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)

Thursday, April 22, 2010

How to survive your kids shows!

Preschooler and toddler television programming is quite obviously not meant for adults.  Its meant to teach kids moral lessons in friendship, telling the truth, learning... etc.  Unfortunately, as a parent you can only quietly sneak away so many times while the kids are watching TV.  Often its a nice chance to sit quietly with them as the zone out on the so called Boob Tube.  The unfortunate side effect is that you actually start to watch the shows too.  Which is fine when your oldest first starts watching TV since its still a novelty, but by the time that child is nearly four years old you start to get a little batty from watching their shows.  Especially since you've had to give up all hope of watching any daytime TV shows that you used to be able to watch.  Of course one of the main reasons I don't watch my TV with the kids is that I don't think the content is suitable to preschoolers and toddlers.  Even if the show itself is okay quite often the commercials are not and any news breaks or what ever else there may be is also a little scary for kids.

One of the ways that I protect my sanity while watching their shows daily is by reading my own books at this time.  Of course, often that just means I'm re-reading the same page 10 times while paying more attention to the animated talking animals on whatever program is on at the time.   I find myself wondering about these shows.   I mean often all the animals are different species... what kind of future do they have together they can't marry and mate... or can they?  Turtle mates with a beaver?? um no I don't think so.   Or how about how they choose which animals are portrayed as female or male??  In two shows that my son watches regularly there are female characters that are beavers.  In one of the shows with mixed species characters all of the cats are females.  Hmm kinda makes you wonder doesn't it.  Okay I know that most of these shows are written by people who have advanced degrees in child development and have a lot of letters behind their names.  I know that they must have good reasoning for the different character assignments, but I'm still immature enough that it makes me giggle.

The most important thing about watching your kids shows with them is never to let them know which shows you hate!  Seriously, this is the MOST important part.  If you indicate that you do not like a particular show it will all of a sudden become their favourite show ever!  I once tried to prevent my son from watching a show that had a large purple dinosaur (and a really annoying theme song) and there were tears... "but Mom, he's a nice dinosaur".  Instantly I was the mean mom who wouldn't let him watch a semi-decent show that taught kids about caring and sharing.  Sigh.

A final comment on kids shows is that no matter how hard you try, you will end up with their theme songs stuck in your head and it will be really annoying and impossible to get said song out of your head.  Luckily there are lots of other parents out there to commiserate with (or get a different song stuck in your head).

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

A dish of loss served with a side order of guilt.

I recently had to say goodbye to my grandmother.  She was a feisty lady who lived a rich life.  It wasn't always an easy life, but I believe she made it a good life.  I'm a practical person who was able to tell myself that she was going to a better place, that she would be re-united with her husband who passed before and that she would be able to enjoy all the things that she could do when she was younger and healthy.  I even believed myself for a while.

She was a constant in my life.  I may not have been able to visit often at various times, but I could always call her up and she was excited to hear from me (as I imagine she was with all six of her grandkids).  I have to say that I've been very fortunate in my life to not lose very many close relatives.  I am very blessed by this and very sheltered.  The last person who passed was my grandma's husband (not biologically my grandfather, but still filled that roll).  I was saddened by this, but did not feel the same sense of loss that I do now.  The problem is that I aways thought I had time.  Soon, I thought, I'll get there to visit soon.  I'll introduce my grandma to her 3rd great-grandson.  She had already seen oodles of pictures of my boys since although I'm lousy about visiting I'm great at sending out updated photos.  Unfortunately everything happened quicker than I thought it would and I wasn't able to bring the kids to visit her again.

When her time was near I was trying to plan a visit with the whole family, but in speaking to my cousin who lived in the same town as her I realized that there was not enough time for that, nor was it a place for kids.  I flew out to Calgary from Vancouver basically to say farewell.  When I got there I was relieved not to have brought the kids as the frail elderly woman who lay semi-conscious in the bed was not the vibrant woman of my childhood.  We had a nice visit as I filled her in on my life and that of my brother who was not able to visit.  I brought pictures and taped them up on her wall so she would have something to look at.  It comforted her to have the pictures of her loved ones near and it made me feel better to tell her one last time that I loved her and that her job here was complete and she could rest. 

The day after my visit, surrounded by loved ones she passed on to the other side.  I was glad she was no longer in pain and she was at peace.

Today I feel that grief as well as overwhelming guilt.  Today is her memorial that I was unable to attend.  I didn't realize that I would feel so guilty by not attending since I had already said goodbye, but I do.  I feel guilty that I was not able to help my cousins and uncle deal with the aftermath of death.  I am the oldest grandchild (by only a few months) and my father is the oldest child.  My father has chosen to move to Thailand and be part of a new family.  He has barely been in contact with his two kids or as far as I know his Mom, in fact, he has not even met his second grandson who is nearly 18 months old.  I feel that I should have been there as some sort of representation of our branch of the family.  Perhaps it is the burden of the oldest child or maybe just the burden of someone whose parent has decided that they no longer need to be responsible and are more like a kid than an adult.  This coupled with the loss of my grandma makes me saddened about how distant I feel from that branch of the family. 

I've decided that I will make a conscious effort not to be driven by guilt or perceived duty.  I have done what I can within the boundaries of my own life.  I cannot change the decisions of others and cannot make them want to reconnect with their family if they do not want to.  I try not to be bitter and disappointed in the actions of my father who has played the "poor me", "nobody calls me" victim too long.  I will show my sons what family means and they will know my family even if they do not know my father.  I wish they had known my Grandmother, but she knew and loved them even without seeing them often.  She had boundless love to give and enjoyed life as fully as she was able.  I know that her feisty spirit lives on in her four strong, smart and beautiful grand-daughters and that through us her great-grandkids will know her legacy.

To my grandma I raise my drink... a Caesar, one of her favorites!  Cheers Grandma... I love you.

Friday, April 9, 2010

My own personal Nemo

We bought our place in summer of 2008 and there was a pretty little pond in the backyard.  We were pretty excited about this because after living in northern alberta for 5 years you don't see to many ponds.  This was part of the lifestyle that we were looking for by moving back to the Vancouver area, i.e. somewhere that had nice weather for more that two months of the year. 

This pond came complete with luscious plants, a waterfall and five tiny coi fish.  Four of them were colorful gold, or gold mixed with black and white.  The fifth one was a shadowy black colour that was very difficult to see.  You more saw it as a void than a fish.  We would feed the fish with our older son during the summer months and they would come to the surface and greedily devour what we sprinkled for them.  Then as the rain came and the water cooled the fish didn't need to be fed so we didn't visit it too much. 

