Thursday, September 27, 2012

Girls and Boys

Possibly a little scattered. Just a little... Here we go!

Since it's September again, (how the crap did that happen, anyway?) all the super-fun programs and activities for Thom are starting up again. One of which is a playgroup at our new local community center on Mondays and Thursdays. We go and Thom plays and hangs out with his buddies and it's generally a great time (until he crashes, because it's right at nap time).

Lately as I watch Thom and his buddies play I've become more and more aware of the (seemingly innate) differences between boys and girls in terms of gender roles. As I talk to parents it seems like we don't necessarily teach little girls how to play with dolls, or little boys how to drive trucks (complete with sound effects) but it was fascinating to see the little girls show up in playgroup and head for the dolls and the kitchen and the dress-up section, where the boys headed for the tool bench and the cars and trucks. Just thought it was interesting. I was speaking with some of Mike's co-workers yesterday and they mentioned that even if you don't necessarily expose your kid to the "gender stereotype" toys and activities, they will sometimes just be drawn that way. Little girls loving dolls and pink, even though their Mom tried to avoid it etc.

On that same note though, as Thom and I were sitting playing with some farm animals (he's a little obsessed with animal sounds right now) I was looking through some of the other smaller toys that were in buckets around us being played with by the bigger kids... I was kind of shocked and appalled. There were your typical "Barbie" style toys, wearing their crop-tops and their shorty-skirts (with roller-blades, because that's practical...) but nobody's surprised by those anymore. I'm thinking more about the "boy" toys, since that's what I'm dealing with right now! The policeman had some kind of crazy blaster-gun/backpack thing that I couldn't even identify, the pirates all had swords, the cowboy had some kind of weapon, but the thing that surprised me was how BEEFY these figurines were. Muscles everywhere, even their thighs. And it got me thinking; we focus so much on body image and girls and just what are we teaching them with their Barbies and their "Bratz" dolls (the horror), but the same goes for boys. When it comes to what it means to "be a man", does it have to be all about muscles and guns?
*Disclaimer* I am totally aware that all the toys at Playgroup are donated, nor do I place any blame on the playgroup itself for the toys! They are EVERYWHERE.

If you know our family at all, you know we try to be pretty free-flowing when it comes to gender/sexuality/all of that. I don't go so far as to not call him a boy, he has the dangley bit, so he's a boy. Unless or until he tells me otherwise. A rule I like for Thom (that Mike actually came up with!) is "if he picks it, we support it". But he chooses it for himself. So if he chooses to bring home a purple hedgehog from the dollar store, that's cool (has happened). If he decides he wants to carry around a baby doll, also cool (hasn't happened yet). He came really close to pink and purple running shoes, which would have been fine with me, but once he saw the bright green, he was sold. I want him to be able to make decisions for himself when it comes to toys, clothes etc. I want him to know that being a man has nothing to do with muscles and weapons. I know a lot of this is going to fall on Mike, and I'm okay with that because I think he's got a handle on it. I want Thom to be comfortable with the person he decides to be, because we will support him no matter what!

Friday, August 17, 2012

The Past 5 Years

Hey y'all! It's been a while :) Update on my life: Thom is 13 months old, (or as Mike insists, "A year and a bit!" He is *very* opposed to counting months after babies turn 1) and starting to walk! It's so exciting to see him when he takes a couple of steps, he gets so proud!

But tonight I'm gonna gush over another important boy... AKA my man. Since tomorrow is our fifth(!) anniversary, I thought I'd mark the occasion by gushing a little. I think I'm entitled.

I know there were a number of people who thought I was nuts for getting married so young, (and some people thought I must have been pregnant and that was the only reason we were getting married. Nice.) but I maintain that Mike and I were absolutely meant for one another. I've known him most of my life, and had a crush on him since I was like 10 years old. A little weird? Maybe. More like "unusual"... But I think it just furthers my argument!

We've been through so much over the course of our relationship and the past five years...

