tooth comes in and this cough goes away she'll go back to sleeping through the night.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The plus side to a tanking economy

In September, when the price of gas was still through the roof, it cost me $89 to fill my SUV and $50 to fill my little Honda Civic.

This week, it cost me half that to fill my cars -- $45 to fill the SUV yesterday and $29 to fill the Civic on the weekend. I'll certainly take those prices any day.

We fill the SUV twice a month and the Civic once a week so there's a huge savings at the pump right now.

Of course, with the value of our currency compared to the U.S. dollar, that savings will be completely negated when we fly down to the States later this month for a few days.

Oh well, you can't have it all.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Running just as far as I can

Running was never my thing. I'm sure as a kid I could run -- all kids can. But once I reached a certain age, probably a pre-teen, I couldn't do it anymore.

Until I was 13 I played soccer every summer. But in my last year or two it became harder and harder to do because running was too much work. And then, when I was 16, I was diagnosed with asthma and it became very clear why running usually resulted in wheezing and light-headedness.

So, I switched my physical activity to swimming. And over the years I became very good at it -- in fact by the time I was 18 I was both a lifeguard and an instructor. But without fail, whenever the morning warmup for lifeguard staff was to run to the front gates and back (I worked at a waterpark) I'd end up bringing up the rear, wheezing away.

But about five or six years ago, I decided I wanted to be able to run. It was the one thing I couldn't do, so I wanted to do. I had lofty ideas of running a marathon...until the first time I tried running and had to stop to lean against a tree after a block and a half.

But I ran on. At one point, before I had kids, I could run five kilometres on a treadmill and a little less outside.

Then I got pregnant with Austin. Then I had Austin. Then I was too busy being a mom to find the time to go running more than occasionally. Then I went back to work. Then I got pregnant with Alex. Then I had Alex.

By this point, three years had gone by and I probably didn't need more than both hands to count the number of times I'd been out running.

But about eight weeks after Alex was born, I decided that I wanted to resurrect that old idea of running a marathon -- but I'm a little more realistic about it now. So I'll say it here, in writing, that one day in 2009, I will run a 10 km race. I've been thinking about it for awhile now, and maybe by writing it down, I'll be even more motivated to do so.

I still don't get out on the pavement often -- especially now that it's winter -- but the last time I got out a few weeks ago, I managed close to 3.5 km before stopping. Not bad considering it had been a month since my last run and three months since the one before that.

It helps that, with two kids, I stay quite active. So I'm not completely out of shape. So maybe with a little bit of motivation and determination at a gym this winter, followed by a concerted effort to get outside with the first signs of spring, I'll do it.

And then I'll no longer be able to say that I can't run.

Monday, November 17, 2008

And the verdict on the driving trip is...

...I have the best kids in the world.

That's right. I do. It turns out Alex is pretty content in the car and Austin doesn't mind it either -- as long as there's something to do.

As planned, I left at 1 p.m. on Thursday afternoon, picked Austin up at the sitter's and was on the highway 10 minutes later. The first hour was pretty uneventful. Austin was being chatty and Alex just stared out the window.

Magically, they both fell asleep for the second hour and I got a little lead-footed in hopes of gaining a couple of extra kilometres while they slept.

Austin woke up first and then just before we hit Gananoque (past Kingston), Alex woke up and I decided this was a good as time as any to take a break. Alex was going to need a bottle, Austin was going to need to run off a little energy and I really, really needed to pee.

I found a McDonalds and all three of us did what we needed to do. And nearly an hour later, we all got back into the car. That's right, I said an hour. Roadside stops with two kids sure aren't the same as when Ryan and I could jump out of the car, hit the bathroom, grab coffees or food and be back on the road 13 minutes later.

It was at this point that I turned on my GPS to figure out the directions to my sister's house and discovered that I only had 150 kilometres to go!

The next little while was passed by listening to a mix CD that I had made for the kids. That killed about 45 minutes as we held sing-a-longs to the likes of baa-baa black sheep and Old McDonald. Just like pit stops, the driving mix CD has come a long way from my pre-kids road trips.

I arrived at the 416 to turn up towards Ottawa just as it was starting to get dark and that's around when the kids got fussy. I kept leaning back to give Alex her soother -- which kept her happy -- but with about 60 kilometres to go, Austin declared he wanted to get out and walk. Trying to supress a laugh, I pulled over, hooked up the ipod and handed him an episode of Wonder Pets to watch. He has never before watched TV in the car and the novelty of it did the trick -- he was quiet until we got there.

Exactly 4 hours and 53 minutes after we got on the highway, I pulled into my sister's driveway.

Unfortunately, coming home didn't exactly go as planned. I was going to leave Saturday night -- around bedtime -- and drive straight through until I got home while the kids slept in the back seat. But by 4 p.m. that afternoon, I decided that the weather forecast was looking grim and the thought of driving at night, in snow, while I was tired was enough to make me stay one extra night and hope for the best in the morning.

We left at 9:30 a.m. Alex promptly fell asleep for about half an hour and then was content to play with the toys I handed her but Austin was whiny and restless. Thankfully, a sing-a-long, followed by a steady stream of toys and one episode of Wonder Pets helped him get over it. We made it to the first rest stop past Kingston before pulling over (about 2 hours). We spent the next hour (yup, an hour) getting lunch, eating lunch, hitting the bathroom, changing poopy diapers and running around the playplace at McDonalds (while Alex drank her bottle after lunch).

And amazingly, when we got back in the car, they both fell asleep fairly quickly and for the next hour and a half, I got to listen to my music mix on the ipod. By the time Austin woke up, we were coming up on Whitby. Alex didn't wake up until we pulled into the driveway -- exactly 5 hours after we left my sister's place.

And although I was pretty tired when I got back -- and really needed a break from the kids (which was ok, because after three days of not seeing them, Ryan really wanted to be around them), I think I'd be brave enough to attempt a trip like this again one day.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

I don't know if I'm crazy, brave or stupid

In about an hour, I'm packing both kids into the car and driving to Ottawa to visit my sister and brother-in-law. And I'm doing it without Ryan.

So that means I have to pay attention to driving and keep the kids happy as well.

I'm leaving at about 1 p.m., in hopes that they'll both nap for part of the time. Although Alex through me for a loop this morning and is currently taking a second morning nap. So much for her going to sleep at 1ish. But Austin is at the sitter's right now, so I'm fairly confident that she's doing a good job of tiring him out for me. In a few minutes I'll wake Alex up so she can have some lunch and we can play for a bit before it's time to get in the car for the four to six hour drive.

For this trip, I'm throwing all my rules out the window. Austin will be allowed to snack on whatever he wants -- so yes, I've packed treats -- and I loaded some kids shows onto the ipod and hooked it up to crappy little speakers so that he can watch TV for part of the time. Ryan and I are both very anti-DVD players in the car, but for this trip, I've made the exception.

I'm just hoping that Alex stays content for most of the trip. She's harder to entertain while driving, because she doesn't watch TV, doesn't snack on anything except mum-mums (and those can get boring) and she's rear facing so it's hard to hand her things to play with.

She'll have her soother whenever she wants -- and I'm keeping extras up front with me for when she rips it off the string and tosses it on the floor where I can't reach. And, as I said, hopefully, she'll sleep for awhile.

And, hence the four to six hour time frame, we'll likely stop at a roadside McDonalds somewhere so Austin can run around and Alex can have a bottle.

