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Friday, January 29, 2010

Manners

Wipe my nose! Wipe my nose! she hollers to me from across the room.

Please mom, I say. Please mom can you wipe my nose.

Please mom can you wipe my nose, she repeats back for the hundredth time that day as I grab a tissue from the table and head towards her.

If I wasn't entirely sure that she inherited her screeching, demanding manners from me I would find them even more trying then I sometimes do. Water! she yells. Snack! she shouts. Read me a book! she calls out to anyone within listening distance. Her voice rivals mine in its high pitch intensity and makes me fondly recall the day early in our relationship that I bellowed to the husband where's my shake?! from the other room. He has never let me forget that. Just as I will never let the girl forget the many demands she now places on me.

Despite these seemingly constant requests and commands, the girl is still somehow developing impressive manners. In fact, they are much better than mine.

All of a sudden the girl has discovered may. When she does ask for something, may has replaced can. May I make myself a sandwich? May I watch a video when the boy is napping? May I sit on your lap, if you mind? There is a primeness to this phrasing that I find so endearing. It makes me think she should be wearing a starched dress and pinafore instead of peanut butter stained t-shirt and pajama bottoms. With a cherry stained face.

When she isn't yelling those requests, it is very hard not to say no.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Food poisoning

I rolled out of bed. Dropping my knees to the cold hardwood I pulled the metal bowl across the floor towards me. Hunching over, I convulsed repeatedly. Nothing happened. Not surprising given that my stomach had long been emptied over the last ten hours.

Oh, I moaned. I can't do this anymore.

In case I needed a reminder that another pregnancy would be unwise, this was it. However, next time I would prefer an email.

**

I do not recommend getting food poisoning the same day that your sixteen month old gets his booster shots. That is not fun for anyone.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Cards

I have never had business cards. I was never high enough up in the chain of command to validate the expense. I did try making some early on with the printer at work. Let's just say that they looked handmade and they didn't get much use.

I am starting to wish I had some business cards now. Some mommy cards.

There have been times when I am out at the park or playgroup and meet another mom that I like and think oh, I should give her my number or my email. But of course I never have a pen and I never have paper, so I don't. I think to myself don't bother, you'll see her tomorrow at the park or next week at playgroup.

But then sometimes I don't.

Today I ran into a mom and daughter at the museum that I haven't seen since summer. I would see them everyday. We always talked. The kids played together. Then they were gone. I thought maybe our schedules just weren't crossing. That the cold weather meant they weren't coming to the park anymore. That I would see them again in the spring.

Turns out they moved. Shortly after the last time I saw them she and her husband decided to split and she relocated to another city. Today she told me that she looked for me in the two weeks before they left. Our paths never crossed. They moved.

I am so glad our paths crossed today. Even thought the boy was fussing in the stroller and her daughter was trying to drag her towards the elevator, I begged a pen and paper from the museum staff and gave her all my information.

Next time I will have cards. And I will force them on everyone.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Window

They both sit on the back of the couch, their legs hanging down. My arms are wrapped around the boy's stomach to stop him from tumbling forwards or backwards or even sideways. The kids lean their elbows on the window sill. They smack at the glass.

Is that daddy? I ask pointing to an older woman walking down the street.

No! the girl yells as the boy vehemently shakes his head.

Is that daddy? the girl says about the teenager passing by our house.

No! I reply. That's not daddy!

Look, is that daddy? I think that's daddy! The boy points with me to the park across the street.

No, mama, silly. That's a tree!

There we sit, the three of us. Waiting and watching.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Lists of ten

I was kindly tagged twice recently and it has taken me much too long to complete the memes. A Sunday morning seemed like the perfect time.

Here are two lists.

Ten things that make me happy from April at Lifeslightlyused.

1. My family, of course. That was an easy one.

2. My new (used) snowpants. I bought them before Christmas and they have made the walks to and from school much more bearable.

3. My new glasses. I bought them just after Christmas. The prescription was only slightly different but it was nice to have a new style of glasses after five years.

4. Blogging. I am coming up on one year of blogging now and I honestly don't know how I would have gotten through these months without it. It made me feel less lonely some days.