  • I finished school and teacher's college.
  • Mike changed companies, I changed many of my jobs and volunteer opportunities
  • We've seen friends and family married, divorced, have kids, new relationships, some friends have literally moved away, some have moved away in an emotional sense, and many a new friend has been made! (Hi new friends!)
  • We've sadly lost many loved ones
  • We traveled all around Ireland, man that was a good time.
  • We sold our old (new) house and bought a new (old) house
  • We brought a person into the world! And it was exciting and so scary and every day is an adventure.
There's so many other things and more specific things that I can't even recall. But through it all, there's never been a question of our commitment to one another and the strength and support we get from each other. I was raised by a strong, independent woman, to BE a strong, independent woman. Sometimes that makes it difficult to be in a successful relationship, but I have to remind Mike that I'm learning a lot of this stuff first-hand. My examples of how a marriage works were a little limited growing up (if you were one of my examples, then I so appreciate it!) so together we're learning how to be married, and how to be parents and it's exciting and scary but through it all, we stand together.

He's my soulmate, my best friend, my love. Here's to another five years, and another sixty after that!

One of my favourite wedding pictures

 Back when we were first dating! Not much has changed, except glasses and shorter hair :)

Happy anniversary darling! xoxo

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Family, by Choice

I am a very lucky lady. I am extremely close to my immediate family, and they all live so close by! My Mom and sisters and I are like four peas in a rather boisterous pod. I also have a great family of in-laws that are wonderful and supportive and also live nearby. But earlier this week I was "gently prompted" (lol) to write a post about some other amazing people in my life. Thom and I, along with my Mom went on a whirlwind road-trip down to "The County" (Prince Edward County) to visit my fantastic (and so young looking) Godparents, Donna and Denis.

These two, along with their kids (Hi Em & Mike!) have been there for our family since WAY before I was born. Donna's friendship with my Mom has always been an example of how two people can stay friends through thick and thin, and though they may not see each other as often as they'd like, you can always pick up right where you left off. Donna and Denis have been a shining example of a strong loving marriage, which I desperately needed growing up! They have raised two great kids who were (and are) friends of ours and they have a beautiful (newly renovated!) home. We were lucky enough on this very short (24 hour) trip to have dinner with Donna's family, and I love that I am as comfortable with her parents as I am with my own grandparents, they're hilarious people. Donna's 97 year old grandma was even there, and she is an amazing lady! Still in her own home and still very independent.

But when we started discussing whether Thom could call Mike (Farmer) "Uncle Mike", (and my answer was an obvious "yes!") I started thinking about what makes someone family. Everyone has a family, whether they are close with them or not, whether they even know them or not. But some people aren't as close with their family as I am. Emotionally or in terms of distance. Does that mean that they are less "family"? Not technically... But I know that some people who live far away from their biological family sometimes make a new family. A family of friends. People you can count on, for anything at any time. People who support you, who cheer you on and share your joys and tears. Who can call you out for all your crap, but still make you laugh at the end of it all. This is the relationship our family has to Donna and Denis. When we'd all be at the cottage growing up, you never knew which Mom would be telling you off if you screwed up!

I heard someone say "You can't pick your family", but I think you can't pick ALL your family. Some family you're born with, and some become family over time. You build a family with love, whether you do it biologically or through acquisition. And I love my crazy family!!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Creepin' But Not Quite Crawling

It's a momentous day. Somehow I managed to convince Thom to almost "army crawl" across the playroom floor this morning! It took like 20 minutes, and it involved a lot of effort on his part, but he did it! I can just feel how close he is to crawling, and it's both exciting and terrifying. I don't know if I'm ready to have a mobile baby! But as we approach this milestone I realize (again) how fast time is passing. My squidgey little baby is becoming a busy little guy!

