Thursday, August 30, 2007

Celebration!

We're doing a bit of celebrating around here at Casa Babbler.

Pull up a chair, pour yourself a martini, grab a slice of cake and join in my celebration.

This past Monday we went to the bank. While that does not normally inspire joy, celebration and happiness, this past Monday was different. On this particular trip to the bank, I paid off my student loans.

Five years early.

Excuse me while I take a moment to savour that.

We paid it off the old fashioned way with saved money, bonuses, a bit from here, a bit from there. A 5-digit figure, paid off in one trip to the bank.

No more monthly payments. No more interest. A huge chunk of money that will remain in our bank account each month.

And did I mention that this means I can stay home from work for another year? But that's a whole other post!


Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Wednesday ramblings

My response to a question asked of me last week.
The zen zone of parenting.
Flirting with stay-at-home parenting.
Visiting with the in-laws – how much time together is too much time together?
Commercials before Sesame Street.

All posts that are either half-written or floating around in the noggin. However, having been totally sidetracked and sideswiped for the last couple of days (more on that later), I have only some miscellaneous rambling to offer today. Hopefully, I’ll have better posting on offer tomorrow.

* * *

Taken down.


Prior to the birth of the Peanut I got migraines - bad, terrible, horrific migraines that I've been prone to since I was a kid. As long as I can remember, I've had headaches. I was that eight-year-old kid, tucked away in the house with a headache. Gah.

One of my biggest fears when I had the Peanut was what I would do if I was struck with one of these and had no one to call. Mr Babbler works at a job that doesn't always leave him accessible or able to run home right away. My in-laws live nearly two hours away. I don't have any family to call on, my friends all work, and I don't really know my neighbours. So far, since I've had the Peanut I've had only a couple, and have mostly been able to manage. Yesterday? Well, yesterday was an entirely different story.

We muddled through the morning. By the afternoon, I was well into the medication. I attempted to sleep during her afternoon nap, and thought I had kicked it or at least brought it under control, but oh, I was so very wrong. The Peanut woke up from her nap, and I knew I was screwed. Nausea, vomiting, and dizziness - they hit me like a tonne of bricks. I knew I was completely unable to care for her. Mr Babbler? Well, he wasn't going to make it home for at least two hours.

Fortunately, my brother-in-law was able to come over and help. He has never babysat before, and is still really learning what to do with the Peanut. The Peanut, in turn, is just really starting to get to know him. He did a fantastic job, considering everything, and I was lucky this time. One bottle, several biscuits, and lots of play time with blocks together and I trashed the "TV only while mommy prepares dinner” and broke out the in-case-of-dire-emergency-PVRd-children's-shoes. Three episodes of Boohbah, one episode of Sesame Street and half an episode of Teletubbies later and Mr Babbler made it home just in time for dinner.

These are the times that really scare me. What if brother-in-law had been unavailable? What if Mr Babbler had been on a business trip? I was barely able to drag myself upstairs to the bathroom or change the PVR to a different episode of Boohbah, let alone make her dinner, play with her, or care for her in anyway.

We made it through this time again. Once again I was fairly fortunate. But I feel a little like those living on the fault line in California - you know it's only a matter of time.

* * *

The Peanut and the Shoe.

On a happier note:


I'm all for the concept of children eating a pound of dirt in their first couple of years. Kids are meant to get dirty. I can't even begin to guess how much cat and dog hair that the Peanut has already consumed in her first ten months. That said, the Peanut has decided that this is worth moving mountains (or, at least, her tiny little self) all the way across the house for:


She doesn't crawl yet, so she laboriously moves her body by inching across the floor, and will travel one length of the living room to the other if she so much as spots the shoe. She has been known to even try to gnaw on it while still on my foot. While I find this more amusing that I probably should, I did decide to do something about it. Thankfully, I've recently purchased this:

The object of the Peanut's adoration.

All natural rubber - check. Phthalate-free - check. All natural vegetable dyes - check. Same consistency as a Croc, with none of the bad parenting guilt - check!

* * *

Characters, characters and more characters.


