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.

Friday, 25 July 2014

The Times, They Are a Changin'

In exactly four weeks and one day, we are flying back to Canada...but we won't be flying back to Switzerland. Boy, that feels weird to type.

Yes, we are moving back to Canada.

I wrote a big post about it then deleted it, because I'm feeling a lot of feelings and none of them are articulate.

We decided back in February we were moving so that we could raise LB closer to family. We are really excited, but I am also a hot mess of emotions.

I'll chat more about it, but that's all I can manage for now.


Friday, 4 July 2014

My Blog Needs Defibrillation

Heeeyyyy.

I'm in the midst of trying to make it through the day without adding more white hairs to my alarming collection. Dan's had a ton of work commitments, LB still generally thinks sleep is for the weak, is growing and figuring out ways to open doors and escape our apartment, is destroying everything her toddler hands can access, applying mom's favourite lipsticks to her face and hair, and generally being a nearly two year old.

And me? How am I? Well, I accidentally wore my pajama t-shirt to get groceries today. So that sums me up.

Oh yeah! Welcome to my sexy, glamourous, rested, life.

Ha!

But we hit Paris next week and I am so ready for a vacation.

Bring. It. On.

Chat soon!

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

#YesAllWomen

It's a hashtag circulating on twitter, and it's an important one.

If you've been following along I have been doing an On Raising A Daughter series of blogposts. They're important to me because my daughter is going to be a woman one day, and I have concerns for her in how she will navigate a misogynistic society that doesn't admit it is one.

Because that's today's climate, and yesterday's, and it's not okay for anyone to think differently. Maybe in your little pocket of the enchanted forest you live in you don't see discrimination and violence towards women, but you can't ignore it isn't real. Just because you don't see it, doesn't mean it's not real.

It's real.

I am lucky. I'm so lucky because I have never been molested or raped. God I'm lucky. But that doesn't mean I haven't been in uncomfortable situations.  I have been sexually harassed by a slow-moving truck full of teen guys wolf whistling at me, asking me to turn around and show them my tits, then calling me a bitch and telling me I have a fat ass before speeding away. I guess I was supposed to be flattered they noticed me? That was on a Monday afternoon while I was walking on a very public river trail. I have been groped in bars, grabbed, been assumed to be public property just because I was a woman in a bar, then angrily called a tease when I told them to stop. I've 'accidentally' had my ass grabbed by a skeevy perv when standing in line at the bank machine.

I've been in a roomful of guys where they talked about my breasts like they weren't attached to me. A person.

I've been told to show more cleavage.

I've been told I'm ugly. By a stranger. Because I wouldn't kiss him.

Remember, I'm lucky.

I was in an emotionally abusive relationship for three years. How do you break-up with someone who makes you believe you are unlovable? Unwanted? How do you confess to people that you now believe that, too?

So you stay.

And stay.

And stay.

Until you're not even 1/10th the person you used to be.

He did that to me.

Remember, I'm lucky.

We're told that if we don't want the attention, we shouldn't dress like whores. I watched a reality t.v. show where a dad told his daughters that "men get ideas when too much skin is shown. It can be really hard on a man to have all those feelings churning inside him, so you girls need to be modest so you don't tempt men."

It's emphatically wrong that a woman should modify her wardrobe so a man doesn't have to modify his behaviour.

We are told that it's her fault for always dating losers. It's not the abusers fault, it's her fault for continuing to choose them.

 We blame the victim, because surely she played a role in bringing it on herself.

As teenagers, in our hormonal craze of wanting a boyfriend (perfectly normal) we learn to accept unacceptable male behaviour because isn't that attention better than no attention? We learned this from our sisters. And they learned it from theirs. Boys will be boys, don't forget. They can't help it.

Feminists are crazies.

We should ignore their entire message.

We shouldn't classify ourselves as feminists, despite being females. It's a dirty word and the men don't like it. So let's allow them to continue voting and passing laws on what we should be able to do with our bodies. They know best.

Let's not speak up when they dismiss a woman's competency because she's a woman; let's say nothing when a sexist joke makes you feel uncomfortable because Jesus H. lighten up, IT'S JUST A JOKE. It's your fault you don't find it funny.

You're the problem.

Women are told they can't do the same job as a man.

Women earn less.

All women are scared walking home alone, at night. Because what if...

#NotAllMen are like this, but #YesAllWomen should be passionate about this. And their husbands, and brothers, and fathers, too. Passionate about it for your daughters. Your sisters. Your mothers. Your sons.

I want better for my daughter.

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Lotions and Potions

You know how cigarette packages must have mandatory health warnings printed on them just to remind people, "Hey! Might not be a good idea! Why don't you go drink a green juice instead?!" Well, I'm starting to think babies should come with a similar warning. As in, every time you stop to admire someone's newborn there should be a little sign around its neck stating the following:

"Hey, just so you know my parents are going to be exhausted for the next five years! Hope they like feeling sluggish and fuzzy-headed, because neither caffeine nor sleep is going to cure this kind of tired! And I'm so freaking cute I'm playing mind games with them as they dance between remembering those days when they were rested and functional, but feeling conflicted and torn because I wasn't there. HAHAHAHA. Suckers."

