Monday, December 31, 2007

scratch that

There's a reason I wrote 242 posts this year. So back to the first plan of the first sentences of each month.

January: So it's 2007. (And just because it was momentous, apparently, I must add the second sentence: This New Year's marks the first time I have ever gone to bed instead of cheering in the New Year.)

Feb: Sugar Daddy and I have just returned from a cool after-dinner walk in Grandpa Cape Town’s neighbourhood, and Swee’pea is sleeping peacefully in the stroller.

March: Last night in belly dance class, I was reminded of something I really admire in Ishra, the instructor.

April: I've been meaning to nominate the Mad Hatter for a Perfect Post for months.

May: Last night, I slept for seven hours straight with no wakings by either me OR Swee'pea.

June: Sorry for the delay since my last post... I didn't mean to leave you hanging after the shock.

July: I can hear firecrackers popping and screaming outside our house.

Aug.: The one-year anniversary of my first blog post came and went a couple of days ago, unblogged.

Sept: Sugar D, on Saturday: [incredulous, mostly to himself] I haven't had an ice cap this summer...
Maybe that's because I don't actually like ice caps and I just can't remember. (and because it made me laugh, I have to add the next line:) [later, with ice cap in hand] Yeah, I think I just don't like ice caps.

Oct: Aargh.

Nov: In order for this post to make sense, you need to remember a few key details about me.

Dec: Just when I thought life was going along all hunky-dory and the most I had to worry about was Christmas shopping and future vacation destinations...

* * *

So that was boring...

Happy New Year!

bring on 2008

So I started to do a post like Dani where I listed all the first lines of the first posts of each month in 2007 but, like Mad, I discovered that my first lines are boring. Then I tried to develop a Top 10 list of 2007 like B&P but it was too hard. Some of my favourite posts aren't particularly good posts but because I wrote them in South Africa, they make me happy. I was hoping to avoid rereading all my posts but I think I may just have to do that if I want to participate in this retrospective thing. And I do.

I have to say that although 2007 kicked off to a raging start, what with the trip to South Africa and all, it went pretty sour pretty quick. I don't want to complain too much, because our challenges could have been SO. MUCH. HARDER than they were, but still... it's been tough. I've got my fingers crossed for 2008.

In January, we finally sorted out Sugar D's issues getting a South African passport by discovering that in fact he was no longer a South African citizen. It was a relief to arrive in Cape Town without worrying that he was going to be detained. I freaked out on a plane (big surprise), and in a chalet, fell down some stairs, and swam in a salt water pool under perhaps the most beautiful sunset I've ever seen. As predicted, that swim remains one of the highlights of the trip. I wrote a lot from South Africa and I'm so glad I have that record.

February was a pretty good month. Swee'pea turned one and I baked my first cake just for him in South Africa no less. We came home and I started to take my photography more seriously, even daring to admit to aspiring to make art; not that that really translated into action in the year at all. I was supposed to launch an online portfolio but what with Sugar D losing his job and all, it didn't happen somehow. I wrote about sleep (the severe lack of it -- please don't hold me responsible for the incoherence), Sugar D's proposal, and I wrote a letter to my teenage self.

In March, I reached across the ether in more ways than one, and things were kind of dark for a while. I got whiney about the sidewalks, attempted to clear up some of the clutter, and recounted my experience overcoming anxiety. And there was light at the end of the tunnel: Swee'pea walked and started to sleep for five hours in a row (once in a while). I topped off the month with a real-life blogger meeting (my first) and seeing the Rheostatics' final concert.

The upswing continued in April as I flirted with a young plumber, wrote a Monday Mission to show not tell, invited Sugar D to speak in his own words, shut down the all-night breastaurant, and flirted some more. Sugar D launched this great new design for my blog.

In May, I grumped about (incoherent) grammar, the esteemed B&P gave me -- ME -- a ROLF award for shutting down the all-night breastaurant, I blogged more mother-angst, got mad, felt overwhelmed and got vomitted on, admitted how lazy I am, I took some pictures I liked, and I started blogging over at MBT, which didn't last long. Because Sugar D lost his job.

