Saturday, 11 February 2017

A Birth Story v2 (aka the Shredding of my Pelvic Floor)

When I talked to my doctor about my 20 week ultrasound scan, she told me that I had a "big baby" in there. This wasn't a surprise, since I was already getting questions about when I was due. Most people assumed it was in the next couple of months, and tried to hide their shock when I said I had twenty more weeks to go.

I felt self-conscious, to put it mildly.

One of the things about the type of arthritis I have is that it leads to "small" babies, which actually just means that it makes it really hard to accurately pin point how far along I am at the dating scan. When I went for my dating scan with Lulu Bird I was certain I was 9 weeks pregnant, but the tech said I was only *just* seven weeks along.

With LB, if you've been reading for awhile, you might remember that she was born 3.5 weeks early. After her birth, my amazing doctor and I talked about it and she said that she felt the dating scan was likely off, which isn't uncommon with my arthritis but makes pre-natal care tricky.

So with Lulu Bird, I was positive in that not-medically-trained kind of way that I was farther along than I was, but the dating scan had to be used as the reference point. However, my doctor started sending me for more regular ultrasounds at 35 weeks because she wanted to get an idea of how fast Lulu Bird was growing; she had to use the dating scan as the reference point, but she didn't want my baby girl staying in there for longer than was safe because she was measuring quite a bit larger than my official gestational stage.

I was stretched out to maximum capacity, and every morning when I stepped out of the shower I'd look at my road map of a stomach and wonder how much further my skin could stretch. Surely no more, I'd weep. Surely no more.

At 37 weeks and six days I went for another ultrasound, and Lulu Bird was breech. I knew something had happened the night before, because my (enormous, huge, gigantic) belly had violently swayed from side to side and it had taken my breath away. My doctor called me that night at about 8 p.m. and asked me to be ready to go to the hospital bright and early the next morning for another ultrasound, because if Lulu Bird was still breech she was considering a c-section since the baby was estimated to be about 10 lbs at that point.

That morning (at exactly 38 weeks) as I was getting ready, I lay on the bed to read LB a story and again my stomach rocked back and forth and caught my breath. When I went for the ultrasound, my doctor cheered that the baby was head down again but also let me know that I wasn't leaving the hospital. Because Lulu Bird was measuring so large, and because she had clearly not descended into the birth canal (considering she was doing acrobatics in there) my doctor had two concerns: (1) that the cord would knot if she flipped herself again; and (2) given the explosion of my waters with LB, the fear that my waters would dramatically rupture again and the baby would rapidly drop onto the cord. I was perfectly content to stay in hospital and let the induction begin.

So the doctors did their thing and inserted, essentially, a medicated tampon to start softening my cervix, and thus began the longest fucking day of my life.

The medicine did its thing, and Dan and I started walking laps around the hospital to speed everything up. If the baby was born before midnight, she'd be born on my sister's birthday and I felt that was an achievable goal. Ha! We went down to the kiosk to stock up on snacks and reading material (because Dan seriously thought he'd have time to read. Lunatic!) and while in there I doubled over and told Dan to hurry up. He didn't listen to me.

"Dan, for god's sake pick a book and pay for it."

"Yeah, hun, but there's three that I want to read. So....just..."

Then I hissed, "If you don't pick your fucking book RIGHT NOW I will tip this shelf!"

Then he looked at my crumpled and hunched frame and realized, oh yeah! We're here because my wife has to push out a baby bigger than our cat.

We got back up to my room where I twisted and turned in pain for hours, while my cervix decided to become one of those flowers that only opens up once every decade. Even worse, my baby girl still hadn't started descending into the birth canal. She did not want to be evicted.

At about ten o'clock my waters broke. It had now been over ten hours since the induction began, and I think I was only at 3 centimeters. The nurse removed the medicated tampon and told me that things would really start happening now.

Spoiler: they didn't.

In a cruel flashback to LB's birth, my waters hadn't broken. It was the second, false, water sack. AGAIN. So after two hours of no leaking of fluids, and the doctors being completely unable to examine me because my cervix was so sore, I got my blessed epidural, they manually broke my waters, and hooked me up to something else to get labour kick started.

Then in just seven short hours it was time to push.

With the baby still essentially hanging out at the tippy top of my uterus.

Neat!

After an hour of pushing, Lulu Bird's heart rate started to get scary and I was given one last push to get her out or I was getting an emergency c-section. I managed it, with the help of forceps, and out she came.

All 23 inches of her.

When the nurse measured her, she actually called her colleague to double check her measurement. Then when they measured Lulu Bird's head they shouted the measurement in disbelief.

"Is that big?" I asked in confusion.

And my delivery doctor, who was busily working away stitching my shredded nether regions back to together, looked at me as he calmly said, "I sure wouldn't want that coming out of me."

Everyone in the delivery room was so kind and congratulated us and told me how I rocked for pushing her out from her high position. I felt like a super star. A really beat-up and incontinent super star who had no idea who she was or where she was.

It was a roller coaster.

Lulu Bird came in at a healthy 8 lbs 6 oz, and my doctor and I talked and she thought that I probably was actually 40 weeks along. As I cradled the longest baby in the world, I felt relieved to know that I hadn't been crazy to insist I was farther along than I was.

I would have laughed, but then I would have peed my pants.

