Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Arrival

I don't have a lot of time so I will keep this fairly short. On Thursday, we welcomed our son, Iain James Gideon N. I was set for induction (on my due date) because of my blood pressure (I have terrible white-coat and it was all over the map). I think that my o.b. and I were more scared of his size than anything else but I believe that suspected "big baby" is not considered a reason for induction. Funny thing is, when we arrived at the hospital, my b.p. was actually low and while it wasn't a scary problem, it was closer to low than high the entire time. Anyway, on the way to the hospital, I started to feel a bit crampy and by the time the doctor got to me, it looked like I might be starting to go into labour on my own. They decided to break my water and hold off doing anything else to see how things progressed. I slowly progressed and then, just when they were thinking that they would have to start a pitocin drip, things ramped up on their own and I ended up not having to be strapped to monitors the entire time and on my back, which I had been worried about. I was also thrilled because my doula suggested that if I had a nurse I really wanted to ask for her and it just happened that J, the nurse who was SO fantastic when I had Pk, was on duty and she was my nurse. Between she and my doula, I have to say that it was a great delivery experience (as far as these things go) and while Iain did end up being HUGE, he was so much easier to deliver than Pk. The actual delivery took less than 10 minutes and the pushing was easy. The worst part was a weird pain in my hip that I had for the last 20 minutes or so (but luckily, my doula and the nurse were able to help a bit).

Iain James Gideon N was born at 6:41 p.m. on Thursday, June 17th at 10 lbs, 2 oz and 22.5 inches long. He was the biggest baby in the hospital while we were there. I had an epidural but we tried to keep it to as low as possible and I have to say, I can't believe how good I felt afterwards and I have been feel great since, other than the fact that Iain has hit the difficult stage of things - he slept wonderfully the first 24 hours (which I didn't really get to enjoy since there were no private rooms and my roommate's baby screamed the entire time) but overall, he seems to be fairly mellow most of the time. He's a tough little nut, which is great, since with his big size, there were things that had to be checked really carefully (they were concerned about his glucose and that he might need supplementation but his sugars were perfect and there was some concern that his bilirubin might be a problem, again since he was so big, but the numbers were really, really good and so far, no sign of jaundice).

Guess I haven't been so short after all - just a few other facts - Iain ("God is Gracious") is the Scots Gaelic spelling (we didn't make it up!) and is from John, my grandfather's name and a name that Michael's father had really been pulling for, James is after my great-grandfather and our church and Gideon comes from the Old Testament story when God has Gideon go into battle with only 300 men so that it is clear that the victory came from God - we feel like God has really been active in our lives in the last year or so.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Craft Ideas

I have been meaning to post these ideas and links for a while and realised this morning that if they don't go up today, they probably aren't going up. Hope you like them as much as I do.

The first two ideas are for gifts that work really well for Mother's Day/Father's Day.

Pk and I made the necklaces for Mother's Day - we did one for each grandma and one for me. I couldn't get over how easy they were to make and they have such a nice personal touch. Click on this link for directions for making one yourself.

These suncatchers were really easy to make, as well, and Pk LOVED doing these. I just went to the dollar store and bought a selection of glass rocks and beads. They take forever to dry but look quite pretty when they are done. For directions for making these, click on this link.

Finally, I love this idea. We modified it a bit - instead of stamping on leaves to make a pattern, I just bought a bunch of fabric paint and after I did the lettering for the baby and let the shirt dry, I let Pk go to town decorating it so that when the baby comes home from the hospital, he will be wearing the shirt that his sister made for him and actually, we had Pk make a shirt of her own that says "Big Sister" on it. I loved the idea and hope that this will help her to feel a part of this. For more information, click on the link here.

I don't think I will have much time for crafting in the next little while so enjoy the ideas now!

*NEW* Pepsi Ad | World Cup 2010 | Oh Africa - Akon | Messi Henry Kaka La...

The time is passing very slowly right now as I wait and wait and wait... The World Cup is making things more fun. England is "our" team but I have to admit, I have a big soft spot for the Cote D'Ivoire and Drogba. Thought this ad was kind of cute...

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Does This Happen to You?

Someone is visiting and leaving comments in an Asian language, not sure which. I haven't been able to track down who. I am just wondering, does this happen to anyone else? Is this spam or is this someone who is trying to leave legitimate comments and doesn't know their comments are not in English?

Monday, June 14, 2010

Just when it seems to be sorted out...

