Thursday, December 25, 2008

Happy Christmas!

Happy birthday, my little newborn Lord! (Thank you, Mother.)

Merry Christmas, everyone.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Little L.

Because of my work with the HER Foundation, I know a lot of women across North America I have never met in real life, and I "know" their babies and children.

One of those women, the brave and tenacious C., lost her two-month-old daughter today.

L. was diagnosed in utero with a serious heart condition. C., ill with hyperemesis gravidarum, continued to fight for her baby, planning for delivery in a children's hospital where doctors operated on L.'s tiny heart right away.

After multiple surgeries, L. was transferred to her home town children's hospital, then released and sent home with her overjoyed family. She was doing well, growing, blooming. She was beautiful.

She was readmitted a few days ago, and died suddenly today.

I have no words for how sorry I am, and for how utterly devastating this must be for C. and her family. How do we understand the death of an innocent child?

The thing I am struggling with the most tonight is this: My God, don't HGers give enough? After such horrific, sometimes life-threatening, isolating and frightening pregnancies, don't all of my HG sisters deserve to go home with a healthy baby? A live baby? A baby who learns to crawl and walk and dance and sing?

The author Anne Rice, after her reconversion to Catholicism from atheism, was once asked by an interviewer if her husband's death from cancer made her wonder why God took him. She shrugged and said, "I never look at it that way. I think God was just as sorry it happened as I was, and he cried along with me."

Her thought gives me some small comfort tonight. Until I think of my unmet friend and her enormous grief.

I know life isn't fair, I know that. But sometimes its cruelty is breathtaking.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Second Week of Advent

During Advent, I often think about Mary nine months pregnant. Those feelings of expectation and fear and just being ready to no longer be pregnant, added to the enormous responsibility of being the mother of the Son of the Most High.

At no more than 14 or 15 years old.

Little Mother, pray for us.

Monday, December 08, 2008

O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us

People often misunderstand Catholic devotion to Mary. I am no theologian, but here's my attempt to explain why we hold her in reverence.

Notice I didn't use the word worship. Mary is simply a woman; however, we believe since she was given the singular gift of being the Mother of God, that God made her a little bit different from the rest of us. The Holy of Holies couldn't reside in a womb with a stain, not for His own sake, but for the protection of the one who carried Him. So God preserved Mary from that touch of darkness the rest of us have, what Christians call original sin, right from the moment of her conception. And that's what we celebrate today, on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.

A very good priest once explained to me every baptized person has original sin removed from their souls from the moment of baptism (after that it's our own mistakes that muck us up.) So, in essence, all Christians are like Mary after baptism, which means Mary could have sinned if she so chose.

Catholics believe she did not. So it is not only her spotless nature we revere; it's her choices. Mary chose to refuse sin. Mary chose to accept her unexpected, virgin and potentially dangerous pregnancy. She chose to give us our Saviour. Her choices are why she is the mother of all Christians.

I have also had some profound religious experiences involving Mary, before I ever "got" her. She was an enormous source of help and comfort during my last two pregnancies. I wear a Miraculous Medal around my neck every day in honour of her help during my pregnancy with Toddler N. -- a medal, strangely enough, my Anglican mom picked out for my birthday that year, thinking I would like it because it had Mary on it and was beautiful, not knowing its full meaning and purpose.

Both of my mothers take very good care of me. I love you both.

Happy feast day, readers!

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

First week of Advent

O come, thou Dayspring.

Saint Edith Stein, pray for us.

Saint Maximillian Kolbe, pray for us.

Remember what the Lord's first Chosen People, the Jews, have suffered for their faith, and what all the Christian martyrs have suffered for theirs. Let's hold onto ours.

Blessed Advent, everyone.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

The Self-Portrat Challenge: Writer's Block

Amy over at ...on the present moment is running a self-portrait challenge. Now, I'm not usually one to do these sorts of contests, especially if the contest involves David Hasselhoff ; however, Amy's looked like a creative challenge, and also a way to avoid working on my book.

Here's my entry, a triptych I call "Writer's Block."

Friday, November 28, 2008

Work in progress: writing playlist

So Stephenie Meyer gave me a good idea. She uses playlists as inspiration while writing her books. And while I don't think Ms. Meyer is the best author I've read, she has sold five novels which I find quite enjoyable to read.

So, like any good author, I'm stealing her idea. (Actually, Stephenie shares writing tips sometimes, and this is one of them -- set your writing mood.)

Here is a very partial, only-just-begun playlist for the novel I'm trying to write. Does this give you any ideas about my mood for this book?

Saturday, November 22, 2008

"But I am the Chosen One..." (THWAP!)

Eight months until the next installment of Pottermania!

In one piece

The Hubby was in a (thankfully) minor motorcycle accident this week. A driver performed an illegal lane change and forced him to "ditch" his bike. It was either that or hit the car.

He has a few scratches and scrapes, and some sore muscles, but that's it. His bike, on the other hand, may be a write-off, a month after purchase.

Hubby, this is for you. Thanks for not dying.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Remembrance Day, toddler-style

We have lost 97 Canadians in Afghanistan. Hundreds have been wounded. My next-door neighbour just came back. Two of Super A.'s classmates have daddies there.
Remember the veterans and fallen of our own generation, and remember their families.
To all Canadian veterans of all conflicts: Thanks. I know this little girl above is one of the reasons you fought and are fighting now. Her mother appreciates it very, very much.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

This blog is being neglected... I can actually work on writing my book.

There. I typed it out loud. I am committed. I am writing a novel.

I must be insane.

More posts this week, I promise.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

The wasp

I have a terrible, reason-numbing fear of stinging insects. I never liked bees and wasps very much, but my fear became a phobia when my brother, father and I were swarmed by a nest of black wasps at Mary Ann Falls in the Cape Breton Highlands when I was 13.