5. The thought of spring. I am holding fast to the idea that there is only two more months of winter. I have decided that spring will start in March this year. You're welcome.

6. My new hangout. There is a cafe near the girl's school and I have been stopping there almost everyday after dropping her off at school. The boy has taken to falling asleep on the walk so I have been letting him sleep and sitting and drinking a latte in silence. Bliss.

7. Reading. I have read some excellent books lately. I am also excited to be joining my first book club and getting together with some other women to discuss these books. And hopefully eat.

8. Food. I love food. I love good food. In fact, nothing makes me less happy then bad food. Especially if I have had to pay for it.

9. An afternoon off. Yesterday I went to see a movie by myself. This was the second time I have done this is six months and I loved it. I sat by myself laughing and munching my popcorn.

10. Planning. I am a big planner. There is something exciting about planning an project. In this case, I have started planning my trip to NYC for BlogHer'10. It is nice to have something to look forward to. And since the husband is going to fly out and join me for a few days after the conference ends, there is lots to look forward to.

Ten secrets from Emily at Emily's Latest

1. I think I actually like my house messy. I am coming to the conclusion that a state of chaos must in fact be a comfort to me because I seem so reluctant to clean up. And when it is tidy (i.e. when my mother-in-law is visiting) my mind doesn't know how to process what I see.

2. I ate cookies for breakfast. I figured since it was 5:30 am I can eat whatever I want for breakfast.

3. I wear my hair in a ponytail everyday. I guess if you've seen me in person that isn't really a secret, but maybe you were under the impression that I was only wearing my hair in a ponytail that day.

4. I plan to plot out on a map all of the vegetarian restaurants the husband and I want to eat at in NYC and then make a schedule of what we will eat when. I may even choose our hotel based on the proximity to the largest number of restaurants. I will probably plan this over a period of a few months.

5. I buy most of the kids clothes second hand.

6. I would like to branch out from cupcakes and learn to make donuts. I read somewhere that donuts are the new cupcakes.

7. One of my best memories is when the husband ate half a cantaloupe after dinner at my dad and stepmother's because he was trying to make a good impression and didn't want to tell them he didn't eat fruit. I laughed and laughed inside.

8. I used to be afraid of colour but now our house is full of bright colours. They make me happy.

9. I don't miss living in Winnipeg, but I miss the beauty of the Prairies. The sunsets on the Prairies are like no where else.

10. I get a thrill every time someone leaves a comment on my blog. Thank you.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Again

It snuck up on me.
All of a sudden it was there.
I became tired.
I was cranky.
I was sad.
I was no longer me.

Wednesday I woke up and
the world seemed bleak.
Nothing was good.
Everything was wrong.
Including me.

I made it through the morning,
dropping the girl at school,
meeting friends.
By the afternoon I was done.
Done being the mother.
Done being me.

I had hoped that I had outrun these feelings.
That two pregnancies had
rebooted my body somehow.
That I was changed.
I had hoped.

On Wednesday I was overcome with despair.
The feelings washed over me
making everything seem hard,
making everything I did seem wrong.
Then I was sad some more.
Sad for the kids.
Sad that once a month this is the
mother I will be.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Tricky one

The girl and I are playing a new game. She calls it telling jokes but really it is a guess who I am kind of game. One of us gives a few clues about who we are thinking of and the other has to guess. We played the game on and off all day.


We started this morning with who is it that has a big, big head, glasses and is a daddy (the husband, obviously) moved onto who is it that makes pizza, has white hair and has a cat (my dad) and finished with who is it that is yellow, likes honey and has a friend Piglet (Pooh Bear!).


I am impressed with the girl's learning curve. We keep saying to each other okay, this is a tricky one. At first they really weren't that tricky. But as the day has progressed she started making them more complicated, taking them places I wasn't expecting.

She amazes me.

Kisses

He kisses me with wild abandon.
He kisses me with joy.

Every kiss is open mouthed.
His wet tongue searching for
the warmth of my skin.

A sloppy wet kiss on this cheek.
A kiss on the other side.
Back again to kiss the first.

