Why?

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Last night we were talking about how Reiden is quite, err, precocious. This kid has never sat still since she was about six weeks old. The only times she does sit still, we’ve accidentally left the TV or a computer screen on (I know, we will lose this battle eventually), someone new is holding her (anyone want to come over?) or she’s pooping.

She wants to be bounced, sung to, walked around, entertained all the time. She will sit by herself and play, and she’s willing to let us eat dinner while she sits in her bouncy chair, but there’s a short time limit on everything. She’s smart and wriggly and impatient and we would not have her any other way. She rarely cries, but she protests a LOT. She’s an amazing kid. It’s all good, all of it.

“Wait til she’s older. She’s going to run circles around us,” I said. “She’ll ask why about everything.” We talked about how we won’t always be able to answer her questions, like why don’t the rich people just give more money to the poor people? But we’ll try to set a really good example by doing things like volunteering.

Then we watched this, and reminded our future selves to remember how full of crap we once were.

What We Talk About When We Talk About Network Sitcoms

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The other day I said to Peter, “Remember when I asked you to choose between Community, 30 Rock and Parks & Recreation, if you had to spend forever in one of them?”

“Yeah.”

“And we decided Community was too zany to be there long-term?”

“Yeah.”

“But what did we say about 30 Rock versus Parks & Rec?”

“Oh,” he said, “that 30 Rock was where we should be, because we’re writers and stuff. But the hours would be too long.”

“No, it wasn’t that.”

“Yeah it was, it was about how that would have been the answer before Reiden, but now we have a different lifestyle.”

“I’m pretty sure it was something else.”

“Why are you asking?”

“It’s bugging me. It was something about how the Parks & Rec people would be more like, comforting if we had to be with them forever. But that wasn’t quite it. Damn, I really want to remember.”

“Why?”

“I want to use it as a blog post. I suppose I could just make something up.”

“It’s not like I’m going to hold you to the truth or anything.”

“I really wish I could remember exactly what we said.”

I did remember, later on. And then I forgot again.

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Ben!

The 30 Day Challenge

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I still check my work email.

I’m on maternity leave, for a whole glorious year. It’s awesome, but holy man do I miss my job.

So, I check email. Just to see what’s going on: mostly birthdays and goodbye emails and reminders to do timesheets, but it’s nice. It gives some structure to the week: reminders about free (and awesome) breakfasts on Mondays, ridiculous emails from the developers on Fridays.

Also, the culture stuff. The company I work for does some pretty cool things to boost morale and help with people’s development-y stuff. Right now, there’s a 30-day challenge going on. You just have to commit to doing something every day for 30 days, or to have achieved something specific in 30 days’ time.

I think. I’m fuzzy on the guidelines. I never said I actually *read* the emails.

I decided to participate from afar. I like the idea of a daily something. I was doing 30 days of yoga when I got pregnant with Rei, so that worked out pretty well.

Here was my short list:

Shower every day

Bad for health, plus gives off impression to work people that I have an issue with showering. Cough. No comment. Am new mom! Leave me alone.

Exercise every day

See: carrying, bouncing, giving horsey rides to, dancing with, singing to, pushing stroller for, rolling around on play mat with a baby. I think I have that one covered.

Pet cat every day 

This is actually a valid goal, because my cat used to be my sun and my moon and now I barely get to hang out with him. I swore I would not be one of those people who stopped loving their pets when they had a baby, and while my love hasn’t changed, my ability to actually show him that love has. Which is pretty much the same as that jerk who kept saying he loved you but still wouldn’t introduce you to his friends.

However, “Pet cat every day” makes me sound like both a disturbed cat lady and someone who is living a very small, very sheltered existence. (Which is true.)

PS: I have two cats. The other one didn’t even get mentioned. I am a monster. Sorry, Ben.

Stop thinking in (possibly racist) accents 

Does anyone else do this? Every now and then, the voice in my head switches from someone that sounds vaguely like me to an angry older Chinese woman with a heavy accent. This tends to happen when I’m telling myself what to do, like I should take more Vitamin D or make that dentist appointment I’ve been putting off. I’m not sure exactly where the voice comes from. Sometimes it’s a man. He’s not as mean as the woman. Weird, right?

The other voice is a sassy black lady. She shows up when I’ve decided I’m going to do something and I’m going to do it now, dammit. Like when I think I deserve to buy myself something nice, but part of me is waffling. She’s the, “You go girl!” part of me. I have Angie from 30 Rock to blame/thank for her.

So now I have admitted to you that: 1. I am probably racist and 2. I hear voices. So you can see why I didn’t use that as my goal.