When wasps surround our backyard barbecue or the church picnic, I have one reaction: scoop up the kids and run.

I've been fighting my flight instincts this summer, trying to be a better role model for the kids, because Victoria is full of wasps. It's as if a cloud of yellow and black terror appears whenever I step outside in the late summer and early fall. I don't want the kids to inherit this irrational fear, so I've been trying to push myself. I try to flinch when I usually run, and swat when I usually flinch.

The children and I were at a birthday party today. Afterwards, while I was loading them into the minivan, a wasp flew in the open window.

I encouraged it to fly back out the window. It kept inside the van. I tried shooing it out. It would fly out the window, then right back in. I tried swatting at it. It headed back towards the kids, then straight at me.

It landed on the windshield. I snatched up a napkin from the car console, and stared down my adversary.

"Mom, are you going to kill it?" Big. I. asked.

"Yes," I said, steeling myself. "I love you guys enough to kill a wasp."

I slammed the napkin down over the wasp. Ha! Got it!

The black and yellow nemesis walked out from underneath it and down towards my hand. Arrggghhh.

I moved the napkin, trapped the bug under it, and brought my other hand over it with a slam.

Squish. Adversary defeated.

I might be a world-class chicken, but my kids make me brave enough to face some fears, wasps included.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

On unseen friends

This Thursday was the Feast of the Guardian Angels in Catholic Christendom. I try to remember this feast day ever year; some years I plan an entire dinner and crafts for the kids. We used to do this with our friends G and G, and their children. Some years (like this week's feast) I remember to bring home dessert, and then discuss guardian angels with the kids.

I know many people think of guardian angels as cute, naked babies. I don't. The picture above is is more what comes to mind when I think of them.

Guardian angels are powerful protectors of what's most important: our souls. It bothers me when people focus on how they can save us physically; while I think they can and do try to keep us generally safe, and may have some ability to help us heal, their power is spiritual, not physical. I'm never going to expect the children's guardian angels to scoop them out of the path of a truck, and I've told them point-blank their angels will not protect their bodies if they do something extremely dangerous, such as run into the road. We have free will, after all, and God has created this world so that actions have consequences. Running in front of a truck usually nets you the consequence of injury or death.

I do think guardian angels can influence us, if we're willing to be open to that. And I know they pray for us unceasingly.

My dad and lots of other readers are going to think this is a lot of tosh, and that's fine. But let me tell you, I firmly believe Toddler N. would not have survived my pregnancy if it wasn't for the influence of her guardian angel -- over me. Whenever I seriously considered aborting due to my illness, it was only a prayer to Toddler N.'s guardian angel that could push that thought away.

I also think my grandmother has the toughest guardian angel in the business, and when she finally decides to head up to God's neighbourhood, I almost envy the zygote that's going to get next dibs.

Super A. has a vivid imagination, so discussion of angels always fascinate him. He told me a few months ago his guardian angel is his big sister Hope -- the baby I lost to miscarriage in my first pregnancy eight years ago. No matter how many times we explain angel duties are not given to human souls, he insists. It's so indicative of A. -- wanting a special relationship, a loving and protective one, with this sister he never met. A chance to not be the biggest, but to be a little brother in need of help.

If you're looking for a way to introduce guardian angels to your little ones, I heartily recommend "Angel in the Waters" by Regina Doman.

Dear guardian angel, pray for me. And N.'s guardian angel: once again, thanks so much, my friend.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

For Mom

In the spirit of ma-na-ma-nah.

Love you, Mom.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Wherein my optimism gets beaten down by my own journalistic rigour

Oh, dear. Oh, oh dear. The bloom is off the rose.

For the three people who read my blog regularly (hi, Mom, Hubby and Megan!) you'll know I posted some thoughts on American VP nominee Sarah Palin awhile back. About how I could never vote for her, due to her positions regarding oil and drilling, but I did have great admiration for what she's achieved both personally and professionally (I am an old-school feminist in one respect only: the personal is political to me, all the time.)

Through all the news and scandals and dissections, I stuck to that opinion. I didn't think she was ready to be VP, but I still found her ambitious and smart, a woman who could "breed and lead."

Then the feature interviews with Gibson and Couric happened.

Gibson was criticized for being mean and nasty and unfair. I didn't think so; he was a little brusque, but he treated her the way he treats any politician, and that's the way it should be.

Couric: Oh, dear. Couric was too gentle. And Palin.... look, she sucked. She couldn't seem to form a coherent sentence. Her prep for the interview was obviously poor, and the message tracking scripted for her was AWFUL (look, I write this stuff every day, writing messaging is my job, and I can spot one a million miles away.) She needs new PR staff. I keep joking she needs Megan and me.

Anyone who knew me as a reporter, who was ever on the other end of the mic, will tell you I was a polite interviewer, but I was relentless. The minister responsible for welfare in the NWT swore for years I pushed him into a heart attack, smiling sweetly all the while. I would have eaten Sarah Palin alive, then cracked her bones for the marrow.

You might ask why her performance on a TV interview is even important. I'll tell you why, and it isn't the entertainment factor. When someone runs for public office, she (or he) accepts the duty and obligation to answer pretty much any question lobbed at her about her professional life, and I would argue aspects of her personal life that affect her political positions (the personal is political. Rinse and repeat.) If she can't answer them calmly, succinctly and in a way that makes sense, then she is failing her primary responsibility as a candidate for public office.

What happens when something serious happens while in office, something sudden, and you can't rise to the occasion? Mass panic and confusion, for one. (Examples: Bush after Hurricane Katrina, Bush after 9/11. Remember how his inability to answer even the most simple questions in a clear and truthful manner threw people into a panic and a rage?)

Both interviews made an intelligent woman look stupid. And it was her own fault.

In the end, good communications advice would have fixed a lot of this. When it came to all the foreign policy stuff, all she had to say is this:

"When I became governor of Alaska, I had a lot to learn about running a state as opposed to a town. But the lessons I learned as mayor were often applicable to life as governor. What I didn't know, I learned, and quickly.