Hey Ma, I'm just chilling against this wall right now, wearing my wooden bead necklace you bought me so I'd stop breaking your necklaces. I've got my doll and my ball. Life is sweet, and what? Who? Me? I'm not that much trou.....

MEOW! I'm outta here mom, just saw a cat. Don't even try to catch me.

Oh my lord Internet, she is so stinkin' cute. SO CUTE. It takes all my effort not to photo-bomb Facebook and random strangers with the hundreds of pictures I take of her. I just love her to a million little bits, but Lord, she makes me tired.

SO TIRED.

I said to Dan a couple of weeks ago that it looks like Ma Ingalls just took my face and ran it up and down a scrub board. That's how perma-tired I always look. The fact I don't go to bed until 11:30 probably isn't helping matters...but WHATEVER. 

Night owls unite! For Life!

Recently I was in The Body Shop to get some of my Shea body butter, and I saw these two products and thought I'd give them a try to perk up my skin.


Cleansing Oil and Vitamin E serum

In addition to being tired, my skin is so dehydrated and dry. This is a massive change for me, since you used to be able to oil griddle pans with my acne riddled complexion. But not anymore. Now my skin is Dryee McDryerson.

These are really nice. The cleansing oil doesn't leave me skin oily at all, but it does add some hydration. It's recommended for all skin types, in case anyone with oily skin is interested, and the Vitamin E serum has just given me a concentrated hit of moisture, which I then follow-up with my regular moisturiser. After a couple of weeks of using these every night they have managed to even bring back a smidge of glow to my otherwise dimly-lit face. 

The grooves under my eyes that look like tire tracks are another matter. One that an earlier bedtime might solve, but then how am I supposed to stare for hours at pictures of my baby girl if I'm sleeping?

How? 

How?!

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Beautiful Things

It's storming outside.

Downpour, thunder, lightening, the whole works. I do love a good storm...except when we're on week three of stormy weather. Yes, it's unofficially Switzerland's monsoon season. Err, minus the monsoons.

My dad called me last week to say he was golfing with a European fellow, and when finding out Dan and I were in Switzerland, the man commented: "Ah Switzerland, beautiful country. Crappy weather." Yes, that about sums it up.

So instead of feeling droll about the weather, I thought I'd post a few beautiful things that are acting as my sunshine these days.

The first is that we have booked a Paris trip for the beginning of July. Oh yes! God I love Paris. Every cliche exists for a reason and this is my fourth time going; I can hardly wait to bite into my flaky, daily breakfast, pain au chocolat, and picnic under the Eiffel Tower, take LB to the Versailles gardens (we're skipping the actual Palace this time, because lord there is only so many times a person can be interested in the Hall of Mirrors), and avoid any and all attractions pertaining to Napoleon. Because, ugh, no Dan I don't care about that short little dude who needed to lift his leg and piss all over Europe and claim it as his own. I CARED THE FIRST THREE TIMES, NOT ANYMORE. I'm also excited to just be in Paris.

There is still so much of Europe we haven't seen. Scotland was a contender for I wanted to shut myself away in a stone cottage on a moor, teach LB to skip stones on a Loch, while Dan bombed around the countryside getting pissed at distilleries. It was a beautiful idea, but holy: it costs a lot of money to go get drunk in Scotland while your wife and daughter are skipping stones on a Loch. Since we fail at long-term vacation planning, that was out for our July holiday.

Then there was Sweden. Oh Sweden, I wanted to stay in a forest hotel. As in, the hotel is built INTO THE TREES. See above, re: shit, it costs a lot to sleep like Tarzan for a few nights.

Dan refuses to go back to Italy anymore because he's too Swiss, and Italy literally causes his brain to short circuit.

WHY ISN'T THE TRAIN HERE?
WHY IS IT SO DIRTY?
WHY DOESN'T ANYTHING WORK?
WHY ARE CHILDREN STILL PARTYING IN THE PIAZZA AT 11:30 PM?

Dan floated Germany, and I was all, "Deutsch, pretzels, and bratwurst...PASS."

So Paris it is, and oh I am glad.

The next thing making me happy are the following:

Angle One

Angle Two

So the first thing I'll draw your attention to is the make-up bag with the birds on it. I don't own a lot of make-up, but I learnt my lesson (see Cheap Nudes, somewhere in the archives...), so the little bit of make-up I own is good stuff, and I was keeping that good stuff in a ratty cardboard box. 

Fail.

I was out last Saturday, saw this bag, and snatched it up. Yes, a cardboard box is utilitarian but there's nothing beautiful about it, and I have been making a concerted effort lately that when it's time to replace something, I'm replacing it with the most beautiful option I can find. 

This brings me to the next item, which is the blue-flowered placemat. LB is eating at the table now, and after she dragged her cloth placemat through her dinner for the fifth time, I thought, 'It's time for plastic placemats!' 

Except, dudes, plastic placemats are capital U ugly. I did not want Tweety Bird, Cars, Tinkerbell, or farm animals at my dinner table. So I found these plastic placemats by Rice DK and boom. Problem solved.