I can't believe this - I have to laugh. I spent my entire pregnancy worried that I was going to face early induction due to high blood pressure. Just say the word "doctor's office" to me and my b.p. starts to climb. By the time I get in there, my heart is racing and most of the time, my b.p. is sky-high. It wasn't too bad with my G.P. since she and I get along really well and she really knows me and we tend to chat quite a bit so by the time it is taken, I am really at ease. My o.b. is wonderful but the first time I saw him, I was waiting on my glucose test results and since everyone was commenting on how huge I was, I assumed that I was going to come up diabetic and the idea terrified me. Typically, my sugars were totally fine but I had worked myself up so much that my b.p. was high. Because it was high the first time, every appointment after that, I was afraid it would be high, so it would be. My o.b. and I worked out that I would have a 20 minute "boredom time" in the exam room and I would buy a blood pressure cuff and take it at home daily. Since then, we have worked it out but of course, at the beginning of every appointment, it is always high.

Last week, I hit a new high and while it came down by the end of the appointment to being normal, my o.b. strongly suggested induction and a non-stress test at the hospital last Thursday. I got him to agree to wait until this week (I am 40 weeks on Thursday and the o.b. on call is one I like) despite the fact that my b.p. was obviously concerning him a bit. The n.s.t. was a totally stressful experience (why does being hooked up to a monitor push me over the edge like that???) and of course, the b.p. was sky high.

I went into the weekend knowing that induction this week was all but certain. I had somewhat mixed feelings. I do have an "ideal birth" in my mind (you know, quick, easy, no epidural, "natural" etc) and I feel a bit of guilt for allowing myself to let that go. I know that women rarely have babies bigger than they can deliver and heck, I have made it to 40 weeks, which is great. I feel a bit of guilt for copping out and going this route but to be honest, at this point, there is a lot to be said for the induction. I have the dogs taken care of, Pk arranged and in a way that isn't terribly stressful for her (drop her off at daycare on Thursday morning and she will just stay overnight and be picked up by either dh and I on Friday if things go well at the hospital or by dh's parents who are coming on Friday so that either way, she is taken care of), dh can arrange things at work and I don't have to be so afraid of knowing when to go to the hospital. For a control freak like me, it allows me about as much control as I can get without actually having a scheduled c-section (and not that I have a problem with people who choose to do that, especially those who have had a c-section before, I just want to be home and mobile as soon as possible so a c-section would interfere with those plans - and heck, I have already destroyed my pelvic floor, why wreck another part of my anatomy?) And, like it or not, I am afraid of an overly big baby, whether that is a certainty or not. Yes, ultrasounds are notoriously unreliable after a certain point but this is not my first baby, Pk was 9 lbs 1 oz and this is a second baby and a boy and we definitely have a family pattern of big babies. Whether my body "can" deliver a huge baby, do I really want to if I can go with a "large" baby, as opposed to a total goliath?

So, I went to the doc today feeling quite calm. Plans are made, things are organized and my week is probably set unless baby decides to come on his own early. My o.b. comes in, takes my b.p. and begins to laugh. "What is funny?" I asked. "Is it high?" His reply was, "You are really trying to make things complicated. Last week, induction was totally clear. Today, your b.p. is completely and totally normal. It's not so clear cut anymore." I couldn't believe it. We had a long chat and ultimately decided that induction still makes sense. Given that I am already dilating and having a lot of cramping and that the baby is big and my b.p. is "suspect" at times, we can certainly justify the induction. It's not like we are doing this for convenience (well, not totally) or that it is totally medically non-indicated. I do wonder if I am cheating a bit and taking the easy road but to be honest, I have hit that point of pregnancy where I don't want to be pregnant anymore and I feel like I need to move on. I have had enough stress and it's time to move to the next stage.

The best laid plans...

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Life in Plan B

What a day. As you know, my mother came up to watch Pk. She has been erratic lately and we have been wondering what was going on. She used to be very helpful but this time, she has really gotten in the way - sleeping a lot of the time, leaving the house a mess and really, really scatterbrained (right down to not being able to put a bag of milk in a milkjug - I almost killed her the other night when I was getting ready for bed and she managed to dump milk all over the fridge and I had to spend half an hour scrubbing everything down, washing it all and even doing all the crispers and all because she hadn't put the bag in right - I didn't think it took a degree to see that the bag was almost half-way out of the jug). I have been feeling really ungrateful and grouchy because she wants to help but on the other hand, I wasn't even sure I felt like I could leave Pk with her.

Yesterday, dad came up and mom admitted that she hasn't been feeling very well (no, really???) Next thing we knew, this morning, we all piled in the car to drive she and dad back down to the city - she had decided that she wasn't well enough to stay. I had a hard time not crying (which probably wasn't the safest thing given that I was driving - my parents don't drive). I was so overwhelmed by feeling selfish and guilty but also, trying not to panic - I am not feeling right (the pressure from the baby and the constant braxton-hicks really makes me think that it is going to be anytime) and my childcare was driving away. I think I told you, Pippa's sitter has said that she will take her for us but she isn't back from a trip to the U.S until sometime tomorrow. And, to top it all off, the good friend of ours who always takes the dogs for us leaves for California on Tuesday and with two Brittanys, who are fairly active, we can't just ask any neighbour to come in to take care of them. It was all I could do not to just break down and sob and yet, I felt so nasty and petty and selfish.

