Saturday, 29 August 2009

The spiritual realm

Once in a while I like to catch a news/talk show that airs on CBC called The Hour. It’s hosted by an ex-Much Music (Canada’s equivalent to MTV) VJ who is probably older than he appears. It’s hard to tell though, he looks like he should be fronting Green Day or attempting a kickflip with his skateboard. You know?

When I first started watching the show, Shaune would politely sit through it, but after a few episodes he would either insist we find something we could both watch or he would simply do something else. I’m not sure why he found it so irritating but I suspect it might have had something to do with the host. I like it however, because the guests are unexpected and sought out for unique reasons. The topics covered are wide and varied from human rights to celebrity updates. You might tune in one day to find former Mexican President Vincente Fox discussing the FIFA cup and then the next episode might feature Kenneth Cole and his efforts to find a cure for AIDS.

Anyway, I caught it a few times this past week when Shaune was working late and Eckhart Tolle was the guest on one episode. I forgot how much I loved reading his last book A New Earth. I read it three times! I really connected with it and I remember talking about it to anyone who would listen. I tend to get a bit excited about a good book and sometimes my audience isn’t quite as engaged as I am convinced they are at the time. It takes me a few days to realize that their silence might not have been rapt attention but probably a preoccupation with creating a mental to-do list or planning their dinner for that evening.

Regardless, I still think about some of the ideals of the book every day. Like this one: Most people treat the present moment as if it were an obstacle that they need to overcome. Since the present moment is Life itself, it is an insane way to live. Or this one which I find so powerful: Those who have not found their true wealth, which is the radiant joy of Being and the deep, unshakable peace that comes with it, are beggars, even if they have great material wealth. They are looking outside for scraps of pleasure or fulfillment, for validation, security, or love, while they have a treasure within that not only includes all those things but is infinitely greater than anything the world can offer.
I'm not saying I live by these ideals all the time. I'm stuck in the ways of this world just as much as the next guy. But there's something freeing about knowing life could be different. You know?

Sunday, 23 August 2009


Dear Deaglan,

twenty seconds ago I heard your little footsteps upstairs. You are definitely not asleep yet. Most likely you have gone to your bookshelf and grabbed yourself something to read. Lately, this has been your M.O. after I press play, close the door and head downstairs.

Twenty minutes ago you were in the bathtub splashing around, getting me wet in the process. You love a bath now which has not been the story for most of your life. Since you were born we have bathed you every night and for most of that time you hated it. In the last several weeks this has changed.

Usually I start singing our made-up bathtime song. I then ask you to sing it and honestly I can't believe how well you do. Then we head up to your room where we read two books, one that I choose and one that you choose. Even after the second book you look at me and make the sign for more and say moe book to which I reply after your bath.

When your bath is almost over, on the nights that Daddy isn't working late, we call to him, Shaune we're ready I say and you repeat Shaune!! much to poor Daddy's chagrin that his baby is still referring to him by first name at times. Daddy comes upstairs and takes you out of the tub as if he is a crane-type robot machine, making machine-like noises, lifting you out by your two hands and bouncing you as if there is a spring in his arms. You usually giggle at this and then he wraps you in the towel and carries you over to our bed and kisses you goodnight. Here I soften your skin with lotion, brush your teeth and hair and put on your pyjamas. You usually ask for your choo-choo (soother) and then we head back to your room for the final book. I then kiss your puppy, then you and press play on the cd player and close the door.

Twenty days ago someone asked me how old you were and I had to think. 18 I mean 19 months I said. Time flies doesn't it? she said, this mother of three grown children, enjoy every minute!