I just want to press "pause" and appreciate the time we spend together. We still have our moments-we always will! I'll get frustrated with his whiny sounds, he'll get mad at me when I don't know what he wants... But lately (other than teething time) we've been having some excellent times. WAY more fun than frustrations. The past few weeks we've done a lot of fun things, and I hope to do many more in the weeks to come. I don't know how long I will be "off" from work (or if I will go back) but I want to make the most of these days.

We have a fairly rigorous bedtime routine for Thom that we try to stick to. Every evening after Mike gets home, we have some playing time, jumping time and then dinner. After dinner Mike does bath-time and then Thom gets ready for bed. There's lots of giggling and laughing during these times. 5 o'clock used to be called "Yelling Hour" in our house, but most of the time that is no longer the case. When Thom is ready for bed, I feed him and then we spend some time snuggling. And honestly, there is nothing in the world I value more than those ten or fifteen minutes every day. Even when he is still wound up and he's rolling back and forth and I'm sighing, eventually he snuggles down, wipes his oily head (cradle cap) all over my face (maybe that's why my skin is so bad?) and buries his face in my neck. And my heart melts. Every time.

I know that he's growing up, (too fast!) and eventually he won't want to snuggle with his Mom to fall asleep. I have to remember that when he wants to snuggle to fall asleep at 3am... I know that this is "Mommy time", and in a couple of years it will be "Daddy time", and Mike will be his hero. At least I hope he will :) but for the time being, he's Mommy's Boy, and I can't help but love him to bits.

Look how freaking cute!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

He Lied About Death

I've been trying to write a post for about a month. Not this particular post, but anything. I'll get to a point and then decide that I don't actually want to talk about whatever it is I'm writing, or my computer will crash without it saving, and it's just too difficult to go back to what I was writing. So I'm trying again. This post might be a little depressing, but it's what's going on in my life right now.

Here's some background: Mike's grandparents on his Mom's side passed away a number of years ago. His Grandma Sayles died shortly after Mike and I got engaged, and it was my first real experience with death. I was lucky enough growing up to not have been exposed to people dying very often, and when I was I was too afraid to go to funerals or visitations. So it was a strange thing to attend your first visitation when you're standing in the receiving line. People I didn't know kept coming up to us and congratulating us on our engagement and then giving us their condolences for Grandma Marie's passing. Grandpa Tom (who we named Thomas after) died about a year after she did. Then in 2009 I learned what it was like to have someone really close pass away when my Papa (my Mom's father) died. He had been sick for quite some time, but it was still really difficult to see him go downhill and change from the man I knew and loved growing up into less and less of himself.

The reason I'm thinking about this is because Mike's two remaining grandparents (on his Dad's side) are both struggling health-wise. His Grandma's kidneys are shutting down, (she's in her late 80's) and Grandpa had a stroke a few weeks ago, and is really not doing well. So we went into the nursing home today to visit them both.

Something strange seems to happen whenever I'm going to visit someone who is dying. I don't know if it's just me, but when we decided to go visit today, I immediately wanted to look my best. I felt the need to make sure I had showered and actually struggled about what to wear. I felt sorry that I didn't have a chance to take off my chipped nail polish. Did Grandpa notice? Not in the least, the poor man barely opened his eyes while we were there. Though he did seem to realize Thom was there, and he was trying to sit up to see him. And I doubt anyone else who was there noticed my chipped nail polish or the fact that I actually put on mascara. What is it about being faced with death that makes us want to look our best? Is this what makes people dress up for funerals? Does the person who has passed notice? Or is it as a sign of respect to those who are still living?

I almost feel like part of the reason we (or at least I) wanted to look my best was maybe some kind of way for me to "face death", and show Death that I'm still really busy using my life? I'm clearly not done with it... I don't know.

I noticed a weird thing that happens to people when they're faced with their mortality when a loved one is sick. Some people feel the need to fill empty silences with noise. Not even conversation, just talking for the sake of hearing their own voice, or just to make sound. Some people talk about the sick person as though they're already gone, or not in the room. Some people can't even look in the direction of the person who just days or weeks ago was someone they loved. It's interesting to be someone who is more on the periphery of the situation, I can just watch it without having to involve myself. Watching everyone avoid talking about the reason why they're all there. Watching people "go for walks" instead of sitting in the room. The silences, the averted gazes, the elephant in the room.