In June, we tried to make lemonade and enjoy Sugar D's unexpected time off. This is when my blog really started to go downhill and it has never really recovered. Father's Day came, I tried to find a way to de-stink my sandals, Swee'pea slept through the night for the first time, most anticlimactically, and we found a sick bird on the street.

July kicked off with a celebration, and I found a solution to the stinky sandals. We went to my parents' cottage and Ottawa, and when we came home the shit hit the fan. Sugar D got a job in Toronto with its four-hour commute (so we thought -- it turned into six hours some days), we painted in preparation for selling our house, and we found out we were losing our daycare at the end of August. Life got harder, not easier, with the new job.

Looking back over August, it was a melancholy month as I tried to keep perspective amid all the challenges. I went to a party and decided afterwards not to walk home alone again. Sugar D's uncle died suddenly and unexpectedly in South Africa, leaving his 90-year-old granny living by herself. She is now selling her home and belongings and moving into a retirement home. We discovered there isn't a lot of choice in daycare.

Oh jeez... this is just taking too long and September doesn't get any better. Because blogger thinks this is a spam blog, it won't save in draft form anymore so I don't want to lose all this... maybe I'll add more tomorrow or something. Maybe not.

Happy New Year from the house of ill!

Sunday, December 30, 2007


My sister gave me 28 Stories of AIDS in Africa by Stephanie Nolen for my birthday. I just finished it tonight. Obviously, it's not a cheery book by birthday standards, but I am so glad she gave it to me. I should have read it ages ago, but I was scared it would be just too devastating.

To my surprise, it wasn't devastating. I expected it to introduce me to individual people living and dying with AIDS in Africa. What I didn't expect was how much I would learn from it -- about history, politics, economics, scientific research, culture and gender. Even more, it was a call to action. There is still hope. As Gideon Byamugisha, an HIV positive Anglican priest in Uganda, says, "We know AIDS needs a clinical approach, but that won't succeed if poverty stays the same, literacy stays the same, inequality stays the same. HIV shows us the holes in our relations: how we trade with one another, how we relate as genders, how we deal with one another on governance and politics. Those are the things we have to fix."

This book should be required reading for anyone who can read.

You can donate to the Stephen Lewis Foundation if you want to help.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

31 now

So, what are you going to do for your birthday?

I don't know... I haven't thought that far ahead.

When you were a kid, what were you going to do when you turned 31?

When I was a kid, I never got past the age of 23 in my imagination.

My brother-in-law says he never got past 32. That was the year 2000, as 23 was for me. When I was a kid, the world was going to end in 2000.

But it hasn't, and to celebrate my 31st birthday, I'm going to shoot that cement factory I pass on the way to my parents, the cement factory that every time I think I want to shoot that, but I never have. That and the more recently burnt out Victorian mansion with no roof and lots of graffiti.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

random pre-holiday wine-drinking shit

I should be wrapping gifts right now, but instead I'm drinking wine and feeling maudlin. Note to self: never listen to your Wallow playlist unless you are actually wallowing. Otherwise it will just make you melancholy.

I should be saving the wine for our little get-together on Christmas Eve, but instead I'm drinking it. So what if I have to make another trip out for supplies.

I should be getting the address and directions for a family gathering we're supposed to go to tomorrow, but I'm pretty sure Swee'pea is coming down with a Merry Christmas bug. He's coughing and having trouble sleeping and his stomach seemed a bit off today.

Plus we have a lot we could do around here (like wrapping presents, buying more wine and making bread pudding).

* * *

I've been meaning to share something I saw in the paper last weekend. I don't read the paper much, but we were snowed in and Sugar D bought one so I read it. I don't feel like explaining all the context so I will just provide the quote.