Write every day (blog or work on novel)

Winner! It’s only been a few days but so far so good. When I get tempted to dick around on Facebook I just remind myself to get to work now! Write book take long time, you work hard finish book, still write crappy book but book be done! And then when I write a scene or finish a blog post, I go to the kitchen and get some chocolate into my own bad self!

So, you can expect more blog posts, is what I’m saying.

You’re welcome.

Ben

Ben!

Milestones

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It’s been a big two days around here, folks. Hold on to your hats and your jiggly parts because this post is a doozy.

In other words, we’re still trapped inside and this is all I could come up with. I’ve been feeling a bit blue, and lonely and missing my family.

Small things. Gotta celebrate them.

Also, it was either this or bitch about the weather.*

1. That Tripod Thing

It’s not really sitting up, and I had to help her into it, but Reiden stayed in tripod for several minutes, all by her own self! Even when I ran to get the camera!

Then she cried, so I picked her up. 

I may have left her there just a few seconds after she cried. Pictures!

Tripod! What is that thing called, that sitting but not sitting thing? I should read some mommy blogs. Or a book about babies.

2. Espresssoooo!

We have a fancy espresso machine, the kind that coffee shops use. It was a wedding gift; we aren’t rich, nor fancy.
No really, we found one of our couches on the street. 

Please don’t tell anyone about the couch. 

Anyway, I made a perfect cup with the most glorious, perfect crema, which is not easy because there’s tamping involved, and getting the water temperature right, and getting the doohickey into the machine and okay it’s kind of easy. But I did it while holding Reiden, my own damn self!

Pete, this was a fluke. Please continue to make my coffee every morning. 

Also, I have no idea how the kitchen got cleaned. I certainly couldn’t have done that while holding a baby. Please keep cleaning the kitchen, so I can brag about you on the Internet.

3. Independence Day

Speaking of being overly reliant on my husband, today was the first time he had to work on-site at his client’s office for an entire day. He’s almost had to before, but has always been able to come home early. As I write this it’s only 1:30 so I’m hoping for a reverse-jinx. 

Universe?

I know, I know…please don’t hate me. My husband works from home. I am unbelievably lucky to have him here most days. He’s kept me from becoming a muttering, hysterical shut-in, especially during this stupid vortex. 

Anyway, so far we are managing, though it is nice to have someone else around when the diaper blow-outs require two sets of hands. 

Anyone want to come over?

4. That really expensive monitor? We used it. Finally.

Last year I got a referral bonus from the company I work for, and we used it to buy a top of the line monitor, with the video that zooms and pans and all that stuff. We even set it up and turned it on.

But every night after Reiden went to sleep, I couldn’t leave the room. I just sat there in the dark, hunched over my phone with the brightness on the lowest setting. 

(I am really afraid to go for a vision test.)

I bought a LOT of baby “necessities” on Etsy. And some clothes for myself. And a ring.

Shut up, we have a street couch. 

Anyway, I realized that with all the Eiko never being away from her baby for one second unless Pete is holding her, we don’t ever see each other one on one. And that’s kind of sad. 

So last night, I came downstairs! And we sat together! And watched two TV shows! 

And stared at the monitor the whole time. 

I actually came down on Friday night, but I was too paranoid and we were watching True Detective and I felt creeped out the whole time. So attempt #1 did not count. 

TV! It’s so shiny.

5. I hate winter 

I have never hated winter before. I spent part of my childhood in northern BC, where it was -40 all the time, yo. I love the sun and the cold and the freezing snot and the unflattering snow boots, all of it. 

But, as need not be detailed, winter becomes much more difficult with a baby. The getting the snowsuit on. The hat, and subsequent crying. The gloves, and subsequent crying. The “how many blankets should we bring it’s pretty cold but we don’t want her to overheat but remember she’s not moving around like we are” arguments. The stuffing her into the stroller, and subsequent crying. By the time we leave the house, we’ve got maybe an hour before her next nap. And it’s too cold for her to be out for an hour, but if we go into a store or cafe she gets too hot and freaks out. So we end up taking these piddly little 15-minute walks and we’re panicked the whole time that she’s freezing. 

Sorry about all the detail.

So for the first time ever, I hate winter. The worst part is, I hate the summers here too; the extreme heat and humidity and more warnings not to go outside and I’m terrified we’ll be stuck indoors then too.

Not that it’s all bad, I guess. 

But seriously, why do I live in Toronto? 

People keep posting photos of springlike Vancouver on Facebook. I am suffering from some serious jealousy and angst. 

Angst, yo.

Wait, I hear a tiny violin…

*Sorry.

The Quality of Memory

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The other day I wrote about how incredibly hard it was, dealing with a newborn. How it was draining and confusing and often baffling. How lost I felt, so much of the time.

But here’s the thing: it was also hard to recall. I wrote the piece partly because Peter and I had trouble remembering a lot about those early days, and I figured that breaking down the day hour by hour might bring some of it back. I didn’t want to forget any of it, even the crappiest, most agonizing parts. 