So here's hoping. I'll let you know next week if this was a brave idea or a stupid one.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Things taste different now

You'd think by the time you passed the age of 30, your likes and dislikes when it comes to food would be pretty much set in stone. Either you like a certain food, or you don't. Tastes don't really change after 30 years, do they?

For me, apparently they have -- and I blame (or thank?) pregnancy for these changes.

When I was pregnant with Austin, I suddenly started liking bacon. I never liked bacon. Occasionally, I'd like the smell of bacon cooking but I didn't like the taste of it. Ryan hated and loved this. He hated it because he loves bacon and I wouldn't cook it -- in fact, we rarely kept it in the house. He loved it because of those rare occasions that a sniff of bacon would prompt me to order it when out for breakfast, only to stare at it and tell him to eat it.

I was about 16 weeks pregnant with Austin when this suddenly changed. We were out for breakfast on a Sunday morning following an out-of-town wedding when I decided to order bacon. Ryan, being ever-so-smart, ordered the breakfast sausage, figuring this way he get both. Our breakfasts arrived and I, much to Ryan's dismay, proceeded to eat every scrap of bacon on my plate.

Now, over three years later, I still eat bacon, like bacon and, in fact, have learned how to cook bacon.

Earlier this year, when I was pregnant with Alexandra, I was still eating bacon, but I still did not like any other pork products. Then came Easter.

I was about 35 weeks pregnant and, for Easter dinner, we decided to cook a ham. A real ham, not processed meat ham. And I say we, because we were at the store trying to decide what to get for dinner (because we were having Easter dinner company) when I said, "a ham would be really good tonight".

These were shocking words to Ryan (probably as shocking as the "how hard can it be to make a pumpkin pie words from a few weeks ago) because ham was like bacon to me. I didn't like it. Although, he had seen me eat it to be polite when his mother cooked it -- however, after a few years of taking a tiny piece of ham on my plate and lots of vegetables, I think she figured out that I wasn't a ham fan.

But there I was saying I wanted to cook a ham that night. And we did. And it was REALLY good!
And now, I'll eat ham -- even the processed meat ham.

On the flip side, when I was pregnant with Alexandra, I couldn't stand vinegrette salad dressings and now I'm not a big fan of them anymore. Too bad really, I used to love them.

I blame all of these changes of tastes on pregnancy hormones. I expected to want to eat weird or different things when I was pregnant; but I didn't expect to still be eating (or not eating) those same things post-pregnancy.

On that note, I'm cooking perogies for dinner tonight, with lots of bacon.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

It's official -- I CAN bake

After writing last week about my new-found enjoyment of baking and my strange urge to bake a pumpkin pie, a friend of mine e-mailed me her mom's pie recipe and instructions on how to cook fresh pumpkin.

So, as soon as Halloween was over -- and before I could change my mind or chicken out -- I carved up our spooky pumpkin, cooked it up and pureed the heck out of it. I now have enough pureed pumpkin in my freezer to bake about 5 pies (or other pumpkin treats).

But there was enough for 6 pies. That's right, I baked one for dinner on Saturday. Not only am I crazy enough to follow through with this strange urge, but I did so with the intention of serving it to my inlaws after dinner.

The whole time the pie was baking, Ryan kept joking to his mom that he doesn't know what has come over his wife lately -- me, the woman whose only adventures in baking for the 11 years he's known me has been to open a mix; or better yet, to buy pre-baked goods at the store.

To be honest, I used a frozen pie crust. But to be completely honest, the recipe stated to use a "9-inch frozen pie crust", so really, I did it myself and followed the recipe to a T.

And it came out great. My mother-in-law said so and my husband said so. Although the insecure me knew that they could have been saying that to be polite. But when Austin told me it was good and asked for more, I knew it had to be good.

After all, a two-year-old doesn't know how to lie just to be polite.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

The arsenic hour

One day, when Austin was the baby and I was having a bad afternoon with him, my mother used an old-fashioned expression that made me laugh. The arsenic hour.

She explained that the arsenic hour usually falls in the late afternoon -- sometime between 4 and 7 p.m. and is almost always before dinner -- when the kid (or kids) are wired and/or hungry and/or over-stimulated and can be annoying as hell. In other words, a perfect cocktail to drive any mother crazy.

The expression, she said, was one her mother used to use, and the part that made me laugh was when my mom said she was never sure if the arsenic hour meant the kids were so crazy you wanted to feed them arsenic or you wanted to take it yourself.

As I've been learning these past few months, having one baby is easy compared to having a baby and a two-year-old. With one baby, no matter how fussy he was being, I could still manage to get things done and retain my sanity. (Or at least, that's how my memory recalls events of two years ago.) Some days, retaining my sanity with two kids is not that easy.

My arsenic hour comes around 6 p.m.

This is the time that I'm usually trying to get dinner started as Ryan tends to get home between 6:30 and 7 and we almost always eat around the table as a family.

Preparing dinner means always having a 'helper' as Austin is going through a stage right now where he has to be involved in everything. (And I mean EVERYTHING. I can't go to bathroom some days without him wanting to come in with me and flush the toilet for me.) So, whatever I'm making in the kitchen, he has to get up on his stool and start 'helping'. Sometimes he spins the lettuce for me; sometimes he puts the pre-chopped vegetables in the salad bowl for me; sometimes he helps me grate cheese; but most of the time he grabs a wooden spoon and pretends to use it like a knife.

This means banging it on the counter over and over again.

This is usually around the time that he starts talking louder -- because he needs to be heard over the sound of the banging -- and Alex, who is playing on the floor, decides it's time to be picked up.

Here's a typical image for you: Austin banging away on the counter with a wooden spoon yelling, and me chopping vegetables or cooking something on the stove holding a baby on my left hip.

Cooking like this sure brings multi-tasking to a whole new level. And I finally, truly understand, the arsenic hour expression.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Pumpkin pie anyone?

The strangest thing came out of my mouth the other day. Ryan and I were at the pumpkin patch with the kids when suddenly, I looked at the small pumpkins designated as 'cooking pumpkins' and said "it can't be that hard to make a pumpkin pie, can it?"

At this point, I think Ryan was left at a loss for words.

For those of you who know me, I don't like baking. In fact, my dislike of it was subject of a blog post about two years ago. I enjoy eating baked treats, but actually doing the work is not my thing. Attempts to bake anything that didn't come out of a mix box has almost always resulted in hockey puck brownies or burnt cookies.

Then a funny thing happened this summer. I had some overripe bananas and rather than throw them out like I usually do, I opened a cookbook, found a recipe for chocolate chip banana loaf and made it before I could talk myself out of what I was doing.

And it turned out good. So good in fact, that Ryan later suggested that I should make it again sometime. I wasn't sure which was more surprising -- the fact that I baked, or the fact that Ryan suggested I make it again sometime!

And about a month later, I did. This time with Austin's help. So, in the space of a month, I went from hating baking to undertaking the task of baking with a two-year-old. Surprisingly, we both had fun and I intend to do it again.

Then, a few weeks ago, we had dinner with some friends and I offered to bring dessert. To everyone who knows me -- that means I'll go to the grocery store and pick something up. But instead, the trip to the grocery store was to buy apples to make an apple crisp. I baked for someone other than my family on my own volition and without coercion. And it turned out pretty good, I think.

For the record, it was my mother's recipe and if my mother can make it, then it has to be easy. (Sorry mom, but you're not a baker either.)

I may have only made the same treat twice and a simple dessert, but the key here is I've done it, and I had fun doing so.

And apparently, I want to try making a pumpkin pie. Anyone have a good recipe?