The next spring we excitedly waited for the water to warm up so the fish would be active again.  Occasionally as we were scooping out the masses of leaves from our huge and very old oak tree (seriously it might be 200yrs old) we would see flits of colour as the fish hurried to find a new hiding spot. 

We had been warned that backyard ponds attracted local predators such as heron or raccoons.  In fact at one point in our first summer here our dog was barking at a heron perched on the neighbor's roof, just waiting for its chance to dine at our pond.  The second summer predators struck our pond.  I'm pretty sure it was a racoon since I had recently seen a fat one amble along the back fence.  Slowly the fish dwindled until we thought that they were all gone.

One day I went to check clean out the pond filter and there was my black fish.  I don't know how long he had been in there, but he had probably been fleeing the same hungry raccoon that had gobbled up his friends (assuming that fish really have friends).  I pulled the strainer basket and went to go dump the dead fish and the collected leaves in my compost.  Just as I was about to dump the basket into the compost, the fish moved.  It scared the bejesus out of me and I quickly ran him back to the pond where he swam to the deepest part and hid.  Wow.  Talk about a lucky fish!  At that point I had a 5 month old baby who wasn't sleeping through the night.  I could have easily not noticed it move and it would have, well, met its demise in the stinky compost.

This fish was now a little shy.  It wouldn't bother with the fish food that we gave it and because it was so dark we hardly ever saw it.  I don't blame it for not trusting surfaces creatures anymore... after all look at all it had been through.  Since we didn't see it, we assumed that it was no longer, that it was an ex-fish, pining for the fjords (so on and so forth).  We stopped mentioning it since our older son had taken the loss of the other fish rather badly and we didn't want him to be sad for the fish.

Fast forward a year later and as I was once again trying to rid the pond of the last of oak leaves I encountered our fish.  It was still there.  Elated, I told my husband and older son who were in the yard.  My son's comment was now he wouldn't be sad about all the fish being eaten.  Perhaps this year we'll get some more friends or decoys (whatever) for our little black fish, who I am now thinking of as Nemo because of his survival skills.  I don't think that I'll tell my son about this new moniker since he has only recently seen Finding Nemo for the first time and would be even more saddened if Rocky Raccoon comes back and finishes the job he started.  For now I think we'll just enjoy our little fish and it's spunky survival instincts.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Bad behaviour... genetic or learned??

I think my older son may take after me behaviour-wise.  Everyone always compares him to his father and says that he is a mirror image (which in many ways he is).  What they don't see is some of the inside stuff.  Of course, I'm the one home with the kids so you would expect that they are picking up on my mannerisms.

A few weeks ago my older son casually dropped an F-bomb during polite conversation.  "It's fucking cold out, eh mom?"  No question where this comes from since I've been known to drop an F-bomb now and again (I'm a recovering swear-aholic).  You should be proud of me since I neither burst out laughing nor yelled at him.  I calmly explained that that word was not polite and perhaps a better way of saying that would be to say "its really cold out".  Yeah I know sucked all the fun out of it, but he's 3 and I really don't want him swearing like a sailor or railroad Engineer.  (No offense to railway workers, but my dad worked for the railway and they really do swear a lot!)

But I think some things go deeper than just mimicking things that they saw me do or heard me say.  The other day we had some friends over and had snacks out.  After people had left my husband and I and the younger boy were in the playroom downstairs deciding what to have for dinner.   The older boy had gone upstairs and we assumed that he had been into some of the leftover snacks, which was okay since they were mostly healthy things.  As we headed up the stairs to the kitchen the older one streaked across our view (much like the bad guys in Alien or Predator where you don't really see them they move so fast).  Of course to us seasoned parents this indicates guilt.  Somebody was up to something they shouldn't be.  Sure enough on the floor was the bottle of Nestle Quick syrup.  My boy had been chugging straight out of the bottle.  He was pretty embarrassed to be caught and that in itself was a bit of a scene.

As my husband and I controlled our fits of laughing, I couldn't help feel just a little proud!  That's my boy!  I would like to say that I haven't done that in a few years or even months, but I'm not going to lie.  However, I am pretty sure that my son has never seen me do this.  This is something that he thought up all on his own.  I didn't even know that he knew the syrup was there (I should have, since that kid doesn't miss anything).  Is it wrong to be so proud of a kid picking up on your bad habits?  After all I have two boys and everyone always compares them to their dad.  Ha!  I'm the one who has  the stretch marks, the c-section scars, and saggy boobs to show for having these kids and he's the one who get's all the credit for their cute looks!

For now I'm just going to have to take credit for what I can!  Even if it is the less desirable behaviour!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Playing Chicken...

Remember being teens or younger and seeing how long you could outlast your friends while doing something stupid??  I don't think that goes away... ever.  It just evolves to new levels. 

Once you're a parent you use it to be lazy rather than stupid.  DS #2 wakes up from his nap and is making noise, intermittently, in his crib.  Both of us wait as long as we can supposedly to make sure he's actually ready to get up.  Really we're just hoping that the other one will make a move first, thus allowing the winner to continue doing whatever it was that we had been doing.

There are several strategies to this.  You could pretend not to hear the kid: such as at night when you're both woken up, but one parent pretends to still be asleep.  (I won't name names, but one of us is a master at this!{cough *Dave* cough}   Another strategy is all of a sudden being on your way to do something very important, "uh can you get the kid? I'm busy sorting the cutlery..."  (or whatever!)

I can give you many reasons why parents try to avoid being the one to go get the kid from the crib.  Its not that we don't want to see them its more that we don't want to have to deal with the diaper... which after a nap or full night's sleep has a high probability of being a stinker! 

Even when the kids awake and it happens its very likely that there will be some sort of pass-off maneuver attempted in order to avoid the stinky diaper.  In our house it can be as juvenile as carrying him to the other parent passing him over and then saying, "You touched him last,"  as you dance out  of range.  Or there is convincing the kid to go find Daddy/mommy in a different room and hoping that they notice and change the diaper! (I may or may not have tried that...)  Since I'm home all day with the kids I pull the, "I've already changed X diapers today so its your turn!"  Its almost indisputable, unfortunately for me most diaper changes happen when I 'm home with the kids alone so I don't have an out.

