Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Have You Hugged a Hipster Today?

I have noticed that there is a standard uniform that girls in Bern, ages 18 to 27 (incredibly accurate, btw; don't assume I'm making-up that age bracket), wear: skinny jeans ranging in colours from dark wash to baby pink, a snug shirt that is neither revealing nor inappropriately tight, a fitted blazer, lots of bangles and a chunky necklace, and heeled footwear. Bless their hearts, all of them look like they're about to head to casual Friday at the office. This uniform can even be seen in the late hours of the night, when they're smoking their way through a pack of Parisienne's on their way to the night club. The only thing that *might* change when headed to the clubs is they could wear a skirt that is both revealing and inappropriately tight, but I don't judge. I once wore trousers with pleats to the bar, and then left at the end of the night feeling super sad that no one asked me to dance. I mean, couldn't they tell by my pleated trousers that I was clearly up for some arm-length dancing, chased with lemon water? So yes, if you're going to show some skin I suppose one could consider a night club to be an appropriate place to do so.

Anyhow, this is the uniform for the hip young things around Bern and I find it to be quite sweet. They're all so sensibly dressed! It's like they all know that at any minute they could be called in for a job interview, and they're always ready for it.

So today LB and I were in Bern waiting at the bus stop for our sweet ride home, when we were approached by two girls who were not only not wearing The Uniform, but they might have been hipsters. Why do I think they were hipsters? Well, for one thing they were wearing awesome thick rimmed glasses (clue number one), they each had a gorgeous pair of lace up boots on even though it's summer (clue number two), and they both looked like they'd recently done a shop in their Nan's closet (clue number three). One girl was wearing an awesome floral dress that your grandma might wear to church. It was sort of billowy in the bosom, there was a white lace collar, but it was all cinched in at the waist with a leather belt. I mean sure, that's not a lot to go on to think maybe they're hipsters, and if they'd been walking with a guy who was wearing super tight jeans, a plaid shirt, and twirling the tips of his waxed moustache I might have been more certain. But they weren't, so their clothes and their angular bed-head hair cuts is all I have to go on.

So these hip young ladies paused in front of LB and me, and they started to go giddy over LB.

I was pleased by this.

My baby is awesome, and it's nice when other people pause in their day to put their shades on because they're so blinded by her awesomeness.

Then these hipsters paid LB the funniest compliment. I mean, I actually laughed out loud: "I love her hair! It's such a mega-cool style, did you get it cut that way?"

"Seriously? HAHAHA. Oh. Seriously. Um, no I didn't get it cut. She's only a year old, so it's still her baby hair growing in."

"It is so, so, cool."

"And her shoes! Those are the coolest shoes." LB was wearing the handmade wool booties with leather soles my friend T. bought her. They're super warm and they look lightly crunchy.

"Where did you find those? In a Brocki?"

(A Brocki is a second-hand shop.)

"Um, no. These are from Canada. Made over there."

"Kanada! Mega-cool. Do they have them for adults?"

They fussed over LB some more, which LB loved because she is really a very social little creature, then as the bus came and we were heading our separate ways one of the girls again commented on how awesome LB's hair is.

In case you're wondering, here's that awesome baby's cool hair:

Yes, I do think my hair is pleasing to the eye.

Alright, I'll let you have another picture!

No more pictures!
It's time for me to relax with some reading.
 'Harold and the Purple Crayon' will do nicely.

Oh hipsters, you really do leave a mother feeling all warm and fuzzy inside.

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

On Raising A Daughter Part III: Don't Be One Of Those Girls

Don't adjust your screens! You haven't entered some alternate universe! What you are seeing is true: I am blogging two days in a row!

***

We've all met her, probably a few times at different points in our lives. She's the girl that can't play nicely with other girls.

My first encounter with a girl like this (an exchange where I was actually able to pause and think, "Ah-ha! You're the problem not me!") was when I started working at glamorous Wendy's. I am a very hard worker and I buckled down to do the job; the owner of the business pulled me and the other new guy aside one day to tell us he was impressed with how great we were doing, and he'd like for us to train to be team-leaders even though we hadn't been there that long.

I was beaming with happiness, the other guy was pretty happy, and our co-worker Amy (who I barely knew, but she had worked there longer) heard the conversation. When the boss left for the day she walked up to me (only me!)  and said, "What's your deal? Are you quiet or just a total fucking bitch?!"

Then she sort of sneered in my face and walked away.

Holy shit, I don't think it takes a psychologist to figure out I was stunned and really hurt. I even shed a few tears in my car on the way home. But later that night I realised, "Hey! Fuck you, Amy! It's not my problem I'm a good worker and got asked to be a team-leader and you didn't!"

We were never friends, Amy and I, and that was her loss.

I'm a good friend.