"... So who is to say that the state of non-verbal rapture you describe in your son - who is to say that that is inferior? Who is to say that? We're arrogant enough to believe that sentience is all that counts. It's not all that counts. A sequoia is not a sentient being. But they count. There is nothing more magnificent. It doesn't require me to think about it to be in awe of it. I don't want to minimize the difficulty of raising a handicapped child. ... But it's just a mistake to think of them as lesser than. There's no lesser than. There's just different from. It isn't just great minds that matter. It's great spirits too."

If you have a subscription to the Globe and Mail you can read the full article here, the third in a series of three. If you don't have a subscription you have to pay one way or the other.

* * *

Oh dear, I'm more than halfway finished the bottle. I should really stop now, especially if Swee'pea really is getting sick and I won't sleep for a week.

I couldn't stop listening to this song today.

* * *

It snowed a lot last weekend.

* * *

Books I want to read:
Joan Didion, The Year of Magical Thinking
Natalie Goldberg, Writing Down the Bones
Stephen King, On Writing
Mark Doty, Heaven's Coast and Firebird

* * *

Last weekend we watched Stephen Fry's documentary about bipolar disorder. It was fascinating. Highly recommended.

* * *

Guess I should wrap those presents now.

Nah, there's still tomorrow night.

Off to fill my glass...

Friday, December 21, 2007

where the flashback fridays are

I bet that Mad is the only one who's wondering where the feminist flashback fridays have gone. I always said I would only write them until I ran out of stories, but the truth is I haven't run out of stories. I've just run out of easy stories. On top of that, I've begun to question my motives for telling the other stories I'd like to and reconsidering the boundary between privacy and silence. And there's the matter of my sister enjoying my blog, which is great but I felt a bit weird when she said she'd been reading about my love life and been impressed by how engaging it was. I worry people (like my sister) will think I'm weird for telling some stories.

On the one hand I'm not sure I'd want Swee'pea to read some of these stories when he's older but on the other, I want it documented that I was once young and stupid and invincible-feeling too. I'm worried I'll be one of those parents who completely forgets what it was like to be young. And my memories are still so vivid right now. I realized at that fancy Christmas dinner I went to, when the parents around the table talked about their kids (between 5 and 10 years old), I always had my own anecdote to relate from the kid's perspective. I felt weird when I realized this, but perhaps that just means I have a lot of stories to tell.

On a third hand, I continue to have this niggling feeling that by NOT writing such stories, I am helping to perpetuate the madonna-whore thing. And finally, I don't like that when I die, these experiences will die too.

My choices and relatively brief promiscuity were deliberate and political as well as a journey. In high school I was a nerd and a late bloomer, respected only for my intellect. In my last year and through university, I'd had enough of being admired or desired for my brain and wanted to be admired for my body. Once I conqured that frontier, an impressive feat as an aggressive Amazon, I settled into confidence in my brain and my body, just as they were. Now I do some of the admiring myself, although mostly it's just acceptance.

So I'm going to write them, but I probably won't publish them.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

naughty drawer

Somewhere in my parents' house is a big brown envelope with various threats on the outside to anyone other than me who might open it. I have been looking for this envelope for a couple of years now, with no luck. I'm quite certain there's no way it could have been thrown out, because things rarely get thrown out of my parents' house.

The envelope is puffy with many papers, which I packed up just before university. They came out of a drawer in my bedside table, my naughty drawer. I think I put things in there that would shock my mother if she dared open it. It was a test. I knew if she opened it there would be no way she could keep it to herself. I can picture the drawer pulled open even now. There are the letters, a diary, an empty, partly flattened, bright red cigarette pack, an empty mickey bottle (vodka?), and a half-empty box of condoms that expired before I got the chance or inclination to use them.

I threw out everything but the letters by the time I moved out. I no longer had anything to prove.

I suppose I still have a naughty drawer by my bed. It was a surprisingly short time between needing privacy from my parents and soon from my child. Along with my memories of teenage rebellion I remember poring over my friend's dad's porn mags and feeling some small pride that I could never find a similar collection at my house, and I looked high and low.

