Tuesday, March 25, 2014

dear jane

dear jane,

i know it's been well over a month since your first birthday, but it's a good time as any that we start talking about a key topic in every mother/daughter relationship: life's little mysteries. 

now, some of this may not apply to you until you're a lot older, but i rarely blog these days and i'm feeling inspired this morning as you graciously sleep in and spare me the time to collect my thoughts. since my life revolves around one tabulated list after another, there should be no surprise that this letter will follow in the same fashion.

you see, you are at a great age in life. you're still being fed, clothed, bathed...and basically free-loading your way through diapers. this is all acceptable; i think the neighbours would talk if your dad and i DIDN'T do all of these things for you. but as you get older you will be expected to start doing and thinking more for yourself. here are some points that might help make the process not necessarily easier, but certainly endurable.

1. stay little. 

you will reach a point in your tiny little life where you will think you're a tiny little adult (when you actually aren't). don't give in. stay young for as long as you can. i didn't wear make up (or a real bra for that matter) until i was in high school. i remember feeling so sorry for myself that i didn't put more effort into my appearance in jr. high so when my little sister got to grade 7 i helped her out with her hair, make up, and fashion sense. as she was out with friends at the mall one day, and one of the dads of her friends came to pick them up, he looked at her and frowned.

"you don't need to pretend you're older," he said to her.

and it's true.

you see, us boring grown ups get it. you won't at 12, 13, or even 21 years of age. adulthood can be prolonged for as long as possible, especially when it involves pre-pubescent girls. if you like playing dress-up or pasting photos of male celebrities' heads onto women's bodies (or maybe that was just me?), do it. and don't care what everyone else thinks. you're only little once...you're a grown up for the rest of your life, and it's disenchanting.

2. and on that note...BE YOU! 

i'm going to let you in on a little secret about your ol' mom: i have a hard time figuring out who i am. these days, everything is given a label, and sometimes those labels have negative feelings attached to them: liberal, conservative, believer, mother, housewife, college degree. jane, if there is one thing that i can get through to you in the next few years, let it be this:


sure, it's sometimes a daily struggle for me to figure out which category i fall under, but know this: the day i held your infant body in my arms for the first time was the day i realized that none of the other stuff matters...and that i've known who i am and who i'm supposed to be more than i ever i thought i did. and that goes for everything in life.

if you want to wear 5 different shades of green all at the same time, do it...and wear it like you're on a paris runway.

if you don't like how someone is being treated at school during recess, and even though everyone else is going along with it, don't follow. be you.

and if you know you're being treated badly in a relationship, have the strength to walk away. no one should ever dictate how you feel, especially about yourself.

3. get your heart broken...once, twice, maybe even thrice! 

i got my heart broken twice before i met your dad. the first time was with someone i deeply trusted, and the second time was by someone i let my guard down after years of not letting anyone get close to me.

i needed these heartaches.

they taught me strength, confidence, and most of all- patience. sometimes we need the bad to know the good.

4. be funny. 

sometimes the best remedy to any misfortune is to laugh it off. i can't tell you how often this has worked in relationships for me, especially the one with your dad. we laugh every single day. life is going to be really crappy sometimes (trust me...ask us about the hawaiian vacation we took when you had diarrhea for 17 days straight) and i have found that the only way to get through the bad times is to laugh. so far you do a pretty good job at that.

5. don't diet. 

unfortunately, you live in a time where women care entirely too much about unrealistic appearances. i'm not saying you shouldn't follow a healthy diet, i just hope you can learn to be reasonable when it comes to your food intake. i eat chocolate every day! i've tried going without it and i get entirely too cranky. but i don't sit around and eat mini eggs all day (ok, i did just almost eat an entire bulk bag to myself, but easter only comes but once a year!), it's all about moderation. i feel like you should be able to indulge in a treat once and awhile, and unless there are major health concerns involved there are better things to do with your time than worrying about "cleanses" and protein bars.

(stuffs gummy worm into mouth.)

6. sometimes...it's ok to be unplugged. 

there is so much technology these days that i sometimes get overwhelmed. we have created unnecessary stresses in our lives, all because we can connect with the rest of the world by one click of a button (actually...it'd be more like a tap or touch screen..."clicks" are sooo 2003). don't be afraid to turn off your cell phone or TV for awhile and simply read a tangible book. i loved reading when i was a teenager; i feel like the older i get the more dumb i've become! i read pride & prejudice for the first time when i was 12, and by the time i turned 18 i had gone through pretty much every classical piece of literature imaginable.

don't die from illiteracy because you're too busy "keeping up the with kardashians" or pinning photos of million dollar homes you'll never be able to afford with your 5 figure salary (i need to remind myself of this, also).

i worry that you won't love to use your imagination as much as i did growing up. please run wild with it! i would sit in my room all day writing and drawing and those quiet moments where there was no TV white noise in the background or a cell phone buzzing on the coffee table are some of my most fondest memories.

...and i just pity the women who have never experienced "mr. darcy".

7. you will get acne. 

...and it will suck (i just had to add that one in there since i'm currently battling with what could be its own tent at the circus as the "world's largest zit").

8. family is the most important thing you'll ever know...bar nun. 

this may be hard to believe as the older you get, but your parents are pretty cool people. your dad especially. he is the voice of reason in our household and will be your biggest ally as you grow into a young woman. i will of course be there for moral support and retail therapy, but your dad is going to be your best friend. i already see it, and have resigned to the fact that you have him whipped (use this to your advantage).

you may not think we're so cool when we have to set rules for you and hand out consequences for breaking said rules, but know that we do it because we love you (crap...did i just say exactly what my parents told me at 16?!). so i give you permission to be mad at me in advance, but i swear you'll become a better human being because of it.

9. get an education 

i can't stress this enough. not only are your parents cool cats, we are pretty smart too and since you share the same DNA as us you might have inherited this trait as well. use it wisely! you live in a generation where women have the opportunity to be whatever they want. have confidence in your own abilities, this is something i didn't always have. i was told by a school counsellor in high school that i'd never go to college with my grades and i took it to heart. not only did i go to post secondary school but i went three times until i got it right!! don't sell yourself short...i can see great things for your future if you remember this.

and besides, i'm planning on setting up a RESP for you next week so you really have no excuse when the time comes (wink wink).

