Friday, March 31, 2006

The best thing I did this week

On Wednesday afternoon, my friend, Meredith, took me to Le Nordik spa scandinave in Chelsea (Quebec). It was the best afternoon I have had in a long time. It is a traditional Scandinavian spa. First, you spend 10-15 minutes in one of the two hot areas: a steam sauna or a dry sauna. The dry sauna was closed for repair when we were there (which meant that we got a two-for-one pass for next time!) so we obviously used the steam sauna. After that you go directly into one of the two cold pools. You can choose to stand under a big freezing waterfall or plunge into the smaller pool that the waterfall feeds into. After you do that you spend 10 or 15 minutes 'resting' to bring your body temperature back to normal. Then you repeat the whole cycle 3 or 4 times. The waterfall, cold pool and a big hot tub are all outdoors in a gorgeous paradise in the Chelsea bush with big outcrops of rock and a gorgeous patio with Muskoka chairs everywhere and an outdoor wood stove. It was beautiful.

The first time we stepped into the steam sauna we weren't so sure about the whole process. When you first go in there, the smell is overwhleming (eucalyptus I think) not to mention that you can't see a thing because the steam is so dense. The heat was really intense. We only lasted a few minutes before we decided to start off with a sit in the big hot tub. After that we decided to try again. It was better. We lasted almost 10 minutes. Then came the first plunge in the cold pool. Let's just say that there was some cursing. Then we rested on the lounge chairs outside.... in March... in Quebec... in our bathing suits. Sounds crazy, I know. But the sun was on us and it felt great and we weren't cold at all.

Then we repeated two more times. Each time the steam sauna was less intense and more relaxing. One of the things I liked the most was that the spa asks that no one talks in the saunas so it is truly a relaxing experience.

The whole thing was great and we're going to go back in a few weeks. At the end of the afternoon I felt like I had had a 90 minute massage I was so relaxed. And all this for $35! I highly recommend it if you are in or around the Ottawa area. Just great!

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Mama, uh-oh

This is what I heard from my bed this morning. Emily generally chats herself awake. She blabs, blabs, blabs and eventually calls for us. I knew something was off this morning though when she said "Mama.... uh-oh." She saves "uh-oh" for when something is amiss. It could be as simple as dropping her grape on the floor but it is always something that isn't quite right. Being that there is very little that can go wrong in her crib, John went in to find... wait for it... a naked child, a poopy diaper, a naked child with poop on her fingers.

I peeled myself out of bed and helped with the clean up which required stripping the crib, getting the clothes into the hamper, scrubbing fingers, heels, bottoms of feet, stomach, back and all points in between. Next step was Emily showering with John this morning. I had to live with it, but I still didn't feel she was quite clean enough. What if a tiny poop particle was embedded under her fingernail? Ick, ick, ick. I had to let it go but I'm still thinking about the possibility of that particle.

Ah, toddlerhood. You love seeing the milestones - learning to put on socks, learning to take off socks. Learning to put on pants, learning to rip off sleeper, onesie, diaper.

I'm told duct tape helps for these special moments.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

A new addition: a weekly meme

As part of my blog learning curve (no one ever said I was quick on the uptake), I've discovered the world of memes. I've decided to introduce one a week or so. Maybe more, maybe less. We'll see how it goes and how structured I want to be. I find my life has too much structure already being that I have a toddler who thrives on it so I might find that I prefer surprising myself and you and do this randomly. Okay, here is today's meme:

1. What is your favorite veggie?

I do love broccoli but that is oh-so-predictable. Ah, I know - organic garden carrots. They taste so good. However, I also love baby bok choy the way John cooks it or floating in my favourite Vietnemese soup.

2. Are there any veggies you don't eat?

My all-time despised vegetable is brocolli rabe. What is up with that stuff? Seriously nasty.

3. Which veggie do you think has the funniest name?

I think it is very funny when the British use French names for vegetables, i.e. courgette (zucchini - which in itself is funny) and aubergine (eggplant).

