Mon 6 Aug 2018

My love/hate relationship with my hair

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I had straight hair when I was a kid. I must have had some curls, because I remember people reciting the poem “There once was a girl, who had a curl, right in the middle of her forehead …” to me. But, looking at pictures, my hair was straight.

Until I hit puberty.

And then the curls – the weird ones that make your hair stick out at odd angles – appeared. And I spent 20 years trying to figure out how to tame those curls. Mostly by keeping my hair very long so they were weighed down, but occasionally by cutting my hair short and then cursing the odd angles that it stuck out at while it grew out again.

In my late twenties and early thirties, I finally embraced the curls, leaving my hair just below my ears so that it wasn’t too long to make them go away, but was long enough to give them some weight so that they would stay put.

Then I had kids. And my hair chemistry changed. It went darker. It went straighter. Not poker straight, but not what I’ve been used to dealing with for a good chunk of my life.

So I cut it off again. Short. Super short. And it looked good on me. And, most importantly, I loved it. I felt confident. I knew how to deal with it.

Until four years ago when Abby went through a phase of wanting to do my hair and not being able to do anything with hair that was only a few inches long. So I started the looooong process of growing it out. I went through the awkward stages and finally had hair that was long enough. And then I kept going.

And now … I tie it back most days.

Sat 28 Jun 2014

One down, thirteen+ to go

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Thursday was Abby’s last day of JK. I don’t know how the year went so quickly (or, really, how the last 4.5 years went so quickly!), but there she was, no longer an JK, now an SK! The younger kids I don’t think really grasped that they wouldn’t see their friends over the summer, or see their teachers again at all. It was just like any other day for them, and they occupied themselves on the climber and slide while waiting to go home. On the opposite end, it was an interesting contrast – several of the kindergarten teachers were crying as they said goodbye to their students for the last time, and the older kids were running by yelling “Freedom! FREEEEEEDOOOMMMM!!” with a giddiness that couldn’t be contained.

As we walked home, I realized that every year for teachers was like the last day on the job, regardless of whether they were coming back to the same school or not. Saying goodbye to kids that are moving up, saying goodbye to colleagues who are moving on. And I remembered how hard my last day has been the two times that I’ve made the decision to move jobs. How, even though it’s been my decision, it’s still hard to say goodbye to the work and to my coworkers. Every year is like that for them. Every year.

Yet another reason that I couldn’t be a teacher. Hats off to all those who can.

Mon 4 Nov 2013

Three siblings

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I thought that when I had kids that I would know when I was “done” having children. Maybe because other people said they knew when they were done – some even as soon as their last child was born – or maybe because I knew after Abby was born that I wanted another so I assumed I would know when I didn’t want to have another. But I just don’t know. Two years after Ev entered our lives, I don’t have that “done” feeling. All the conversations we’ve had have ended with a list of reasons that undeniably tip onto the “we should stop at the two kids we have” side, but I still can’t commit to saying “I don’t want another child.”

It took me quite a while to figure out why, but it finally hit me on the weekend: I just have this feeling that our family isn’t complete yet. Is that the feeling that I’m not “done”? Because in every way, I actually do feel done. Except for that feeling.

And this isn’t about having a boy. I am thrilled to have two girls. I’ll admit, I was even afraid to have a boy the first time around. Boys are craaaaazzzzy. The second time around I wasn’t apprehensive about the possibility of having a boy, but I also was quite confident that we were having a girl so I didn’t dwell on it too much. I would be thrilled to have a third girl, if we did have a third child.

Months ago I wouldn’t have hesitated to have a third. Now, I almost feel like I’m not ready. Which isn’t quite the same, I guess, as saying that I don’t want a third.

Sat 24 Aug 2013

Everyday little miracles

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Being at home with the kids has pretty much been as I expected. They’re driving me crazy one minute, and then amazing me the next. It’s fascinating to watch them think through things, or apply knowledge from one situation to another. It’s not that I never noticed these things before, but being with them more has really just given me the chance to observe it more often. And as corny as it sounds, I think I’m falling more in love with them every day. Again, not that I didn’t love them before, but now I have the time to really appreciate them for the amazing little people that they are.