I do have to say that I am looking forward to potty training and finally being rid of diapers!  Although then you have to deal with accidents and pretty much feel like you're tied to the house for fear of accidents.   For now I'll just work on my super power of subliminally influencing my hubby to get up before I have to...  OK, I just poke him until he moves!  Soon I'll be the parenting "chicken" champ!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

All the world's a jungle gym....

I'm an Engineer so I will admit that I have never studied English Literature at all in University.  So reaching way back to my high school English classes (way, way back) I remember Shakespeare once said/wrote, "All the world's a stage and all the men and women merely players..." (don't ask me which work this came from or even the rest of the quote, as I said I'm an engineer).  I think that this needs to be reworked to fit my current life with a toddler who likes to climb stuff.  Really the toddler version of this should read, "All the world's a jungle gym and all the parents merely there to kiss the owies that I get from falling off stuff."

 My first child wasn't a climber.  I never caught him on the kitchen table or up on the counter top or balanced precariously on anything.  I had friends who had climbers and I admit that I just thought their kids didn't listen well or were more mischievous than my angel!  I was wrong, their kids just had the climbing bug!

Apparently the climbing bug is unstoppable in my younger son who is only 17 months old.  As soon as he could walk (which he did earlier than I was ready for @ 10.5 months) he started to try and climb things.  I would come into the kitchen to see him balanced on a wobbling plastic kiddie chair.  The first time it happened I just about had a heart attack!  I watched this baby who wasn't even a year old standing so proud on the chair as it rocked slightly.  The chairs had to go.  The stools that my older son used to help at the kitchen counter were next. 

Now he can get up onto regular chairs, his highchair (if the tray is off), the couches, tables everything.  Even the slide attached to the swing-set outside is no longer an obstacle.  If he can get a knee up on something he's unstoppable.  Actually, he doesn't even need that I've seen him haul his body up onto a kitchen chair that didn't even have a cross rail.  (Wish I had that kind of upper body strength!)

This boy isn't slowing down with his climbing in fact he's incredibly proud of it.  Today he was climbing up on the chairs at our dining table then standing up, raising his hands over his head and saying "Ta-da" in triumph.  Perhaps we'll just have to accept that he is a climber and give him the right place to climb... new project for the summer could be a kiddie climbing wall in the back yard.  Its either that or shackle a weight to his ankle to help keep his feet on the ground!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Mis-sung lyrics.

My 3 year old son may watch too much TV or maybe just has an exceptional ability to remember songs from kids shows. (I'm going with option B)  Lately he's been been singing the "Bob the Builder" and "Thomas" title songs... non-stop.  Its pretty cute really!  The cutest part is he mixes up the lyrics because he mis-hears them or doesn't know what word they are trying to use.   In the Thomas song, which is playing in my head on a continuous loop, the lyrics go "... shunting trucks and hauling freight.."  he cheerfully sings "... shutting trucks and falling freight...".  Explaining to him the real lyrics does not help since he is a stubborn boy, like his mother, and is confident that is the way it should be sang.  

He comes by these lyric confusions honestly.  I am famous for them.  When I was in elementary school we were taught Oh Canada.  I proudly came home from school and sang earnestly about "true pastry love" when the lyrics actually go "true patriot love".  Maybe I'm just patriotic for pastry.  Although I was only 6 or 7 yrs old at the time, I have yet to live this down.  My father still reminds me of this more than 20 years later. (oh man, I'm getting old!)

I'd like to say that once I got older I got better with song lyrics, but this just isn't the case.  Fast forward 15 or more years and I'm singing along with the Gypsy Kings while driving with my boyfriend of a couple months.  He looks at me and asks what I'm singing with a look of confusion.  Puzzled, I reply that I'm singing " The millennium... "... uh he says the song is called "Bamboleo" and its sung in Spanish.  Are you sure, I say, doubting his knowledge of the CD that he owns.  He gives me the "you're crazy" look.  I try to listen more carefully, but to me they are still singing about the millennium and then switching into spanish... of course since I don't speak Spanish "millennium" could be the same in both languages.  In order to not make a further fool of myself I switch to singing along under my breath.  Happily, my mishearing lyrics must've been an endearing trait since we have now been married for 7-1/2 years.

There are countless songs which are commonly misheard.  I've seen the funny emails circulated and here is a website with the top 100 misheard lyrics.  

Which lyrics have you misheard and/or mis-sung?? 

Friday, March 19, 2010

I take credit for my kid's hair colour... Thankyou very much!

I have a son who has red hair.  I love it, think its the cutest thing ever!  Best part ever is that I get attention for it.  Thank god because if I were out without them I would be basically invisible.

My youngest was born with a full head of red hair.  Bright red.  This is him in the hospital with all that hair.  As new nurses would come on duty the nurse assigned to us would call them over to come look a the baby with all the red hair.  I have to say that neither my husband nor I have red hair (what a surprise!).  Both of us had a great grand parent with red hair and both of our fathers had red beards.  Apparently red hair is a recessive gene and has to come from both parents... much like blue eyes.

I literally have people stop me on the street to discuss his hair colour and reminisce about their own previously red hair or someone else they know who has red hair.  The most random time was when I was at Home Depot buying some stain for my deck.  I had both kids in the cart and a lady stopped to compliment my son's hair and then proceeded to tell me that red heads do not accept dental freezing very well.  WTF, he didn't even have any teeth at this point!  (Apparently there had been a recent article in one of the local papers about that, but talk about random!)

The only downside is that his older brother does not have red hair.  He has blonde hair and basically gets ignored as the well meaning people come up to gawk at and touch the shiny red tresses of his brother.  I try to reassure him that one day his little bro might not be getting the positive attention.  I can see it now 10-15 years down the road and the two of them are getting into some mischief... bystanders will be saying, "Well there was that red-headed kid and a few others..."

Along with the red hair has come the quick temper (which may or may not come from his Mamma).  When he was about 14 months old he was over tired and a little cranky.   He tripped and bumped into the kiddie table which had chairs stacked on it to prevent my little monkey from climbing up on them and standing on the wobbly chairs.  Rather than just getting up and going on with what ever he was doing he proceeded to start screeching at the chairs and try to push them onto the floor.  It reminded me a bit of a drunken brawl.  According to my husband those chairs had had it coming for a long time and were asking for it... yeah right!

Today I was grocery shopping and once again a lady came up to me to complement my son's hair.  Thanks, I say proudly, beaming like an idiot.  What the hell am I going to do when my kids are no longer cute and young.... I'll be back to being invisible once again. 