I am a bit better now. Dh helped me to see that in the long run, this is probably for the best. If mom had been watching Pk while we were at the hospital, we wouldn't have felt entirely secure. We at least have the dog situation dealt with - we thought about a kennel but had worried about 1. the high cost and 2. getting the dogs there when we knew we needed a hospital. Just on the off chance, I gave the kennel we usually use a call and they were fantastic (so often, when I am feeling the most panicked, the most wonderful people step up to help us). They gave us an AMAZING rate for the week, we willing to take the dogs today until next weekend (or longer, if need be) and just kept telling us not to worry, that had things under control. I couldn't find the dog's vax certificates and they were o.k. with using the ones on file - I can't tell you what a relief it is to know that the dogs are settled. It's hard having them away but at least I know they are safe, comfortable (they have an indoor/outdoor run and the indoor area is air-conditioned and cozy and they are together) and I don't have dogs underfoot when I am trying to deal with labour. The only awful part was leaving the kennel - I always have a hard time leaving them, even when I know that they are wonderfully cared for and when Pk started wailing, "My Chelsea! My Chelsea! I need my Chelsea", my poor hormonal heart thought it would break.

I am still pretty worried about Pk's care - I have no worries about her going to J's but I just hope my body will hold out and as I have said here before, I have trouble asking for help so I feel really guilty about asking J to do this for us. A friend told me that they usually don't keep you at the hospital longer than 24 - 36 hours for a vaginal delivery of a second child, so please, cross your fingers for me that all goes well and we can be home quickly. We had hoped that dh would be able to stay at the hospital with me and I have already resigned myself to the fact that, if anything goes funny, I will probably be there on my own so he can come home and be here for Pk at night. At least he will be there for the birth - when mom left this morning, I was trying to resign myself to the fact that if we couldn't round up childcare for Pk tonight/tomorrow, I would just have to deliver on my own with the doula and dh would come home with Pk. Yes, I do have a bad habit of moving to the worst case scenario and hormones with a bit of fear thrown in don't help.

Say a prayer for me that all goes well. I am trying not to let fear of how to manage it all spoil what should be an exciting time but I am having a bit of a hard time. Also, please pray that mom will deal with whatever is wrong. I think she has finally had to admit that she needs to deal with her doctor about her medications and how she is feeling. I think she gets scared (definitely a family trait) but unlike me, who goes into work mode and tries to fix things, mom tries to deny and lets things get totally out of hand. I would like her to be around for many years yet and I hope she will be willing to do whatever is necessary to heal herself.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Summer Joys

I have to start by warning you that I think I am officially nesting - today, I did a huge shop, made a quiche, prepared all kinds of vegetables, watched two World Cup games, made strawberry shortcake and went to buy fresh strawberries and peas and have about four blog posts that I was going to post (but I have finally run out of steam). Maybe we are getting close (but it would be nice to wait until the U.S./ England game is over tomorrow!)

The thing that made me think that I had truly lost my mind is that when I drove to our local farm whose strawberry sales began today, I actually considered doing "Pick-Your-Own" - never mind the fact that had I gotten down on the ground, I am not sure anything short of major farm machinery would have gotten me up again. I always pick strawberries and make jam and it's killing me that I won't be this year. On the other hand, Pk got to eat jewel-toned strawberries that were warm and fragrant, having just come out of the field, with the juice running down her arms. We came home, made strawberry shortcake and she helped me to shell the peas, eating about a third of them. I don't think that I ever saw peas in a pod when I was growing up and I love the fact that Pk is getting the chance to meet the farmers who grow her food and see food in its natural state. I know, I know, I am impressed by silly little things.

Since we are on the subject of strawberries, here are two of my favourite recipes:

Healthy strawberry shortcake from Laura at Heavenly Homemakers - this really impressed me, the cake is made with whole wheat flour and the only sweetener is honey and it was really, really good!

Strawberry and Spinach salad from Mothering - I have tried the dressing with Stevia with mixed results - it does call for a lot of sugar but it really is a yummy use for strawberries!

Here's hoping that baby holds off and I can get a few more posts done before the big day - I have a couple of great Father's Day crafts I have found online that I want to share and we just finished having our roof done and I would love to show you the lovely results!

What's In A Name?

