Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Happy Birthday Alex

Happy Birthday Alex.


This number, for me, marks a significant milestone.

Your big sister turned four the year you were born. She seemed so old, so mature somehow, with her chatter and her pig tails and booster seat and toddler bed. And then came you, and I was right back where  I started, with a rear facing car seat and soothers and diapers and sore nipples.
OK, sorry. You probably don't want to know about that.
I thought then that once you turned four, I would be back to the start again. I would regain all my lost ground.
Because while I had always counted on a third child, I had never counted on a four year span in between the second and third.
But things don't always work out the way we think they will.

And so there I was, starting all over again. The exhaustion of endless night feeds, the wobbling first steps, the toilet training mishaps, the temper tantrums. The trials and tribulations of the first four years, which I had just survived, unscathed- but barely, all loomed ahead, again, like little land mines waiting for me to come along and step on. Though- I looked forward to every one, truly, oddly, but at the same time that four year mark seemed like- well I don't know. It seemed like freedom.

And now here we are.
 All those milestones come and gone.
You are a big boy now. With Spiderman underwear and a messy bedroom and friends and race car sets and an upcoming dental appointment. I don't feel freedom, precisely. Maybe a little bit, I guess.
I feel a mix of emotions, which is usual for me. But I feel, more than I thought I would, a sense of loss.
My little sideways baby. My last child.
I call you my sideways baby because that's how you were, when I was pregnant. Sideways, though they called it  transverse. With fascination I watched on ultrasound as you flipped yourself from transverse to frank breech in the blink of an eye during my appointment which was supposed to involve you being coaxed into a proper position. But you would not be coaxed.
The OB shook her head.
I wondered how you could do that. Full term babies aren't supposed to.
"He hasn't read the textbook" the doctor joked.
And in the blink of an eye you were back to sideways.
I look back on it now and knowing what I know now about you and your personality, this should not have been a surprise to me.
You are a mover and a shaker. You don't like to stay still, and truly, you never have.

I remember our first night together, the solitude of the hospital surrounding us at night when it was just you and I. You just refused to give yourself to sleep, and still we go through this every night. I remember being so completely exhausted the next day, but forcing my sluggish muscles to run a bath for you. I looked at the water and the tub, thinking 'I could just do this tomorrow'. The baby will not die without this bath at this moment. The task suddenly looked so daunting. But stubbornly I persisted on, unable to concede defeat to what should be an easy task. I wondered whether it was a good trait of mine or not- to be so stubbornly determined. The woman in the bed across from me was a sobbing mess in her husbands arms, crying about having to give the first bath. "I just don't think I can do it," she cried. It occurred to me it probably wasn't a bad trait after all. And after your bath was over, and you were swaddled and smelled like Dove Baby soap, and I held you close and breathed you in, I knew it was worth it. And I knew I would do it a thousand times over, tired or not, just to smell that smell. And I think, by now, I probably have.
We read that first night- a book that I now know by heart. "Oh the places you will go"
"Congratulations, today is your day!" I whispered to you, feeling for some reason foolish and self conscious while the lady cried on across from me. (Was she depressed or what? I wonder about her sometimes, even still.)

Four years have come and gone. Your presence in our lives has been huge. It is the lavish lipstick coloring on our walls, the permanent marker inside our fridge, the nail polish on our bedding, the absence of a DVD player in our home due to a scrambled egg related spilling incident, which may or may not have been related to a bumble bee attack. It is the exhaustion and the fatigue and the joy of raising you, our spirited and determined and just plain loud child. You have amazed me, shocked me ("But I thought fuck was the bad word?" You managed to make the sentence sound innocent, which, in itself shocks me.), made me laugh ("I'm so disappointed in you," when I told you I wasn't going to make you spaghetti for lunch), and made me cry ("but mom, sometimes I just don't know how to be a good boy.").
Sometimes when I look at you I cannot fathom the potential you possess inside of you.
Other times when I look at you I simply think you need Concerta.
It hurts my heart to think like that.

But even through all of the noise and all of the chaos, I choose to see the beauty instead of the frustration.
Of course, sometimes I am also drinking wine, which seems to help.
Other times I force myself forward, just like I did on our first day together one with that bath, to push myself to my limit and then just a little bit beyond it. To do it anyways, even when I'm tired. To go to the park. To push you on the swing one more time.  To be more patient. To have the energy to be present. To have the resolve to remember at the end of the day what's really important and what really isn't. Because I know that the next four years will come and go as quickly as the last. And the four years after that, and after that. There will come a day when all of this will be a distant memory, blurred and distorted by time and all of the things that seem so stressful now will seem charming and whimsical then.
It hurts my heart to think like that, too.
Because, ultimately, at the end of the day, who even cares if there's nail polish on our bedding, or lipstick on our walls?
And, ultimately,you  can get by quite nicely without a DVD player. You can order your movies off Shaw on Demand quite nicely. DVDs are becoming antiquated concepts anyways.