"The same applies to this new role and challenge. A lot of what I have learned as governor will help with being VP. (List one small but powerful example here.) The rest, I am learning, and quickly. That's why I went to the UN this week. That's why I was so grateful to the myriad heads of state and ambassadors who sat down with me and allowed me to learn from them.

"I will continue to learn and observe. I know how to govern, I excel in that role. I know how to use diplomacy in state-to-state relations. In a country such as the United States, diplomacy is part of being governor. Now I will learn from those on the larger world stage, and apply what I already know. I have no doubt I can handle that, with Senator McCain as my guide."

Any 10-second clip from that statement would have saved her derriere. Bragging she can see Russia from her house did not.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Kids and self-absorption

In many ways, I am very self-absorbed, and I always was. Ask my parents or brother or husband. It's true, although many people seem to think I'm not.

I was the kind of kid who was always very focused on my own goals and needs. This kind of focus is very much encouraged nowadays. We tell kids to reach for the stars, achieve their dreams, do their very best. Most of the time, there's nothing wrong with that. However, I know the effect on me (and on lots of other people I knew) was to think personal achievement was the most important aspect of life. In other words, self-absorption is necessary if I didn't want to waste my potential.

A good upbringing kept me from thinking I was the centre of the universe. I think having my kids young helped me get over most of the rest of my self-absorption.

A lot of my extended family was horrified when I chose to marry "young" (I was 23) and have my first child soon afterwards. The family was proud of my academic and professional achievements. They fully expected me to be the next Peter Mansbridge. And I was also confident I would achieve great things in journalism.

But after I married the Hubby, I wanted other things. Most of all, I wanted little smiling faces that looked like him.

Those little ones needed me. They didn't need me to file stories to the National. They didn't need me to be famous or successful. They needed me to be around. They needed my love and attention and cooking and cleaning. They needed me to read them books and put them to bed and nurse them.

They still need many of those things. For them to have what they need, I have to give up a lot of what I want.

Here's the hard part: I still rail against giving them what they need over what I want.

I want to read for hours in peace and go to yoga and write freelance articles. I want to be admired for my writing. I want to have lots of money.

My kids are often the only people who can save me from my own selfish self-absorption, in all their clingy, whiny glory.

I know lots of childless people who are giving and generous and selfless. I don't think I would have been one of them. think I would have been a miserable person.

And in the end, when I need it to be all about me, I can always blog. Let's be honest, what else is this blog but a showplace for my thoughts?

Monday, September 15, 2008

OK, enough about the States!

That's enough politics around here. Back to crowing about my children.

Toddler N. told me yesterday I'm "boo-ti-ful." Thanks, baby girl!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

SOGC worried Trig Palin will prevent abortions

First read this, and note the response of the vice-president of the Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada:

Then read this.

There is something wrong with an obstetrician who wishes more parents would abort babies they might actually want, who is lamenting a role model that belies the scare tactics many geneticists use when counselling the parents of unborn babies with Down Syndrome. And there is something wrong with the SOGC for allowing a V-P to say this in public.

Let me say this: I have no desire to ever be pregnant again because of how ill I get, but if God told me tomorrow He was giving me the blessing of a child with Down Syndrome, I'd sign up for my PICC line the next morning. Different and challenged is NOT wrong or evil or unwanted or unneeded. I think the world needs people with Down Syndrome in it. They are teachers.

Full disclosure: I won a reporting award from the SOGC in 2004.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Couldn't have said it better myself

I wish I'd written this calm and logical rebuttal to those people who treat me like one of Satan's minions for having kids.

HT to Pansy.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Finally, my thoughts on Palin

I've been chewing over Governor Sarah Palin of Alaska's vice-presidential nomination on the Republican ticket for days and days. While I'm not obsessed with American politics, I do follow them during presidential races, since the American president affects the world entire (and it's like a reality soap sometimes.)

I know Palin's selection has more to do with cynical pollster politics than anything else, really. McCain was desperate to liven up his campaign, to steal some of Obama's excitement and wonder. He's succeeded for the time being.

But I still find Palin a fascinating person and a role model.

A mother of five children who ends up as a mayor and then the governor of a state with some of the dirtiest politics in the country. An unapologetic career woman married to a normal dude -- he belongs to a union, has worked in oil at the bottom of the industry and loves to snowmobile, but also actively helps with the kids. A woman who can shoot a gun, who loves to hunt, who is sporty.

A woman who has walked her talk, who chose life for Trig when most babies like him are now aborted simply because they have Down syndrome. A woman who is trying to become the vice-president while raising a child who will need her ongoing care for the rest of his life.

A woman who supports her teenaged daughter after a bad decision to have sex and the resulting unplanned pregnancy, rather than kicking her out, shipping her off to a home for unwed mothers or pressuring her into an abortion because the pregnancy will embarrass Mom.

This is impressive to me. This speaks to me. This is the kind of woman I try to be every day: a pro-life feminist. A woman who believes we can run the world while having kids. A woman who believes, truly believes, taking care of a large family should never be the end of a woman's potential.

We can breed. We can also lead.

However, I would never vote for Palin.

She supports drilling the Arctic Wildlife Refuge. The refuge is the calving grounds of the porcupine caribou herd. That herd isn't just a bunch of pretty animals. It is the food source and cultural anchoring point for many people in the North, especially the Gwich'in. If those animals go, the Gwich'in culture and language, in all its complicated beauty, will die.

Food is culture.

I can't support someone who thinks the life blood of the Gwich'in is unimportant, especially when she is a hunter. She should know better.

Finally, I think she needs some more time as governor -- at least a complete term -- before she should be trying to help run the U.S. Experience is not everything, but a little bit more would help her.