He kisses like no other,
this boy.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

My boys

The boy is currently conforming to all the typical gender stereotypes. He has an inexplicable love of balls, he heads straight for the hockey sticks at playgroup and he has had more cuts and scrapes in his sixteen months then the girl has had in her three and a half years.

Some of the recent incidents are due to his desire to run fast, climb high and do everything his sister does, but that still doesn't account for those early accidents. Like the time I was walking down the hall towards the kitchen with him in the sling and I turned to talk to the husband behind me and smacked his head on the door handle of the fridge. He was four weeks old and I went into a panic that I had permanently damaged him. Or the time the husband was changing his diaper on the floor and his sister stopped her dancing long enough to fall on this head. He was six weeks old. Luckily he was fine but I had flashbacks for days every time I closed my eyes.

No, he isn't entirely responsible for his many cuts, bruises and bloody noses. But I foresee many more falls on plastic saws, tumbles off of chairs and bumps on walls in his future. In fact, I think he is starting to see this all as a challenge. Like, why have only one bloody nose when you can fall down on the hardwood floor and get two bloody noses and a swollen lip.

As I sat holding him in my lap this past Saturday trying to stop the blood from gushing out both nostrils I wondered if this was a boy thing or a my boy thing. Given my immediate state of panic whenever I or my kids hurt themselves, I worried I would be unable to cope if the boy decided he wanted to continue on this rough and tumble lifestyle he seems to be living and become a football player. If that is the case I plan to blame my dad and mother-in-law for giving him a brown newborn rugby outfit as he is pummelled by eleven teenage boys on the field.

Then tonight I had an epiphany. Cuts and scrapes may be a boy thing, but it is also a my boy thing. Or to be more specific a my boy thing that he inherited from my other boy. The one that used to walk into scaffolding poles while on dates with me. Could trip on the sidewalk. Manged to lose his contact lens in the middle of a Belfast Street.

Somehow I find this comforting. As if in falling, bruising, cutting, scraping and stumbling through life the boy is simply caring on a family tradition.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Privilege

Life can be hard. I have had my fair share of struggles in my life. I still struggle. Some days I struggle to be patient with a boy who wakes multiple times at night and wants to start his day at 4am. I struggle with a girl who is, well, three. I struggle to find the time and energy to connect with the husband. Those struggles sometimes overwhelmed me. They make me feel inadequate and insufficient. But really? My hard is privileged.

My house is standing. My kitchen is stocked with fresh food and clean drinking water runs through my taps. My children are alive and healthy. They are clothed and fed and loved. They are entertained and educated and encouraged. Because really? My children are privileged.

Money is tighter now then it has been before and than it will be when we are both working again. We are careful how we spend our money. We pay our bills and the girl's preschool and we discuss any other major purchases together. We feel like we have no money even though the husband has a regular paycheck, we have savings to draw from and I could return to work if it was necessary. So really? We are privileged.

I haven't been watching the news of Haiti because we don't have cable. I haven't searched out pictures of the devastation online. I don't feel like I need a visual of the destruction because the pictures I have imagined in my mind are enough for me. Instead, I listen to the radio and pause whatever I am doing when news of Haiti comes on.

Since the earthquake I have felt like we needed to do sometimes. Today we finally sat down and made an online donation to the Canadian Red Cross effort in Haiti. It is not as big a donation as I would like to have made, but it is something. Perhaps we will donate again later. Because giving to Haiti? It is my privilege.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Birthday things

Thursday night we sang the husband Happy Birthday at the dinner table in preparation for the next day. The girl and I sang while the boy bopped along to the music and the husband sat there looking pleased. We came to the end of the song and I was about to do a yay daddy shout out when the girl screamed French! I have a feeling that is what her teachers do at school when all the kids are singing to the birthday boy or girl. French! So we continued singing verse number two. The husband still looked pleased. Bonne FĂȘte!

*

I gave the husband a choice. Cupcakes or ice cream cake. He choose ice cream cake. He would have really liked a Dairy Queen ice cream cake but there isn't one near us. So he got a homemade one instead.