4. If you're a vegetarian, why are you and do you like it? If you're not a vegetarian, would you ever want to become one?

I'm not a vegetarian although I've dappled with it before. I just like meat too much to give it up for good. That's especially true when I'm visiting my sister, Beth, in Austin. I could never give up a trip to a Texas BBQ. The memory has got my mouth watering as I type this. Clearly I'm not a candidate for the vegetarian diet. However, I love vegetables and I'd have no trouble going that route for a short time - outside of Texas.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Recently, Emily has been practising dressing herself. She has completely mastered putting on socks - something she is very proud of. Posted by Picasa

When the poop hits the floor

On Sunday afternoon, I was walking by Emily in the dining room when I noticed something on the floor. Since we'd just come inside from a walk, I thought it was mud from someone's shoe. On closer inspection, I confirmed it to be poop. Emily poop. Oh-my-word.

I grabbed her so that she didn't add another heel print to the one I already noticed imbedded in said poop. I handed her to John, I picked up the poop with paper towel and hosed down the floor with extra strength bleach product. At exactly this time, I heard John scream from upstairs: Oh God!! Full blow-out! Oh, the smell! I'm going down....

While unusual for Emily to have a blow-out, at least she does it well - sending the poop sailing out of the diaper and down her pant leg onto the dining room floor.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

It is possible to drown in bonhomme

Emily has taken to sleeping with every stuffed animal she can get her long-fingered hands on. This is a very new development. She doesn't have a lot of stuffed animals, just a few favourites in her room, most of which are HUGE. There is 'woof-woof' - the big, tibetan sherpa looking gund dog. There is brown bear - large enough to probably eat her. And then the favourite - bonhomme. A homemade (by Omi) snowman wearing a green hat. Her favourite. I think mainly because she gets to say 'bonhomme' over and over and over again until you absolutely want to rip the stuffing out of bonhomme.

Right before she goes to sleep she whispers 'woof-woof'. 'Bonhomme'. 'Bah' (this is brown bear). She seems to think that she needs all of them around her in a crib that once seemed spacious but now seems awfully crowded. Result? She is no longer sleeping very well. She wakes up a lot through the night. We don't have to go in but she is not sleeping well, I'm sure. I am positive it is because she is totally crowded out of her bed by bonhomme and his merry band. Tonight, I must try to at least break her of the sherpa dog and the bear. Let the panic ensue.

Monday, March 20, 2006

When it rains... it floods the basement

It seemed fitting to title this "when it rains, it pours" being that lately, everything that can go wrong, has. But, being that one of those things going wrong is a leaky basement, I thought that more fitting.

I like owning a house. I like having four walls of our own (well, technically two, since we're attached on each side, but who's counting?). I like not having to write a cheque to a landlord. I don't like having to worry and pay for things when they go wrong. And right now, too much is going wrong. And it all has to do with the basement. We have a finished basement. Really nice for sitting around, for tv, for Emily to play, for us to veg. Not so nice when there is a leak in a wall that is now covered in insullation, drywall, and a fireplace. (If you look at the upper left corner in the picture below, you can see the carpet peeled back where the basement is leaking. We ended up having to peel back much more as the leak spread like the plague across the room.) The previous owners have told us that a crack was repaired there about 2 years ago and they left us the receipt (it should be under warranty, they said) but of course, we can't find the receipt. We're positive they didn't leave it behind for us. So, now we have to rely on the previous owners to find it in their stuff (hah) or rely on the company that did it to honour their work without a receipt from us (bigger hah).

Add to this the following: a perennial illness that is going from John to Emily to I like bumper cars, another leak in the basement that has stopped but has pointed to the fact that we must get our roof done this spring (question: where do you get $3-5000 when you aren't expecting it?), oh, and that minor one: Louise is shutting her daycare as of May 11 to go to teachers' college leaving us with 7.5 weeks to find new daycare. That's my favourite. Of course, not to mention that we're headed towards the poorhouse because of all of our debt and my foolish dream that I intend to make reality where I stop bringing in a meaningful salary in August and then stop bringing in one altogether the following August.