So, here we are are 39 weeks, 1 day and I know that this baby is going to arrive next week, whatever happens. I am hoping that he will come on his own and at my last doc's appointment, which was Monday, I was already 2 cm dilated, so I know that things are getting started. On the other hand, Pk was pretty happy to hang out and I am starting to wonder whether this one is, too (my mother claims that boys are lazy and that he is probably not feeling any need to do any work at this point). As I have said in past posts, Pk was big and this boy looks like he will be in her range and so my o.b. and I agree that letting him cook for too long might end up with me delivering a baby who comes out needing a shave :-). At this point, I believe that I will be scheduled for induction next Thursday.

So, onto the things we need to do. I think I am largely ready and I think we have decided on a name. I am not going to post it here now, just in case we change our minds between now and then. It's funny how nervous I am about actually committing to the name.

When we named Pk, we had a list of names that we posted on the fridge. We just kept going back to the list and crossing off names that we felt just didn't work. By the time we went to the hospital, it was down to three - she was either going to be Ella, Philippa or Rebecca. Our families had very strong opinions (both sets of parents were adamant that they wanted Philippa and uncles and aunts were horrified and insisted that she needed to be Ella). We didn't actually name her until the morning we left the hospital. I will be honest - Philippa was always my choice (I love older, more classic names, I grew up in a household watching Masterpiece Theatre and in at least two books I love, there were characters named Philippa, and since Dh is English, we hoped to choose a name that reflected our heritage). Neither of us had ever taught one either (which was a mixed thing - had we never taught one because it was just too weird?) We love the book of Philippians and we follow the tradition of giving a baby a life verse, so Philippians 4:4 - 8 seemed perfect. My only reservation was the reaction that we got from some people - "You want to name her WHAT?" accompanied by a very puzzled look. We were doing the paperwork to leave the hospital and one of the nurses asked what we were going to call her and we told her that we had it narrowed down to two names and we couldn't decide which. My Scottish o.b. felt very strongly that it should be Philippa (she hasn't heard it since Scotland and thought it was a beautiful, elegant name) and the nurse told me that they had "100 Ellas here last month" and our decision was made.

Now, we are back at it again, although we have found naming a boy a LOT harder. We know what we want. Again, we have found a name that we think is reflective of our ethnic heritage (something important to us), one that neither of us has taught (you wouldn't believe how important that is for a teacher), a name that we think will serve our son through childhood into adulthood and a name that has Biblical significance (also something important for us). I am dreading the strange looks and silent judgement again. The name we like this time is Scottish (reflecting my background) and we would like to go with the Gaelic spelling, which is what would be assumed in Scotland as being the "correct" spelling but I know that people will think we have made the spelling up (and, I must admit, as a teacher, I have been known to look down on some of the creative spellings I see these days...) Until the name really settles on our son, I know that I will feel slightly uncomfortable sharing it with others and will wonder for a while whether we have done the right thing. I remind myself that this is one of the most important gifts I will give my son and really, which of my friends have chosen the name that I would have chosen for their children? Who cares, as long as we feel that we have given him a gift that helps to shape him to grow into himself, that's all that matters.

And hey, as Pk's babysitter said to me last week, "How could she have been anything other than Pippa????" After nearly three years, I know we got that one right.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

What's with That?

I think I may have even talked about this before but maybe I haven't, so I would be curious to see what others think. My ponderings today have to do with the sweeping trend towards girls taking dance. I don't have a problem with dance per se but when did it turn into something that seems just shy of pornography?

I grew up in a big city and my father has a background in theatre (meaning that I am probably a terrible snob when it comes to this stuff, I admit it). He taught drama at a school for the arts (not an academic school but a school that consisted of several professional dancers teaching dance, a professional artist who did arts classes that were primarily things like batik and block printing, professional musicians who did recorder and piano classes, and of course, dad taught drama). I spent a LOT of time in the church basement that they rented, taking different classes. Our ballet class was strict and taught in the European style - we wore black leotards, flesh coloured tights with the seams up the back, pink ballet shoes, hair HAD to be back in a bun and we spent a good portion of our time working at the barre or doing drills in lines. We curtsied to our teacher and called her by a formal name. It was very structured. There was a recital every year and we did have costumes but they weren't terribly elaborate and tutus were something that were for ballerinas, which we, at that young age, we made painfully aware, were not. Toe those and toe work were earned and certainly not something that was explored until we were older and have proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that our fragile bones were ready. Some of the girls I studied dance with went on to audition and be accepted into the National Ballet school. The whole thing probably wasn't all that much fun but we adored it and it taught us a lot about the discipline involved in being a dancer. I still remember being in grade one and the only books I ever took out of the school library were the ballet books - the books with endless black and white photos of positions and the stories of the great ballets (I have tried and tried to find something similar to the wonderful "Royal Book of Ballet" for my nieces that I had as a child but they don't seem to publish anything like that anymore).