So that's what I think. I also think the press has been apologetically sexist and two-faced about Palin in a way it was not for Clinton. And that makes me sick. I thought journalists aimed for balance. I always did (and hopefully will again.) This "bring down the Republican MILF" thing is garbage. And don't tell me the GOP started it and deserves it. They're politicians. They play dirty. Journalists should never act like politicos.

Finally, the coverage shows me how completely out of touch reporters are with normal people. Get this through your head, former colleagues: there are lots of pro-life people in the States who want medicare and a living wage and a social safety net. Most people are not red or blue -- they're each a different shade of purple. Until journalism learns this lesson, reporters will never understand Sarah Palin's appeal.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

I will blog about Palin, I promise

I will eventually post some of my thoughts about Sarah Palin's nomination as the VP candidate for the Republicans. I'm still sorting through how I feel about it. I've been commenting over on Megan's blog, but I need to think about it without anyone else's opinions getting in the way for awhile.

I'm feeling very conflicted.

I will say the woman's personal life impresses me mightily. And I still believe the personal is political.

Friday, August 29, 2008


Hubby is home, which means I get a break from the kids and I get to enjoy his company.

I have to say this was the nicest homecoming I think we've ever had.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

I love my kids (deep breath)...

I'm getting to that wiggy stage, where I just want to hide from them all and go get a pedicure.

Hubby gets back on Friday, thank goodness.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Big I. has a fever of 103...

....and I can't get this song out of my head.

Poor little man.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Friday, August 08, 2008

On prudes and mammary glands

At lunchtime today, about 60 breastfeeding mothers and their children crowded into H&M (a trendy clothing store) in downtown Vancouver to protest the treatment of a mom who dared to breastfeed her two-month-old daughter in the store a few days earlier. Employees forced that woman to hide in a change room.

A woman was also told to cover up on an airplane this month, while another Canadian woman visiting Florida was harassed at a theme park for breastfeeding.

Look, to all the people who think breastfeeding is fine as long as they don't have to be around it, let's get something straight here, once and for all. A baby's human right to eat as soon as it is hungry trumps your preference to be a prudish nitwit and never see a woman breastfeed.

I don't care if it makes you uncomfortable, or makes you blush, or even gives you an erection. I don't care if you stare, or tsk, or harumph and say, "disgusting!" I don't care if you think my two-year-old with a bloody knee and tears coursing down her cheeks is "too old" to nurse.

The simple fact is this: you can look away if you don't like it. Babies and small children have a right to nurse from mother's breast, and I have a right to not be imprisoned in my house like a woman during the Taliban regime in Afghanistan.

This society is sick and twisted if the comfort of men and old ladies comes before the rumble of hunger in a baby's stomach.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

First meme!

I think this is the first time someone has tagged me in a meme. Here goes...
  1. Four places I go over and over: my workplace, the grocery store, Super A.'s school and Big I.'s preschool. Exciting life, I know.
  2. Four people who e-mail me regularly: Megan, the nanny agency, Stacers and Hubby texts me.
  3. Four of my favorite places to eat? The Vietnamese place around the corner (Saigon Harbour -- order the spring roll and the Chicken curry with rice, amazing), the Broughton Street Deli (great soup), any Thai place, but especially Sod Sai Thai on Douglas and Baan Thai on Blanshard, and the Noodle Box (Malay-Style Fried Rice, brown rice, no prawns, medium hot.)
  4. Four places you’d rather be? Close to my mother and father, back in Yellowknife during the summer, Paris in winter and working in a newsroom.
  5. Four TV shows I could watch over and over: Entourage, The Hills (guilty obsession), the fifth estate and (this is a radio show, but I'm putting it in) White Coat, Black Art on CBC Radio One.
  6. This tag is passed to four people I know in person: I don't know any other bloggers in real life except the ones Megan tagged, so I'll tag the Catholic women blogger I read: Arwen, the Summa Mamas, Pansy and Alicia.

A day as a solo mother

The Hubby sailed to Alaska on Tuesday morning, so I am alone with the kids and a temporary live-out nanny for the month. (for those of you who don't know me in real life, we have had child care hell the past few months. I can't get into it here for many reasons, including legal ones.)

People often say, "I don't know how you do it." Well, let me tell you! Here's what happened today.

5:30 am: Alarm goes off so I can get up and exercise. Toddler N. wakes up at the sound, demanding baba. I'll just nurse her for a few minutes in my bed and then sneak downstairs to do my Pilates....

6:55 am: Dang, dang, dang.

7:00 am: Shower, dress and blow dry.

7:20 am: Head to the kitchen, empty dishwasher, plug in kettle for children's oatmeal.

7:40 am: Go and wake sleepy heads. Convince boys to get dressed ("No, Big I., your penis is not supposed to stick out of the underwear hole. Put it back in. Now.")

7:45 am: Change Toddler N.'s diaper, convince her to sit still so I can put her hair in a ponytail. Give up trying to put her in shorts and cede to her demand for a "pwincess dwess."

7:50 am: Breakfast for the kids while I desperately brush teeth and throw on makeup.

7:55 am: Nanny arrives on time, like clockwork. Realize we have no bread.

8:00 am: Tear out of the driveway in minivan to the corner store for bread, head back home, drop off bread. Kiss oatmeal-eating children. Deal with last-minute Big I. tantrum. Run out door at 8:15 am.

8:38 am: Arrive at work after taking every shortcut I can think of. Still have not eaten breakfast.

9:45 am: Sneak down to the Starbucks for a low-calorie, high-fibre smoothie (4 Weight Watchers Points.) Ask for a shot of espresso in smoothie (o WW points.) Pick up cup by lid and drop it on floor.

9:50 am: Starbucks barista remakes smoothie (with double shot now) for free while I sponge smoothie off myself and another 'Bucks worker mops the floor.