10. love the lord

you are going to grow up with people who have different beliefs than your own. respect them. it is a lifelong process for myself even to this day, but i have truly come to believe that there is a divine hand that plays a major role in our lives. this might not be the popular notion, and some will even try to convince you otherwise, but know that believing in such things will make your life a whole lot easier.

if everything goes as planned, i will die before you after living a long life of watching you grow older too. the only wish i have is to somehow reunite with you again once i've passed, and if that means i need to love the lord while i'm on this earth, i'll do it. no questions.

11. marry your father 

...not literally, though. i'm pretty sure that would be a wee-bit odd and illegal in most jurisdictions. what i mean to say is...marry a man who will love you for who you are. you know what i love most about your dad? the fact that he adores the snot out of me. when asked by my oldest sister what he loved about me, ben simply replied,

"she's quirky."

and the one thing i love about ben is that he's always allowed me to be myself, and vice-versa.

find someone who can be a great teammate, but never keep score.

...and who has a strong stomach, child birth is rough! 

12. mo' money, mo' problems

i am making the most money i ever have in my working life, and i'm still not satisfied. jane, i am going to try really hard to find happiness that doesn't revolve around dollar signs so i can teach you to be the same way. the older i get the more i'm realizing that the grass isn't always as green on the other side. just last week, famous fashion designer l'wren scott took her own life. coming from an outside perspective's opinion, she seemed to have it all...she was dating mick jagger for crying out loud! but sometimes all the money in the world can't fix how you feel inside.

your grandparents have been amazing role models for finding happiness by living simple, but good lives. i hope i can be like them some day.

13. and lastly, if you can, become a mother. 

jane, the greatest gift i've ever received is you. sure, my hair has turned a little more white since you've been born, but it's nothing store-bought dye can't hide. you will be told that becoming a mother will make you weak. i can't describe to you how strong i've become. sometimes it's our own selfish notions that put off having children, and although i'm very grateful i waited until i finished school to have you, i'm glad i didn't put it off much longer than that. your dad and i wanted to wait until we were more financially secure, but i'm so relieved that you came when you did because it made us wake up and become more responsible NOW, and we needed that.

becoming a mother is the most organic human process, but no woman is prepared for the insurmountable love that comes with it.

i sometimes kiss your face 5000 times a day. i can't help it.

being gentle, loving, and tender does not make a woman weak. don't let society tell you otherwise. to be able to care for someone else's needs before your own is sometimes the hardest thing a person can do, but for a mom----it's second nature.

thank you for this wonderful, life-changing, emotional tsunami of a year, jane. i'm a better person for it.



Tuesday, December 10, 2013

look grandma! i blogged!

yesterday afternoon i received a text from my mother that went something like this:

"your grandma misses your blog."

in which i replied:

"i'm working on it." 

so grandma holthe, this blog is for you! jane is napping and although i should be taking advantage of this tiny window of sleep opportunity as well, i'll blog instead.

for you.

but it's true, i've wanted to blog for quite some time, it's just been hard to when the month of november was a complete write-off.

and it was. 

at the beginning of the november we moved into our new place! (i emphasize the exclamation mark because this really, really is a big deal.) we are paying close to $300 more than what we were paying at our old place, but i'm sorry----i have reached a point in my life where living behind a c-train station and watching 12 year old children buy crack from 40 year old men just isn't worth saving the 300 extra dollars a month anymore.

...it just isn't. 

anyway, a few days after we moved in ben had to go back to saskatchewan for work for a whole week. i didn't mind unpacking and organizing by myself at all, it's just that on the day ben left jane started acting up. she wouldn't eat or drink anything. she only wanted to be held (which was weird since she is NOT a cuddly baby at all!) and she kept waking up at night and crying which is so unlike her since she has pretty much slept through the night from day one. finally, after a few days of this she started making this wheezing noise at night and couldn't breathe.

then it hit me.

crap. girfran's got croup! 

now, i understand that babies get sick and this wasn't the first time jane had caught a virus, but...how do i put this...my baby is somewhat, ...unrelenting. you see, for the most part jane is very happy and content. she loves to socialize and laugh and smile and flirt with whoever will let her. but ever so often, we unintentionally do something that really sets her over the edge, and there is no way to console her. i noticed this interesting personality trait right after jane got her first set of shots at 2 months old. it had been days after she had been poked, and one night her dad took her so i could have a bath. well, jane realized that i wasn't holding her and screamed for 30 minutes straight until i came back...then screamed some more because she was mad that i had ever left her in the first place. she kept this up for about a week, and then went back to her happy, cheery self. but this little attitude has certainly stayed and evolved.

jane once cried for 3 hours straight while ben and i went out on a date and my mom was watching her.

(in my defence, i told my mom before we left that i should probably put jane to bed since she only likes me putting her to sleep at night.)

"oh i've put dozens of babies to bed, sara! i'll just give her a bottle and rock her to sleep!" my mom said with a mighty dose of confidence.

by the time we got home, lorri was at the front door with a distressed look on her face.

"take her," she said as she handed jane to me and promptly went to the kitchen to pour herself a proverbial cocktail.

end of story...i put jane to sleep before we ever go anywhere at night, and she's good for 12 straight hours.

anyway, i'm digressing...

jane had croup for a whole week straight which means i didn't sleep for a whole week straight. by the time ben got home, nothing had been unpacked and i smelled as fresh as the compost i forget to take out and dispose of all the time (oops). that weekend ben let me go to the mall and have a break, which was nice but by the time i came back from shopping i felt really tired and achey.