I know, you think the lack of sleep has finally gotten to me. In fact, Ev is finally sleeping a bit better at night. Truthfully, she started on the road to better nighttime sleep the week that I handed in my notice at work. It’s almost as if she sensed the conflict in me and was soothed when a timeline was finally in place. It wasn’t immediate, but she has nights where she only wakes up once or twice. And has even slept through the night once! *knock on wood* I’ve gotten in the habit of laying down with her after her 4 or 5 o’clock wakeup and staying with her until it’s time to properly get up for the day. At first it was because that was the only way for me to make sure she went back to sleep (and I needed her to go back to sleep!), but a part of me really enjoys snuggling up with her in those early morning hours. My back/neck aren’t enjoying being scrunched up on her bed as much, but I figure it’s not going to last forever. And the bonus is that rather than getting up at 6:20 when her internal alarm used to get her up, she’ll also sleep in a bit until 7 or later.

Snuggles + extra sleep = winning combination.

Although the road to better sleep has not led to better naps. Naps, more often than I have liked, have led to the road. Yup, I’ve been pulling out that magical back-pocket card that most parents don’t want to have to pull out – the “car ride”. It started with the first week I was off, which coincided with our scheduled camping trip and also with an unscheduled heat wave. Since nighttime bedtimes were thrown off by both the excitement of camping and the heat, to make sure that naps happened (and to give everyone, kid and adult, a bit of a respite from the heat) naps involved us driving around in air conditioning comfort. This, unfortunately, may have set a bad precedent. The following week, Evelyn starting resisting her naps and I resorted to car rides a few times. She quickly caught on and now she just says “no nap, car ride!” when I try to start her nap routine. I’m still doing the routine, but it doesn’t always go as planned. Sometimes it’s Ev who just won’t go down, sometimes it’s Abby who sabotages – intentionally or not – Ev’s nap.

While it seems strange to think that Abby would sabotage Ev’s naps on purpose, a small part of me is wondering if that is the case, whether she realizes it or not. We’ve been working towards cutting out her nap for a few months and had her down to alternating days at daycare, but we made the decision to drop them cold turkey when I finished work. I’m beginning to wonder if, rather than ask for a nap when she needs one, she sabotages Evelyn’s nap so that we take a car ride and Abby can fall asleep in the car without losing face (because, really, who doesn’t get tired in a car?)

Sat 10 Sep 2011


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I usually don’t read articles about tattoos because tattoos, like those taboo topics religion and politics, seem to have no neutral ground: people either love them or hate them, and are passionate in their stance. Even if an article itself takes no sides, the comments that follow enevitably contain at least one person who thinks that tattoos are disgusting, and that women who have tattoos are less than lady-like (to put it nicely). So, to save me from being irked, I just avoid reading about the subject entirely. Thankfully, most people do not engage you in random conversations on the street if they happen to spot a tattoo, so it’s fairly easy to avoid being annoyed there.

Motherhood, as I’ve discovered, is a bit of a larger no-man’s land unless you are a sucker for punishment. No matter how you feed, diaper, or clothe your child, where/when/how you let them sleep, or what methods you use to discipline (or not) your little one, someone will silently – or not so silently – judge your choices. Again, you can avoid the subject online but you can’t just avoid showing your child in public, and that mere presence of a child seems to provide the opening for people to share their opinions, whether solicited or (more likely) not.

So what exactly possessed me to read an article entitled “Moms with Tattoos” a few days ago I will never know (I think it was something in the link to it about “Will your tattoos affect how other moms look at you on the playgound?”), but read it I did. Clearly I am a sucker for punishment after all. As it turns out, I guess they weren’t feeling as edgy as they tried to make themselves out to be since the article was about as flighty as a butterfly – and never came close to answering whether or not my tattoos will prevent other moms from letting their kids play with Abby. I guess I should be thankful that most of the moms I know also have tattoos, so I never have to worry about them dropping me the second an ink line peeks out from under my clothing.