Fast forward many years. I stopped dance - I do not have a dancer's build and music really became my passion (I studied music at university and while I decided that a career in music was not for me, I think I have a pretty clear understanding of what is involved and I still dabble a lot in music for children). About 5 years ago, my niece began to take ballet and the family was invited to her recital. We looked forward to it, thinking that we knew what to expect. I almost had a heart attack when we saw the "show".

I couldn't believe it. First of all, the "glitz" and make-up was over the top, the costumes looked like something from a really bad beauty pageant and I saw more skin that I ever thought possible on 6 and 7 year olds (I don't understand why we would need to see 7 year old navels). Much of the dance was highly suggestive (dh turned to me after about 4 numbers and asked when the pole dancing class was going to perform) and I later found out from the s.i.l. that my niece's two costumes cost a total of $175. The music was bad pop stuff and disney (I was shocked, we had always danced to classical played by an accompanist). I know, I must be a prude and conservative and closed-minded but it blew me away. I had to really fight not to let my face show what I was thinking.

We put it down to the particular dance school and the small town that s.i.l. lives in and just thought, "Well, it wouldn't be something we would be allowing our children to do but hey, to each their own, I guess." Over the last few years, I have come to see that this particular dance school is not unusual in its approach after all. I am a teacher and frequently have girls in my class who bring in pictures from their recitals and the amount of make-up and the scant costumes takes my breath away, especially among the girls who do "competitive dance". What is the purpose of this? Since when did teaching young girls dance turn into something so suggestive? Does this really teach them anything useful about the arts? Yes, my nieces do some exams that involve certain steps and techniques that are required in the different dance forms and I guess they are getting exercise but since when did dance really go so far over the top?

Am I the only parent who has some discomfort with this? I was reading a "mommy blog" the other day that I sometimes visit and she had posted the story of her daughter's dance recital and it was the same kind of thing - the show was some crazy 4 hours long, even the littlest children were expected to stay the entire time, the mother was criticized for not putting enough make-up on the child and the child was upset because the dance school had a hard rule about no underwear under the costume (to avoid panty lines). I have another friend who ended up pulling her daughter from the figuring skating show at her skating school because the costumes were so suggestive and the theme of the show was so dark.

Is this really teaching the kids about the arts? I realise that "the arts" comprises so much and being controversial is part of the package. Freedom of expression and all that... but still, is it really necessary at such a young age? Is this how it has to be? For me, the choice is easy. We will just try and encourage Pk to go the music route - whatever instrument she chooses, we don't have to worry about skimpy costumes or suggestive poses... we may spend hours in the car driving to lessons and thousands of dollars but at least we can avoid some of the "beauty pagaent-esque" trappings that seem to go along with it all these days. If she wants to take dance, I guess we will do a lot of shopping around and try to find something that is a little more classically oriented but I begin to doubt that it exists, at least up here.

Is this just me? Have I really become so incredibly closed-minded and conservative or are there others of you who find this a bit much?

Sunday, June 6, 2010


As you probably know if you have been around here for a while, things with dh's family can be a bit...well... of a challenge. My m.i.l. and s.i.l. have a gift for behaving in ways that really catch me off guard. I will be the first to admit that I really struggle - I don't want to be a nasty, unforgiving person and I pray about just leaving it all, not being hurt by it and/or trying to have a heart that is loving to them no matter what but I have a hard time winning that battle. It was frustrating for years before Pk arrived but that has put a whole new spin on things - behaviour that would have once been annoying makes me insane now because I don't want her to grow up aware of just how second class she is in the family compared to my s.i.l.'s kids and it's also hard to see dh being basically rejected and criticized by his mother and sister all the time (I have to say, my f.i.l. is a wonderful, sweet and kind man and our only issue with him is the fact that he doesn 't see how bad it gets sometimes).

We have been in a strange situation with m.i.l. for a while because for some reason, she is complete aloof from this pregnancy. When I was expecting Pk, she was all over me all the time and her obsession was that we were having a boy (despite the fact that everything medical was to the contrary). It was cloying and claustrophobic. S.i.l., on the other hand, was obsessed with the fact that she felt that I was making the biggest mistake of my life because I was emphatic about the fact that I didn't want to have family at the hospital as I was delivering - she was certain that I just didn't know what I wanted because I had never delivered a baby before and this would be the greatest regret of my life (was she ever wrong on that score - I can't imagine wanting anyone there with me during that experience other than dh). Anyway, this time round, my m.i.l. has expressed zero interest in the baby (other than a mild desire to take credit for the fact that he will be big - apparently, in her world, baby size is entirely determined by the size of your m.i.l.'s babies and that is a credit to her). My mother said at Christmas, she found it almost eerie - there was no mention of the pregnancy AT ALL. I don't know what the deal is, other than that dh and I have confronted the family about a few things over the last couple of years and maybe she is just angry.