"must be from the lack of sleep," i thought.

nope. the week after jane was sick, i got sick...and stayed sick for the rest of november. if you have ever tried rearing a child while under the weather, you can understand where i'm coming from. some days i felt like there was a foot slowly pressing down on my chest as the hours went by, leaving me no room to breathe. it didn't help that jane was still on a food strike, and stopped napping too. i remember feeling completely hopeless, and once that crept in i started feeling other things too. like sorrow. and resentment. which eventually turned into anger. by the end of november i looked and felt about as appealing as gollum the wayward hobbit.

it's been awhile since i've found myself in a black hole like this, but when i do, i stress like i'm getting paid to. i don't know if you know this, but i'm somewhat of an anxious girl. some have even described it as borderline clinical (read: why channing tatum should thank me for his career) but in the month of november i stressed so much i lost 10 pounds...pounds that i certainly can't afford to lose.

(don't worry mom, the weekend we were home for logan's birthday i gained it all back. consider this my personal thanks to you. I LOVE YOUR FOOD!)

and i soon realized that i was beginning to be angry all the time. i started questioning my ability to take care of jane, if i was a good mom at all, and if i wanted any more children for that matter. i started channeling this anger towards ben, too. i understood he was working very hard and wanted to wind down when he got home, but did he HAVE to take off his socks and not put them in the laundry basket...every night?! and how can one man consume THAT many plates of nachos and brownies??!! has he ever heard of a vegetable????

to sums things up...i was a miserable human being. i knew i was unhappy but felt even MORE sorrowful because of the guilt that decided to show up as a result. i remember visiting with a mom before jane was even a thought, and asking her if she'd have any more children.

"i don't know...i feel like the more children i have, the worse of a mom i become!" 

i remember thinking that was such an odd remark, seeing as she was already the mother of four kids who were all well behaved and happy. she seemed to have it all together.

but now i was beginning to understand how she felt. if i'm this stressed out with one kid, i thought, how am i going to be with any more?! how do other moms do it?? i'm not cut out for this business!

and then one night as i was wasting time in bed browsing pinterest, i came across a quote:

and it was exactly what i needed to get out of my funk. that night i made a promise to myself that i was going to get up the next morning, and not complain once...that if i was thinking about complaining, to say one thing i was thankful for. and it worked! i still was feeling sick and i didn't have a lot of energy, but i soon realized that there were a lot of things i needed to be thankful for. 

i began noticing that the reason jane wasn't napping was because i had been turning on the TV all day due to me not wanting to deal with her, and it seemed to be too much stimulus for her little brain.

so i turned off the TV, and in return jane started napping again.

then i noticed that jane didn't want to eat the food i was giving her because she didn't want to eat it pureed and had simply outgrown it. 

so i prepared a meal for her, and in return made a healthy, filling meal for myself. and it ate it TOGETHER.

then i started being happier with my situation, and in return i became a much happier person to be around.

and i finally FINALLY got over my sickness, whatever it was: lethargy, exhaustion, flu, cold (all of the above??)

i realized that even though i was physically sick for awhile, there is always a choice in how you are going to react to your situation.

and there is always ALWAYS something to be thankful for. 

because in two short months (waaaaaaahhhhhh!!!!) i'll be going back to work, and i won't have every day spent with jane. and i'll have a whole new set of stress and anxiety to deal with...and i need to figure out how to find balance or i'll find myself in a rut again. and it'll affect my relationship with my family, which is the most important thing in my life right now. 

(but ben you could figure out how to put your dirty socks in the designated area, don't you think??) 


(dirty laundry and all.)

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

instagram and designer baby clothes: a story about losing sight of your goals

for as long as i can remember, i've been a clothes horse.

sure, the majority of women love to shop and find new pieces to add to their wardrobes, but i'd like to think that half of these women have set limits for themselves and know when to stop.

i am not one of them. 

the other day as i was thinking about this, i realized what might be the problem:

i can't say no to a good deal.

the retail industry thrives on women like me; they create promo codes, red tag events, and "members only" sales. for the latter, they make you feel really important because you've signed up for their "exclusive" email newsletter and you'll be the first to know about upcoming sales, promos, discounts, etc. etc. etc. a part of me KNOWS that i'm not the only one to sign up for the emails, but the other part of me feels really special.

i pride myself on being debt-free. it feels really good to not have a burden like that on me and my family and for the first time in my life i'm finally starting to make a decent living.


i never can seem to come out ahead, and that worries me. after receiving my tax return last spring, i realized that people who make less income than me are living in their own houses and paying a monthly mortgage. i've been living in the butt-crack of south calgary for almost 2 years and never thought i COULD own my own home so i never tried. fortunately, we have found a much better house to live in come november 1st, but the lease is only for a year so we will once again have to figure out where to go in the near future.

before having jane, i was travelling this retail wormhole alone, but now she's my silent (literally...she can't speak) cohort in this crazy-train of never ending clothes! i had big plans for this year on my maternity leave; i was going to spend every day outside in the summer, not spending a single dime of my hard earned employment insurance, and saving it for a potential down payment on our future home. BUT THEN i had a baby girl, and no baby girl clothes for her to wear. so i began buying a few key pieces for her tiny wardrobe and was satisfied since babies grow like gremlins in water. BUT THEN i started finding online stores that shipped to canada for a decent price...


i found instagram shops that sold new and used designer baby clothes. after a few months of shopping, though, i have nothing to show for myself but a closet that would probably rival the offspring of carrie bradshaw's.


i finally decided yesterday that i was going to change this. realizing i have a problem is the first step, right? now i have to figure out how to do it!! as i thought about this while jane was napping and i had finished up the latest episode of sons of anarchy (i'm on season three...does jackson EVER get his baby back or what?!) i was trying to remember when the last time i was truly, overwhelmingly happy.

i thought of two instances. 

the first was when i was living in ottawa and had recently been dumped by a guy i fell real hard for. i was absolutely miserable, and realized that i needed help getting through this, so decided to (and i'm going to get real "churchy" here for a moment) live my life completely in line with the beliefs i was taught and grew up with. i volunteered any opportunity i could. i was kind to everyone around me. i forgave those who had wronged me, and i had compassionate on the people i didn't understand. after a few months of this, i was sincerely content (and even stopped spreading rumors that my ex-boyfriend still wet the bed).

the second time was three days ago when i was carrying jane down the stairs. she let out the happiest little laugh and i was completely overwhelmed with joy.