The only remotely interesting point in the article was when one mom wondered whether the fact that she had tattoos would make her daughter want tattoos. Charles and I have joked more than once that Abby will likely hate tattoos just because we have them, which makes us wonder what form her teenage rebellion will come in (not even two and the teenage angst is being imagined already!).

Maybe she’ll join a convent.

Sun 9 May 2010

On Mother’s Day

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This being my first “official” Mother’s Day as a mother, I really wasn’t sure what I expected from it.

Ever since Abby was born, I certainly think alot about being a mother and what the experience means to me. There’s a part of me that really wants to capture the emotions that I feel, perhaps so that I can define them, or perhaps just so that I can reflect on them at a later date when Abby is a older or whenever our next child adds his or her stamp to it. But, so far I haven’t been able to find the right words. Try as I might, they seem to lurk just below the surface, teasing me with their presence and then darting back into the fog before I can gather them up. I feel as if the words that I do have may do motherhood an injustice, that they will merely brush the surface of things without getting down to what really matters the most. Because how do you put into words things like the overwhelming joy you get from watching your child figure something out for the first time, why a look from her can send you into a fit of laugher, or how she can break your heart every single day because it just becomes overloaded with Love for her?

Perhaps words just aren’t the right medium. But, since words are all I know, I keep chasing them.

And since words are what I know, and Mother’s Day is what is now, it was pretty easy to find essays and articles leading up to today on what I might expect from Mother’s Day, a.k.a. How to Celebrate Being a Mom. Or, I guess more precisely, how I should be celebrated as a mom. Some were very heartfelt, others a little more lighthearted. None quite summed up my thoughts on motherhood, but they did make for interesting reading I suppose. Many suggested that I could/should have asked for a day off today – a day to do whatever it was that my heart desired. But when I stopped to think about it, I realized that I was doing what I wanted: if it wasn’t for Abigail, I wouldn’t be celebrated today (I would still, of course, be celebrating my mother), so it kind of made sense to me that I would spend the day with her.

While I might not yet be able to adaquately sum up my experience as a mother, this is certainly the first year that I really noticed all of the Mother’s Day advertising and all of the gifts that they try to get you to buy to commemorate motherhood. And I did get gifts this morning, although, as with Abby’s birth, I didn’t “expect” anything.

I already got the greatest gift.

Cheesy, I know. But also true.

Fri 2 Apr 2010

Life is a journey, not a destination

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When traveling, I often enjoy the journey almost as much as the destination. If the journey involves a car, I just need the right soundtrack and snack food and I’m more than happy to go along for the ride. If it involves a ship, once we get past the safety orientation I’m all aboard and even a day or two at sea can be enjoyed by attending the talks, stepping into the casino, or sitting in a lounge chair by a window with a beverage, watching the waves go by. And if it involves a plane? Oh, if it involves a plane my enjoyment reaches a new level! I love flying. I don’t mind the lineups to check in or for security, or the waiting to pick up my bag at the end. My enjoyment is sometimes tempered by cramped leg room or someone who spends the entire flight with their chair fully back, but these succeed only in bringing my enjoyment down a notch or two and are not enough to completely overshadow my glee. My favourite part is the take-off: there’s just something awe-inspiring about getting a plane into the air. Hopefully, one day we will try traveling by train as I feel that too will have its own perks.

But, lately when knitting, I’m all about the destination. Sure, the planning part is very fun – caressing all the beautiful yarns, deciding on the right yarn and colour, finding just the right pattern for the yarn (or designing a pattern, if it’s one I’m doing myself) – but once I get past that I’m beginning to find that I run out of drive. Sometimes, even with all the groundwork done, I delay a project because I just don’t want to cast on. And the actual knitting? Sometimes … well, sometimes it feels a bit like a chore. Sure, there are things like lace, cables, and pattern work to keep me on my toes, but sometimes I can’t seem to enjoy those as much as I probably should. Instead, I’m wishing that I was done, rather than enjoying what I am doing. Payoff over process. Sometimes I get so close to the end, only to be bogged down by the finishing steps like seaming and weaving in yarn ends, that my progress slows to a crawl, further dampening my interest.