What about you? Did you have a naughty drawer when you were a teenager? Do you have one now?

PS -- who is that reading in Br0ckville?!? Please tell me it's not family... (unless you're my sister -- that's ok.)

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

a winter of discontent

I don't much remember the winter I turned 16. I just remember darkness, a long stretch of darkness like the night of the solstice just lasted the entire winter. I was bored and restless yet apathetic and without energy. I despised myself. I remember thinking about suicide, but not having any interest in the violence of the thing. Instead, I wished for a peaceful death just to come upon me.

The true memories I have from that winter are just a few scenes and I watch them from above, all of them at night. In the first a group of teenagers is as minimally dressed up for Halloween as could still merit candy. We don't know it yet but it's our last year really for trick-or-treating. We are sharing a cigarette under a street light. It was my first time smoking and I was afraid to inhale. But the sense of community and the tang of smoke in my nostrils were irresistible.

Another night, this one colder and in a field covered in snow. Five girls in a circle, a new pipe with a small orange circle is being passed from hand to mouth to hand around the circle. We had a few crazy carpets and had tried sliding down the hill, but the sleds got slowed down by the tall grasses rising out of the snow. It was my birthday, my supposed sweet 16. The orange glow of the pipe kept us warm in the cold, white night.

Another night, and I am taking a break from mucking out the stalls or feeding the horses. The light from the barn spills onto the concrete pad of the barnyard, casting a golden rhombus, as I look out. There are northern lights in the sky, and they are shape-shifting as I watch. I feel like the only person on the planet, and not in a good way.

Eventually, light came back and so did I in the spring. I started driving lessons and a couple of my friends got their licenses and we were finally free. I got my license the following summer. And I began the arduous task of learning to like myself, a task that, as much as I'd prefer otherwise, is never really complete.

Monday, December 17, 2007

last week

I followed the old man all the way up the big hill. He wore a fedora and a trench coat that occasionally flapped open in the back to display slightly bowed legs. With every step the silhouette of each shoe lifted up, too large for his stature, supersized by rubbers.

It was a brilliant morning, cold and icy, the kind of morning that forces you to notice each breath and step, waiting for ache. The kind of morning that shakes you out of your winter blah. It hadn't started out brilliantly at all. When I left the house, the sky was dreary, the light dull and the sidewalk so icy my strides shrunk to elderly proportions. By the time I reached the covered bridge, though, a thick golden line stretched across the sky where the sun was starting to peek over the cloudy horizon.

On the main road the sidewalk was walkable and I fell behind the old man, far enough back not to intrude on his sense of privacy but close enough to study him. About halfway up the hill I noticed that I wasn't any closer to him, despite his relaxed, loping gait and my more hurried steps. I felt slightly shamed. As we crested the hill, the sun suddenly burst out and turned the world all black velvet silhouettes and gold lame ice. I wished I had my camera with me. The man in the fedora and trenchcoat was perfectly silhouetted above me, and the brilliance of the sun split by a black telephone pole on the right was balanced perfectly by the black retaining wall split by patches of brilliant gold on the left.

Eventually, I passed him and confirmed my suspicion of rubber shoe covers. I chanced a look back at the crosswalk and noticed that he wasn't nearly as old as I'd thought, 45 at most.

* * *

When I got to my desk, my inbox brought me to a video of a British cell phone salesman with bad teeth who wants to sing opera. He says he was born to sing opera. I expected the worst. I've never had much appreciation for opera. I just knew it was gonna be like Sex's audition on So You Think You Can Dance.

I wept. Opera has never made me weep. Later that morning I saw the friend who had sent it to me and he asked if I watched it. I tried to play it cool, but when he admitted that it moved him to tears, I admitted that it had me too. Then it wasn't quite so embarrassing.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

snow day catch-up

Well, there's a blizzard goin' on outside, so I can't do anything I need to, like grocery shopping or library trips or Christmas shopping. All that means that I can catch up with stuff here...