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Multi-purpose toys

So that I would have a second one for the basement, a friend of mine loaned me her excersaucer for Alex. It's a simple one, with no toys attached to it. Instead, it just has a tray all around where I can put toys for her to play with. She seems to love it because she can easily spin around in the seat and throw all her toys off.

But it was while she was spinning in the seat, that the warning label on the back caught my eye.

The label reads:

  • Never leave child alone. (Ok, that one's pretty obvious although I do tend to do so from time to time. I mean, the excersaucer is the perfect place to plop her down when I need to go to the bathroom.)
  • Never use near stairs. (Again, pretty obvious.)
  • Never use in or near swimming pools or other bodies of water. (Near swimming pools make sense -- just like never use near stairs -- but IN swimming pools? What would possess someone to put this IN a pool?)
  • Never use as a flotation device. (Again, what would possess you to think this can float?)
  • Never use as a sled. (Huh?)
  • Do not fill saucer with water. (And why would you want to?)
  • Do not store outdoors in in sunlight. (Sure, whatever.)
  • Keep child away from ranges, radiators, space heaters, fireplaces. (Again, pretty obvious.)
So, here I thought I had this great toy to plop Alex in while I use the computer; use the bathroom; play with Austin or just watch her play. But apparently other parents might have assumed they also had something to keep their child safe in the water with, something to slide on in the snow with and something to even bathe in!

Good to know we've been warned against it.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Getting paid to throw things out

With the renovation of our backyard completed earlier this summer, there was one major thing left to do -- removing the old patio stones.

Since the May long weekend, these two foot by two foot stones have been leaning against the side of my house collecting dirt, becoming a home for bug colonies and generally taking up space. But forgetfulness, laziness and a little bit of miscommunication made the stay all summer long.

You see, I thought Ryan said he was going to dump them. And he thought I was going to put them on Craigslist because I once made a quick comment to that regard. Whichever we were going to do, neither of us did anything, and they sat there.

Until last week when I got tired of them and posted them on Craigslist. I didn't have much hope of selling them -- it is afterall almost October -- but I figured what the heck. The worst that could happen is that no one showed interest and the stones continue to sit there all fall and winter.

In my posting, I did not quote a price. Instead, I told interested buyers to 'make an offer'. The only catch was, whoever wanted them, had to come pick them up.

And, within three hours I had five offers and by the next morning I had 10 more! After quickly mulling through them, I e-mailed back the guy who offered me $60 for all 40 stones. And the morning after that, he pulled up into my driveway and hauled them all away.

In other words, I had these heavy stones removed from the side of my house and I was given $60 for this effort. Whereas, to throw them out, Ryan was going to have to haul them to the dump himself and then pay the City for the right to dump them.

Let me tell you...I'm now looking around my house for any other so-called garbage I can have someone pick up and pay me for.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Losing weight on the 'I have two young kids' diet

My mother once told me that the thinest she ever was in her adult life was in the months following the birth of my sister. My sister is 29 months younger than me, so in those sleep-deprived months of caring for an infant, she was also chasing after the two and a half year old me.

I now understand the secret to her success.

Since Alex was born, I've shed all my pregnancy weight plus six extra pounds (which is nice because I was holding on to some weight from my first pregnacy). And, I can pretty much say that I've done it without trying.

I eat when I'm hungry and I eat whatever we have (although I should note that we don't tend to stock much junk food or desserts in our house). Although eating well has something to do it -- I'm pretty sure I'm burning more calories per day than I consume. In other words, I'm getting enough exercise.

Without working out.

At least three days a week, I push two kids in a stroller. That's about 50 pounds worth of kids. Some days are short walks to the park or to the store, but other days are long adventures -- such as a trip to the zoo. Pushing 50 pounds of kids is a good workout on a flat road and a REALLY good workout when you have to go uphill.

But it's not just when I'm out that I'm getting exercise because when I'm at home, I rarely have time to sit down during the day. Because when I'm playing with Austin we're pushing cars around the basement, dancing to one of his CDs or playing chase around the living room. Sometimes I even end up doing these things while carrying a fussy Alex around.

Regardless of what I'm doing at home during the day, it's certainly not like my first maternity leave where I could sit on the floor with Austin and watch him play with a toy.

So now that I've managed to lose this much weight without trying, I'm going to actually put a little effort into and see if I can lose nine or 10 more pounds. Because I'll admit, in the last few years I've been holding on to a few more pounds than I'd like. I'm not going to join a gym or start dieting -- but I figure if I just pay attention to the little things I've been doing these last few months, the pounds will continue to slowly drop away.

It's a shame this weight loss strategy can't work for the stretch marks my pregnancies left behind.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

As (bad) luck would have it

On Monday morning, as I got in my SUV to take the kids to the zoo, I remembered that the gas light had been on all weekend. So my first stop was the nearest gas station where I paid $1.34 a litre -- or a total of $89 to fill my tank.

On Tuesday, the price of gas went down to $1.26.

On Wednesday evening, I took the Civic out to meet my sister for a drink. As I was driving home, the gas light made an appearance so, I decided to fill the car up, rather than leaving Ryan with an empty tank to drive to Mississauga in the morning. I paid $1.26 a litre for a total of almost $50.

This morning, as I drove Austin to the sitter's, I passed a gas station. The price was $1.19.

This afternoon, I heard that gas prices will be another six cents or so lower on Friday. So fill up, goodness knows I don't have to -- I have two full tanks of gas.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

You'll do anything for your kids...

Do you know the commercial where a man is hopping like a bunny down a flight of stairs in what looks to be a public park? Then in the next shot a little girl comes into the picture, also hopping like a bunny -- while the voiceover says 'you'd do anything for your kids'.

That's how I feel everytime Austin asks me to put the Chicken Dance song and then insists that I dance with him.

Last month, at Ryan's mom's wedding, my sister-in-laws taught Austin how to do the chicken dance. It was cute, I'll admit it. But the chicken dance is one of those annoying wedding songs that many people -- myself included -- try to avoid. YMCA is ok in my books -- as is Time Warp -- but the Chicken Dance is a must-avoid on the dance floor.

But watching Austin dance to it was harmless fun. Until we got home and he discovered that his Dance, Baby Dance CD had the Chicken Dance song on it. So, the Chicken Dance is now his favourite song to listen to -- replacing Raffi's Baby Beluga and Joshua Giraffe. And that means, at least twice day he asks me to put the song on.

And at least twice a day, I get to pretend I'm two years old again and dance with him around his room.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Now I have 'a guy'

I always wondered how you found 'a guy'.

You know, 'the guy' so-and-so goes to whenever something is wrong with their car. This 'guy' will do anything from oil changes to new tires to fixing that noisy rattle your car makes every time you hit the brakes. This 'guy' works at a little neighbourhood car shop in a place that's like a hole-in-the-wall restaurant -- a place you wouldn't go to unless someone tells you to. Some people have 'a guy' and other people, like me, simply take the car back to the dealer time after time because they don't know where else to go.

For years I took my now-almost nine year old Civic back to the Honda dealer everytime it needed service. And I've always been very diligent about sticking to the service schedule -- especially when the car was still under warranty.

But the warranty has long since run out and the car is creeping into middle age -- that magical car age when, if a car has been well-maintained in the early years it's now needing regular wear-and-tear replacements.

I spent years not having a clue what a Honda service representative was saying when insisting that the whatchamacallit part was in desperate need of replacement all the while I waited in a fancy showroom and my car was nowhere to be seen. I never knew if the so-called service representative was telling me the truth or trying to make a sale.