Twenty weeks ago or so I turned 38 and calculated for the millionth time how old you would be when I turned a certain age. It went something like I'll be almost 60 when he's turning 21.
And I wondered how we would be then. I remember that I had watched an episode of Without a Trace where the mother of a missing boy was remembering back to when her now 15 year old was 9. He was faking being sick one morning and she catches him. He confesses that he doesn't want to go to school and asks her if she could stay home from work and they could watch As the World Turns and play Scrabble. She takes off her coat, admonishes him for not being honest in the first place and tells him that she could take the morning off to hang out with him. I loved this scene and felt this yearning to have this moment with you someday.

Twenty months ago tomorrow you were placed into my exhausted arms and all I could do was look up at your Dad and then look back at you and say This is our baby? This is you? In all of my prayers, I cannot aptly thank God for the gift of you. I just don't know how to express it in words. I only have tears of joy, moments of sheer grace, and days and days of giddiness. I love you forever and enormously!


Thank you to my wonderful friend Jenn at T Rex Mom and Dad Tales for the Thomas the train backpack. We're loving it!

Friday, 21 August 2009

The lunch crowd

There’s a fully equipped gym where I work, outfitted with the latest treadmills, ellipticals and such, a certified training staff who besides offering personal training at discounted prices also instruct classes ranging from spinning to kickboxing to yoga. Membership to employees is only ten bucks a month, which is such a bargain considering this fitness centre is accessible almost 24 hours a day 7 days a week.

Before Deaglan came along I was fairly committed to working out. I rarely joined my colleagues for lunch in the cafeteria and chose instead to complete my workouts. And so when I was mentally preparing myself to return to work, I fully intended to get right back on the fitness horse and tighten, tone and trim the havoc child birth had wreaked on my body. However, this was not to be.

I don’t know what happened but suddenly I am desperate for social interaction. I look forward to lunch like a prisoner with yard privileges. But it’s not like my homelife is stifling or too much; if you’ve read this blog at all you know I’m one of those annoyingly happy new moms who thinks the sun shines out of her child’s – well you get the picture.

And don’t get me wrong, it’s not like we’re having martinis and sushi at some trendy cafĂ© Samantha and Carrie-style. More like soup of the day and whatever’s on the salad bar donning business casual on the fourth floor with a group of marketing specialists (no offense to my friends in life marketing – I think you guys are just as much fun as the girls from Sex and the City any day).

Adult company in the form of light and easy conversation without having to constantly tell someone to get down from the table or get off the cat or please stop drinking the toilet water is a luxury I had never before fully appreciated.

It’s one of those events that shines brighter after you've become a parent. Something you used to take for granted like sleeping in or going to the bathroom alone but suddenly skyrockets in value because you realize how impossibly elusive it has become now that there is a little person to think about first.

I think about working out all the time, I know I should. But it’s just so much more fun to catch up on how Kim R's home renovations are going or what Alex did on the weekend or Keri’s in-laws' move to Mexico, not to mention Crystal and Shannon’s trips to the cottage.

Monday, 17 August 2009

Gene Simmons may have a point

Two thoughts have been preoccupying me lately. One came from a biography of Gene Simmons of all people. He sort of fascinates me in a revolting way. He said that he has never taken a vacation in his life expounding that when you love what you do you don't need a vacation from it.

I tried to remember when I loved what I did or if I ever loved what I did. Most of my work life was spent in the service industry and I definitely did not love it. I was okay at it though. In particular I was pretty good at bartending. I could remember a customer's name even if he'd only sat at my bar once two years ago. If he came back, I could recall his name and what he had ordered. This combined with my ability to make small talk and disarm people earned me a pretty decent living back then.

I wasn't a wonderful student in highschool, college or university. Just average. And I'm not particularly good at the job I do now. I'm part of a marketing team for the life insurance division of an insurance company. I do alright but I couldn't say I love it.
The other thought that's been taking up some of my thinking time is that we are never taught how to be parents or husbands and wives. It's stunningly lacking in school curriculum and yet they are the most important roles we will ever play in our lifetimes.
I am a learner. It's always been in me. Mostly I'm interested in learning about the psychology of people. And apart from having studied it for four years in university I was always reading tons of books on relationship management, self-help, spirituality, childhood loss and depression.