Remember when I asked for advice about making our own ornaments? Well, I took Mad's advice on the paper ring chain, and Karen's on the salt dough ornaments. My implementation was not stellar. I didn't make the paper chain as long as I'd wanted and I don't think the salt dough ornaments were supposed to rise in the oven.

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Still, we painted them with glitter paint and I'm very happy with the result, puffy middles and all.

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I confess I did also buy a few pieces, but I like our first tree.

The only difficulty was the fact that I packed up my grandma's old cookie cutters back in October, the ones I hadn't used in the five years I've had them and that I didn't think I could possibly have need for in the next few months. Did you know it's very difficult to find good cookie cutters? I also threw out my old art supply box in October, the one I hadn't used in like 10 years and figured I just never would, the one with the glitter and glue and string and fishing line, which would have been perfect to hang the ornaments with. So I had to buy cookie cutters, glue, coloured paper, string, and glitter paint.

I should never have turned my back on my pack rat tendencies!

But of course, the most important thing is that Swee'pea LOVES the tree and its lights. It's the first thing he says hello to in the morning and the last thing he says goodbye to at night or any time we leave the house. It's TOO cute!

* * *

Weeks ago, Slouching Mom tagged me for a photographic meme featuring the four things that get me through the day. I sense she has some pretty high expectations for me, and I didn't want to disappoint her so I've thought and thought and thought about it. And now, with the snowy day, I get to implement it. I tried to take the question fairly literally, although I was also influenced by what I thought would make interesting photos. I'll start with the runners-up, the things that are important to me but that I ultimately didn't include.

#1 Runner-Up: Sugar D
He does often help me get through the day, but he really pissed me off yesterday, so no go.


And because he doesn't usually let me photograph him, but for whatever reason did today (maybe to get out of the doghouse from yesterday?), you get two shots of him.

(and hurray! I figured out how to make duotones!)

#2 Runner-Up: Nap Time
Nap time totally keeps me sane but it was far too dangerous to attempt to photograph it. So you get Swee'pea watching the blizzard.

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And now for the Real List...

#4 Thing that gets me through the day: the Internet!
It's not photogenic, but it's far too essential to ignore.

(special guest star: my dirty floor)

#3 Thing that gets me through the day: Toilet Paper!
We take it for granted, but it IS nice to have. I remember in school I was too cheap to buy toilet paper so I used to steal those big, scratchy, industrial roles from the university, until they wised up and started locking up the toilet paper. Then we started bringing our backpacks to the downtown bars and stole their roles. Now that I've stopped drinking so much, I buy the good stuff even.


#2 Thing that gets me through the day: Glasses!
Without them, the whole world would be a blur. And, they have rhinestones, even if a few are missing.


#1 Thing that gets me throught he day: Tea!
So essential, I have two shots.



So there you have it... now, who wants to play? I know SM already got Niobe with the same meme, but I'd love to see what Sage, Den, and Crazy through the day... or anyone else who wants to play...

Monday, December 10, 2007

by request

Well, you asked for it. I would, however, recommend that you drink a few beers before scrolling down. Because, although I'm not saying I look horrible here (I'm trying to be kind and supportive to myself), I must say I looked WAY better in the bathroom mirror on Friday night after three beers.

This was our third night out without Swee'pea ever in Swee'pea's life, the first with a bona fide babysitter rather than a family member. And I had a really nice time. We chatted with adults, ate a chichi four-course meal (for free!) over almost four hours and I drank three beers and a glass of red -- the most I've drank in ages and ages (Sugar D still owes me for the time I was DD during pregnancy and breastfeeding). The service was excellent and the servers made me feel like a queen, constantly asking me if I wanted another drink or if I was finished. One server was even cute, if his eyebrows and soul patch were a bit too well-groomed.