 It's not the end of the world.

But to see you laugh so hard that you shake; to hear your enthusiastic, often fabricated chatter; to cuddle beside you on the couch; to have you tell me "I am SO having fun growing up"; to have you wrap your little arms around my neck, to walk hand in hand with you.
That is the world to me. Because at the end of the day, I got everything I wanted and hoped for and dreamed of four years ago today- and a whole lot more than that, too.

So Happy Birthday Alex!!! I love you more than you will ever know.  Not only in spite of your energy that is infinitely exasperating, but also- strangely, because of it. Life without you would seem just plain boring! Without you, I would never have occasion to utter the sentence "I hope your birthday cake doesn't taste too much like Caesar Salad. I think I got most of it off."

"And will you succeed? Yes! You will indeed. 99 and 3/4% guaranteed, kid you will move mountains!!"
Your mommy.
July 11, 2012

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Weekend Stats (Four days late.)

Weekend Stats:

Number of times I heard the word "Mom": (Data extrapolated from first 60 minutes of being awake, at which point the day became blurry and fuzzy, and the kids colored on the notepad I was using to keep track.)
-Whining voice: 44
-Angry voice: 16
-Crying voice: 29
-Hysterical voice: 51

Number of times I had nose wiped on me: 11

Number of times I said the sentence: "Alex! No hitting puppy/mommy/kitty. Puppy/mommy/kitty
ouchy!" or similar: 14.

Number of times swept kitchen floor: 7
Number of times mopped kitchen floor: 3
State of kitchen floor: Baffling. Still very dirty. Looks like was trampled by farm animals.
Number of times chased dog down street: 4 (very good day! Dog getting old and lazy, possibly sick- YAY!)
Number of times stepped in untoward substance: 4 (two times dog puke, 1 time mashed banana, I time USNOS- unidentified substance not otherwise specified.)
Number of times watched ICarly reruns: 8
Number of times cursed the invention of Moon Sand: seven million
Number of times kid had meltdown in grocery store or other: 4
Number of snotty looks from other store patrons: 11, approx, maybe more, stopped making eye contact with anyone after a while.
Number of nice store patrons: 3
(Young man who extracted a BBQ scrub brush from Alex, which he had been stubbornly holding onto,  by saying in excited tones "Hey buddy, I was looking for one of those. I looked everywhere! How did you find it? Could I have that one from you? That would be such a good help to me!" Alex beamed and handed over said tool. He smiled and winked at me, commenting that you could never have too many of these things, anyways. Also nice couple in Superstore who walked with  Alex when he ran away from me down an entire aisle discussing Toy Story with him, very animatedly. Apparently they are HUGE fans of Buzz Lightyear)

Anyways. This is what my weekends are made of.
Let me tell you, I don't dread Mondays anymore. In fact, I'm becoming rather emotional that there's another weekend bearing down on me so quickly, and a long one at that.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Confessions from an Ex Soccer Mom

I felt relaxed, for a moment.
Alex was watching TV with Gage. Payton was at a friend's ball game. It was quiet, however temporarily, and I planned on enjoying it, as I turned the jets on in the tub and put my toe in the steaming, lavender scented water, glass of wine in one hand, Kindle in the other.

I sat poised to read, but instead  felt uneasy. Payton was at a friends ball game, and suddenly I wasn't sure that I liked that at all. I realized that I was feeling majorly stressed over  it, for two main reasons:

1) Guilt that I hadn't signed Payton up for ball herself. Now she's the neighborhood tag along kid while her mother gets drunk in the tub. Although, in fairness, I did ask Payton if she wanted to play ball and she did say no. However, as it turns out, ALL of her friends are in it this year, which hey, how was I to know that?  HOW???
Also, I wasn't planning on getting drunk in the tub. Just maybe slightly tipsy.  I wonder if it's too late to call the coach and beg him to let Payton play. But then I remember that I still haven't done my taxes, so there's a slim to none chance that I'll actually get around to calling the ball coach before the end of ball season, being the short season that it is.
Now I'm feeling guilt about the taxes. And possibly panic.
And then a hideous realization hits me hard.

 Oh God. I've become that mom.

 I've gone from being the quintessential minivan equipped with Granola Bars and 30% less sugar fruit snack driving soccer mom to drinking Chardonnay in the tub at 6:30 pm mom while kid goes out with random neighborhood people.
Which brings me to point number 2.