"i was supposed to be a mother," i thought to myself.

as i recalled both of these examples, i realized neither involved J Crew promo codes or 40% off the last ticketed price.

i will always love clothes, this i know, but if i can figure out how to moderate my obsession and save for bigger endeavors (like being first-time home owners), i know it will shape the person i'm supposed to be.

(...i'll just wait until after black friday, though.)

(my "happy")

Monday, August 19, 2013

the 6 month itch...

jane is officially six months old today...and it's kind of bitter sweet. 

for starters, that means only 6 more months of stayathomemomminess for me: after that no more pj's 'til 10 in the morning, afternoon walks to the mall, or government checks that come every 2 weeks so i can shop survive. i have really enjoyed this time i've had with jane, and am happy that i decided to take the full year off instead of the 3 months i had initially worked out with my employer (i know...what the crap was i thinking?!). i don't know how women who live in countries  (where maternity leaves are bitty or non existent) can go back to work 6 weeks later. at that time i was still getting to know jane, all her habits, quirks (yes...6 week old babies have quirks- just ask prudey-mcgee when she stopped breast feeding in public for me) and the thought of not having that time with jane every day ALL day makes me realize how lucky we have it here in canada...so thank you, big guy (girl?)! your weather sucks and brendan frasier is an embarrassment to the entire nation but you've really pulled through for me these past 6 months. 

another reason is that jane is starting to grow out of some of her clothes and i'm in serious denial. not that i don't want her to grow, of course i do, it's just a sign of the times to me...soon she'll be walking and then talking...and then walking and talking, and then wanting to hang out with her friends over me and then one of those friends will mysteriously die and someone who knows all her secrets will be sending her threatening texts signed "A" and she'll have an affair with her high school english teacher. 

(sooo...i've watched two seasons of pretty little liars in less than a week...jealous?) 

but i still worry! i want this little girl to be as happy and content as she is right now. she could use a bit more hair but other than that FREEZE EVERYTHING ELSE! this past week i have thought about this a lot since jane got her first cold and wouldn't let me get a minute of rest. i have a hard time sleeping it as it is (read: I DON'T SLEEP) so as i held jane at night hoping she could get a decent night's snooze i tried not to be angry or frustrated with her. how do you politely tell a baby that they're being a real kill-joy, you know? as i sat there holding my snot-infested infant, i stroked her ever-so-soft white skin and listened to her snore like a baby bear.

and it was perfect. 

these past 6 months have been such a wild card for me; every time i think i have this mothering thing down, jane throws me another curve ball just so i don't think about becoming complacent. 

at 6 months jane is: 

-still smiling! she is such a happy baby, i'm so relieved. i had nightmares before jane was born that i'd have a really angsty, emotional baby so i'm glad she's saving that all up for jr. high!

-drooly. everyone keeps saying that she's probably teething but i'm beginning to think she's just rabid. 

-vocal! jane will be sitting in her exersaucer and out of nowhere start screeching. i think something's wrong but when i turn to her she has the biggest smile on her face. so i don't think she even knows whether or not she's sad or happy. 

-grabby. put anything within her reach, guaranteed it will be in that girl's hand and then her mouth in less than a second. 

-needy. needy. needy. the first 4 months of jane's life she was so independent; didn't need to be rocked to sleep or even have me in the same room as her...but now, holy canoly she's worse than your roommate after a sticky break-up! (there's not even pints of ice cream involved, sheesh.)

-sucking on her lower lip. i want to record this because ben is certain that jane got my lips but one night while ben was on his lap top i noticed HE was sucking on his lower lip! so now i just think jane is all ben: hands, feet, height, skin, lips, AND chin. i'm ok with this, though. my brother in-law told me that back in the caveman days, the more the baby looked like the father the more likely the dad would provide for the mom and baby and not leave them to starve and die. 

...so even though ben is in saskatchewan for work right now, i have all the faith in the world he'll come back to us since that dimple chin on jane certainly isn't the milk man's! 

(haha...i wonder if milk men still exist.) 

-and lastly, over the weekend jane learned to sit up on her own! go get 'em tiger! 

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

the online mom

the past four months as a new mom have been, well...great! jane is a dream-child; she sleeps close  to 9-10 hours a night (consistently), and the girl has finally figured out napping, too (she will seriously nap anywhere you stick her, it's heavenly). she rolls like she's getting paid to do it, and loves to stick everything AND anything in her slobbering mouth (the other day i tried to give her a kiss and she suctioned herself right onto my chin...so cute, right?!). jane is a bit of a diva when it comes to breast feeding, though. at about 2 months of age she decided to be a little rebel and refused to breast feed in public (like she was the bashful one!) and for the past month she chooses when she wants to or not (moreso "not" as of late). so the breast pump has become an extra appendage for me and if i didn't feel like a milking cow before, i certainly think i could win a blue ribbon at a country fair now!

all in all though, i'm getting the hang of this "maternal" role i've been endowed with. 

before i had jane, i wondered a lot about what kind of mother i would be. would i know what to do with a baby? would i be overbearing? would i finally become domestic and learn how to use a crockpot? 