The only slightly disturbing moment occurred right after I looked through my beer goggles into the bathroom mirror and thought to myself, "I look better than I thought!" a moment when I noticed my very obvious cleavage (I never used to have one of those!) and realized that I must have flashed it all around the table when I had my elbows on the table leaning forward in conversation. After that, I made sure to keep my hair hanging down in front of me like it is in this photo. Oh well. Nothing I can do about it now.

So without further ado, I give you: the Cinnamon family, all dressed up -- except for Swee'pea who stayed home and did not sleep until we got home around 11.

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This one only because I like the necklace so much. It was my Grandma Ruth's. And the bracelets -- Sugar D gave them both to me, the amber one on our wedding day.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Letter to Swee'pea: 22 months

Dear Swee'pea:
Today you are 22 months and one day old (sorry it's been a busy couple of days).


Shortly after I last wrote, you discovered the power of the word, "No!", the louder the better, and just like that you became a two-year-old. You'd uttered the sound before but always referring to something like snow. Until this month you just shook your head side to side to express the concept of no, and I must say that was considerably more enjoyable than your newest, most clearly enunciated word yet. For two solid weeks at least, your commitment to the word no was unwavering. In this case, no doesn't always mean no. If I offered you a banana, for example, you would respond vehemently, "No!" but if I then took the banana away, you'd respond even more vehemently, "No!" I found myself in a very delicate dance of trying to read your mind without offending your naysaying sensibilities. It was a very, very trying time. Nothing could go unprotested from putting clothes on to taking them off.

During this time, I found myself in a few standoffs with you from which I didn't know how to extract myself. One day you threw a bowl nearly full of fruit (I can't remember if it was orange or apple or grapes) on the floor and I didn't really care for that. So I got you out of your high chair and explained in a decidedly annoyed firm voice that if you were going throw food on the floor you have to pick it up. Well, you picked up a few bits then tried to go on your merry way. But I was serious.

"No," I said, "you have to pick up all the fruit."

"No!" you replied, and, pointing at me, "Mama!" you commanded.

I dug my heels in and continued to stand firm. You were going to pick up all those bits of fruit if it was the last thing I was going to do (you come by your stubbornness pretty honestly, I think). You picked up a couple of bits, to show fair play I guess, then once again stopped. You got louder and more intent on not. picking. up. any. more. fruit. We stared at each other over the fruit, waiting to see who would give. Tense moments passed. I wondered how I was going to get out of this, because you were clearly not going to pick up any more fruit. And I was in too deep to back down now. We continued to stare each other down.

Finally, I had a stroke of genius. "Swee'pea," I said, "you have to pick up this fruit because you threw it. Now, I'm going to count to three, and if you haven't picked up all the fruit by the time I reach three, I'm going to put you in your crib so you can think about all of this. Do you understand?"

You nodded though still with a defiant gleam in your eye.


I made sure to count slowly. "Oooooonnnnnneeee." And you sprung into action. You started picking up that fruit so fast your hands were a blur, and you even used both hands. I didn't even need to count two before you'd picked up all the fruit. I felt a thrill of victory and relief. Finally we could do something fun. I thanked you, and gave you a hug, my heart still pounding from the showdown, and we went and read some books. Since then I've taken a more pre-emptive approach, making sure to take your plate of food away before you get to the point of throwing it on the floor.

After a couple of weeks of solid, committed naysaying, all of a sudden, you stopped. You started using no more sparingly, and only when you meant it. Interestingly, I think this change corresponded almost exactly with your dad starting his new job, the one that allows him to spend the morning with us and drop you off at your daycare while I walk to my work. We all seem a lot happier now, especially you.


You still love to play Snack! and now you've brought your sand pail into the mix, which you constantly refer to as your blender ("nino"). If I slip up and call it a bucket, you look quizzically at me like what are you talking about? This is a blender. You usually use it for soup ("poo"), and mime pouring liquid into it, put your hand over the top, then make a loud, blender-like noise. Seeing your interest in cooking, I've been trying to think of ways to get you safely involved in cooking. So the other day I baked with you for the first time and it was hilarious. I felt like I had my own tv show, explaining each step to you, and you loved playing with the measuring cups and spoons. You also love the banana bread that resulted. I think we'll definitely start baking more together.