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Man's work vs women's work...

Today I did what I consider "Man's" work.  I took the cardboard to the recycling depot which happens to be at the city landfill... or the dump.  I went to Canadian Tire once a mecca of the Canadian male who wished to purchase things for their cars, including tires, but now more of a all purpose yard/car/sports-gear/housewares type of place.  To round off the day I mowed the lawn (or rather moss) for the first time of the season.  

Why do we consider this mans work.  Its not as if my husband doesn't do inside cleaning (he's very liberated that way and has a lower dirt tolerance than I do!).  In fact we share most of the household duties fairly equally with the exception of the kids.  I get the most of that work simply because I'm the one home with them!  We have a great system: I cook - he cleans, one does washrooms - one vacuums.  (Back off ladies, you'll have to find your own fantastic guy!!)

So why is it that the outdoor work is considered mans work.  Is it because you get to use big, loud machines!   Of course men do seem to prefer the bigger, badder tools for the job... I prefer to rake leaves - hubby has a leaf blower/mulcher, first it blows them into place then you turn around and suck them up, chew them to bits and spew it into a bag!  If we needed to wash the house I get out the hose... hubby has a pressure washer for this, sure it does a better job, but its loud!

As I was mowing today I came to a realization... its actually a pretty peaceful thing to do (with the proper hearing protection of course).  Really that's the key... nobody demands anything of you when you're mowing the lawn and if they did you wouldn't be able to hear them!  Ahh.  Bliss.  No whining for snacks, no requests to watch a new video or channel, nothing, but the roar of the equipment.  Not only does it cause you to work up a sweat, but you get to be in a little bubble of alone time as well!  Try to get that while cleaning the kitchen... in my house if you even stand near the cupboard with the snacks in it kids start circling like sharks.

Of course there are some outdoor tasks that I'm not as quick to get involved in:  cleaning the gutters - uh no thanks, hanging xmas lights - sure if we hang them in August rather than November, cleaning the dog run - well only if I really have to!  But from now on maybe I'll volunteer for the tasks that require hearing protection so I can have myself a little peace and quiet!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

The whispering mommy... nah I don't think so.

A friend of mine who's child is slightly younger than my youngest called me the "child whisperer" the other day because I managed to trick my older son into napping.  He doesn't nap regularly anymore.  In fact it's a pretty rare occurrence, but he was so over tired and grouchy that all I had to do was make him have a quiet time in his room playing on his bed.  Ahh blissful silence.  No talking-back for like 2 hrs.

However, being called the child whisperer is really far from the truth.  In all honesty I used to have a fair bit of restraint and patience.  Especially when I only had one child.  But something changed when I had a second.  My sweet little angel of a boy hit the terrible twos full steam ahead and I became a yeller.  I suppose I could claim it was a touch of post-partum depression or the remnants of the baby blues.  But that doesn't change the fact that I have been un-able to reclaim my earlier patience with my older son. 

Part of the blame is squarely on me since as soon as the baby was born my older son all of a sudden seemed so old and so grown up.  I expected him to be more grown up.  It was the instant ending of him being a baby (poor kid).  Part of the reason for all the yelling is that my son excels at being naughty and defiant.  Lately he likes to argue for no apparent reason.  If I say up he says down - yes, no - black, white... the list is endless.  It has gotten worse now that his brother is older and is running around and playing with toys.  The fighting has started and the yelling continues! 

I tell myself that this is him striving to have his own independent thoughts and personality.  I comfort myself that this means he (lord help me) won't be still living at home when he is 25 (or worse yet, 30).  I go to my happy place (the bar fridge, er I mean yogic chanting) and let the urge to yell pass.   It still slips out sometimes, but luckily for me he is edging towards 4 yrs old now and occasionally can be reasoned with.

For now I will try to happily enjoy the occasional break in the day from the constant struggle even if it only occurs when he's at preschool, eating or napping.

Really who could yell at this angel face??

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Laziness is the mother of invention...

They say necessity is the mother of invention, but we really know that it is laziness.  People invent stuff so they don't have to move as much or remember as much.

Some of my all time favourite lazy-inducing items include:
  • The TV remote - this is now a necessity since most tv systems are so complicated that without a remote you really can't operate them.
  • The auto-shutoff kettle (cordless is best)
  • The cordless phone.  I'm so addicted to having a cordless phone that I will run to the other room rather than answer the one corded phone in the house!  I love how now they sell multiple phones with one transmitter so you don't have to have an outlet nearby.
  • The light sensor plug-in - who needs to remember to turn on/off the xmas lights this little plugins will switch on at dusk and stay on a set number of hours!
  • My BB -  I mean I don't even have to move to check FB or Twitter!  Of course that implies I haven't left it somewhere or something like that.
There are some that are permanently installed in the house that I am now so dependent on that if I were to move I'd absolutely HAVE to install in a new house.  Here are a few of my faves:
  • The automatic thermostat finally I don't have to even think about adjusting the temperature at night or wake up sweltering because I forgot to turn down the heat.
  • The motion sensor light switch.  This is a fairly new one to me that I just encountered for the first time in my current house where it was installed in the basement bathroom.  I loved it so much that I installed a second switch in the main bathroom so that way when my 3 year old gets up in the wee hours of the morning the light only shines into my room for 5 mins rather than me having to get up and turn it off (thus admitting that I was actually awake).  I've become so used to this that I find myself waving my arm as I enter other rooms trying to trigger the switch (which is not there).
  • The remote controlled ceiling fan.  This is very handy on a vaulted ceiling.
  • The built in vacuum cleaner.  Sadly my current house does not have one and I don't have the energy to try to retrofit the house with one (maybe some day).  I also enjoy having a kick sweep associated with a built in vacuum for sweeping all the kitchen crumbs and dog hair into.  Though I'm not sure it would be so great now that I have kids... can you even imagine what would be put in there (shudder).
Here are a few inventions that I think we need:
  • A homing signal coffee cup.  I always leave my half drank cup of coffee somewhere and then forget where and find it when it is way too cold.  Maybe it could just passively beep if it is warm and hasn't been drunk from in about 5 mins?
  • Sippy cup with homing signal would also be good especially if its filled with milk!  ewwww.
  • An automatic baby changer would also be good, but no good could come from something like that!  Can you imagine if it missed... poop could be everywhere (not to mention the safety concerns)... 

What are your favourite time-saving, laziness encouraging gadgets?