It never used to be like that though – I used to enjoy the process of knitting more than I seem to now. Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoy knitting an awful lot, I guess I’m just finding that the particular aspects of what I enjoy are changing. I’m not sure if it is just the sheer amount of knitting I do, or perhaps the amount of knitting I do for people other than me that has changed my perspective on it. Whatever the case, I want to enjoy the journey again, as well as the destination.

We only go on a few trips a year, and even when I was traveling for work it was only every few months, so traveling never really gets old for me, but I usually knit three to four dog sweaters a month from November through to March, and then I have had large projects on the go over each of the summers for the last few years.

So, since this is our year of Zen, I’m going to work on enjoying the process of knitting again. ‘Cuz, really, one should be Zen when wielding a pair of large, pointy sticks.

Fri 19 Mar 2010

Kid-life crisis?

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After Abby was born, I had a bit of an identity crisis. I was now a “mom” and that label seemed to come with much more baggage than I had ever thought it would. It kind of reminded me of one of my favourite quotes as a teenager:

“This life has been a test. If it had been an actual life, you would have received instructions on where to go, and what to do”.1

I had no idea where to go, or what to do. Everything about being a parent makes you feel like a failure. After muddling my way (with much help from Charles) through the first few weeks, I figured out (although not quite quickly enough) not to read any more parenting books, or at least to take the ones I did read with a grain of salt, because every book tells you that you are doing it wrong. It doesn’t matter what “it” is (sleeping, feeding, dressing) you are definitely doing it wrong. And other people, well-meaning as they might be, generally do not make it easier by offering unsolicted advice. In the light of the day, I could stand by my/our decisions, but in the middle of the night, it was much, much easier to second-guess what I was doing. After all, I was just guessing for the most part. Guessing what she wanted. Guessing what she needed. ‘Cuz babies don’t have instructions.

On top of the stress of ruining our baby’s life by doing something as monsterous as feeding her when she was hungry (i.e. on demand), there was the fact that none of my clothes fit. Maternity clothes were too big. My regular clothes were too small. I could count on one finger the number of pants that fit. Another two fingers covered the number of skirts I could wear. I wanted to be a good homemaker (dinner on the table, laundry clean, house generally tidy) and a good wife (not looking as if I rotated through the same outfit every three days) but I wasn’t feeling good about myself as a person.

“Judge me all you want, just keep the verdict to yourself”.2

The problem arises when you are the one judging yourself. Internalizing all of those judgements just magnifies them. And in the two things that mattered most to me, my baby and my marriage, I judged myself as failing.

The good news is, I finally gave myself a reprieve. Crisis averted. The bad news is that, while all my pants and skirts fit now, my shirts still don’t fit. Darn breastfeeding boobs.

1 Courtesy of the epitome of teen angst, miss Angela Chase.

2 Courtesty of a cigarette ad, although I try to ignore that fact.

Fri 29 Jan 2010

Measuring up

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How do you put a value on a person?

My value as a blogger? Probably not high given my frequency (which as we know is infrequent).

My value as a maid is definitely zilch. I’m pretty good at making messes, not so good at cleaning them up, particularly when baking – I’m a catastrophe then. Cooking is only marginally better. Luckily we have a housekeeper who comes in every two weeks to set our house in order.

Facebook tells me that I have 96 friends, so I guess 96 people value me as a friend, or at least want to use me to pad their friends list.

This site sets my Twitter value at $24. That’ll buy you about four Venti Chai Lattes and two lemon loafs, with a bit of change to spare. Or one very nice skein of yarn.

Some people might set my value by how much money I make, but right now I make no money. Actually now all I do is spend money (groceries, bills, baby), so does that assign me a negative value? On Judgement Day, will I be handed a bill showing my balance owing?

How about my value as a mother? As a wife? As a daughter, sister, sister-in-law? As a friend? There are so many ways you can compartmentalize your value and come up seemingly lacking by looking at only one segment.

There is a quote by Michel de Montaigne: “The value of life is not in the length of days, but in the use we make of them; a man may live long yet very little.”

I like that way best.