Love does funny things. It’s the best kind of drug: you know the pain is there, but the pain no longer matters. It’s what makes romantic love so dangerous, and having a baby so survivable. Love colours our memories.

Or maybe it’s just me. Years ago, I worked for an online gambling company, the last place I thought I’d find myself. When I was trying to decide between accepting that job and a prestigious position at a high-profile advertising agency, I said to Pete, “It’s sort of like trying to decide between the popular kids (ad agency) and rock and roll (gambling). And I want to be rock and roll.” 

I found my people there. Several of my closest friends came from that place. Even now, I miss it dearly. But Pete always reminds me that there were times I was miserable, and stressed out and desperate to leave. “Yeah,” I’ll say. “But the people, Pete. Some of the best people I’ve ever known.” Because today, all I see are the friends I made and kept. 

It’s funny how love can do that, can pull a gauzy curtain over things that are hard. The times when Reiden hated being put in her crib, when she insisted on being bounced or carried all day long, when I was the only person who could comfort her in the evenings: they’re faded, and vague, and no longer tinged with the same worry that things might never change. How love illuminates and fixes in my memory, in crystal detail, the first time she laughed, smiled at a stranger, babbled to herself in the mirror.

And now, after several nights in a row when Reiden kept thrashing around in her crib and waking me up and then I couldn’t sleep and kept waking her up and she needed a diaper change at 3:00 and wanted to eat at 2:00 and 4:00, even though child there’s no way you can be hungry and 5:30 is not an acceptable time to get up…

When it’s finally morning for real, and I lean over her crib, and she smiles even though the room is still mostly dark: everything else fades away, and I think about how lucky I am. How lucky all of us are, not just parents but people, to be able to love like that.

(Plus, I am banking every cute thing she does for later, when she’s a teenager and driving us crazy and I hate all her friends, especially that one kid. He’s sweaty and pimply and wears these stupid misogynistic t-shirts that are meant to be ironic and his name is Holster.)

Life With a (Teeny Eeny) Baby

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Lately I’ve been thinking about how different things with Reiden are now, four months later. In the days and weeks after she was born, life was joyous, yes, but also chaotic and frightening and sad. I celebrated my new life while grieving the old. I was not ready. Can you ever be?

Call it hormones or sleep deprivation or a zesty combination of both, I was overwhelmed. I felt like I was constantly chasing time, such that looking back it has all become a mustard poo-streaked blur.

So, for some masochistic reason I decided I should write things down before I forget the details. Here then, is a factual account of what I fondly think of as: The Shit Storm.

(Note: for anyone who hasn’t had a baby, and wants to, I’m not trying to scare you or get all down on breastfeeding. Nursing, and the rest of it got better at around six weeks, and now things are incredible! glorious! rainbows! kittens! much of the time. It just took a little while, and a lot of nipple cream, to get there.)

Day In the Life, 1 Week Old

6:00 am

Wake up to the sound of my iPhone alarm. It’s still dark outside and I’m furious: who set an alarm on my phone? Was it Pete? Why would he do that? It’s Saturday. I get to sleep in, and then we’ll go for breakfast, and we’ll stumble back here and watch movies all day. Weird though; I don’t feel at all hungover and OH HOLY CATNIP WHAT THE HELL IS THAT?

Register presence of baby.

Register single awful fact: must feed baby every two hours.

6:05 am 

Struggle into nursing pillow. “My Brest Friend”, my ass. Curse nursing pillow and still-massive stomach. Wrestle pillow into a position where it almost doesn’t hurt also-tender stomach.

Take screaming baby from Peter. Pray that this time she’ll find the nipple. Pray it won’t feel like needles stabbing into my chest. Pray she gets enough to eat. Wrestle baby’s clawing, scratching hands away from clawed, scratched nipple.

Clench teeth.

6:10 am 

As Reiden “nurses”, madly Google “baby can’t find nipple”; “what are symptoms of thrush”, “should breastfeeding hurt this much?”, “My Brest Friend sucks”, “new baby does it get easier?”, “breastfeeding and alcohol?”.

Repeatedly call for Peter to bring food, any food, no not cereal I can’t eat that with one hand are you kidding me? No come back I love you I’m so HUNGRY!

6:45 am

Wonder if it’s supposed to take this long for a baby to eat.

6:55 am 

Finally, Reiden falls off boob. Ogle her sweet, milk-drunk face. Try to take photos without boobs getting in the way.

7:00 am

Hand baby to Peter. Wonder how people do this without family to help. Wonder how single moms do this. Feel bad for feeling sad. Go upstairs to cry.