I bought the graham cracker crumbs and ice cream Thursday night. The girl asked about making the cake all day on Friday. And by all day I mean before breakfast, at breakfast, after breakfast, on the way to school, after I picked her up from school, on the way home from school, etc. We finally made it in the early afternoon, after giving the ice cream a chance to soften.

Making an ice cream is simple. I mixed the graham cracker crumbs with yogurt and then put it in a pie pan. I opened the carton of ice cream, gave the girl a spoon and tried not to watch too closely. One for her mouth, one for the pan seemed to be the pattern. She kept asking me can I put a little bit in my mouth mama? I was feeling benevolent so I said yes. I also realized the fruitlessness of saying no so I said yes.

The girl was very pleased with her cake. As soon as the husband walked through the door I was requested to take it out of the freezer. She carefully carried it down the hallway to the front door to show him.

*

The husband took the kids on Saturday so I could run some errands. When they came home the girl let me know right away that they had brought me a present. A cupcake. A chocolate cupcake with chocolate icing.

I offered to share. Since the kids had already seen it I figured there was no way I could hide it and sneak upstairs to eat it in the comfort of my bedroom. So, I offered to share.

The boy was none to pleased. I held out the cupcake to him so he could take a bite. He shook his head and started yelling. I tried again. He tried to grab the cupcake as if he wanted to hide it and sneak upstairs and eat it in the comfort of his bedroom. When I said no again he started to wail.

He walked across the room and bent down until he was in downward dog and wailed.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Thirty-seven

1. Because he is kind.

2. Because he thinks I'm funny.

3. Because his jokes are mostly funny.

4. Because he told me he had never met anyone like me before and he meant it in a good way.

5. Because he is also a vegetarian.

6. Because he loves me just as much as I love him.

7. Because he loves the kids like crazy.

8. Because he will tell the girl long, convoluted stories about purple kangaroos going grocery shopping in order to distract her while he dresses her in her snow suit.

9. Because he has become less controlling about me cooking in the kitchen.

10. Because he lets me use "his" laptop to blog even though it means he can't play his video games.

11. Because he feeds the cat and changes the litter box.

12. Because even though he has a strange aversion to eating fruit he hasn't tried to turn the children against it.

13. Because he cares about other people's feelings.

14. Because he strives everyday to be a good dad.

15. Because he will reserve trashy magazines from the library for me and pick them up on his way home from work.

16. Because even though he was nervous he still traveled to St.Petersburgh with me.

17. Because he puts up with me when I am tired and cranky.

18. Because he will sometimes write down things he thinks I will like as a gift months before my birthday or Christmas.

19. Because he was a stay-at-home-day with the girl for a year and he will be again soon.

20. Because he loved our house the moment he walked up the front steps.

21. Because he will plan our future with me.

22. Because he lets me call him at work and cry to him in the middle of the day if I need to.

23. Because he tells me I am a good mom even when I don't feel like it.

24. Because he tells me I am beautiful even when I don't feel like it.

25. Because he thinks that taking care of two kids all day is a valid reason for the house to be a mess when he gets home.

26. Because he gets up most mornings with the boy at 4am.

27. Because he moved to Winnipeg to be with me.

28. Because he moved to Ottawa with me when I got a job.

29. Because he works to be patient.

30. Because he has brought me cupcakes after a long day.

31. Because he lets me read in bed even though he is trying to fall asleep.

32. Because he married me.

33. Because he finished painting the house while I was pregnant with the girl and forgot to go back and paint where the painters tape had been.

34. Because he encourages me and supports me.

35. Because he listens to me talk about things that are important to me.

36. Because likes to spend time with me.

37. Because he always tries.

Happy birthday.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Follow through

Oh, those teachable moments. Those moments where you and your child are both about to learn an important lesson. Your child will learn that you mean what you say when you issue an ultimatum. You will learn that patience may be a virtue but that it is also in short supply at eight in the morning as you head out of the door on the way to school drop off.

The girl was a little edgy yesterday afternoon. She wasn't listening. She was testing the boundaries. She was yelling a lot. By this morning her edginess had transformed into full blown craziness. I mean that in the nicest possible way, of course.