I gained a new appreciation for the nurses and hospice workers who are willing and able to be the people to care for people in their final moments. I also gained a new appreciation for my mother-in-law and my Mom for the same reason. When we saw Papa for the last time, my Mom sat with him and gave him sips of water and tried to make him comfortable. The same is true of my mother-in-law today with her father-in-law. It takes a special kind of person to be able to look Death straight in the face and know that it's never that far away from any of us.

More than anything, I think that situations like this make me appreciate life more. Norman and Beatrice have been really blessed with a wonderful family and a long (long) happy life together. I want to create a legacy like that with Mike. It makes me appreciate the family I have, (immediate and extended) because I am lucky to have such great people in my life. And it makes me thankful for my health. I know that I won't be here forever, (and that still really scares me) but I want to live my life while I'm here, and live it well. And when the time comes for me to leave this life, I can only hope that I feel ready, and that I greet Death like an old friend, and go with him willingly.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Holy crap!

This morning I put on a pair of jeans. Nothing new there, except that I pulled them on but couldn't do them up.... Panic sets in, "But I've been working so hard! I know I ate a piece of cake and other yummy things at the party yesterday, but this is ridiculous!"

And then I realize...

They were Mike's jeans.

My husband is also known as Mr. No Bum... And I was wearing his jeans! And except for not being able to do up the button, (and being too long) they actually fit! This is a HUGE deal for me. Never in my wildest dreams would I think of being able to put on and pull up his jeans.

I gained about 30 pounds while I was pregnant, which to me wasn't bad. I didn't really change my eating habits, no crazy cravings except for red licorice and cucumber (and occasionally french fries with ice cream, but that started before I got pregnant). That's not too bad, right? However I wasn't exactly "healthy" before becoming pregnant. But after Thom was born (and I started losing weight right away), I knew I needed to take some kind of control to ensure success. So when a friend mentioned he was trying a "Low G.I. Diet", and then we found a book with that very title at my in-law's, I figured it was meant to be.

That was in October. It's now January, and I've lost 61 pounds so far! And the best part is that it's still dropping! Slower than before, but slow and steady. I have to be aware of what I eat. Mike is super supportive, he does most of the cooking, I just have to tell him what to make! He also tries to eat two servings of everything because he CAN'T afford to lose any weight, he's already so freaking skinny.

I still have my temptations (*cough*chocolate*cough), but I act reasonably and rationally. I also don't restrict myself to the point of deprivation, because that will just make me want it more! If I'm going to a birthday party, I'm gonna have a piece of cake! Thanksgiving came and went, (successfully) Christmas came and went (mostly successfully). But when holidays were over, I got back to eating regularly and so far so good. I imagine the summer will be hard (ice cream...) but it's also easier to keep doing the right thing when I know it's working.

It's a journey!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

2012 is... Precious

I've been trying to write several posts for over a week now... Life gets in the way sometimes! And with a baby, "sometimes" is actually "most of the time".

So Mike and I went to a dinner/discussion type thing with a bunch of friends of ours from camp last night, and the conversation revolved around New Year's and the concept of "naming your year". This is a really interesting and beautiful blog post about the idea ( approaching it from a Christian perspective but I think the idea is valid regardless of your religious (or not) beliefs (or not).

To name your year is to give it a theme, a plan. It's kind of a hope or wish or prayer for the year. Since I've never done this before, I have no idea how it's going to go... but that is much like the year itself. I have a general idea of things that might happen, e.g. Thom is going to grow! Craziness! But the specifics and day-to-day I have no idea e.g. I'd really like a new job to go "back" to after my mat. leave is over... *fingers crossed*.