Because giving birth to the longest baby in the world means my poor pelvic floor is no longer made of sturdy oak, but more like rotting pine. Why doesn't anyone talk about this?! Why doesn't anyone mention that at any point there are thousands of women out there praying that no one says anything too funny in public, because they will laugh unexpectedly and piss their pants at the same time and have to retreat back home in horror that this is reality.

No jumping on the super fun trampoline they bought their kid.

No casual jogs, if they ever felt like going for a casual jog.

Pelvic floor strength is just something you don't think about, until you do. And then you wail in despair as you kegel like you're training for the kegel Olympics.

TMI?

NBD. Someone has to say it. 

Saturday, 21 January 2017

On Raising a Daughter: We March

He said "grab them by the pussy", and he was still voted in.

Victims came forward with tears in their eyes and the memory of his hands on their bodies, and they were called liars. Opportunists. They still voted him in.

"You think this is the first misogynist in Washington?" They still voted him in.

He denounced differences, and they still voted him in.

I am afraid. I'm not going to pretend that I think I won't be affected by the fucking lunacy happening south of the border.

He stands there with his daughter, by all appearances his prized crown jewel, and I look at her holding her daughter's hand I think, "What the fuck?" Because I am not one of the few who can articulate in times of frustration. I will never be the clear rallying cry, because I would be the person at the microphone yelling, "What the fucking, fuckity, fuck? Like, what the serious fuck? Is this fucking real life? Fucking fuck! FUCK."

But there are clearer voices out there who have articulated why his election is a catastrophe. And no, that's not hyperbole. His election was a catastrophe. I understand the frustration of the people who look at their towns, their dying and dehydrated towns, and feel the powerlessness of their choices. Their only power is to try and vote in B instead of A. That's their only choice, they believe, to bring life back into their home.

And it breaks my heart, because for those few there are the many who grew stronger from his hate. The comments so vile towards other humans that it sickens me. Who are you? Who? Who are these venomous mercenaries who desire nothing more than to let someone know how MEANINGLESS they are. What a CUNT they are. How they desire HARM to come to the families and loved ones of people who disagree with them.

Who are they?

He is one of them.

A skin so thin you can see through him in a bright light.

And so we must continue to be a bright light.

I watch Louisa crawling over a foot stool, and then circling back to do it again and again and again and again. She is strong and determined at only eight months old.

She is the future.

Her sister, who dances and laughs and tells jokes and is starting to be afraid of the dark.

So I turn on the lights for her. Every light until she feels safe.

I will light the house for her.

I will be her lighthouse.

Her future matters. A woman's place matters.

So this little post is my linked arms with the feminists in Washington today who march for women, for immigrants, for clean water, for the marginalized. I send my donations, my cheers, and my tears.

A woman's place is everywhere, and we can see in the dark.

Feminists are marching.

They are watching.

We will be a bright light on this fallacy, because normalizing the malevolence is the same thing as turning out the light and hoping you'll stay safe in your darkened corner of the world.

Sunday, 1 January 2017

Where to Start?

It's January 1st, and Lulu Bird is napping, LB is helping her dad shovel the driveway, and I'm crippled on the couch courtesy of trying to become My Best Self in the dying hours of 2016.

'Why wait until a New Year?!' I enthusiastically wondered, 'Let's start today! Now! This very minute.'

Then I tried planking, which was a huge mistake because my abs have about the same strength as a slice of Wonderbread that's been soaking in a bowl of milk all night. 

MUSH, is what I'm saying. THEY'RE TOTALLY MUSHY.

So today my lower back is all, 'Peace out. You were asking way too much of me last night.'

So I lie here, perfect blogging opportunity, and wondering which topic to blog about? The experience of birth in Canada vs Switzerland? My alarming realisation that parents are actually STYLING their children? Not getting them dressed, I mean straight up styling them. Or how Kanye West and Kim Kardashian had some totally shitty luck after they tried to take down Taylor Swift? Like, whoa. Is Taylor Swift actually The Great and Powerful Oz? I think she might be. 

Since I will likely discuss all the above topics (except for Swift and K2--one line pretty much sums that up), how about we talk about my house some more? Because I can rap about these four walls for days. Or dayz.

One of the things that I have learned since being back is that in North America we don't just believe a choice is right for us, we pick a side. ABOUT EVERYTHING. Including to live in a residential suburb, or slum it out with the rats to live a cramped, but authentic, city existence. Quite frankly, the (disastrous) American election results weren't that shocking. Were they heartbreaking? Yes. Shocking? No. North American society is divisive across the board about everything. To me, returning, our society seems unneighbourly, unfriendly, and has a desperate need for the grandiose.

And this penchant for the grandiose comes down to something as 'simple' as a person carrying their handwoven Guatemalan wicker basket to the organic grocery store to buy nutrients for their body, to the architectural monstrosities that Ma and Pa Ingalls have built to house their family of 4; 5 if you count the dog, which everyone does.

When we were house hunting, our motherly realtor wanted us to buy something new because new is easy. It's fresh, stress-free, and low-maintenance. The vein that throbbed from her forehead every time I rejected a new house is proof enough for me that she found me challenging. And that's okay. We can still greatly admire, like, and respect people we find challenging. What really got to me, as we toured these new homes, is how many empty rooms there were. The rooms weren't empty because people were already moved out; they were empty because people could not fucking afford to furnish them, or it served no purpose. 