7:30 am

Stand in front of the shower. Take bra off and cry again because the air hurts. How can air hurt? Ponder stupidity of current situation. Put bra on again (really) and get into shower. Cry because everything else hurts. You know, down there. HURTS. Think about calling the doctor.

8:00 am

Hold sweet little baby while Peter takes photos. Veto posting of photos because holy crap I look awful.

8:05 am 

Ask how long I have until the next feed. Answer: zero. There is zero until the next feed. Demand to be shown the baby tracking app because there’s no way that’s right. Accuse Pete of starting timer too early. Try not to cry.

9:00 am

Sit on couch, stare at wall. Snap at Peter when he suggests I have a nap this afternoon.

Feel guilty about snapping at Peter, at neglecting our poor cats, at not feeling happier. Start to cry — and I am not kidding here — over the fact that I never got to see the placenta. (I forgot to ask to see it. We had named it Patrick. Am not kidding about that either.)

(Actually know what? Am still a little sad about it.)

9:15 am

Hold Reiden as Peter tries to convince me that her jaundice is getting better. Point out the yellow in her eyes. Pray that she’s gaining weight and that this afternoon’s doctor appointment will go well.

9:30 am

Stand in bedroom, stare at closet. Pull the one thing out of the closet that might fit. Try on, do happy dance. Realize there’s no way to get it off easily for breastfeeding. Stomp around bedroom. Try on Peter’s clothes. Blink at ridiculousness of outfit. Resign myself to wearing maternity clothes. Try to hide tummy with a scarf, because if anyone asks when I am due I will DIE.

10:00 am 

Feed Reiden, terrible pain, frantic internet searching, self-flagellation, etc.

11:00 am

Walk from the rental car to the doctor’s office. Walk very, very slowly. Try not to grimace. Notice that, in addition to the fact that “down there” feels held together with rubber bands, uterus must also be held or it SWINGS. Wonder if this is normal.

12:00 pm

Feed baby in doctor’s office. Raise eyebrows when told yet again that her latch looks fine.

1:00 pm

Book another car for tomorrow’s trip to the hospital. Try not to think about how Reiden is not gaining weight. Try not to think about how yellow she looked under the lights in the doctor’s office, or that she hasn’t pooped in days. Pray for poop.

2:00 pm

Nurse, cry, Google. Try the “football hold” for breastfeeding. Remind self to laugh about this later, because worst advice ever. Football boobs even more sore now.

3:00 pm

Attempt to nap. Cry, then go on Facebook. Savour nice comments from people about baby. Lie there staring at the ceiling, counting the minutes until my mom arrives from BC.

3:30 pm

Wake up to the sound of the bedroom door opening. “Sorry,” Pete says. “I think she’s hungry.” Convince myself that this is somehow his fault.

4:15 pm

Beloved cousin (who keeps dropping off food on our doorstep, who is a SAINT) texts to ask how things are going. Begin itemized list: Reiden can’t latch, isn’t gaining weight, is jaundiced, hasn’t pooped, might have to stay in hospital, is it my nipple cream is that why she won’t latch should I try olive oil, my boobs are killing me, I have tennis elbow, the nursing pillow hurts, I look so pregnant I’m starting to wonder if there’s another baby in there, I am sad, Reiden won’t sleep on her back, is gassy, is adorable I love her so much and why did I leave that to the end am I a bad mother? Erase, write, “It’s going great! Breastfeeding is hard though!”

5:30 pm

Feed baby.

7:30 pm

Feed baby.

8:30 pm

Try to comfort gassy, screaming baby. Fail.

9:00 pm

What? How is it 9:00? Discuss food with Pete, decide dinner is too much effort. Discuss bathing baby; same conclusion. Commence shared staring at wall.

9:01 pm

Realize Reiden’s swaddle sack is in the wash. Panic over lack of available options. Watch videos on how to swaddle using blankets. Tear out own hair when she busts out within three seconds.

9:30 pm

Feed baby.

11:00 pm

“Go to bed.” Attempt to comfort screaming baby while avoiding direct contact with boobs.

Set alarm for 12:30, 3:30, 6:30 for baby to feed every three hours instead of two because hey, live a little.

11:30 pm

Lie awake wondering if I will ever, ever feel normal again.

(I did.)

(Better than normal, in fact.)

(So, so much better than normal.)

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Goodnight Sears, Goodnight

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I like looking at photos of abandoned buildings. Something about places seeming frozen in time, I guess, as if waiting for their people to come back.

The Eaton Centre space occupied by Sears won’t be empty for long; only until Nordstrom moves in. But it’s interesting all the same, to observe the dismantling.

Sears Leaves Downtown: inside the dying days of a Toronto retail institution

Eaton’s stores, gone. Sears stores, gone. Woolco, Woolworths. What is it about retail that can make me so wistful?