My point in relaying this scenario is to highlight that I don't understand why some girls feel an immediate antagonistic friction with other girls, by default of them being a girl. Why wasn't Amy confronting the guy who was also asked to be a team leader? Who knows, but she didn't. She picked me, and this problem of girls hating on girls is a very real issue and I don't want LB to fall down this wormhole. Also, I want to clarify that I'm not stating that all girls have to like each other just because they're the same gender; that is categorically impossible: some people are mega douche bags and it's not possible to like them.

***

My sister told me about a time that she was invited to a party by a guy she knows; there were only a handful of other girls there, and apart from the person who invited her she didn't know anyone. My sister (both of them, actually) is really funny and she was cracking jokes and the dudes were laughing, but she noticed that the other girls in the room were turning their backs on her. They were whispering together, looking her way, and she was feeling as though they were circling the wagons and she was being left alone on the bald prairie. To clarify, she wasn't encroaching on boyfriend territory, she was just sitting on a couch in a room full of people she didn't know, participating in conversations and trying to fit in. She was pretty hurt that they were obviously excluding her, and she didn't really know why but I'm going to define it: they were threatened.

Did they think she was too funny? That she was better at sitting on a couch and drinking beer? Or that she was going to steal all the boys? That she was some travelling mystic who entered rooms, charmed all the men, then left with them trailing behind her? Why were they wary of her? But come on, you've seen it before. Right? When one girl is new to the party, doesn't know anyone, and a group of other girls decide to shun her. Make her feel that she shouldn't be there. For me, this unwelcoming behaviour is absolutely the lowest of the low.

It is completely unacceptable.

I also want to clarify that this feeling of women being threatened by other women isn't behaviour that is just about a possessiveness for male attention (Fun fact ladies: unless a huge van approaches you helmed by burly brutes who can lift people, it's impossible for someone to 'steal' your boyfriend if that boyfriend isn't willing to be 'stolen'. Don't forget that!). I've seen it everywhere: in sports, in work environments, in circles of friends, at volunteer events, in the bathroom at restaurants. It happens everywhere, and I don't really know why. Other than to make a vague point about lack of self-confidence, I truly don't understand why some women clench up when new women are introduced to the fold, but it happens and I really don't want this for LB.

Of course I want her to feel healthy competition, but depending on the issue: she's in competition with everyone, not just women. Does she want to get the highest score on the math test? She has to beat all the kids in her class. Does she want to land that dream job? She needs to have the best interview out of everyone. Does she want to be the fastest swimmer in her heat? Then yes, she needs to beat all the other girls. The other competitors.

However, I don't want her growing up to feel wary, suspicious, and threatened by other girls just because they're girls. I hope to impart some sort of inherent knowledge on LB that you aren't allowed to be wary of someone based on gender alone because it's a sign of an utterly weak and poorly developed character, and it's disgraceful.
 

Monday, 19 August 2013

Reflections On A Year

Yesterday our sweet LB turned one year old.

We had a party for her, complete with a towering birthday cake, friends and family, paper pom-poms, and a couple of parents who paused to look at each other at one point to exclaim, "That year went fast!"

***

On Saturday night I was so excited about her birthday that I couldn't sleep, so I spent my time lying awake and thinking thoughts that went along the lines of, "This time last year I was..."

***

At 7:30 a.m. on August 17th I woke up late for a doctor's appointment, used the toilet, and then thought, "Oh gross! What's happening?!"

(I encourage you all to read at least one page of a pregnancy book. Just skip all the sensational nonsense that your doctor will practically inform you of, if it's an issue, and go to the end where it says, "When your body is getting ready for labour, this might happen!"

***

This time last year my water 'breaks' at Migros. We rush to hospital, hang out for a few hours, my doctor tells me, "That must have been the false water sack."

We leave hospital dejected.

My water truthfully BREAKS (gushes, explodes, no control over rushing water) at the bus stop a few feet outside hospital, and I scare a pack of teenagers into adolescent celibacy.  The mid-wives chortle in disbelief as I squish my way back to the delivery wing.

Dry clothes, Dan and I resume our Monopoly game on my phone, I start to hear women SCREAMING in pain all around me in the delivery ward.

I'm slightly scared.

Contractions surprise me with how painful they are. I have no breaks in between any of them. One ends, another begins. It ends. It begins. It ends. It begins. The CTG machine print-out is a series of peaks with no valleys.

I hobble into delivery room during a contraction, ask for an epidural, then throw-up.

Epidural is given at 11:00 p.m.,  I feel such relief that I fall asleep and don't wake up until 1:30 when I can feel that the baby is coming.

At 1:40 I start pushing and at 2:10 a.m. our world changes forever when our strong (early) girl enters the world crying the most beautiful cry I've ever heard.

***

 
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A few weeks old vs. One year old
 
This year has been every cliché one might imagine, except for the fact it wasn't. It was hard, it was easy, we laughed, there were tears, some days we felt weightless and other days we felt heavy. Some moments were scary and others were so unbelievably awesome I couldn't believe this got to be real life.
 