Monday, March 8, 2010

International Women's Day

Today is international women's day.  It is also my birthday (29 again!!) .  I feel pretty special to have such a feminist day associated with my birthday (and maybe just a little smug about it!).  I have never considered myself a feminist in the traditional sense.  In many ways I considered myself an ultimate feminist I just do it and don't question that it was not possible even only a generation or two ago.  For instance I am a mechanical engineer.  There were 10 women in my class of 60.  We were treated like equals among our peers and never once felt that we had to justify our existence in the program.

As I once again celebrate my 29th bday I know now that what I have is because of standing on the shoulders of the women who went before.  The ones who got us equal rights, made it so we could vote for our government representation (however inept they are).  The ones who challenged the status quo by taking the unconventional path.  We also are blessed by the ones who took the quiet path and raised families teaching their daughters and sons that all people are equal.  As a mother of two sons it is what I hope to build upon even further with my children.  I want them to be empathetic to those less fortunate than themselves and always try to make their little corner of the earth a better place.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Romance novels... what if it were real life??

I read romance novels.  Yes I'm aware they're not real literature, but they are great escapist fiction.  I do read other novels as well just in case you're worried that I'm going to turn my brain to mush from too much romance.  Lets get this straight... I don't read the harlequin or silhouette ones where the women are pining away for their knight in shining armor (cue fabio with his flowing hair and gleaming muscles).  I like the Nora Roberts ones where the women are smart independent women with successful careers and amazing artistic talents.

Of course these are great escapist works of fiction there aren't kids bugging these women, they all have perfect figures, great clothes, and don't seem to have to do dishes or vacuum endlessly.  Enter studly man they have amazing attraction to.  Its like getting to relive the "new and exciting" parts of a good relationship without having to do any of the pesky dating part.  Since I'm at home with my kids I occasionally try to read while they are playing nicely, like the sweet little angels they are (yeah right).  I get pulled out of my escapist world back to the real world to discuss important things like how a toy car can do some fancy spin or how we NEED to go buy to some new toy car that is exactly the same but a different colour!

Maybe I'm becoming to cynical for these romance novels maybe they should have an epilogue describes their life 5 years later with two little kids.  Here's how it might go. 

Frazzled, formerly, hot mommy greets studly man at door holding her youngest child on her hip, while the preschooler who wanted to be carried is dragging behind with a death grip on her ankle.  There is a smear of something on her shoulder probably from a runny nose, but it could be left-over crumbs from the cookies they had earlier.  The family dog sees an opportunity and runs out the door to freedom.  Studly man goes chasing after, kids begin to cry/whine.   30 minutes later they are at the dinner table eating the partly burnt dinner that got forgotten in the chaos of the dog escape.

Hmm on second thought there is a good reason why the romance novels don't include the minutia of everyday life.  But sometimes I think that I'd like to see these characters have to deal with real life so that we didn't build up expectations that are unreasonable and unattainable.

Now that I've had my rant I have to go finish the latest Nora Roberts novel... yeah I know its sappy, but sometimes that's a good thing!

Friday, February 26, 2010

No dog = good table manners??

We were at Ikea the other day and were having supper in the restaurant (resting up at the half-way point).  Both kidlets had the mac and cheese, which they love.  The little one, who is 16 mos old, was about to toss some of his noodles on the floor when his big brother piped up and said, "No, don't throw it, they don't have dogs here!!"

Can you tell that we have a dog?  This dog loves kids especially once they start using highchairs and like to share their snacks with the dog.  She's not a small dog (60lbs) so without much effort her head is basically at tray height.  I'm sure that there has been food held out to the dog, licked by the dog, then taken back and eaten by the kid.  (Now go to your happy place and repeat "Better immune systems" until you get over the whole butt-licking dog germ thing).

This whole "Ikea doesn't have any dogs" episode made me think that perhaps we're a little too lax with our food dropping habits.  The kids will only not drop stuff if they think that they might have to clean it up.  Perhaps as parents we encourage it from an early age... "Baby spit-up on the floor, call the dog she'll clean it up."  then later... " if you drop your cookie the dog gets it" and now " uh oh, Maggie - clean up in aisle 2, cheerios on the floor". 

In our defense as parents we used to have two big dogs when our first son was little and there was no second chance to grab food as the dogs scrambled for it.  To ensure that no little hands got bit we told our older son just to leave it if it fell and basically to step back and watch the show.  Of course that made it into a game  (sigh).  Now we only have one dog, but the game is still there.  I watch my younger son giggle as he tosses cheerios for her and she happily devours them - really who can get upset while listening to a toddler belly laugh.  

Since all kids like to throw stuff from the high chair my parting thought is, "Thank god I wasn't cat person because my dog will eat almost anything as long as it comes from the kids!"  :-)

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Mabel’s Labels BlogHer ‘10 Contest

Mabel's Labels BlogHer '10 contest :

Write a post on your blog in response to the following hypothetical situation: Electrical storms are going to wipe out the Internet (perhaps forever). You have one day left to write about your passions: what do you want to say to the blogosphere in 300 words or less? 


What?? No more internet?  You might as well be saying no more air to breath or no more chocolate (mmm sweet, sweet chocolate).  How will I survive?  How will I keep in touch with friends in far away places.  How will I display my photos for friends and family?  Wait, I'll actually have to *in-ter-act* with my family (yikes).

I've heard of times like this and vaguely remember them from my obviously deprived childhood.  We may have to get out the candles and sit in the dark... oh wait that's for no electricity.  Okay, then lets sit in a chair with our head down on our knees - nope, wrong again thats for plane crashes.  Lets just take it easy maybe the internet will still work on my blackberry.  Ah, crap, I better be able to get out of my 3 year contract for the darn blackberry!! 

Okay, back to survival plans.  Maybe I should just open a whole bunch or random things and save them to my harddrive.  That might last me a few days, okay maybe 1, well lets be realistic: 2hrs MAX.  Maybe I should just go play a few rounds of Bejeweled on Facebook to take my mind of this.  Nope, must focus.  So help me if this is a hoax I'm not going to be a happy camper... maybe its like Y2K it won't happen. 

Okay internet I guess this is goodbye  (sob).  I'll have to start shopping in person, and instead of looking something up I'll have to talk to another human.  I'll miss the glow and the tan I get from the hours in front of the monitor... I know you'll be back, but we'll both have changed and it will be awkward at first.  Goodbye dear friend, resource, time-waster.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Mommy Olympics...