Then when I found out I was pregnant I devoured books, articles and programs about pregnancy health, fetus development, postpartum health and infancy. It was my steadfast reading that helped prepare me for each new phase of this experience. Recently, I have been focused on literature pertaining to toddlerhood. I feel strongly that good parenting is something that must be learned. I don't believe that it comes naturally. I had never even considered what positive discipline was or what the nutritional needs of a two year old might be let alone how to potty train another human being.

And today while I'm thinking carefully about something the bass player from KISS said, I must also acknowledge that it is a special day for Shaune and me. We've been together for over 10 years now. Some of that time was really rough and we couldn't imagine how we'd ever survive it as a couple. Our friendship seemed to have always pulled us through.
A year ago today I carried my eight month old boy and half a dozen white roses, in my hundred dollar wedding dress and walked up the makeshift aisle we created in our tiny little backyard, and met my best friend who with eyes glistening waited patiently to pledge his vows to me. These things I have become, wife and mother, are never tiresome to me. I may need constant refresher training but I have to admit that in some ways Gene Simmons is right. You don't need a vacation from what you love.
Happy Anniversary Shaune!

Skip on over to the Red Dress Club and check out some of the other entries.

Saturday, 15 August 2009

Day trippers

Well hello again! We've had a week off and as much as I hate to use the term, it was a stay-cation. I've posted some pictures here of some of the daytrips we took.

We visited with family and friends, went to the beach, the children's museum, lots of splash pads, and the African Lion Safari.

Finally the weather cooperated and this made our time off enjoyable and eventful.

I found this bike carrier on kijiji and love that Deaglan is right behind me on bike rides.

The African Lion Safari was a long day and this kid was really good considering. This is near the end of the day - we were there from 1030am to 530pm.

We watched the elephants taking a bath and later had a ride on one of these awesome creatures.

I couldn't wrangle the camera out of his hands until I replaced it with a beer at the end of the day. I think this may have been his favourite part of the safari.

We went to one of our favourite beaches - Ipperwash. Deaglan LOVES the water just like his dad. Afterward we had a late lunch early supper at Grogg's pub. Their fish and chips rock!

I'm looking forward to catching up with you all!

Sunday, 9 August 2009

My best side

We’ve probably taken close to 10,000 pictures since Deaglan was born. I think it must be a side effect of parenting. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s great to be able to look back and see a week-by-week growth chart of our baby. I know that already there is so much I have forgotten and he is not yet two. We were lucky enough to get a bunch of gift certificates from family which enabled us to kick in some extra and invest in a really good camera. And it’s been such a great tool to document this wonderful new avenue of our lives.

However, a pitfall of this has been that I am in so damned many of these pictures. This is mostly because Shaune likes to be the photographer. But here’s where I would rather not have the minute-by-minute reminder of what I look like when I’m not trying to pose. I mean I only share the odd picture of myself on this blog - odd meaning it is a rarity when one turns out not so bad. But believe me most of the shots are BAD. The sad thing is that I can’t blame it on Shaune’s photography skills because the ones of Deaglan are usually awesome.

A few weeks ago Shaune took a real eye-opener. I felt like Elaine on that Seinfeld episode where they keep making fun of the size of her head and she stops and says – could I maybe not be as attractive as I think I am? It’s not that I think I’m some sort of a beauty queen but this particular angle that Shaune seemed to have captured just right was like a slap in the face. My immediate reaction was to want to burn the outfit I was wearing but more than that, have a serious chat with my better half – which by the way was definitely not caught in this particular snapshot – and ask him why he would take such a picture and more importantly why he would let me venture out of the house if such angles were possible!?

In the spirit of full disclosure I’ve included some of these classics for you here. If you ever felt that in the past I was carrying airs or being snobbish in any way, comfort yourself with the knowledge that I had no business doing so.