10:00 am: Think about lunchtime. Continue writing news releases.

noon: Go out to lunch with office staff, have a salad (yeah me, on diet!) and have a great time. Also drink a cosmo (bad girl, alcohol at noon.)

4:40 pm: After quiet day at office, run like mad thing toward parking garage. Wish I was riding my bike but takes too long.

5:15 pm: Arrive at home, receive hugs, kisses and nanny debrief.

5:30: Start cooking supper while trying to load washer and listen to kids talk about their day.

6 pm: Supper of low-fat burgers and veggies with dip. Kids actually eat everything served, including vegetables. Sit in stunned silence.

6:45 pm: After kitchen clean-up, brave the grocery store with all three kids. "I., don't sit on the bread. A., come back here and stop flapping your arms and head around [Someone is going to think there's something wrong with him, heck sometimes I wonder.] N., Bella [her doll] does not need her own cookie; share yours. I., you need to pee again???")

7:45 pm: Arrive home, chat with neighbours, put away groceries. Catch N. eating cookies out of one of the bags, shrug and let her.

8:25 pm: Clean-up of bedrooms and living room; kids actually help!

8:35 pm: Bedlunch.

8:45 pm: Send them upstairs to brush teeth while I prise Cheerios off the floor. Wonder why cereal bonds with hardwood on contact.

8:55 pm: Find kids brushing teeth instead of fighting as expected. Hug them all, help them finish.

9 pm: A full hour after bedtime, put the boys in bed, tell story about Daddy sailing, say prayers, turn out light, turn on music.

9:15 pm: Prepare for Toddler N.'s bedtime showdown, and am shocked when she asks for baba. She falls asleep nursing, an almost unheard-of occurrence lately.

9:30 pm: Sink into office chair and drink Coke Zero.

So there you have it, an easy day when Hubby is sailing. You don't want to know about the ones when I end the day sobbing and begging the two-year-old to go to sleep. Feel free to send wine, though.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Two, four and six

Big I. turned four yesterday, and Toddler N. turned two today.

That means my kids are two, four and six. It also means there are no more babies living in my house. I'm having a hard time grasping either of those statements.

Here's some pics of the birthday kids today, below.

Happy birthday, my Sunshine and my Little Star!

Big I. and Toddler N. make wishes


Toddler N. and her princess cupcakes


Big I. and his Transformer Bumblebee cake


Thursday, July 31, 2008

"Isn't seven the most powerfully magical number?"

Soon we can watch Tom Riddle turn from boy to monster on the big screen.


Thursday, July 24, 2008

More pics of the kids!

Even more pics. Can you believe how big they are now? And don't you love Toddler N.'s hair? Our nanny M. did it!

Finally, pics of the kids!

Here are some recent shots.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Check it out! My wordle

Megan over at Reflections in the Snowcovered Hills has been playing with Wordles, which are pictures made from words used on an Internet site.

Here's the one she made for Ready Aye Ready.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Toddler N. and self-expression

Toddler N. is turning two next month, and while I find it impossible to believe she is no longer a baby, I am enjoying the discovery of her true personality.

She is will on legs. She wants her way, right away. Who cares if running away from Mama means a car might hit her? She wants to run, so run she does. Fie to other's need to sleep or eat or sit on the toilet. Diva's wants are much more important.

Although I've raised two toddlers before her, this fierce will always takes me by surprise. The boys were easy-going at this age. Not N. She truly takes after her namesakes, my mother and great aunt. They both have a fierce will.

But she's more than a walking, talking ego. She has a great sense of humour and enjoys practical jokes. She loves to pretend to be a cat or dog, and laughs uproariously after licking your leg and barking.

She has a sweet little voice and lilting diction. She recently learned to say, "yes" instead of "yeah", and my heart melts everytime she says, "Yes, Ma-ma." (She also like the word "nope" a lot, especially when said with a certain insouciance.)

I often look at her and wonder what her life will be like, in a way I just don't with the boys. Of course I am eager to see what they all choose to do with their lives. But my only daughter makes me wonder what her life will be like compared to mine. Will she makes the same decisions, the same mistakes? Will she do something completely different with her life?

She just woke from her nap, warm and sleepy, asking to nurse. She is patting me right now, giving me that look that means, "I know you want to wean me, but that ain't happening. Diva needs her baba."

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Lucy has arrived

Lucy Parker J. arrived Sunday evening. The proud mommy and daddy are recovering nicely, and Lucy is trying her very best to learn the art of breastfeeding. Her mother is doing an awesome job teaching herself and her little one this new skill.

S. would like to be able to do her own announcing of the details, so I will leave it at that. S, feel free to use my comments box!

I must say I am immeasurably proud of S. and her husband T. They are doing a wonderful job, and both of them were troopers during a long labour and delivery.

I could use some oft-repeated verse here, but instead I'll say this: I never knew who I truly was, my true strengths, talents and abilities, until I became a mother. This is not true for many people, but it has been for me. I have grown into my authentic self through parenting my small brood. And though self-discovery is exhausting when changing diapers, breastfeeding and trying to run the older kids to pre-school, I wish the same self-revelation for you.

God bless you over and over, my dear friend.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Baby Watch

For those that know my friend S., a brief update: today may be the day.

DO NOT CALL S! Megan, if you call her I will have to kill you.

If you are desperate for updates, call my cell phone.

Monday, June 16, 2008

On crises and desert times

When the Hubby and I planned our escape from the Great White North, we expected life to change, and change a great deal. What we didn't expect from our first year of southern living was a year full of illness, intense stress, disillusionment and crises of faith. But that's what we got.

The kids were hospitalized twice.

I couldn't get a job in journalism to save my life, despite eight years with the Mother Corp. and the statue in the living room.

My grandmother almost died, and I had to take a trip home I couldn't afford, at Christmastime, paid for by my mother-in-law (bless you, N.) so I could say good-bye. Thank God she lived.