I can't tell you home many houses had at least one room that was always bare of all furnishings except for maybe a 1990's green love seat pushed under the window. You know, in case you wanted to zen out, fold yourself up like a pretzel, and read under the shadow of your neighbour's mansion.

The only thing going up in Kamloops these days are really stylish McMansions that are all windows, steeples, and garages. They posses very little character, very little warmth, and have very few people living in them. But these houses are *it*. We have to hold the City accountable, because the City approves the zoning applications that create these subdivisions; they approve the statutory building schemes that stipulate minimum square footage and three car garages that all people who build must conform too; they approve houses that are so close together, a fat kid would get stuck in the gap. The reason why they approve these developments void of backyards and parks is really obvious (tax dollars), but what's not so obvious to me is why people still want to build and live there. Why do you want to live in something so big?

Do you know how much cleaning that requires?

I mean, ack!

I'm not going to be an asshole and judge people for wanting to build and live in something so...same, (do-do-do, nothing assholey about that line) but my time in Switzerland definitely proved to me a family can live comfortably in something more modest. When we bought our house, Helen almost blew a gasket when she realised we were going to buy a house knowing our kids would share a bedroom. We have four bedrooms, but two are upstairs, and two are on the bottom level of the split. When the girls are old enough to despise the slimy green sludge left in their parents' wake, they will retreat to the basement I'm sure. But until then they can share a bedroom. What's wrong with sharing a bedroom? Why is every kid assumed to need their own room these days? Why are we so special we must all have our own space? Isn't that the point of family? To annoy each other so much that you can't wait until the day you break free? Am I really doing my job if I make their lives too comfortable? I mean seriously. 

But the desire to be something is a throbbing need on the surface of most North American's consciousness, and sometimes the only way to be something is to show people what you have. And nothing is easier to see than a big ass house and a Lexus. 

Oh and please, you people who live smugly downtown among your herb gardens and compost, don't think I don't see you too. Grandiosity isn't just restricted to rattling around in your empty mansion, it can also be found in the teeny tiny homes selling for $750,000 on Dominion Street. The righteous belief that because you can walk to buy the organic nutrients for your body, to your yoga studio, to your kids' French immersion school, and to your job, you have more self-awareness than the people on the hill. Your wartime bungalow and "shop local" philosophies are your tiny footprint of superiority. 

But you know what you have in common with the McMansion dwellers?

Despite living in homes that touch each other, neither of you have neighbours.

And that's the real tragedy of it all.

Thursday, 8 December 2016

Peer Pressure: It Starts at Home

Dan and I are pretty strict about LB watching television, and I want to assure you that statement is being said with the least amount of pretension as possible. There is nothing worse than some sanctimonious parent smugly shrugging, "My perfect snowflake has no idea what that giant electrical box even does. She's too busy solving math problems for fun. Gosh, what a kid."

We have rules about t.v. being a privilege that must be earned and maintained, otherwise it goes away and she has to rely on her good ol' imagination for fun. Which is no fun for us. You guys, t.v. is the BEST babysitter! I'm always so sad when I have to take it away, because then I end up having to participate in elaborate games of My Little Pony, or Mommy and Sweetie, or Family Apartment.

And my imagination sucks.

Case in point:

LB:  "Mommy! Can you hear that beautiful song playing on the radio?! It's so fun! I think we should dance."

Me: "The radio isn't even on. What are you talking about?"

LB: *huff of irritation* "Mommy! We're JUST pretending!"

Oh...right, that.

I hate playing. I am a kick-ass story teller, I can bake with the best of 'em. Want to go for a walk? Let's do it! Playing...not my thing. Dan excels at playing, so that's his department.

Our general rule for LB is every Friday is family movie night, and a few days a week she's allowed to watch two shows in the afternoon, three max, and the shows are heavily vetted. Of the shows we think are age appropriate, not too sassy, not violent, and not rude, all of them run about twenty minutes long. That means I have about forty minutes to an hour to sit down with my tea and piss around on my phone.

What?

You thought I'd be doing something productive? In the words of the great Michelle Tanner, "AS IF."

Well, for the past oh...SIX MONTHS this has all changed and the rules got frigging tossed in an effort to survive. Lulu Bird is a really easy-going baby, but even easy-going babies are a lot of work, and drain your energy, and leave you feeling lifeless from exhaustion.

The t.v. got clicked on on May 15th and didn't get turned off until probably September. Whoops! What does it all mean? We created a t.v. monster of course. When I no longer felt like a lurching zombie, I was ready to enforce the old t.v. rules and LB was making it clear that I was going to have to pry the remote from her cold dead hands.

It was rough.

Now the most common question I hear first thing every morning is: "ISITAT.V.DAYORAPLAYDAY?" Said in one hurried exclamation of morning breath, which said breath is then held baited as she waits for my response.

In the past when I'd tiredly mumble from my pillow, "For the love of...it's a play day sweetie. No t.v., it's a play day." I would of course get anguished cries of NO FAIR, as her tiny body crumpled into a heap on top of my head.

Now I get this:

"I have a great idea!" (said in a sing-songy voice). "Why don't me make it...a t.v. day."

I of course mumble, "No, it's a play day."

"Come on Mommy. Let's make it a t.v. day. What do you say? It's easy to turn on. We'll go to Netflix. Let's make it a t.v. day."

"Wha..? No! It's a play day! Don't try that on me."

"Instead of two shows, I only watch one."