Yes, I am fully willing to admit I am a snob when it comes to kid stuff. An utter snob. Which brings us to the third item: LB's new pj's. I have this thing where I think that children should be dressed just like little well-groomed adults. What I mean by this is I don't want her wearing anything that is ugly as fuck and clearly made 'for kids'. That means no Disney characters on her clothes, no juvenile prints, and NO SWEATPANTS IN PUBLIC.

You see? I am a snob. This snobbery is my financial burden to bear, for I'm sure there are a lot of parents out there who are shaking their head a little ol' fiscally irresponsible me because everything I categorised above is cheap. And kids grow fast.

And I don't care! 

So LB outgrew most of her jammies, and I needed to find her new ones that fit within my snobby parameters. This whale number did the trick. In fact, I also asked if they carried them in adult sizes, because damn, I totally want them too.

But they didn't, so I bought some peonies instead. 

My favourite flower, they're in season, enough said. 

I always have fresh flowers in the house lately, because why not. Fresh blooms are beautiful, and beauty is the point of life.

The end.

P.S. What's bringing you guys sunshine, if you're living under clouds?




Friday, 25 April 2014

Missing in Action

Oh it's been awhile!


I'd like to say my prolonged absence was for a super cool reason like we were on a safari, or holidaying on a remote island with no internet, or else on a shopping spree bender, but alas none of those are the reasons. We've been kicking around here the whole time.


The reason I haven't blogged, and oh I am about to bust out my most loathed reason, is because I've been...gulp...busy.


Ack!


I'm so ashamed of myself!


Once upon a time I wrote a ranty blog post about this very excuse and to this day I still stand by that rant. I absolutely loathe it when you ask how someone is and they reply 'busy'. But here I sit with absolutely no other reason to give you. Well, okay, here's one...lazy.


Yes! That's why I haven't blogged: laziness.


Just about every single day LB and I are meeting up with friends for play dates, we're hiking the Gurten, we're having coffee and babyccino dates, we're at the park, we're checking out the horses. Essentially, we're never home.  When we are home she's napping and I'm working. When evening rolls around, I'm usually working for a bit.


I suppose I could blog after I stop work but this is the exact thought that goes through my head every night: "Blog, or watch True Detective/Girls. TV WINS TV WINS TV WINS."


Then I watch t.v. while refurbishing a used dollhouse I found at a local Brocki.


I haven't blogged because I straight up haven't wanted to.


But I have a new post brewing for my 'On Raising A Daugther' series, so I thought I'd pop in and say hi before I drop another ranty post on everyone. Hi. How's it going? I'm good, thanks for asking.


Do you like yogurt? Yes?


Oh good, us too. I have a good yogurt trick up my sleeve if anyone is interested?


You are?


Good. Cool.


So, LB loves yogurt. LOOOVVVEEESS it. Her favourites are the flavoured ones, but there's a hella lot of sugar in those yogurts for her to be eating them every day. And trust me, she likes to eat them every day. So I've started pimping my own yogurt for her to enjoy and oh is she ever. To be honest, every time I make a yogurt for her I feel like quite a smug super-mom, so I thought I should share my secrets so my head doesn't explode from my growing smug-ego.


The first one I'll share with you is one I like to make her for a dip. She eats this with celery, carrots, apples, or cucumber. It's peanut butter yogurt. YES IT IS. And it's delicious. I take about a 1/2 cup (roughly) of plain Greek yogurt (it must be Greek for all recipes to follow...no watery low-fat crap, cool?) and I mix in roughly a tablespoon of peanut butter. Then I sweeten it with just the tiniest squeeze of honey, and *bam* LB's got herself a yummy dip for her afternoon snacks.


The second one is her Saturday morning yogurt treat. Again, I take about a 1/2 cup of yogurt, and then I mix in...Nutella! Oh yes I do. And you should, too. It's yummy, and you're in total control of the amount of sugar going in. We love Saturday's for this very reason.


The next one I do is take yogurt and mix in frozen berries and oats, and that's her standard muesli in the morning for the week.


Finally, when she just wants a little treat to spoon up, I will mix applesauce into plain yogurt. Also a mega-win, and one of her favourite post-nap snacks.


Enjoy!


Be back soon.

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

The Mother Load

Oh lord, I am weary.

I want to do my best in this post to articulate the struggles I am having with motherhood at the moment. Not with LB. Though LB has made me a mother, so obviously my in-the-moment overwhelmedness with motherhood is directly related to our relationship as it is becoming increasingly the norm that our mild-mannered daily tangos seem to be more often turning into tangles. She is getting older and is more and more determined to show me that she is her own person who knows best. Who knows what she wants to do. What she should do. And she doesn't want to be told what to do. Ever.

I have a friend here who has a theory that if you only have one child, you only have a yellow belt in parenting. The more kids you have, the more belt levels you move up because every child--with their own unique personalities--brings a new level of parenting experience you can add to your repertoire. I think she's very right about this.

I have a lot of friends here who only have one, and when I talk to them about what I'm going through with LB they can't seem to fathom that these issues are 'real' because they didn't experience them with their kids at her age.