You are adorable with dolls and babies. At the Early Years Centre, you sometimes play with three dolls at a time, cuddling them and stroking their heads, putting them in the Bumbo chair for real babies or under the dangling toys. You kiss and nuzzle their heads and rub their bellies. It's faintly alarming just how closely you model the mothers of younger babies. At the moment it's feeling like a concerted effort to get yourself a baby sibling. You're fascinated with real babies too, and the other day you pointed to one of the pictures of me when I was pregnant with you and said, "Bebe!" I had told you a few months ago that those pictures were taken when you were in my belly, but it had been quite a while for you to remember spontaneously. I guess we'll have to see...

You've started singing songs a bit more, which is a real hoot. I think your favourite is "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star." Your version goes something like this: do do do do do do (twinkle twinkle little star), na na na no na no (how I wonder what you are), ba ba ba ba ba ba (up above the world so high), ma ma ma ma ma ma (like a diamond in the sky). Mostly you sing it in a high-pitched monotone, and you always raise your arms above your head when you get to "up above."

Last weekend, we went on a horse-drawn trolley ride around downtown and the driver played Jingle Bells while we rode around, which you've sinced added to your repertoire. Your version goes: "ba ba ba ba, AY!" This month we also went to the Santa Claus parade, and although you hadn't yet heard of Santa, you loved all the tractors and trucks and when it was over you wailed for "Mo! Mo!" looking down the street in the direction from which they'd all come. Since then, your daycare has introduced you to Santa. He even came for a visit, but you, along with most of the toddlers, cried. Last night when I picked you up, your face was red and you gave a little sob when you saw me. Apparently they'd just been reading you the Night Before Christmas and the pictures of Santa scared you. So I think we won't see much more of Santa this Christmas, which is just fine with me (I'm a bit cynical of the old man in red, I think).

Nevertheless, you are getting into the spirit of the holiday and getting me into it too. You love the Christmas trees at your daycare and point them out to me almost every day. I'm hoping we'll get our own tree today and you can help me make some decorations for it. I'm more excited about this holiday season than I have been in the last twenty years at least, all because of you and your fresh excitement.


Love Always and Forever,

Thursday, December 06, 2007


Um, I just bought the most fashion forward (in a sort of backwards 80's style) shoes I've ever bought in my life. Which isn't really saying much. I could never have imagined I would ever buy shoes like these. But I did:



Not only could I not resist the see-through heels, but they were comfortable to boot!

See, Sugar D's (new) employer is having its Christmas party tomorrow night, and I didn't really have an outfit. So I bought a dress at a consignment shop but I quickly realized that I wasn't going to feel comfortable wearing my usual casual and comfortable footwear with it. It's black and white polka dotted silk with a fairly plunging neckline, fitted waist and a slight flare to the skirt -- although not enough flair to feel really safe that it won't cling in all the wrong places when I have nylons on. Hence the need for fancy, heeled shoes. I figured they'd make my legs look good and distract attention from my ass.

What do you think?


This morning at the Early Years Centre, I picked out a couple of Mothering magazines to read while Swee'pea headed straight for the trucks. I settled on the couch and not long after a woman came in and sat next to me, still in her winter coat. An older woman, her mother I guess, followed behind her carrying an infant carseat with a wee baby surrounded by pink fleece. I immediately asked how old the little one was (three and a half weeks -- oh the precision of those early days and hours) and added two and two.The woman had had a c-section. Otherwise she would have carried the baby and carseat herself.

A woman with a son near Swee'pea's age waxed nostalgic about how easy those newborn days were when you could just put the baby in the carseat and take them wherever you wanted without any wrestling. I thought this was a cruel comment. "Maybe physically it was easier," I said, "but," and the new mother interjected with considerable relief, "emotionally and mentally, it feels pretty hard."