"[LB] no! It's no shows today. Zero."

"Oh come on Mommy. It's just one show. Just one. That's not too bad. One show isn't too bad."

"I can't even with this. Are you peer pressuring me to watch t.v.?"

"Come on Mommy. Just turn it on for one show. I know you can do it."

Internet, I AM NOT EVEN KIDDING.  My four year old peer pressures me. It started with t.v. and has moved on to toys and donuts.

"Come on Mommy, let's go to Toys 'R' Us, and I'll just get one toy. It's only one, that's not a big deal. Just one toy. I'll pay for it."

????? With what money ?????????

"You'll give me some. Some money for my toy."

"Let's go get me a donut. I'll let you have a bite. Come on, just one donut."

I'm pretty sure I got lessons in elementary school on how to stand up to peer pressure, but it's hard to think over the drone of just this one t.v. show.

I mean, it's just one.

One's not so bad...

Friday, 2 December 2016

Sears Portrait Studio: The Grimmest Place on Earth

It dawned on me last year, as I was opening up yet another Christmas card where the sender's child was folded up like a piece of origami and stuck in a bucket, that the whole "children and props and pictures" craze was getting out of hand.

Babies in boots.

Babies in buckets.

Babies in crates, in baskets, in toolboxes, in luggage, in bird's nests, and in really sketchy looking hammocks.

It's all too much! I blame Anne Geddes. I mean, remember when it was a thing that people went crazy for buying Anne Geddes calendars of strange babies dressed up like flowers, and stuck in pots?! It's like they couldn't wait to start procreating so they too could have their very own month-of-August baby bumblebee, pictured slipping dangerously off an acrylic flower petal.

I shook my head at the nonsense of it all and vowed that next year I was going old-school with the Christmas kid portrait. I was going to blow people's minds when they opened the Christmas card and saw a human shaped child in the picture, and not an infant contorted into the shape of a sleigh.

I was going to Sears!

***

Cue yesterday.

Our Sears portrait session was booked for promptly at 11:00, which was optimal smiling time for our Lulu Bird, and the promise of a lunch hot dog was a tangible bribe for LB since we could literally smell them from the neighbouring food court. We arrived at Sears, and the photographer shook a frazzled hand at me and ordered me to take a chair.

Okay.

I kept our Lulu Bird happy by rocking her buggy back and forth, and LB was content to play with what can only be described as the rotting corpses of toys of Christmas past. These were so decrepit they were almost the ghosts of toys of Christmas past.

One of the other customers eventually wandered over to have a peek in the buggy, smiled at LW, and then told me that she was there getting portraits done of her daughter "and [her] daughter's brothers." Took me a minute to figure out the family that was eating up my portrait time was three women who all had kids from the same guy. He's not in the picture (haha, punny!), but she told me the moms all get together so the kids can play and they can see who got paid child support.

I'm not even kidding.

Eventually the frazzled photographer stomped into the portrait cave and ordered me to follow. I stepped in and she said, "I'm assuming this is for Christmas so I'm just leaving this Christmas background down. It's our nicest one, you don't want to see the others."

Um, what?

Then I said I don't want a Christmas background, I want a plain colour because this is going to go on our wall at home. Year round. With great irritation she dropped the other backgrounds so I could choose, but I have a sneaking suspicion she didn't let me see all of them.

And let's pause for a minute to discuss this portrait studio. As soon as you walk in, you bang your toes and knees on props that are scattered everywhere. Chairs, trunks, artificial flowers, random strands of pearls, sleds, and enormous candy canes. When you look to your right, there is a wooden block and that's where the children sit. And oh, did I mention the entire room is the size of my dining room table? Cozy!

I got my girls set up, and the photographer said in a bored voice: "Okay, look up here. Hey, look up here. Smile. It will be nicer if you smile."

So what does LB do? She makes a deliberate frown and says, "I'm too sad to smile today."

The photographer, who is obviously not 'leaning in' to this job, sighs, "Well that's perfect. As if today isn't hard enough."

And just like that my dreams of an old-school Sears portrait with my cherubic kids looking up and off into the distance turned to dust; just like the gross toys in the waiting room are going to do in about five minutes.

After thirty minutes of coaxing and tears, I finally pulled myself together and tried to get the kids to smile. Nope. What a mess. We got ONE, literally one, picture of LB looking left with a glimmer of mischief in her eye, and my Lulu Bird looking right with her mouth open and what can only be described as a, "Duh, what's happening Mom?" look on her face. And that was the winner.

The whole experience was made worse by the photographer leaving me hanging mid-checkout (with a crying baby who was losing her shit) to help a stray Sears shopper who wanted to book an appointment.

Please enjoy the following exchange:

Stray shopper: "Oh, a portrait studio. Didn't know they still had these. Well, I think I'll book an appointment."

Unmotivated photographer: "For when."

SS: "What do you have."

UP: "What day do you want?"

SS: "Thursday?"

UP: "Here are our free times, akldh;ilghadkhga;hk. Got that?"

SS: "11:00?"

UP: "Okay, 11:00."

SS: "Well, I can't do 11:00! It's for my kids!"

UP: "Why not 11:00."

SS: "They're in school at 11:00!"

UP: "Okay....pick a time."

SS: "3:00? No. 4:00? 4:30?"

OH MY GOD WHAT THE HELL CAN NO ONE HEAR MY BABY GET YOUR SHIT TOGETHER I WAS ALMOST FINISHED WITH THIS PLACE.