"She's just little. She can't be that determined yet."

"Tantrums don't start that young."

"Little kids don't like exploring on their own. They like to be with their parents."

None of these are true of LB.

She is little. She is very determined. A friend was over on Sunday, and the only thing LB wanted to do was bang the keys on my computer. My computer was turned on for work, and it's a pain-in-the-ass to close all my programs, shut if off, turn it back on, reopen my programs, so I had it in sleep mode for the two hours I was off. Putting it away was not an option for me, and she had to respect that.

Tricks don't work on LB. She will not be distracted with another toy, she will not divert her attention to a book, or playing with you, or chasing you, or being chased, or anything.

She wants what she wants what she wants.

Period.

My friend, who has a little one who is very easy to distract, tried to see if she could flex her parenting muscle with her powers of distraction and was confident she'd succeeded. Great. I am open to learning. We all went down to LB's room to admire Dan's feat of Brio train track engineering, complete with block structures, and as we looked at it we didn't notice LB sneak out. At this point it had been 1.5 hours she'd been trying to bang on that computer. I noticed she wasn't there and told my friend, "I bet you a $100 I know where she is."

"Surely not. She wouldn't be on there. She can't be that determined."

Guess where she was?

Dogged persistence is going to be her greatest strength, I just need to teach her how to harness it, and I don't know how to do this. I am at a loss.

Yesterday was a truly awful day, complete with the most epic tantrum she's every thrown, and every single calming trick I know wouldn't work. I stepped out of her room to count to ten and collect myself, and she threw-up. To say I felt like the shittiest mom ever would be an understatement. If only I'd diffused the situation earlier. If only I'd noticed the signs. If only, if only, if only.

The blame game, it goes on and on and on.

I am going to be very, very clear here: LB is strong willed. She is not developmentally frustrated. She is not on any spectrum other than, "Parents, I will do what I want. Period." Our girl has an amazing strength of will that I don't know how to work through with her. She is not a hitter, she does not shove, she does not bite. She honestly gets along fairly well with most kids her age. When she doesn't want them near her, she will scream at them. Fair enough, it's the only way she knows how to communicate 'back-off', though we're working on 'nay' being used in those situations.

Her strength of will comes down to being absolutely against whatever instructions her dad or I give her. She wants to show us she can do it. I allow her to do this within the safe confines of certain situations. Others are non-negotiable and that's where we tangle. It's my job to give her the tools to work through her frustration, but I have no idea what tools to give her.

There were other situations that arose yesterday (all on less sleep than I've had since she was a week old) and I found myself getting short-tempered. Yelling. Mirroring her frustration.

It's very rarely I read any form of parenting literature, and it's not because I think I know best. It's because I don't want my natural instincts for my child to be secondary to anything I read that might contradict what I know is best for my child. However, last night I logged onto a blog written by a child-psychologist, whose advice I respect within certain situations. But there wasn't any solace there, last night. She wrote that children who explore with disregard to their parents' location, who won't listen, or who are reluctant to follow their parents' instructions, are not emotionally attached to their parents.

Cue the crying.

I felt. like. shit.

LB doesn't feel attached to me, is what she was saying. So I found myself tossing and turning last night, feeling like I don't know what I'm doing and that I'm failing. I got up and wrote in my journal for her. Honest in the bad-day we'd had, and honest in writing out the verbal apology I'd given her earlier. "I'm sorry that I lost my temper with you today. We were both grumpy and we weren't our best selves. We will do better tomorrow. I love you so much, tiny Sparrow. You're my girl."

And as I wrote to her, I found clarity and belief in my own self. Of course she is attached to me. I am her mom. I am the one she runs to when she is hurt. She runs up to give me kisses, just because. She rests her head on my shoulder when we read stories. I have her heart, and she has mine. And we have bad days.

And she is her own person, and she wants us to respect that. And I do, but I am her mom and her safety and her growth are my job. We will tango again, but right now we are working through the tangle.

And that's okay.

That's life. That's parenthood.

But yes, it's hard.

Friday, 14 March 2014

Generation Whoa

Last night Dan and I were chilling out and listening to some music after LB went to bed. We were listening to, what Dan proudly refers to, as Dan's Mix I. The man takes his mixed compilations very seriously, and each is a perfectly blended mix of tunes designed to invoke a mood and attitude. I was even regaled with the story of how he used to make mixed tapes: it was a multi-day process that involved exact planning and timing so that each sixty minute side of the tape was seamless; there were appropriate delays between songs, and no song was ever left unfinished at the end of Side A or Side B.

My only reaction to this was, "Oh my lord, YOU ARE SO SWISS."

My mix tapes were messy affairs, usually taken right from the radio (commercials included) and there was always one song sacrificed at the end of Side A or Side B.

So we were chilling, letting the soft wave of nostalgia sweep over us as Dan's Mix I took us right back to the 90's and our high school years. There was a lot of Red Hot Chili Peppers on there, and we couldn't believe that this band used to be considered hard core. I mean damn, their music is downright peaceful and MUSICAL compared to all this new-age digitally remastered mumbo-jumbo. Now someone get me my cane so I can bang the Pandora station and decry all this garbage the youngin's are listening to these days.