Yes, it would suck to live in Baghdad or Kandahar right now. It would also suck to have a terminal illness. I do have this in perspective but being that this is my problem right now, and after all, everything is about me, I think it sucks the most.

On the brighter side, we went to a sugar shack yesterday and Emily had her first sleigh ride. The highlight for her (apparently) was standing behind the horses and watching them poop (or, in her words "caca"). This was met with peels of laughter from Emily and a little embarassment from John - pride from me though. I'm so glad my daughter has inherited my appreciation for bum humour.

Monday, March 13, 2006

basement play Posted by Picasa

A tough weekend all around

Emily got another cold. A nasty one. Each one seems to be worse than the previous. This one was a chest cold that developed further into a head cold. She couldn't sleep well at all. John spent 6 hours (!) in her room on Saturday night trying to help her sleep (and thus missing any sleep for him). She didn't nap. She stopped eating. She was very lethargic and just wanted to be held (mostly by me). It was a very tiring four days and I'm so glad that we are now on the other side. She's back to herself. She's sleeping better (although not back to where she was i.e. sleeping through the night and waking up happy). She's eating better (but again, not where she was i.e. eating everything she could lay her long-fingered hands on). She's generally happy again. I'm so glad. Of course, I now have a cough. The joys of daycare germs.

She has started prefacing everything she says with "mummy". On the odd occasion that she doesn't, she replaces it with "daddy". If John or I don't respond right away, we get "mummymummymummymummy" until we finally turn our complete attention to her. I've heard about this. And indeed, it is VERY ANNOYING.

So, no news to share from the weekend, no traumatic swimming stories (we had to miss our last lesson), no sugar highs (you know a kid is sick when they turn down homemade chocolate chip cookies - more for me!), no farm animals. Next weekend will be better.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

I love that sound

This morning, John and I went to our second appointment with Sarah, our midwife. We love Sarah - she was our rock during the very long and difficult labour I had with Emily and she was full of compliments afterwards and understood our disappointment that all that work ended with a c-section.

During this appointment we heard #2's heartbeat for the first time. Just as with Emily, it brought me relief and excitement and some tears as well. I just love the comfort it brings, even though you can always find hundreds of other things to worry about in a pregnancy. It is so nice to hear that fast little heartbeat and hear the baby move away from the sounds coming from the doppler. That will always be a highlight of my pregnancies. And the relief and excitement it brings, lasts for a few days. I feel nothing can bring me down.

Sarah also talked to us about a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesaerean), which we are going to attempt. The stats are very good. Eight in 10 women who try it are successful and the risk is very low (0.5 percent for uterin rupture). I'm looking forward to trying this again and preparing myself and John for total success. I know that using a midwife will also increase our chances of success.

I wish I had a recording of the heartbeat to stick here but instead you'll have to imagine it. It's something like: bump-bump-bump-bump-bump-bump-bump. I bet you couldn't have come up with that yourself.

Monday, March 06, 2006

List of things Emily is doing right now that I don't want to forget

When the doorbell rang on the weekend, as we were reading stories before bed, she stopped everything, looked at me and said: "Qui?"

When I asked her where something was, she pointed at it and said "Ici."

When I read her the William Wegman book (called "Baboo" by Emily), I always ask her: Are you a painter? Are you a fire fighter? Are you a ....? and she always says, after each on: no, in her own snappy little way.

Her peals of laughter when I pretend to chase her or when I hide and then jump out at her or when she gives me a big, gross open mouthed kiss and I pretend (?) to be disgusted.

Her pride in putting on her rubber boots by herself. She marches around like she has just won a million dollars.

How everytime she sees a pillow she says: "mama, dodo" and points at the pillow and asks me lay down. She then puts a blanket on me and lays down beside me. If John is there, she wants him to join us too.

How in the bathtub when she's had enough, she tries to sing the putting-the-toys away song but it ends up sounding like this: "bah-do, bah-do", instead of "toys away, toys away". Go figure.