Anyway, back to the current situation. We haven't really known whether we should call and let them know when the arrival was imminent or just leave it and let them know once baby arrives (but you can rest assured, whatever we do will be wrong). Yesterday morning, m.i.l. called. She first told dh to wish me happy birthday because she knew it was around this time (hey, we have only been together since 1991...) but she also needed us to know that if the baby arrives next weekend, she is busy and wouldn't be available. You see, she lives 2 and a half hours from us and next weekend, is coming down to visit s.i.l. for my nieces' dance recital on Friday night, Saturday afternoon and Saturday night. Let me add, s.i.l. lives less than 20 minutes from us. Does anyone else find it a teeny bit strange that she would be within that distance but needed us to know that there would be NO TIME AT ALL to stop by and meet her only grandson? Dh is right, it's probably better this way because she would come and all we would hear about was the recital and how it was the best one in the history of the world and that my nieces were so much more talented than any other child there but still, isn't is a bit weird that she wouldn't be even the least bit curious to meet her son's son? It's hard not to take that as a slap in the face.

As you all told me a bit ago, we are lucky to have such wonderful friends and really, this is about us as an immediate family, not about the larger extended group. I still find it weird, though and it's hard not to be hurt on dh's behalf.

Friday, June 4, 2010

My Little Miracle

When we bought our house 7 years ago, I was so excited to finally have room for some gardening. I will say that it has ended up being a much bigger job than I ever realised and in some ways, it's a bit of a frustration because while I have luck with individual plants, I don't think that I have the "gift" in terms of arranging what to go where and how to space things. That being said, I do love my garden and I get very excited when things grow and bloom.

The first year here, we were at a Canadian Tire store in early July and happen to notice some plants on sale (on clearance). One that caught my eye was an almost dead poppy that was selling for 10 cents. At that price, I couldn't resist - what did I have to lose? Every year, I am amazed by the number of blooms and the intense colour of my poppy but that isn't the most amazing thing. As you know, my birthday is June 4th and every year that we have lived here, the first bud has opened on June 4th. I consider it a kind of birthday present and it never fails to arrive on exactly the right day and this year was no exception.

The funny thing this year is that it must be influencing flowers in the bed nearby because this year, not only did I get my first open poppy today, I had two irises appear (I love their colour) and three of my pink peonies opened (although they weren't so easy to photograph well) - the peonies are a real treat because they are always so gorgeous with their full, rose-like blossoms but it always seems that as soon as they arrive, we get a heavy rain that beats them down and they just don't look as impressive. My flowers are a wonderful gift to look forward to each year!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Happy Birthday to Me!

O.k., so it isn't actually until tomorrow but Pk and I decided to make a cake tonight. I always try and do something special with her when I get her from daycare, whether it's an art activity (and I have a few great ideas we have tried lately that I want to post in the next few days), a new game or doing some cooking together. Don't worry, yes, fingers (and face) were involved in the cooking but the cake will only be eaten at home. She is so excited that it is my birthday tomorrow and while we don't have anything special planned (keeping my blood pressure in check and not going into labour until Saturday when mom comes back being my biggest priorities!), she makes it feel like the most special day ever.

One thing that frequently catches me a little off guard - I can't get over how much fun life is with a child. I get a chance to really get excited about little things - today, it was making a cake and then we went as a family to the opening of the town spring fair. It is lame, a tiny midway, junk food and then all weekend, sports events, country fair kind of things but really, on a very small scale. It's never been something we have enjoyed in the past - there really isn't much to do, especially for people like us who don't drink so we have no interest in the beer tent, the concert on Saturday night or Crazy Eddie's Ceasars. Tonight, we went up to the "buck a ride" at the midway. I can't remember the last time I smiled so much and, I guess it's hormones, I found myself in joyful tears a few times. When we drove by the fair this morning, Pk insisted that she wanted to go and "have an adventure with my friends" and that she did. She rode the merry-go-round at least 5 times, flew a rocket at least 4 times and played a fishing game and won herself a stuffed animal. She got to have a hot dog and an ice cream cone and the world could not have been more exciting for her. I have private blog and I will post my pics there (if you want to be added to that blog, just let me know, I avoid too many public family pics) and I now have the most wonderful memories of just how much fun something simple can be.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Tuesdays Unwrapped

tuesdays unwrapped at cats

The small thing today was that after all of my frustration and resentment (see the earlier post), once Dh got home, we had a really good talk. Truly, what we have come to realise is that we can't really depend on our extended families but that our immediate family is all we really need. I am not saying that we don't love our extended families or that we reject them, just that at least between the two of us, we can craft the family that we really want and we can create an environment that nutures the kind of family that we want, especially for our children. It felt good to talk a bit about what WE want and how we want to accomplish things and to realise that we have the same priorities and desires for our lives. We get so busy sometimes that we really start to drift - having some time to talk, just the two of us and also, having a chance to really get dh's sense of the situation really helped me to clear my head and stop feeling so guilty and nasty.