"I can't believe these guys were considered out there," Dan said shaking his head.

"I know. They were the hard core druggie band of my youth; the bad influence. My god, their behaviour is like a gangly puppy compared to most artists these days."

"I bet when LB's a teen it's going to be commonplace for singers to just be shagging on stage and touching other people's nether regions."

And then I died from laughter.

SHAGGING.

NETHER REGIONS.

I didn't know that every day instead of going to work Dan secretly hopped a flight and hung out in the UK, absorbing their posh lingo and just waiting for the day when he got to use 'shagging' and 'nether regions' in a conversation.

But anyhow, back to his point.

It's a curve for sure. Remember when Christina Aguilera's 'Dirty' video caused mass outrage? Her leather chaps that revealed a lot of--to borrow a word from Dan's new lingo--her bottom, while she danced sexily in a boxing ring with other women. Then she switched into some sort of sexy-school-lady-garage-girl-outfit. My god. I saw that video a while ago, and I thought, "Hmm, she's pretty covered up. What was the big deal?" I mean Internet, she was practicing motorcycle safety: she was wearing a jacket and helmet after all. She wasn't totally throwing the impressionable youth under the wheels of the morality bus. Perhaps the most offensive thing about that video, upon recent viewing, is her bleached blond hair being striped with black streaks. Ugh. Talk about a dated hairstyle. Oh, and her chin and nose piercing. Those studs were hideous.

Where does this curve lead us for LB's teen years? Will singers just abandon any pretense for clothing and start naked and then it will be risky as years go on, and they slowly become more covered up? They're all going to be sexual animals corrupting our youth! This leaves me with no other choice than to introduce her to the smooth crooning tunes of Elvis.

Everyone knows he didn't cause any parental angst.

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Just Put Us On The Cover Of Parenting Weekly

LB is in a very stubborn 'NO' phase. Or rather a very stubborn "Net" or "NAY", followed by violent head shaking, phase. I don't know where she picked up "Net" (pronounced like the Russian word for 'no'); maybe we watched too much Olympic television?

The other night Dan and I were growing weary of our questions being met with NAY, so we decided to turn it into a game for us.

A drinking game.

Yeah...

We were having spicy tacos for dinner (LB's were not spicy, obviously) so of course whenever Mexican's on the menu a cold beer is mandatory to wash it down with. Upon being asked if she wanted her milk (NAY) Dan took a sip of beer, and his eyes lit up with an idea.

"Every time she says no, we have to take a drink."

Then I cackled with delight. "Yes! Let's do it!"

"[LB], do you want some ice cream?"

"NAY."

Drink.

"Hey [LB], do you want a puppy?"

"NAAAYYYY."

Drink.

"Do you want some new books?"

[Insert side-to-side head shaking]

Drink.

"Do you want to mommy and daddy to leave you alone?"

"NAY."

Drink.

Oh toddlers. You have to do what you have to do to find the humour, you know? Incidentally we only each drank a bottle of beer.

In other words, it only took about six questions before we switched to water.

I was super hydrated that night.

Monday, 3 March 2014

Quarantine

Right now Bern seems like it's the epicentre of illness. I keep checking over my shoulder to see if Doctors Without Borders, or the WHO, or UN troops are going to storm the city in hazmat suits armed with ghostbuster packs full of liquid hand sanitiser, spraying into the ground any civilian who gets in their way.

Especially the children.

I mean good grief, children are the grossest. Drinking bathwater? Check. Trying to drink puddle water? Check. Licking the elevator buttons? Check. Licking the bus window? Check. All of this unsavoury behaviour means one thing: they are making us ill! Children are the real bacteria of the world! They aren't even invisible or anything! I can see with my own two eyes the giant germs walking around! Hell, we're even growing one in our home; feeding it, cuddling it, loving it, reading it stories, encouraging it to grow. Good lord! It's madness!

It all started a month ago when I was going about my merry day when I felt suddenly and awfully nauseous. I booked it home, and in less than an hour I went from being grand to feeling like my skin was the ickiest and everything that touched it needed to die. Couldn't I just levitate, naked, in mid-air? WHY NOT? OH WHY????

Then I got the cold sweats, had to call Dan, and put Skype on so my parents to could chat to LB while I slowly decomposed on the couch waiting for Dan to come home with chicken broth.

That night, Dan got it too.

We worshipped at the porcelain throne while or baby looked at us in confusion and wondered who these two shivering, sweaty, gross people were, and where were her parents? She wanted a snack, goddammit! And none of this bullshit prepacked stuff! Something homemade! Serves me right for trying to be a wholesome hippie.

We recovered, planned a date night, and came home to discover that our baby girl had been throwing up all night but Dan's kind aunt figured we needed the night off before our weekend got sucked up by a feverish baby. I spent the next four days trying to get my girl to drink water, eat some crackers, while cleaning up puddles of puke and...other stuff.

She recovered, I planned playdates, then I got that damn stomach flu AGAIN. 

Where's the justice?

