Friday, February 25, 2011

Guilt of the working mom.

I have recently returned to work after nearly three great/frustrating/poop filled/fun years home with my two boys.  It has been 4 weeks and I love my new job.  I enjoy being more than the wiper of snotty noses, changer of diapers and maker of lunch.  I feel as though I have purpose again.  Even if that purpose is to help make a large company more money.

Even as I write this I feel twinges of guilt.  "Is this what is best for the family as a whole"?   Financially we were able to manage on one salary so that wasn't what drove me back to work.  The reason that I returned to work was purely selfish... I needed to reconnect with someone I had been missing - me.  Before I even met my husband I had pursued a degree in engineering which would lead to a career in engineering.  The degree was hard work including long hours and of course lots of money spent on tuition.  As far as I know engineering is one of the most demanding undergraduate degrees out there.  My husband is also and engineer so he understands this. 

Prior to having children we both worked on our careers.  Then we decided that it was time to start a family.  I took a year off for maternity leave (which is standard in Canada) and then went back to the job that I had held previously.  When we were expecting our second child we decided that it would be nice to move closer to family.  My husband found work near his family (since mine didn't live anywhere that there was an abundance of work available for 2 engineers).  I decided to take an extended leave to help get the family settled before the 2nd baby came.  Don't get me wrong I enjoyed my time at home.  But after 2+ years home I started to get restless and was not enjoying the little things as much as I should've been.

So now I am back to work at a new job and its great! Except for the fact that I only see my kids for 2-3 hours a day.  This time is not relaxing cuddly time, but rather emotionally distraught, stressful times involving yelling, whining and pleading... and the kids are whiny too!  Our mornings start early (5:45) and we are dropping off at daycare by 7am.  My husband has a slightly shorter work day and a shorter commute so he picks them up again at about 4:30-4:45.  After picking up them up he rushes home to make dinner for the family.  I commute 45 min each way and don't get home until 5:30.  Luckily for me my wonderful husband usually has dinner ready to go!  After dinner we try to play with the kids and do family things.  However, too soon the kids have to go have their bath and then bedtime by 7-7:30pm.

The kids are settling into their daycare and really enjoy it, but they miss their mom being home and they're tired by the end of the day.   Patience is in short supply and tears flow easily.   My hope is that soon we will get a good routine that works for everyone and that we all adjust to our new life.  Going back to work was not something that I did lightly, but now that I have I don't want to give it up (I may be a little stubborn that way).  I just hope that my kids don't resent that I had to look after my own needs too.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

The power of snot... wait that should be thought... uh no, snot was right.

I am in the middle of painting my 4 year old son's room.  I know that the most important part of any painting job is the prep work that goes in before.  While washing the walls removing all of the greasy schmears that have accumulated over the past two years and I work my way to the corner of his room where his bed is usually pushed into.  Low and behold I find the snot stronghold.  It appers that my son has decided that rather than get out of bed to get a kleenex it is much easier to wipe the motherlode of crusty nose mining on his wall.  Ewwww.

The petrified snot is extremely difficult to wipe off.  It makes me think that perhaps there is an untapped market here for some new super glue product.  Think about it it would be even an environmentally friendly product!  I mean this stuff does not want to come off the wall.  I have to take a two step process to finally remove the offending snot from the wall.  First I make the area extra wet, then after a few minutes I return to snot central and put some elbow grease into it to finally remove the boogers.   Ah well there goes the super glue theory since it actually came off... perhaps more of a temporary adhesive.  There could be a good market for this product... it would be cheap free to manufacture.  During cold season the whole family would have to go lick door handles or something like that to ensure that we all were sick and to increase production.   I wonder if dogs have snot... after all I would expect the entire family to contribute.

Okay so pretty much all kids pick their noses... I mean its a given, but really why not just wipe it on the bedding so that the washing machine gets to clean it up.  Or wipe it on the sleep of his pajamas... again for the washing machine to clean.  I never thought that I'd have to recommend that to my kid.  Imagine this conversation (which may or may not have happened):

Me:  Okay if you're too lazy/tired/scared to get out of bed at night don't forget to only wipe your nose on your pj's or pillow case!  
Son:  Okay mom I promise I'll try not to wipe it on the wall any more.  (angelically bats eye-lids) I love you Mom.
Me:  I love you too sweet-heart!  Good night.

Yeah...  (snorts loudly with laughter)  that's just not very likely... It would more likely involve some cursing and threats and stern looks (which are giving me wrinkles).