From the front I thought this outfit was alright. I think Stacey and Clinton may have a point
about needing the 360 degree mirror.

Again with the rear shot - Shaune???

I was determined to have not even one nice memory of our day out with Thomas!

This could have been okay had I said "cheese" instead of "constipated"

I don't even know what to say about this one.

There's no reminder like this one that I need to start watching what I eat.

And these were just the presentable ones folks!

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Healthy parenting

I had to stop in at the grocery store on the way home today. So I left work at my usual time, walked the three minutes to where I was parked and then drove the two blocks to the daycare to get Deaglan. After buckling him in I gave him his sippy filled with cold water and a bag of seedless grapes to snack on and then drove to the nearby grocery store.

When he's in the car I always adjust the rearview mirror so that I can see him and the road behind me. After being away from him all day, I try to drink in that little face as much as I can. He's very serious about his after school snack and it's about the only time I'm not swearing under my breath that this kid just doesn't like anything I put in front of him.

At A&P I grab a cart and lift him in and then take out my wipes and clean the sides and handle of the cart. I only need a few things so I start at the produce aisle, grab the bananas and hummus, make my way over to the bakery and find the freshest whole wheat pita available and then finish off by getting a large brick of marble cheese and a bag of multigrain tostitos. Up until the chip aisle Deaglan has been content with the box of raisins I had handed him upon entering the store.

Chhhheeeps he begins to screetch at the top of his voice, cheeeeeps plllleeeeease. A few people look over and smile. Plllleeease!!!!!! he pleads.

I meet one of these smiling stranger's eyes and shrug slightly embarrassed.

"Sounds like he wants some chips," she laughs.

He couldn't be pleading for the bananas of course and it's about the only time in the last two days that he's remembered to say please. I feel like I've been caught red-handed. My first instinct is to explain to the lady that he only gets junk food once in a while and he has just finished daycare and and...and then I stop.

"Yes, he loves chips," I admit and then open the bag and give him two to stop the damn screetching.

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Playing hooky

When we walked into his room a few days ago to wake him from his late afternoon nap, we found him like this. Get the camera! I whispered to Shaune. To a parent, there is no sight more lovely. Sweet. Innocent. And a yearning for time to stand still just for a little while. To capture that moment and hold it forever.

Because along with all the joy of parenthood also come the fears. Something happens the second after a pregnancy is confirmed. Endless worrying. What ifs, and worst case scenarios begin to take over your mind.

Each trimester comes with it a list of benchmarks to reach and also the possibility of it all going wrong. You count down the weeks exhaling slowly each time the midwife tells you things are going well. By the end, you begin to affirm that everything will be okay once you see the baby, once he's out of your womb, safe into the world.

But no one prepares you for the truth. That once out into this world, your worrying has really just begun.

I try to do my best by him and not let fear and worry rule. I let him fall and make mistakes. I don't run to his rescue everytime. I understand the need to let him learn, watch him continue to harrass the cat after several warnings that if he keeps it up the poor cat will be forced to retaliate. I let him eat things he dropped on the floor, let him cry it out so he could learn to fall asleep on his own, take something away because it could harm him even though it is keeping him busy and out of my hair.

But despite my efforts to think positively and expect the best, a worry that began when I first learned I was pregnant has reared its ugly head. I had discussed it with our doctor then. She stood firmly on the side of most medical professionals. I read about it. I spoke to other parents in my community. And in the end we saw that the benefits of immunization far outweigh the possible risks.

Today I am taking Deaglan in for his 18 month shots. I was up all night worrying. What if? This is the one the talk is all about. This is the one some people have felt is correlated with some brain development disorders . I woke up early and went to the reputable sites. I read again what I had read before. No proven correlation. I feel so small in a big world. So ignorant. Powerless. Because even though I am taking him in, a nagging is still there. I tell myself that this is just the worrying of a parent.