So, last fall, when I needed a new muffler, I took it to a Midas shop.

It was obvious that I needed a new muffler, because my car sounded like one of those souped-up Civics, and even a service representative couldn't have pulled a fast-0ne on me on this one.

But the guy at Midas almost went out of his way to explain the problem and give me the lay of the land -- walking me around and under my car when it was up on the hoist. Then he claimed to knock 25 per cent off the posted price of the new parts I needed.

Whether he knocked the price down or not wasn't the issue, I liked not being treated like an idiot and not being told I had to fix problems on my car that I couldn't see and didn't know existed.

So, the next time I needed a oil change, I went back to Midas. And then I needed a new timing belt. And then I needed a new driver's side mirror. Each time, no one talked down to me and, to tell it like it is, no one treated me like a girl in a car shop.

Then last month, I get a call from a guy at a shop in Scarborough. The owner of the Midas shop I had gone to sold the business and had set up his own private business. So, last week I took the car there for an oil change and maintenance checkup.

He remembered me from the Midas shop, fixed my car up in a hurry -- even taking the time to show me small areas of concern but telling me I could hold off several more months before repairs were needed -- and sent me on my way with a discount from the prices posted over his register.

I guarantee that when those repairs are needed he'll be the 'guy' that'll make them. So, after nine years and 185,000 kilometres, my car has finally found its 'guy'.

Friday, September 05, 2008

It wasn't as bad as we thought it would be

It turns out the leak in the bathroom was from the shower behind the wall.

But thankfully it was right on the inside of the knob. This means the plumber was able to remove the knob and face plate, tinker around in there and put everything back where it was. Although, we did need a new part or two -- which, of course, didn't come free. But think of all the money we saved by not having to put in a new wall!

So, the walls are intact and there's no drip-drip-drip anymore. Hopefully everything will remain that way.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

The joys of home ownership

Last night, after the kids were finally in bed, I went down to the furnace room to clean the cat litter for garbage night. And from the other side of the room, I heard a not-so-subtle drip, drip, drip -- a noise you shouldn't be hearing in a room without a sink.

Sure enough, water was dripping from the ceiling. I called Ryan to investigate and after some poking around he figured out where it was coming from, and the news isn't good.

Directly above our furnace room is our bathroom. And the part of our bathroom that's dripping appears to be from behind the shower wall.

I promptly called a plumber.

And by this time tomorrow some guy will likely be hammering a hole through my bathroom tiles to get to the pipes. At least I've always wanted a new bathroom in the house. And by default, I may soon get one.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Missing in action

I've managed to neglect writing all summer long, not because I wanted to kill off this blog -- in fact I don't want to kill off this blog -- but mainly because I haven't had anything interesting to write about. In doing so, I've probably lost the last few readers I had, but regardless, I intend to start this thing back up next month and give it a new life.

Maybe a new name and a new design too.

So stay tuned, I'll be back with more stories from my world.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

What are the chances?

This weekend is the annual Canada Day Camping Weekend at Arrowhead Provincial Park. Yup, that's right, last year I thought we were crazy for camping with an 18-month-old. This year, I think we're completely nuts for camping with a two-year-old AND a two-month-old.

Yet, as nuts as I think we are, I'm really looking forward to this four-day trip. I've started making packing lists for the kids already, in an effort to be better prepared for whatever the weather may bring.

And it looks like, two years in a row, the weather gods may be against us. Here's hoping that the Weather Network doesn't know what it's talking about for Saturday and Sunday.

Although, if you look at last year's weather map, it showed sun with only a 20 per cent chance of rain -- and well, it was cloudy and rainy all weekend. So maybe the fact that the weatherman says it'll rain will work in our favour this time.

If nothing else, at least the nights are expected to be warmer.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Backyard project: Before and after pictures

I just wanted to show off our fabulous new backyard:


This was the back corner of the backyard. Note the overgrown cedar hedges.
This was the corner by the house. Note the overgrown weeds that are taking over.
This is the backyard now. The two corners above are now filled with nothing but grass.


This was an overgrown perrenial garden being swallowed by the cedar hedges and the neighbour's tree.

The patio is in the that spot.

All that's left to do is put a garden in -- and it's pretty obvious where it's going to go. One thing's for sure, if the previous house owners ever stopped by our house, they wouldn't recognize the backyard!

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Getting around town with a stroller

Until I started pushing a stroller from A to B, I never really stopped to think how inaccessible some so-called accessible places are.

On Wednesday, Alex and I met a friend at the Yonge-Eglinton Centre to see Sex and the City at the SilverCity. I drove down and parked at a Green P on Holly Street -- one block east of Yonge at Eglinton. The first spot I found was on the third level and after I got the two of us all set up, I discovered that there were no elevators in this garage. My options were to carry the stroller down three flights of stairs or push it all the way around three levels of ramps.

So around and around we went.

Then I walked to the Yonge-Eglinton Centre and tried to go in the doors at the corner only to discover that immediately after entering the building you have to climb a half a dozen steps. So I turned around and went back out.

I walked up Yonge Street to the next entrance, which was at street level, and followed the signs pointing to the SilverCity. Suddenly, I was at the top of a down escalator that was too narrow to accomodate my stroller. The Yonge-Eglinton Centre is sort of an open-concept mall, with many levels and to get to the SilverCity, I had to take this escalator down walk across the lower level and then take another (too narrow) escalator up to the level above the one I was currently on.

A maintenance worker happened to be nearby, so I asked where I could find the elevator. He looked at me and said "oh no, to use the elevator, you have to go in the Dominion entrance on Eglinton".

Already late now, I had to go back outside, walk down Yonge Street and along Eglinton to the entrance by the Dominion; find the elevator and take it up to the second floor where I was finally at the SilverCity. Then of course, after I bought my ticket, I had to wait for the disabled elevator operator to bring me to the next floor because the escalators were, yet again, too narrow for strollers.

Thank goodness for commericials and previews or I would've missed the first 15 minutes of the movie thanks to this little adventure.

And to add insult to injury, when the movie was over and my friend waited with me to take the elevator back down to the Dominion doors, we got on the first elevator to arrive (there were two). But on the ground floor, this elevator let you off maybe 20 feet from the first elevator -- but in between the two elevators were five stairs.

I think the next time I try to go to the movies with Alex, I'm wearing the Snugli and leaving the stroller in the car.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Six weeks and it's back to the old routine

I had a crazy thought this morning. If I worked in the U.S. for a company that didn't provide additional maternity leave coverage, I would have had to go back to work last Monday -- on May 26, when Alex was 6 weeks and 3 days old.

I don't know how women manage to pull themselves together to do it. Because at the six week mark, I'm still not getting more than three consecutive hours of sleep at a time and I still feel like a 24-hour all you can eat buffet. To go back to work now would mean pumping in the bathroom every three hours (or giving up breastfeeding) and forcing my brain to actually work. Right now, the hardest thing I make my sleep-deprived brain do is to figure out what to make for dinner.

I'm not saying that I couldn't do it, because you do what you have to do. It's simple really -- you don't go back to work when the company says you have to then you could lose your job. And if you lose your job, you're not getting paid. And if you're not getting paid, it's pretty damn hard to support a family -- even with a spouse in a decent paying job.

But I sure am thankful that I live in Canada, where the government says women (or men) can take up to 52 weeks off, while receiving EI benefits for 50 of those weeks. Now the EI benefits aren't a heck of a lot of money, but they're better than a kick in the ass.