You may think that this blog posting is brought to you by too many paint fumes... however I assure you that I bought the zero voc paint (only the best for my babies).  I attribute this to the wandering mind that comes with those quiet "alone" tasks that kids aren't allowed to be around for.  In case you were wondering I also considered naming this posting:  "Life is Boogerful" or "Snotting Hill" or "Snot in the Name of Love".  (really, the list is endless)

As a closing thought I give you this poem (?) er, childish rhyme that my good friend likes to say:

Don't kiss your mommy when your nose is runny
You might think its funny, but it's snot!

And this one that my Dad always said:

You can pick your nose.
You can pick your friends.
But you can't pick your friend's nose.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Goodbye and Good riddance 2010!

2010 was a turbulent year for me to say the least!  It had some epic good times as well as some serious lows!  I'm hoping that 2011 will step up and be a better year. (I would say it couldn't be worse, but I really wouldn't want to tempt the fates lest I be struck down by lightning or something like that!!)

2010 Reviewed

This blog started in 2010!  It was my attempt to become a "blogger"  not sure that I actually am since I don't update regularly.  Surely I will never make a career out of it, but I do enjoy it all the same.

2010 saw my "town" host the olympic games and do a spectacular job of it in spite of the weather's lack of cooperation.  I didn't have tickets to any events, but I did get downtown to experience the "vibe" and the patriotism that is being Canadian!  I have to say that I had a rather pessimistic outlook of hosting the Olympics and the outrageous price tag that comes with it, however, I have to admit that it seems that this area doesn't do many major infrastructure improvements unless it hosts a major event so I guess it needs the incentive!  

 My New Years resolution for 2010 was to compete in the Vancouver Sunrun.  It is one of the largest 10k runs in the world with around 50000 participants.  Let me just say that I am not a runner... or at least I never thought that I was.  I took a learn to run clinic through my local running store.  The clinic took me up to a 5k level and I continued training after with my hubby.  In the end I did a combination run/walk for the sunrun and it was a fantastic experience!

For our family vacation we drove to Whitehorse and back towing our trailer and camping along the way.  It is all documented on our family travel blog.  It was a great bonding experience and I was so proud of my kids with how they handled the many hours of driving.  Round trip we traveled like 5000km!  The scenery was fantastic and we had a great time at the wedding we attended there (our actual reason for the drive).  My kids love camping and in the fall we bought a membership to a close by campground and are looking forward to doing even more camping next year!

Those were the hi-lights of the year!  However this year also dealt me a crap hand as well.

I lost two very important people in my life.  In April my Grandma passed away.  She had lived a full life and was 84 years old.  It was sad, but at the same time it was nice to think of her reunited with the love of her life as well as no longer being in pain from her chronic arthritis.  In October my father passed away.  He was not very old; only 59.  His death has shaken my very foundation.  It makes it worse since we had not been on good terms with one another and never had a chance to reconnect.  I'm still dealing with my emotions from that one.  Mostly I can ignore them but I find that late at night when I can't sleep it all catches up to me and I feel the grief of my loss like a sharp pain.  Perhaps next year I will be able to work through that and have some closure. 

I attempted halfheartedly and unsuccessfully to go back to work.  I think the thing is that I got my hopes up and they were dashed.  I will say that it was good practice going through the interview process, even though I was not the successful candidate.  (Working on the power of positive thought here people!)

2011 Here we come!

In 2011 am going to compete in a local triathlon.  In order to do this I am have signed up for yet another "learn-to" program.  I find that this is the most successful way I have of committing to a program since I am good at doing prescribed homework/training when I know that I will suffer more if I miss my workouts! 

I am going get back to work!  I know its great to stay home with my kids, but I have already been off for more than 2-1/2 years and if I stay off much longer it will be even more difficult to get back into.  I worked my butt off to earn my engineering degree and I am not willing to just let it go!!  I know it will be hard to work full time with two young kids.  Nobody ever says that to men!  That's rather annoying in fact!  I miss the identity that I got from being an engineer.  I miss the mental challenges!  On the upside I recently have had calls from two different companies so this might be one of my first goals that I achieve in the new year.  (YAY for the economy picking up again!)

Okay because I need to actually commit to this I am going to say that I will lose weight in 2011.  Lets just start with 20lbs and see where it goes from there!  It feels like such a repetitive resolution, but this time I am going to be successful at it!  I have joined weight watchers online (since I can't seem to manage to get out to meetings).  Any one who wants to "join" me there is more than welcome!

My final resolution is to blog more!  It is unlikely that I will be blogging multiple times a week (I really am just not that creative and don't have that many topic ideas!), but I am going to aim for 3-4 times a month!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Relative died abroad - there's an app for that!

Well okay there might not be an app to help you cope with the loss of a family member who was traveling out of the country, but apparently there is a Government of Canada document.  At least there was one for Thailand, which is where my Dad was living when he passed away.  I can only speculate that the Canadian Embassy in other nations has also produced such a document specific to which ever country your loved one is visiting or living in.