Next year, I'm paying someone to fold my kids up and stick them in a Santa sack.

It will be perfect.

Monday, 28 November 2016

Guess Who's Back, Back Again?

So last week Dan had a business dinner to go to, and while there he got to talking to a table of people he didn't know. And while talking it came out that one realized Dan was Dan. The Dan. The Dan of A Cait's Life. Which means, she...read my blog!

Ack!

He came in the house that night and said, "I've got a story that will blow your mind!"

I was really hoping he'd entered a draw for a Hawaiian getaway, and won! Or a trip to the Maldives, and won! Or a trip to Mexico, and won! Or a trip to Bali, and won! (If you can't tell, I'm in serious need of a very specific sort of holiday.) But it was a story about someone who we don't know, who read my blog! Zoinks!

And she was wondering why I don't blog anymore, and to be honest I wonder about that too.

So let's start.

***

Since I last blogged our LB turned three, and then four. She went from short, to still short but not as short as before. She went from adorably mispronouncing things and telling me she "woved" me to letting out huffs of irritation and shouting, "I'M REALLY ANNOYED RIGHT NOW, MOMMY." And saying things like, "Because I'm a grown-up big sister now, I should probably have wine."

Her preschool teacher has told us that she has a "very expansive vocabulary with a firm grasp on knowing exactly what she wants."

Being back in a politically correct country is so adorable. I'm pretty sure what she meant was, "she talks a lot and is quite demanding."

Oh...wha? The whole "grown-up big sister" comment?

Yeah, we had another baby.

Louisa Wren

She was born May 13, 2016, and is Dan's mini-me. She is such a good baby, and I firmly believe the saying "know your limit, play within it" applies to children, so I'm stopping at two. 

We also bought a new house, and that's the story I'll tell you today.

So snuggle in tight, that's right, like that. (Okay, honestly, I just verbally spew children's book one liners all day e'ery day. I can recite the entire length of Tabby McTat and What the Ladybird Heard, from memory, which comes in handy on long car trips).

***

Dan and I started renting a house in December, the year we moved back. Because we had to re-establish residency requirements for tax breaks, we settled in to renting and thought maybe we'd rent for two years to get reacquainted with Kamloops and decide what we wanted life to look for us.

Well, but a few short months into that rental and I was aggressively ticking off boxes on the calendar until we could buy because holy shiz, renting in Canada is the freaking worst and landlords should all be collectively ashamed of themselves (except for the good ones). All of sudden I was having flashbacks to our old apartment where the people below us fought loudly about ridiculous things, and the landlords didn't do anything about it.

Canadians: we think we're polite, but really we don't give a shit about you if it's inconvenient to us.

We rented in my parents' neighbourhood so that we could be close to the free babysitters...err, I mean grandparents. Our house was in the bungalow style that littered the streets of the older parts of the neighbourhood, and it seemed so huge compared to the apartment we'd lived in. Our landlady was excited to have us as renters, as apparently--as I'd come to discover--good renters are about as elusive as good landlords. She practically threw the keys at us the night we toured, such was her joy to find us. I think the fact we turned up in structured clothing, as opposed to pajama pants and slippers (LIKE THE PEOPLE BEHIND US, yes I'm still a snobby asshole about this) is what really sealed the deal for us. 

So we moved in, and a month later the washing machine broke.

She had it carted away and replaced with a model that had previously been broken, but someone had fixed and so now we had only a half-broken washing machine. Neat.

Then the dryer broke. 

She had it carted away and replaced with a model that had previously been broken, but someone fixed and so now we had only a half-broken dryer. Neat.

Then the fridge broke.

I'm sure you can guess what happened next.

Then the furnace broke.

It was February, and it was cold. She sends someone over to fix it, furnace guy recommends replacing the furnace because it is really old and not exactly safe. She opts to spend $600 fixing it, instead of $1,200 replacing it. He warns her it will break again. I go out and buy heating dishes and carbon monoxide detectors and take them off my rent. She is not happy with me. I tell her it's a two way street: we waited for one week for the furnace guy to show up, and he told me it's not very safe. I'm looking at other rentals. She relents. 

The furnace breaks again.

Furnace guy is called again. Costs her $300.

The furnace breaks again.

Furnace guys is called. Costs her $600. 

She still won't replace.

I go to open the back window in our boot room and the window FALLS OUT OF THE HOUSE. There is a window shaped hole in our house. She sends her husband to fix it, who essentially just props it back in the hole and applies some sort of glue. It's a hack job for sure. 

I'm furious.

I skip looking at rentals and move straight on to buying and drag Dan along with me. He gets whiplash from the sudden change of life direction.

April showers bring gusts of wind so strong THEY START BLOWING THE ROOF OFF THE HOUSE. The neighbour shows up with handfuls of our roof, more roof in buckets, and wants to talk to her. Then he tells me that the people before us essentially were operating a puppy mill out of the house and now all of sudden it makes sense why the wood siding of the house is chewed down to nubbins.

My fervor to get out of there intensifies. I'm borderline a crazy person. 

Dan's used to it.

Summer settles in, and it's so hot in the house the smoke alarm goes off ON A REGULAR BASIS.

August 27th arrives, and with it our residency requirement is met. I pick up the phone and call a realtor.

***

Enter Helen, our guardian angel.