(note: i still don't know how to use a crockpot.)

to prepare myself for motherhood, i started following "mommy-blogs" via the internet and instagram. i had heard of such realms of the internet before, but knew little about them seeing as i started blogging when i was finishing school and only really followed fashion blogs and confused twenty-somethings like myself (hence the name of this blog). so, as i started following blogs of other mothers i noticed an acronym popping up wherever i went: 


it took a few months but i finally figured out what it meant: stay. at. home. MOM! now, i'm not dogging on anyone who holds this title, i myself will be a "SAHM" for at least a year, but these 4 letters led me into a world i had no idea existed...and the only way i can think of describing it is by giving it a worthy title:

"the online mom." 

most of us are mothers on the internet yes, but it takes a special person to truly be an "online mom" (trust me, there is a difference). the online mom can be found anywhere, but usually as authors behind pun-intended blog-titles about motherhood/kids/etc., or on facebook buy 'n sell pages. 

surprisingly, the online mom doesn't know that there are unwritten rules of online ettiquecy. she forgets that posting 15 photos in a row on her instagram will ultimately result in a lot more clogged feeds and a few less followers. the online mom will post her frustration on the wall of a public group page instead of "pming (private messaging)" other members, resulting in comments that sometimes rival any daytime soap opera in drama. 

oh, and the online mom loves drama. she LOVES it!

she will be the first to point out any wrong-doing, and the last to admit that it's petty. i call this the "snowball effect". this occurs when one mom has posted something that may be slightly offensive, and the online mom retaliates with a comment that is also somewhat offensive (which usually ends with: "but i'm not here to judge or anything" or "but that's just my opinion" so it doesn't come off "rude"). this then results in more online moms jumping on the "drama express" until we have touched on every topic from politics to religion and have now created a full-fledged frosty the snowman.

i will admit, i fall prey to the "online mom" persona. i love posting pictures of my stinkin' adorable baby girl, and i will also write on my blog about "said" stinkin' adorable baby girl. i may have a "slight" addiction to online shopping, and anyone who knows me knows that i need a 12 step program to get my butt away from pinterest. 

but i'm very aware of all this; the online mom isn't.

it's gotten to the point where my online life is starting to dictate my real life, too. and i don't want to be that kind of mother to jane. 

so, how can i prevent myself from becoming an online mom? 

stop hiding behind a screen. 
(says the girl typing from her lap top.)

instead of going on a walk because "i can blog or instagram" about it, 
just go on a damn walk! 

instead of cleaning my house really quick so it looks good for a photo, 
just learn how to be tidy...always. 

instead of caring so much about the latest "baby fashion" out there, 
just let the poor girl wear a diaper. 

...and instead of posting a million photos of my child, 
just appreciate the little moments you have with her. 

(i can't guarantee i won't post a million photos of jane...she's a stinkin' adorable baby girl, remember?) 

we live in a world where "over-sharing" is the name of the game, so how can we NOT get caught up in all of it? 

i've started to only go on my laptop/phone while jane is napping (dropping my phone on her head one too many times while breast feeding may have played a huge factor in this...whoops). i find if i'm more engaged in what jane is doing, she's less fussy (and doesn't have as many goosebumps on her head). 

this may not seem like a huge change, but hey, it's a start. my house is cleaner, i make better meals, and i sew a lot more when i'm not online.

how about you? 

(warning...stinkin' adorable baby girl ahead!)

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

reviving ophelia, and why i'm afraid to raise a daughter

before jane, i was a lazy human being. 

sure, i had a full time job that kept me busy for 40+ hours of the week, but any time in between you would have probably found me in my favorite chair with red-welted thighs from the heat of my laptop. i had little to no worries.

occasionally i took breaks to shower or make an egg salad sandwich, but for the most part i did nothing in my spare time. 

absolutely nothing. 

now when i have the time (ha), i spend it washing dishes, or doing laundry, or studying for my upcoming local anesthetic course. for the most part, though, i spend that tiny, extra time staring at my brand new baby. and i think and ask myself a lot of questions, like: 

what will she be like? 

will she be tall? 

will she ever grow hair? 

is that smell coming from her, or me? 

how can something so tiny produce that much drool?! 

and sometimes i ask myself more serious questions: 

will she always know how much we love her? 

will she always know how beautiful she is? 

will she always be as happy as she is right now?

but the biggest question on my mind lately is: 

will she have confidence in herself? 

and then i get scared. 

i worked at my dad's office while going to university, and him being the child and adolescent psychiatrist that he is opened my eyes to an array of new and interesting literature (twilight had just come out..'nuf said). these books lined the shelves in one of the vacant rooms and some days, when things were going particularly slow, i would go and pick up a book to read. the human psyche has always fascinated me (like father, like daughter?) and i loved brushing up on my obsessive compulsive and attention-deficit disorders. one day i picked up a book entitled "reviving ophelia: saving the selves of adolescent girls" and i began to read...and read...and read...until i finished it in less than a week. 

saying that it was an entertaining piece of work would be a complete understatement and do no justice for the author dr. mary pipher, a clinical psychologist. 

it changed me. 

reviving ophelia talks about the increasing societal pressures on adolescent girls and the negative, lifelong effects it can create. mary pipher gave examples from therapy sessions that she had had with young girls, and for the most part all the stories started out the same: each young women was very beautiful, talented, smart, and confident. as certain events played out in their lives, though, they began to lose themselves (losing their self esteem). she likened them to ophelia, shakespeare's fictional female character in the play hamlet (for those of you who didn't take grade 11 english), who at the end of the story tragically dies by drowning in a river. 

there is a famous painting by sir john everett millais of this exact scene that has always evoked a lot of mixed-emotions for me; ophelia is in the river, flowers strewn about her, with her hands held in the air in an angelic manner. i really like the painting, and find it quite beautiful...but at the same time there is a lot of sadness and tragedy behind it. 

("ophelia" by sir john everett millais)

this painting, to me, represents what most women have to face in their lives, whether it be repression, abuse, low self-esteem, or short legs.

(yes, having to hem every single pair of your pants is a daunting task.)

after reading this book, i began to think of my own life and how i had overcome a few trials, but still had issues with others. when i was little, i was a very confident girl. i wore what i wanted and let my imagination run wild in our family backyard. i'm sure i gave my mom a headache or two, but as far as i recall i was happy most of the time. 

then, as if it happened overnight, that happiness was leeched from inside of me. i wasn't that happy, care-free little girl anymore and as i reflected on my childhood i wondered: how did i lose myself? 

i thought of a few reasons that may have contributed to my growing low self-esteem: 

i had to wear a bra in grade four. 