2) The fact that Payton had become a near resident of the house across the street. It suddenly seemed ironic that if they were going to say babysit her for a few hours a day or even a week, I would have done my due diligence as a mother and done a background check, home interview and contacted references. OK I wouldn't have actually contacted the references, not strictly speaking. I would have asked if they had them, and then basically taken them at their word.  But being the parents of other seven year old girl, I have given them carte blanche to take Payton on outings and even have her for sleepovers, after only brief encounters which consisted mainly of nodding and/or waving at each other from across the street. Although I did check out the mother on Facebook, and she does seem to be on the up and up, translation: She hadn't 'liked' any sketchy pictures of scantily clad kids or posted any threatening sounding status updates: in the vein of, for example: "Another home visit with Child Protective Services today, wish me luck!! Must remember to hide contraband this time."
So clearly,  she's a good person. Also, she has nice, shiny, hair and if there's one thing I know about pedophiles and/or other members of the criminal element it's that they mostly all have stringy, clumpy hair.
And conversely, I am also worried that Payton might be harassing the nice neighbor people  by popping by at random and inserting herself into their family outings. Must make myself more appealing so that Payton spends less time hanging off neighbor people.
 I vow to myself as I get out of the  tub that I will spend some serious--very serious,  mother daughter quality time with her when she gets home, perhaps even doing a craft.
A craft!!
Yes. That will make me feel like alpha mom again, and will also be a good opportunity to chat with Payton AKA interrogate her to make sure that there's nothing hinky going on over at the neighbour house. I picture trying to weave "have they ever asked to look at your panties?" into a casual convo but then decide against it, at least for the time being. Although I will do the craft, at least, for sure.

Except that when she comes home, I am no longer in the mood for a craft at all, on account of watching Bridget Jone's Diary on TV.
Also: do not really have anything in the house that constitutes "craft supplies"
Except for possibly a tampon and peanut butter. Am thinking bird feeder but not really sure how to execute.
Also: might kill bird, traumatize kids, etc.
Just screw the alpha mom. She just annoys everyone else, anyways.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Puking On The Side of The Road: The Downside of Lady's Night

This weekend was Lady's night at Candle Lake.
I was the girl with the sensible shoes. I felt at a distinct shoe disadvantage when we were preparing to leave. The other girls slipped into their stilettos, zipped up their knee length boots. I slipped my feet into my dingy flats. "I have to wear these shoes," I said in my defense. "I have corns on my feet."
Okay. That did not actually make me sound, look or feel any cooler. If anything, it made me feel less cool.
"You're wearing medicated shoes?"
"No. They're not medicated! I just have to wear flat shoes," I said, feeling defensive about it. Why did I have to wear these shoes? I asked myself? Or a pair of gray slacks?
Do I always have to be so practical?
Apparently, yes.

And yet, I was the one who ended up squatting in a ditch the next day, retching and heaving. The practical, sensible one. How did that happen? I don't really know.
But, apparently, an eighties cover band and cheap drinks will do that to me.
Now I know for next time.
Still, I couldn't believe it was happening to me.
Driving home, I began to feel queasy. The road seemed bumpier. It seemed curvier. Almost  roller coaster like. My stomach lurched. I put my head back, closed my eyes. That did not really help.
Nothing seemed to help.
Finally, I had to admit out loud what I did not want to admit to myself.
I was about to be sick.
"I think I'm going to be sick," I said.
"Should I stop?" My sister in law asked me, a note of panic in her voice.
I hesitated. "I think, maybe," I said.
That hesitation would cost me. I made it out of the car just in time. Even as I opened the door, a stream of pink vomit spewed forth. Then I stood at the side of the highway, which felt awkward. But I wasn't practiced at this roadside vomiting thing.
I need to lower my center of gravity, I thought, adopting a squatting position, which felt better.
Cars zoomed past, and I felt like--
well- like the kind of person who pukes on the side of the road.
Assholes, I told myself, as I wiped my mouth on my sleeve.
They don't know. I could be undergoing cancer treatment for all they knew. Gawk at people who are on cancer treatment much?? I asked them in my mind.
Of course, I wasn't on cancer treatment. But still.
That's not the point.
The point is not to judge people, or whatever.