Standing on the front porch she told me she wanted to climb into the stroller while it was still on the porch. I told her I wanted her to wait until it was down on the sidewalk. Her response: a long, deafening scream. Long. Deafening.

I snapped. I picked her up and took her back into the house. I said if you are going to talk to me like that they you won't be going to school. I explained that we don't scream and we do listen. She cried. She promised she wouldn't scream. She swore she would listen. Okay, I said, you can go to school today but there is no more screaming and you have to start listening.

Outside we went. The husband picked her up to put her in the stroller. No, no, I want mommy to put me in the stroller she yelled. Followed by a long, deafening scream. Long. Deafening.

I wanted her to go to school. I wanted to take the boy to playgroup. Instead, I picked her out of the stroller yelling and screaming and carried her into the house. The husband brought the boy back inside. School was officially cancelled.

Here's the thing about those teachable moments. Sometimes they suck. Sometimes you don't know if you are doing the right thing. Sometimes you know you are doing the right thing but you really don't want to do it. Sometimes you want to look the other way and pretend that screaming at your mother is okay even though it isn't. Sometimes you don't want to follow through when it means all of you will be staying inside the house together.

But you have to follow though. So I tell myself. And I dream about the day when the follow through will involve her baking me a dozen cupcakes. And watch me eat them.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Babysitter

The kids had their first babysitter tonight. Not family, not friends, but an actual paid babysitter.

In December I asked one of the girl's preschool teachers if she ever did childcare outside of the school. She is a lovely young woman. Someone who I have watched with the girl and all the other students and been impressed with her patience and care. She was someone I thought I could trust. That I would be comfortable leaving my kids with.

She said she did. That she babysat for a number of other families but that she would be happy to babysit for us if she was free. The next week I gave her a list of ten different times in January that would work for us. I told her to pick whichever worked for her.

We talked to the girl and the boy all day about the babysitter. The girl was excited. I was unsure about the boy since he has been weary of new people lately. Maybe he remembered her from the girl's school or maybe he was just happy because the girl was happy but he was sitting on the babysitter's lap when we left.

I felt a bit hysterical walking away from the house. Like I couldn't believe what was happening. That we had a whole three hours of time to spend together before we had to be back. We ended up sitting at a restaurant reading our magazines while we ate. It was wonderful to sit together. It was even better to be together and not talk. Not talk business or schedules or worries. Just to be in each other's company and read.

The house was quiet when we got home. Everyone was sitting at the kitchen table eating the homemade pizza I had left in the fridge for the babysitter to cook. The kids were happy. They had had a wonderful time.

I feel a bit giddy now. Giddy with happiness that it went so well. Giddy with joy to have gotten some much needed time away from the kids. Giddy with hope that she will babysit for us again.

Moments

Parenting is about moments. I am learning that.

Moments of pure happiness have been few and far between these last few weeks with the kids sick, then the husband and then me. With 4 am risings. And sleepless nights. While it hasn't been horrific, it also hasn't been fun or very enjoyable. I have just been trying to focus on the light at the end of the tunnel that I keep telling myself has to be there.

I had two moments of happiness yesterday. I needed them. I have needed them to sustain me through the rest of yesterday and this morning. I am trying to take out those moments and look at them and remind myself there will be more to come.

The first was standing around my dining room table with some lovely women and laughing. That hasn't been happening enough lately. Mostly because I am too tired to socialize. Too tired to give energy I don't have.

The second was at dinner. The four of us sat around the table and talked. I sat next to the girl, as requested. Everything was lovely and I felt blissful.

These moments come and then they pass. Hopefully they come again.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Pillow

He screamed. I could hear him through the wall. Despite the husband holding him, rocking him, walking with him nothing would stop the ear shattering yells that sounded as if he was being tortured by a thousand rabid monkeys.

Teething? Maybe. Something else? Maybe that too.

I took him to bed with me. I nursed him. Two things that I haven't been doing anymore at night. But I was desperate. I was sick and I was tired. The husband was worn out and tired too.