We've been cooped up for days, so today we're venturing out, and I'll do my part for putting an end to this flu madness by making sure LB doesn't lick the hand rail in the bus...that much.

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

I Don't Even Know Who I Am Anymore

A\ couple of weeks ago I was reclining on the couch, minding my own business, when LB walked over to me, lifted up my shirt, pointed and my stomach, and laughed. Hysterically.

Repeatedly.

Pointing at my stomach and laughing became her favourite game.

So I did what any rational person does: I wrote her out of the Will then I self medicated with complex carbohydrates.

But seriously.

Dan and I came to the realization that we are only getting older from this point out. Older and more decrepit. And despite having a baby who likes to tear our self-esteem to shreds, we sort of want to be around for her for the long haul. Walking with LB was my daily form of exercise until she insisted upon walking too, now on our daily walks my heart rate spikes just about as much as snail that's found out it's about to become escargot. So in other words, it doesn't.

Now couple all this together with the fact that I have spent the last year thinking I'm 31.

Internet, I'm 32.

I AM A YEAR OLDER THAN I THOUGHT I WAS.

I am turning 33 this year, not 32!

To say I panicked would be an understatement.

I had a full on meltdown.

So I have taken charge of my physical health by carving out the only time in the day, at the moment, where I can workout: those early morning hours when everyone else is still sleeping.

I have been getting up at 6 a.m. to do yoga (I can do that since my knees and elbows bend and shit now), and I don't even know who I am anymore. I HATE MORNINGS. But I'm rising for the greater good of looking after myself, and through my bleary and droopy eyes I can see the sun rising.

And sometimes, on good days, my brain even acknowledges the brilliant colours streaking across the sky and feels glad to have been awake to see them.

Thursday, 30 January 2014

Super Late to the Party

Guys, I have discovered...podcasts.

I know! I know! Seriously, how 2009 of me. The thing is, I am never timely to any party. Ever. I only joined Facebook four years ago, and that was because I wanted to keep in contact with friends I was making in German classes. I offered my email around, but everyone looked at me like I was a freak of nature: EMAIL? What are you, on the cusp of your thirties or something? No one emails anymore! So I joined Facebook, except we all forgot that none of us spoke the same language, including German. It was a bit of a fail.

I'm finally on Twitter, but I don't tweet. I just read. If I think about it, I might start tweeting in five years, right when everyone else moves onto a different medium.

Current Events wasn't my strong subject in social studies, is what I'm sayin'. But never mind, because here I am in the fresh weeks of 2014, finally getting excited about podcasts. Specifically the literature podcast put out by the New Yorker. It features well known authors reading one of their favourite short stories, and then later on discussing the story, interview-style, with the literature editor for the magazine.

It's making my little nerdy heart go pitter-patter. I feel like I'm sitting in class again, debating good books.

The other day I listened to David Sedaris reading a short story written by Miranda July, and then engage in a bit of banter with the editor. I washed the dishes and shouted out when I disagreed with the editor. Incidentally, I always disagree with her because considering the number of stories I've listened to now, I always wonder what page she's on because I never feel she's offering pertinent insight. However, she is the literature editor for the New Yorker, so there's a good chance it's all me.

I like listening to these podcasts as I wash up after lunch, while LB naps, and at night when I'm making dinner.

(Tangent! I have a friend who heard Margaret Atwood lecture at her university, and she warned me her voice was a total bummer. She was right! Don't listen to her podcast! Her voice is without inflection! The most monotonous voice I've ever heard! She sounds stoned! It's so disappointing!)

I've also found a video podcast for LB, and it's one put out by Sesame Street. Each video is about five to ten minutes long, and focuses on a theme. Today's was 'Adventure' and we watched Ginnifer Goodwin and a little Sesame Street character introduce us to what an adventure could be, and watched others tell us about adventures they'd recently been on.

It's good fun, and serves as a timely bit of breathing room when life becomes unbearably difficult for my little poppet. It really sucks when your mother won't let you stand up on the dining room table, or eat flour. It sucks so much that a good scream and a cry are the only way to let your parental units know that YOU. ARE. DISPLEASED. WITH. LIFE.

So tell me, Internet, what are you listening to?

I'd like to wring out as much podcast experience as possible, before it goes up in smoke. Which, should be in about four minutes.

I really am very late to this party.

Sunday, 26 January 2014

A Happy Tree

I was going to title this post "Adventures in Sleep Regression" but that's a bit of a bummer and I'm sort of too tired to try and find the humour in it. I will briefly summarise as follows:

Once upon a time there lived a mum, a dad, and a sweet baby who slept so well, almost from birth, that the parents felt like they won the baby lottery. Then about six weeks ago the baby decided she was done with being a perfect sleeper and decided to plunge, paci-first, into the longest sleep regression known to man. Also known as--determined via lots of frantic googling--the Eighteen Month Sleep Regression. Her parents feel like life is being slowly sucked out of them, one broken sleep at a time. Everyone, including the baby, is grumpy, pissed off, and dead tired.

                                                                    The End

What a great story! Share it with all your parent friends, because someone needs to warn them about this shit.

For serious.