Anyways, there was nothing sweeter than getting home and feeling the comfort of my bed. Or the comfort of having a toilet to hang my head on when I puked, for that matter.
I overheard my daughter on the phone. "My mom can't come to the phone right now," she said. "No. She's in bed because she had too much to drink at Lady's night and now she's been really throwing up a lot, and it's pretty bad. She can only eat crackers but then she puked those out."
I groaned and put a pillow over my head, only hoping that it was my mother and not someone ringing me up for a job interview or something.
She was pretty sweet about the whole thing, though. She patted me on the back when I was in bed. "Well," she said. "You're a nurse. You can look after yourself," she said as she left the room.

Anyways, to the makers of Gravol: you are rock stars with Tiger blood and Adonis DNA. Thanks to some heavy doses of Gravol I began to feel a lot better as the day went on. I even felt skinnier, too, which was nice. Even though, I noted, as I looked at my cracked, bloody lips in the mirror, dehydration isn't that sexy of a look.
So lessons learned from ladies night:
Next year- hotter shoes, less shooters.
Actually no shooters.
Just to be safe.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Principles of Operant Conditioning Gone Terribly Awry

It sounds complicated but its a simple thing, really, operant conditioning.
You reward (or reinforce) good behaviour with positive reinforcement.
You use punishment for bad behavior.
Using this simple technique, you could, if you were so inclined, train a mouse to run a maze.

But could you get a two year old to go to bed at a predetermined bedtime.
Hell no.
Not even close. You could get him to bed, perhaps, within a ninety minute time frame surrounding said predetermined time. But, then again, you could also do that using no intervention at all, which I found out one time when I fell asleep at 9pm and woke up at eleven, half expecting the house to be on fire or the windows to be smashed out. But instead, I found my little buddy asleep in a playpen. He had moved his pillow and blanky in there, climbed in and curled himself to sleep.

I know exactly what I'm doing wrong. Inadvertently, I reward bad behavior. He comes out, asks for a drink of water, I get it for him and send him back to bed. He comes out a minute later, asks for a hug, I hug him and carry him back to bed, tuck him in, perhaps even massage his back a little, cuz I know he likes that.
But what am I to do?
Deprive him of water?
Deprive him of hugs?
That's harsh. He's a toddler, not a lab rat.

Anyways, the other day, this had gone on for quite some time. I was feeling exhausted. Geoff was working late. Both Alex and Payton had been coming in and out of bed for over the two hour mark, and my patience was worn very thin. As thin as my husbands hairline, and that's thin indeed.

And then came Gage, my thirteen year old. "Watch and learn," he told me as he went into the room. He was in there for less than a minute. "They won't be back out," he said as he pulled the door shut behind him.
Sure enough half an hour went by and there was no sign of Alex or Payton.
"What did you do, put a sleeper hold on them?" I asked. Because if so, awesome, I need to learn the sleeper hold.
"No," he said. "I told them that whoever fell asleep first would get a prize in the morning."
"Actually," I said. "That's pretty brilliant."
Principles of operant conditioning, applied correctly.
Thirteen year olds will rule this world one day, I thought to myself. For once that thought actually seemed optimisitic rather than terrifying.

Nevermind the fact that I now have to give my kids chocolate bars for breakfast. That's another issue entirely. I'm planning on phasing that out by switching the chocolate bars to bubble gum flavored multivitamins. Then they'll be getting thier rest, and a vitamin as well.
Superkids, they'll be!!

Anyways, I really must apologize for not being around more- on here or on any of your blogs. Life is complicated for me right now, and I must admit that I am seriously contemplating the future of this blog. Too many things, too little time. But we'll wait and see on that.
One day at a time I guess.
Hope you have a good weekend.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Technology and Tupperware

I wanted to buy a photo album. A simple photo album.
I didn't realize that this was a fools mission until it was too late.
I walked into the photo department. Walked around and around. Didn't see any photo albums. There was memory cards, scanners, all kinds of discs, ink cartridges, USB cables, flash cards. No albums.
Puzzled, I asked the photo lab employee, who was a teenager with pink streaks in her hair. Actually, she wore them quite well and looked charming like that. She was friendly and polite. But when I asked about the photo albums I saw something on her face- total confusion.
"A photo- album?" she asked, saying the word 'album' like it was totally foreign to her.
Maybe it was, I realized.
"Well, just to- put my pictures in," I said, suddenly feeling acutely aware that this was, indeed, an antiquated concept.
She looked puzzled. "There might be some in the Tupperware section?" she said, as though she were asking me the question. "Or you could try a hobby store?"
A hobby store?
Was putting your pictures in an album considered a hobby now??
Over in the Tupperware section there was about one third of one shelf devoted to photo albums. There lay a few albums. They looked dusty.
And perhaps for the first time in my life, I felt clued out.
I mean, really clued out.
Like the time when I was staying at my friends house, and her grandma came over.
"So, you girls chum together?" she asked us.
My friend and I looked at each other. We didn't know what to say. We looked at her, and then back at each other. Shrugged and said "yeah, I guess so," real polite like but then we laughed about it later.
Except in this instance, I was on the other side of the equation, standing forlornly in a Tupperware aisle, looking at the dismal selection of photo albums and feeling outdated, irrelevant, where the only other person in the Tupperware aisle was an overweight, graying lady who remarked to me that the price of Tupperware has sure gone up. I looked at her, feeling annoyed that suddenly, I was in her cohort.
Just because I buy photo albums doesn't mean I care about the price of Tupperware.
But actually, I do.
I like Tupperware, kind of a lot if I'm going to be honest about it.
But in my defense, I do also have flash cards and USB cables and DVD plus R's as well as minus R's.