In honour of the Olympic spirit and since I'll never be an Olympian I create the Mommy Olympics. Mommies everywhere are already in training for these events which I'm sure will be hotly contested. Instead of medals Mommy's are given a "time-out" which is 15 minutes of kid free silence! (ahhh bliss) The torch relay concludes in the lighting of the giant febreeze candle that will cover up the fish for dinner or stinky shoe smells of the entire host city.

First up we have the sock sorting marathon, whomever can find and match all 300 pairs of random sized, white socks first wins! (commentator): This is a tight race, these women have been training all afternoon for this...

Later there will be the vacuum relay, the "where's my favorite toy" hunt, followed by the what's that smell sprint. Tomorrow there will be the "OMG the dog's about to hurl" luge as you have to try to move said beast to the hard floor rather than the new, white carpet.

There will be a pairs competition in the dusting dance where mommies bring their children into the competition and try to accomplish something while their kids strive to undo all their hard work. This is a fixed time event so who ever can accomplish the most before the time is up wins because we know that it will never actually be completed. (commentator): It seems that the vancouver mommy who won gold in this event is going to be disqualified in the wake of a kid-doping scandal... thats right folks she bribed them with TV and Candy if they would just let her get stuff done... after kid-gate the sport may never truly recover!

The final event of the 2010 Mommy-olympics will be the shopping-cross. It is a roller derby like event where 4 moms and their kids must complete a course through a grocery store. Mom's get bonus points for getting items that are on their list and lose points for extra items that the kids sneak into their carts. (Commentator): This is a fast course today! Wow look at the move made by the single mom who is late for work... she is definitely the fastest on the course and a favourite for gold. Oh no her 3 year old shoved 5 chocolate bars in her cart at the last moment... will she still have enough of a lead to claim her GOLD??

The medals are all awarded and the closing ceremonies are completed. These local heros will now head back to their home towns and celebrate their victories. What's next you ask? Well like any mommy knows, after a vacation comes laundry, then groceries and vacuuming... no wonder these top athletes perform so well at these games. Their commitment is really admirable!


Other sport ideas:
  • The toy sort
  • The laundry relay
  • for moms of teens:  the caught sneaking in/out of the house biathalon?
Please let me know of any other fun events we could add to future olympiads!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Peer pressure... when does it go away??

When you think of peer pressure you think of punk kids trying to force cigarettes on a geeky, book hugging science ace behind the school gymnasium. You don't think home owner, mother of 2, educated person.

I don't think peer pressure really ends with adolescence it just gets re-channeled into different forms. In your pre-kids day it is about whose clothes are better or whose boyfriend or husband is better looking. It evolves into who has the better car then later who has the better house or apartment. Who has the better furnishings and decor tastes also follows this.

When you have kids it reaches a whole new level. It starts during pregnancy with who has the best or worst pregnancy and labour/delivery. Followed quickly by baby reaching its first milestones earlier and earlier. The best dressed baby or cutest kid also is part of this not to forget who has the fanciest stroller. Then kids start to get into preschool (this is where we are) and it becomes who got into the best program and who has the coolest backpack. I'm sure it will continue on through the elementary, highschool and university years. Whose kids got accepted where and into which program.

I'm wondering if when I am old and decrepit with my walker or scooter I will be trying to compare who has the whitest false teeth or who has the most great-grandkids. Or maybe somewhere in there you will accept that you have no control about what everyone else is doing or the clothes they have or how smart their kids are and just enjoy the simple things in life like a good old fashioned walker-derby or scooter race or cut-throat poker tourney.

Monday, February 15, 2010

I've lost my map...

We all have some sort of map in our minds of where our lives will go. I had one when I was younger. It had 2 parts. Part 1 meet nice guy, get married, buy house, have a couple of kids, live happily ever after, retire in an idealic setting. Part 2 was more of a short term map: Go to university, get degree, get job, earn $$, climb corporate ladder.

There are some holes in my map, I've basically finished all points other than the retire part. Since I'm far too young to retire I need to rethink my map. Also my two maps have somewhat conflicted one another. After the second kid the working part, in particular the climb corporate ladder part does not seem to be that important. In fact the amount of time and energy it takes to pursue that and schlep 2 kids to daycare each morning and deal with it on my own when my husband travels for work is not worth it to me at this point.

Now I'm at the point where I need to re-map my life. No longer am I a student where they have counselors who can sit you down and ask what do you want to be when you grow up?? I have to ask myself all the tough questions. And I have been. Unfortunately I can't just make a unilateral decision because I have a husband and 2 children who rely on me to keep the household running (sad, but true). Most times in my life I had a firm grip of who I was and where I was going. I was flexible to change, but always took comfort in the fact that I had a "PLAN". Today if asked where I will be in 5 years the first thing that pops into my head is that my kids will be 8 and 6 and will be in elementary school. Nothing comes to mind about where SHANNON will be and what she will be doing. Everything in my life is about everyone else and that has got to change.

I am the most indecisive that I have ever been in my life. One day I think I should go back to work as an engineer with a long commute. The next I think that I should have another child and stay home for a few more years. Maybe I'll be a business owner or at least sell one of the direct seller products then I will be independent financially and have some responsibility to others outside of my house.

The one thing that I have done for myself is set a short term goal of completing a 10km run. I've taken all the right steps towards that goal by participating in a walk/run program and signing up for the Vancouver Sun Run. So now if you are to ask what I'll be doing in May I can confidently say, "Running the Sun Run". After that I don't know, but I do know that I will be doing what engineers do best and evaluating all the data in a snazzy spreadsheet in order to rewrite my map.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

What type of MOM are you???

I firmly believe that everything that has happened in our lives up to this point has had influence on us and has shaped us into what we are. The same is true with what we are like as Moms. Since being a parent is essentially a job perhaps it is our past jobs and education that influences what we are like as.

Have you worked as a waitress? Would this mean that you are able to juggle all the baby paraphernalia (diaper bag, bottle, sippy cup, snack), your purse, the child, your coffee and the car keys... all with a smile and polite interest in what is going on around you?? Or perhaps you can bring enough food for a family of 4 to the table in only one trip and clear the table just as quickly.

Perhaps you're a teacher... everything has a lesson in it even if the kids are not aware that they are learning. Schedules are kept, calendars are made, stickers are given as rewards and to keep track of things.