...and then a year later, i learned a whole new geography lesson when the monthly "red river" appeared after swimming one day. yep, by grade six i was 5'7 and 110 pounds. i hated being that much larger than everyone else in my grade of 50 kids, and really struggled with being "different". by grade eight everyone had caught up, and even some surpassing me, but those latter elementary days were horrible. boys would flick my bra strap. i had to trade in my barbie dolls for maxi pads. to this day i still walk with a slouch because i had done it for so many years to try and appear smaller than i really was. these changes were obviously beyond my control, but once puberty hit with a fiery force i really thought my childhood had died. 

i have always worn my clothes one or two sizes bigger and contributed it to the fact that i hate trying clothes on in the store and would rather have them slightly roomier than too small. but the other day ben pointed out that it may have more to do with being self-conscious about my body, and trying to hide it. the more i thought about that, the more i realized that it may hold some truth since that's exactly what i did when i was younger...and just haven't kicked the bad habit quite yet. 

we moved around...a lot. 

ok so maybe three times isn't a lot, but for our little family it proved to be plenty. i realize now that my parents were just trying to give us the best quality of life, but our last family move to magrath was hard. when you're living in a small, farming community where everyone is related and you don't know what a combine is, you're bound to get teased from time to time. 

(note: i still don't know exactly what a combine is used for). 

the first few years in magrath were hard, from bullying at school to not really fitting in anywhere. if there's one thing i regret from those early years, it's that i didn't have enough confidence to help those around me that were getting treated way worse than i was (in fear that i'd suffer serious repercussions if i intervened). it's been 17 years since we first moved there, and although it has become our hometown and we love the friends we have made, i often feel that people still look at us as "outsiders"

my parents were...weird! 

they only paid for things if they had the cash for it (going into debt was totally unheard of)

they used a compost, and reusable containers (all i ever wanted was a brown paper bag to put my lunch in like the rest of my friends)

they encouraged us to read instead of watching TV (we had to pull out the bunny ears to get any reception because we didn't have cable or satellite...how embarrassing!) 

they fed us odd things like fresh fruits and vegetables (wagon wheels in lunches were like golden tickets) 

...and don't even get me started on the rules and limitations they set for us (so weird, right?!)

(note: obviously i am kidding, and appreciate everything my parents have done for me, but as a little girl this was something i was really self conscious about: having a family who recycled, was responsible with money, and enjoyed reading good books. why couldn't we just be normal, right?)

boys (do i really need to continue?)

i never thought my nose was big until a boy in grade six told me so...and years later that same boy became my very first boyfriend and continued to tell me everything that was wrong with me. after three hellish years i decided i had had enough...and although it was hard, i moved on...and vowed to never be with someone who made me doubt my own self-worth ever again. although this experience made me the girl i am today, i wish i had been strong enough to walk away when things first started going south.

but, c'est la vie...

i didn't have a best friend.

...this was a big deal for me. ya i had a good group of girlfriends but all of them seemed to pair off and i was always the odd one out. 

"i can be your best friend!" my mom would say to try and cheer me up (but remember, this was the lady who made me eat strange things like spinach and bell peppers)

i felt so alone at times, despite my best efforts in finding a "bff". i remember asking one particular friend why she didn't like hanging out with just me, and she said it was because she "got jealous." for those of you who know/knew me, i have always tried to make people feel welcome. i sincerely apologize if i have ever made you feel jealous, or unworthy; it was/has never been my intention. 

my last year of high school was brutal. i didn't hang out with anyone, and resorted to my crappy boyfriend. i remember wondering if it would ever get better. it wasn't until my second year of university where i truly understood what a good friend was, and am forever grateful for those who showed me.

...and it wasn't until three years ago when i nervously sat with a boy as he stumbled to find the right words and finally asked me to be his wife, that i had found my best friend.

it took years for me to regain what had once been lost in my self esteem, but when i held my little girl for the first time in the hospital, i felt that happiness again that i thought was gone for good. 

yes, as a new mom i sometimes feel ill-equipped, and am not too sure what i'm doing most of the time...

but i'm enjoying the journey.

...now i fear for my daughter. when "reviving ophelia" was written, it was before the days of facebook and kim kardashian. how will i teach jane to be confident? 

how will i teach her that it's ok if she doesn't have the dirtiest mirror for kissy-face bathroom shots? 

that she's still important even though she only got "10 likes" on her last instagram photo? 

that the sun will still rise if she doesn't have a boyfriend? 

that respecting yourself is more important than gaining a man's admiration? 

that saying no to drugs and illegal activities is DEFINITELY the right thing to do? 

that standing up for those who need a defender is probably not going to win you a lot of friends, but will make you a better person for it? 

that she will always be loved, and at the least by her weird parents who make her eat strange things like spinach and bell peppers?

that she is beautiful, big nose and all (cross your fingers my genes are recessive!)

that she needs to find a man who is as good and kind-hearted like her father, who treats her mother as an equal and not like a prop? 

the more i think about this, the more i realize that the only way jane is going to learn to love herself is through example. sometimes things can happen in life that leave you hopeless and alone, but i'm living proof that you can overcome it and find yourself again. 

ophelia's been revived. 

Saturday, April 27, 2013

in the ghetto

in case you didn't know, i kind of live in the ghetto. we've been situated on the rougher side of the tracks (i'm not kidding...the light rail AND freight train tracks run right through our backyard) for over a year now, and have complained about it...well, for over a year. we never intended to stay for as long as we have, but alas here we are and we're certainly trying to make the best of it.

for those of you who are not familiar with the term "ghetto", the online definition reads:

"An impoverished, neglected, or otherwise disadvantaged residential area of a city, usually troubled by a disproportionately large amount of crime." 

if you're like me, and use more of the "visual" part of your brain, here is a definition through colorful photos i took yesterday on a walk around my neighborhood:

in the ghetto, we support anarchy and hate the government (even though the majority of us don't work and live off of government cheques...)

in the ghetto, we forget what day the garbage man comes...

in the ghetto, god is our co-pilot...

in the ghetto, every day is christmas...

in the ghetto, your neighbors think your front lawn is a parking lot (butt crack 3 o'clock!)

and in the ghetto, there are no scenic views from your back porch- but instead a front row seat to the LRT platform!

a part of me is going to miss this place when we eventually move on to bigger and better things...


and now i leave you with the king, singing my life story...