The other day I thought I’d indulge in a little trashy reading. Imagine my consternation upon starting the book only to find that it has a character list 16 pages long! With an average of ten characters per page, that’s well over 100 characters to keep straight. Yikes!

When I want to read something frothy and light it should be just that – light. 160 characters does not constitute light reading by any stretch of the imagination (neither, I guess, does the 1,110 pages brick of a book either. I was willing to forgive this, though, if the story was a quick and enticing read. Then again, this is the book that, upon closer inspection, has eight pages of acknowledgments. There are enough names buried in that section alone that I might even find my own!)

Methinks that perhaps Ms Cooper’s editor was on holiday?

In the interim, I've moved along to the His Dark Materials series by Philip Pullman. One book in and I’m utterly enthralled. A brilliant piece of writing, although definitely not for young children.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

LHBC selection #2

Over at the Literate Housewives' Book Club (started by Jennifer of 52 Books or Bust) we've just wrapped up discussion on our first title. While the book wasn't fantastic (in fact, was enraging to most), the discussion was lively and interesting.

Our next selection has been chosen, and I'm pleased to announce that we will be reading one of the New York Times Book Review's best books of the year:


The Emperor's Children by Claire Messaud

From Publisher's Weekly:
Marina Thwaite, Danielle Minkoff and Julian Clarke were buddies at Brown, certain that they would soon do something important in the world. But as all near 30, Danielle is struggling as a TV documentary maker, and Julius is barely surviving financially as a freelance critic. Marina, the startlingly beautiful daughter of celebrated social activist, journalist and hob-nobber Murray Thwaite, is living with her parents on the Upper West Side, unable to finish her book titled The Emperor's Children Have No Clothes (on how changing fashions in children's clothes mirror changes in society). Two arrivals upset the group stasis: Ludovic, a fiercely ambitious Aussie who woos Marina to gain entrée into society (meanwhile planning to destroy Murray's reputation), and Murray's nephew, Frederick "Bootie" Tubb, an immature, idealistic college dropout and autodidact who is determined to live the life of a New York intellectual. The group orbits around the post September 11 city with disconcerting entitlement and around Murray, who is, in a sense, the emperor. Messud, in her fourth novel, remains wickedly observant of pretensions intellectual, sexual, class and gender. Her writing is so fluid, and her plot so cleverly constructed, that events seem inevitable, yet the narrative is ultimately surprising and masterful as a contemporary comedy of manners.

Have I peaked your interest? Whet your appetite? Excellent - my job here is done!

So if you've got time on your hands (ha!), an opinion (ahem!), or perhaps just want to branch out beyond Goodnight Moon with people that speak in full sentences, c'mon over and join us - we'd love to have you. We'll be hanging out over here, and discussion begins on September 10. I can't wait, and hope we'll see some of you there.

Monday, August 20, 2007

And now for something completely different...

These are books I have recently finished:




And these are a sampling of the books in my upcoming "to be read" pile:




However, this is the book I started this morning:



It is not academic, it is not highbrow and it is most definitely not award-winning literature. What it is is a 1,000+ page piece of sexy, frothy, delicious escapism as can only be written by a Brit. It's my sinful little book-lover secret that, while I love good literature and non-fiction, I also adore a ridiculously trashy romp through the pages.

So, 'fess up. What's your night-table (reading, ahem) secret?

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Just call him Pennywise

Today I took the Peanut to our first mommy-and-baby class at Gymboree (we tried one of the freebies). We're kinda late to the socializing thing, but it's time and I'm forcing myself to get out there and do it. The Peanut loved the class. Me, I was kinda meh about it until I saw this:



Does anyone see a resemblance?


Exactly.

Damn, I hate clowns. So, I pose the question to you gentle readers: does anyone know of any mommy and me groups in the downtown Toronto area that won't scare the crap out of me we might enjoy more?


Sunday, August 12, 2007

Joining the conversation

A few years ago I stumbled on my first blog. A friend had told me about dooce (yes, the ubiquitous dooce. Is she the gateway drug for many perhaps?) and I popped by. It turned out that somehow in my internet travels, I had stumbled on her before, but this time I stuck around awhile.