The newborn started to cry, that delicious little newborn cry, and the mother crooned to her, then looked around a touch nervously, "Great. I brought the crying baby. Nobody likes a crying baby." We all jumped in with Oh jeez! Don't worry's. I don't think any parent of a young child hanging out at a free-play drop-in centre could possibly mind the gentle squawk of a newborn. The baby quieted on the breast.

I moved to make room for the grandma and sat on the floor with my magazine, watching Swee'pea out of the corner of my eye. He'd gotten to the dolls now, and was just sitting quietly, a doll cuddled close to him, his head slightly tilted with his chin on the doll's head. He sat like that for many minutes, still. Between the new baby in pink and my baby who was once as tiny as that little one cradling his own make-believe baby sent my ovaries aflutter (they've been doing that a lot lately and Swee'pea's tender fascination with dolls is not helping).

I wanted to talk to the new mother some more, to reassure her that it really does get easier, but I felt it would be intruding on her conversation with her mother. I felt a c-section kinship with her. I couldn't help but eavesdrop a little bit. She was here for the lactatation consultant, who had gone to find a room. The very same lactation consultant I had seen when Swee'pea had spinachy poops and who had helped us manage my overactive letdown.

Eventually the lactation consultant came back, and the mother introduced the grandma: her mother-in-law, I heard with some surprise. She'd treated the mother with such respect and kindness and warmth, I'd just assumed she must have been her mother. The mother's husband was away so grandma had come to help her out. She went on to remind the lactation consultant that she'd mentioned her mother-in-law before, that she'd had four kids. "Oh right," the lactation consultant remembered, "and you did a great job feeding them all. It's amazing you nursed them for so long in your generation, with no support of any kind, just because you knew it was the right thing to do." The grandma nodded, "And I loved it."

I know you can't judge a book by its cover or a relationship from the outside, I know it's wrong to covet your neighbour's mother-in-law. But before I knew what hit me, my eyes were hot with unshed tears and I had to catch my breath for a moment.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

pink at night

Tonight is a raw night. The night sky is the same pink as the snow, which I find faintly disturbing. I know intellectually that is just the haze of streetlights reflecting off the fine rain as it falls over the thick snow but still... it seems unnatural.

This weekend has been a complete wash. I don't feel like I've had any time off at all, thanks to all the tense waiting and awkwardness yesterday, a middle of the night vomiting session with the little person sharing our bed, and then more waiting today, becoming more and more angry as the afternoon drifted away. I eventually erupted with a poisonour impotent rage and now just have that exhausted and limply frustrated aftertaste.

The other day, before the batshit crazy hit the fan, I spent a cosy afternoon reading my posts from our trip to South Africa early this year while snow blew around outside and Swee'pea played with his blocks and pots and pans. It occurred to me that my blog used to be a lot better then, that it's just devolved into a bunch of self-pitying, navel-gazing bullshit. So I will point you to a warmer, sunnier time.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

just when I thought life was going along all hunky-dory

and the most I had to worry about was Christmas shopping and future vacation destinations...

updated: crisis has been averted, thank goodness, although I think we all sustained some damage in the process.

a certain mentally ill family member is being evicted today and has nowhere to go but here.

Our home.

We were in this situation about four years ago too, and I still have flashbacks. Now we know better. We just cannot put ourselves (and now Swee'pea) through that again. We cannot enable the mental illness.

But it feels wrong and selfish all the same. The counsellor with the local mental health clinic we've been working with over the last (gasp) 10? months pointed out that when someone is mentally ill, you can't draw closer around them the way you can and do with physical illness, otherwise everyone will get sucked into the craziness. We must first protect our own sanity.

I hate this knot of anxiety and guilt weighing in my belly yet pushing my shoulders to my ears.

I suspect we will not make it out to the horse-drawn trolley rides, dinner out and lighting of the trees we had planned for this evening. But I guess that's the last of my worries...