Some women I know, who had their kids in Canada before maternity leaves were a year long, don't understand why a year is necessary. What could you possibly do with a whole year off work, they ask. And why do you even need it?

The answer is, I don't need a year off. Recovering from birth and the early days of caring for a newborn can be accomplished in six weeks if necessary and can definitely be accomplished in three months. But year-long maternity leaves are not about recovering from the birth and the sleep-deprivation, they're about spending time with your new family and watching your child grow and develop.

Children learn so much in the first year of life, and it's incredible to be with them as they develop, mature and learn. Sure it can be frustrating at times, but watching your child smile for the first time -- or crawl or stand or discover a new toy -- makes the early round-the-clock eating, sleeping, pooping days worthwhile. And I'm so glad that I can be around to experience both the difficult times and the rewarding times rather than shipping my kid off to a sitter as soon as the rewarding period starts and have the sitter tell me at the end of the day that my daughter learned to rollover today.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Backyard project: Completed

It's been over a year since I first posted about our backyard project ( part II) and I'm happy to say that the bulk of the project is finally finished.

Ryan spent the last three weekends hard at work in the backyard -- first lifting the old patio stones and getting rid of the ant problem; then digging out the big pile of dirt in the corner and spreading it around (with Austin's help, I might add) and finally, this past weekend, tilling the whole yard, leveling it and laying sod. (Notice how I'm not even eluding to the fact that I helped during these last few weeks. My help consisted of taking the kids to the park or keeping the kids out of the way every weekend.)

So yes, almost four years after we moved in, and one year after we started the project, we now have a backyard that although is physically the same size; appears a lot larger. But more importantly it's useable and is a place I would actually hang out with family and friends and not just say 'oh yes, and there's a backyard out there...would you like to sit on the front deck?'.

A few minor things still need to be completed in the yard, most importantly the gate needs to be fixed so that it locks. What's the point in taking your two-year-old out back to play if he can easily escape to the street through a broken gate? And there is a small patch of dirt that has not been sodded that I intend to plant a garden in.

But really, the main thing that's left to do now is to water the hell out of the lawn to make sure the sod takes and build a sandbox!

I'll post before and after pictures as soon as I download the camera.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

You know you're a parent of young kids when...

Last Saturday morning, we had one of those 'you know you're the parents of two young children when' moments.

At 5 a.m., after a feeding, Alex didn't want to go back to sleep in her bed but was perfectly happy to sleep in someone's arms. So Ryan took her to the couch so that I could catch another couple of hours. But just before 6 a.m., Austin woke up because of a nightmare so I went into his room to comfort him. I ended up lying down with him for a few minutes, and fell back asleep (as did he).

So at 7 a.m., when Alex woke up and wanted to be fed again, Ryan found me in Austin's room instead of in our room.

The 'moment' in all this? You know you're parents of young children when you don't wake up next to each other, but wake up next to your children. And that's what happened -- Ryan fell asleep with Alex and I fell asleep with Austin.

That moment was followed by two other moments that morning that solidified the parents of young children status. The first was that the phone rang at 7:15 a.m. On the line was a friend of ours, who also has two young kids, letting us know that he was leaving shortly to take junk to the dump and would then be swinging by our house with his trailor to take our junk to the dump.

Why is this a moment? Because he didn't think twice about the fact that 7:15 a.m. was an unreasonable time to call on a Saturday morning. Parents of young children are up at that hour.

About an hour later, he was at our house, and him and Ryan became 'those people', using a power saw to cut down logs to fit in the trailor.

Now that we all have kids, how quickly we forgot how much we hated those people who were out making noise early in the morning!

So it's official, although I've been a parent for two years now, I think the status is now solidified. Pretty soon, I guess I'm going to find myself with more toys than personal stuff in my purse and knowing the words to every nursery rhyme ever written. And probably many more nights not lying in bed next to my husband.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Man (almost) delivers baby on side of 401

By now, many of you have heard this story -- or a shortened version of it. But I feel the need to write it anyway; partly so that I don't forget and partly because it feels a little like a scene out of a bad sitcom -- a scene that happened to someone else, not me.

When I was pregnant with Austin, I never actually "went" into labour. I was induced, so although I knew what labour felt like, I had no idea what it would feel like when I suddenly realized I was in labour. And because I started having false contractions around week 36 of my pregnancy, I often joked to Ryan that I wouldn't know when I really went into labour.

And in a way, that was the case.

At 1:30 a.m. on Thursday, April 10, I woke up with an incredible urge to go to the bathroom. Nothing new really, since I did that three to four times a night anyway. I got up, did what I had to do and went back to bed. About 15 minutes later, just as I was dozing off again, I had to go again. I got up, did what I had to do and went back to bed. About 15 minutes later, it happened again and that's when I realized that something was different and that there was this odd pain in my belly. I realized suddenly, in my half-awakeness, that I was in labour.

So, I got up and lay on the couch. I figured labour takes hours to progress -- afterall, it took eight hours with Austin and that was with an induction -- so there was no need to wake Ryan. I lay there for almost an hour; timing my contractions at 8 to 10 minutes apart and even dosing off between contractions. Then they started to get stronger and at 3 a.m., I woke Ryan up, told him I was in labour and that although the contractions were still far apart, I needed him to talk me through it. Maybe that should've been a sign, but again, having never 'gone into labour', we didn't know.

The next half hour is a bit of a blurb to me. It seems to me within minutes of waking Ryan up, the contractions started coming faster and harder -- but I stopped timing them at this point because I figured that was his job.

By 3:30 a.m. though, we realized I needed to go to the hospital. Ryan called our friends who were on emergency-middle-of-the-night-Austin-duty and they said they'd be right over. It took half an hour, but afterall, we did wake them up in the dead of the night and ask them to stumble to their car and drive to our house.

But in that half an hour, I continued to progress, until all of a sudden, I said to Ryan, "I feel like I really need to push". Keep in mind here, we're still at home, and I'm lying on the couch in my pjs in my living room. Ryan answered that statement with a clear and definite "no you don't". But as the minutes ticked on, he did ask me if he should call an ambulance.

Thankfully, our friends arrived a moment later, and just after 4 a.m., we drove to the hospital with me telling Ryan he'd better drive fast.

Believe it or not, when we got there, I didn't want to be dropped off at the front door, instead I wanted to go to the parking garage with Ryan (which for the record, is only steps from the front door -- especially at that hour when you can get a good spot).

At 4:20 a.m., we walked into the labour and delivery assessment room; having to stop twice on the way up because the contractions were too strong to walk through. When the nurse asked how she could help us, I responded "I'm in labour, my water broke on the way here and I feel like I really need to push."

She looked at me politely and said "is this your first?" I responded, "no, my second." Suddenly, she looked around the room (which was full); asked a woman to get out of one of the beds and told me to get in. Within seconds, she realized I knew what I was talking about as she took a quick check and said "oh, there's the head".

She walked out and came back a minute later with another nurse and the two of them wheeled me down the hall to a delivery room. The next few minutes are a bit of a blurb, but I do remember being wheeled into a room where a doctor and four nurses were quickly trying to set up and being told to wait just another minute before pushing.

The next thing I knew, a baby was put on my chest and someone told me it was a girl. A few minutes later, the assessment room nurse poked her head into the delivery room, looked at all of us and said "congratulations, seven minutes door to door".

That's right, Alexandra Margaret Evans was born at 4:27 a.m.!