I've often felt overwhelmed when I've paused to look at LB, rolling, crawling, toddling, across the floor, and realised, "You are ours." Because, whoa! We have a daughter. A beautiful little soul who is every delight I knew existed, yet until meeting her didn't believe was actually possible.
 
She is possibility. In every connotation.
 
She was blessed by the butterflies, she was born when the stars were hanging in the sky and warm evening breezes were filling those gossamer delivery room curtains with air and pushing them up to the ceiling.
 
*** 
 
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Her party was a wonderful celebration, and yesterday night (when it ended) Dan and I high-fived each other for being proper adults. We hosted our baby's first birthday, we cleaned up the huge mess that resulted from it, we were tired and elated. So we popped the cork from the champagne bottle, collapsed on the couch, and toasted ourselves to a year well done.
 
To us, for rocking parenthood and partnership.
 
***

Here are some shots of her party:
 
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Her epic three layer vanilla cake!
The design is via Sweetapolita, and the cake recipe is from the divine goddess Martha Stewart.
I baked the cake on Saturday night, got the layers filled and the crumb coating on, and Dan put his
bakery skills to work by getting the outside frosting ultra-smooth.
(Fun fact: Dan's parents owned a bakery, and he knows how to do stuff like bake bread and get icing really smooth.)
 
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Me explaining to LB that this is called a 'sugar-bomb' and even though she's never had sugar before, we think she'll like it.
(Also telling her to make a wish!)
 
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What is this strange confection?
 
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Hmm...I think I like...BOING, SUGAR RUSH!
 
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So I says to that baby, "Hey! Baby! Get your own toy car to play with! This green one is mine!
Those babies at playgroup be crazy! LOLZ!"
 
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Ah! Mother! Get that camera outta my face! I'm telling everyone a story about
playgroup! You're killing my buzz!
 
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We relied on the sugar rush to keep her awake past naptime, so she could function to open gifts.
 
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The queen of the bumblebees unwrapping her ride.
 
***
 
There's no other way to sum this up other than to say she is enchanting. She is more than words, just as this past year has been. It's been the best year of our lives. It's been so vibrant and at times so dark, but at all times she has been here, shining bright: the light we always saw in our future and wondered what it was.

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

(The) Oxford (New English Dictionary)

I went to Oxford, England last week.

Without Dan.

Without LB.

Just by myself to visit my lovely friends, who moved there this year from Bern. I had a fantastic time, and I finally got to experience what a quaint English village was all about (not Oxford, rather this other village that we took a bus to get to--a bus that dropped us off on the side of a highway and we had to run across four lanes of traffic to get to the other side--where we had a pint before catching another bus to go even further into the cute English countryside where we had high tea).

I hardly took any pictures, I was too busy talking. Seriously. I didn't even tour any of the colleges, which I think caused lovely Dr. B to shake his head in mild confusion because WHY ELSE DOES ONE VISIT OXFORD IF NOT TO VISIT THE COLLEGES?! But you see I wasn't there to play tourist, I just really wanted to catch-up with my friends, watch lots of Gavin & Stacey, and sleep like I was training for the mother f-ckin' sleep Olympics.

I'm super cultured, you know.

But look!
A picture of leaning tea cups!
 
I did take a lot of pictures of this one road near Andie and Sam's house, because it's a street with my last name and I was fairly giddy to see so many signs with my last name on them. However, I'm still naively under the impression the Internet doesn't know who I am, so I'm not posting those pictures.
 
Anyhow, I loved and needed those four days to myself, but leading up to the trip I was a bundle of nerves about leaving LB.
 
I want to clarify that I was not worried about leaving her with Dan, rather I was just anxious to be away from her. Especially since when you talk to most mothers, hardly any of them have ever left their six year olds let alone their babies. And some of them can get a little judgemental about the fact you are not only going away for four days, but are also looking forward to it.
 
Some even believe that childhood is so short it's not worth spending even a night away from your kids.
 
Admirable, but...insane. I'll let those other women win at being Supermom.
 
And I am straight-up not going to pretend otherwise: Internet, I was really looking forward to my four days to myself. Even though I was anxious to leave my baby-girl, I so needed that R&R.
 
I am also not reluctant to let you all know that LB was totally fine with me gone. She and Dan had four days of one-on-one time (which is important, since Dan sees her for maybe two hours a day, Monday to Friday), and when I met them at the Bahnhof she was like, "Yo, it's mom. How are yo--..DOG. ANOTHER DOG. DOGS. DOGS. I LOVE ANIMALS."
 
In other words, she had bigger priorities and wasn't too into the hugs and kisses I was showering her with.
 
But I did it. I went away by myself without my sweet LB, we were all fine (except for the fact I think Andie and Sam were sick of looking at LB pictures I would shove under their noses)(oh, and the fact I physically ached every time I saw a baby LB's age--wasn't expecting that), and most importantly: Mama did done get some resting in, and I'm a whole new woman.
 
I feel refreshed.
 
Later this week I'll show you the other few pictures I took while I was away.
 
Cheerio.