After talking to the police the very first thing I had to do (aside from calling a few other close relatives) was to contact Consular services in Ottawa.  The sent me the above mentioned document.  This document was filled with all the legal particulars which the next of kin of a deceased person would need to know with regards to what to do with the body and how to get it back home (if that is what one desired).  In some ways it helped to delay any grief by having to deal with the practical side of death.

As I went through this process I found myself going through an extreme range of emotions.  First I was angry because this was all left to me.  I'm only 33 and although I know many people have lost their parents at younger ages I certainly didn't feel as if I was old enough to be with out my father.  This was also tempered by the annoyance that I hadn't even seen my dad in 2-1/2 years.  It was his dream to go live in Thailand and in doing so he basically severed ties with his close family... well at least with me and my brother,  he was in better contact with friends of his and his sister (another notch on the bitter side of the balance scale).  After that I went through a brief period of inconsolable grief (I'm sure that there is more of that bottled up inside for a later time).  I was sad that my Dad was not invincible and did not come out the other side of his latest illness.  He had always been such a survivor of his own self inflicted illnesses, but it seems that a lifetime of being careless with his health finally caught up with him.  I was sure that he would "come to his senses" and move back to Canada where we have this wonderful thing called universal health-care and as far as I can tell it is (for the most part) staffed with brilliant Doctors who have access to top of the line equipment (oh... and who speak English)! 

As I delved deeper into the practical details I became frustrated with redundant questions that only my dad could answer.  Where is your will??  Where do you bank?  Why the HELL didn't you have travel health insurance??  WHY did you abandon us and move away??  Why did you die so far away where none of us could help you?

Fortunately I had help on the other side (not the afterlife - although my paternal grandmother predeceased her eldest son by only a few months).  My uncle was traveling in Thailand.  He is actually my mother's sister's ex-husband, but once family you're always family (unless you're a complete asshole of course).  Uncle T had been planning to visit my Dad during his two month visit to Thailand.  Unfortunately he tried to contact my Dad only hours after he died and heard of his passing from "the girlfriend".  Since him and my Dad were essentially brothers for many years and friends before that he didn't even ask if he was needed; he just knew that he was.  He did all the hard tasks that needed to be coordinated at the other end. 

If it was not for my uncle I do not think that the practical details would have been resolved so efficiently and with the due care and attention that only a family member would provide.  We elected to have a cremation performed in Thailand and to have his ashes scattered there.  It was where my Dad wanted to be and although I didn't agree with his or understand his choices I did know it was HIS choice.  He had a life there complete with new "psuedo"family.  He had a girlfriend who was a Thai-national and lived with her and her two daughters.  I have to say this is one more thing that made me bitter and that I need to work through.  Not that I begrudged him his happiness, however, I did begrudge the fact that he didn't bother to include his existing family in his new happiness.

As I move through this I am coming to realize that my father was a very secretive and compartmentalized person.  He told different people small parts of his story and I am not sure that anyone really knew the whole person.  That is what is also very frustrating to me.  I am the left behind one.  I was the one who was getting the random calls about his health from his friends and girlfriend, but never from him.  Now I am the one who is to be tasked with sorting out the mess that he has left behind.  This angers me!  However it also reminds me that I need to sort out my own "details" so that if the unthinkable were to happen nobody else would be as annoyed as I am now.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Worst day ever...

You know how some days everything just keeps going wrong and getting worse??  Well October 22nd, 2010 was like that for me.  Little things started out going wrong and then bigger things started going wrong and then one of the biggest things went wrong.

It started out with not being able to sleep well the night before.  There was a late phone call with rather ominous news about my father who was living abroad.  He had been dealing with a string of illnesses that were related to his choice of lifestyle.  The time difference between where he was living and I live made it so that the nights and days were reversed so it was very difficult to get information.

So after a rough night my exuberant children were up before 6am which is not uncommon for them.  I was dragging after very little sleep, but determined to follow through with my plans to go for a run in the morning rather than evening so I could at least enjoy the daylight (if not the sunshine).  I wedged both kids into the double chariot stroller and off we went.  Well of course they wouldn't sit nicely in such a confined space.  So my run ended early with hauling out the older child and making him walk beside me.

Once at home I checked my email and found a note that I wasn't the successful candidate for a job that I had interviewed for.  It wasn't a huge surprise since the interview had been at least a month ago, but it was still confirmation and the destruction of the last holdouts of my optimism. 

Finally it was lunch which meant that it would be time for my older son to go to preschool and then my younger son would nap and I would have a whole hour (or more) of peace and quiet!  We walked to the school and back.  I had just put my son to bed and was talking to my husband on the phone when the door bell rang.