Perhaps you're a scientist... you are precise with everything and keep meticulous records (kids medical records are all properly filed as well as their important documentation). You are in pursuit of perfection, but are aware that it may take many "experiments" to get there.

But of course you're really made up of a compilation of all the jobs you've done before. For me I've worked as a bistro server, waitress, gas jockey, and plant worker. I have a background in engineering. So I will summarize my skills derived from my previous work experience and education:

I can carry a baby, coffee, diaper bag, snack to the car with only a few drips of coffee and can usually still find my keys when I get there! I'm not afraid to get dirty and do things myself (for me and the kids). I can make 5 different types of sandwiches at the same time. I can still carry 4 plates at once. I work within tolerances, but have high expectations. I give technical explanations if repeatedly asked the same questions... (So you want to know why the sky is blue?? Well the angle of refraction of the sun's rays hitting the stratosphere... ). I research any new baby gear before buying any occasionally make spreadsheets to compare the results (with graphs).

Embrace your past and celebrate your strengths. We are all great moms who have come from varied backgrounds and bring our skills that we've learned into our mom skills. And from there we also take our mom skills back into the workforce. It is good to be MOM.

Monday, February 8, 2010

The Olympics are coming...

Do you believe?? That is the slogan by the Canadian TV company that has the broadcast rights for the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver. It makes me question... do I. I used to love watching the Olympics and cheering for Canada. I was proud to see the athletes representing our nation stepping up on the podium and receiving their medals. I loved to watch the athletes parade in during the opening and closing ceremonies. I loved the magic of the Olympics and the peace and good-natured competition that it represented to me as a child.

Now I'm not so young any more. I'm a property owning, tax-paying, voting adult (how the heck did that happen). I read the news and hear about the cost over runs associated with the Olympic venues, athlete accommodations and the infrastructure improvements. I hear about the concerns of not having enough sponsorship (read money) due to the current economic climate. I hear how there is not enough snow for some of the skiing events due to the record breaking warm January that we enjoyed. I hear tha the "commitee" is suing yet another person/company to protect their brand (read money). All of this is giving me a negative view of the Olympics. I do not believe.

I am planning to reclaim the magic of the Olympics. I am teaching my 3 year old son about the Olympics and telling him about how people from all over the world will be coming to our area to watch the games and compete. We have decorated our front window with Canadian flags and painted non-copyright infringing Olympic rings. Tomorrow the torch is coming to my town. It is the longest torch relay ever performed. I'm going to take my two boys and go watch it.

I'm going to forget about the "politics" of the olympics and focus on the very talented athletes who have dedicated more time and energy to their olympic quests than I have ever given to anything. I'm going to cheer when we win and ignore/avoid the traffic snarls which are sure to make it difficult to get around town.

I'm sure to the outsiders watching to from far away the games will seem like they were well run and problemless. I'm glad that this is the view that they will have and that the TV networks will capture the magic of the games. I will try to believe!

And after the games are over I know that this area will enjoy the legacy that has been left behind with the improved and expanded transit capability and the fantastic world class facilities.

Go Canada eh!

Sunday, January 31, 2010

My dog is over weight!

My dog is over weight. And of course you know what they say about overweight dogs... their owners don't get enough exercise! The old girl is 6 years old and really hasn't gotten walked enough, especially after the kids came.

So we've signed up for a learn to run program. Okay really it's me signing up and doing the learning part. I've never been a runner, ever. I have tried many different times and always pushed too hard the first one or two times out trying to go from couch potato to Olympic athlete in only 2 weeks.

This time I'm doing it right! The walk-run program at my local running store starts off very gently and increases intensity slowly. The only problem is that most people already are runners! They're extremely fit and some just don't want to move onto the next stage which would take them from running 5km to 10km. I have to say that its very disconcerting to be left in the dust by a bunch of senior citizens some of whom are probably into their 70's! Anyway me and the 40ish smoker are making up the back of the pack, but the main thing is we're doing it!

Now I've reached a part of my training where I am actually starting to understand why people like running. The other night I went for a run to work on my clinic "homework" and I felt rotten and didn't want to go and it was dark and... The excuses not to go were endless, but I went anyway wearing my ├╝ber-dorky reflective safety vest (not the cool ones you see real runners wearing, but rather the construction worker kind). I took my dog just in case I needed protecting (not that I think she would be protection except from a squirrel or cat) and because I feel guilty leaving her behind. As I started off the walking portion I felt fine. When it came time for the first run segment I mentally prepared myself to feel the stiff achy muscles as they worked to propel my body forward, but it didn't come. What I did feel was freedom, my muscles working smoothly and the wind in my hair! It was great! Now don't get me wrong I'm not at the marathon running stage yet (or even a 5km run) so I was glad for the walking break after my 3 mins were up.

Back to my dog for a minute. She is a husky crossed with a few other breeds (one of a kind really). She has a curly tail that is sort of like her happiness meter. When we are in the car, which she really doesn't enjoy, her tail is straight and tucked between her hind legs and up under her body. As we were running together her tail was quite possibly a double spiral curl!

I think that the dog and I are going to do just fine "learning to run".

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Talking to myself??!!

I talk to myself... there I said it. I always have talked to myself its not a new thing. I sometimes rehash previous conversations or review things with myself. Sometimes I start thinking about things that I want to talk about with other people. This talking to myself is sometime verbal and sometimes just thoughts where I carry on my inner conversation.

Most of the time I remember that I haven't actually discussed these topics yet, but my poor hubby usually gets the random ends of conversations that we have yet to actually speak. It usually goes like this... hubby and I discussing some event (like what to have for dinner) and then out of left field with the proverbial hockey stick I say I think we should buy it, get it, get rid of it. I get the look like what is "IT" and then I realize that as we are discussing something (or even just sitting quietly) I am thinking things through in my head. It could be a new couch or a vacation spot or pretty much anything. It all makes perfect sense to me (after all I was privy to the whole conversation). My hubby seems to think that I've flipped my lid or maybe I'm talking to someone else although he's the only person in the room with me. Of course now that we've been married eight years he's used to it and mostly mocks me about this trait (habit, flaw... whatever).

It reminds me of the cartoon "Pinky and the Brain" when Brain would say to Pinky: "Are you pondering what I'm pondering" and Pinky would reply something nonsensical like: "Yeah, but how did they get the elephant into the tutu?"

Of course now I have a chatty 3 year old son who is always listening to every word I've had to curtail my actually talking to myself out loud. Every time he hears it I'm peppered with questions and demands for explanation... why, why is that a funny thing, who, where... .