As the whole labour process progressed, it never once occurred to me that I would deliver that quickly. Once it was all over and Alexandra was lying safely in my arms, it slowly occurred to both Ryan and me -- had the hospital been farther away, she could very likely have been born on the side of the road.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Lady of leisure

I'm officially done work now -- finished on Friday -- which makes me, until this baby decides to make an appearance, a lady of leisure.

I have odds an ends I have to do, like go to doctor's appointments, buy my double stroller and cooking, but in reality these few days are all about me. Both yesterday and today, I got up, took Austin to the sitter's and came back home to put my feet up (and do a few things that had to be done). Today, after a difficult morning of doing nothing much at all, I took a nap after lunch.

The last weeks of work were hectic beyond belief and instead of winding down and working easier days, I found myself working later hours than I had in months. All in the name of getting things finished.

And now that work is done, I have these few days to myself (and only the baby knows how many days that'll be) before life gets hectic once again. Hectic in a different kind of way mind you, but hectic all the same.

Maybe tomorrow I'll be more productive and do something contructive, like our taxes, but for now, I think I'll see what bad shows are on TV.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Caution: Warnings ahead

Credit where credit's due....thanks Rob for making a very pregnant and often cranky woman laugh her ass off.

Monday, March 24, 2008

I'm so done with this

A few weeks ago, at 34 weeks pregnant, I was meeting with a colleague in her office when we needed a document that was still sitting on my desk. I started to get up to get it when she said 'don't get up you're pregnant.' My response was, I'm not that pregnant'.

Having had two kids already, she laughed.

Less than a week later, I started to feel 'that pregnant'. Moving around started to get difficult, carrying Austin starting to get difficult, sleeping started to get difficult. Overall, I started slowing down.

But now, another two weeks later -- at 37 weeks pregnant -- I'm so done with this and I'm so tired of being pregnant. Sleeping is incomfortable at best. Sitting is uncomfortable. Standing still is uncomfortable. Walking is -- you guessed it -- uncomfortable. Oh yeah, and slow. It's a damn good incentive to remember to bring my lunch every day (and therefore save money) because walking the two blocks to the shops and the two blocks back to the office is a heck of a lot of work!

I'm ready for this baby to come, both physically and mentally. Even a week ago, I would've said, 'no, not yet' because the room's not ready or the baby stuff is still in boxes or I still have a lot to do at work. But now, the room is ready, Austin's moved in to his new room, the baby stuff is unpacked and put away and my hospital bags are even packed and ready to go. And the work I still have to finish at work -- well if it doesn't get done, it doesn't get done. So be it.

I just want to sleep comfortably even if it means only sleeping for two hours at time. And I just want to be able to walk up from my basement without losing my breath. I want to be able to do up my winter coat, since winter seems to be never-ending this year. And I want to own more than five shirts that fit. Becuase when your maternity shirts stop fitting, you know you're in trouble.

So here's hoping that it really is three weeks or less until the newest Evans joins us, and not five more weeks like big brother Austin tortured me with.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Well, at least I can see now

My whole family is blind as bats without their glasses. My sisters both got glasses when they were in school and my parents say they've both been wearing glasses since they were in elementary school.

But somehow, I ended up with the recessive gene and managed to bypass the obligatory 'guess what you need glasses'.

Well, until now. For months, I've been complaining that things are a little blurry -- especially when I'm tired. I first noticed it in the late fall when I was using our new digital SLR camera. I couldn't get it to focus -- even on autofocus. Ryan took the camera away from me, muttering under his breath that I broke it, only to discover that it focused fine. When I took the camera back, it was still out of focus.

A little light bulb went off over our heads at that moment.

But I let the months go by, partly because the blurriness wasn't bad enough for me to remember all the time, partly because I claimed I was too busy to get my eyes checked and, honestly, partly because I didn't want to hear the final answer. Call me a baby, but I'm 32 years old and I didn't want to start wearing glasses.

But on Friday, I finally went to an optometrist. And sure enough, I need glasses. I actually only need a very mild prescription, just something to 'sharpen things up' for me. And, I won't have to wear them all the time. Only when I need to see things at a distance -- for example sitting at the back of the class syndrome. Also when I'm driving at night and possibly watching a movie -- although with our new big screen TV, I don't really have any troubles seeing movies. Oh, and since I've really noticed the bluriness at Raptors games, I'll probably have to wear them there too. Basically, whenever I need to 'sharpen things up' as the doctor said, is when I'll have to wear them. So you're not likely to find me walking around the house with them or running out to the grocery store wearing glasses.

It's a weird concept for me, this idea of having to wear glasses. I'm going to have to remember to carry them in my purse wherever I go. But I'm also going to have to remember to put them on when I need them.

But first, I have to remember to actually go and pick them up from the store.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Next time, don't bother being responsible

A few months ago, we accidentally backed into another car in a parking lot. There was no damage to our car but damage to the other car. No one saw the accident. But we took the high road and took responsibility for the actions -- waiting for the other driver to return so we could own up to our actions.

The guy was apparently very nice about the whole thing and, although we paid him for the damages, he appeared to try his best to keep the costs down.

I tell this story, because we didn't have to do all that. We could've just driven away and that would've been that. But then it becomes one of those karma things -- what goes around comes around and all that.

Except today. Like many days, I had parallel parked in the driveway of our staff parking lot because by the time I got in in the morning, all the spaces were gone. (With all the snow this winter, we've lost 8 to 10 spots in the parking lot because there's no where to pile it. It's a pain because it's a small lot to begin with so even on days when I arrive at 8:45 a.m. (like I did today) there's still nowhere to park.) So I joined the queue of cars already parked in the driveway, pushing up against the fence as much as I could. The only other choice is street parking. But it's only one-hour parking and the ticket guys come around at least three times a day.

So at 7 p.m., when I went back to my car, I found my driver side mirror lying on the ground. No note, no nothing. I cursed under my breath and threw it in the backseat.

I'll report it on Monday when I'm back in the office, but it's unlikely to do any good. It could've been another staff member, it could've been a visitor, it could've been the courier truck. In other words, it could've been anyone -- anyone who chose not to take the high road and stick around.

So now, I'm out a few hundred dollars, at least, to fix my mirror. So much for karma.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

What to do with all this hair

When I was in high school, my hair was so long it went a quarter of the way down my back. I loved it that way – and hated the idea of cutting it. I think that may have been a direct result of the fact that my mother used to insist I cut my hair short when I was in elementary school – probably so that she wouldn’t have to ‘maintain’ it for me. But as I got older, I let it grow and grow – as can be witnessed in my school pictures. Each year, my hair was longer than the year before.

But that was more than 15 years ago and ever since then I’ve grown and cut my hair to various lengths. Some years, it’s been a short, chin-length bob, other years it’s shoulder length. Some years it’s layered, other years it’s not. Some years it’s even highlighted with blonde streaks, other years it’s not. But even the year I got married and I ‘grew my hair so I could have it put up’, it didn’t get much past my shoulders before it started driving me crazy.

But lately life has been busy and for many months, I neglected my hair. In fact, the last time I had it cut was August.

Around November I started thinking it was time for a haircut. But November quickly turned into December and you know how busy December can get.

By early January, my hair was really getting long. But surprisingly, it wasn’t driving me crazy and surprisingly people kept complimenting me on it. After awhile, I stopped responding by saying “it’s long out of shear laziness” and started just saying thanks.

Now it’s March – and honestly, my hair is as long as it was in my high school days – maybe longer. And because of this pregnancy and all the awesome hormones that rush through my body, it’s healthy and shiny and thick – things it never was when long before. And it just keeps getting longer because it grows so damn fast.