Dan is chill about the house hunting process, but surprise surprise: I'm not. I want my house, and I wanted it yesterday.

But the excitement to own is strong, and every night we get into the habit of watching HGTV like it's our damn job. And watching HGTV while buying is not a good idea. It gives you ideas. Grand ideas. Lofty ideas. It makes you believe you are handier than you are.

(*Clears throat*)

Helen is a motherly figure, and she takes us from house to house, steering my inexperienced emoji-heart-shaped-eyes from almost every house we choose to look at.

"I'm going to find you a house."

"This is not the house for you!"

"I wouldn't live in this house if someone paid me a million bucks!" (That being said after Dan and I viewed the house for a second time and considered putting an offer in.)

So like the good little Hufflepuff I am, I gradually learned to accept Helen's guidance but still firmly "wanted a project". 

"But Helen, I don't want a cookie-cutter new build! I want a quirky house with character, and trees, and a yard. I want a big ass yard!" She shook her head, as only the wise do, but indulged me. 

And we found it. THE HOUSE.

A beautiful house built in the 1970's. A one owner home built as a dream home, in the West Coast Modern style. It is everything. 

It is unique. 

It is structurally sound and well maintained.

It has trees. 

It has a big ass yard.

It is cosmetically outdated.

It is a lot of work.

We are surrounded by nature.

We don't know what we're doing.

We have realized that HGTV led us astray. Renovations are for the rested, not the weary. What dumb-dumbs we were to think we could tackle everything in two months. 

When we moved in I was sick as dog because I was two months pregnant. Then I was sick as a dog at three, four, five, six, seven, eight, and nine months pregnant. Who knew! The fact I was growing a giant (she was 23 inches long at birth! I mean OMFG, my poor body) played into this. So we moved in and never did anything again.

Then spring came, our beautiful Louisa Wren was finally evicted on doctor's orders (She started to like going for little wanders: "Think I'll be breech today. Nay, just playin', ma! I'll be head down again. Nay, breech. Nay, head down!" My doctor did an ultrasound in the hospital and her exact words were: "We've got a floater. And that's dangerous. Hope you don't have plans, because you're not leaving this hospital without a baby in your arms."). 

After she was born we cracked our knuckles and started to get to work on doing the cosmetic renovations. So we started painting our kitchen in June...

And now it's November and we're still painting our kitchen. Dear god. 

And Dan has decided that he LIKES the carpet; I can't even with that! 

We have decided that home ownership is a constant battle to keep nature and decay, at bay. Despite Cosmo's best efforts (yes, he's still alive! Only marginally more coordinated, and he's an outside cat now), we are surrounded by mice. They were even in our ATTIC. I nearly burned the whole place down the first night I heard those little scurries. I called the exterminator at 7 a.m. (dramatic? yes) and it took three weeks and four years off my life to figure out where those vermin were entering from. Then there's the woodpeckers. Oh the woodpeckers. Those assholes drill the holes and the mice wander in.

I. Hate. Nature.

But I love our house. It's ours, all ours. 

Gross carpet and half-painted kitchen, included. 

But if someone wanted to nominate us for an HGTV make-over show that'd be cool, because at the rate we're going LW is going to be graduating from high school before we get that damn kitchen done.


Thursday, 29 January 2015

I'd Kickstart This

I think someone needs to properly study and prepare a line graph to show the correlation between driving a jacked-up pickup truck (usually Dodge) and being an utter asshole.

Just my observations in the past four months, but I think they're one and the same.

Juuiiiccee

Monday, 5 January 2015

The After Christmas Burp

Isn't that title amazing?

Thanks, thanks. It paints such vivid picture, I just don't want to change it. This post, however, has nothing to do with burping.

So when we last spoke we'd established that we were back in Canada and life was humming along tickity-boo. We had a lovely Christmas, void of snow (CURSES), and now we're back to life and back to reality in 2015.

2014 started with us not knowing we were on the cusp of moving back to Canada. It started with me having coffee with all my lovely friends, running errands, just living life, and then one day: BAM. LB tried to get my Dad to chase her through the Skype screen and life as we knew it changed.

It was time to move back to Canada.

It was time to be near family so our little bean could know her family.

Not just the digital version.

It took me ages to come to terms with our decision, and when we decided we were going for it we had to work out the logistics with my parents because we needed a crash landing pad when we first got back. You see, the same way we moved to Switzerland was the same way we moved back to Canada: blindly. I had a job to return to since I'd never really left it to begin with: all those years in Switzerland I kept working for the same company, so when we came back I shouldered the challenge of keeping us moving forward while Dan hunted down a job in his field.

When we knew for sure we could stay with my parents until Dan had a job, it was time to start breaking the news to our Swiss friends and family. It was really the hardest thing to do. I don't know, when it was time to move to Switzerland I blithely announced we were moving and didn't really hesitate to share the news. Coming back was trickier. Our lives are entwined with more people.

I told a friend in Starbucks and we both cried, then took our kids to the park and cried some more.

I told another friend as we hiked down the Gurten and we both cried, then took our kids to Migros and tried to fight back more tears.

Everyone I told cried, and I cried too, and that's a good sign. It's a sign of true friendships; lifelong friendships. I miss all of them, terribly, everyday.

I told friends in Canada we were moving back and we celebrated. I told family, and we celebrated some more.


Ups and downs, downs and ups.