How she can't get enough food. This is a welcome relief after her initial few months on solids when she wouldn't touch baby food and even when she started real solids when she would really only eat cheese or macaroni. Now, she is eating everything. I mean, everything... sandwiches, clam chowder, chili, as much yogurt and frozen blueberries as we'll allow. And of course, ham and cheese. Meat is less of a favourite unless it is in the form of shawarma.

How she wakes up happy, talking to herself, the pictures on the wall, or to no one in particular.

How she happily goes to sleep on her own, talking away or just floating into sleep with no fear of being by herself or left to cry on her own. This is a major reward after her not sleeping well or going to sleep easily for the first 14 months.

How she gets to the door as fast as possible shouting "mummy, mummy, mummy" when I walk in and gives me the biggest hug and lots of kisses. I wonder if I'll miss that greeting when I'm home with her again full time. Nah. It will be even better to know that she doesn't have to greet me like that at the end of the day because I'll be there all day long.

Another swimming incident

It seems that we can't go to the pool without something going slightly amiss. This time, Emily was having a great time falling into my arms off the side of the pool when she decided to add extra flourish by throwing her head back and thus smacking it on the side of the pool. From there on in, she kept pointing up the ramp, in between sobs, to show me that it was time to leave. Eventually I gave in and said goodbye to another great swim lesson. One more left. Will it be incident free? Unlikely.

Friday, March 03, 2006


Emily spends her days at Louise's house while John and I are working. Louise takes care of 5 kids and runs her daycare entirely in French. As a result, Emily, I would say, speaks more French than English. Luckily, she understands everything we say to her in English. Some of her favourite words are in French: C'est; bonnehomme; en haut (which she applies to going upstairs or down); de l'eau (could be water or milk); dodo (sleep); and various things we don't understand - they could be French or they could be "Emily-speak."

Last night after putting her to bed, I was in the basement for some mind-numbing television, waiting for Earl to come on, and listening to Emily fall asleep through the monitor. She wasn't saying much but she was moving around. Then I heard her say, twice, I can only assume as self-instruction: dodo... dodo, and then that was it. She was asleep.

Sometimes parenthood is so good.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

The tic is back...

That's how tired my body is. My eye has a tic again. It only shows up when I'm exhausted. It's not like I'm putting in ridiculously long hours (of course, I write that sitting at my work laptop at 8:50 in the evening having just finished working on something for tomorrow). It's just that I'm getting worn out by the pace that starts when I get out of bed until I fall onto the couch after Emily is in bed. There is barely a moment to grab a cup of tea (don't worry, I do make the time).

I wonder how different it will be when I'm at home with two kids next year. Will the pace feel as hectic or will it be less tiring just knowing that to some extent I decide our schedule and I don't have to answer to anyone but the kids? (I realize they do demand many answers and leave me with little power to fix our schedule.) It is absolutely gut-wrenchingly exhausting to be home with kids but it is exhausting in a different way than I'm experiencing now that I'm working full time and still trying to be the best mum I can. Sometimes though I feel that no matter how hard I try, I just can't be the kind of mum I want to be when I'm also pulled by my job.

Although I love the fact that I have a job that is extremely challenging and rewarding, it will never be as rewarding as when I'm with Emily or even just watching her learn things, talk to herself, work something out. And that is what I look forward to doing full time next year and beyond.

While it may go against what some people view as my contribution to feminism, I see it as exercising feminism in being able to make a choice about what I'm going to do with my life over the next few years. And this is what is key for me. However, the lack of choice comes in the fact that for many women this is no longer a choice. Many of us, me included this year, return to work because we can't afford to stay home in this country. I know sometimes the opposite is true in the U.S. where women who want to return to work can't due to lack of understanding in their job for the needs of family, or the cost of daycare. Check out the book, "Perfect Madness: Motherhood in the Age of Anxiety" for a much more elequent discussion of these issues than I have just spewed out here.

Well, off to bed (soon) for some brainless reading (Olivia Joules - laughing and loving it) and needed sleep.