And then it happened again.
Our kids spilled milk on our alarm clock.
Apparently, alarm clocks don't drink milk.
So last weekend I found myself in London Drugs, walking up and down the aisles looking for an alarm clock.
"Get this one," my son told me, showing me one that cost $199 and was also an IPod docking station, as well as possibly some other things.
"That's for an IPod," I said. "I don't even have an IPod. I just want a plain alarm clock."
One was voice interactive.
One was rheostatic. Whatever that meant.
I ended up getting one that has a projection feature that projects the time onto the ceiling. Rather than sitting up and looking at the alarm clock, I can now see the time as soon as I open my eyes.
Technology is actually pretty cool.

And I'm using my Kindle now. The only bad thing that happened was that I was reading a thriller, and right at the climax I got a little box pop out and say "battery power low. Please recharge your Kindle."
And since it has to be plugged into the computer to recharge, and the computer is downstairs, and I didn't feel like sitting in the basement to finish my book, I ended up having to wait to finish it, which was a significant source of frustration.
I really hate it when my electronic devices die right before climax.
But that's a whole other topic right there.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Losing My Spamming Virginity to Fr33 Porn

In my pre-spam days, I took the lack of spamming kind of personal.
"They hate me," I would say to myself, whilst reading blog posts about how annoying spammers are. I would type my comment "I've never been spammed, I guess that's the good thing about not getting any traffic, LOL." But then I was like, why don't I just write "I'm a totally desperate LOSER who blogs in the basement in my pyjamas drinking wine by the box," which is more or less the truth, but still. There's something unsettling about seeing it typed out like that. So then I'd backspace it and write instead, "I hear ya," but then keep the LOL, so then I wasn't technically, actually, lying. If it ever came down to it in a court of law that I lied about being spammed, I could say, in my defense, that the LOL showed that clearly I was joking about hearing ya, although why it would ever come down in a court of law, I don't really know. But the point is-- I was vaguely jealous of the glorious spammed.
What am I chopped liver??
I mean, maybe I want some sex pills, too. I don't, but, still. It would nice to be offered every once and a while.

So, naturally, I was quite excited to get some spam offering me "fr33 porn."

My excitement quickly gave way to  confusion.
What the deuce is fr33 porn?
Is it free porn?
Or do the 3's nullify the word "free" Must be some sort of scam. That's how they get you. You go there and then they charge you some huge dollar amount, and then your like 'But it said free!" and they're like "No, it said fr33."
Or was it actually thirty three dollars? Or 33 minutes?
What, exactly, did the three's stand for?
Is it a sex thing? I didn't know. I pondered that. Probably a sex thing, being a porn site and all. But what??
Is 33 the square root of 69? Could be.
I don't know, I'm bad at math.

And today I got more spam! Even better than the cryptic and indecipherable fr33 porn, which I eventually decided not to go for.
Today I got this: A product so good that you will not believe that it's true. A product that, apparently, if I ignore it now, I will regret it later.
(Is that a death threat there? Kinda sounds like it to me.)
At this point I was bracing myself for some kind of sex product, I scrolled down, half scared to look.
But no.
No penis enhancer or any other such product.
What was it you ask?
It was, and I quote: "The first and only single leg compensation plan ever created."
What, exactly, does that mean?
I don't know.
I guess it's an insurance plan specific to the loss of a single leg.
Which, I don't know, maybe if you're the type of person who's apt to lost a limb somehow, you might be inclined towards that. Maybe you lead a high risk lifestyle- you get into a lot of knife fights or you sleep with your legs on the train tracks and you don't have a very clear understanding of the train schedule, or a watch, or you're a pirate or what have you. But me, myself, I think I'm quite happy to play the odds. Even though, yes, admittedly, I might regret it later.
If I end up with one leg, that one could really turn around and bite me in the ass.
But I'll take my chances.