And to be honest, I kind of like it like this – even if it isn’t what’s ‘in style’ right now.

But I know, once the hormones slow down and the sleepless nights kick in, it’ll go limp and bland and the thickness will start to fall out.

So, I made a decision.

For the next month or so, I’m going to enjoy my long, shiny hair. I’ll wear it straight or curly, up or down. And then, sometime in May or June – just when it starts to drive me crazy – I’m going to cut it all off and donate it so it can be made into a wig for cancer patients. Hair only needs to be eight inches long to donate and I’m pretty sure my ponytail is longer than eight inches right now.

I’ll probably go with the Pantene campaign, only because it benefits the Canadian Cancer Society.

I figure by actually putting this in writing – I’m more likely to go through with it.

Besides, I heard on the radio the other day, that what is ‘in style’ right now is the bob, thanks to the likes of Katie Holmes.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Don't call us, we'll call you

I've been at home since Friday, thanks to the flu epidemic which has gripped my house. First I had it, then Austin came down with it and then it was Ryan's turn. And even though I'm feeling mostly better now, I'm still at home because Ryan's too sick to look after Austin who is too sick to go to the sitters.

So three business days at home. This post isn't to gripe about missing work, because that's life. It's to gripe about something that I forgot about even though I stayed at home for a whole year (and am about to do so again).


Telemarketing calls are annoying enough in the evening when you're trying to eat dinner or watch a show -- but they're even more annoying when it's two in the afternoon and you're trying to take a nap. Because that ringing phone, that annoying sell and the time it takes to give the quick 'I'm not interested' line means you're now awake.

Most of the time, it's that long distance ring that fools you. And if you don't get to it fast enough, there isn't even anyone on the other end -- because thanks to autodialers, someone else picked up first. Great, no polite 'piss off ' needed this time, but the interuption will likely come again the next time the autodialer picks your number.

Eventually, you end up with a live person at the other end trying to get you to sign up for more credit cards, add insurance to your bank account, offer their services when you're moving, ask you if you want to buy new windows and doors, guilt you into donating to some charity event that benefits kids or tell you you won a free vacation to Vegas from some contest you never entered and all you have to do to get it is sit through a umpteen-hour session from a condo seller.

Someone once told me that if I get call display, I'll at least know which phone calls I don't want to answer. But call display only shows me who is at the other end of the ringing phone -- it doesn't stop the damn phone from ringing when I'm trying to take a nap, take a bath, do some laundry, shush a baby to sleep or maybe just take two minutes to myself.

Do 'no call' lists actually exist in Canada? And do they work? Because if they do, I'm signing myself up -- and fast.

In the meantime, I'll just keep telling callers to piss off. Well, in the politest of ways of course!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Toilet humour

As a mom who recently bought a potty for her kid in hopes that getting him used to having it around means potty training could be around the corner; I saw this comic the other day and couldn't stop laughing. So, I just had to share.

This strip hit a little close to home, because when we first set the potty up, Austin watched in facination, and then proceeded to pick it up, carry it into the kitchen, sit down and ask for some food! In his mind, it was his own little chair.

Since then, we've managed to have the potty stay in the bathroom, but he's not overly interested in sitting on it. In time I guess -- I just hope I never find him wandering around the house with a potty on his head!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Ceasing to exist

Raise your hand if you’ve ever worked for a company that (appears to) suddenly go through a ‘restructuring process’? (I say appears to, because to us it’s often sudden news, but to the powers that be, it’s been in the works for months.)

I know in this day and age, a lot of us have gone through it. I think it’s one of the reasons that very few people in our generation stick around with the same company for a lifetime – or heck, in many cases for even a decade. I personally, have been through it twice and have been fortunate enough to have never lost my job over it. And now, I’m going through it again.

Three times, in two different companies, since I started full-time employment in 1999.

Yesterday morning at 10:30 a.m., the director of HR came around to everyone in my department and asked “are you free at 11, the CEO wants to speak with you”? Oh, oh, that’s never a good sign.

At 11, the 14 of us in Marketing and Communications were told, without tiptoeing around the issue, that the department will cease to exist. The marketing folks will join the revenue and development team and the communications folks will join a yet-to-be-formed department – with some members of another department that is being broken up – called public affairs. The transition will take approximately two months.

The job loss because of it? So far, just one that I know of – the VP of Marketing and Communications. I guess your job becomes redundant when there’s no department to VP over anymore. She was told a week ago, which now makes sense why she hasn't been around for a week.

Needless to say, the news has been a real mood-killer around here for the last day and a half and a real motivation-killer. It’s really hard to feel motivated to work on something when you don’t know whether or not that project is going to be deemed important enough to carry over.

What’s worse is we still don’t know all the details of this ‘restructuring’. It’s easy to say the marketing folks go here and the communications folks go there – but what are you supposed to think when you fit into both portfolios? I’m lucky in that respect, I’m 95% sure I’m headed to public affairs – which for me could turn out well, because doing outreach and working on prevention and advocacy tactics are the parts of my job that I enjoy the most. But others aren’t so lucky and are feeling in limbo.

But just because I think I know where I’m going doesn’t mean I know what I’ll be doing when I get there.

And rumour has it that the restructuring is a lot bigger than just the dismantling of our department.

The official all-staff announcement will be made Wednesday – so things will start to become clearer then, I hope.

The hardest part for me and the biggest work motivation-killer right now, is the two month time frame is exactly when I’m leaving for my maternity leave. So, it puts the whole plan of hiring and training a replacement for me in jeopardy. Oh yeah, and did I mention that if I do move to public affairs, I’ll be reporting to someone who is on maternity leave until the end of February and she’ll be reporting to someone who is on maternity leave until June? Welcome to working for a company that is 88% female.

All I know, is that with less than 10 weeks left until my maternity leave, I was ready to start winding things down, closing out projects and preparing to transition other ones. Now, I feel like I’m tinkering away at everything and nothing at the same time and wondering if it’ll be April 2009 before I really know what’s going on.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Life without Outlook is bleak

Today at work, our e-mail servers and everything associated with Microsoft Outlook is down. It ran off to warmer climates sometime around 8 a.m. and it’s not expected to return until at least Monday morning.

You’d think that a day without being able to get a single e-mail would be a day in heaven. No one to harass me, you’d think. Hours on end saved by not having to follow-up on this subject or that.

But the sad reality is you don’t realize how much of your work life revolves around that one little program – that without it, you’re not actually in a blissful place where you can do work without interruption. You’re actually in a weird limbo place where you think “ok, I’ll finish this up then” only to realize that the file you need is attached to the e-mail so-and-so sent last week. I think I’ve started and stopped three different projects today because they’ve all ended in the same results – “damn that file is in my inbox.”

And, I now have a post-it note stuck to my monitor reminding me of the important e-mails I’ll have to send first thing Monday morning.

But what’s almost worse than not having e-mail, is not having access to my calendar. For eight hours every day, that stupid little tool tells me where I have to go, who I have to meet and how long I have to meet them for. Without it, I have nowhere to go because nothing is reminding me to go anywhere. Again, this sounds great in theory, but when you suffer from some pretty serious baby brain these days, (as I do) you’re stuck in a void with no idea of what future days hold.

Case and point, my phone rang an hour ago with the question “how’s Friday for meeting up at my office?” My answer, “well probably as good as any…I hope.” Thankfully, the person asking also works here (just not in this office) and is suffering from the same ails I am.