So now I'm blogging. My theory is that blogging is the ultimate form of talking to oneself and its not considered eccentric or crazy in any way.... Ahhh now we're talking!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Evolution of the Road trip...

The idea of a road trip has always been near and dear to my heart, however, it has evolved over time and probably will continue to do so.

My family lived in a small town when I was growing up. We did not live near any extended family so our road trips were mainly trips to visit grandparents who doted on my brother and I. They were long, boring, motion sick trips that involved a lot of poking and bickering about who was allowed which part of the enormous bench seat of the ancient Jimmy my parents owned. However they always ended well with a great visit with relatives and shopping trips to the big city malls! When I was older and involved in more sporting events road trips had more purpose such as weekend swimmeets and school volleyball tournaments. Mostly it was social where I got to hang out with my friends and eat at fast food places (Mclishious)!! When I got my drivers license my mom would let me borrow her car for daytrips so that I could drive 3hrs each way to go shopping with my friends!

When I met my husband we would take great road trip adventures! We'd leave around supper time on a trip where our destination was at least 7 hours away... finally arriving around midnight with no problems getting up the next day, staying a couple of days and then repeating the trek home again. After we were married we moved to Northern Alberta where even the simplest shopping trip was hours away, but that didn't stop us! We'd make mixed CD's to commemorate the drive and listen to them endlessly, much to my hubby's chagrin!

We were fearless of weather and mindless of time. We ate when we were hungry and didn't worry schedules! That was then, this is now. Fast forward several years, a major move, 1 dog and 2 kids later. Road trips are not spontaneous events, they are meticulously planned out trips with multiple contingency plans. There is a DVD player to entertain bored kids (and hopefully lull them to sleep), snacks to feed 10 people (even though there are only 3 or 4 travelling).

On trips that I travel more frequently I start taking note of all the handy playgrounds so that we can stop and run the kids! There are no side trips or backroads or lingering dinners. There are potty breaks, accidents and the occasional vomiting incident. There is trying to distract a child by pointing out interesting things so they don't ask, "How much longer..." (in the whiniest voice ever) 30 minute into the 7 hour trip. Now the CD changer is no longer filled with the latest and greatest hits... its filled with stuff that was new about 5 years ago, but is losing ground to the kiddie CD's!

However, despite all the changes to my road trip style I refuse to stop taking them! I am not afraid to travel 7 hours (or more) with my kids with or without my hubby. I will not become one of those people who don't travel more than an hour from their home unaccomanied because little johnny or suzy don't handle car rides. I figure that this gives us some much needed together time when Mom and Dad don't have other distractions such as social media (which I love) or obligations such as cooking and cleaning (which I hate). Plus you never know you just might learn something new about your kids or you might meet interesting people who seem much more likely to talk to you when you are traveling with little ones.

Monday, January 18, 2010

To work or not to work: a mommy conundrum.

I'm considering going back to work (for money, outside the house, not just stepping away from my game of bejewelled blitz and switching the laundry or vacuuming). It has been an internal struggle that is plaguing me. By training I'm an engineer... I worked hard at school to become an engineer... I worked hard to be a good engineer once I was finished school. Then I had a baby. I went back to work after my oldest son was 1 and my maternity leave was finished. It was crazy busy, my husband and I were both working for the same company and were both away from home 11 hrs a day. We did it, our son thrived in daycare. We had more disposable income and were able to take nice vacations (as nice as you can with a toddler in tow). Then we decided that it was time to further expand our family and "we" became pregnant for a second time. Then we decided that we had lived in Northern Alberta for long enough and decided to move back to BC for the nicer weather and to be closer to family.

When we moved I quit my job and chose to stay home for a while. With only one of us working we began to question how we were able to manage to both work and not go insane. When the second child came I had already been off work for about 5 months. It was certainly helpful with the chaos of the move and getting my then 2 year old settled. Now my baby is almost 15 months old, my maternity leave benefits are long gone and I'm starting to be conflicted by what my priorities are. I didn't have kids so that someone else can raise them (though I'd gladly let "someone else" handle the tantrums) and I didn't become an engineer to give it up after only 6 working years!

Solution: I need part time work (or to win the lottery??). Problem: this is very uncommon in my field! Especially since I moved away from most of my work contacts. Also this economy (despite what our esteemed mp's say) has not really picked up yet (and I don't buy lottery tickets very often). I am being choosy about which jobs I apply to since if I can't find part time I at least don't want a long commute which is very possible in this city! If I do find something that is suitable I get to embark on the fun task of finding appropriate child care! (I think I'll save that for a different post)

Then I start to think... well it is almost spring and I don't want to start work in the summer... and well after that it's fall and I don't want to start too close to Christmas... its really a vicious cycle... but for now I'm off for a road trip with my kids for a few days to visit grandma!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

What's in a name??

How is it that dreaming up a blog name was more difficult than naming my kids? I considered calling it "Life of Riley" since my last name is Riley, but Riley is my married name so is it really my life or would it be more about everyone else in my life. In university one of my classmates would call me shananigans, which I alway secretly loved. Shananigans sounded like I was interesting, free spirited and a little wild. Of course this appealed to the do-gooder, follow all the rules girl that I was (and still am). Shananigans, nearly 10 years later, now seems to refer more to the parts of my life which are chaotic, although fun and fulfilling. The chaos that is my life is shared with (caused by) my two kids, one dog and my husband.

I am not a nickname person. I do not like nicknames. I purposely chose my kids names so that they weren't names that were commonly shortened or nicknamed. Why name you kid William and then call him Billy? Or why give them a first and middle name and commonly call them by their middle name?

Of course now that I have kids we have used all sorts of joking names for them. When my oldest was a baby we occasionally referred to him as the "Rear Admiral Poopy Pants", luckily it didn't last. My youngest has red hair and I am trying to refrain from calling him "little red" especially since I don't want him to be one of the 300 lb grown-ups called "tiny". The one nickname that has stuck with our family is may-may. That is the nickname given to our dog Maggie by my older son when he was first learning to talk.

For someone who doesn't like/want nicknames my life does seem to be full of them... now I am known by many names: Dear, Sweety, Mom, Mommy (on a bad day whined: Moooommmmmmyyyy) and yes occasionally Shannon.

Friday, January 8, 2010


Finally I have set up my own blog. No longer will I be restricted by facebook or twitter. I can join the rambling masses and say what needs to be said!