The I read Knocked Up. In very typical fashion (as I'm a true geek, and acknowledge this level of geekiness) I googled her. I found her blog, and added this to my list of places to pop by when avoiding work. Periodically I worked my way down her list of links, eventually finding Her Bad Mother (and her swaddling woes), and then eventually a great many more of the awesome Canadian blogging mamas who are out there. This was where the smart, intelligent Canadian women were hanging. People with children with different viewpoints, sharing their stories - some funny, some sad, discussing, debating, offering support in time of need. Talking, always talking. I was hooked.

However, despite all my faithful reading, I rarely commented.

Actually. I never commented.

At first it was because I was nervous. Really, what did I have to say that could be pertinent to the conversation? I had a case of the high school nerves. But then my reasoning shifted. How could I take part in the conversation with these other people, when I wasn't sharing? What right did I have to discuss, to comment on others events and happenings, on their children or the debates, or the bloggy world at large when I wasn't sharing? It just didn't feel right somehow.

So I kept quiet. I lurked. Even when there were calls to de-lurk, I'd stay hidden in the shadows, wanting desperately to join in, to add my voice, to discuss and converse and share my thoughts with all the amazing people whose posts and comments I was reading. At the same time, it also felt so very wrong to keep lurking, to be a voyeuristic, passive reader.

After I had the Peanut, I began, tentatively, to add my voice occasionally to the discussion, either anonymously or under a different name than I now have. And then I found out that I already knew one of the people I had been reading. Finally, after many months of debating with myself (and dealing with the incredible sleep deprivation), I finally did it and joined the conversation. I staked my claim, put myself out there and added my voice the chorus of many.

What did I find? I found that, with most fears, I had been foolish, silly and scared of nothing. Those years of lurking quietly had been for naught. As anyone reading this undoubtedly knows, the blogging mamas (and daddies) out there are amazingly supportive and welcoming batch of ladies. Amazingly, within a day people had stopped by to say hello and welcome my shiny-new blog.

So, thank you! Thank you to you all for being so welcoming on my crazy voyage into the blogging world, for being so warm and generous, for leaving your comments and including me in the greater conversation. I'm so glad to be here!

To those of you who are lurking quietly, here perhaps or elsewhere, that's ok. If you feel like joining in, your voice will be a welcome addition to the conversation. And if you decide to take the plunge and stake your own claim, I'll be (one of many) to stop by and welcome you.



Friday, August 10, 2007

The great exposé

HBM exposed hers first.

Then K-girl went. Before you know it, everyone was exposing themselves.

Err... their bags I mean.


I've never been a "purse" girl, having always preferred the messenger bag. Purses just don't have enough room for the important things, like books, magazines and more books. Right now I'm in the diaper bag zone, so I just cram it all in as best I can.

The bag:
And the contents:

TOP ROW:
1) Sassy baby rattle.
2) Closeable hairbrush - otherwise I find my headphones get wrapped up in it.
3) Coupon for $1.50 off Pampers.
4) Prescription migraine medication - 3/4 gone.
5) Cell phone - almost always dead since I can't seem to remember to charge it.
6) Peanut's Old Navy cardigan.

MIDDLE ROW:
7) Current book - Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon, 1/2 finished. Really enjoying this!
8) Wallet by Espe (no animal products!)
9) Mum-Mum biscuits - 2 packages. Keeps the Peanut meltdown free in public settings.
10) Keys
11) One-Step sanitizing wipes.
12) Purell, "purse" size.
13) Tic-Tacs, orange flavour.
14) Mam soother and soother clip. Not sure why I carry this, as the Peanut only used a soother for 3 weeks, and gave it up in the course of a single evening (long before I was prepared for her to give it up!)
15) Tide To Go x 2. No idea why I have 2 of these in my bag, but I do...
16) Sunglasses - cheapie pair as I'm always losing or breaking them.
17) Headphones. Rarely used these days and all tangled up.

LAST ROW:

18) Washclothes x 2
19) Pampers diaper size 2.
20) iPod - fully loaded with 50 GB of music 'cause I'm too lazy to change it up. Everything from Bach to lullabies, Eminem to Sarah McLachlan, Cat Stevens to... well, you get the idea.
21) Wipes
22) Burt's Bees diaper cream.