Two more hours and the day is done – I’m sure I have some phone calls to make or files to work on somewhere. I just hope no one is expecting me to show up somewhere.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The toy that drives this mom mad

Every child has that one toy that drives their parents mental. Most children probably have more than one.

For Christmas, we bought Austin the Backyardigans Karaoke machine because every time he played at Lilo’s house, he practically sought it out and played the same song over and over again. We briefly debated on whether or not to buy it for fear that it would drive us mad – but figured what the heck – he likes it and that’s all that matters, right?

Surprisingly, it doesn’t bother me at all. He can press the button that says ‘Hi, I’m Austin, are you ready to go-go-go?’ 85 times in a row, and I can just tune it out. He’s happy listening to the music – even singing and dancing to it – so it doesn’t bother me one bit.

Then there’s the toy that Nana (Ryan's mom) gave him, that as he unwrapped, she looked at me and said “I’m sorry”. What was it? The Busy Bee drum set – a bunch of music instruments shaped like bugs.

Again, almost a month later, this is a toy that he loves and the more he bangs the more it doesn’t bother me.

So what’s the one toy that drives me mad? It’s the stupid little barking dog that my grandmother gave him. It’s not even a ‘real’ kids toy – it’s one of those Hallmark plush toys that run on batteries. Some of them sing, this one walks and barks. You put it on the floor, it walks three or four paces, stops and makes this annoying yipping sound.

And Austin loves it.

He gets excited every time he sees the dog. He cuddles it, he kisses it, and he knows how to turn it on. He’ll turn it on and leave it sitting on his lap. He’ll turn it on and watch it walk. But worst of all, he’ll turn it on and then walk away to play with something else but get mad if I walk over and turn it off.

I tried removing the batteries and telling him the dog was sleeping – he got upset. I tried hiding it – but he looked everywhere for it until he got upset and I caved and helped him find it.

So I guess I’m doomed to listen to the yip, yip, yip of this dog – at least until Austin finds the next great toy and I can make it disappear.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

When did everything become pink?

When did it suddenly become universally accepted that girls want to have everything in pink?

I’m not talking about the baby-girls-wear-pink and baby-boys-wear-blue concept because let’s face it, with so many bald newborns out there (and I can say that because my kid was one of those for many months), how else are you supposed to distinguish boy from girl other than by the colour of their clothes?

I’m talking about the assumption that older girls – toddler and older – must have everything in pink.

The other day, we were at the Raptors game and during halftime, I was checking out some of the merchandise, particularly the kids’ merchandise. And there, front and centre, were Raptors’ red jerseys, hats, baby track suits and bibs. And nearby, there were sickly sweet bubble gum pink Raptors’ jerseys and track suits.

This isn’t the first time I’ve noticed the pink jerseys, but it’s the first time that they actually bothered me. Because last time I checked, bubble gum pink wasn’t an official Raptors colours. There’s red, there’s white, there’s black, there used to be purple (and you can still get away with that retro colour) but there isn’t, and never has been, pink.

And while I’m on the subject, last time I checked, pink isn’t one of the Leafs’ official colours either – but there they are, bubble gum pink baby Ts with the Leafs logo on them.

This ‘girls must have pink’ trend is not only stuck in kids’ clothes (or women’s clothes – which some of the jerseys and T-shirts were). And that’s where I find it even sillier.

While doing Christmas shopping at Toys ‘R Us last month, I noticed an entire section of pink toys. Do you know the yellow Little People school bus (it’s the same bus you and I used to play with, just with more bells and whistles (read requires batteries))? Well it comes in yellow and it comes in bubble gum pink. Same goes with the Little People airplane – it comes in white and blue and it comes in bubble gum pink. Now, last time I checked there were no pink school buses on the road and very few passenger airplanes painted in bubble gum pink. Toy makers have even taken it one step further by offering the Magna Doodle in traditional royal blue and in pink; as well as the corn popper (you know that toy you pushed all around the living room to drive your parents’ crazy) in traditional blue or in bubble gum pink. There are probably others, but these are the four that come to mind.

Now I know I have a boy, so by default I’m not interested in buying ‘pink’ merchandise for him. But I honestly feel that even if I had a girl, I still wouldn’t be interested in buying pink merchandise. What does a child learn from owning a pink bus that they can’t learn from owning a yellow bus? The fine motor skills that they develop from the toy are the same, but, in my opinion, wouldn’t knowledge and understanding of the world be greater with the yellow bus – because that’s the colour of the bus a child sees on the road? I know Austin shouts with joy every time we drive by a school bus.

Girls and boys are already differentiated enough when it’s assumed that girls play with dolls and boys play with trucks – let’s not now make girls assume that they can only have the pink toys and the pink clothes.

Because I can tell you, whether my next child is a girl or a boy, only yellow school buses and Raptor red jerseys are coming into my house.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

The great purge

As much as moving can be a tedious chore, there’s a lot to be said for packing up and moving every few years. It means you never really get the chance to collect too much ‘stuff’.

We’ve only been in our house for three and a half years, but I’ll let you in on a little secret – I’m married to a pack rat.

Now I’m not saying that I’m a saint when it comes to the pack rat syndrome, because goodness knows I keep my fair share of ‘what the heck is this anyway’ and ‘when will I ever use this again’. But I’m a lot better at going through things and pairing down than my other half is. When my dresser drawer is too full to close, I’ll pull out all the shirts that have no business being worn anymore and toss them in a garbage bag. When my other half’s dresser drawer is too full to close, he just pushes harder to squeeze it all in. It’s no wonder he ends up with a drawer with about two dozen unworn T-shirts.

But regardless of that one example, we have a lot of ‘stuff’. Everything from old cell phones and empty boxes from electronics that we probably don’t even own anymore, to old childhood mementos that you can’t remember what you’re supposed to remember from them and unwanted gifts that you wouldn’t even dare re-gift.

So, with a new baby on the way and the need to make the most out of the space we have in our house, I started the purging process during the week off work in October.

At that time, I emptied our storage area under the stairs – which was so full you could barely walk in. (I mean does anyone really need five (yes five) picnic baskets/knapsacks when really, a big cooler or two is far more useful (and already taking up space in the same storage area?) Then I cleaned out the two closets in the basement.

When I was done, I combined the ‘unwanted stuff’ with the ‘unwanted stuff’ from the garage cleanup earlier in the year and together I had a full car of boxes and bags to go to Goodwill.

Just before Christmas, between cleaning out my side of the closet and some other odd and end places, we took another few boxes to Goodwill.

Last week, during the Christmas break, the great purge started to take on a whole new level. The office upstairs is going to become Austin’s room this spring, so that means that everything in it needs to find a new home. The desk and computer moved downstairs to the new family room and I started packing up the room.

In the end, I only have one box for Goodwill, two garbage bags and two recycle bags, but I’m well aware that much of what I boxed up may never find a new home in the basement, meaning more garbage and/or Goodwill bags to fill.

The next room on my purge list is the spare room in the basement. In that room is a double bed, a dresser and built-in floor to ceiling shelves. For three years, those shelves have been the place things go to die. Now, I need the shelf space (for much of the stuff from the office) and really, if things went there to die – shouldn't that mean they’re dead by now and we can get rid of them?

I think I’ll start on that room this weekend. And if I get really ambitious, when that room’s done, I may start on Ryan’s workshop. Goodness knows you can’t even walk into that room, let alone find anything. But then again, Ryan might kill me if I touch anything in there.