The first word that came to my mind was "Precious", followed by "Cherish" and then "Be present". None of this is a shock to me, as I spend my days with the most precious and cherished boy in the world :) However, I know that as he grows and changes day to day I find I sometimes take him for granted. Especially when he's crabby or not sleeping well. Sometimes it's hard to remember that these days are absolutely precious, and his baby days are slipping by at an alarming speed.

I've also noticed that I'm having these weird, almost "out of body" experiences where I'm speaking or doing something and I feel like I'm watching myself do it. Or like my mouth is going but my head isn't attached to what it's saying. I assume it's because of sleep deprivation. This is SUPER dangerous because if you know me, you know I already have a very poor filter when I speak. Some people say I'm "brutally honest", some people have a less p.c. term for it!

So, my theme for this Precious year of 2012 is Be Present. Trying to appreciate and cherish every moment with my wonderful amazing baby boy, before he's too old to snuggle or too big to pick up and rock. Before I have to go back to work, wherever that may be. Cherish the moments and be fully present, even when he's screaming or puking or pooping everywhere. This too shall pass, and I'm sure it will go faster than any period of time I've ever experienced before. And then I will miss these days. 2012 is precious. I will cherish these moments and be fully present for those I love.

What is your name for 2012?

Monday, January 2, 2012

So this is the New Year...

For those who know me, you know that I typically have trouble with New Year's Eve. Auld Lang Syne used to make me bawl like a baby. I'm not sure where the hatred of this "holiday" came from but I always felt like I hadn't done anything worthwhile, and I hated acknowledging time had passed.

Last year I was too excited about the baby to be negative about New Year's. When this year rolled around, I was too busy having a great time and enjoying myself with my boys at a fabulous party!

So this brings me to the issue of "resolutions". Obviously in the past I never partook, (since I didn't believe in the whole system) except one brief stint where a friend and I gave up being self-deprecating. Pretty sure it lasted like two days.

But this year is different. I feel totally different because this year, I'm a Mom. So this year I'm making resolutions. They aren't going to be anything earth-shattering, but they're mine and they're important to me. So there you go. And I want them to be specific... none of this "Eat better, exercise more" stuff.

1. Recycle yogurt cups.
Specific enough? Small and manageable enough? I really would prefer to "Recycle More", but that's not specific. So I recently learned that my yogurt cups are actually recyclable, and therefore instead of simply throwing them away, I want to recycle them.

2. Exercise once a week.
I took up yoga in September, and I love it. Love love love it. Once a week (on Friday mornings) Thom and I go hang out with other Moms and babies and we do yoga together. It's my "me time", even though Thomas is right there. Did I mention I love it? I've also tried Bikram Hot Yoga a few times with my sister, but I imagine once she goes back to school I'll have a harder time motivating myself to go. So I'll say once a week, and if I do more than that, yay for me!

3. Laugh every day.
It seems so simple, and yet I don't know if I do it. I try, for sure. Mike and I laugh a lot, and I think that has managed to keep our stress level as new parents to a minimum. We still find each other ridiculous and enjoyable to be around. That also might have something to do with the sleep deprivation, but I'll take it! I also want to laugh with Thom as much as possible. His little smile warms my heart, and when he starts to giggle and laugh I feel like my heart might burst!

4. Wash my face twice a day, every day.
Again, seems so simple and yet... As a new Mom I'm learning about the importance of taking care of myself. Hence the yoga, the eating well diet thing, the weight loss etc. Well ever since getting pregnant, my skin just hasn't been the way it used to be. I've never had amazing skin, but I'm pretty sure it was never this bad. Add that to the fact that I'm totally exhausted and really good at putting myself after everyone else, (just like a Mom) so this is another small way for me to keep taking care of me!

That's it for now... I think those are attainable and manageable... At least I hope they are!
Another resolution would be to "write more", hence the blog. But I don't want to put too much pressure on myself. I want this blog to be more of my "musings" and rants and such... not something I HAVE to do, but something I enjoy :)