My doorbell never rings.  Honestly I wasn't entirely sure it still worked.  I rushed to the door (fingers crossed that my younger son wouldn't wake) with the intent of getting rid of what ever sales person or charity or religious group was at my door.   Upon opening the door time stopped. 

On my step were two police officers.  Since I am a law abiding citizen I knew they could only be there to deliver bad news.  Fortunately I had been talking to my husband when the doorbell rang so I knew that he was ok.  That only left one real possibility.  Dad.

My Dad was living in Thailand for the past year and a half and I new that he had had a series of illnesses.  We (my aunt and I ) had been in communication with some of my Dad's friends there and had been receiving calls from his lady friend that he was in hospital.  He had been in hospital a few times, but it sounded like he had rallied and was improving until his last visit.  My Dad was a survivor who had over come the odds of heart disease at a relatively young age.  He was retired and was living his dream.  It wasn't possible that he would die.  Especially so far away.

Unfortunately as the saying goes the only sure thing in life is death.  Death has now touched down near my family. 

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

I'm Type "A-"

Type A is usually associated with highly driven, highly successful people.  They are focused, they know what they want and they have a plan of how they are going to get it.  They don't let anything stand in their way.

I want all these things too.  I want success in what ever career I am doing (currently that is staying home with my kids, but its still a career).  I want to succeed at whatever I set out to do whether it is an athletic achievement or decorating my house I want to accomplish things in a certain way and within a certain timeframe.  But there's just one problem with that: I'm lazy!  (yeah I know, that's a big surprise!!).  I don't want to work hard for my goals I just want to achieve them.  Kind of like winning the lottery (or it would be if I weren't too lazy to go buy a ticket!!)

In order to capitalize on my laziness I am encouraging my kids (aged 4 & 1) to take on tasks around the house.  (since I don't have any monkey butlers this is as good as its going to get for me!!)  They're not taking on big things, but the little things that they are taking on does give them a sense of accomplishment and control in there environment.  The older one recently got a fancy new laundry hamper with 2 compartments: one for light and one for dark.  He thinks this is the best thing and was so excited about this that he was telling his friends at pre-school about it (win-win, people).  The younger one isn't quite at this stage, but we do make him take his bib, sippy-cup and childsafe cutlery to the table at meal time (ok, so often it ends up on the floor beside the dog - that's just helping build his already strong immune system!).

Don't get me wrong I'm not entirely lazy.  At times in my life I have put in hard work and been driven.  I did get a degree in Engineering after all they don't just give those away.  But now I'm at a stage where I'm just maintaining the status quo and don't feel that it's necessary to put in a lot of extra effort to do so.  So rather than being a "Type A", stress-case personality I'm going to downgrade to "Type A-minus" where I still want it, but not if it requires effort.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

My first mother's day remembered...

I actually wasn't quite a mom yet on my first Mother's Day in 2006.  My due date with my first born was several days before mother's day, but as of mother's day there was no sign that he was coming anytime soon.  It was a bitter, bitter day for the gigantic preg-a-saurus mamma.  There were so many expectations of holding my new baby in my arms and feeling the hallmark card warmth of spending mother's day as a mother and also with my mother.  I would even have accepted my mother's day to be like the Dairy Queen commercial that was out that year... you know the one where the woman in labour is wheeled into the hospital with a yummy ice-cream cake balanced on her knees.  (As if that would happen!

No instead my mom and husband were treated to a bitchy woman with a gigantic belly and bad attitude!  Of course it didn't help that my mom had already been staying with us for 4 days and both her and my hubby were waiting just as anxiously as I was.  Seriously if someone had asked me one more time if I feel any "twinges" I was going to freakin' lose it!

I never did go into labour.  I ended up being induced at 8 days over which was quickly halted and switched to a c-section.  The chaos that followed having a baby (especially the first baby) made me appreciate that quiet mother's day spent eating eggs benedict (while warm!!) made extra rich with smoked salmon.  (ok, now I'm drooling)

This mother's day I'm running my very first 10km running race!  I'm very excited about it for several reasons: 1st it's the Vancouver Sunrun, which is one of the largest 10km races in the world with usually over 50,000 participants of all levels; 2nd this may be the first time ever that I've followed through on a New Years resolution.  I even managed to talk my hubby into starting to run with me so we'll be running together.  Since the kids will be spending time with their grandparents saturday night and sunday morning (during the race) we've been doing an all weekend Mother's Day celebration starting with saturday pancakes and ending with a nice dinner sunday evening.

To all of you mothers and nearly mother's out there I raise my energy drink to you tomorrow morning and my G&T to you tomorrow night! (Cheers)