Doing this I realized that, though my bag is packed, I'm still missing things. My pens and notebook are missing, and all my lip balms (I normally carry 2-3 different varieties. Where have they gone?!)

So, wanna expose yourself?

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Good times

This weekend was what long weekends are all about: Time at the lakeside house. Very happy babies, becoming friends. Swimming in the lake. Rides on the carousel. Babies tucked into bed, monitors on, parents playing board games. Great friends, and lots of laughter.

As my brain is still on vacation, verbal blogging will resume tomorrow. In the interim I give you the pictorial
highlights of the weekend.

Swimming, lots of swimming:

Excuse me sir, but I'll take that pina colada now...

Peanut's good friend 'zilla.

Wrinkly toes!

Lady A, who looks totally amazing (although she will totally deny it) as she awaits her first baby, and a brand new friend for the Peanut and 'zilla. We are totally excited!

The happy parents to be...

A triptych to a budding friendship:


The great carousel ride:



Even the dog chilled out...

I'm waiting for my agent to call... Hollywood baby!


And this? This was the best part:

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Gone swimming!

Because I can't go away for the weekend leaving behind yesterday's rather self-pitying, maudlin post as we head into a glorious August long weekend, I bring you this:

Cheer up Ma! It's the long weekend and we've got places to go, things to do, people to see! (Oh, and swimming, most definitely swimming!)

We will be away this weekend, enjoying the fabulous weather at my in-laws vacated lakeside home with some of our best friends, the Peanut's friend and friend-on-the-way. BBQ, beer and swimming are all on the agenda (of course not in that order). And we will even be bringing the Peanut's favourite creature in the whole world:

The light of Peanut's life.

I hope everyone has a chance to enjoy the beautiful weather, whether it's kicking around the city or hanging at a cottage. Have a great weekend!


Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Lost

Recently via a blog, I came across the online celebration of a new-born baby. Posted were beautiful photos of the baby shortly after its birth, of the happy parents in their room afterwards, of all the family members gathered around and holding the new baby. Without warning, I felt angry and deeply sad.

You see, the Peanut was born two months early. Unexpectedly, very early on a Sunday morning.
Shortly after her birth, she was surrounded by a team of doctors, nurses and specialists. We held her briefly, and then she was whisked away, taken to the NICU to be poked and prodded and prepared for her time in her incubator. Everything happened so quickly, that now I can barely remember the period when I first started pushing to two hours later when I was in my room and we were calling family with our surprise announcement. It all happened in a surreal haze. Moments after she was born, a nurse asked if we had a camera. We didn't. We weren't planning on giving birth that night.

That is why we have no photos of those first moments. Our first photos were taken 14 hours later, after she had been hooked up to the wires and tubes that she would wear for the next three weeks.

Most of the time I feel grateful - grateful that the Peanut was born relatively healthy, that we managed to avoid a great deal of complications that often accompanies prematurity, that we got to hold her briefly before she was whisked away to the NICU. I am grateful that we had a comparatively short stay in the NICU, despite her early arrival. I know that we were one of the lucky ones, and that so many, too many, have much worse stories than us. But this day, after viewing this innocent, happy family, I felt a profound sadness.

I was sad that we were denied what should be a "normal" part of having a baby. I was sad that, even if I didn't have a chance to commit those first moments to memory as everything happened so quickly (oh, so very quickly - no time to memorize the shape of her face, the feeling of her skin, the delicate bow of her lips), that at least I would have those precious images. And I was angry with myself, at my body for failing me and causing the situation in the first place.

Sometimes I go back through our early photos - photos from those first few days. I'm not sure what I'm hoping to find. I know that the pictures don't exist, but somehow in the back of my mind I think that if I look through these photos enough that they will remind me of those precious first moments. That they will bring back those lost memories.

I know there will be hundreds, no thousands of other moments, of other memories. But those first moments - the look of wonder on her daddy's face, holding her for the first time. Me, holding her tiny little body so very close. Our beginning as a family, tucked tightly together. I try to hold these images of those moments in my mind's eye, but they are so very, very distant. For this, I grieve.
 

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