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

stuff ben does...

i'd like to think i have a good grapple on how the male mind works. i'm pretty sure the population in whole has some degree of asperger's syndrome (read: self-diagnosing is one of my less-desirable traits) and their ability to tune everything out the minute an electronic device turns on is something i've learned to accept. i married a man whose pretty easy to read ie: grumpy = tired and hungry, happy = smiling and passing gas (hey...does this remind anyone of a certain 1 month old infant??). he makes things real simple by being great: doing the dishes, vacuuming, organizing the cupboards (what do you mean just throwing things in there and shutting the door real fast before they fall won't solve the problem?!), and cooking so the both of us can survive (hey----i warned him before we got married that i lived off of tv-dinners for 6 years of my life). 

so, to chalk things up---- i basically married the perfect man (be jealous...i dare you!). 

as perfect as ben is though, there are some things that still remain a mystery in our marriage:

1. used band-aids left on the coffee table, on the counter, in the shower...

i understand if he simply forgot to throw it in the garbage, but every time i watch ben put on a band-aid, the suspense nearly kills me as to where i will find it next a few days later...

2. used q-tips on the floor of our bedroom 

after our first anniversary, i started noticing used q-tips all over the bedroom floor. when i confronted ben about it, he explained that after he showered he would use the q-tips, and after he was done cleaning his ears, he would throw said q-tips on the floor for our cat bruce (i got him as an anniversary gift) to play with them. 

"he just loves playing with them so much, sara!" he says to me time and again. 

ya, that's great ben----but we've been married for over two years now and i have yet to see you throw your q-tips in the trash, leaving the only other person in the house who knows how to use her opposable thumbs to clean them up. pas cool.  

3. putting clothes near, but not quite "in" the laundry basket 

now this one's a brain-teaser. i will find clothes so close, sometimes TOUCHING the laundry basket, yet they haven't quite made it in. so of course i do the noble thing and place them in there, only to have ben ask me what had happened to them. 

"i put them in the laundry," i reply. 

"but they weren't dirty!" he retorts. 

oh, my mistake. the societal norm is that if clothes are on the floor, or by the laundry basket, they're usually rendered unclean, no? 

i don't even want to count how many sweaters are down there. 

4. crumbs...oooh the crumbs!

exhibit A: i'm beginning to suspect that all men think there's a little "crumb fairy" who magically removes all the messes you make after you prepare your lunch in the morning...(don't even get me started on raspberry flavored crystal-light droplets staining the countertop because they weren't wiped up right away!)

5. cereal for a snack and/or dinner

no explanation necessary.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

a little uppity-update!

it's been day two of jane napping during the day (she refuses as of late) so i thought i'd update the ol' bloggity-blog while i have a small window to do so (knock on wood)...

week four of motherhood is quickly coming to a close, and to be quite honest i never thought i would enjoy the role of madre as much as i do. i didn't really connect to babies growing up. i hated babysitting and thought the whole experience was entirely too much work. the work-ideal hasn't changed: i have perma-bags under my eyes and eat my lunch at 3 in the afternoon on a good day, but i really, truly, like being a mom! this realization came to me yesterday after jane had peed through her third outfit and then threw up all over my chest while i was feeding her. i was calm. not just calm, but calm bolded and italicized calm. i have never been more content than i am changing a poopy diaper and having the chronic smell of baby vomit hovering around me like a swarm of flies. 

life. is. good. 

luckily, jane has decided she likes sleeping at night, and averages around 6 hours before she demands my services. ben doesn't seem to be phased either by the new addition to the foot of our bed as his deep, methodical snoring has proven. you'd think i'd be getting in on some of this zzz action too though, right? wrong. since both jane and ben are competing for who can be the loudest between her incessant grunting and his old-man wheezing, i'm lucky if i sleep for more than an hour at a time. 

and then there's the anxiety. i wake up every hour anyway and poke jane to make sure she's still alive. sure enough, she usually is (just kidding----she always is) and i'll have waken her up and she lets out a monster cry...(like i've literally poked a sleeping monster.)

speaking of noises...sometimes i feel like i've given birth to a gremlin. the sounds that come out of that child's mouth are not from this world. i can't seem to put my finger on it: is it orc? troll? elvish? if i throw water on her will she die? or is it grow? i can't remember (i haven't seen gremlins in probably twenty years). whatever it is, it keeps me guessing. 

we've been able to go out a few times, but for the most part i'm afraid to take her anywhere. not because i'm weird about germs, or that i'm afraid she'll cry the whole time (which has happened) but mostly because...i don't know how to work the stroller! who's idea was it to buy the gucci-est of all strollers, anyway? (oh right, mine.) one day i'll sit down and read the manual so i can figure out all its gadgets, but for now we'll just wait for ben to get home (because he's the one who assembled it)

so far, i've only been accosted twice in public. the first time was in the designated breast feeding area in the mother's lounge at the mall, where a lady told me she couldn't believe that i just "whip my boob out" wherever i please, and was offended. (she then proceeded to tell me that she chose not to breast feed because it's "weird" as she waited for her formula to finish heating up so she could feed her 3 week old baby with it.) i had a blanket over top of me the whole time i fed jane, but even if i hadn't, what did this woman expect to find in a mother's lounge?! a bunch of dogs smoking cigars sitting around a poker table?

the second time was this past week at the doctor's office. we were there for jane's 1 month check-up and she decided to be fussy while we waited. i picked her up and rocked her a bit, but she still was crying bloody-mary. the lady beside me told me that my baby was probably hungry, and i politely said that i didn't think she was because i had just fed her before we came to the appointment. she proceeded to tell me that she has two kids of her own and that was the sound of a hungry baby. she asked why i hadn't brought anything for the baby, and i told her i didn't think i needed to because ifedherbeforewecame. i got up and started pacing around the waiting room and jane eventually settled down (poor girl just had to pass some gas). 

so... pretty much one adventure after another these days. i'm definitely learning more than i ever have, about babies, other people, and especially about myself. it's funny how i can go from an 8 hour work day strategically planned out to an all-around-the-clock job that's as unpredictable as this pregnancy. 

but...like i said...

life. is. good. 