Dan and I work full time, which means we're weekend warriors these days, and so the chance to connect with friends on a weekday basis requires more planning. I also find that in Canada, people aren't as social in general. That's not meant to be a slam or for people to feel defencive that they're social so STFU, Caitie!

It's what we've noticed.

There aren't as many social clubs here as where we were living; friends hesitate more to grab a half hour coffee at the end of a work day; people here loudly sigh--to my absolute,teeth grinding, annoyance--they're busy.

Ack! Busyness, a fear of gluten, and attempts to work hemp hearts and chia seeds into everything, are pandemic over here!

It's driving me fucking crazy!

I also will have a later post about the differences between Canadians and Swiss people, because guess what? There are loads. And to be honest, I've felt really let down by certain things I've witnessed over here that I completely forgot about, or was too entrenched in to notice.

And of course, despite all of the above, we're happy.

We moved into our own house on December 1st, which for the record December is a terrible month to move house. I was driving home from work one day and a digital Christmas countdown clock in a neighbour's yard announced seven days to Christmas and I loudly proclaimed, "FUCK. SERIOUSLY?" And then panicked about my Christmas shopping.

In 2014 we started the year living in Switzerland, in an apartment, riding the bus everywhere, wondering where we'd travel to that year.

In 2015 we start the year living in Canada, in our own house, each driving a car, wondering where we'll travel to this year.

Twelve months isn't a long time, but it is.

Lots can happen, lots can change, and there's a lot to be excited about.

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Oh...Hello

Well, that was a bit of a gap between my last post and now?!

We are back in Canada, safe and sound, though the radio-silence perhaps didn't quite give that away. Or maybe it did. Or didn't. I've had a few friends lovingly harass me that I need to put something up here because, "Urgh! You can't just move back to Canada and go mute! This is the country where you're actually supposed to be able to speak and have people understand you!" Maybe that's the problem? I've been speaking so much for four months, I'm burned out at the end of the day. My fingers are too tired to speak for me. But I have been talking a lot: people finally understand my wit; I'm engaging in delightful repartee! People actually laugh with me now, and not just roll their eyes at me or harrumph at the slow speaking forgein dunce who can't quite master...anything about their language.

But we're back.

We left Zurich on a bleak August day, otherwise known as summer in Switzerland. (Can I just pause a moment to incredulously exclaim over how shitty that summer was?! Thank goodness Kamloops could be relied on for a few scorcher days before fall kicked in). The day before we left we handed the keys over to our apartment, and headed up to Zurich to stay overnight with Dan's aunt and uncle. The next day Dan drove to the airport with his aunt, the cats, and all our luggage, and I took the city bus with Dan's uncle, who was belligerent to the bus driver the entire ride. Why? Because the damn bus company moved the ticket machine! And he didn't know where to buy his ticket! So we had no ticket. And he was mad. And belligerent. And people stared at us. And I was mortified. And thought, "Please, gods of aviation, let our flight be on-time, let it be on the tarmac, let me please get the hell out of this country with nary a hitch."

They listened.

All our luggage arrived in Vancouver, cats included.

When we landed, the customs guy waived the duty and vet inspection fees owing on the cats; he dismissed our carefully itemized list of household goods and told us not to worry about it; he wanted to buy us a Timmie's to welcome us back to Canada.

He loudly told his coworker to, "Go pinch one out. I'll hold the line."

It was a really confusing moment of joy and disgust for me.

I went back to work full-time in mid-September, and that's likely been the hardest thing about this entire move back. I miss my LB. She's done really well though, and has had a lot of time to get to know her grandparents, her aunts, and uncles. She loves everyone so much, and especially her Papa and aunties. She hands me some telephone-shaped object about twenty times a night and says, "Mom, Auntie Ais," or "Mommy, it's Auntie Meg." And then I spend dozens of minutes carrying on conversations with my sisters only to 'hang-up' and have LB hand me the phone again to be all, "Hell no, that conversation isn't over yet."

See? English is really tiring me out.

In terms of adjusting back, that will probably require more thoughtfulness than I have time to give at the moment. You see, it's a Tuesday afternoon and I have taken a day off work to just chill and hang out with my sweet LB. She is currently curled up on our new couch, sleeping underneath a yellow blanket, with Cosmo sleeping beside her. When she wakes up, we're making sugar cookies that we will decorate with too much icing and sprinkles, and that we will freeze so have something to give ol' Saint Nick when he stops by. I have it on good authority there is going to be a space ship and a doll house under our tree.

(Okay, I'm too excited about this. Will share now: In March I was in a local Brocki and came across a handmade, wooden--it was Switzerland after all--doll house. It was twenty francs. I had to buy it. In fact, I snatched it right up when I saw another mom walking towards it. Then I got to the register and didn't have twenty francs, so had to put down a deposit of eight francs in loose change while I ran to a bank machine to take out cash. I spent all spring refurbishing the house--painting it, wallpapering it, etc..--and then we carefully boxed it up to move it back with us, and that will be LB's Santa gift. God I'm excited!)

We're having a big family Christmas this year, with Dan's family coming to stay with us in our new house. We'll have a big appy night on Christmas Eve with both families, then on Christmas day we'll head into the hills to go sledding. Fingers crossed we have snow. We did have a lot, then a pesky Chinook swept through and melted it all. Otherwise, if there's no snow, we'll spend the day drinking warm things, watching movies, and relishing our first family Christmas in five years.