I took a job doing something I always said I'd never do, simply to pay our student loans. We went through three sitters in five months. We are still waiting for our permanent nanny, five months later. (For new readers: a live-in nanny is a lot cheaper than day care when you have three kids.)

I had the worst Valentines Day, birthday, Easter and Mother's Day of my life.

As a family, we have struggled to attend Mass, and I have struggled with my prayer life and my faith. I feel very far from God lately, and I know I'm the one who put the distance there.

As a consequence of all this, my marriage has suffered. Nothing terribly serious, but something we need to work on.

There are many bright spots in all this.

A. has learned to ride a bike with no training wheels. His four front teeth have all fallen out, and his adult teeth are coming in nicely. He can read, which forever amazes me.

Big I. is no longer Little. He is a brown, sturdy, upright little man who has an incredible imagination and a lively wit.

Toddler N. is almost two, has about 150 words and is the most stubborn child on the planet. Her head is a mass of strawberry blonde curls. She loves to sing.

The Hubby 's training is going well and he is enjoying life in the military. He still has that zany sense of humour, and is well-liked at his latest assignment.

I like my co-workers very much and can live with the work I'm doing, but I know I am not doing what I am meant to do in life. To quote Stevie Cameron: "All I have ever been, all I have ever wanted to be, is a reporter." So I continue with this work because it pays the bills, and dream of a time when I might steal a few hours here and there to sell the odd article, to build my reputation here and get away from the Dark Side.

I have also been thinking about my other passion, health, and wondering if I have a future there, wondering how old is too old for medical school. I can't even think of going until the kids are all in high school or beyond, so perhaps it will never be anything more than a dream. But I know I could do it; I was always a straight-A student, and nothing can gross me out too much anymore, not after all the IV needles and vomit I've endured. I might puke, but I wouldn't pass out.

My parents are coming to visit this week. My dad hasn't seen the boys since Isaac was a baby. He and the kids have been plotting days filled with ice cream and beaches and parks.

So I sit, halfway through 2008, and ask myself to consider my blessings rather than dwelling on all these hard times. This is what I come up with:

1. The kids are healthy and whole.
2. My husband loves me and I love him.
3. My parents, in-laws and grandparents are well.
4. My friend E. had her first son (yaaaayyy) and my friend S. is expecting her first daughter any day.
5. I've only gained back 10 pounds of the 30 I'd lost since I switched from stroller-pushing to a desk job, and I've maintained that weight for five very hard months. (Hey, you can't know how incredibly happy I am to still be in single digit sizes!)
6. My faith is based on logic rather than feelings (or I don't think I'd have any left!)
7. A house, food, clothing and beer in the fridge.

Rusty blogger

Sorry, life kind of got away from me there, and so did my blog.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Abortion as art

Warning to HGers: please do not read if sensitive to discussion of abortion. I'm about to lambaste someone.

My girlfriend Megan recently blogged about a woman at Yale who claimed to self-induce abortions as an art project.

This is what I wrote in her comments box.

As someone who volunteers with pregnant women whose pregnancies are life-threatening, many of whom contemplate aborting much-wanted babies and some of whom do abort against their true wills in order to stay alive, this makes me want to vomit.

I'm going to be blunt: I know what an abortion looks like, a real one at a Morgentaler clinic. It is NOT art. If you're pro-choice, it's a nasty surgical procedure. If you're pro-life, it's homicide (note I use the word "homicide," which means the killing of another human being, and not "murder", which has a different legal definition.)

If you haven't guessed, I consider abortion homicide. Full disclosure: For a full week (week 18 of gestation, to be exact) I considered killing my youngest child in the womb due to a terrifying and life-threatening pregnancy disease called hyperemesis gravidarum (for more info check out I'm holding that sleeping child, alive and well and 20 months old, in my arms right now as I type this.

I cannot stress how deeply I feel abortion is a subject where brutal honesty is necessary, no matter what you believe about it. And this kind of artsy-fartsy nonsense is nothing but pretense and lies.

An embryo or fetus is not menstrual blood and semen, but a living human organism with a system that is dependent yet distinct from its mother. Any scientist will tell you human life begins at conception, duh. So we need to cut the bullshit about this and be honest. We need to say: when is it OK to kill a defenceless human being? Is it ever OK?

My eventual decision was the disease which threatened my life may take both of us, but it wasn't taking just my daughter. It was the hardest decision of my life, choosing death or life together. I never got to a place where I had to reconsider; I found a treatment regimen that relieved most of the disease's effects. I won't judge a woman who chose to abort in order to live. I often spend my spare time mourning with her over the Internet.

But people like this woman, who has taken that week I spent on my bathroom floor wishing my daughter dead and made it into some kind of game, some school art project to cause scandal and attention? Yeah, I'm going to judge her. What a f*cking bitch.

*With apologies to those with sensitive ears, and to my Lord for my judgemental attitude. But I have to be honest, Lord, and I am very angry at this woman and her flippant nonsense. Trying to pray for her and failing utterly.*

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

For Ron Crawley

I don't remember the first time I met Ron, since I was a small child, but I certainly remember the first time we "re-met." I was 18 years old and in Ottawa for my first year of journalism school at Carleton University. My dad had called ahead to let Ron and his wife Col know I was moving to Ottawa.

Ron called my small residence room and invited me out to supper."We'll have Thai food," he said; you could hear his smile down the phone line. I was a picky eater as a child, but when he explained there was peanut sauce in most of the dishes, I was game.

From that first supper on, Ron and Col took me under their wings and showed me the wonders of a medium-sized yet fairly diverse Canadian city. I ate my first Indian and Vietnamese with them; I visited museums alongside them. I learned more about the labour movement and unionism and philosophy at their dinner table than I learned even in my parent's home, where union was a common and friendly word.

Ron and Col gave me my first computer; they lent me books and taught me words and talked endlessly with me about the press and its role in a free and democratic society.