When he was done, he didn't fall asleep. Instead, he sat up and looked at me and started screaming. Laying next to him on the bed I frantically tried to think of some way to get him to sleep.

Would you like some blanket? I asked.

Yee-ah he said and lay down so I could lay some blanket over his legs. He looked at me. He screamed some more.

Do you want some pillow too? I asked, surprised.

Yee-ah he said.

I shuffled the pillow over towards him. He sat up and then lay down with half of his body on the pillow. He closed his eyes and his breathing deepened. I lay my down on the pillow next to him.

He let out one short yell before lifting his left hand off the pillow and smacking me in the face with it. Then he pushed me off my pillow.

Shocked, I lay with my head on the mattress at the edge of the bed. I listened to his breathing slow until he fell asleep. I moved him off of the pillow and onto the mattress. I reclaimed my pillow.

Teething? Maybe. But I think the screaming maybe be something more. I think it may very well be his new favorite way of communicating. Lucky me.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Bug off

I'm sick. That bug that ravaged the house for the last few weeks is finally having its way with me. Stupid bug.

It came over me suddenly yesterday. As soon as the husband got home I climbed into bed and stayed there all night, emerging only to help get the kids to sleep. I thought I was fine when I woke this morning (after a very long night where the boy was up because of teething and the girl was up because somehow the heating vents downstairs got shut and her room got overheated as a result) but that only lasted half an hour. The husband had to stay home from work and watch the kids while I lay in bed.

Thankfully I haven't thrown up. I couldn't handle that. After being so sick with the girl and the boy I am happy to never, ever throw up again.

I feel a little bad for not having more sympathy for the husband when he was sick. I really should have. Because this sucks.

I hope to be better tomorrow. I need to be better by Saturday because I am hosting a Pampered Chef party and at this point I have serious concerns that my house will ever be clean enough for other people to enter it.

Monday, January 4, 2010

1996

I met you outside of the Covent Garden tube station. You were there with your friends from school. I was there to meet my new roommates. Women I had just met hours before but had agreed to live with for the next three months.

We went to a pub. I spoke with you a bit. I thought you were interesting. Someone I would like to get to know better. But not right then. I was too distracted. For once there were men lining up to go out with me. When it rains it pours.

None of those dates were what I wanted. I went for dinner, to a show, for coffee. I moved on.

One night I was sitting in your flat with my friends and your friends and you mentioned a play you were going to see that weekend. You issued an open invitation. I thought nothing of it. Then it was Saturday afternoon and I found myself calling you and inviting myself along.

That was the beginning. Of all of this.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Watercolours

The girl got a watercolour set for Christmas. I bought it for the boy to give to his sister. I think it was her best present. She has paints with it everyday.

She likes to sit at the dining room table in her smock and swirl her paintbrush around in the dish of water before smushing the brush in the paint colour of her choice. The eight colours are almost all gone. The girl has to dig out the remaining paint from the corners.

We now have sheets and sheets of paintings all over the house. Some on watercolour paper, painted before the pad ran out.

I framed one of the pictures today. Painted at the top left side of the page are the girl and the boy surrounded by a circle. She and her brother together at the park.

Friday, January 1, 2010

A decade

This was my third full decade. I think it was the best so far. There were still some challenges, of course, but they weren't as hard to handle as those before. No parents divorcing, no trying to figure out who I am, no wondering what will become of my life. This past decade I lived it.

Getting older has a lot of benefits. I am more comfortable with who I am. I know what I can do. While each new stage can cause me to pause and question my ability to go forward, I now have enough successes to look back on and draw strength from.

I may not be where I thought I would be when I was sixteen, in fact I think my sixteen year old self would be horrified to find out that I am currently a stay-at-home mom of two, but I am happier than I ever thought I could be.

There were some defining moments for me this past decade. Moving to Ottawa. Starting my career. Experiencing new places I had always longed to visit. All that was good. The best part of the last decade was creating my own family.

In 2000 the husband and I got married. Now we are parents to two wonderful, loving, amazing kids who manage to drive me crazy everyday but I wouldn't have it any other way.