In the meantime, if you're wondering, I'm not going to close up this blog. I like it too much to say goodbye to it.

Posts will be sporadic though, so thanks for sticking around if you still want to. I have more to say, I just need to find my voice again.

I will leave you with this though: just when I thought wearing pajamas in public was the lowest of the low, I discovered the trend of people wearing BEDROOM SLIPPERS IN PUBLIC.

What the serious what?


Thursday, 14 August 2014

On Moving

Well, after my last dramatic post announcing the move it's probably a good idea to follow that up, eh? Rather than leave it hanging?

I should make it abundantly clear that I am actually excited to move back to Canada; however, I just don't quite feel ready yet. And realistically, I'm not sure if I'd ever feel really ready. Dan, either. Which is why we just decided to go for it.

The reason we are moving back is for LB. Specifically, we want to raise her close to family. We do, of course, have family in Switzerland, but it's extended family. All her grandparents, aunts and uncles (and please, please future cousins) live in Canada. Dan and I decided that being close to family is an important cornerstone we want firmly in place for LB's formative years. Hell, let's be honest, it's important for us too. We're tired, yo! We want a weekend off!

But seriously, in January LB tried to play chase with my Dad through the Skype screen and Dan and I were like, "Yeah, that's not cool. We have the power to change this, and we should." I want to make it clear here that Dan and I are lucky to be in a situation where we actually can make the decision to move closer to family. Lots of people don't have that same freedom of mobility, but we do so why not take advantage of it?

I was out on a walk today, and came across one of those rare Swiss anomalies who actually wanted to chat up a stranger. So we chatted, I mentioned we're moving back to Canada, and she was shocked. Absolutely shocked. Leave Switzerland?! The best country in the world?! WHAT ARE WE THINKING. I'm serious. Her exact sentiments translated to, "Aren't you feeling like this is a mistake? Switzerland is really the best."

Thanks, stranger, but no, leaving Switzerland for Canada is not a mistake. Come on. It's not the Gaza Strip.

That said, of course there's things I'm going to miss about Switzerland. The playgrounds here rock; there's nothing childproof about them. I say this as I cast my mind back to a short little slide at a local Kamloops park that has speed bumps in it.

SPEED BUMPS.

Like the child is going to get so much friction going they'll shoot into the river.

Switzerland is a civil law system as opposed to Canada's (and the States') common law system. Common law is exactly as it sounds: precedent law. Successful court actions set precedents, and the result is everyone worries about being sued. I am going to miss looking up to one of Bern's fifteen story buildings and seeing people's office windows swinging open to let in fresh air. No one is overly concerned about a lawsuit.

Oh, that idiot fell out the window. Survival of the fittest, y'all!

Personal responsibility reigns supreme. Yeah, that I will miss. It's actually crazy how worried people are about being sued back home, and it trickles down into everything.

Also, I will miss drinking in the park.

Yeah, it sounds just as lush as I described it.

I will miss the big hiking here. Canada has big hiking, for sure, but I'm not wilderness smart so most of it is off limits until I dust off my copy of "Scaring Off Bears And Staying Alive For Dummies".

I will miss Bern. I will miss the Alps. I will miss wandering around cobblestone streets as I mentally compile my grocery list. I will miss the civility of people here taking the time to get dressed in the morning. Not looking like slobs, just because they can get away with it. Seems shallow, but I was seriously appalled back home how lazy people are. Comfort reigns supreme. If it's not elasticized they don't want to wear it. That makes me sound so snobby, but I don't care. I mean, I actually knew a girl who WORE YOGA PANTS TO HER OFFICE JOB. Think about that. No, her office job was not doing filing for a yoga studio. It really annoys me.

I will miss our family ritual of coffee and pastry on Saturday mornings at our favourite place.

I will really, really, really miss my friends. Oh god, how I will miss them.

I will just plain ol' miss it here.

Things I won't miss?

All the recycling. I'm serious. Sometimes I just want to throw something away, dammit! I don't want to get a call from the caretaker telling me I can't dispose of 'x' item in 'y' spot. I have to take it to 'z' but not until the third Tuesday of the month! I'm really tired of all the recycling. Of course I'll still keep it up in Canada, but not to the extreme I have to do it here. Yeah, that's me, pissing all over Mother Earth.

And on that note: riding public transit. I'm over it. Ever since LB came along, I am sick of taking the bus. The transit here is so good we felt like it was a waste of money buying a car, but not anymore! I am ready to now get in my car, crank my tunes, and drive to the grocery store without interacting with another human being. The old guy I got in a fight with on the bus last week just sealed the deal for me: I'm over it!

I'll look forward to eavesdropping again. No seriously, I will! I have a lack of good story ideas since Swiss-German is still the bane of my existence.

I look forward to Thanksgiving with family, to spending Christmas with family (five years without a big Christmas. FIVE YEARS), to taking LB camping out in the middle of nowhere, to owning a house, helping LB with her homework, driving her to soccer tournaments (if she plays soccer), and just being settled.

We loved it here, but we never actually felt settled here. We probably could have gone on indefinitely with that 'not settled' feeling because it wasn't that uncomfortable, but when I think about all the things on the horizon for our future in Canada, planting our roots is what appeals to me the most.

We moved here for an adventure, and now the biggest adventure lies in the life we're going to build back home.

Because Canada is, and always was, home.