Ron always believed in the goodness of people and in the power of thought, speech and writing. He reinforced my upbringing of looking at the positive side of things. He always made me feel what I had to say was important, even when he was correcting a false assumption or a hyperbolic idea.

And he always had a quick and ready smile.

My life would be a poorer and less interesting one without having known him, and I think of him almost every time I see a picket sign or pick up a set of chopsticks.

The world is a little less bright now that he is no longer in it. I'm so sorry, Col, for your loss. And Dad: I know you loved him and I'm so sorry your good friend is gone. But the people we love never truly die if we continue to remember them.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Music for Good Friday

Thank you, Lord. Blessed Triduum, everyone.

HT to Megan.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Agony in the Garden

I share last year's post with you all, and a happy update: My friend gave birth to her second son, and now is the happy mother of a healthy and growing baby. Please remember all mothers suffering hyperemesis gravidarum (HG) in your Easter prayers, especially those who are considering abortion or who have aborted due to this terrible disease.

I love Easter, and that love has very little to do with all the chocolate (yes, I adore the chocolate, too -- especially the Lindt bunnies Mom sends. Thanks, Mom!)

Easter is the time of year when I get to take the time to really, really think about my faith, the central core of what I believe about Jesus and why I believe it. I believe He died for our sins. I believe He rose from the dead. I believe He was and is God, never created and always begotten.

Most of all, though, I believe in Gethsemane. What he did in Gethsemane.

Jesus went to the gardens of Gethsemane the night before the Crucifixion. He wept and prayed and begged the Father to change his mind, to stop the Crucifixion, to protect His Son. He was frightened. He was weak. He was trembling.Then He got up and faced his captors and accusers calmly and peacefully, accepting what was going to happen.

I spent months in Gethsemane. And the only reason I came out of the Garden was that Jesus was there, and He walked out with me.

My illness during my last pregnancy started in my second trimester. It was at its very worst during weeks 16 to 18. No eating or drinking without violent vomiting. Vomiting bile and blood. Dehydration. Drugs and IV fluids and more drugs.

I used to drag myself into the bathroom, lie on the floor with my head on the toilet seat, and beg God to let me die. Or to take the baby. Or both of us. Just take this cup. Take it, take it.

There was one day when I thought about aborting my baby all day and night, incessantly. My 16-week old baby who was kicking me so hard The Hubby could feel it when he touched my belly.

I was thinking of this time during Mass on Palm Sunday, holding Baby N. in my arms, my reward for enduring The Agony in the Garden. And all I could do was thank Jesus for having gone to Gethsemane first, for truly understanding.

Jesus in the Garden tells us pain and fear and suffering are real. They are terrible. But they are temporary and surmountable.

I have a good, in real life friend who is enduring the Agony in the Garden right now. She is a private person, so all I will say is please pray for her and her baby, as well as the rest of her family.

"There can be no greater love, than to lay down your life for a friend." -- John 15:13

May you soon pick it back up again, my friend, with your child in your arms.

Have a blessed Holy Week, everyone.

Quick recap

The children were hospitalized again last week. The boys this time. They were in the hospital at night, Hubby was at sea and I was at home with Toddler N.

I looked into their empty room with its empty beds. I thought about my brave little men, alone except for each other. I couldn't enter that empty room.

I sobbed for hours. I wanted my boys safe at home.

I raced into the hospital the next day, running through the halls to get to their room.

My boys were sitting up in their beds, groggy from sleep but looking much better than the night before.

"Wook, Mommy!" I. said. "There's bunnies out the window!"

Sure enough, two black bunnies were hopping about.

I never expected their first night outside the family would be in hospital beds.

They are fully recovered, but I just keep waiting for the next illness to hit. What a winter.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Day One: A new solo adventure

The Hubby left this morning for his first sail, a ten-day trip around Vancouver Island. He packed yesterday afternoon, alternately excited and worried, while I desperately tried to get the house in some kind of order. I won't have his help for the next two weeks, so I can't just leave supper and clean up to him in the late afternoons.

The fact he'll be gone for awhile made me think about how far we've come in a month on the whole division of labour in the home front. My husband is not a sexist, but he does hate housework, and he will take whatever action necessary to only do what absolutely must be done around here. What ends up happening is I pick up the slack, so he has had a false impression of how much must be done to keep a place borderline clean.

But now I am working, and he is the first adult in the door most evenings. He is learning dishes left in the sink or crumbs left on the floor in the morning metastasize into a full-out disaster in the eight hours we're away from the house each day.

"Can you believe the mess on the floor?" he'll grumble, fetching the broom. "That was never there before!"

No, honey, it wasn't. That's because I was here cleaning it up.

He cleaned the bathroom this weekend without reminding (i.e. nagging.) He just did it!

I am appreciative to him learning to haul his own weight. But now I am hauling it myself for a little while, plus working full-time.

I know I can handle the time with the kids, no sweat. Ten days is nothing compared to five months. But can I handle the housework and the job? We'll see.

As for the rest of life, things are still a bit insane here. A. is struggling with day care. He is angry a lot of the time, has developed a saucy mouth and has hit other children from time to time. All of this leads to time-outs and groundings, of course, but also lots of time with my big boy just sitting in my lap. He often says he wishes I wasn't working. It breaks my heart, but I need to work, both for the money and for my sanity.

Little I. is a bit clingy but is adjusting well to the new sitter. Toddler N. is very happy at K.'s place. That's great, but the child should have been named Typhoid Mary, because this is the third time she's been sick this month. First the hospitalization, then a head cold, then she got food poisoning this weekend from a supper out. At the hospital, the doctor discovered she also has an ear infection. We two are home today so she can start recovering.

The boys also caught that cold, and Little I. just finished a round of antibiotics for an ear infection. Since I started my new job six weeks ago, I have missed 4.5 days due to child illness. I'm starting to understand why some bosses are reluctant to hire mothers of young children. My boss has been great, but I still worry about the impression I'm making.