When I feel a post like this burning in me, I always debate whether to write it or not. On the one hand, it feels so good to get the feelings down but on the other hand, I worry that I must seem totally ungrateful and petty and mean. I couldn't decide whether to write this or not but then, I decided that it makes me feel better when I read other people's feelings and know that I am not alone. Excuse my whining, my one excuse is that I am 9 months pregnant, totally hormonal and not sleeping.

As you know, if you have been reading here, I am not especially good about asking for help. I am surrounded by wonderful friends who would drop everything for me, I KNOW, but I am always worried about putting on people. My two bestest, most wonderful friends in the entire universe live at least an hour away and so, while I know that both of them would drop everything for me in a heartbeat, it is too much to ask. Anyway, my big worry with this pregnancy was what I would do with Pk when it was time to do the hospital thing. I have had a couple of friends who are local offer to take her but while she knows them, they aren't like family, if you know what I mean and she would be scared and they would have to deal with her in hysterics. I also wouldn't want to burden someone. My mother has been adamant that she was going to come up and stay and give us lots of help and that I wouldn't have anything to worry about. I was really grateful.

Well, she arrived last week. I know that some of it is my control-freakedness but on the other hand, I find that the offer of help doesn't always translate into the reality of help. She doesn't have the stamina that she thinks she has so she offers things and doesn't follow through. We had a big lunch at church on Sunday and I was signed up to make sandwiches. I spent a good portion of the day on Saturday doing mommy-duty while everyone else did their thing (I took Pk to music class, did lunch and then took her to the open house at our favourite pool - I found it interesting that both gran and daddy who were supposed to be "helping" ended up swimming in the lane pool doing their thing while I was the one schlepping Pk around the kiddie pool in the crowd). In and around everything else, I made filling for three major batches of sandwiches. I was told that I was "working too hard" and that I should "let people help." The resentment had definitely started to build at that point but hey, I tried to fight it.

So, we come to Sunday morning. Guess what? The pregnant lady who had gotten no sleep at all was up at 7 a.m. putting sandwiches together while dealing with Pk who had woken up early. Nobody else was up and nobody else was offering to help (it was starting to feel a bit like the "Little Red Hen"...) My mom had let us know on Friday that she was leaving this week on Wednesday to go to the city for a doctor's appointment and would be returning Thursday so Dh was supposed to call his father and ask whether he would be willing to be on call for us with Pk (they live 2 1/2 hours away but this was Dh's contribution to helping the situation and I was going to take what I could get). He finally rolled out of bed, decided he was going downstairs to work out and I continued, making sandwiches, feeding Pk, trying to get showered and get she and I ready for church and getting increasingly grumpy. By Sunday night, everyone else had done their thing, I had done all the food, made a casserole for dinner, did all the work for the lunch at church (while also trying to get things set up for the church picnic the end of June, which I am also coordinating) and then was told again that I should "take it easy". When, at bedtime, I asked Dh what his father had said about being on call, I discovered that he hadn't gotten around to asking.

Now, the resentment was really starting to build. It really begins to feel like I am having this baby alone and nobody else is prepared to do much to help, whatever the offers are. It gets to be a bit much. I had no sleep Sunday night (I have been getting terrible pain in my hip and between that, heartburn that had me throwing up - which I might add that everyone slept through, and I was brooding about how I was going to manage Pk if I went into labour because I realised that there is no point in asking Dh's family - Pk will end up at his sister's, I am sure, they would view this as a perfect time to "mend the rift" and I can't underscore enough, I am really, really uncomfortable with Pk being in that environment) and I was a mess. That's when the calvary arrived, so to speak. I took Pk to daycare and I guess I was looking pretty awful because J, her amazing sitter who I can't say enough wonderful stuff about, asked immediately if I was o.k. and the story poured out. I can't say enough about that woman. Before I knew it, I had an offer to keep Pk as long as needed, no matter time or day or night and if she isn't around for some reason, the other sitter she works with, who Pk also loves, would also be on call. What a relief. I should probably have asked but again, I didn't want to take advantage. Even writing this now, I have tears in my eyes, having that burden lifted really has made it so much easier.