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

so i'm like, a mom now.

wow. who knew so much could happen in one week!

last monday, the 18th of february to be exact, i woke up miserable and still very pregnant. i had doubled in size (due to lovely water retention) over the weekend and even tights didn't fit on my thighs anymore. i looked at ben (after mellow dramatically throwing a pair of jeans across the room) and said,

"i am sooo over this."

and i really was. none of my shoes fit my fat feet anymore, and sleep had become non-existent with the chronic hip pain i had attained over the past 9 months. i would eat a carrot stick and get heart burn, and having to pee 12 billion times a night was less than ideal.

i thought i was going to be pregnant for at least another 9 months...

at least. 

we resumed our day like any other: went to the grocery store, watched the new walking dead episode, and were planning to go see a movie later that night. i decided not to go (i blamed it on being too uncomfortable but really it had more to do with that fact that i had nothing to wear) but told ben he should still go because it probably would be the last time for a long time that he'd be able to go to a movie. before he left, we joked about me going into labor while he was gone, but didn't really think anything of it.

so, ben went to the movies and i sat at home watching old dateline episodes until finally going to bed at around 10:30.

fast forward an hour later...

i woke up to find that i had wet the bed. a little embarrassed, i text ben to ask see where he was. i tried to get up but realized i was still in fact wetting the bed. i couldn't understand why i had lost all control; ya, during the past 9 months i had occasionally "tinkled" after sneezing or laughing too hard, but it had been a long time since i had full-on peed my pants (ok...there was an incident after the halloween dance in grade nine where i just could not hold it any longer and kind of lost it at breanna's house...and she promised me she wouldn't tell anyone but then come monday morning everyone at school knew.) 

(it's not like i'm not bitter or anything...)

anyway, i digress...

it took about 15 minutes for me to come to terms that my water may have broken, but i was still hesitant to go to the hospital and have it turn out to be plain ol' incompetence. so, i called ben and luckily he was out of the movie and just a ten minute drive away. when he got home i told him to examine the damage in the bed, and he agreed that i probably needed to go to the hospital too (i failed to mention the grade nine mishap). so, we loaded up the truck and drove the 5 minutes to rockyview general hospital and were admitted shortly after due to muconeum (aka: POOP) present in the bags of water which meant that the baby might be under distress.

at this point i wasn't feeling any contractions. i had been walking around 3cm dilated for the past week but for the most part had not felt any pain. the doctor said she would give me a few hours to try and get into active labor, but then i would probably have to be induced if i hadn't progressed. so ben and i took a few turns around the hospital wing, sat on the birthing ball, and narrowed down a few baby names that we liked.

by 3am i was only 5cm dilated, so i was hooked up to an IV and given oxytocin to get things going. i was warned in our prenatal class that contractions can come on stronger and much faster once oxytocin is administered but little did i know how true this rang. by 4:30 the contractions were coming on every 30 seconds and as much as i would have liked to have a natural birth (i'm sorry mom, i'm just not as strong as you----i saw you lift a sectional couch and carry it into a house one time; you have brute strength!) by 5 in the morning i was given an epidural and all was well in the world again.

i literally have not felt that comfortable for the past 3 years (being a hygienist you tend to pick up adorable traits like chronic back/neck pain) and wouldn't mind getting an epidural on a regular basis. it was also nice because both ben and i were able to rest until 9:30, when i was told it was time to push.

i don't know if the epidural had worn off at this point, or maybe its sole purpose is just to help with contractions, but during the delivery i swear it wasn't working.

i. felt. every. thing. 

but...by 11:02am the baby was out and quickly rushed over to the team of doctors ready to suction all the muconeum off so none would be inhaled. the doctors were so efficient and focused in doing this that they failed to mention what the gender of our baby was, so about five minutes later i politely asked what we had had.

"a girl!" they cried, and i was in complete shock. from the beginning i was certain i was having a boy----i just had a feeling! i basically bought all boy clothes and even had a boy name picked out. but when i held that little girl for the first time and she instantly stopped crying, i knew i was supposed to have her.

she was the most beautiful thing i had ever seen, poop-covered and all. i was completely in love with this light-haired, fair-skinned child. that first night in the hospital was rough and even though jane wanted to be fed for what seemed like every 30 minutes, i didn't care. i didn't care that i was absolutely exhausted and in excruciating pain (read: the third-degree tear variety), all i cared about was holding that little girl so close and drinking it all in (not literally...she was still covered in poop).

i can't explain it, but ever since that first day with jane nothing else really matters anymore. i'm more relaxed and feel like i can handle anything that comes my way now. in just one short week, i've become more responsible, more caring, and even more compassionate.

the best thing, though? seeing ben with his little girl. when i first got pregnant he told me that he only wanted boys but i think a girl is exactly what he needed. i would see him with his little nieces and how gentle and kind he was with them, that i secretly prayed every night for 9 months for a girl. he is completely whipped.

and for posterity's sake (and since i'm a terrible record keeper)...

-long! long fingers, long toes, long body.
-alert: every time she opens those squinty eyes of her she's looking around, or staring into my soul.
-eating: in one week she has surpassed her birth weight!
-strong: five minutes after she swam through the birth canal she was trying to hold her head up.
-gassy: poor girl hasn't figured out how to poop properly yet (probably wore herself out from all the pooping she did in-utero!)
-swaddling: this girl won't fall asleep unless she's wrapped as tight as possible.
-wiggly: she seems to wiggle out of any death-grip swaddle.

and lastly, a huge dump of photos from the past week (yep...i'm becoming that mom!):

fresh out of the womb...

after her first bath (she surprisingly loved it!)

loves her bio-dad

gives a mean stink-eye

milk breath

milk-induced coma

loves her new bouncy chair from aunt darla----thanks again! 

welp...we all know who the favorite is in the house...

love those fart-induced smiles! 

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