Off to catch a quick nap with the girlie.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

The job and the babysitter

The job is great. I enjoy it. I like my co-workers. I like my boss. It's awesome to be working again.

I do miss the children, but not in the way I did when I returned to work before. I think about them often during the day, but I no longer feel like running out the office door to the day care centre and scooping them up at 11 in the morning.

I'm glad to be away from them for awhile each day. I'm even happier to see them when I get home.

There is one enormous wrinkle though, so enormous it qualifies as a fold. I am having massive problems with my child care.

Our live-in nanny is coming sometime in late April through May. She is currently working in Hong Kong, and that's just how long it takes to get the immigration paperwork done through the Live-in Caregiver Program.

I had one week to find temporary child care. I thought I found it another military mom here in the PMQs.

The kids were there less than two weeks when she quit. I'm trying very hard not to take it personally, since she is pregnant and bailed because she is concerned about her health. Her baby comes first. I support that. But she's left me in a terrible situation.

She quit on Thursday. Tomorrow is her last day with the kids. I had 4 days to find child care.

Hubby and I managed to do it. Toddler N. is going to be cared for by my best PMQ friend who runs a day home. The boys are going to another day home in the Qs, at least for now. We may move them to a day care centre and the day home is cool with that.

If this doesn't work out, I will lose my job. I'm freaking.

Plus, all these changes are very hard on my kids, especially A. He has been moody and lashing out at Little I. I. is a terrible tease and A. just can't handle that this week.

There really is no winning. I stay home and go batty. I go to work and worry about the kids' child care.

There is no perfect way to mother, it seems. I'm screwing up both choices.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

The story of the stomach bug

About three and a half weeks ago, Little I. started complaining his tummy hurt. He started eating less and less. Then he had the diarrhea. Then he started puking.

On the Saturday, five days before I started my new job, we took him to the ER. We were there 12 hours for IV rehydration. I took him in again on Sunday. He seemed to perk up and got over the illness.

Toddler N. had mild diarrhea this whole time.

On Wednesday night, Super A. started throwing up. He seemed better Thursday, but by Friday, my first day of work, he was very ill.

Hubby stayed home with him Friday so I could start my new job. On Friday night, N. started puking too.

By Sunday my oldest and youngest were so dehydrated the nurse who lives next door said they needed the ER right away.

It took five sticks to get an IV needle into A., his veins were so small from dehydration. He was listless, vomiting bile and passing out between vomits.

They had to put N.'s IV into her external jugular vein. She was poked six times before that. Her kidneys stopped working properly and she didn't pee in three days.

They were in the hospital four days. They were the worst four days of my life, camped out on a cot, praying their organs wouldn't shut down.

The kids were released a week ago. They looked terribly thin. Hubby has been feeding them up ever since.

I've been watching them sleep at night this week, looking at the bloom of health on their cheeks again and thanking God I didn't lose them.

And I've been thinking about the mothers who do. Mothers in the Third World who lose children to vomiting and diarrhea.

There are millions of them every year, dead for the want of IV fluids and simple medications.

Even in my children's illness and suffering, I am blessed and fortunate. It's not fair and I am not deserving.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Hospital horror

We just got home from the pediatrics ward today. A. and N. were both admitted for severe dehydration. The baby is still having the odd vomit, but A. is back to normal.

I'll post a longer story and some pics on the weekend. Need to catch up on work and life.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

"You want million dollar?"

For those of you who have never met my Hubby, he has a fairly zany sense of humour. It's one of the reasons I fell in love with him, and one of the things that helps us through tough times.

Hubby has an obsession with YouTube, especially when he can find episodes of the show Robot Chicken there. And unfortunately, he has a bad habit of showing these (admittedly side-splitting) clips to the boys.

The other day, he found this on the Net:

The boys, being boys, thought this is the funniest thing they had ever witnessed. For two days, our happy PMQ has rung with shouts of: "You want million dollars? Who Poop Rast!!!!"

It was all very funny until this morning. Super A. woke up at 6:30 a.m. and the first thing that came out of his mouth was the triumphant shout, "Who Poop Rast!!!!"

He woke everyone in the house. Soon his brother and sister were also shouting, "Who Poop Rast!!!" (Baby N.'s version was just the word "POOP" over and over.)

I sent Hubby to put them back to bed. His "poop"y mess, not mine.

You want million dollar?

Friday, January 11, 2008

A whirlwind visit

I haven't dumped you, readers. I've just had a whirlwind trip across the continent.

My grandmother had open heart surgery on Christmas Day. She survived the operation but there were doubts she'd live in the days following the surgery.

I was a wreck. She had asked to see me and baby N. before she went into the OR. Here I was in British Columbia, too far away and too broke to fulfill what might have been her last request. I cried for most of Boxing Day.

My sister-in-law L. was visiting over Christmas. Just before we took her to the airport on Boxing Day, she gave me a big hug. She understood, she said. She would have been a wreck, too. And she also understood how grief and sadness just creep up on you in unexpected moments.

She would know, I mused. Her beautiful father died when she was in high school and her grief was enormous. It seems to have made her wise.

My mother-in-law called on the 28th. After much wrangling, she had gotten me and the baby a plane ticket.

Four hours later, I was on a plan to Halifax. It was the red-eye. We spent 12 hours in Pearson on my anniversary.

The look on Nan's face when I came into the hospital room was worth every torturous minute. Her face shone as she looked at N. It was the first time she'd ever met her.

"Cindy! And the baby!"

Over the next few days we had a chance to talk and to pray together. Mom and I also spent lots of time hanging out and playing with the baby like a pair of nuts.

I returned home yesterday to two little boys who missed me and their sister desperately. C. held his own fairly well, though.

Now I must go un-Christmas my house. Taking down the tree is something I insist on doing every year.

Glad to be back, folks!