In the few hours a day that we don't feel like crawling into a hole and hibernating until our baby is a grown, well-rounded, fully functioning adult who sleeps through the night again, Dan and I are trying to keep interested in our hobbies in our free non-parenting time. He's reading a Hitler book (WWII history buff, that one), and I've been trying to be arty.

So guess what I did?! I pulled a Bob Ross and painted a picture! Minus the whole happy-tree-landscape-dealio. Basically, I lied to you. I did not pull a Bob Ross. There were no squirrels hanging out in my pocket, or baby raccoons sitting on my shoulder, while I talked softly to a camera about the joys of painting, encouraging you to be brave and put in a big happy tree. But I did paint a picture though. See:


Okay, okay, I painted words! Whatever! Don't hassle me about it! I know it's awesome! NBD! Just relax! I'll sign autographs later!

This a lyric from JayZ's 'Run this Town' and it continues to be my favourite song lyric--quote--of all time. Everyone else can take their Eckhart Tolle, Buddhist, Dalai Lama, Thoreau, Oscar Wilde, Oprah, Kerouac, Fitzgerald, wisdom quotes and shred them. The above is truly what life is all about, right? Right?!

Right!

We just want to change the colour on our mood rings.

That's it!

Anyhow, I do have a painting idea involving cows brewing away, but I need more energy to complete it. More sleep. In the meantime I decided to do this, mainly because Dan and I were sick of the photograph that used to hang in this frame, and I didn't want to develop another of my photos to replace it.

Juuuiiicceee, Internet.

Catch you on the well-rested side.

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

On Raising A Daughter, Part VI: Pretty In Pink Is Everywhere

I've mentioned it before, but prior to having LB I never really paid that much attention to controversial parenting topics. Why would I?

I WASN'T A PARENT.

However, there were some topics that were too loud not to hear, even for the childless. For example, that whole bottle vs. breast thing, the angry back-and-forth regarding the cry-it-out method, the topic of spanking, and the indignant screams of "Our Daughters Will Not Wear Pink!"

Over the years I have met many, many parents who are absolutely riled up about pink clothing.  For reasons that I really don't understand, it's the parents of girls who want to ensure people don't automatically assume their baby daughter is a 'girl', rather than parents of boys. I have met more than a handful of people who only shopped for their baby girl's clothes in the boy section, but I have never once met parents of boys who have purposefully shopped for their son's clothes in the girl's section. More times than I care to count I have blundered and assumed someone's baby is a boy, when it's a girl, and I took the cue based on what they were wearing. Not necessarily by the colour of the shirt, but by the graphics on the shirt. Does the shirt have a tractor on it? An airplane? A bow tie? Must be a boy, right? Not necessarily. Whenever this usually happens, the parent is oft to smugly reply, "Actually, she's a girl. We don't believe in limiting her clothing choices to pink."

Okay...

Since having LB I'm now even more confused why some parents of girls tried to avoid pink by dressing their daughters in boy's clothing, because I've never felt limited by the colour choices available in the girl's clothing section. Is pink around? Hell yeah. There's a lot of it, and we definitely own some of it. But it's absolutely not the only colour available, not by a long shot. There is a lot of choice, and you don't have to look that hard to find it. To clarify, I shop for LB mostly at H&M, because I have a subversion to spending too much money on something she will quickly outgrow. I also find clothes for her on sale at places like Loeb and Globus, and we have loving family who have showered LB with Carter's and OshKosh. Furthermore, I'm also now really confused about some of these parents who felt the need to dress their daughters in boys clothes because some have since gone on to have sons, and I don't know if they are just too tired (what with having two kids now) to keep up their rigorous vendetta against society's colour coding of gender, but they don't shop for their sons in the girl section. At all. 

What the fuck is the deal with that?

So girls can look like boys, but boys shouldn't look like girls?

That's a fairly significant double standard to play out in one family, don't you think?

I get that the subversion to pink is that it's considered not only a representation of submissive femaleness, but it also is a colour loaded with the implication that pink=girls caring too much about appearance. Being hung up on how they look. However, can't blue be just as damaging? Can't it equally stand for hyper-masculinity and all the problems that come along with that? And if we're going to be indignant about clothing choices, why not get all up in arms about how effing hideous it is that our kids have Disney princesses and Disney cars on their shirts and shoes, often as the ONLY CHOICE. I mean dudes, there's nothing stylish about that at all!

So no, Internet, I haven't found that the battle of pink should be waged in the wardrobes, but hear me out: I definitely think there is a war to be waged and it's in the aisles of the toy stores.

LB is seventeen months old now, and she's starting to branch out into more diverse toys. We are no longer just dealing with rattles and crinkle toys, which are all gender neutral. I didn't even realise that toys have shifted towards being alarmingly NOT gender neutral until that day I tried to find a baby doll for LB, for her Santa gift: one side of the store was garishly pink and the other side of the store was...all the rest of the colours.

There was a girl section for toys and a boy section.

Wha???

Since when is imagination gender specific? And so gender specific that one side of the store practically shouted NO BOYS ALLOWED.