Finally, I get up this morning and come downstairs for my few minutes on my own before the day begins and mom is already on the couch. She isn't feeling well and wants to go home today in case she has something I might catch. Could I find her a thermometer and could one of us drive her down to the city? I could have screamed. Neither of my parents drive and frequently, the assumption is made that we can act as chauffeurs - she "knew I couldn't take her but could Dh take the day off from work and drive her into the city." First, I ran around trying to find a thermometer for her that hadn't been used rectally for a child (obviously, I didn't succeed because the only one I found told her that her temp was 116F and I don't really think that was accurate!). Then, it was up to face Dh. At first, I had told her that we couldn't and the best I could do was take her to the bus but then, I felt guilty and selfish so I decided to tackle Dh. We are teachers and have lots of sick days and he never takes time off. Also remember, I am 9 months pregnant so I have been reminding him that he needs to be ready to drop everything and leave so he needs to be on top of things. When I asked if he could take the day and take mom back, his initial response was a very grumpy "No" because he wasn't ready to leave the kids today, he had report card stuff to do and he hadn't done his copying for today. I almost lost it totally at that point - I managed, by the middle of May, to write reports, pack up a classroom, leave copious notes and materials for a supply teacher and all while 8 months pregnant. I KNEW he wouldn't be ready to drop things if I went into labour (and to be honest, when he puts work before me, I can't help but feel really, really hurt - he is supposed to be on-board and desperately wanting this baby too and at times like this, I feel really alone). He finally agreed and started to get ready. I let mom know.

That's when we hit the final straw. Mom comes upstairs with her pills to get a glass of milk. Pk is watching Treehouse in the living room while I am trying to get dressed. There is a knock on our bedroom door and it is mom. She has dropped one of her pills and has no idea where it is. Let me remind you, I have a 2 year old and two dogs and a cat. She can't tell me what room she has dropped it in and initially couldn't remember the colour of the pill. There I am, hugely pregnant, in my bathrobe, crawling around on the floor trying to find the pill. After 10 minutes and Dh vacuuming the entire kitchen, she comes back up to tell us that she found it in her purse.

I am so tired and frustrated and feeling so guilty and resentful. I feel like such a horrible daughter and ungrateful wife. I love my mother and I feel like I should just be grateful that she is here but at times, it really gets to be too much. Why is it that when people say that they are going to "help", it ends up being more stressful for me? I still end up doing all the cooking (mom doesn't cook, she offers, once in a while, to pay for take out), dishes are left everywhere, I get undermined in terms of dealing with Pk and yet it seems to constantly end up that I am taking care of Pk (which I love, so I hope it doesn't sound like I resent her - she has been the easiest one to deal with) while mom is napping and Dh is out at the hardware store or mowing the lawn or working out. Is it selfish of me that there is this constant expectation that I am going to drive down to the city to drop off or pick up my parents or that we are going to turn our schedules upside down because it is more convenient to go down at a certain time so my brother can see Pk for a few minutes? Is it terrible of me to resent that when my brother comes to "help", he is sneaking out to smoke all the time and I don't want Pk exposed to that second hand smoke or that I get to hear lectures about the "selfish middle class" who are destroying the environment with our cars and our big houses whereas he is Mr. responsible because he lives "in poverty" (i.e., at home with my parents because he is too lazy to get a job?)? Is it unfair of me that I don't want to deal with my inlaws because the entire time I will have to listen to how my s.i.l. is so "sorry" about things and wants things to be better but is afraid to apologize in person to Dh because he might "blast her" (he has never yelled at her or criticized her, that's her specialty) or that when my m.i.l. came to "help" when Pk was born, she fried up ground beef, threw in in a jar of spaghetti sauce to "give us some food for later" and then proceeded to leave all the dishes in the sink and tomato sauce all over the kitchen that I had to clean up? Is it petty of me not to want to hear advice from my m.i.l. the entire time about labour and delivery, breastfeeding and parenting (when she never breastfed, dh was 9 weeks premature so he was in the hospital for his first few weeks and her best advice with Pk was that I should be putting her to sleep on her stomach covered in blankets because she must not be sleeping because she was cold)?

This really gets to be too much. I guess I need to just focus on the wonderful people in my life - the J who offers to take Pk for me, the mom from a street over who, despite having two little ones of her own who offered to take Pk for me, my two wonderful, dearest friends who are better than sisters who I KNOW would do anything for us and be there for us and, more than anything, don't treat me like a whiny pest when I do need to vent. It's hard though, when hormones are raging and I am scared of delivery and feeling like an inconvenience to everybody.

There, rant done. I will try not to do this to you again but thanks for listening!!!!