I really don't care if studies have shown that boys and girls play differently. Since when does playing differently meaning spelling out to them that if they're a girl, these are their toy choices, and if they're a boy, it's these ones? It seems fairly stunting, and quite the opposite of what toys are supposed to do, when they are so gender specific. Toys are supposed to foster play, allow your kid to explore their imagination, and consequently figure out who they are and what their interests are.

When the only play kitchen options are pink, does this really encourage the boys to want to pretend to be chefs? Or to cook a meal for their family? When the toy babies are all dressed in pink and accessorised with pink strollers, will the boys, past a certain age, still feel comfortable playing with them or will they feel only girls can play with them? Boys (gasp!) like to play with dolls, too. I guess it's because they're human, hence have nurturing instincts, and want to impart on their baby dolls some of the nurturing they see their parents bestowing on them. Go figure! But it'll be an uphill battle to continue that interest once forces outside the home tell them that pink is for girls, hence their pink stroller is a girl's toy and if they play with it they're a girl. And Internet, I looked: there are only pink strollers.

And our girls. Pink is for girls, so I guess that yellow power drill set isn't for girls. Only boys. I guess it would only be for girls if they made it pink. Because that's the only way a girl will be interested in playing with it, right? If it's a pretty colour? If that's not gender discrimination, then this next one sure is: A grey microscope which, on the box, features a dad and his son being interested in science, marketed next to the pink microscope where the girl is alone, examining a flower. Fuck me. It's bad enough Lego has its pink line now, and it's not for building anything imaginative: it's a pre-determined structure, you build the house (or stable, or shopping strip), and that's all you can do with it. Then the Lego 'friends' can bake, shop, or get gussied up for a party. Holy. Shit. Our girls won't be dreaming about a career in architecture if they're only given the pink Lego, that's for sure.

Listen, if you can't tell, I'm downright pissed about the pink toys.

PISSED ABOUT IT.

Because unlike clothing, there aren't any other options. We're being told that these toys are 'only' for girls, to make sure only the girls play with them they're ONLY PINK, and I absolutely believe this has larger ramifications for enforcing gender stereotypes, and if you don't believe me look at this:

Toy catalog: 1970's vs. Today

(image via ToysRUs)

Nah, I'm just imagining it: toys aren't reinforcing for girls that looks are everything.

But...what happened to Strawberry Shortcake?

And Rainbow Bright?

And why does My Little Pony have to be a sexed-up hybrid?

(all images via Google images searching 'toys seem more pink' and 'girl toys seem sexier'. Though warning: proceed at your own risk on the last search term. Yikes. There was some very NSFW images next to Strawberry Shortcake)

Our girls (and boys) deserve better than this. They deserve to be able to play with any toy they choose, without reaching an eventual point where they wonder if the toy they're playing with is really a girl toy or a boy toy.

Purposefully dressing our girls like boys isn't solving anything, but having our children be able to play together with toys that aren't so gender specific it will create a nagging, wondering, question: "Is this really for me? Is this all there is for me?" can change everything.

Children don't deserve to have their imagination be pigeon-holed by pink or blue.

Monday, 6 January 2014

Home Sweet Home

Cosmo is home, and so far seems to be on the road to recovery.
 
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He spent all of Saturday night following me around and trying to be in my arms at all times, which I was happy to oblige him with. He has since spent Sunday and most of today trying to avoid LB's enthusiastic devotions of love.
 
Poppy isn't taking Cosmo's return in good stride: she was happy to be an only cat last week, and has been hissing her displeasure for these past two days.
 
It's a fine balance, my friends.
 
A fine balance.

Thursday, 2 January 2014

Oops, I Did It Again!

Remember how last year I confessed to having spoiled LB over Christmas? Well, it's possible I did it again this year.

I say it's 'possible', because while Dan thinks we did, I actually seriously don't believe we went overboard. The play kitchen with its assorted fruits, vegetables, and pots and pans was definitely her main gift, and then I rounded it out with a few books, blocks, some wooden farm animals, and...a toy piano.

That doesn't seem unreasonable, does it?!

Ah, maybe it is. The thing is, I can't help it. Well, alright, yes I could help it but I don't want to. Toys are so awesome and fun! Whee!

There is one small gift that LB received in her stocking that I am the most proud of, though. I think part of the joy of gift giving is really knowing the person to whom you are giving a gift, and really knowing what makes them happy, and Internet, I totally nailed it when LB pulled from her stocking this amazing thing:

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Can you guess what it is?

It's...it's...it's...it's...LB's very own...:

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Key chain!

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Complete with keys!

Yes, she got her own key chain with two keys because there's nothing she loves more in the world than my keys. There's also nothing in the world she can lose faster than my keys, so it was time to give her a set of her own.

I hang them up with our keys, and when it's time to go out I hand LB hers. We get ready, I ask her if she has her keys, we 'lock' the door, and then we go downstairs, I bundle her into her stroller, and for a solid twenty minutes afterwards she plays with the key chain, scratching the pony's gigantic eyes, handling the keys, and fielding strangers' questions about what her keys go to.

(Our old storage unit and the front door to my parents' house, FTW!) 

I think this is possibly my favourite thing we gave her.